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Living in the Golden Age of Disruption

by | Aug 24, 2015 | Membership & Marketing

It is becoming increasingly clear that we are living in a terrifying and equally amazing time that may be referred to someday as “the golden age of disruption.” The pace of change we experience today is both exhausting and exhilarating, depending on your perspective.

Sometimes a major shift will come that may or not be immediately apparent, but the impact will have a profound affect down the road. I saw a new commercial this week promoting same day delivery in Austin, TX on 28,000 items available exclusively to Amazon Prime customers. It will cost you $7.99 on a minimum $35 purchase if you want your purchase delivered in an hour. Delivery is free, if you can wait two hours. Amazon is launching this program in 14 major metropolitan areas.

There is no way today to determine how this will impact local brick and mortar businesses. In an article published by Forbes, Chris Petersen PhD., president of Integrated Marketing Solutions said, “Free shipping the same day is a total differentiator in the U.S., completely unique for those major markets where it is offered. If there ever was a wake-up call for brick-and-mortar, this should be it. If you can’t match free same-day delivery, you had better deliver over-the-top customer experience in your stores.” Google, Walmart and eBay are all looking to follow suite. Without a doubt the retail game is changing, and soon.

I think this example speaks to the environment many associations find themselves in today – working with limited resources while trying to compete with the innovative giants who are dynamically changing the “buying habits” of consumers. It’s the last part of Petersen’s analysis that catches my attention, because I think there is a message there that speaks to all membership organizations. I’ll paraphrase here: if you can’t match the same type of programs or services being brought to market by these cutting edge disruptors, you had better design and deliver an over-the-top member experience to remain relevant to your members and prospective members alike.

Major disruptors like Apple, Google, Amazon and LinkedIn are forcing everybody’s hand. It is simply no longer possible to stand pat.

In our August Thought Leader Webinar Big Bang Disruption: 5 Technologies & Trends That Should Be On Your Radar, Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Vice President, Communication & Technology, Professional Development with Ewald Consulting, presented some interesting ideas on innovative disruption and what associations can do to not only compete, but thrive in the current business environment.

One area we focused on was the acquisition earlier this year of online education provider by LinkedIn for over $1 billion. This follows on the heels on LinkedIn’s concerted efforts in 2014 to dominate the online job board market and become “the” job board aggregator ultimately dominating players in the space like, Indeed and CareerBuilder. The ability for LinkedIn to provide online career placement and e-Learning to its 380 million members worldwide should be just as much a concern for membership organizations as Amazon’s new offering will be for traditional brick and mortar businesses.

However, it’s important to remember you can compete. In reality it’s no longer about “bigger vs smaller”, but faster vs slower. Technology has allowed for the development of affordable tools, like YM’s Member Engagement Platform, that enables an organization to efficiently design and deliver a “membership experience” built on value and engagement. Working iteratively, analyzing and acting on the available member data you are able to collect, will help you to remain nimble, quickly and efficiently making changes when and where needed.

Ultimately, associations hold the trump card – the relationship. Companies like LinkedIn and Amazon will never have the ability to have the personal relationship that exists between an association and its members. The technology you use should free you up to move quickly, avoid distractions, and focus on the most important aspect of your business – your relationship with your members. By doing so, you can find success in this golden age of disruption.


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