Since Executives are under constant pressure to produce results, it’s a safe bet they’re not looking for another business trip or a meeting to attend. What they are looking for are opportunities to address their company’s challenges and help position their Industry for growth. As Associations ponder their future strategies, the message is clear: Members hire industry advocacy and promotion.
Organizations who embrace the mantra that Members hire Industry advocacy and promotion are doing well. For example, the Global Cold Chain Alliance led efforts to achieve a decrease in the number of violations and OSHA fines per inspection. As part of the organization’s broader Industry promotion strategy, the organization recently released customer survey research and also produced the video, “We Are the Cold Chain”. This is helping the Industry position itself with its global customer base. GCCA is just one textbook case, several other organizations, including the American Bakers Association, the Association for Print Technologies, the American Staffing Association, and Jewelers of America are utilizing similar strategies.
Since Members hire Industry advocacy and promotion, the most successful organizations know how important it is to stay aligned with the Industries they serve. NMMA (National Marine Manufacturers Association) is a highly respected organization. With annual revenues reaching $66 million and a slate of offerings that align with their member’s challenges and outcomes, they pursued an opportunity to check in with their members through a Strategic Industry Business Planning process.
Led by Thom Dammrich, President and CEO, NMMA is inextricably linked with the Recreational Boating Industry. He consistently emphasizes “NMMA is the Industry, we don’t exist apart.” Over his twenty year tenure, Dammrich and his team utilized this strategic approach to achieve an Industry symmetry and build a launching pad to consistently move the needle for the Recreational Boating Industry. Offerings that reflect the Industry approach includes advocacy, Industry promotion, consumer boat shows, market research, and a trade show. Each aligns with protecting and promoting the Industry:
- Advocacy is already a key NMMA deliverable; their policy and regulatory work connects to Industry business challenges.
- In 2006, a Grow Boating Initiative was launched to raise consumer awareness, connect the Industry with prospective boaters, and to enhance the Boating Experience.
The organization also collaborated through the Outdoor Recreation Industry Roundtable to achieve recognition for the Industry’s contribution to the U.S. Economy. Outdoor Recreation’s contribution is now regularly reported by the Bureau of Economic Analysis and the Department of Commerce. This recognition was announced in February 2018 and reflects years’ long work by all the Associations participating in the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable.
In October of 2017, the Board of Directors, the Executive Committee, a Board Task Force, and members of the Staff Leadership team launched their Strategic Industry Business Planning process. Thom Dammrich appointed Robert Newsome, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Engineering Standards & Membership to shepherd this important yearlong effort for NMMA. He coordinated an extensive process including: Board interviews, extensive Industry impact and engagement research and analysis, Task Force & Executive Committee consensus, and collaboration with the Association’s internal leadership team.NMMA utilized survey research to understand its alignment with the Industry’s ”up-at-night” challenges and desired business outcomes. Part of that Industry alignment is reflected in several of the existing Association’s offerings:
- Advocacy – Protecting marine businesses
- Engineering Standards – Helping manufacturers provide safer products
- Industry Research and Statistics – Timely data & insights to guide decision making
- Boat Shows – Connecting the Industry with the boating consumer
- Trade Events – Helping members generate sales, reach new markets & improve marine products
- CSI – Continuous improvement to drive boater satisfaction
- Communications – Maintaining a positive reputation for boating
- Export Development – Expanding access to overseas markets
- Grow Boating – Attracting the next generation of boat owners
Research Surfaces Additional Business Impact Opportunities The Task Force and Staff Leadership teams identified additional New Strategic Ideas to reinforce “NMMA is the Industry, we don’t exist apart” strategy and provide increased support for the Industry:
- Advocacy Offensive – Elevate NMMA’s presence and influence among key decision makers at the federal, state, local and international levels, to ultimately advance a protective and proactive agenda.
- Retaining and Recruiting Boat Owners through focused Research & Industry Promotion:
- The industry is well informed on the factors that lead to boater attrition and thus able to develop strategies and take action to slow boater attrition.
- The industry has insights on ways to attract first time boat buyers.
- Attracting a Competent workforce – The Recreational Boating Industry attracts and retains skilled labor to build product and address product downtime.
“Throughout the past year, the strategic planning task force took a hard look at how the NMMA supports the industry to ensure we’re focusing resources where they’re needed most,” said Watters, president of Syntec Industries and immediate past chair of the NMMA Board of Directors. “The insights we received from hundreds of stakeholders across the industry really drove the direction of the plan and gave us the information we needed to carve out NMMA’s primary areas of focus for the next three years.”
Further reinforcing the “NMMA is the Industry, we don’t exist apart” strategy, the Association built a bold positioning statement that demonstrates how impactful the organization intends to advance and grow the Industry over the next three years: “Recreational boating grows through a favorable business environment and is widely embraced as a preferred activity for recreation.”
On October 3, 2018, Robert Newsome, Senior Vice President, Strategy, Engineering Standards & Membership, Nicole Vasilaros, Senior Vice President of Government Relations and Legal Affairs, and Carl Blackwell, Senior VP, Marketing & Communications, and CMO, presented the proposed Strategic Industry Business Plan as approved by the Board Task Force to the Board of Directors.
The Board unanimously approved the plan and later approved funding to support the Strategic Initiatives over the next three years. In doing so, the board validated that when given the choice, Members hire Industry advocacy and promotion.
“While we weren’t surprised by the outcome, conducting the research allows us to better understand the impact and importance of NMMA’s existing programs and reaffirms our commitment in these areas,” said Speciale, president of Yamaha U.S. Marine Business Unit and chair of the NMMA Board of Directors. “The research also shined a light on opportunities that need additional investments within advocacy, keeping and attracting new boaters, and building a competent workforce. Over the next few years, the strategic plan will guide the association as it works to continue growing and protecting the industry while acting as a blueprint for the association’s leadership team.”
Members Hire Industry Advocacy and Promotion
Successful Associations are positioning themselves as “the Industry”. In doing so, they are building a symmetry for their organizations to serve as launching pads that consistently move the needle for an Industry and their members. This positioning is even more important today as economic cycles, political party control of the White House, the Congress, Governorships, and State Legislatures, can change as quickly as days in a week.
Association CEO’s who move in this direction will make their organizations more relevant and durable, and over time it will also unify the Industry that you represent. This strategic approach will likely energize member engagement and attract and retain members, too. In a time of increasing global economic and political uncertainty, no other approach could be more important for Association CEO’s and their senior management teams.
As his Association career comes full circle, Thom Dammrich’s overarching “NMMA is the Industry, we don’t exist apart” strategy reflects how organizations can thrive despite changes in political party control or economic cycles. It’s also a legacy and a valuable lesson for all current and aspiring Association CEO’s. Regardless of circumstances, Members hire Industry advocacy and promotion.