4 Pain Point Takeaways

 pain point takeaways4 Pain Point Takeaways. Regardless of the procedure, Hospital stays are daunting for any patient. A recent experience showed that under the right conditions a patient’s pain expectations can be addressed. Upon discharge it was clear that a chorus of Doctors, Nurses, Physical Therapists, Physicians’ Assistants, hospital staff and volunteers had successfully addressed the patient’s pain point needs. 4 Pain Point Takeaways learned from this experience can be as powerful if they are applied in the Association marketplace.

Engagement, Compassion, and Skill

The complexities facing Hospitals and Associations are striking. What are the most obvious? Both face a fluid and complex marketplace.  How so? All encompass market needs, constantly changing technologies, cost pressure and patients/members who vote with their feet and go somewhere else.

4 Pain Point Takeaways:

 1. Engagement

  • Consistently identify, quantify and track pain points
  • Partner with members to discuss and formulate solutions
  • Members experience a “We focused” approach to challenges and solutions
  • Members perceive the pain point solutions as connected to personal and business objectives

 2. Culture of Compassion

  • Create, reinforce, and augment a member centered culture
  • Recognize and enthusiastically encourage compassionate centered staff
  • Respond timely and appropriately
  • Always establish and reinforce bonds of empathy

 3. Skill

  • Hire highly skilled team members
  • Provide training to maintain high skill levels
  • Benchmark skill levels against competition, make necessary adjustments

 4. Data

  • Survey members and determine if pain point needs have been addressed
  • Establish performance metrics to measure pain point satisfaction
  • Quickly identify and address performance improvement needs
  • Implement performance reward programs recognizing top performers

Community and the Human Connection

Another important lesson from the Hospital experience? Never discount or dismiss the power of Community and the Human Connection. After all, patients select Hospitals in the same way Association prospects make choices on where they will be the most comfortable. In a recent Post (http://bit.ly/1aTb6xM), the importance of community and human connection was cited in Starbucks global success story. Starting with a cup of coffee, Starbucks’ success, in large part, relies on human connection and the sense of community they provide.

In the end, a sense of community in today’s competitive world attracts patients as it does Association members.

4 Pain Point Takeaways 

Isaac Asimov once said that “Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.” Surgery and a two day hospital stay provided pain relief and a learning experience. The Hospital Community, through it’s impressive performance, showed how powerful pain point strategies can work. Using these approaches, Associations gain added capacity, helping them build member connections and lasting relationships.

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

associationIs Your Association a Market Leader? Legendary business leader and former GE Chairman and CEO Jack Welch said ” if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.”  Rightly so, Market Leaders consistently leverage their marketing prowess to dominate the sectors in which they serve. Failure to lead and compete effectively will result in a market share loss for Associations.

Market Leader Versus Market Participant

It’s risky for any Association to stay back with the pack. New coalitions, Association’s and Law Firms actively seek corporate funding tailored to meet short and long term policy or regulatory objectives. Competitive pressure builds constantly, Associations can ill afford to be passive.

Market Leaders that are astute: measure their impact in real time, execute multi channel marketing and communications strategies and continuously engage stakeholders and elected officials. They also build upon market strength, maintain their uniqueness, drive powerful value propositions while they meet and exceed their revenue objectives.

3 Strategies To Become a Market Leader

1. Build A Brand Fortress. Create and execute an ongoing marketing and communications program that emphasizes Association’s value proposition: providing insights, connections and advocacy for the industry. Be viewed as the premier Association leader in a sector. Issue experts visible in: social and traditional media, among elected officials and regulators.

2. Help Member’s Overcome Obstacles. The Association’s policy and regulatory agenda, grass roots programs, are harmonized to help members overcome legislative and regulatory hurdles.

3. Engage Members. Members view the Association as their strategic ally and their dues payments are perceived as an investment instead of an expense. The culture is seen as a community, members are invited to participate and share their perspectives. Staff, Members and Board Members see their roles as interconnected, everyone is working to achieve the same outcomes.

