Association Inc reminds us to focus on our market not a product. Success comes when we know our marketplace inside out. This intimate knowledge allows us to anticipate needs and create products that meet those needs.
Ownership of whatever product we create for our members is also critical. “Grants, sponsorships, “affinity programs” – these all have a role to play, but in and of themselves will not lead to sustainable, exponential growth because they depend on the whims of others.”
As I have commented on this blog in Exploring Alternative Membership Models, the actual concept of membership has been appropriated by many for profit companies. Many of these companies provide membership for free or at a low dues price, which allows the member to take advantage of discounts and special services.
An example that you may be aware of is Sermo ™ – a free membership site with 60,000 physicians and growing,
Because of this, diversification of income streams is wise. As an ancient proverb reads: “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.”
Using data effectively is another key point. I have used the quote before from the renowned marketing professor Philip Kotler, he says, “Successful companies [or associations] are learning companies. They collect feedback from the marketplace, audit and evaluate results, and take corrections designed to improve their performance. Good marketing works by constantly monitoring its position in relation to its destination.”
Finally, Association Inc. recommends rapid prototyping and testing of new initiatives. This culture of innovation is foundational for success. “Most companies [or non-profits] would be better off if they made fewer billion-dollar bets and a whole lot more $10,000 or $20,000 bets – some of which will, in time, justify more substantial commitments. They should steer clear of grand, imperial strategies and devote themselves instead to launching a swarm of low-risk experiments.”
Are there any other insights that you would add to these?
 Association Inc.
 Ecclesiastes 11:2
 Kotler on Marketing, Free Press, 1999
 Gary Hamel and Lisa Valikangas, “The Quest for Resilience”, Harvard Business Review