Five Areas of Focus for Association Leaders During a Crisis – Association Hustle Podcast Episode 229



Listen to this week’s episode to learn how you can adapt and adjust your association’s membership acquisition, value proposition, communications, meeting and events, and leadership to the current environment.
Hello and welcome to JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. President of The Moery Company, JP’s mission is to arm today’s associations with insight and strategy to thrive and a progressively complex and competitive business landscape. 21st century associations must move forward with a little bit of hustle and revenue development at their core.
Here’s JP.
It’s great to be with you. I’ve got another COVID-19 pandemic themed episode for you and we’re going to cover a lot of topics.
Association Membership
Every industry is being affected by this and I’m not sure how much. My sense is that it’s somewhere from catastrophic to very hectic. Despite that, this may be an incredible time for you to increase your outreach and your engagement with your members and industry.
A few ideas for you.
You can launch a trial membership during the pandemic that allows those that are non-members to access resources that you are currently providing to your members. Open up channels of communications with them, engage them, and continue to deliver more than ever. Give them a chance to experience how valuable membership is with your association.
Along with the trial membership offer you will need to have an intentional plan to convert them to full memberships when things return to “normal,” possibly in the next quarter. You may already know the difficulty of converting trial memberships so be ready. You’re doing so much fantastic work that the trial period should build loyalty that will help with conversion down the road.
Value Proposition
Relaunch your association with a new value proposition with access to corresponding materials. The other day I saw an association that launched a great program that extended membership for three months for free for those who are unemployed along with a $125 credit for any of their educational programs, and a COVID-19 resource page where they’re delivering webinars and podcasts on a regular basis. As you can see, they’re delivering all this value to their members without necessarily saying it will all be free forever. They set up a program that unique to the time to help their members and they’re delivering more information, services and benefits than maybe they ever had before.
Increase your information delivery. We’re seeing here, at The Moery Company, a 50% increase in social media engagement. Our open rates on our email newsletter has gone up almost 10%.
The other thing that could be unique for this moment in time, is connecting with people on the phone: more return phone calls and more phone conversations, in general, are happening right now. It won’t last forever. There is no doubt that the pace has slowed down but people are very active and they’re much more willing to speak on the phone. What an unbelievable time to connect person to person.
Meetings and Events
My guess is you have cancelled meetings. I saw a study the other day that said 65% of all associations have cancelled an event and they pivoted to adjusted meeting, holding sessions online, and found sponsors for webinars and Zoom gatherings. One of our smaller clients told me about a webinar that had near 1000 people on their online webinars, they’ve never had that before! Prepare for the future of smaller, more exclusive meetings, which were already becoming very popular. I’m not sure if folks will be willing to come out to a 2000+ person meeting you used to have. They may be interested smaller, more exclusive, gatherings. I think meetings will change and become more diversified. Hey, I’m not sure if an old guy like me will be comfortable getting on the plane and go to Las Vegas for a large show. I’m not sure when people will be comfortable with that. This is why the attractiveness of a more exclusive and targeted event is going to be even more valuable, in my view.
Leading Through a Crisis
When responding to the crisis I think you have to, overall, be very honest about the problem. Be realistic. As a leader, you may be more vulnerable than ever before and it’s okay to convey that to your employees. Assess where you are, know your strengths and weaknesses are, and be very candid with your team about it. From there, what I have done, was develop three plans: an adjustment plan, a crisis plan with significant changes, and a meltdown and survival mode. You can save the company, but I have no sense of what it will look like coming out of this. There are no guarantees. It’s absolutely fine to be totally candid with your team about those things.
Moving forward is the key. I don’t care what industry you are in. I understand many of you are in industries that are in total meltdown but I think you can still move forward with them and on their behalf. Don’t take your foot off the gas in terms of communications, delivering value, and asking them to engage with you.
If you do stop, paralysis sets in, and you’re going to get eaten up.
You will get out of this.
Personally, I don’t know what kind of shape you’ll be in. I don’t know if you’ll have a job or not but there will be an end to all of this. I think you have the opportunity to get up, get off the mat and come out stronger, better, and faster regardless of what your situation is. I know it’s easy for me to say but believe me, friends, I’m struggling with the same things you are.
Today, in fact, we’re launching an association stimulus program at the Big Red M!
Members need to hear from you and as part of our stimulus package we will develop a plan to engage and inform changes you might be implementing in your membership, such as extending renewals, and we will call your members. Or, if you are moving forward to an online meeting platform, we will look at the program and build a sponsorship program around it and sell it for you. People are in the stage of adjustment and the time is now to execute it. How can you change and adjust your traditional deliverables in this incredible new environment? That’s the challenge. Are we up to it? I think so. You wouldn’t be listening to Association Hustle if you weren’t.
Talk to you soon. Thanks for listening. Bye bye.
We hope you enjoyed this edition of JP Moery’s Association Hustle Podcast. We’d love to connect with you. Check out our blog at and subscribe to our weekly newsletter. You can also connect with JP on LinkedIn and Twitter at @JPMoery, as well as The Moery’s Company’s Instagram and Facebook page. To purchase a copy of JP’s book, Association Hustle: Top Strategies for Association Growth, go to


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