Market Leaders Consistently Execute and Deliver

Since they have a strong foundation, the Market Leader has clear cut objectives: Achieve policy and regulatory objectives, drive new membership growth, sponsor renewal and growth, sponsor sales, conference attendance growth.

Execution is a key aspect of a Market Leading Association, so much so that “getting it done” is ingrained in their DNA. Firing on all cylinders, they have regular team meetings to celebrate success and/or determine corrective steps to stay on target, performance rewards successful member engagement, advocacy and revenue growth throughout the year.

Is Your Association a Market Leader?

For several Associations, success and excellent performance are deliberate. These groups successfully transitioned from Market Participant to Market Leader. One Association became a market leader, built a brand fortress connected to member objectives and engaging members. By doing so they almost tripled revenues in just over two years. Another Association restructured an underperforming Division and achieved their first net gain performance in five years.

According to a recent Survey by the Business Roundtable, the “uncertain political environment” and unresolved U.S. Debt Crisis were identified as reasons for the economy showing only slight improvement. Achieving Market Leader status is as necessary as it is essential for Associations. As Companies evaluate their Associations, you can bet the Market Leaders will appear on the list of memberships to renew.  (http://bit.ly/1PACOCc)

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.


Member Perspective: Should We Renew?

member perspective

On any given day a corporate executive receives a renewal invoice from an Association or a Society. By week’s end, several more renewal invoices cross the same desk. What happens next? It’s critical to know what happens next or chances are a letter of resignation is on the way. In an uncertain economy, corporations and individuals hold memberships to a very high standard. Organizations should look at renewals from a member’s perspective, doing so will help secure the dues and the member relationship. (http://bit.ly/1FBNn5j)

Life Inside Member Companies

A corporate executive that survives downsizing wears several hats. The days are packed with meetings, and weeks seemingly are spent visiting customers. Complicating matters, Publicly Held Companies are laser focused on quarter and year end results. Earnings results must meet or exceed stockholder expectations, there is no wiggle room. Life on the inside is tough, what can Associations and Societies do to uncover opportunities to uncover opportunities and deliver value?

3 Questions that  Help Earn Renewals

1. What is the dollar impact of policies on members? Not less than six months prior to renewal, meet with dues decision makers. Bring an legislative and regulatory impact statement to the meeting. Inquire how these issues will impede the company from achieving profit targets in the next five years. Vigorously quantify and qualify policy impact. ( http://bit.ly/1btcvac)

2. Are your member’s participating in areas that impact them? Knowing the policy areas that have the greatest impact, review and confirm  participation in the most critical areas to the company. Some executives may have transitioned out to a new company. If so, there is a new opportunity to engage new executives. Ask the company contact for an introduction.

3. Can we Confirm a Policy Briefing on “Pain Point” Issues with Issue Experts? Leverage an opportunity to demonstrate value on the member company’s “Pain Point Issue” Concerns. Ask the dues decision maker to invite the C Suite and executives to participate in a Conference Call, Video Conference or Webinar focused on their business outcomes. Make it easy to say yes by having a prepared invite for the company contact to send out right away.

Member Perspective: Should We Renew?

Member PerspectiveBusy executives welcome the opportunity to share their concerns.  However they appreciate an organization’s commitment to provide service in areas that impact their business objectives. Companies are tuned to their own channel “WIIFM” What’s In It For Me.” When they share their concerns, they will respond positively when they see engagement in areas that impede their business.

Unquestionably member renewals comprise a substantial portion of Association and Society revenues. Staying focused from a member perspective helps organizations focus on the dues payers.

Associations and  Societies around the country using this or similar approaches have celebrated success many times over. Secure membership bases helped some Associations reach stretch goals that may not have been possible otherwise. One Association doubled membership while another reached past the $1 million threshold in net dues growth. What made the difference at these Associations and Societies? The ability to see member business objectives as their own and, developing solutions to help members overcome impediments to meet or exceed their goals.

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

Member Engagement CEO?

member engagement CEOMember Engagement CEO? 

