Consider these market forces that are activly eroding associations:
Everyone is a writer
Anyone can create and publish remarkable content. Fire up your computer, log into WordPress and create a platform; anyone can publish content to the world. Consultants, members and vendors are publishing content, articles, research, insight and opinions that until relativly recently was the domain of associations and major media.
In a recent #AssnChat on Twitter participants responded that most of their networking now started online with Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook and then moved to in-person. 5-10 years ago networking was a largely face-to-face activity much of which was held during association and user conferences. The other interesting relatively new dynamic with networking is with the help of free web-based tools anyone can set up a online or physical networking event.
Research projects are difficult but, not impossible for any savvy professional. As long as you have an email list, adequate sample size, time and analytical skills the survey tools are easily and cheaply accessible. To augment their marketing vendors and consultants are conducting quantitative research surveys to freely furnish customers with valuable data that they previously paid their association for.
Given these and other market pressures many smaller “competitors” are eating away at the territory associations once enjoyed. Given this new reality how will associations succeed in the future?
3 strategies to become the first organization your members turn to:
- Leverage trust: members tend to view associations as non-bias entities that are the go-to experts in the field. A challenge for every professional is cutting through the digital clutter and finding the content that is really valuable. Associations can fully embrace this role by highly curating profession specific content, no matter where it comes from, and delivering it to members in a easy to digest format.
- Become the one-stop shop: purchasers like to continue buying from companies and organizations they are familiar with and like doing business with. They seek out new sources only when their current providers can’t meet their needs. Are their big gaps in your benefits or other products and services? Decide where you can excel and innovate to fill those gaps in your offering.
- Know your members like no one else does: associations that understand their member’s challenges, talk in their words, know what they need, can identify how to save them time – these associations will beat the competition every time. However many associations don’t know their members as well as they should (previous post).
Are you worried about your association turning into a commodity? Turn that around; try one or more of these three strategies to become distinguished in the profession.