Friday, May 23, 2014

The four strategic uses of research

By Steve Worth

On more than one occasion I have heard association executives say that they saw no need to do market research because their membership included the who’s who of their sector. 

It seems to me this is a dangerously myopic mindset; but at the very least it misses four key uses for market research:

1.      Achieving consensus—Any association executive will tell you that one of the hardest aspects of their job is to harness the many strong personalities represented on their board of directors and various leadership bodies.  It can be as hard as herding cats; but facts have a way of focusing attention on what is important while minimizing personality differences and/or the differences among membership factions.

2.      Bringing stakeholders’ voices to the table—Every organization has important stakeholders who cannot always be present when and where decisions are being made.  Stakeholder research can help compensate for that and make for a more inclusive and transparent decision making process.

3.      Benchmarking progress against goals—It is a truism that people and organizations achieve what they measure.  Start tracking your progress on key goals and see for yourself how obstacles magically melt away.

4.      Trend analysis—One of the key legal advantages nonprofit organizations have over for-profit companies lies in their ability to collect and analyze competitive data.  It is also one of the most valued benefits as measured by surveys in virtually every membership organization.

There is nothing to compare with the strategic value of good market research—no matter who the members of your association might be!

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