The Untapped Sources of Business Intelligence


When considering sources for data mining, it’s not unusual for association executives to go immediately to their association management systems (AMS) to find information about their members and customers. After all, assuming your AMS is well-managed and maintained, you’ll have a wealth of information about your members and customers, including length of membership, committee service, history of products and services purchased, and more.

But for many associations, useful behavioral data exists beyond what is typically managed in the AMS. And while this data may not be as easily accessible as the AMS data, it can provide valuable additional context about members and customers. It can also help identify those members and customers that have the highest level of engagement with your association.

Here is just a brief set of examples of nontransactional member and customer engagement that may be valuable for identifying best customers:

Award nominations

Many associations have awards programs, and the process of submitting for one can be very time consuming. The simple act of applying for the award demonstrates a high level of engagement. Keep track not only who has won the awards but also who was nominated.

Focus groups

Focus groups are a common marketing tool. Your focus group participants are providing their time and insight, typically for little or no recompense. If your association is using focus groups, keep track of who participated.


Listservers are one of the highest-rated member benefits and one of the easiest and best ways to build community. Many members find listservers a low-barrier way to get engaged. Keep track of who is participating.

Research studies

If you ask your members to participate in research studies, especially those types of studies that require hours of response time, these members are demonstrating a high level of engagement with your association. Keep track of them.

Volunteers or facilitators

Most associations track their standing committee participation (for example, members of the board of directors) fairly well. But what about all of the other volunteers that give time to your organization throughout the year? How about ad-hoc committees, speakers, writers, bloggers, or room monitors? Keep track of them.

One other thing to note: a lot of this information probably can be housed within your AMS, if you take the time to determine where it will be managed within the system and how the data will be entered and maintained. Ideally, your AMS will serve as a data warehouse, helping you to easily identify your very best customers.

There is probably quite a bit of business intelligence that is outside your AMS but inside your organization that your association should be using to its advantage. Use the list above as a starting point to identify all of the untapped sources that may be right at your fingertips.

This article originally appeared in the January 2010 issue of ASAE’s Marketing Insights. Reprinted with permission.

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