For most associations, 1946 to 2000 were standout years. With the active support of the baby boomers–the largest generation in American history–membership associations thrived. Yet, as the saying goes, what goes up must come down.
Since 2000, associations have experienced a barrage of challenges that have weakened their position in the marketplace. Financial decline. Demographic shifts. Technology. All have played a role in the altered business environments associations now face.
However, with the right vision and structure in place, your organization can evolve and realize its full potential once again. Here’s 5 steps for how your association can flip its fortune:
Why does your association exist? Define, with absolute clarity, your association’s reason for being and its niche. Don’t try to be everything to everyone–you’ll become diluted, lose value and shrink your membership. If you’re diligent about focus, your association will continue to be competitive, productive and successful.
It’s easy to set short-term goals. What you need to do is set a stretch goal–something with significance. Meet with your leadership team and discuss where you want to take your association (think 5 years from now). Allow the team time to mull over this question until there is an established goal that excites everyone. You want your team to be really inspired. Mediocre goals are simply not worth the effort.
If you want to sell more membership, you’ve got to know exactly who benefits from being a part of your association and their motives behind their membership. Only with that information can you then begin marketing. Marketing success relies on a 4-step process:
Here’s where you identify your association’s obstacles to growth. Do you need to introduce new technology or membership models? Should you target a younger audience? Whatever the case, your goal here is to eliminate negative influences and focus on your association’s potential.
Ask your team to identify obstacles the association is likely to face on the road to achieving its goals. List your challenges then whittle it down to your top three. Discuss what the real problem is behind your challenges. If you have an aging membership or declining revenues, it’s for a reason. Pinpoint what they are and then discuss possible solutions for resolving those challenges.
After all the strategy, it’s time for plan implementation. Here’s how to implement a growth-oriented strategic plan:
It may be that we are in a period that is the end of membership as we know it, but that doesn’t have to mean it’s the end of your association. Now is the time to look at the best ways to flip the future of your organization and build a revenue-generation, membership-making machine.
Looking for a game changer at your next event or a strategy unique to your organization?