Here’s another great piece* from Belinda Moore, Strategic Membership Solutions.
When making decisions that have a significant impact your associations strategic direction, or its members, it’s crucial to rely on solid evidence. Just like you wouldn’t build a house on shaky ground, you shouldn’t base strategic decisions on gut feelings alone.
To truly serve members it’s paramount that decisions impacting them are anchored in concrete evidence. This means truly understanding the nuanced needs, preferences, and challenges of your members and the sector you operate within.
So, where does one find this invaluable evidence? Some of my favourite places include:
Your Current Member, Past Members, and Never Members: It’s right under your nose. Directly engage with your market through surveys, focus groups, and feedback forms. Understand their firsthand experiences, challenges, and aspirations. This continuous feedback loop ensures that the association remains attuned to evolving member needs. It can also offer insights into potential areas of improvement or untapped opportunities.
Stakeholders: From sponsors to industry experts, their external perspectives can shed light on areas that may be overlooked internally. Regular check-ins, surveys, and collaborative workshops can help harness their insights.
Other Associations: This immensely useful information source is often overlooked. Don’t need to reinvent the wheel when other associations have overcome similar challenges. Collaborating and sharing knowledge with other associations (even from unrelated industries) can lead to better strategies for all involved. If you’re short on connections, check out the ‘Answers for Associations‘ free online community. One click on the “Ask the Community” button sends your question to over 2,000 association professionals.
Industry Research: Stay updated with the latest studies, reports, and whitepapers relevant to your industry. This macro perspective is invaluable for strategic planning and anticipating future trends.
Competitive Analysis: Keep a tab on peer organisations. Analyse their strategies, initiatives, and member feedback to identify benchmarks and potential areas of differentiation.
External Consultants and Experts: Their bird’s-eye view, combined with industry expertise, can offer a fresh perspective on challenges and potential solutions.
Social Media Monitoring: Digital platforms are rife with discussions, feedback, and emerging trends. Regular monitoring can provide real-time insights into member sentiments and industry shifts.
Trade Shows and Conferences: These events offer a dual opportunity: direct member engagement and a glimpse into industry advancements. Feedback forms and open forums during these events can be a source of immediate and relevant feedback.
Grounding decisions in evidence ensures not only alignment with member needs but also positions the association for future success. If you are looking for some support to gather evidence to inform your activities, please email me and I’d be happy to share some of the strategies we use with our association clients.