Few associations would turn up their nose at the thought of driving increased revenue through developing new products and services, and enhancing current revenue streams that flow around their meetings and other offerings. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult to do the research, analysis, creative problem-solving, and business planning necessary to get the job done by yourself.
That’s why SmithBucklin has developed its Innovation Center, which, according to David Schmahl, senior director and leader of the Innovation Center team at the Chicago-based association management company will help organizations "build into their association management model a business strategy of innovation." Innovation expert Thomas Kuczmarski, an adjunct professor at Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and the author of four books, was involved in developing the center’s methodology even before the center was formed, when he participated in a product development program for Americas' SAP Users' Group, a SmithBucklin client. Two other SmithBucklin clients, Society of Gastroenterology Nurses and Associates and the American Association of Legal Nurse Consultants, are currently engaged in early Innovation Center programs.
In cases involving an association whose event or meeting is its major revenue source, rather than making changes to that event, one option for innovation might be creating entirely new event "products." For example, the association could add one or more regional meetings, or an entirely new type of meeting. In other situations, the Innovation Center might determine that the best way to drive growth is by tweaking the primary event or meeting itself, such as by adding a new track.
According to a company spokesman, the Innovation Center is available to associations with growth objectives and conditions of “readiness,” regardless of whether or not they have an existing relationship with SmithBucklin. (Under the Innovation Center model, innovation readiness means exhibiting steady governance, solid strategic planning, sound financial management, and strong headquarters execution capabilities.) There is a fee for the service; the cost varies depending on the complexity of the project.
For more information on the service, contact SmithBucklin.