Strategic Partnerships Help Industries Weather Tough Times

Some strategic partnerships were created to help industries weather tough times; sometimes those tough times are due to internal issues, sometimes external issues, sometimes uncontrollable circumstances, sometimes extraordinary opportunities, and occasionally in preparation to achieve the next breakthrough. Successful strategic partnerships come in all shapes, sizes, textures, colors and flavors. Nowadays, industry CEOs are using a new application of strategic partnerships that are more inclusive, impactful and ambitious—the sort that moves the needle for entire industries.

Strategic Partnerships With Trade Associations Position Industries For Growth

The good news for business leaders is that strategic partnerships between industries and their trade associations already exist. They lead and convene industries to deliver unified advocacy strategies and convey business outcome-focused messages to government officials. These relationships translate into vital assets to help industries face challenges and position them for growth. For example, recreational boating built its own strategic partnership through its trade association, NMMA, (National Marine Manufacturers Association) and its been highly successful.

Uncertainty Opens Doors For Industry and Trade Association Breakthroughs

Nowadays, there’s a lot of conversation of what cannot be done. Many say we are in uncharted waters, and that is true because uncertainty keeps reaching new orders of magnitude. The Federal Reserve continues to raise interest rates to tame inflation, job openings break new ground surging past 10 million, military conflict persists in Ukraine, gasoline prices are heading higher again. Some say that a longer-term cohesive industry growth strategy is not feasible.

Unleashing Supply Chain Innovation Is a Must

The global economy is making a pivot from just in time to just in case and there are opportunities to unleash supply chain innovation. As noted in a USA WIRE article, supply chain innovation is underway. From the private sector all the way to strategic partnerships between Industries and Trade Associations, collaboration and outside the box thinking is happening in real time.

American Eagle’s Chief Supply Chain Executive Shekar Natarajan is working to unclog retail supply chains and modernize them. The company created a supply chain that can be shared among different companies with an end goal of squeezing out inefficiencies and satisfying customers. It’s a strategic partnership strategy, and it’s a frenemy network too where retail companies share resources to drive down costs and increase efficiencies.

Strategic Partnerships Change the Game for Industries

Some great strategic partnerships were created to weather tough times. COVID-19 was an especially difficult time,  impacting profits, workers, families, and the U.S. economy. Most writing on strategic partnerships focuses on how companies have combined their strengths and mitigated their weaknesses to expand customer bases and achieve far more together than they could separately. However, there are more prodigious, inclusive, and ambitious types of strategic partnerships—the sort that change the game for entire industries. These take shape between industries and their trade associations.

Post Midterms: Clarion Call for Industries and Executives

Forty year high inflation, persistent supply chain challenges, a tight employment market, and the threat of increasing global conflict require far different thinking than at any other time in history. Just as necessity is the mother of invention, these hard times break open the door to strategic partnerships between industries and their trade associations. This is an opportunity and a clarion call for industries and executives.

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.

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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.

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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.

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