Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement

Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement. In a dynamic and rapidly changing global economy, Associations face competition and unpredictable business cycles. Rather than leverage short term sales cycles, some organizations are instead leveraging a longer term value added approach.

durabilityStrategic Member Engagement is an important resource helping Associations develop long term strategy and effective competitive positioning. For Jeff Morgan, President & CEO of NIRI (National Investor Relations Institute) www.niri.org, building for the long term means “durability.” His focus is to consistently position his organization as a strategic ally and a more essential member resource.

3 Strategies Accelerating Engagement

It’s essential to understand how an association is currently impacting member objectives. This requires securing actionable data about member perceptions of their environmental and operational challenges. Through this process Associations obtain actionable data, understand member “up at night” issues, and assess culture to formulate products and services to address member outcomes.

NIRI  utilizes three strategies to accelerate Member Engagement:

 Actionable Data. Conducts impact surveys to understand its Association’s impact on key member outcomes.

“Up at Night” Issues. By member segment, learns desired future member outcomes and provides solutions matching these outcomes.

Culture. Over a six year time frame, NIRI transitioned its’ culture from a “me/you” focus to a “we” focused highly engaged solutions community.

Durability and Metrics

Morgan reports accelerated member engagement in key segments,  6% operating revenue growth, annual conference attendance 15%  higher than 2013, and 20% international membership growth.

Durability: Association Strategic Member Engagement.

Strategic Member Engagement is not about short term revenue growth, it’s about Long Term Association Strategy & Competitive Positioning. Through NIRI’s experience and our research  http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2 ,we’re learning just how much of a driver strategic member engagement is for an association’s business model.

Additional information on Strategic Member Engagement and our eBook are available at no cost at www.potomaccore.com.


Getting Association Members to Stay

membersGetting Association Members to Stay. A lot of factors drive renewals, but what factors determine a decision to resign a membership? It might be perceptions of insufficient value, insufficient connection to business/personal objectives, or possibly an insufficient opportunity to have an impact. In other situations, members may not want bundled packages and they joined for a discount. In a knowledge based environment, Associations are challenged to find innovative approaches for members to contribute, have the ability to experience close peer interactions, and to also feel valued as a contributor.

Why Members Leave

In our survey of Strategic Member Engagement (http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2), we asked executives to rate the frequency at which members leave for 11 potential reasons. Included in the top reasons that members leave are:

  • Insufficient connection to their business/professional objectives
  • Insufficient perceived value (ROI)
  • Joined only for a one-time purchase discount (e.g. meeting registration)

Three Key Building Blocks

Members feel more “connected” to those groups who value their knowledge contributions.  In addition, members especially most value those things in which they participate.

Building Blocks to Accelerate Strategic Member Engagement:

  1. Contribution.  Members see their opportunity to impact something they care about. Associations who provide these opportunities can move behaviors from being a “Recipient” of information to a “Knowledge Contributor.”
  2. Collaboration. Through ongoing community reinforcement, members experience increased value in what they perceive a “highly engaged solutions community.”
  3. Connectedness. As more contribution and collaboration “connectedness” to the association occurs, the Association moves from “casual priority” to “personal priority.”

Each building block helps reinforce why an executive should maintain their Association membership.

Getting Association Members to Stay

Accelerating strategic member engagement is really about creating opportunities and “experiences” to both contribute knowledge and feel valued; something that members don’t always find elsewhere.

Complete survey results and more information on Strategic Member Engagement is available at at www.potomaccore.com.


Is Your Association Focused on Member Outcomes?

member outcomesIs Your Association Focused on Member Outcomes? Members look to their Associations to deliver outcomes that address business and professional challenges. Organizations who are outcome driven effectively transition their focus away from selling and testing products and services to engaging members in things they care most about. The process begins with a highly engaged and strategically focused board. Their capability to understand and strategize about the needs of the average member can change the member engagement and operating performance dynamics of an Association.

External Focus Rules

Identify data that defines member external and operational challenges. Associations can utilize a host of platforms to secure this information including: member impact surveys, focus groups, social media, in person interviews, or other online community dialogue.

