If you're involved with associations but haven't yet joined Association Chat, it's time to do so. Back in early December, Kiki L'Italien was so gracious to secure a podcast with one of our marketing mentors and all-around great guy, Seth Godin. Kiki and Seth had a discussion about associations and how they can adapt in the 21st century to provide even more value to their membership...and stay relevant.
We've compiled a Q&A from our listening notes, and the original podcast can be found at this link.
Why are associations resistant to change? What’s the right answer?
It’s not about the right answer, it’s about the fear of doing something different.
Changing culture is complicated, but we have a compass.
Be OK failing in the small.
Fear of rocking the boat is real but manageable.
The safest thing to do feels very risky but understand it’s dramatically more risky to do nothing.
How do we get people to change? It’s so hard to get everyone to agree.
How to move your board/stakeholders: Say, “We’re going over there. Who wants to come with us?” You don’t need buy-in from everyone. Associations need to shy away from needing unanimous consent to move forward.
Why are associations still in existence? Why hasn’t the internet taken over their purpose?
Associations exist to confer status. Example: you want a seat at this table? You have to first be part of this group. Status is not ego; status is authority.
by Keith Johnstone
Associations can no longer try to do it all. The internet is unbundling separate tasks and services of many industries and the association industry is no different. If the internet can do it, the association has to give it up. Can’t control the bundle any longer.
So what are associations good for?
Associations exist to confer status on groups of people who move the industry forward.
The association no longer has a monopoly on its members. Members can get content, learning opportunities, and certifications from many different sources. Always remember that your job is to confer status. You can begin doing this by taking these actions in your organization:
Create tension (click the link and Seth explains what he means)
Embrace practical empathy:
Seth says marketers need practical empathy, which means they don’t know, need, want, or believe what potential customers do and that’s okay.
Confer status (because everything juicy is based on status roles. From Shakespeare to the Godfather). An excellent explanation can be found in this YouTube video.
Exclusivity in any form is a chance to achieve status. We use status to get people to take action.
Stop making tables for 10! A 5 top is much better. https://seths.blog/2013/09/the-secret-of-the-five-top/
What we don’t need is to be alone. We can be alone at home. Set up opportunities for people to meet with each other and have conversations. Make people feel uncomfortable enough to generate ideas, and do that and they’ll come back.
“Go make a ruckus!”