Associations – Are you thinking about your 2016 digital strategy?

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with a CEO of an association who said, LinkedIn is our “Uber”. I thought to myself, LinkedIn is not the association’s “Uber” (disrupter) but what is?

Today, there are many opportunities to leverage free or low cost solutions to improve productivity, provide greater member value and create an improved customer experience using infrastructure such as LinkedIn. Yet, most organizations still do not think about the overall member journey and digital experience for their customers and continue to conduct business as they have the last 10, 20 or 50+ years.

Since 1994, I have been working with associations on how to improve their online presence and have focused on new products and services that can be offered, branding and online marketing. I am constantly researching “what is coming next” so we are a bit ahead of the curve for our customers and help them to think about and plan for the future. We all know technology changes are happening more rapidly and it is harder and harder for organizations to move quick enough to keep up the pace.

Over the past two weeks, I have been conducting interviews for a medical association about their website. While I have been doing this type of work for many years, it struck me that there has been a big change over the last year. While conducing these interviews with physician leaders of an organization, they were no longer asking about the next best thing, new online programs or services or expanded online content (with the exception of guidelines). They are seeking a seamless online experience. Their desires have shifted from online educational content to more focus on the ability to easily register for a meeting or purchase a product from their mobile device. Their expectation is that the organization is customer focused and while education, CE tracking and typical association programs and services are expected, it is no longer the primary need. One doctor said “Let WebMD provide patient information, we don’t need to be in that business.” While these comments may not hold true for all medical associations, the conversations were very different than these I have had for the last 20 years.

For associations, other suppliers have already shaped the expectation of value in your industry. There are many places to get easily obtain information and education online.

In order to stay relevant and retain members, associations need to train staff on the basics of digital customer service and improve overall operational efficiencies. I believe the shift will be a focus on the member experience their association and the overall member journey both online and off.

So what to do?

Think about your organizational strategy. Don’t focus on building a digital roadmap or technology plan, focus on digitizing your strategies.

Hire staff who have expertise in thinking and experimenting with new apps and programs that will enhance the member experience with the organization both online and at events.

Throughout 2016, .orgCommunity ( will be helping organizations do this through educational courses that will be delivered in 2016.

For hands on help with evaluating your current organization, we have a team of consultants at .orgSource who can help (


One comment

  1. Sherry, These are excellent comments, especially about the seamless access to the traditional services that associations provide. I have found that nothing irritates members more than to have to go back and forth to pay dues, register for meetings, contact other members on committees, etc. Members want the instant availability regardless of platform, be it tablet, phone or computer. I have also found that the key to this engagement has to come from the leaders of the association. The Boards, Committee Chairs, SIG leaders (by what ever name they are called) have to be committed to use the technology in a way that encourages members to get and stay involved.
    Ronald S. Moen


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