Member Impact

With many different alternatives available such as coalitions, new Associations, and online communities, it’s more important than ever to align strategies and execution to support member outcomes. If members determine their Association is not providing sufficient enough impact, they will go somewhere else.

Drive Member Value

Begin with a deliberate focus on member “outcomes” and then:

  • Leverage the board, focus on member success
  • Have strategic board discussions about helping members achieve objectives
  • Come to grips with the Association’s capacity to drive member “outcomes”
  • Engage members, help them contribute & collaborate in developing new solutions to achieve their objectives

Is Your Association Focused on Member Outcomes?

Is this in effective approach? The Strategic Member Engagement Survey results (http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2) reports a highly engaged and strategic board makes a difference. Associations who report a “Very High” degree of board understanding and strategizing about average member needs report “upward” 3 year business trends in: Member Retention, Annual Operating Revenue, Paid Registrations at Primary Annual Meeting, and Timely Membership Renewals.

member outcomes

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations?

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations? Global Competition, political turmoil, and the digital economy are creating new opportunities for Associations and Professional Societies. Some organizations are leveraging external challenges to partner with their members to help them achieve business and professional outcomes. This type of “shared outcome” approach can help Associations move the conversation away from “what do I get for my dues?”

A Highly Engaged Solution Community

ACCA, the Air Conditioning Contractors of America, www.acca.org, works through ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) to develop industry standards for heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and building performance. They collaborate with members, engage experienced small business owners, and consistently recognize volunteer thought leadership contributions in their standards setting process.

The organization’s engagement practices help reinforce a “we” focused & a “highly engaged solution community.” Recognition of Air Conditioning Contractor Expert Contributions throughout the process in a target member segment also increases member “connectivity” to the Association.

engagement opportunityPaul Stalknecht, ACCA President & CEO, says the Standards Program is “effective because it’s driven and led by accomplished small business owners.” He emphasizes that their standards setting initiative has influenced how the organization structures their offerings to Air Conditioning Contractors across multiple platforms.

New Engagement Opportunity for Associations?

A “shared outcome” focus similar to ACCA’s will motivate more members to contribute and be connected if they believe that the outcomes they care most about will be achieved. The Association reports upward trends in retention, annual operating revenue, and fee for service offerings.

Organizations who most often reported (http://bit.ly/1g8g1J2) upward 3 year business trends were the ones who reported an understanding of member “up at night” issues and then engaging members in becoming active on those needs.

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

engagement opportunity


Association Member Viewing Lens

Strategic Member Engagement: The Association Member Viewing Lens Nowadays, Executives no longer make membership decisions per se, they make business decisions. The lens in which these decisions are evaluated and made is all about business, professional, and personal outcomes. Associations who align their offerings do so by first understanding member “up at night” issues.

“We”  Focused Community

viewing lensFor Tino Mantella, President & CEO, the Technology Association of Georgia, www.tagonline.org, listening and reinforcing their engaged solution community is a consistent mantra. Annual membership surveys, focus groups, market studies, and dedicated relationship resources provide Mantella, his senior team, and their Board of Directors with connectivity to member “up at night” issues. (http://bit.ly/1aT4qmn)

TAG also emphasizes collaboration throughout its community and rewards, welcomes, and recognizes “thought leadership” contributions among its 34 different Special Interest Groups.

Test: Is the Association a Highly Engaged Solution Community?

Entrepreneurs, a key TAG membership segment, wanted the organization to help achieve enactment of a $100 million investment fund to assist early growth stage firms. Working as part of a broader business coalition, TAG marshaled its resources. The legislation achieved final passage in the Georgia State Legislature on March 28, 2013. (http://bit.ly/1lcl9Ud)

Data Drives Alignment With The Association Member Viewing Lens

Mantella says “we think about all the ways we listen, learn, and respond to our members.” In 2014 member retention stands at 98% with annual corporate membership growth at 35%.

Strategic Member Engagement: The Association Member Viewing Lens

Associations who regularly conduct member impact surveys (not merely satisfaction surveys) fare better. The survey of 307 Association Executives conducted by Potomac Core Consulting, Vertical Leap Consulting, and icimo, shows that organizations who conduct annual member impact surveys with annual revenue perform 15% higher over a 3 year period than those who do not.

