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Management consultant Peter Drucker posed the question 40+ years ago and it is more important now than ever. What does the customer (or member) value? As association leaders wrestle with budgeting for the next year in an economy that rivals that of the Great Depression, this is the critical question. Association resources - human, capital, physical, everything - must be aligned in response to the answer.
What products and services will members need to weather this storm? Key questions include:
What should the association continue to provide?What should the association double down on?
What should the association stop doing?
What should the association start doing?
As associations move past the early response phases to COVID-19 and plan for an uncertain future, there is a lot of conversation around how to analyze business lines and develop business models. While there are many different approaches to doing so, the Business Model Canvas is a deceptively simple tool that captures a business model's building blocks in a useful, one-page snapshot
The BMC is a visual organizer that focuses on the essential aspects of a business model and allows the user to appreciate the relationships among those aspects. The Value Proposition is central to a strong business model, and it is oriented as such in the tool. Also inherent in the tool's design are both sides of the balance sheet. On the right side of the BMC, are those aspects of the business model that relate to revenue generation: Customer Segments, Customer Relationships, Channels, and Revenue Streams. On the left side of the BMC are the aspects that have costs associated with them: Key Resources, Key Activities, Key Partnerships, and Cost Structures.
[In-person meetings appear to be being pushed farther and farther out on the horizon. Complete information on ASAE’s Impact Research can be found here.]
For the average association without some qualifying circumstance, the proportion of overall revenue generated by meetings and education in associations will likely never return to its pre-COVID state. While I hope this isn't true, I suspect it is, and here's why.
In the years to come, in-person meetings and education will be hindered by several key limitations. In-person meetings will be more expensive to host due to necessary virus precautions. Attendance is likely to decline due to fear of inherent risk, restrictions on business travel, and, paradoxically, undesirable expectations on attendees (face coverings,etc.). I am not suggesting that in-person meetings won't still be an important business line for associations but rather a less prominent one. And, this problem is not solved by just shifting to virtual meetings.
Association virtual meetings and education as a significant business line are also under threat. The first threat is cost - taking content online in a meaningful way requires investments in staff training, software, and technology that associations with diminishing reserves may not be able to make. In the short term, association members have tolerated a somewhat awkward foray into virtual, but their patience will run thin. This will be hastened by contrast with the most significant disruptive threat...