When we talk about the new year and what that means for us - both personally and professionally - we often talk about what we’re going to do. But to achieve success, sometimes we need to pinpoint the activities and behaviors that are bad for us; the things we’re not going to do.
What mistakes should association professionals avoid in 2018? We’ve identified six:
1. Hopping on every new trend
Another day, another trend! Or that’s what it seems like, right? From event planning to social media, there’s ALWAYS something new and flashy.
But before feeling obligated to jump on that latest trend, ask yourself:
- Does this align with our association's goals?
- Do we have the bandwidth to experiment with this right now?
Now that second question may come as a bit of a surprise to you. Does anyone really have extra time? We’re not saying to wait until you have more time to try something new, but do note that if you’re going to take the time to do something, it’s worth doing right, so make sure you have the time and manpower needed to carry that project out. (And if you don’t, take some time to figure out when a better time would be. Or what you could drop to make room for that new initiative. No sense in dropping it completely if it’s going to help advance your association!)
2. Not trying anything new at all
While it’s important to avoid that “shiny object syndrome,” it’s also important to avoid not trying anything new at all. We don’t have time for that right now. This is the way we’ve always done it. This is what our members expect from us.
We’ve all been there and we’ve all made those statements. But to remain relevant in this ever-changing world, we HAVE to switch things up.
Now you don’t have to make major changes, per se. But do try one or two new things per quarter. You’ll start to see what your members like (and don’t like), and you can make improvements from there.
3. Setting unrealistic goals
The easiest way to set yourself up for failure? By setting unrealistic goals! This is such a big mistake that not only association professionals, but everyone makes. Why do you think so many New Year’s resolutions fail? Partly because they just aren’t realistic. (And partly because they’re just too vague - which we’ll get to next.)
You may want to grow your organization’s membership or recruit more Millennial members, but what’s a realistic number to use and strive for in 2018? This is where data should really come into play. What’s your year-over-year membership growth rate? On average, how many new members per year fall into that “Millennial member” bucket? That data is what you should use to calculate and set your 2018 goals. (Note: If your data is all over the place and you can’t easily pull the reports you need, you may want to consider an association management system in 2018.)
4. Setting vague goals
Like we mentioned earlier, setting vague goals can also lead to failure (or confusion, at the very least). How many times have you heard the following resolutions:
- I just want to better myself.
- I want to be more mindful of my time.
- I want to achieve a healthier work/life balance.
Probably a lot. But those goals typically fall flat because what does it mean “to better yourself” or “to achieve a healthier work/life balance?” What does that really look like? At the end of the year, how will you know if you achieved that goal or not? You need a number behind it. (Again, data, data, data!)
Be specific about what you want to achieve in 2018 (grow membership by XX%), and you’ll be better prepared to actually accomplish those goals by the end of the year.
5. Asking the same people (and only the same people) for input
When planning something - an event, a marketing campaign, a renewal strategy - how many people do you turn to for input? Is it typically the same people?
If so, you could be missing out on a plethora of fresh, new ideas! You may want to try some new things in 2018 (correction: you SHOULD want to), but if you’re relying on the same two or three brains, that might be difficult to do. Reach out to others. Your board, your members, online forums. (The American Society of Association Executives has a great online forum where you can ask other association professionals for advice and guidance.)
Use these resources and you’ll be well on your way to success (and positive change) in 2018.
6. Clumping all of your members into one big pool
If you work in the association industry, chances are, you’re busy and pressed for time. And as a result, it can be tempting to clump all of your members into one big pool - to send them all the same email, to invite them all to the same webinar, etc. But long-term, that can actually have a negative impact on engagement and retention.
If possible, avoid this temptation. It’s a mistake your association will ultimately pay for. Be specific about who you communicate what to. If you can segment correctly (your emails, events, online forums, etc.), you’ll start to see engagement (and better yet, retention) rise.
Make 2018 your association’s best year yet! Whether you’re trying to increase recruitment, engagement, non-dues revenue, or retention, allow us to help! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Membership Management below!