In today’s world the notion of “lead, follow or get out of the way” is a non starter. Durable volunteer armies are built on foundations of connectivity, transparency, collaboration and cooperation. The Member Engagement CEO needs those traits to transform their organizations into “we focused” communities where members impact outcomes.

5 Characteristics of a Member Engagement CEO

1. Culture Keeper. As a steadfast leader, the Member Engagement CEO permeates a member engagement culture throughout their Associations and Societies.  Rightly so, Management expert Peter Drucker points out that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” If creating a member engagement community is the CEOs vehicle then culture is its engine.

2. CCCIC. The Communicator, Convener  & Collaborator in Chief, works seamlessly with the board, senior managers, staff and the membership.  He/she is always seeking feedback from members on products and services, obtaining guidance through focus groups and member surveys. Working with and coaching staff to devise solutions, the CCCIC keeps their eye on the ball. Policies, programs and activities continually reflect the connection to member business and personal objectives.

3. 20-20 foresight. The member engagement chief executive must have capacity to see around the corners. In a world where business cycles change at the drop of a hat, next year arrives faster than ever. Anticipating member business challenges keeps the Member Engagement CEO ahead of the game.

4. Inspirational.  Not so much by what is said but how it is said inspires and motivates stakeholders. Setting a tone of mutual respect and vulnerability, these leaders instill trust, and achieve strong team performance.  Member engagement CEO’s set high expectations and are found in the trenches always supporting their team.

5. Innovator. Challenging themselves and their team to constantly identify what’s next. Developing cutting edge solutions that help their Society or Associations maintain their uniqueness in the marketplace is in their DNA.

5 Real Time CEO Successes   

Demonstrating the potency of a “Culture Keeper,” an Association CEO unleashed an era of member engagement and remarkable revenue and member growth. Setting the culture at the outset positioned this CEO to far surpass expectations. For sure, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

As the “CCCIC,” a different Association CEO made the strategic plan update and the member survey a platform to further unite the community. The Association, despite a challenging market recapitalized its reserves, improved member retention and is seeking global growth opportunities.

In another example a CEO helped an Association with “20-20 foresight.”  A training or certification program that was previously dismissed is now being vetted for implementation. Executives coming into one professional field lacked background and skills and the Association is close to supporting the member’s business needs.

This CEO helped define what it means to be “Inspirational.” After turning around the financial fortunes of an Association, their leader insists on helping generate revenue. Staff at the Association agree their CEO is demanding, but noted that their Chief Executive is determined, hard working and fair. Needless to say, impressive financial results continue.

Always looking for “What’s Next” keeps this Association way ahead of the competitiveness curve.  This “Innovator” CEO uses a passion for the Association’s mission to develop new services every year of the last ten. Revenues grew as did member satisfaction and retention.

Member Engagement CEO? 

What rests at the center of the Member Engagement CEOs success? The drive and the extraordinary skills to build a durable volunteer army and a financially successful community.

In a tumultuous era for Associations and Societies, successful leaders embrace the mantra of the Member Engagement CEO. If proof is in the pudding, then each CEO example cited helped  bake the cake.

member engagement CEO









Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

Member Engagement Community Wanted

member engagement communityMember Engagement Community Wanted

 Associations and Societies have clear objectives: build volunteer armies and thrive financially in order to support their missions. They can only be successful when their Associations and Societies are seen as opportunities for companies and executives to achieve business, and professional outcomes.  With clear objectives, organizations require a path forward, helping them build durable armies and achieving solid financial performance.

CEOs understand a culture change is necessary to construct a Member Engagement Community.  Management Visionary Frances Hesselbein, President and CEO, Leader to Leader Institute notes (The Key to Cultural Transformation, Leader to Leader, 1999)” Culture does not change because we desire to change it. Culture changes when the organization is transformed; the culture reflects the realities of people working together every day.”

Shaping a Member Engagement Community requires Associations and Societies to: Ask the tough questions, construct an effective data set, and leverage a robust top to bottom process involving staff, and members. Combined, these elements unite stakeholders under one banner and launch their journey to transformation.

