An Association Disconnect



Istock_Credit: ismagilov

All right.  I want to give you some advanced warning as you read this blog – I may come across as defensive but bear with me because I have a point to make.
Recently, I had a great opportunity with my colleague and friend Scott Lynch, CEO of the American Boiler Manufacturers Association, to give a speech during ASAE’s Membership, Marketing, and Communications Conference. We had a great time providing a 30-minute session about podcasting.  We just received some great attendee feedback on the presentation, and my sincere thanks to everyone who joined us and to those who shared their thoughts.
But I want to talk about one comment I received on the session, which read, “This was a not-so-subtle sales pitch about buying what JP has to offer.” Let’s be clear, after nearly 200 podcasts and nearly 50 free webinars, I very intentionally try not to sell during speeches and presentations.
This comment reinforced to me the sense there’s some anxiety, animosity, or lack of connection between the vendor and association communities in terms of our relationship with each other. So, I’d like to take the opportunity to address it.
The best business presentations are based on real-life experiences, right? Isn’t that what thought leadership is all about? To provide the very best discussion of a business issue, opportunity, or challenge is to pull from what you know and to share that knowledge. My session with Scott was based on our experiences as podcasters in the association space. This was not a sales pitch. So, to that one person, please know that was not my intent. And if you want to hear a sales pitch from me, believe me, it’s going to sound a lot different.
I  want to help the association community cross this transom, because here’s the reality: associations – you are vendors to your industry. You are the service providers to those folks. Maybe one of the challenges we have right now is telling real, authentic stories about how our companies or our individual members are getting value from us. This inability to articulate value is one of the biggest challenges I see.
Associations must ensure you have the information needed to talk about your return on investment. This comes from collecting real stories from your members about how they participate, how they get value, and how they’ve increased their business. This is the good stuff. And, the more you can tell real stories about how your members benefit, the more successful you will be as an organization. I welcome your thoughts. Send them my way at


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