Many associations are looking for new ways to generate revenue.
Often the annual meeting is the largest non-dues source of revenue for the association’s budget. When the Great Recession hit, many associations were forced to slash budgets, rethink conference strategies and search for new revenue streams. Now that the economy has begun to slowly improve, some association leaders are considering adding another tradeshow or conference to generate new revenue streams.
Where are the opportunities? Where are the needs? Do these opportunities fit us? Do they align with our core mission? Does it match with our member demographics? Will it attract new blood? Is it something that we can build on or is it a flash opportunity? Where can we as an association, with our limited resources of money, people, time and competence, make a difference and set a new standard? What are the needs within this area? Are there others already playing in this area of the sandbox? If we enter this area, how can we create a new dimension of performance? How can we set a new standard?
2. Managing Risk
How can we mitigate the risk? Can we incubate the new event by co-locating with an existing, successful conference? Should we partner with another organization? Should we test the waters with a webinar, virtual or hybrid event to ensure there is sufficient interest?
Does this new opportunity align with our strengths and past performance? Is it something that we already do well? Do we have the human and organizational resources to get this job done? If not, by adding additional resources, can they serve a purpose beyond the conference or event?
Is this something we believe in? Does it align with our mission?
Most people over the age of 30 have heard the story of the Edsel automobile. The 1950’s car failed miserably. Ask why it failed and you’ll get a variety of answers.
Some say it failed because of its unique front-end styling. Consumer Reports cited poor workmanship. Marketing experts point to corporate America’s inability to understand the American people and its culture.
Some will say it failed because Ford didn’t do its homework. Quite the contrary, it was one of the best-engineered, best-researched and best-everything car. There was just one thing wrong with it: nobody at the Ford Motor Company believed in it. It was contrived. It was designed on the basis of research and not on the basis of commitment. Business experts claim that its lack of backing from the executive offices as well as anyone inside Ford led to its demise.
So when it got into trouble, nobody supported it. Without personal commitment of those at Ford, it certainly never could be a success.
Will this new conference or tradeshow have the commitment of the Board of Directors, the executive director, that staff and the association’s members? Are we ready to go all in? If not, why are we doing it?
Every new association endeavor, including possible new shows or conferences need to reflect these four things: opportunities, managing risk, competence and commitment.
What other things would you add that associations should consider before embarking on adding a new tradeshow or conference to their mix?