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TOPIC:Market Research and Analytics
Mariah Burton Nelson, MPH, CAE, Vice President, Innovation & New Product Development and Robb Lee, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer of ASAE: The Center for Association Leadership sit down with McKinley’s Shelley Sanner to discuss how McKinley’s work is informing ASAE’s strategic decisions.
Mariah: I met Shelley because McKinley gave us the best proposal I have ever seen. It really was stellar in terms of its organization and the fact that it responded clearly to what we were asking. And of course, McKinley has a strong reputation—excellent reputation—in the association field.
Robb: One of the things that struck me about Shelley immediately was that she really had a deep understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish. We joked back and forth about the number of tasks included in the proposal, and you could tell by the response to the RFP that there was a deep understanding of the direction and what we were trying to accomplish. So that was greatly appreciated.
Being Part of the ASAE Community
Mariah: One thing that is important to me is that we see McKinley at our events—they show up to present, they show up to learn, and many of them have CAEs. And all this shows us that they value what we value, and have mastered a body of knowledge that we think is important.
Robb: I would add that I think it is really important to be part of the fabric of the community, and McKinley does that. And in particular, Shelley does that. But I would also add that I think it’s important that from a consultant’s perspective, they can bring in other perspectives that are not necessarily just ones talked about in the community.
Mariah: They bring in expertise beyond what we have, which is what we needed. If we knew everything ourselves, we could have just talked to ourselves, but we needed somebody from the outside with a broader knowledge.
Shelley: And the RFP was so well put together and so precise, proving once again that ASAE is really a model for its members as well. So you model the behavior and the things that members are looking for from you. And that really helped us because we are so invested in ASAE, and that kept us on track and really delivering exactly what you told us you wanted and needed. It was so helpful.
Confidence in McKinley and Implementing Recommendations
Mariah: Well, that’s what else worked for me is that you and I stayed in touch throughout the process, so I knew that you were responding clearly and deliberately to our RFP. We talked a lot and you asked questions, you went with us when our direction changed a bit; you gave us a little bit of latitude. And I knew that the deadlines were being followed and that gave me a great deal of confidence throughout.
Robb: One thing I would add real quick is that I think that with any research it is real important and a lot of times there is a self-confirming or self-fulfilling prophecy with respect to whether the research told us what we were thinking, or told us what we had considered in the past. And in this case, there was certainly some element of that, but what was really appreciated was that there was a lot more depth in regards to things we may have anticipated and/or thought about. There were also additional pieces and components that we had not thought about as critically.
Shelley: You are both disciplined about the findings and you have been. Really you have been throughout, and I can see now it is because you both have been immersed in the project. But not everyone at ASAE has been, so to make that leap, it takes effort to change.