From years of experience, JP debunks old views on associations that do not apply to the changing business times.
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 is some bad business advice and association myths that I’ve heard:
#1: “You can’t charge a retainer for sales work”. We charge a retainer for sales plus commission for all the work we do, because we work hard. And sometimes we’ve got an inherent an uneven and not consistent value proposition, maybe a dues structure that’s not that relevant to the industry that we’re in, and maybe an advocacy program that does more reporting than advocating. But I’ll tell you what; the model has been successful for us and in fact, during the pandemic, if we were a commission only sales entity, we’d probably be out of business today.
#2: “You can’t give it away for free”. You can’t give away too much content, or you’re not going to be valuable anymore. Actually, it’s the opposite. I give away the advice because that content helps to build your credibility and your thought leadership. However, I just don’t implement it for free.
#3: “You have to be in Washington, D.C. and close to customers to be successful in the association space”. The further away that I moved from Washington D.C., the more business I get.
#4: “Selling membership is a long sales cycle”. Actually, the people that don’t join are a long sales cycle. We make a couple 100,000 contacts a year selling memberships, sponsorships, ads, and exhibits for people. What I’ve learned from that is companies that do join, do so in less than 50 days. The challenge for the sales team is to move on and not keep selling folks that aren’t going to do it.
#5: “No one looks at emails”. We deliver our own bi-weekly newsletter, send email campaigns out to prospects, and we have generated millions of dollars in revenue because of our ability to monitor what people open and click. So that’s wrong.
#6: “Chapters are dead for associations”. One of the things that I’ve seen in this pandemic era is how chapters are actually delivering great value, connection and familiarity. The chapter model is thriving, and I think the organizations that can find the connection between national and chapters and really identify the role each one of them play, will be very successful.
#7: “We don’t allow vendors to speak at conferences because they’re just going to give a sales pitch”. That is terrible business advice for an association in particular. Why? Many of the vendors and suppliers in the space know much more about the industry than the core members do because they’re working with multiple people in the ecosystem. They actually have more insights and in business intelligence that can be helpful and make content better for you.
#8: “We don’t want too many vendors in the membership, because it’s going to water down the value”. I see these vendors now as more business partners and we need more of them.
#9: “Our dues are too high”. We’ve done a lot of dues reviews over the years, and larger members tend to pay a lot less based on the scale of their business. A $500 membership for a $1 million business is much more expensive than a $5,000 membership for a $50 million company.
#10: “We want to hire someone in-house for this job”. Based on what? Do you want the job to be done better and more efficiently and is that what you’re looking for? Because I’m willing to have that debate. My experience is contractors tend to be specialists, get better results, are focused, more efficient, and often cheaper.
#11: “People call us to join”. The number of inbounds that we get for a trade association membership over a year, I could probably count on two hands. If you’re relying on people to call you to join, let me say hello to the decline of your membership.
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 moerycompany.com 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 JPMoery.com.
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