ike many association professionals, you probably are
seeing a growing number of non-U.S. influences on
your business. More and more international customers
are consuming your products, attending your U.S.
meetings and contributing content to your publications. As you
grow increasingly reliant on this international clientele, your
members, customers, partners and leaders are likely demanding
that your association be more “present and engaged” with them.
Meanwhile, your environmental scanning indicates these
demographic and business trends:
• Expansion in global trade as a result of freer and newer markets;
• Rapid increase in migration of workers, not only to developed
countries but to emerging markets;
• Rapid adoption and diffusion of technology;
• Major expansion in foreign direct investment on a global scale;
• Increasing demand for a local presence and customized
• 24/7 global project management that necessitates inter-operable standards and procedures, fueling the demand for
certification and training;
• Expectations for “global” customer service, with regional
consumers demanding the same quality experience whether
in Chicago or Mumbai.
So how do we pursue growing a market for products, services or membership in various regions of the world — even in •
a down economy? •
According to the World
Bank, in 2000 the middle
class and the wealthy
exceeded 40 percent of the
population in only six
developing countries. By
2030, the number of countries is expected to grow
fivefold to 30.
States. Based on local market research that defined the local
“business value” of the MDRT value proposition, the strategy
called for a plan that tailored the opportunity according to the
needs of each member prospect while personalizing its delivery.
The plan hinged on the following:
• Hiring an in-region team to build relationships with C-level
executives, create targeted marketing communications, and
provide membership support;
• Using various partners including local chambers of commerce,
national entities, and sister organizations;
Creating local member activities driven by local member needs;
Communicating in local languages to promote local, regional
and international programs and services with calls to action;
International Scope, Local View
For some associations, the answer might be to lead with products and services, while for others it remains all about member- •
ship. But regardless of your approach, if you cannot build local
relevance and presence you may be less likely to attract and
sustain interest among customers, members, partners, sponsors
or endorsers in any market.
According to the World Bank, in 2000 the middle class
and the wealthy exceeded 40 percent of the population in only
six developing countries. By 2030, the number of countries is
expected to grow fivefold to 30. As a result, there will be a
massive new income-earning consumer base that will demand
access to standards of living previously known by populations
only in developed countries.
What industry or profession wouldn’t want to serve such an
untapped demand for living the kind of life many of us take for
granted? To do so, an association must find a way to establish a
presence — directly or indirectly — in the markets in which it hopes
to grow. The two following examples help illustrate this point.
• Launching an ambassadorship program of regional volunteer
leaders to attend local company meetings; and
Conducting best practice presentations by MDRT volunteer
leaders or top regional producers.
After one year of this program, MDRT realized a six-figure (in
U.S. dollars) increase in revenue from Europe, the Middle East
and Africa through a 20 percent increase in local membership
and 33 percent increase in U.S. annual meeting attendance.
MDRT is now applying this same model in the Asia Pacific
region, where it sees significant growth potential in South Korea,
China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.
Million Dollar Round Table
The Park Ridge, Ill.-based Million Dollar Roundtable — an international association of life insurance and financial services
professionals — developed a successful strategy and implementation plan to target Central and Eastern Europe for membership and non-dues revenue growth. The solution was not simply
opening a regional office, because local operational effectiveness does not necessarily result in revenue growth. In addition,
the organization knew simply distributing membership brochures
in a local language would not be sufficient.
MDRT devised a segmented strategy targeting Central and
Southeastern Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent
International DB2 Users Group
Another example of successful global growth strategies is International DB2 Users Group, based in Chicago. IDUG, an independent user group for IBM’s DB2 products (a family of
relational database management system products), has moved
beyond its U.S. base by leveraging a strong vendor partnership
with IBM to grow its user community. But rather than launching
educational events in such countries as India, Brazil and China
simply because there were users located there, IDUG did its
homework and truly cultivated a community.
IDUG worked collaboratively with IBM to identify local customers and leverage lists of active online forum contributors
from India to build a continuity of user group supporters. In
addition, the team performed a market research assessment of
the local market to determine:
• Demographics of the local user base;
• Local education needs;
• The competitive landscape for DB2 education;
• The value proposition and potential pricing model;
• Needs for translation of content;