67% of association CEOs/Executives say their organization’s biggest opportunity for revenue growth in 2023 is program/product innovation.

We’ve all had a crash course in unpredictability over the past few years, and yet optimism is essential in the face of uncertainty. It’s understandable that association CEOs and executives have revenue growth top-of-mind. An Avenue M Group text poll at the end of 2022 revealed that 44 percent of association CEOs/Executives said their number-one challenge heading into 2023 is revenue.

The upside is, CEOs and executives are focused on the issue at hand–and their priorities speak volumes. In a recent poll conducted by Avenue M in early February with 21 association CEOs/Executives, 67% shared that the biggest opportunity for revenue growth in 2023 is program/product innovation, 19% said new market expansion, 10% pointed to membership growth, while only 5% said new dues/pricing strategy.

When asked why they chose program/product innovation as a priority, one CEO panelist said, “We need to diversify and not just rely on conference and membership dues.” One executive noted that it is a “larger opportunity” with a good return on investment. Another shared, “We introduced nine new publications last year, are building an educational marketplace, and relaunched in-person meetings with an executive retreat.”

If your organization is considering diversifying its portfolio, expanding into new markets, or reviewing its pricing strategy, “consider asking staff and volunteers to independently suggest two to three safe ideas and two to three risky ones,” recommends Avenue M Group President & CEO Sheri Jacobs, FASAE, CAE.

“While safe ideas, or low hanging fruit may seem like the obvious choice, they are unlikely to generate different results than what is happening today,” Jacobs said. “Off-the-wall ideas can generate feasible ideas.”

“Once you’ve collected the ideas, bring the groups together (virtually or in-person) and engage in a ‘yes, and’ discussion,” she said. “I have facilitated many of these discussions and they have led to innovative new product lines and adjacent membership growth opportunities.”

Click HERE to participate in future polls.

Here are some tips and examples for boosting revenue in challenging times. Read our quick summary of the following articles and podcast from Harvard Business Review and click the links below.

Executive Take: How Can Associations Increase Revenue in 2023?
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to business development strategies for associations, largely because associations are as diverse as the groups they serve. However, this article taps into ways associations can make meaningful revenue improvements in 2023.

One expert recommends focusing on building knowledge and capacity around product development to achieve success. This includes having a team of leaders who can collaborate on new product concepts, develop investment plans, and create go-to-market strategies and revenue plans.

Another advises empowering all team members to support the association’s financial goals by defining support as revenue-generation or expense-management. And one suggests developing a business plan for corporate sponsorships to increase nondues revenue.

A New Product Helps Maximize Workforce Potential
The National Association for Healthcare Quality (NAHQ) launched a revenue-generating product, Workforce Accelerator, to help healthcare organizations assess, upskill, and leverage their quality workforce.

NAHQ has been helping healthcare quality professionals for years, but there is no formal career path for those professionals, unlike physicians who follow a clear path. Workforce Accelerator helps to bridge this gap by guiding organizations to more effectively develop their quality workforce.

Launching new products and services is a survival strategy for associations, and NAHQ is in it for the distance. Workforce Accelerator is a transformational product with a 10-year horizon.

How the Blockchain Association Handled an Explosion in Member Growth
A relatively new group, the Blockchain Association, experienced explosive growth in just a year, going from 25 corporate members to 70. How? It adapted its communication strategy to match the real-time communication mode of its members, with the secure chat tool Signal, which is a preferred platform for high-density communication.

Additionally, the organization asked its members for more support, giving them the option to pay more, and about 70 percent of its members committed to voluntarily giving more money. This approach gave member companies ownership over the process of growth and allowed the association to build out its team.

4 Business Ideas That Changed the World: Disruptive Innovation
In looking at program, product, or even service innovation as an opportunity for revenue growth, you will first need to consider what key performance indicators (KPIs) are most important to achieving your mission and serving your members.

Second, organizations should set aside money and resources (e.g., employee talent and time) to work on numerous small projects focused on either markets not yet served, or offer a “light” version of your current offerings.

Finally, you will likely need to review your organization’s portfolio to ensure there are no pet projects from previous leaders that are draining resources.

Want to be the first to be notified about articles like this?

You can learn more about Avenue M’s texting poll service HERE. Ready to sign up? Click HERE.

Contributor: Lisa Boylan

(Image: Adobe Stock)