There are few things more advantageous to your association than a complete understanding of how your products are performing and where to prioritize your future investments. Seeing the big picture of your portfolio—and understanding which products are driving revenue and engaging members—is absolutely critical to keeping your strategy on course. But with limited resources (both financial and physical), it can be difficult to understand how best to make an impact or where to start in a portfolio analysis.
The Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP) approached McKinley for help with such a problem. They had encountered a steady decline in membership over a number of years—mostly due to non-profit hospitals being acquired by for-profit companies—and didn’t have a strategy in place for lapsed members or adapting their product strategy to keep existing members engaged.
And to us, a portfolio analysis seemed the perfect solution.
Through a deep dive into data that’s often overlooked—let alone translated into actionable direction—portfolio analyses allow associations to understand and measure their products against three key metrics—profitability, stakeholder behavior and perceived value and staff perceptions.
And with that understanding in place, determining a clear path for future investment and product prioritization becomes pretty straightforward.
Step One: Analyze the numbers
Profitability is the most obvious and the highest-priority metric by which to determine the performance and impact of a specific product or service. By analyzing the line-item profitability of each of your products across time, you gain a general sense of which products/services are growing, which are declining and where you may want to prioritize your investments.
However, there isn’t always a direct relationship between profitability and product. Because so many of your offerings create intangible benefits—mindshare, influence, etc.—it’s important to look beyond financials to understand the perceived value of your products and services to your key stakeholders.
Step Two: Understand what stakeholders think
Members and staff are, in a very real way, the ground level drivers of your association, and any future direction should consider their perceptions. After all, these perceptions determine which products/services get used (from the member side) and which products/services are properly resourced (from the staff side).
To better understand these perceptions, you can use surveys for capturing awareness, perceived importance and satisfaction, the marketplace, preferences, behaviors and other key topics for each of the products.
When working with AHP, we measured all responses on a Likert scale of risk vs. return, and segmented the data by career level, employer size membership tenure and membership category to ensure that we weren’t just generating data—we were creating actionable opportunities for future growth and improvement.
Step 3: Bring the data to life
Once you’ve collected the data to understand how your products stack up against the three key metrics—profitability, member perception and staff perception—it’s time to put your findings to work.
With all the pieces of the puzzle in place, it’s critical to determine the criteria by which you evaluate each of your products. When working with AHP, we evaluated against alignment with mission and future potential to develop a kind of “report card” for each of the 13 products, making it clear where they excelled and where they needed refinement, retirement or further study.
By pairing this kind of dashboard with the research highlights and product assessment data from your analysis, a clear, strategic direction begins to emerge. And for any association, that’s a critical win.
What did AHP think?
“After McKinley presented the research and assessment to our Board of Directors, one of our Board members remarked ‘This is precisely the kind of information we need to make informed decisions about the strategic direction of our organization.’ Their research gave us a data-driven perspective, mitigating the tendency of staff to ‘protect turf’ as it relates to products we offer.”
– Denise Brassé, Director, Membership & Partnerships
Though associations often have limited resources, it’s still possible to make data-driven, strategic decisions when planning for future investments in products and services. By performing a portfolio analysis—that measures existing products against profitability, member perceptions and staff perceptions—you uncover the insights you need to create an informed and strategic process and a culture that supports smart and sustainable product development moving forward.