Digital Ambition vs Digital Maturity: An Alternative View on Associations

Author: Laurent Goffin

Laurent Goffin, Managing Partner of Belly & Brain, a digital management consulting firm, explains how associations should use their digital transformation – and embrace digital maturity – to make it their competitive edge.

Digital has never been so critical for associations. It has been the best channel available to connect with members and audiences throughout the pandemic. It offers amazing potential for new revenue generation, and cost reduction. Innovative membership value propositions and next generation business models can be developed through great digital experiences.

On the other hand, associations are now facing a much more competitive environment where they do not enjoy exclusivity to deliver service and value to their members. COVID-19 has accelerated this competition by reinforcing digital competition. Increasing association’s digital maturity is not an option anymore to compete in this environment.

Welcome to an age where member is a customer, communities are consumer groups and the value proposition is about delivering more added value than the competition whilst mastering channels to sell product and services at the right price.

The entire association sector is talking about their digital ambition, trying to unlock opportunities and facing up to new challenges. To bring another perspective to the conversation, we have evaluated the sector – not by comparing associations to one another – but through digital standards or marketing concepts widely used in the commercial and corporate world.

We have used our 20 years of experience in digital strategy and strategic marketing with some of the biggest B2B and B2C companies to evaluate the digital presence of more than 100 associations. Our experience has shown there is no magic tool. You need a good digital strategy defining objectives and precise targets to reach. This allows you to select digital solutions, tactics and activities to reach those goals with the least resources involved.

Digital leadership is not about embracing latest technologies the fastest! It’s more about acquiring confidence in selecting the most relevant digital tactics that will deliver results without changing direction all the time and getting distracted by what others are doing.

So, what are our key findings? We believe there are some fundamental challenges but also some clear paths forward, and some quick wins not to ignore.

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