3 Steps to a Member Engagement Community

With building a volunteer army and financial durability as outcomes, Associations and Societies can utilize three steps to shape their cultures and build Member Engagement Communities:

 1.  Ask the Tough Questions

In terms of members, will they

  • Perceive an ability to impact outcomes?
  • Have interests and concerns that are understood and tracked?
  • See a culture of we/they?
  • Be engaged in activities that have positive impact on company or personal priorities?
  • View the Association/Society as connected to their personal or business objectives?

2. Construct a Data Set

  • Conduct a competitive assessment with other Associations/Societies.
  • Survey member needs, interests and concerns.
  • Compare survey results and competitive assessment  to retention and revenue performance.

3. Implement a Member Engagement Culture

  • “We” focused community where members impact outcomes.
  • Members participate “as one community” going in the same direction.
  • Policies, programs and activities reflect the connection to business and professional objectives.

Choices and Competition

Members know they have choices to advance business and professional objectives. Lack of connectivity means companies and executives may vote with their feet and spend limited  dollars somewhere else.

Member Engagement Community Wanted

Member engagement communities thrive. One Association doubled annual conference attendance and revenues motivating member engagement.  In another example, an issue advocacy Association increased member fly in participation from two different part of the U.S.

These Associations also grew revenues and increased member participation because of their transformation to a higher level of member engagement.

Large change is difficult, however the failure to deliver change hampers member engagement. If Trade Associations and Societies want to build volunteer armies and thrive financially, members must have the ability to impact outcomes and have capacity to advance company or personal priorities. Associations and Societies who make the transformational changes, will increase member satisfaction, build volunteer armies and deliver revenue growth.

member engagement community









Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

Association Speed to Market

Association Speed to Market

 As Associations compete for the seemingly smaller pool of corporate dollars, CEOs, senior managers, and boards want every possible competitive advantage.  With Conference and Training vendors fighting for their piece of the pie, they know how to leverage a powerful CRM (Customer Relations Management) and custom databases to get at the market place quickly. In order to remain competitive, Associations too need the same speed to market. There are plenty of technology tools and alternatives, however CEO’s and Senior Managers should begin the process with an information scan.

Start at the Beginning

Regardless of Association size, the effort  should start with a full inventory of member, sponsor and prospect data. Determine what exists and develop a smart list of what else is required. Most importantly, make sure that the Association is capturing up at night issues and company participation. This is the information that helps formulate Data Driven Strategies for organizations.

Know Thy Marketplace

Maintaining a full profile on key aspects of members, prospects and sponsors is essential.  Sir Francis Bacon noted that “Knowledge is power ” and for Associations, updated market information is omnipotent.

Every database should at a minimum contain the following information about members and sponsors, and have a treasure trove of data on prospective members:

Members and Sponsors

  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Complete descriptions of member and sponsor products and services and industries they serve.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.


  • Issue and regulatory concerns that impact prospective member or sponsor company’s ability to achieve their business objectives.
  • Complete descriptions of products and services and industries they serve.
  • Board Members in similar industries or who have similar issue or regulatory concerns.
  • Participation in up at night issue activities, i.e. committees, calls to action.
  • Updated contact information for executives who approve member dues or sponsorship’s.
  • Inventory of Associations prospective members or sponsors participate in.
  • Record of significant staff interaction with member and company executives.
  • Staff relationship owner.

Ready to Add Speed to Market 

With complete member, prospect and sponsor profiles, Associations are then ready to add capacity.   The updated database is complete but not capable of driving speed to market. As the marketplace moves in real time, Associations require the capacity that only an effective CRM capable resource provides.

CRM capability should provide Association’s the ability to deliver:

  • Analytics reflecting member engagement and participation.
  • Net performance trends.
  • Member and prospective member or sponsor business outcomes.
  • Capacity to segment data and deliver focused messaging.

If an Association database and CRM are missing any of these elements they should identify new technology solutions that will complement their existing infrastructure.

Association Speed to Market

For Associations making the plunge adding speed to market at your association makes a difference. Leveraging updated data and CRM capacity, one Association doubled grass roots program participation and another Association achieved record conference profits.

