But what differentiates a successful global association from a not-so-successful one? Commitment. Strategy. Good business acumen. Cultural appreciation. Just to name a few things.
The ASAE Foundation and MCI Group, a global network of 50-plus offices providing market development services and conference management, just launched a multi-year, multi-phase research project to better understand U.S. associations’ global strategies and international engagement. In the end, a series of whitepapers and other resources will equip association members with tools to “go global.”
As the first byproduct of the initiative, the newly released report focuses on U.S. associations’ business activities with countries outside North America. One of the key findings: The most successful global associations have a strong commitment to internationalization, with a clearly defined and executed global strategy.
Specifically, the study found associations with successful global operations:
- Recognize that international business operations are important to their financial health
- Introduce products to international markets frequently
- Conduct international meetings, conferences and face-to-face training
- Develop strategic global partnerships
- Invest in emerging international markets, rather than those that might be most popular or English speaking
- Establish global offices or locations
The study also found those associations that successfully engage worldwide have higher membership growth and more non-dues revenue than those that don’t.
In addition, 60 percent said they have staff dedicated to international operations.
An interesting finding: Associations that reported growth in product sales from outside North America are more likely to have board members who reside outside North America. On the contrary, those who restrict board membership to North America have flat membership growth.
All associations (globally engaged and non-globally engaged) reported China will offer the largest potential for globalization throughout the next few years. But successful global associations also recognize potential in Brazil and India, and plan to target those markets.
“Proactive associations are those that reach out to non-U.S. members and customers to better understand their needs, promote the membership or products that are uniquely useful to them, lower barriers to engagement and consumption, give local leadership responsibility and reward or recognize participation.
“The case should be made to find ways to get into [identified emerging] markets now so as to build brand awareness, cultivate demand, build partnerships and improve service delivery capacity,” the report states. “Doing so now may actually be less expensive than waiting, when costs will be higher, negotiating for favorable terms harder and competition is more intense.”
So what do you think? Do you agree with the report’s findings? Is globalization in your association’s future?