It’s hard to believe we’re in Q4 already! As part of that, you’ve probably started putting together your organization’s 2019 strategic plan. But as you do that, to really ensure you take your organization where you want it to go, we recommend asking yourself the following four questions:
1. What was our biggest success of 2018?
While a new year should bring new ideas and new initiatives, there’s no reason to abandon your “best of” tactics from the year prior. What would you consider to be your organization’s biggest success of 2018? Was it attendance at your annual event? The success of a new online learning initiative? That new conference app you tried out?
Whatever it was, brainstorm ways to not only leverage that in 2019, but to make it even better. For example, let’s say you saw great success with a new conference app. Well, are there any features in that app that you didn’t use, but that you think your members (and exhibitors) would enjoy? Now’s the time to fine-tune those tactics to reach even greater success in 2019.
2. What was the biggest lesson we learned in 2018?
There’s a great quote out there that states, “The only mistakes we really make are the ones we don’t learn from,” and boy, if that isn’t true! There are always going to be things we wish we’d done differently, but look at those as learning opportunities.
What would you consider to be your biggest “lesson learned” in 2018? Was it the entertainment you chose for annual meeting? Or perhaps time management on a certain project? (You now know you HAVE to start 4 - 5 months out.) Identify that lesson and 1) share it with your team (in case they forgot, weren’t involved, etc.), and 2) identify how you’re going to avoid that in 2019.
For example, if the entertainment you chose for your annual meeting in 2018 was a total flop, consider how you can make a better choice in 2019. Perhaps that means polling your members prior to the actual event, to identify what they’d most like to see/experience. Or perhaps it means asking a few other associations for referrals.
The point is, knowing what you need to plan for allows you to ultimately plan better.
3. If we could only achieve one thing in 2019, what would we want it to be?
Your association likely has a number of goals - to increase membership growth, boost event registrations, increase your year-over-year retention rate, etc. And ALL of those are important and deserve some serious thought.
But if you could only achieve one thing in 2019, what would you want that to be? Think about it like this: If you were able to achieve this one thing in 2019, you’d consider it a successful year.
Whatever “that” is, take some extra time to brainstorm initiatives. Let’s say your biggest goal is to recruit more young professionals. You’ve talked about it before, but this year, it just HAS to happen. Well take an afternoon (maybe in December when things are a little bit slower) and brainstorm initiatives solely around that goal. What changes could you make to your website to appeal to more young professionals? What benefits could you offer? Would instating a young professionals committee help your cause?
Remember, you can do just about anything, but you can’t do everything, so prioritization, particularly when it comes to goal setting, is key.
4. If we could try one thing in 2019, knowing we wouldn’t fail, what would it be?
There are many things that hold people and organizations back - lack of time, lack of resources, etc. But one of the most crippling is fear. Fear of failure.
That said, just for fun, take a moment to think about the one thing you’d love to try if you knew you wouldn’t fail. Is it a silly marketing campaign? A crazy event theme? A new method of collecting membership dues?
Now take that dream experiment and think about how you could maybe tone it back a little. Is there a way you could try it on a smaller scale? You won’t fail if you don’t try, but you also won’t necessarily succeed either. Take some baby steps and experiment a little!
We genuinely want 2019 to be your association’s best year yet. Regardless of what your goals are - increased recruitment, engagement, retention, etc. - we want to help. Check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below for a whole bank of industry best practices!