Boardroom had three questions for Judy Elvey, Director of Marketing, Europe at Cvent as well as President of the UK & Ireland chapter Meetings Professional International (MPI), about strategies on how associations can achieve highest ‘Return on Equity’ (ROE).
Can you give general tips on achieving highest ROE?
Depending on the type of association, size and budget, ‘highest ROE’ will be different but as a general guide:
1. Be clear on the priorities and core objectives whether that’s about the financial return, creating more educational content or about growing the membership.
2. Engage with your membership and be prepared to do some research (either by traditional methods such as surveys or emails) or via social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter.
3. Turn declined invitations of members into an opportunity to find out why. Perhaps it’s the cost, location or speaker. You could look at whether they want to have more information on the association.
4. Spread the word; you’ll want to ensure you get as many people of the right demographic attending in order to get the maximum return out of your investment. Make sure the invitation is something which can be easily forwarded on to relevant contacts and prospective members via email and or social media and send reminders.
5. Make sure you have enough people attending from your association to facilitate lots of interaction on the day. One of the biggest drivers for members is to feel connected to an industry community and to meet new contacts so they can exchange ideas and feel supported in their professional life. Make sure you offer ice-breaker games or break-out sessions to encourage this at your event. Also, utilise apps, lead capture or RFID to track your attendees’ journey throughout the event.
6. After the event, continue to engage with follow up. The feedback form is an essential starting point, but make sure your delegates fill it in.
Would it differ if you are smaller, volunteer run- association with a limited budget or a larger organisation with paid staff?
I think the size of the association will define to a degree what they are able to do. For example, larger associations are actively investing in technology and tracking ROE and have the benefit of paid for staff who have designated roles in charge of looking at different ways to boost the bottom line. These teams will be proactively looking at the growing income of their annual conference by selling sponsorship or offering partnership deals to suppliers.
It’s less about being solely focused on the profit and far more about providing all members with the right educational content and creating memorable events so they feel truly engaged with the association and willingly renew their membership year after year. In an age where associations, regardless of size, are having to look at new ways to retain and boost numbers, members want to feel their own personal professional needs are being addressed and the association is not adopting a blanket approach.
Can you give an example of a recent association event with a good ROE?
Certainly MPI, based on strategy I mentioned above, is seeing a steady growth in membership in many regions across the world. We see a big increase in membership after each event and immediately follow up with potential members when we have executed a successful event. It’s about building a community and keeping those communities engaged.