Vendors are competing more aggressively than ever for their share of conference, sponsor, training, education and certification dollars. Although budget investments face increasing scrutiny, adding CRM capacity will enhance an Associations speed to market.

For a free copy of the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, request your copy at www.potomaccore.com.

association speed to market


Association Member Engagement Mountain

Association Member Engagement Mountain

 For Associations, one of the most important and critical challenges facing them is Member Engagement. CEO’s and Senior Managers agree, the more the company is engaged the better the chance of member renewal. However, weak member participation, sinking retention, falling conference attendance and sponsor revenues are symptoms of a bigger and potentially dangerous challenge.  The Association’s Member Engagement Strategy may require a deep dive by CEOs and the Management team.

It’s important that in this day and age that Associations not “leave well enough alone.” The Stay or Go Imperative could impact an Association’s financial health and well being. If membership is a distraction instead of ROI, Corporations vote with their feet and instead invest in a different solution.

Yes,  Corporations have smaller corporate staff, in some instances one executive may wear multiple hats. However, if this executive makes the dues decision, then a strategy or a change is  necessary.

Read the Tea Leaves

Companies look for the connection to business objectives as part of their membership evaluation process. If these connections don’t exist, it’s difficult for any Association to execute an effective strategy to engage members. Metrics are like tea leaves they both paint a picture and they tell a story.

If Associations observe that conference attendance is equal or less to prior years, educational meetings and fly-in attendance is significantly lower, and member retention is down for three consecutive years,  it is time for an intervention. The marketplace could also signal one or more of the following: 

  • Negative view of the culture and overall effectiveness of an Association.
  • The Association is perceived as not being as impactful in educational, policy or advocacy programs.
  • Other solutions including coalitions, conference providers or other Association programs deliver greater value.

Never Hit The Panic Button

Associations should embrace the challenge and convert the situation into a strategic opportunity. When diagnosing, member participation and revenue fall-off rebuild the path to engagement: one company at a time, obtain clarity on business and policy objectives, and understand what members really must achieve from participation achieve.

CEO’s can keep in mind that success and failure are never final, the road forward offers hope, and a more definitive path to member engagement.

Develop Data Driven Strategies

Associations need to build a data set to help them understand why participation and revenues have fallen.  However, it’s key to put heavier weight on relationships; in a complex world the human connection matters. One member at a time, collect the following information:

  • Is the Association perceived as staff or member driven?
  • Does participation help executives achieve company business objectives?
  • Why do executives participate in other Associations or Coalitions?
  • How important is networking?
  • Would Social Media engagement on platforms such as LinkedIn reflect an attractive alternative?
  • Are educational and or certification programs relevant to career advancement?

While Associations may develop additional or different questions, these open the door to constructive dialogue with disengaged members. Tally the responses, create internal task forces of senior managers and key staff, develop solutions and new strategies, assign performance metrics and then execute.

Association Member Engagement Mountain

For Association CEO’s who have or who are looking into the abyss, there is light at the end of the tunnel. An Association Executive confronting the worst dues loss in decades once reported record gains in member participation, advocacy effectiveness and revenue growth. Stepping back, building an Association wide member focus with data driven strategies proved to be a year long process worthy of the effort. Yes, the participation, retention and growth outcomes were record highs but the data really reflected stronger member connectivity.

Climbing the Member Engagement Mountain is vital and necessary for every Association. It can also be the determining strategy helping Associations achieve revenue growth.

member engagementFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.


Member Engagement and Culture Grow Association Revenues

Member Engagement and Culture Grow Association Revenues

 The key to consistent retention and revenue growth performance is engagement.  However the path to engagement is only achieved when Associations have the right culture. Taken together, member engagement and Association culture hold the key to revenue growth.

Yes, member engagement reassures CEO’s and Senior Managers that their value proposition is strong. At the same time, members need to see that their participation matters, that they will be heard and that their membership and sponsorship is more than an annual payment. Associations require the right culture, the best possible dynamic to consistently attract members and sponsors to policy committee meetings and annual conferences.

