2017 Member Engagement Strategy

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

Market uncertainty and the pace of change will continue to impact membership decisions at professional societies and trade associations. Looming external factors will play a significant role in how membership decisions will be made.  The outcome of the U.S. Presidential and Congressional Elections, economic performance inside and outside the United States, mergers and acquisitions, baby boomer retirements, terror threats, and technology disruptions will influence whether or not professionals and corporate executives engage in their associations. Actionable Data can help organizations surface opportunities that can help members drive their professional and industry outcomes. Moreover, the data can serve as the foundation for a 2017 Member Engagement Strategy that can position your organization as a more relevant and necessary resource for your members.

Engage More and Sell Less

2017 Member Engagement StrategyIn terms of 2017 Member Engagement Strategy, utilize data and research to build your partnership with professions and industries. This can create a more positive dynamic that links your organization with the business and professional outcomes that members seek in an uncertain world. Getting your organization there requires a different look at the external landscape and the challenges that plague your members. Selling more or selling louder will hinder instead of help your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy.

Actionable Member Engagement Data

Understanding the extent to which your organization impacts industry or professional business outcomes is the foundation of your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having actionable data (through focus groups, surveys, or industry or professional roundtables) helps your organization understand the external market challenges. Traditional satisfaction surveys and focus groups won’t provide the data that your organization must have to build an effective engagement strategy. What adds the most value is an Engagement and Impact dialogue where you surface more compelling professional and industry challenges and opportunities for your members.

In the 2014 Strategic Member Engagement Survey, organizations who regularly conduct impact surveys instead of “satisfaction” surveys report stronger operating performance than those who survey less frequently:

Survey Frequency Survey Annually Survey Infrequently
3-Year Operating Trends:
Retention up 31.90% 24.10%
Annual revenue up 55.10% 39.80%
Primary meeting registrations up 40.60% 31.30%
Fee for Service revenue up 43.50% 21.70%
Timely membership renewals up 31.90% 16.90%

Internal Perception Versus Member Reality

Associations and Professional Societies can avoid falling into a trap by separating internal perceptions from member realities. For example, securing actionable data focused on professional and industry business outcomes will help your organization build more meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategies.

In a recent Member Engagement Study released by Abila with surveys conducted by Edge Research , a new and unique approach helped uncover how and why members engage at membership organizations. The study reveals the differences in perception that occur from both a member and an organizational perspective. This research ventured to answer “four essential questions”:

  • What matters most to members when they join an organization?
  • What makes members feel involved and engaged?
  • How can Organizations better communicate?
  • Are organizations engaging members in a segmented, targeted, personal way?

Abila and Edge Research surveyed over 1,000 members in the United States in all age segments and also surveyed 150 Association Professionals. The online surveys were conducted between April 7 and April 25, 2016. Some of the differences in perceptions among members and professional membership organizations include:

  • Inclusiveness. Where 72 percent of organizational professionals see their organization as inclusive of different opinions, only 60 percent of the members who were surveyed share this view.
  • Responsiveness. Some 68 percent of members note their organizations as responsive, and 91 percent of organizations see themselves as responsive.
  • Good Value. From a member perspective, 63 percent see value for the membership fee. From an organizational perspective, 81 percent believe they are getting good value.

Utilizing survey approaches similar to this one will help your organization build a profession or industry focused 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. It’s all about how well you utilize the data to build engagement strategies that align with the challenges and opportunities that matter most to your members.

Drive and Help Define Their Future Outcomes

Associations and professional societies are facing increased competition from for profit companies, self-forming share groups, new associations and industry coalitions. Utilizing actionable data to develop your 2017 Member Engagement Strategy helps your organization establish uniqueness in the marketplace.  For example, the more your engagement strategy positions your organization to help support professional and industry outcomes for your members the better. Those organizations who have pivoted to this approach are impacting industry outcomes and reporting impressive operating performance:

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

A key component of your organization’s success will be your ability to unlock actionable data to construct its 2017 Member Engagement Strategy. Having data that surfaces new opportunities while it helps your organization develop meaningful 2017 Member Engagement Strategy can create the win you hope for next year and beyond.

