Over two decades ago, I worked for a small trade association whose primary product was a very large trade show put on every two years. The association itself had been around for over 100 years, and the trade show was in the top 50 in the US in terms of square footage.

And yet, ten years ago, the association disappeared, absorbed by a larger trade show, the victim of severe industry consolidation. But consolidation wasn’t the only problem the association had. Another problem was that it really didn’t offer much other than the trade show. Oh sure, we had committees and events and other common association activities. But none of these were very strong products on their own. And so, ultimately, the association died.

When you look at your association, how diverse is your offering of products and services? One of the benefits of a good association management system is that you can learn a lot about your members’ and customers’ needs, and you can provide them with additional value through better products and services. But you need to HAVE products and services, in order to make the data useful.

Ask yourself: Is your association product mix like a light switch or a rheostat? A light switch turns on and off, but a rheostat allows you to adjust your lighting in a variety of ways. If you only have one primary product, your members can turn you off in an instant. Don’t let this happen to you.