Trade Association Insights: The only certainty is uncertainty

President & CEO


Trade Associations that utilize uncertainty to evolve their value propositions will be in a much better position to engage their members, grow their membership, and more effectively shape the business environment for the Industry they serve. Based on rapid moving competitive issues, cost pressures and the risk of increased military conflict, Trade Associations have an unprecedented opportunity to be the solution that Industries and Members are seeking. For Trade Association CEO’s thinking through their 2024 strategic moves, it’s a time for reimagination.

Following these key steps will create new conversations and open doors that were previously closed:

  • Research, research, research – Make this exercise all about the Industry and their challenges and desired outcomes. Engage an outside firm to conduct individual executive interviews or focus groups that surface both short and long range Industry challenges and outcomes. Identify common themes and build consensus among your Board and select Industry leaders on the challenges and outcomes.
  • Revisit the Value Proposition – Because challenges happen even more quickly Value Propositions must be revisited on an annual basis. Through the outside firm, take the common themes and critically apply them to the current value proposition. If the current value proposition does not reflect what your Trade Association is doing to create a more favorable business environment, then your organization is not aligned. The pathway to alignment is all about the Industry and the Members. Step back and assume your Trade Association is brand new and develop three value statements that reflect what challenges need to be overcome.
  • Engage the Board and the Members – Share the value statements in another round of interviews and focus groups. Make adjustments based on member feedback and redesign your Value Proposition.
  • Execution is a strategy – With an updated Value Proposition, be deliberate in how you execute and deliver against the new Value Proposition. More importantly, regularly communicate to the Board and the Members what’s been accomplished to create a more favorable business environment.

The Value Proposition process is about building the Industry and Trade Association Strategic Partnership. Having the following as benchmarks will help your organization be well positioned in 2024 and beyond. Because of its new Value Proposition, The Trade Association is viewed as:

  • A Strategic Business Unit of the Industry.
  • Neutral Integrator and Aggregator of Industry trends and Research.
  • Having agreed upon pre-competitive Go-Forward Strategies.
  • Possess the resources to overcome Industry Challenges.
  • Having the capacity to far extend the Industry’s reach with a vast ecosystem to support any possible outcome.
  • Durable and robust enough to create a more favorable business environment.

In an era of chronic uncertainty, the best pathway forward is through a consistent “outside in” approach (“customer centricity”). Applying this approach and an actionable Value Proposition is mission critical. Evolving your organization’s value proposition will help you and your team better engage your members, grow membership, and more effectively shape the business environment for the Industry you serve. 

For more information on how Potomac Core can help your Trade Association update its Value Proposition,  please contact Dan Varroney  or