2017 Member Engagement Strategy

 

 

 

Free eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available upon request for all Association Executives at Potomac Core – Association Consulting

post brexit associations

Post Brexit Associations

The Brexit vote in the United Kingdom along with modest and subdued global economic growth will continue to affect corporate decisions on external costs not related to top line growth and operating performance. Associations in a number of instances are increasingly more relevant, and have strategic objectives closely aligned with the industries they serve. These organizations also have the characteristics that define Post Brexit Associations.  However, in a rapidly evolving global market, how aligned is your association in order to help your members and their industries meet new challenges?

recession ready association

The Recession Ready Association

It’s been seven years since the end of the great recession and one economist thinks there is a 60% chance of a recession next year. As global uncertainty and slow U.S. economic growth dominate the landscape, CEO’s should assess whether or not they are leading a recession ready association. While the next recession may not be as severe as the last one, be rest assured that business leaders are continually increasing scrutiny over expenditures not related to corporate performance.

Association Relevance

Association Relevance Despite Market Turbulence

In an era of unending economic challenges and uncertainty, industries must be relevant in order to grow. KPMG’s 2016 report “Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives” underscores how today’s CEO is laser focused on staying relevant in a turbulent global market. In order to remain relevant to their members Trade Association CEO’s focus more on understanding industry challenges then helping drive industry outcomes. Achieving Association Relevance Despite Market Turbulence is how CEO’s can position their organizations for long term growth and durability.

Regulatory Activity Reshaping Associations

Regulatory Activity Reshaping Associations

Where are CEO’s planning to spend their time in 2016? According to a KPMG study of 400 Chief Executives, “34% spend more time with regulators or are considering doing so.” The same report notes the regulatory environment as the number one issue that can “impact a company”, and adapting to government regulation is ranked as CEO’s second most critical challenge. For companies, the spike in regulatory activity is real. In 2015, Thomson Reuters published its sixth annual Cost of Compliance Survey noting among other challenges “regulatory fatigue.” Is the increase in regulatory activity reshaping associations?

active innovation

Data Fuels Active Innovation

In a growing trend, Association CEO’s and their Board Members are utilizing economic data as important context for their strategic deliberations. Jobs data, Housing StartsInstitute for Supply Management Index (ISM), Oil Prices, Consumer Spending, and U.S. Dollar Performance against other currencies is a more frequent topic at Association Strategic Planning Sessions. Although Strategic Plans cover 3 year windows, Boards encourage their CEO’s to be flexible and to use trend data to meet shifting demands to help their industries. In essence, economic data fuels active innovation at Associations.

Association Innovation Delivers Growth

Association Innovation

Association Innovation Delivers Growth

What capabilities should your association have in order to deliver revenue growth and strong retention? In the Strategic Member Engagement Survey, Associations & Professional Societies reporting upward 3-year operating results are far more likely to have a very high level of board understanding and strategizing about the business and professional outcomes members seek, and actively engage members in creating new solutions. For IARW, the International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (Global Cold Chain Alliance Partner), these new and innovative capabilities are serving as an accelerant to revenue growth and retention.

Return on Member Engagement

“Together we achieve a return on member engagement” reflects a six month strategic planning mantra employed by Corey Rosenbusch, President and CEO, GCCA (of which IARW is a key partner) and the Association’s Board of Directors. Collaboratively they determined their industry’s strategic business outcomes and developed an innovation focused strategic plan to drive worldwide top line growth.

Throughout the process board members keenly focused on capabilities and priorities they wanted from their industry association. Their Board Task Force surfaced opportunities to broaden strategic alliances that will extend the industry’s visibility and global reach.

