As change, disruption and technology take hold, companies are banding together with their supply chains to build a new future. These efforts are happening between industries and their trade associations, and they are building robust strategic partnerships. One of the more visible successes is between the Helicopter Industry and HAI (Helicopter Association International). This strategic partnership is helping a disrupted industry transform itself from the Helicopter Industry to the Vertical Aviation Industry. The broader definition incorporates all companies engaged in vertical take-off and landing aircraft that can operate without a runway.
The public concern about energy affordability, the environment, and global conflict has required America to create a pathway to address and solve the persistent hard times we face. Throughout its history, the U.S. scientists, researchers, and private companies routinely demonstrated that when faced with stiff challenges, this country is capable of overcoming adversity and achieving lofty and heroic breakthroughs. Realistically, we know there is a unfortunate political divide, record high energy prices, and a strong desire to reduce the carbon footprint. It’s time to reimagine how strategic partnerships between industry associations and their member companies solve the issue of reducing the carbon footprint. As we have seen, no other solution can make as great an impact.
Strategic partnerships continue to play an important role in helping industries position for growth. The most fertile ground for nurturing strategic partnerships within any given industry is through trade associations. That assertion should be obvious to all industry leaders, but if widespread adoption is a fair indicator, the results are not there. The good news is that several industry and trade association strategic partnerships are taking hold and they are changing the game. One of the more effective collaborations is between the Frozen Food Industry and the American Frozen Food Institute (AFFI), their relationship demonstrates that this strategic partnership drives Frozen Food Growth.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As referenced in a FORTUNE article, supply chain challenges are nothing new in a complex global market. Surging demand, container shortages, port bottlenecks, shipping price increases, trade imbalances, continue to roil economies in every part of the world.
Association Membership Not Growing? With senior management teams developing next year’s budgets, it’s good a time to conduct a survey and assess your associations impact. The results and a competitive market assessment will be helpful in constructing a membership growth strategy. Associations who have not experienced membership growth will find this approach helpful. It will reveal strengths, opportunities, and weaknesses, all of which can be leveraged into actionable growth strategies.
Laser Market Focus
Individuals and corporations make membership decisions based on their Association’s ability to impact priorities that matter most to them. Whether it be legislative, regulatory, training, or certification related, they are all evaluated. Associations that convert actionable data into tangible solutions will improve their retention and growth opportunities.
Companies conduct internal assessments before they join or renew Association memberships. Members “stay or leave” and prospects “join or go somewhere else” based upon their perception of an organization’s impact. They measure “relevance” as an Association’s capacity to help companies or individuals achieve their business, professional, or personal objectives.
Quantify and Qualify
Impact surveys should become part of an Association’s DNA. Why? Organizations that consistently benchmark products and services based on their marketplace are better positioned that those who don’t.
The impact survey is all about member/prospect “up at night” issues. Answer these key questions:
What is the financial impact on professional and or corporate business objectives?
How do current programs, services, and the advocacy agenda address the financial impact of “up at night” issues?
Do proposed program changes or new initiatives help members and prospects achieve success?
From the member and prospect vantage point, what else can the Association do?
Association Membership Not Growing?
Associations who want to grow should be seen as strategic partners. Once your Association is viewed as a strategic partner, membership growth and higher retention follow. Keep in mind that several Associations already using this approach have seen double digit growth. Why not give it a try? A growth formula you can use immediately: