We have seen several themes come to fruition from the past two months that we wanted to share with you. If you’re not already doing so, make sure you subscribe to our YouTube Channel to be the first to know when we post our Association Field Report videos that cover up-to-the-minute observations from what is happening in the association world.
1. The pace right now during the pandemic is frenetic for our organizations. For most associations this pace is probably not sustainable for the long term. I’ve spoken with a couple of association executives who are working seven days a week focusing on helping members get through this. I hate the term uncertain times but it is a different time, for sure. To be honest, I don’t think the association industry is accustomed to this amount of workload unless it’s during an annual convention or they’re working on a big bill on Capitol Hill. They’re currently deploying all of their association assets to help their members and doing it on a day to day basis. But it’s good for us, we’re building muscle that we have never stretched before. Overall, this is a very good thing.
2. There’s a real focus on what is vitally important to our organizations, our members, and our customers. There are some interesting issues being addressed with long-term implications. We’ve got urgent issues, along with important long-term ones, being addressed at the same time.
For example, this week, I had a conversation with a very prominent CEO about their retention program. We’ve never done that before. He and I have known each other for a long time. We’ve never talked about retention, but he’s thinking about it because he has a little bit of margin to devote to it. He’s working harder than ever before and he’s also thinking about long-term items that he now has some ability to focus on.
I presented an entire revision of a sponsorship program in the midst of the pandemic to another CEO recently. Their sponsorship program has been based on a face-to-face meeting platform; all of their sponsorships were connected to face-to-face meetings. However, now is the opportunity to leverage all of the assets of the association into their sponsorship efforts. This is something we’ve been talking with associations for a long time. However, because of the uncertain future of face-to-face meetings, it’s really important to have all of your assets in place: your thought leadership, your online programming, your publications, your magazines, and other sponsorship inventory. We focused the revision on changing their long-term sponsorship program.
3. Membership recruitment and renewals efforts have been adjusted. On another call, where an association CEO was speaking with state association executives giving them advice on membership renewals, how to go about it, and providing tips on how to address membership recruitment. I don’t think those conversations were happening before, to be honest with you. The point here is that people are getting laser focused on delivering great information and are really focused on long-term business projects while addressing the urgent needs of now.
4. Things can change with clients, partners, and members very quickly. We’ve had a client that basically pulled up stakes and said, “No, we’re not selling anything or marketing anything to anybody right now.” Then we have another organization that originally delayed a project for 30-60 days and then suddenly, this week, moved it up urgently asking us, “Can you talk today so we can get started?” This example underscores the importance of staying in touch with all of your stakeholders, your clients and your industry, because you never know how quickly things might change.
5. Tactics really matter right now. We’re seeing an increase in e-mail open rates of 10%, or more, from our current outreach efforts. I have also seen the resurgence of the phone call. Executives are surprisingly more accessible across a variety of industries. They’re interested in strategic conversations and to talk about what’s happening in their business today. This is an opportunity to show your value. I’m not sure that this amount of phone call interaction is ever going to come back post-pandemic. When things return back to a more normal pace, I’m not sure if we will have the opportunity to have these kinds of conversations like we’re having right now. I’m finding them incredibly valuable.
6. Take this time to get better. My hope is that your group can improve during this temporary setback and slow down. I think we already are getting better because we are listening and being more self-aware than we maybe were before this happened. Simply, the improvement of paying better attention to the market could be the improvement that could change your association, or your small business, forever.
Finally, I want to say thank you. I’m so grateful that you listen to our podcast, watch our videos, read our blog, and support us in other ways such as purchasing the Association Hustle book.
I have no expectation that we’ll ever do business together. None. I’m just pleased to have the platform to tell you about our observations. However, if you ever want to chat personally, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn. Let’s start that conversation!