Business Outcome Focus Drives Revenue Growth

Identifying member industry “up-at-night” issues and positioning IARW as a strategic partner to drive business growth is already showing results through recovering former member dues, membership and sponsor growth, and a potential windfall through a new Global Cold Chain Expo to be held in Chicago in 2016.

Association Innovation Delivers Growth

Although Rosenbusch understood the risks of utilizing a different planning process he focused on a different path based on innovation and member business outcomes. To date he reports over $200,000 in new revenue and sees opportunity to grow substantially more and help the industry IARW serves achieve its business growth objectives.

Association Innovation Delivers GrowthFree eBook “Accelerating Strategic Member Engagement” is available for all Association Executives at www.potomaccore.com.

Driving Member Business Outcomes

Driving Member Business Outcomes

Driving Member Business Outcomes

Can an Association transform itself and become a strategic business partner to the very members they serve? The International Association of Refrigerated Warehouses (IARW) did as much through an intensive strategic planning process.  Seeking to understand their impact on their member business outcomes, the Association initiated the process with Board Interviews and a Member Impact Survey.

Forward Looking Data

The Member Impact Survey is forward looking by design and focuses on desired future outcomes that members seek to address their “up at night” issues.  The results also generate focused conversations among senior managers and Board Task Force Members.
driving member business outcomes

The decision to move past the traditional member satisfaction survey format reflected a strategic and important departure says Corey Rosenbusch, President and CEO of the Global Cold Chain Alliance, of which IARW is a key partner.

 

Changing Board Perspectives

At IARW, the results shifted perceptions and thinking about the Association and how it could be utilized to actively promote the industry in key markets. (“Survey uncovers members’ “up-at-night” issues”) It also generated significant dialogue about the future of the industry while it drive culture shifts at the staff and board level.

Industry Pulse

Although the survey results played a critical role in the update of IARW’s Strategic Plan, Rosenbusch utilizes the impact survey results in member meetings and also in conversations with industry partners. The data helps him paint a picture of the industries’ key opportunities and concerns.

Driving Member Business Outcomes

The journey starting from an “inside out” focus to an “outside in” focus is nearing completion. According to Rosenbusch, “IARW is entering a new arena” and it’s one in which the Association, his staff team, and board are building a more and compelling future for their industry.

Driving Member Business Outcomes

 

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

 

Disruptive Associations

Disruptive Associations

 

Disruptive Associations

A snapshot by the Conference Board of both the U.S. and Global Economy doesn’t necessarily paint the rosiest of pictures  GDP growth is projected at 2.9% in the United States while economic performance in the rest of the world will be shaped by “volatility.” In what appears to be a low growth scenario, how and to what extent can Associations be transformed into market disruptors that support market growth?

Traditional 

Be assured that the current slow growth environment or an economic downturn will inflict significant pain on your revenues and membership at some point. Organizational Association balance sheets took significant hits in 2008 and 2009, and there little reason to think otherwise in the current environment. Knowing this should CEO’s maintain traditional Association product and service offerings or should they analyze strategic alternatives?

Market Disruption

New products and services penetrating the marketplace have disrupted the U.S. economy from the start of the Republic. At each turn throughout our history, new entrants reshaped a dynamic marketplace. With big data, predictive analytics, and emerging technologies new companies are in several instances upending the marketplace and driving innovation and boosting higher levels of productivity.

Tough Questions?

Can an Association go beyond traditional roles and provide nontraditional solutions to industries in a slow growth environment? Are boards and volunteers ready for their Association to position and help drive their industry positioning and growth in domestic and international markets?

Competitive Threats

Since the great recession for profit firms are aggressively developing innovative solutions and products to more immediately help companies address business challenges and grow revenue. Why can’t your association play the same role?

Disruptive Associations

Disruptive AssociationsAt a time of unprecedented change your Association can become a Market Disruptor and position your members for success in a slow growth world.

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