The 6 Elements Every Association Needs To Own The Future – The Highlight Reel

If you didn’t tune in for Association Chat (#assnchat) Tuesday, you missed one of our most powerful goal-setting episodes in the history of Association Chat!

We welcomed the New Year with an hour long chat featuring Association Chat veteran, Tom Morrison, CEO of the Metal Treating Institute (MTI). He briefed us on what changes in the association world we should expect with a brand new year.

Tom Morrison (@tommorrison) is not only a CEO, but a nationally sought after speaker on the topics of maximizing member value/engagement, marketplace disruption and personal development.

He is a lover of checklists, top three’s, and lists of things you need to know! Try to count how many times he has a list to save the day and make your life a little bit easier.

  1. Ready?
  2. Set?
  3. Let’s catch up!

The Topic: The 6 Elements Every Association Needs to Own The Future

Check out the highlights of the chat below or listen in to the replay here: 

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Our weekly host, KiKi L’Italien, began the chat welcoming all of us to a brand new year, “It’s finally 2017! It’s time to say goodbye to the past and hello to what’s coming in this New Year.”

Feeling the excitement of it finally being 2017, Tom Morrison gave Association Chat a little love, “I love Association Chat. I love seeing people come out that really want to be better, and I love having the opportunity to share one or two things that we’re doing really well that I know transcends across all associations.”

KiKi stoked the virtual fire with a killer question for everyone, “What goals are you setting for this year?”

Tom, who seems to be an avid fan of goals, responded with, “If you do not set goals, you don’t know where you are going.”

His tip on setting goals? Easy!

“When you set goals, you must write them down and have a point down the road where you’re checking in on them.”

How do you know what goals to set? Tom has you covered with a question to ask yourself and a list to help you out:

“What do you want to achieve personally? In terms of relationships, financials, career, and health? Those are the four key elements that drive our quality of life issues.”

KiKi, who is a lover of goals and associations, wants to know what Tom thinks, “Associations are looking for in 2017?”

“In 2017, associations are looking for hope,” Tom said.

Here’s what HOPE stands for to Tom:

H – Is for someone with a Hell-of-an-Attitude.

O – Is for Optimism because no one wants to hear how bad things are.

P – Is for Passion because as association execs we have the greatest job in the world to help make a difference in people’s lives.

E – Is for Energy because when people step in your presence they don’t want to be dragged down, they want to plug in and feel energized.

This statement inspired KiKi to make a heartfelt point, “Everything that you are saying is really speaking to the fact that we as human beings have the ability to connect to people in a unique way.”

The Association Chat hour flies by when we’re having such an intriguing conversation, so we kept the chat rolling with another fiery question:

“What do you think is driving the rapid pace of change in the association world today?”

Tom was quick to answer, “We’re in a mode of change right now. By the time we get to 2020, we’re going to see more change in the next three years than we did in the last ten. We have two things: one is a demand for change and two is a supply. There are three things in every business model: Friction, anxiety and stress. Those three things are driving us to want something different.”

Why is there a demand for change?

The three things causing change to occur, “at our fingertips,” are:

  1. Demographic shifts.
  2. Emerging technology.
  3. Consumer behavior patterns with all the change.

Obviously associations communication strategies need to adapt to these upcoming changes.

Leading us to our next question, “How do you think associations should approach their communication strategies?”

“Members want a very clear and concise strategy to help them get the information they need every day to be successful,” said Tom.

What tool is really trendy right now for communication? VIDEO!

KiKi adds, “It’s cheaper to be able to communicate electronically. But the power of a really well produced piece that you hold in your hand is amazing.”

Leading Scott to comment: “Direct mail can still work very well. It needs to be targeted and personalized to have the highest effectiveness. That said, if it is a print piece that is distributed personally a well-designed piece will still attract attention.

Can we give a round of applause to Scott for Comment of the Year?!


Our next question stemmed off of the feelings that direct mail can inspire, “What is the one thing that associations should do in 2017 to grab the hearts and the souls of their members?”

“Associations need to learn about the heart of Gen X and invest in some messaging that says ‘I’m with you, and you’re important to us,’ because there’s a disconnection there because they’re watching you go ‘millennial millennial, millennial.’ Millennials are coming, but they have no money and they don’t think associations are important. So you need to build an engagement strategy for Gen X and you need to build a brand awareness strategy for the millennials,” Tom said.

So how should we be speaking to Gen X?

“Gen X is in their highest income earning years. One simple thing associations can do is shift the messaging to ‘We’re here for Gen Xers.’”

In the midst of all of Tom’s lists we wanted to make sure viewers got what they came for!

His 6 elements that every Association needs to own the future are as followed:

  1. Be in a place of hope.

2/3. Have a clear and focused value proposition.

  1. Streamline Communication Strategy – You always want to be creating good data and content.
  2. Leveraging technology and video to grow without more people.
  3. Plan to engage Gen X today and then build the awareness campaign for Gen Y.

The hour long chat flew by and the viewers were left wanting more!

Tom left us with one final list:

“There are four things that will dominate your success personally and professionally,” he said.

  1. There are the choices that you make every day.
  2. How you spend your money.
  3. How you invest your time.
  4. The people you surround yourself with.

We signed off with Tom after a dozen lists and an hour of intriguing conversation.

Want to stay in touch with Tom, your list-making soul mate? Engage with him on Twitter @tommorrison and visit his blog!

You can even snag a copy of his book How to Get People to Scream Your Name and Beg For More at!

What lists are you making to ensure you’re reaching your goals? We want to know. Tweet @assnchat using #assnchat to share your lists!

Check out the full stream and conversation here:

The 6 Elements

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