Your data is telling a story. Once you understand the story it’s telling, you can change the ending.
The traditional association business model is being challenged in three areas: content, networking, and education.
- Content: Search engines have surpassed associations as members’ go-to source for content. No longer do members need to visit your association’s website to find the answers they seek. Content that associations send to members is increasingly ignored. Old content habits are no longer working.
- Networking: One of the traditional reasons people join professional societies and trade associations is for face-to-face networking. But with travel budgets slashed and web-enabled social networking on the rise, many associations see this revenue source decreasing. LinkedIn, Facebook and Meet-ups that are local and convenient now compete to deliver valuable networking.
- Education: With the rise of lifelong learning and online education platforms, private sector and academic institutions are packaging education to sell as a revenue stream that was once the proprietary domain of associations.
These three factors have convinced me that to continue to thrive in today’s environment, associations must make better use of their data. Data is one of the most important assets an association has—as valuable as its cash reserves and human capital. The private sector already uses data to see where opportunities are emerging—and they’ve targeted association’s content, networking, and education.
Associations are able to counter by using data as private-sector companies do: to segment, target, and personalize marketing strategies; to manage operations; and to improve profitability. Associations have been slow to adopt the best practices of private industry where data is concerned, but that is starting to change.
Using data to make decisions reduces risk. Data can support association strategy driving operations, finance, marketing and member service. According to Harvard Business Review, top-performing organizations are five times more likely to use data to make decisions.
Association business decisions are becoming more difficult because of the increasing amount of data available and the pace of change. Association leaders face more choices and have less time, which equates to increased risk. Using data to make decisions increases the likelihood of making a good decision.
At DSK, our mission is to help associations understand the story their data is telling, and make it possible for them to use data to create the future and advance their mission.