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by Michael C. Lowe | October 01, 2010

During its annual meeting in August,  the Ame­rican Society of Association Executives announced it will be focusing on four new initiatives that aim to customize the ASAE experience and enhance member engagement.

Starting later this fall, for associations with fewer than 10 staff members, ASAE will allow group CEOs to become individual members, while the rest of the association staff will receive complimentary electronic member benefits, including full access to the ASAE website at asae
center.org.

"A lot of our staff does not have prior association experience, so having full access to the ASAE website will help our organization continue to learn how associations work," said Merry Marwig, event administrator for Hotel Technology Next Generation, a group that brings hotels and technology vendors together. (HTNG itself has a staff of seven.)

For associations with 30 or more people on staff, ASAE plans to assign an account representative to customize and discuss products and services offered by the association. In addition, ASAE will provide training in association management areas such as government relations, communications and membership coordination for those working for organizations with larger staffs. The start date for these initiatives is yet to be determined.

Conspicuously absent are new training modes or other programs directed toward associations having between 10 and 30 staff members. ASAE has found that groups with staffs of fewer than 10 and more than 30 have their own specific, noticeable needs and behavior patterns based on buying habits, engagement with ASAE and attendance, making it easier to determine applicable initiatives. Furthermore, these two segments make up about 80 percent of the membership, according to John Graham IV, the association's president and CEO.

"It's a crude segmentation," Graham acknowledged, "but, for now, these two categories of associations are where our greatest opportunities undoubtedly lie."

ASAE also aims to develop relationships with international associations, beginning with the Pacific Rim region in response to "significant" interest from countries such as China, Australia and Singapore. Furthermore, the organization is looking to create country-specific certifications in association management and electronic newsletters, as well as to act as a resource for international associations by providing relevant information, case studies on management strategies and templates for contracts.

In addition, ASAE has come up with a new digital strategy. Already available is MyASAE, a free iPhone/iPad app that allows users to select and receive customized content. And beginning in January 2011, the association will eliminate two issues from its monthly print publication, Associations Now, while launching a new series of online quarterly digital supplements.