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The Non-Dues Recipe for Success: Part 1 – Achieving Early Lift


The Main IngredientUnderstanding the Association’s Unique Culture and People

Bringing on a new association client, we have a comprehensive and detailed onboarding process. From years of developing and executing sales programs for associations, we know that setting project and revenue goals, working backward from major deadlines to create timelines, and applying a support model that includes the right resources, platforms, and infrastructure – are all vital. As critical as each are, none are the #1 key ingredient, however, in our recipe for success.

1. The Soft Part is the Hard Part

Simply put, it’s always a “People” business – whether building a program to sell Advertising, Corporate Partnerships, Sponsorships, or Exhibits – it starts for us, with embedding and immersing ourselves in the association: all of their key people, our key people, and other project partners.

2. If You’ve Seen One Association…

In the words of the late John Graham, long-time CEO of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE): “If you’ve seen one association…you’ve seen one association.”

3. We Start “from the Outside-In”

Our goal: To truly serve the client as an extension of their staff by customizing and delivering based on what matters most, to them. We structure the initial phase in part to set out learning about Who and What matters most for each client thereby absorbing their essence, unique culture, and organizational personality.

  • Members, Readers, Attendees. The Board, the Communications Committee.
  • The Staff, and the other project Solution Partners: how can we best lead so all team members agree on the path, and markers for success?
  • Our solution continues to take shape, optimizing what becomes the Association’s unique solution.

4. Build a Culture Learning/Engagement Plan

The goal of the engagement plan is to foster an environment that promotes becoming one team. Having a plan for a variety of different touchpoints benefits the team holistically.

  • Regular Meetings – to collaborate with staff and the solution team.
  • Participate in Committee Calls – to listen, learn, and share, gaining transparent alignment. Bonus opportunities: pick the brains of the professionals who volunteer their time to the Association and are experts in their industry, learning how they work with staff, and even gaining specific referrals and leads.
  • Conduct One-on-Ones – to align with key member leaders, absorbing values and priorities of the profession.
  • Co-craft a Press Release with Staff – to introduce our team and announce the forthcoming changes to the community.
  • Provide 360 Degree Sharing – by reporting back to the team with our earnest findings. This additional sharing heightens collaboration and ultimately ties everything together.

We implemented these steps recently during the onboarding process of a new Association client, in which we were tasked with revamping and rebranding their flagship print publication, as well as building out a full-scale advertising program that would deliver growth and a healthy net return. Click here to learn more about the recipe in action as we embarked on this journey. 

Looking for the rest of the recipe? Click here to read Part Two (Activation) and Part Three (Data)

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