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Koranda's column 5-05


Old 04-13-2005, 06:08 PM
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Default Koranda's column 5-05

The following is Don Kornada's "View from HQ" column for May 2005


it to the next level.

I LEARNED a long time ago that successful associations pay close attention to three things: members, marketing, and money. You already know my feelings about members. AMA exists as an association to serve the interests of its members, and our fate is ultimately tied to how well we satisfy their needs.

The challenge is to identify those needs and put in place the kind of programs and services that provide what I described in last month's article as the "value proposition." It would be nice to think that once you do, everyone will understand and flock to your door as if you had built the proverbial "better mousetrap," but it doesn't happen that way.

This leads me to the second item on my list: marketing. I like to point out that marketing is a nine-letter word—not four—and that it impacts us in many ways. It certainly has many implications for AMA as an association and for our members. It is one of the major challenges we face in growing this organization and taking it to the next level.

AMA is no different from any other organization when it comes to marketing. We don't stand in grand isolation—even if we do have a privileged position as the largest modeling organization in the world. We must constantly market ourselves to nonmembers, federal and state governments, local communities, other business, and yes, even to our own members.

Are you surprised? Don't be. Much of what associations do is nothing more than internal marketing aimed at reinforcing the value of your membership.

Why do we market? There are a number of reasons, but the most important one is to sell the idea of modeling as an enjoyable recreational activity that returns value to individuals and the community at large.

To those of us already infected with this disease, it's hard to imagine why that would be necessary, but the modern-day reality is that there are many ways to spend your recreational time, and we must compete for attention and prove the value in our sport and hobby at every opportunity.

Who does all of this work? We do, you do—we all do. You may not think of it this way, but every time someone watches you fly, each time you talk to a friend about our sport, and every person you invite over to see what you're building is just another form of marketing.

Marketing has many facets. It can help us grow the membership, spread an important message to the modeling community and general public, and even control the costs of dues. Whoa! Run that by me again? Yes, control the cost of dues. In association speak we call it non-dues revenue, and it's an important source of funds that can help associations do more for their members without increasing the dues.

Perhaps the best example of this concept is the revenue generated by our advertisers in Model Aviation. Without them we would certainly have a much smaller publication, and a less attractive one as well. The revenue generated from advertising is plowed right back into the magazine, giving you a higher-quality publication.

Another example of non-dues revenue is our credit-card program. This is something AMA has had in place for many years. As I write this article, an offer is already in the mail introducing you to our newest partner, US Bank, and the new AMA credit-card program.

We are excited about this new program for several reasons. It's a good offer with a low introductory rate that can help you manage your money efficiently and effectively. It's a money-back card that will help you control your expenses, and it generates revenue for the association which will be used to support AMA programs and help keep your dues low.

But the overwhelming majority of our funds still come from membership dues, and that is something we need to work on. One of my goals is to increase the non-dues component of our revenue so that we can keep your dues low and build our membership. One large association I know of hasn't had a dues increase in more than 10 years. It is more than twice as large as AMA and has a dues structure that is substantially lower than ours.

All of this will come with some challenges for our staff and for you, the members. Our recent AMA Ultimate Model Aeronautics Video Library DVD proved that. A number of you wrote to share your thoughts concerning this offer.

The good news is that fewer than 50 people out of an initial mailing of 50,000 asked to have their names removed from future offers. We are happy to do that and have a process in place to handle such requests. The other good news is that many of you are taking advantage of this offer, and that helps all of us.

Building an association that is prepared to meet the challenges of the future requires a number of important elements that must be blended together in a coordinated effort to be successful. One of those elements is marketing and another is generating non-dues revenue. In time you will see AMA get better at it. We will refine our approach and offer more products and services while holding the line on dues. That will help us grow, and that's a good thing.

By the way, the old adage that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door—that's only half true. The other half is that you have to market! MA

Safe flying.

Don Koranda, Executive Director

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