Thanks to the past presidents for their letter of March 1. I’d like to take this opportunity to respond to their recommendations concerning the future of NAIFA:
Let’s begin with their suggestion for more research that will help NAIFA “create a compelling value proposition.” The presidents advise NAIFA to “engage a high-quality marketing firm” as a follow-up to the 2000 research conducted by KRC Consulting.
The KRC Research was extensive, and NAIFA took action on most if not all of the report’s recommendations, including creating an online presence and providing more networking opportunities for members. But that 2000 research was not the end of the story: NAIFA also created a blueprint for its future through the NAIFA Transformation Task Force of 2003, and three years later hired Ketchum, Inc. for “NAIFA In the 21st Century.” Allow me to remind you of the findings from all three projects (and you can access more highlights here).
The conclusion: NAIFA is not innovative, inclusive and does not deliver the right products to meet members’ needs.
The recommendation: NAIFA needs to provide more skills and training, create an online presence, and cater to a diverse workforce.
2003, NAIFA Transformation Task Force:
The conclusion: NAIFA’s value proposition is its ability to advocate for the industry and help members grow their business.
The recommendation: In addition to strengthening advocacy and member benefits, NAIFA needs to create a governance model that is responsible and accountable, and an administration model that focuses on the mission of delivering value to members.
2006, Ketchum, Inc. (NAIFA 21):
The conclusion: NAIFA is perceived as primarily an advocacy organization; professional development and education is a desired member benefit.
The recommendation: NAIFA needs to expand its product offerings (sales & training) to increase member value.
The three studies completed over the past 12 years, and in particular the 2006 study by Ketchum, paint a very clear picture of who NAIFA members are and what they are looking for in a professional organization. NAIFA’s compelling value proposition was the fruit of the three studies, and it remains crystal clear today: NAIFA protects your business through advocacy and helps you grow your business with professional development and educational programs. This is our value proposition, drawn directly from NAIFA’s mission statement; we certainly do not need to engage another marketing firm to tell us what we already know.
In addition to advocacy and professional development, NAIFA has come a long way to address its perceived deficiencies in other areas defined in the reports, such as inclusiveness (reaching out to YATs) and improving the use of technology to reach members.
NAIFA has a powerful story to tell, and we’re making progress in getting the word out to members (another recommendation from the past presidents). NAIFA has more visibility in the news media today than in many years, and we’ve created a new outreach program to members and prospects through a new messaging campaign, “It Pays to be a Member,” launched this week. We are counting on our state and local association volunteers and executives to engage in this campaign and support our efforts to communicate more effectively with our members. As Dr. Waters states on the campaign Web site for leaders: “Together, using these tools and content, we can deliver a unified message to members and prospects about how NAIFA helps grow and protect our members’ businesses and promotes ethical business conduct.” There will be more to come on our continued efforts to communicate the NAIFA value proposition.
I am proud of the progress NAIFA has made in implementing so many of the recommendations delivered in the three reports. When you consider the new messaging campaign, the member benefits programs, and NAIFA’s advocacy achievements, you can see that we have built precisely the value proposition that was sought by all three research projects.
What remains undone is the development of an improved system (or structure) for selling membership and the membership experience. This is one area where we have not progressed: Governance.
Which brings us to another important recommendation from the past presidents: “Restructure NAIFA to deliver the components of the value proposition.”
I wholeheartedly agree.
By Robert Miller, M.A., M.S.
2011-12 NAIFA President