The road to success for membership organizations has changed dramatically over the past decade. What used to work now doesn’t, and many organizations who haven’t updated how they operate are struggling with dwindling memberships and sliding revenue. Sound familiar?
For years, membership organizations found success because they were monopolies. They offered a valuable commodity, members paid dues, and competition was minimal. But starting around year 2000, many organizations who benefited from being monopolies would experience a barrage of challenges that weakened their position and forever altered their futures.
Organizations have been faced with managing unprecedented change and for this have been forever altered. But we as an organization can rebuild the monopoly and be successful for years to come, if we can accept the fact that the rules have changed and what worked in the past isn’t going to work anymore. We must recreate a monopoly on the market by providing something valuable which has minimal competition.
To do this we need to find our niche. ICES was built on a prospective market that was gigantic. All those interested in the sugar arts at any level is a huge pool of potential members. Yet, we struggle to recruit new members and retention remains on the decline. Something is not working. Trying to be all things to all people is a sure way to fail. In the past, organizations like ICES focused on quantity. We wanted to get as many members as possible without alienating anyone. With this route, it opens organizations up to even more competition, offerings are generalized, information is watered down, and the organizations have to do twice and much work to try to keep up. It’s a whole new world. The days of one-size-fits-all don’t apply any more. We must define our audience and seek to be the expert, the go-to organization. We need to redefine our niche.
We also need to redefine our culture. Culture is not something you can actually see. Culture is the environment and the experiences that we create for our members. Our culture is our personality. Our culture is how we work together. Culture matters to a younger generation that are driven by personal happiness. People want to control their environments and refuse to engage in anything negative, challenging, or draining. What are we saying about ICES. How are we portraying ICES to prospective new members as well as our current members?
Throughout history, membership organizations have faced challenges. We are all founded as a community of shared values and interested. Membership organizations have survived because people need each other. We all prospered because we were monopolies. The demand was high and the competition minimal.
We are in the process of rebuilding ICES. We need to find our niche and rebuild our monopoly with the needs of our members and the changes in the marketplace in mind. We will be successful.
Now is the time to write your President (firstname.lastname@example.org) and share your thoughts and ideas. Your board and I are looking forward to hearing from you.
The future is now! Let’s begin the journey.
International Cake Exploration Societe’