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Association CEOs Battle for Bandwidth

Seth Kahan convenes Association CEOs to explore private sector membership models.

Bethesda, MD, June 17, 2014 --( Association CEOs met in Washington, D.C., on June 13 to explore the threat posed by private sector membership organizations and to determine how to adopt private sector practices.

The meeting was led by executive strategy consultant Seth Kahan, founder of Association Transformation. Silicon Valley-based marketing strategist Robbie Kellman Baxter from Peninsula Strategies was a featured speaker and thought leader.

“People only have so much bandwidth to devote to relationships. There has never been more competition for time, attention and wallet share. Associations are competing with companies such as Amazon, online communities and even apps. To survive, they must meet the expectations raised by the private sector. That might mean offering tiered pricing, a la carte services or 'freemiums' (free services that encourage others to pay for premium service),” said Kahan.

Baxter is the author of “The Membership Economy,” which will be published by McGraw-Hill. She shared the membership strategies and tactics of companies such as Uber and Salesforce and provided an in-depth look at LinkedIn, which is encroaching on the relationship-building once dominated by associations. She attributed LinkedIn’s continuing growth to the network effect that adds value to subscribers as more people join and to the site’s free trial which can be upgraded for premium service.

In addition to presentations, CEOs had the opportunity to work in groups of their peers to address membership concerns. They also brainstormed strategies to help volunteers who took the Hot Seat to share their most pressing challenge.

According to CEO Chris McEntee of the American Geophysical Union, “The value of the meeting was the deep dive into one particular area – membership – based on learning from private sector models.”

In addition to the association CEOs, two thought leaders and three Association Transformation Business Braintrust members enriched the conversation. The Braintrust is made up of best-in-class private sector CEOs and experts who advise the Association Transformation community on industry trends and perspectives from their area of expertise.

At this meeting, Association Transformation also announced a collaborative research project. CEOs were invited to join in identifying emerging trends, threats and opportunities and develop a portfolio of activities to ensure the value of associations over the next 5-10 years.

“This shared exploration will provide useful, value-based opportunities for those committed to the future of their association and mission,” said Kahan.

Association CEOs in attendance were:
Tony Cancelosi - Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
Julie Coons - Electronic Retailing Association
Linda Darr - American Moving and Storage Association
Michael Fraser - Pennsylvania Medical Society
David Gammell - Entomological Society of America
Linda Hallman - American Association of University Women
Julia Hamm - Solar Electric Power Association
Ellie Hollander - Meals on Wheels Association of America
Clare Kelly - Iowa Medical Society
Doug Kleine - Professional Association Services
Christine McEntee - American Geophysical Union
Brent Mulgrew - The Ohio State Medical Association
Ralph Nappi - The Association for Suppliers of Printing, Publishing and Converting Technologies
Peter O’Neill - American Industrial Hygiene Association
Elisa Pratt - AGC of America
Catherine Rydell - American Academy of Neurology
Kerry Stackpole - Printing & Graphics Association Midatlantic
Dawn Sweeney - National Restaurant Association

Thought Leaders:
Bennie Johnson - 04 York
Susan Sarfati - High Performance Strategies

Business Braintrust:
Loretta Monterastelli DeLuca - DelCor Technology Solutions
Jeff Glassie - Whiteford, Taylor & Preston
Debbie King - DSK Solutions

About Association Transformation:
We are building a community of visionary CEOs who are shaping the future of association leadership. Association Transformation focuses on inspiring and guiding association leaders through the process of innovation. We help them master change so they can empower their organizations to fulfill their mission and be of greater service to members and the wider world.

About Seth Kahan:
A visionary executive strategy consultant, Seth Kahan works with CEOs on change initiatives and reaches more than 25,000 leaders a year through conferences and seminars. His proven track record includes the development of 120 professional communities for World Bank, high-stakes consulting for Shell and leadership development for NASA, FEMA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.

Mr. Kahan’s bestsellers on change, innovation and building communities are hailed as must-read roadmaps for turning new ideas into measurable results. He has contributed to The Washington Post and Fast Company. His newest book is Getting Innovation Right: How Leaders Leverage Inflection Points to Drive Success, published May 2013.

Seth Kahan
Phone: 301-229-2221
Twitter: @21stCenturyAssn
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Performance Development Group
Seth Kahan

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