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How a good AMS can help trade associations with membership
14 July 2014, by , in Executive, Marketing, 1 comment

In my almost-ten-years as an association professional, I worked for three different associations whose membership was based on organizations rather than individuals (commonly referred to as “trade” associations). One of the biggest challenges that trade associations have is that very often, membership in the association hangs on the relationship with one individual at the member-company. (At my associations, we referred to these people as the prime contact, or PC.)

The relationship between the PC and the association was critical, because the PC was the one making the decision every year on whether or not to renew. And what every membership manager at a trade fears is the PC leaving the member-company and having no one else to work with at that member-company. This is where a good AMS can help.

A good AMS package will allow a membership manager to track several key things that will help here. For example:

  1. You can track multiple secondary contacts, including those contacts designated by the member-company as secondary contacts, as well as secondary contacts identified through other transactions (e.g., event registration, product sales, etc.).
  2. You can track the activities of all contacts at a given member-company, including non-transactional activities such as volunteer activity.
  3. You can track titles of all contacts at a given member-company.

With these few pieces of information, if a PC leaves a member-company, you’ll at least have a good starting point for finding a new PC, or at least a champion within the member-company. For example, if a non-PC had served on one of your committees in the past, that would be a good person to contact if the PC has left the member-company. Or contact individuals who have attended several of your educational events. These types of people already see the value of your organization, and could become a new PC or at least become a strong influencer on whoever the member-company designates as the new PC.

A good AMS can let you create ties to your member-companies that run deeper than just the relationship you have with your PC. Make sure you’re leveraging all of that data!

About author:
  • Will

    Nice post Wes. I especially like “A good AMS can let you create ties to your member-companies that run deeper than just the relationship you have with your PC”

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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