RECOGNIZING THE BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP IN CHANNEL ORGANIZATIONS
As new challenges and opportunities arise in the AV integration channel, more companies are recognizing that involvement within trade associations can create connections to new ideas and professional growth, as well as provide advice on navigating new and existing markets. Before signing up, however, it is important to analyze which aspects of association membership would provide your company with the most return on its investment. Before anything else, seek involvement with an association that is aligned with your company’s strategic goals. With that as a foundation, there are two important sides of the association coin that you should consider. First, what will benefit the internal functioning and profitability of your company? Second, what external benefit will your company receive within the particular markets that your company serves?
IPRO’S NEW ROLE
IPRO, currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, is taking its involvement with the manufacturer community to a new level. At this year’s conference held in Dallas, Texas, the organization hosted several new manufacturer members of the IPRO Manufacturer Group (IPRO MG), which was an idea fostered by the relationship that IPRO has with NEMRA. For many years, NEMRA, with their NEMRA MG, has achieved solutions for the manufacturing and representative communities in areas of mutual interest, including order systems and reporting capabilities,for example.
In the few weeks immediately preceding the conference, the IPRO Board worked on creating a gateway for representatives in the closely related INFOCOMM/commercial AV integration industryto be a part of the IPRO conference. This underscores the fact that IPRO members and reps in other markets have more in common than not.
Running a successful representative business with training, certification, support, and advocacy of the rep function is a mutual core interest of the regular members of IPRO and reps from other markets. Regardless of which segment your company represents, a key distinction in this process is maintaining balance between having membership in an organization that has its focus on improving your business (internal), and your company being an associate member in an organization(s) that allows you greater access to your current or intended market (external).
To illustrate the external side of the coin,let’s use CEDIA as an example. The “regular member” of CEDIA is a residential electronic systems contracting (RESC) company. On the other hand, manufacturers, distributors, reps, and professional services company, are offered “associate member” status within the CEDIA organization. When doing business with anyone, it has been demonstrated that understanding what your customer needs and is looking for is a key to your company’s success. Therefore, it is highly encouraged that your company obtains an associate membership within the industry associations for the markets in which you are participating.
YOUR KEY ASSOCIATIONS
Associate membership in the right organizations in your market is a key ingredient to your company’s potential success.
IZATIONS Andrew Ard (firstname.lastname@example.org) is chairman of IPRO and is currently CEDIA council chair for associate and affiliate members. But it is important to distinguish and remember that regardless of how much your company has contributed as an associate member, your role is best accepted and acknowledged by those efforts you and/or your company performs for that association’s “regular members.”
So, it is time to decide. Fundamentally, if you are not a regular member within an organization, then you are denying your company the benefits of non-competitive access to key information for running a more profitable business. By so doing, you are also removing the larger voice that an association provides in advocating your company’s role to other market participants.
If your company remains balanced in its efforts to obtain helpful information for its internal functioning and profitability (via regular membership in an association aligned with your market function), while contributing to and understanding the needs of the external markets that your company serves (via associate membership), then your business will receive the best of what associations can provide for your company and its success.