Lorna Berrett 
Lorna Berrett
Director  Society & Association Marketing, Wiley 

In December, we attended the Associations Congress in London, following a successful trip to the European version of this event in Paris earlier in the year.

With six streams over two days there was a lot to cover and we made use of social media to pass on the most interesting anecdotes. In this post we have picked up some of the key themes as illustrated in tweets from our accounts and other favorites.

Do you know your “special purpose”?

Lee Davies of the Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys opened the conference with the story of his battle to define CIPA’s “special purpose” after their regulatory status was lost and with it the primary reason for joining. His challenge was first to persuade the executive that there was a need for change and then to involve all stakeholders in the process.






The Chartered Institute of Marketing also had to rethink their purpose and value proposition. Thomas Brown, Director of Strategy and Insights at CIM, told us how they conducted a brand health survey to discover awareness and understanding of their role among the marketing community – members and non-members. They are now in the process of engaging all stakeholders to redefine the role of the association to meet needs of marketers at a time of huge change for both the CIM and the marketing profession.

In the Digital Strategy session Lindsey Herbert, Head of Digital at Precedent, challenged associations to say why they exist:







Lindsey’s focus was on Customer Experience and her example of how Blockbuster ignored the changing demands of the customer experience to the advantage of Netflix was a warning to us all. Her advice was to start with culture, include cx in your strategic plan, tie it to staff appraisals and invest in ways to solve cx issues.

Segmentation, personas, community:

A number of presenters talked about how they are segmenting their membership, building personas to work from, and designing benefits for different membership categories:

















The power of content:

There was also much discussion of content to communicate with and engage members and communities. John Scarriott, Membership Director for Design Business Association, helped us think about where to find content – it’s all around us:





While Wiley’s own Davina Quarterman reminded delegates they don’t have to create all the content themselves, curation and collation are important parts of content strategy, but remember always to fit the content to the audience needs:




Paul Bradley, Senior Social Media Adviser at the National Farmers Union talked about the different content formats they used for their various objectives and showed us an example of the power of video:











Generation gap:

With an eye to the present and the future, there was of course much discussion of Generations X, Y and Z and what membership means for them and for associations. The live polling showed the make-up of the audience:





And the debate focused on how to reach Gen Y and Gen Z in recruitment and retention.




I’m looking forward to seeing more Societies and Associations creating content and benefits for this next generation.

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