Sleeping with the enemy

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I've been e-talking with some friends lately about how all the meetings industry associations are going about creating their own core competency/career pathing/whatever you want to call it. All on their own, with no cooperation that I'm aware of to ensure that there's consistency across the programs they end up developing (here's another rant on this topic).

This makes me nuts, because, to me anyway, it implies that the concern is more for each association to make themselves some money, or look good to members, or whatever, but not that they're committed to doing this work to elevate the industry as a whole. If they wanted to do that, everyone would be working together to get one unified program accomplished, probably under the banner of the Convention Industry Council's APEX initiative.

Then today I read an interesting item from Rick Segel, CSP, consultant, and expert on the topics of retail, marketing, customer service, and downtown redevelopment (thanks, Kare, for the pointer!). He talks about competition in the retail environment in a way that had me substituting the word "association" every time he wrote "store." A snip:

    It's time to wake up and smell the coffee. Competition is good. It is the lifeblood of our business. Major chains won't go into a mall unless there are multiple stores in the same category. Multiple stores will bring more business than they ever take away.

    Does that mean we should make our competitors our best friend? NO. But the again, why not? Stores don't have to carry the same merchandise anymore. Markets are big enough that two jewelry stores can specialize in different markets. Find a niche and you‚ll get rich. Find what makes you different, interesting, unique, and why customers like to shop with you.

    Rarely, if ever, does a competitor put someone out of business. Stores put themselves out of business because they aren't flexible, don't change, or don't adapt to a varied retail climate. Or because they don't know how to compete. The better you know your competitor, the easier it will become to compete and coexist.

He goes on to say, "The other factor that has made a huge difference in competing businesses is the value of trade associations, networking groups, buying groups, and mastermind groups. The stronger and more active the trade association, the healthier the industry." But what about when the industry associations are the ones competing? Then, I think, we all lose something valuable.

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