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Is Your Association Smarter Than A 5th Grader?

Posted by Curt Moss on Jan 23, 2013 12:22:00 AM

Recently, my son was helping me with his homework (yes, you read that correctly!) and it made me think about ways that business associations and chambers of commerce can solve problems with their data.

His 5th grade class is learning pre-algebra using tokens and dice to represent the Xs and the Ys to help them "break down" the equations into manageable chunks and ultimately lead to the solution.  Being in my mid 40s, it took me a while to grasp the concepts, but once I did, it made understanding the relationships of the equation and getting to the solution much easier.

When chambers of commerce and business associations try to make decisions based on information in their membership database, sometimes it can be hard to digest a big set of data all at once.  What's the solution? Break it down into smaller chunks!

This concept is highlighted in a recent artcle in Associations Now, Learning to Love Big Data, A Little at a Time.  The author, Katie Bascuas, states, "...the idea of analyzing large collections of information sparks fear into the hearts of many, including association executives."  

Wes Trochlil, president of Effective Database Management, is mentioned in the article and echos this sentiment.  He writes that association executives have several fears of digging into the data, including fear of using bad data, fear that you'll learn something new and fear that you'll have to change.   I can understand all of those concerns.  However, how can you lead your organization if you don't want to understand what's really happening and make changes to improve your association's business?   Start looking at your data!

Sometimes, it isn't just fear that keeps association executives from looking at their data differently - it's their association management software.

Does your membership management system give you just the "big picture" or does it allow you to easily segment and slice your data so you can see just a little bit at a time?

For example, you might know that you have 1,000 members and a total membership dues renewal of $2,000,000.  But, there are many more questions you can ask to help you better understand your membership.

  • Which segment of members contributes the greatest percentage to your dues renewal?   Are those the types of members you are actively recruiting?

  • Do your short term members or your long term members make up a larger percentage of your revenue? How would that affect your retention stategies?

  • Do you have a large percentage of revenue coming from a small segment of your membership?  What would happen if you lost just one of those members?

  • Which members have the highest lifetime value for your assocation?  Can you go get more members like them?

If you can't easily segment your membership data, you're missing out on valuable member intelligence and you're running the risk of focusing your membership sales and retention efforts on the wrong members.

We frequently hear from WebLink clients that they love our reporting and member intelligence functions. An extensive reports library - including member segmenation reports and lifetime value reports - and easy-to-use data export tools give chambers and associations BOTH the high level view and the ability to dig deeper and look at just a little bit at a time.

Forward-looking business associations know they need to "manage to the numbers" and find ways to use their association management software to do just that.  To strengthen your business and serve your members effectively, you need data you can understand and act on.

So, stop being blocked by Big Data.  Take the appoach of the 5th grader.  Break your data down into manageable chunks and learn more about your association.

  • Be better informed. (Work smarter) 
  • Make better decisions. (Act more effectively) 
  • Lead your staff, your members and your community. (Create more success)

How does your association tackle the challenge of Big Data?

Topics: Membership Marketing & Technology


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