For complete survey results and the “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” eBook, sign up at www.potomaccore.com.

viewing lens

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus?

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus? At a time of unprecedented change, some CEO’s view strategic boards as indispensable and an important driver to the success of an organization. As demographics, technology, the economy, and the nature of commerce rapidly shift from one day to the next, boards with strategic focus could be the difference between success and failure.

Key Capability

strategic focusIn a joint survey conducted through the collaborative effort of Vertical Leap Consulting, icimo, and Potomac Core Consulting, very highly engaged boards who are strategic in focus were recognized as one of six capabilities reporting upward trending 3-year operating results. For Christopher E. Laxton, CAE, Executive Director, AMDA (www.amda.com),The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, and a 2014 Alumni Examiner for the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award, the survey results have even greater implications. He views the results as providing external validation of the strategic focus that all boards must have to navigate a changing and challenging landscape.

“CEOs Must Lead The Board”

As Associations face increasing competition, more public scrutiny, and higher stakes, Laxton contends that “more CEO’s should take on board development.” Reflecting on professional experience and results from the Strategic Member Engagement Survey, he emphasizes that “when boards focus strategically, we can more easily see the results.”

Laxton believes that CEO’s should start the process by asking themselves, “How can I make my board more strategic?” and understand that boards don’t always understand how to become strategic in the first place. He works with board chairs to define the culture, i.e. “talking and getting nothing done” or “instilling a sense of urgency and taking action.”

Does Your Association Board Have A Strategic Focus?

From Laxton’s perspective, every minute that Association CEO’s invests in the Board can help deliver increased engagement and revenue growth.

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

strategic focus

“Outside In” Association Boards?

association boards

“Outside In” Association Boards?

The overall impact of very highly strategic boards with a high understanding who strategize about the needs of the average member is reflected in Association business model performances. New data from a Strategic Member Engagement Survey shows organizations who are “Outside In” are far more likely to deliver strong performance in retention, annual revenue, primary meeting registrations and timely membership renewals. This and other survey data was shared through the collaboration of icimo, Vertical Leap Consulting, and Potomac Core – Association Consulting.

Why “Outside In” Boards Matter

As Associations and Professional Societies work to remain relevant, a strategic board can provide important linkages to member “up at night” issues and the business and professional outcomes that members want to achieve.

Alignment With Member Outcomes

outside inIn an important example, keeping an Association reflective of member business outcomes (“outside-in) is a deliberate focus for Julia Hamm, President & CEO of the Solar Electric Power Association www.solarelectricpower.org.  By design, the organization’s board reflects all sectors of its core membership ranging from large regulated investor owned electric companies to small municipally owned electric utilities.

Hamm and her senior team consistently utilize their strategically focused board to understand their “up at night” issues. They utilize direct market feedback  to develop products and services which help effectively address  and engage members in solutions to their “up at night” issues. “What’s driving us is what they need, not what we need” emphasizes Julia Hamm. This member outcome focused approach helps the organization achieve consistent 94-95% core member retention.

“Outside In” Association Boards?

Strategic boards who provide high level perspectives on member and professional outcomes help motivate and drive Strategic Member Engagement. They also help an Association remain highly relevant on a consistent basis.


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


Knowing Member “Up at Night” Issues Accelerates Association Growth & Positioning

up at nightKnowing Member “Up at Night” Issues Accelerates Association Growth & Positioning. Trade Associations and Professional Societies with upward trending 3-year operating results are far more likely to better understand member “up at night” issues and to engage members in acting upon those needs. This and other relevant actionable data was released in a joint survey of 307 Association Executives conducted through the collaborative effort of Vertical Leap Consulting, icimo, and Potomac Core Consulting.

Up at Night Issues: What Members Care About Most

Strategic Member Engagement is mostly about understanding member “up at night” issues and the outcomes that Association Members seek instead of focusing on member satisfaction with an association’s current “outputs” (products or services).

