I just got back from speaking at CalSAE’s ELEVATE Conference in beautiful Palm Springs, CA, and I am quickly preparing to head to St. Petersburg for Xperience2014, YourMembership.com’s first customer conference. It’s a little like my own March Madness, and I like it!
These back-to-back events inspire me as I have the privilege to once again meet with the wonderful association professionals we serve, and share new ideas on how we can help them better serve their members with the technology and services we provide.
I have been accused of being almost giddy whenever a customer conference approaches, and I have to plead “guilty as charged!” It is such a unique and invaluable opportunity to share ideas, learn about our customers’ challenges, and to connect with old friends, while making some new friends, as well. What’s not to like about a customer conference?
It’s not lost on me how much today’s technology driven world is impacting (sometimes negatively) the organizations we work with, and the people they serve. In the session I led on how to grow an online community, I found that many in attendance were surprised by the threat social networking giant LinkedIn is posing to their organizations. As I shared ideas on the importance and value of providing an online community for their associations and members, it became clear to many that social media networks like LinkedIn should be viewed as potential competition, and cannot be ignored. I recently wrote about the implications for associations from LinkedIn’s aggressive plans for the future.
It is apropos that I was in California, because it reminded me that with the huge, headline grabbing acquisitions of late by Facebook and LinkedIn, that there is very much a new “gold rush” going on in the world of technology. These and other companies are paying incredible amounts of money to gobble up emerging technology, hedging their bets on the future. And while you may not feel it today, these changes definitely have a ripple effect that will make their way into our personal and professional lives much sooner than you think.
As we examined LinkedIn’s tactics and services, the discussion shifted briefly to its “freemium” style membership and the implications for associations. A number of people agreed on the necessity of taking a hard look at membership dues, and the need to overhaul dues structures to remain relevant to the people they need to sustain their organizations. You could almost see the blood drain from their faces as we briefly touched on that challenge. There was a sense of resignation for some that they and their boards would need to seriously address this topic, as painful as it might seem, in the very near future.
I will be leading a session at Xperience2014 entitled Flipping the Membership Equation, where we will discuss why the status quo on member dues needs to be overhauled, and what member dues will need to look like in the future for associations to remain healthy. If you are coming to St. Pete next week, I hope you will come be a part of what should be a lively discussion.