Surveying your members on an ongoing basis gives an association the information they need to provide thought leadership. These surveys can fall into two broad categories: Business confidence/industry outlook and Special Topics (i.e. Hot-button issues).
1. Business confidence/industry outlook
Surveys of this type will often touch on the topics outlined below.
1. Outlook for your business in the upcoming year (Optimistic vs pessimistic)
2. Revenue expectations
3. Key challenges/constraints to growth
4. Biggest areas of opportunity
5. Growth strategies
6. Activities planned over the next 12 months e.g. hire staff, purchase equipment
These surveys have the greatest value when they are repeated on a regular basis e.g. once a year. This allows for the creation of useful trended data.
2. Special Topics (i.e. Hot-button issues)
Special topic surveys frequently relate to issues that arise that have a broad impact on the entire industry or profession e.g. a change in legislation. Question areas might include:
1. Awareness of the new legislation
2. Perceived impact of the legislation on industry/profession
3. Planned response to change and timeframe for your response
4. Impact on your business
5. Outlook in the upcoming year (Optimistic vs pessimistic)
Special topic surveys can be sent out several times during a period of change. For example, with legislative change we might consider sending out the survey when the legislation is first announced and then following implementation of the legislation.
The results of both types of surveys can be discussed and presented at roundtable discussions and conferences as well as published in the association publication. In all cases this survey activity benefits the members and helps increase awareness of the association as an opinion leader. As well, they can provide a vehicle for business members who may be interested in a new sponsorship opportunities.