3 Year Operating Results

Associations who identify member “up at night” issues and then engage their members in solutions are far more likely to report strong performance in Member Retention, Annual Operating Revenue, Registrations to Primary Annual Meetings, Annual Revenue from Fee for Service Offerings, and Timely Membership Renewals. Trade Associations and Professional Societies reflecting upward trends also more frequently have these capabilities:

  1. Very highly engaged boards who are strategic in focus
  2. Regularly conduct member impact surveys (not merely “satisfaction” surveys)
  3. Ability to gather and segment member data; especially if able to integrate data from multiple sources/platforms
  4. Very high degree of board understanding and strategizing about the needs of the average member
  5. Have identified member segments who most want to contribute knowledge and collaborate with other members
  6. Have identified specific behaviors that foreshadow future increases in knowledge and contribution and collaboration

Knowing Member “Up at Night” Issues Accelerates Association Growth & Positioning

Having a firm grip on Member “Up at Night” Issues has game change potential for Associations.  Ultimately it helps align organizations with the things that their members really care about.

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

up at night

3 Reasons Why Association CEO’s Must See These Results

association3 Reasons Why Association CEO’s Must See These Results.Vertical Leap Consulting, icimo, and Potomac Core Consulting are poised to release results from a groundbreaking Strategic Member Engagement Survey on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. The Survey was conducted between October and November,  2013, with numerous national/international trade associations and professional societies participating. This survey focused on Strategic Member Engagement as an accelerant to growth and positioning strategies.

Call to Action: 3 Reasons Why Association CEO’s Must See These Survey Results

Executives from trade associations and professional societies will be interested in how their peers are experimenting with new approaches and demonstrating how these are driving their long term impact and organizational health.

According to the survey’s collaborators, there are 3 factors why these results are a must read:

  • Bryce Gartner, CEO of icimo. “Successful associations are leveraging their data to make better decisions for membership, growth, revenue and ultimately to better engage their members. “
  • Dan Varroney, President & CEO, Potomac Core Consulting. “We’ll be sharing key linkages between member engagement practices and an association’s business model.”
  • Steve Lane, Vertical Leap President. “Leading associations pay attention to member outcomes in addition to association outputs.”

Define Future Member Engagement Levels

Survey results will be shared by Potomac Core Consulting, Vertical Leap Consulting, and icimo  at the following locations:

3 Reasons Why Association CEO’s Must See These Survey Results

“The number of Trade Association CEO’s who participated in the survey is impressive. We look forward to a robust conversation on strategic member engagement with the association community,” says Bryce Gartner of icimo, Steve Lane of Vertical Leap Consulting, and Dan Varroney of Potomac Core Consulting.

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


Does Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition?

for profit competitionDoes Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition? At a time when for profit competitors pursue convention & conference space once owned by Associations, CEOs determined to thrive are reinvesting & sharpening their organizational competitive edge. In one case, PMMI www.pmmi.org, the Association for Packaging and Processing Technologies, an organization whose principal source of funding comes from trade shows, takes nothing for granted. According to Chuck Yuska, President & CEO, the board & staff team always compete to maintain their “Convening Authority” mantle.

Strategic Partnership Emphasis

Securing market alignment is key for PMMI. Members & staff collaborate on annual goals, objectives, and measurements for the upcoming year.

Yuska emphasizes “we want to help our members be more competitive, give them the tools & information to grow their business, minimize their risks and obtain new business practices that help them become better companies and be more profitable.”

Address Member Pain Points   

Successful Associations like PMMI remain connected with member pain points, & provide business tangible solutions to:

1. Help members succeed. Support member global market needs, produce trade shows & conferences that studiously link buyers & sellers, members, & their customers.

2.  Use Customer Feedback Loop. Utilize exhibitor, member, & customer analytics & feedback to continuously improve takeaway value for all members & show participants.

3. Maintain High Relevance Factor. Accelerate organizational visibility through traditional & social media, direct mail, and industry channels.

4. Reinvest. Deliver the next “new thing,” and expand opportunities for members & customers.

Does Your Association Outdistance For Profit Competition?

for profit competitionDespite $2 million net operating performance in 2012 & 2013, and 7% operating growth and 95% retention in 2013, PMMI looks to consistently enhance its competitive position.

What’s next for PMMI? Expansion into regional trade shows with Pack Expo East www.packexpoeast.com

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

for profit competition