I’ve had the privilege to work in the association space for more than 25 years and seen a lot of changes in that time. Based on some of the consulting work I’ve been doing in the last year or so, I’ve seen some interesting trends begin to emerge and I’d like to pass these on to the association decision makers.
- First and foremost, I believe associations – particularly trade associations, will need to implement membership dues increases. I’ve seen a real appetite for reviewing association business models and opportunities for revenue growth – particularly in the membership dues category.
- Secondly, I’ve see an overwhelming need for strong association data. This is critical. Gathering association data takes intention and planning to put together – but this data will greatly enhance a successful sales effort in growing membership and sponsorship revenue.
- A pressing trend is the mounting pressure on the traditional trade show or exhibit hall as a viable business development deal. Bottom line – the current offerings just don’t excite your suppliers anymore. This reality presents a challenge for associations to take that part of the business and transform it into a new type of opportunity for your vendors.
- A trend I am particularly fired up about is the growth and value of automated in-bound marketing. We utilize the Pardot system, which offers key information on what prospects are really looking for. It has truly accelerated the success of our e-mail marketing campaigns on behalf of our clients. Watch for this one!
- Lastly, I’ve seen a crucial need for professional sales people in the association world. Whether you develop them in house or you hire them from the outside – you are going to need someone who is nuanced and very present, and who possesses the skills talk to prospects about their needs (above the needs of the association).
I see mega shifts taking place in the association world – so, I hope this content is helpful to you as an association executive. Just a quick postscript: we will be covering these trends individually and in depth in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.