Association executives reporting increases in one-year and five-year membership levels and increases in new member acquisitions and member renewals are significantly more likely to consider their association extremely or very innovative.

This is a quote from an annual research report that Marketing General does on member based associations.

Yesterday, I wrote about having some level of risk taking and exploration as a requirement for pursuing growth opportunities. Later in the morning, I was doing research on a vertical position that we’re investing in (again), associations, and came across this tidbit.

It’s not a hard data point- associations and member growth are not businesses and customer growth. But it’s suggestive.

Another topic I’ve written about lately is business in service. Not in the sense of service like a monthly subscription, but in the sense of taking as your cause a market’s needs. This is something that associations do pretty well. The members come together as a collective to address shared problems and goals.

In pursuing external growth opportunities, one model is to consider the pursuit like lenses in a binocular.

In one lens, you have risky activities. All those untested responses to changes in the market environment.

In the other lens, you have service. This lens contains the problems, needs, goals, and dreams of the people in the market you address.

The Venn diagram intersection is where your best opportunities come into focus.

If you evaluated your businesses level of investment in innovation on these spectrum, where would it come out?

How innovative are you in experimenting with changes in the market environment?

What’s your level of knowledge about customer value? Problems, dreams, goals, needs.