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Strategic Planning for Your Association

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your association’s business plan? Now that we’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), it’s time to see what you have accomplished so far. By looking at what your plans were for this year and evaluating results up to this point, you can see what has worked and what hasn’t, helping you to make key decisions and adjustments for the second half of the year. In reality, best practices for marketing and overall association management are constantly changing. By looking ahead and developing a strategy, you will be able to make necessary adjustments in a time-conscience manner. Below are some practices to consider as you begin strategizing for the second half of the year.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

When planning for the future of your association, it’s incredibly important to take a goal-oriented approach. With tools and trends constantly changing, the first step is making an assessment of your current strategy. Researching new technology, the outside market, and competitors will help you surpass competition. Once research is completed, you can begin positioning your association and setting goals for the upcoming months. Come up with the direction that you want your association to take. Think about where you really need to improve. Whether it’s increasing membership levels or delivering more value-added benefits, make sure that you have a main focus.

Create a Strategic Business Plan

Once goals are set, it’s imperative to create a detailed strategic business plan. In doing so, you’ll be able to form a step-by-step guide targeted at achieving results. Begin by taking what you have already completed for research, and compile specific tactics aimed at your goals. The elements within your strategic plan should all be driven by underlying elements, including:

  • Financial plan, allowing you to project what your expenses will be in pro-forma statements.
  • Marketing plan, which should identify key communication, promotional, and lead generating tactics for your association.
  • Membership goals and strategies, indicating projected new members, along with methods for improving numbers.
  • Timeline & summary of key events, which will give you a high level outline of what the upcoming months will look like.
  • Roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary insights into what resources are required in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Measurement techniques. Remember you need to measure, monitor, and continually improve your efforts based on analysis.

Focus on Your Members

Not only is it important to make sure everything is running smoothly internally, it’s also essential to make sure members remain satisfied. Keeping your existing members happy is what truly matters for your association. They must come first and remain a top priority for your association every step of the way during the strategic planning process. By creating a satisfaction survey and sending it out to members, you will be able to see clear insights and feedback. This will not only help improve relationships, but it will also help you gain new members for the second half of 2016 and beyond. Showing members that you value their opinion is one key recommendation in an effort to maintain and grow.

Update Your Competitive Value Proposition

Lastly, developing an updated competitive value proposition will help set your association apart from others. Research what competitors are offering, and really try to get a grasp on why potential members may veer towards joining a different organization. By performing this due diligence, you will be able to update your messaging to state why your association provides more value. Ensure that your strategy encompasses methods for proving value to members, whether it be case studies, testimonials, or other methods of showing member satisfaction.

Now, keep these tips in mind and think about this: Is your association ready for the second half of this year? It might be tempting to say “yes, last year the second half of the year was successful, so I’ll continue on this path for the rest of 2016.” In reality, however, this is a dangerous mindset. Not adapting to the evolving marketing and overall business model landscape is a sure-fire way to see a decline in membership levels. Ultimately, updating your strategic plan is the best way to ensure a healthy and productive future.

Strategic Planning for Your Association

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your association’s business plan? Now that we’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), it’s time to see what you have accomplished so far. By looking at what your plans were for this year and evaluating results up to this point, you can see what has worked and what hasn’t, helping you to make key decisions and adjustments for the second half of the year. In reality, best practices for marketing and overall association management are constantly changing. By looking ahead and developing a strategy, you will be able to make necessary adjustments in a time-conscience manner. Below are some practices to consider as you begin strategizing for the second half of the year.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

When planning for the future of your association, it’s incredibly important to take a goal-oriented approach. With tools and trends constantly changing, the first step is making an assessment of your current strategy. Researching new technology, the outside market, and competitors will help you surpass competition. Once research is completed, you can begin positioning your association and setting goals for the upcoming months. Come up with the direction that you want your association to take. Think about where you really need to improve. Whether it’s increasing membership levels or delivering more value-added benefits, make sure that you have a main focus.

Create a Strategic Business Plan

Once goals are set, it’s imperative to create a detailed strategic business plan. In doing so, you’ll be able to form a step-by-step guide targeted at achieving results. Begin by taking what you have already completed for research, and compile specific tactics aimed at your goals. The elements within your strategic plan should all be driven by underlying elements, including:

  • Financial plan, allowing you to project what your expenses will be in pro-forma statements.
  • Marketing plan, which should identify key communication, promotional, and lead generating tactics for your association.
  • Membership goals and strategies, indicating projected new members, along with methods for improving numbers.
  • Timeline & summary of key events, which will give you a high level outline of what the upcoming months will look like.
  • Roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary insights into what resources are required in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Measurement techniques. Remember you need to measure, monitor, and continually improve your efforts based on analysis.

Focus on Your Members

Not only is it important to make sure everything is running smoothly internally, it’s also essential to make sure members remain satisfied. Keeping your existing members happy is what truly matters for your association. They must come first and remain a top priority for your association every step of the way during the strategic planning process. By creating a satisfaction survey and sending it out to members, you will be able to see clear insights and feedback. This will not only help improve relationships, but it will also help you gain new members for the second half of 2016 and beyond. Showing members that you value their opinion is one key recommendation in an effort to maintain and grow.

Update Your Competitive Value Proposition

Lastly, developing an updated competitive value proposition will help set your association apart from others. Research what competitors are offering, and really try to get a grasp on why potential members may veer towards joining a different organization. By performing this due diligence, you will be able to update your messaging to state why your association provides more value. Ensure that your strategy encompasses methods for proving value to members, whether it be case studies, testimonials, or other methods of showing member satisfaction.

Now, keep these tips in mind and think about this: Is your association ready for the second half of this year? It might be tempting to say “yes, last year the second half of the year was successful, so I’ll continue on this path for the rest of 2016.” In reality, however, this is a dangerous mindset. Not adapting to the evolving marketing and overall business model landscape is a sure-fire way to see a decline in membership levels. Ultimately, updating your strategic plan is the best way to ensure a healthy and productive future.

John Foley, Jr

John Foley, Jr. is President and CEO of interlinkONE. interlinkONE provides software and marketing services for associations and professional societies to generate prospective member leads, increase engagement, and strengthen member retention. John is a renowned international speaker who passionately speaks to associations in the areas of transformation, multi-channel marketing, social media, mobile, and content marketing. Some notable association affiliations include Mr. Foley’s involvement as a board member and acting CMO for the recently merged Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP) and National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL), as well as his membership with the Business Marketing Association and American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). He often takes part in the weekly Twitter chat for associations, "#assnchat,” and contributes content to many industry resources. Learn more about John at http://JohnFoleyJr.com, and how interlinkONE can help you at http://interlinkONE.com and http://MarketWithMAX.com.