Associations – Facing the Future with Confidence

As we enter a new year, membership organizations and associations are facing one of the most challenging environments in their history. Once a primary resource for relevant industry-specific information, associations now compete with a host of tailored information resources proliferating online. What’s more, in some industries there are now a host of competing associations representing the same industry. Private firms have entered the fray by holding their own industry networking events and offering seminars, conferences and other educational programs.

Furthermore, the association’s ability to leverage lower group rates and discounts on products and services is being overshadowed by the countless savings aggregator, comparison pricing, and auction sites. Most of these services are available at no cost.

Associations caught in this situation are facing downward pressure on membership dues and increasing pressure for associations to provide more relevant, compelling, exclusive value, specific to the association and not easily found elsewhere. In order to continue to survive and thrive in these challenging times, associations will need to re-define what membership means and develop exclusive value in order to continue to attract and retain members.

Yet association value is only part of the solution. Unless members are persuaded to engage with and experience the Association’s offerings, the full potential of membership organizations will remain untapped.   Repeated studies have shown that involvement is the key to maintaining affiliation.

Given low participation and engagement levels, the opportunity still remains to help members in real, relevant and impactful ways. The risks of not doing so are substantial. According to ASAE research in why members drop out of associations, 56% of those surveyed said it was because they did not receive the expected value to justify the cost of dues.

Yet there is reason for hope. Associations still offer unique and compelling value to members. The challenge is in communicating that value in a way that will resonate with and motivate both current and prospective members.

For nearly forty years, Bodden Partners has been partnering with a number of associations and membership organizations of various sizes and missions. The strategies and campaigns we develop add value to membership, demonstrate ROI on dues dollars, support member recruitment, deepen engagement, increase retention and drive incremental revenue. If you would like to put our membership marketing team to work for you, contact Mark Silverman for a custom consultation