What Is Your Association Doing About _______?


This week's blog focuses on the Solutions aspect of Association Laboratory's Looking Forward Research, which identified the specific strategies associations are focusing on within the core domains of association management. (Translation: What are other associations doing about ___________?) (Last week's blog explored some of the big issues members of associations are experiencing based on Association Laboratory's Looking Forward Research.) There are a lot of interesting nuggets in the report, but we're only covering the highlights. Head over to https://www.associationlaboratory.com/ for the full report. Now let's get to it, shall we?. 

Concerns Around Certain Core Activities of Associations

For the purposes of the study, Looking Forward considers the following core activities of association management to be Domains and explores strategy use in these areas:

  1. Membership, Retention, Acquisition, and Engagement
  2. Meeting, Convention, and Tradeshow
  3. Face to Face and Exhibitor
  4. Hybrid or Virtual
  5. Sponsorship
  6. Publications or Digital/Online Content
  7. Education, Accreditation, or Certification
  8. Government Advocacy
  9. Component Relationship
  10. Global
  11. Governance and Leadership

In December of 2020, the domain of most significant concern identified by association leaders was Face-to-Face Meetings, Conventions, and Tradeshows (70%). Six months later, the primary area of concern shifted to Member Retention, Acquisition, or Engagement (54%). Is this consistent with your perspective? About which of the areas listed above are you most concerned? Let's have a look at membership since that's was the most current top concern. 

Top 5 Strategies to Address Membership

Respondents cited the following strategies as most important to their association concerning member retention, acquisition, or engagement:

  1. Customizing messaging for different audience segments (73%)
  2. Creating member outreach targeting new or underrepresented communities (58%)
  3. Ensuring accuracy and completeness of member or stakeholder data (51%)
  4. Creating digital or mail promotions targeting nonmembers (44%)
  5. Using social media or SEO promotion (41%)

Is this list consistent with the strategies you're association is using to build membership? 

The study also explored strategies related to Membership Models. Identifying emerging needs (66%) and prioritizing the most relevant membership benefits (45%) were the top two strategies identified in this area. Have you deployed any specific strategies related to your membership model? 

Top 4 Strategies to Address Challenges to Face-to-Face Meetings

Associations are heavily reliant on revenue from in-person meetings, so this is a critical topic. Four strategies were identified as important to address the challenge to in-person meetings by 50% or more of the respondents:  

  1. Identifying or producing more relevant meeting content (78%)
  2. Expanding promotional efforts targeting new markets (57%)
  3. Expanding onsite attendee networking or social activities (53%)
  4. Promoting safer, more diverse, or inclusive onsite experiences (50%)

Are you surprised that 78% of respondents plan to utilize identifying more relevant meeting content as a strategy for overcoming challenges to in-person meetings? It's important to note the study addressed Hybrid and Virtual Meetings as topics independent of Face-to-Face Meetings Strategies - details can be found at https://www.associationlaboratory.com/

Tested Versus Bested

The last two years have challenged associations in new and unimagined ways. It only makes sense that leaders would reevaluate what's working and what isn't. As I see it, the Looking Forward Study allows us to measure our responses against that of our peers and adjust accordingly. Association Laboratory's Dean West, FASAE, may have said it best, "While the Pandemic tested us, it has not bested us."