In their last blog, the European Marketing Confederation (EMC) explored the importance of marketing associations recognising the challenges that they face.


This began with the need for self-reflection and, for some organisations, a requirement completely to transform organisational focus from cost, to value and impact.

As we embark on 2018, EMC explores what marketing associations can do to ensure not only their survival, but that they thrive well into 2018 and beyond?

“Having carried out a period of self-reflection it’s important to understand what the marketing association’s higher purpose is, the next stage is to translate this into the organisation’s ‘voice’.

“Who are you representing? And how representative are you (or should you be), exactly? What responsibility do you have towards the public and to the wider industry and profession?

“This is particularly important when you consider that for many professional bodies, membership makes up just 1/3 of revenue. As such, for many, diversification of revenue streams will be an important strategic aim for 2018.

“Yes, membership growth is important, and we must recognise key drivers for growth, but let’s also think about how we can give back to the marketing profession in 2018, whilst ensuring a secure bottom line.

“To do this, you might want to establish how your association can create employer demand through learning and development?

“So rather than talking about products and membership, you may choose to focus on learning and training – both from a member and an employer point of view.

“If your focus is more on business and societal impact, then you might focus on your employer proposition, and how to improve business performance through marketing expertise.

“It may even be the case that your organisation needs to turn things completely on their head. Don’t be afraid to bite the hand that feeds you.

“This might mean bringing together disparate groups / competitors, to achieve a better understanding of your industry. This will help to inform your proposition and how to attract the attention of new target audiences.

“Once you’ve established what your purpose is and who you are serving, it’s possible to put in place more specific activities to promote your offer, and improve engagement levels with your target audience(s).

As we look ahead to 2018, we know that there will be a continued need for resilience for marketing associations, and transformation for others.

“But the process of repositioning doesn’t have to be a laborious one, based around complicated methodology.

“It isn’t always appropriate to be ‘blue sky’ – in fact, it can often lead to slow transformational change, or little impact in real terms.

“When an organisation recognises the need for business transform, it often needs to happen quickly.

“This means pulling together and working to put marketing back on the business agenda.

“If marketing associations keep it simple, then 2018 could be the year for marketing associations to thrive once more.”