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Harnessing Data: Benchmarking in your Association

By Brian Chaisson, TMG Director of Industry Benchmarking

Members typically join associations to network, learn industry best practices, or identify trends coming down the pipeline. However, a lesser-known but equally valuable reason is benchmarking – the study of comparative data in the industry. Industry benchmarking programs collect and compile member data to produce aggregated results, thereby providing “snapshots” of overall industry performance.

How do members benefit from benchmarking?
When members participate in a survey or a benchmarking study, they see firsthand how their business or individual performance stacks up with competitors and the industry as a whole. These data programs showcase strengths as well as pinpoint opportunities for growth. For any given metric, participants will be able to answer: what is the industry average and how does my performance compare to this average?

Some popular, value-rich areas where you might implement benchmarking initiatives include operations, finance, compensation and benefits, and safety.

Why establish a benchmarking program for your association?
An established benchmarking program could become the crown jewel of your membership package. Due to their unique ability to convene large portions of their particular industries, many association benchmarking programs produce valuable data that simply doesn’t exist anywhere else. Each participating member will get this substantial value, and this of course assists in member retention.

Along the same lines, data programs can also reveal industry standards that were previously unknown. Knowledge is power, as they say, and these standard industry metrics are generally invaluable not only to businesses and individuals in the industry, but also to potential investors and outside consultants.

Benchmarking programs are also an important yet overlooked marketing tool. Associations are always looking to grow membership, and data programs can help. If your association can provide a meaningful and exclusive offering that potential members cannot get without becoming members, then half the recruitment process is already done for you!

Data benchmarking is win-win, providing value to both members and associations alike. As association managers who have implemented countless benchmarking surveys, TMG has seen this value first hand! We encourage you to consider a benchmarking program for your own association.

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