It’s no secret that today’s economy is full of uncertainty. From inflation to the increasing expectations of consumers and employees, to the continuously changing digital space, there are a lot of factors that might be currently impacting your association. For some, it might feel like a continuation of the past three years – learning how to adapt, shift priorities, and engage with members in different ways. For others, 2023 might be a year of major growth and expansion. Whatever the case may be, there are opportunities for your association to use this economic uncertainty to sharpen your focus, provide timely value to your members, and do more with less. The best part is that you already have access to a major part of the solution – your data!

Let’s take a look at a few ways you can shift challenges into opportunities, keep your association top of mind, and maintain your revenue stream in 2023.

Look Beyond Top Line Revenue

Most people define success by revenue generated, but in today’s economy, we need to go beyond the numbers. It’s time to get more nuanced – focus on what’s bringing the most value to your members and what level of effort (dollars or team resources) it takes to deliver that revenue.

For example, let’s say your association sold two products (Product A and Product B) last year that brought in the same total revenue – $20,000 each. Product A’s price point is $1,000 so you only sold 20 units of that product. However, Product B’s price point is $100, which means you sold 200 units of that product. At first glance, the idea of making more revenue through fewer sales might sound more enticing. But there are many factors to consider besides the top line revenue.

  • What is the business impact of losing a handful of Product A purchases this year vs. losing a handful of Product B purchases?
  • How much time and resources go into keeping each product updated and relevant?
  • Do both products lead to additional purchases or engagement, or are they a one-time purchase for most members?

Instead of only looking at how much revenue your products make, consider all the details behind the scenes that impact long-term profitability of your initiatives.

Customer segmentation is another helpful approach to consider. Go beyond viewing traditional demographic segments like young professionals or length of membership and dig deep into behavioral segmentation like members who have never attended an in-person event.

TheASCA logo Ambulatory Surgery Center Association (ASCA) did this and uncovered a large portion of people who attended their virtual events during the height of COVID had never been to an in-person event with them before. With this new virtual-only audience segment, they launched a new online course that resulted in nearly $300,000 of additional revenue. Read more about their story.

What Can You Be the Best At?

To separate your association from the competition, you have to determine your unique value. Here are a few central questions to get you there:

  • What is our association deeply passionate about?
  • What does our association offer that can’t be found elsewhere?
  • How clearly are you communicating these benefits to members?

For a lot of associations, education opportunities are key. For others, it’s all about networking and having access to industry experts. Unsure about the key components to your value proposition? Simply ask your members. You can do this by sending them surveys or asking at your events. The goal is to learn important facts, such as why they joined, why they stay, how they prefer to be communicated with, and whether they prefer in-person or online events.

As we’ve seen throughout the pandemic, needs and wants can quickly change over time. Some survey takers might respond with what they think they should say instead of what they really believe or what actions they normally take. That’s why it’s also important to view behavioral data alongside survey data.

For example, some members might say they want more opportunities to earn CPE credits at your conferences; but when you look at the data, you might find that CPE course completions are low at your events.

One of our customers uncovered this insight after digging into their data. They were spending over $100,000 delivering CPE courses that members said they wanted but were, in fact, not taking.

Other options to consider are social and community listening. Social listening is when you search social media channels for mentions of your association, products, events, hashtags, or even your industry at large. You can see conversations grouped together by sentiment: positive, neutral, or negative. The same can happen by listening to conversations in your online community. Both are great sources of unstructured data to analyze and interpret, and may spark ideas for new and improved products. This proactive strategy will definitely help set your association apart in such a busy world! Learn more about how to leverage your virtual community conversations with this on-demand webinar.

Doing More With Less

It may sound counterintuitive, but there’s no better time to set up systems and processes than in a down economy. You won’t get this time back when the economy is booming and sales are off the charts. Plus, your future self/team will thank you. Invest now and you’ll save your team time and effort in the long run

A few questions to consider include:

  • Where can you automate processes?
  • Where are you repeating your efforts?
  • How can you set up better collaboration and document sharing?
  • Which reports are necessary and which ones are outdated?
  • How can you streamline reporting into one dashboard?

Look across your association to determine which tools are currently frustrating your team, if your team is even using all available tools, and what you might want to add or replace. These shifts might take time and manual work upfront, but they will ultimately lead to more long-term success.

Finally, don’t be afraid to try something new. Audiences are shifting the way they want to be spoken to and approached, and employees are also making their needs known. Encourage employees to find solutions. Getting everyone involved in finding solutions can help your association avoid losing great talent.

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