Unlocking the Path for Associations

Although Core Connections are crucial to Association growth, in and of themselves they are not enough. Maintaining member interest and attracting new members and sponsors has as much to do with engagement and culture as it does anything else.

As you’re reading this post, odds are this is likely one of hundreds of posts, tweets and e mail messages you view during a given workday.  In a connected global economy racing to achieve quarterly and annual earnings objectives is the norm. Certainly executives are under stress yet they need solutions. What becomes most important is setting the stage so executives see Associations as the critical solution.

Associations as a Third place between Work and Home

Many consumers enjoy that large Venti Starbucks cup of coffee to start the day. How many other stores in the U.S. or overseas have we seen or heard have the same long lines? It’s not just the morning rush either; during the day the tables are full, people are working away on their computers and friends and neighbors are catching up on their lives. In the evening people will meet and wind down, recap their day, have a treat, prepare for tomorrow.

The key to success for Starbucks? Making their stores a third place between work and home remains Howard Schultz’s passion. As Chairman, CEO and Founder of a global enterprise he created a sense of community, a place where people could go to establish that human connection. The Starbucks enterprise, despite fierce competition, remains a mainstay because their stores are a third place between work and home.

The Starbucks example is powerful yet simple. It starts with a cup of coffee but it is the human connection and sense of community that can make an Association a third place between work and home.

Member Engagement and Culture Grow Association Revenues

Recent posts on the Potomac Core Blog reflect innovation and double digit revenue growth at several Associations. Interestingly enough, member engagement is off the charts but each culture has the human connection and community focus. Revenue growth never happens on its own. It especially requires a community element with a strong human connection.As we’re thinking through the right strategies, let’s begin member engagement and Association culture. In addition to the dramatic success examples from the Business and Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) and the Technology Association of Georgia (TAG), there are others that also report similar success. Utilizing this approach, one Association saw annual conference attendance, revenue and sponsor growth double in a two year time frame.

The tactical focus on Pain Points and Core Connections are essential to execute sales and growth strategies. These alone won’t motivate member engagement; a sense of community in a hyper competitive world engages and attracts members, sponsors and prospects. The end results will be sustained and durable revenue growth for Associations.

association revenuesFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com,www.icimo.com,and www.verticalleapconsulting.com.

Social Media Connects an Association’s Global Community

Social Media Connects an Association’s Global Community. Many Associations embrace Social Media in order to reach and effectively engage members. Those CEO’s incorporating social media with their overall engagement and incorporating business objectives achieve greater ROI. Through the Strategic Planning Process, the National Investor Relations Institute (NIRI) www.niri.org, identified Social Media as an integral part of their strategy to build and reinforce its growing community of global Investor Relations Executives.

Engage Members at Their Desks

Steve Lane, President , Vertical Leap Consulting www.verticalleapconsulting.com notes “Real member engagement is all about “we”; bringing members together and facilitating the dialogue that leads to new solutions to their shared “pain point” issues”In a hyper paced world, a cyber community focus makes it easier to engage members to participate, share information and derive value from their member investment. Jeffrey D. Morgan, President and CEO reports that Social Media is a key element of his organization’s member engagement strategy.

Community Connection

As NIRI’s global membership expands, the Association looks to connect its members with one another and keep the conversation going. Morgan notes that a larger share of share of its membership growth is outside the United States making Social Media an important member resource.

Increasing Investment Expand Capacity and Capability

At a time when Association  memberships are more closely evaluated, member engagement and participation are increasingly important for Associations like NIRI. Vertical Leap Consulting’s Lane adds  “The principles of engagement are simple yet powerful:

  • As the perceived ability to impact outcomes increases,
  • Behaviors change from being a recipient of information to increasingly higher levels of contribution, and
  • Connectedness to the Association increases”

For NIRI and CEO Morgan Social Media is driving member engagement and so much so the Association is increasing its investment.

As NIRI’s member engagement accelerates so has the Association’s retention and new member growth.

How does Social Media Connect your Association’s community? 

Much more on Association Revenue Growth at  www.potomaccore.com/blog