Benefits of Industry Associations | MMA Global
May 4, 2006

Benefits of Industry Associations
Laura Marriott, President, Mobile Marketing Association

DMA, CTIA, IAB, GSMA, CDG, MEF, RCA, AAAA, MMA…  an alphabet soup of abbreviations representing the leading industry and trade associations in the marketing, advertising and wireless industries.  An association is an organized group of individuals with a common purpose, interest or activity.  Each of the associations, in our space, plays a critical role in establishing best practices, education, industry leadership or the technical standards for which our industry adheres.  Association membership is crucial for companies who are seeking to be engaged and take a leadership position in what drives each industry.

So what benefits do associations provide?  The benefits that a company can extract from association membership depends on the company’s or member’s individual goals and objectives.  If a company is a new entrant in the space, perhaps they want to meet others in their space – and in this scenario, networking plays a key role for these member companies.  In other instances, companies will join an association to lead the development of standards and best practices which create the baseline of standards for which the industry and providers will eventually adopt and adhere to.  Still others, will join for the financial discounts and incentives for events, research publications, etc which are offered to member companies as part of their affiliation.  Some associations will also provide a collective voice for the industry in regards to issues of regulation and policy which is crucial for organizations that do not have their own resources or expertise in this area.  Bottom line, although each association may offer varied membership benefits, associations are generally comprised of industry leaders whose goal is to work together to build a professional and sustainable industry (and industry organization).  Members realize that together they have more industry impact and influence than working alone – and associations provide an ideal means for members to achieve this goal.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

How is work product executed within an association?  The creation of standards, best practices and use cases is generally done through the work output of committees, councils, special interest groups and/or task forces.  These are ‘work teams’ comprised of member company individuals whose goal is to work together to create the baseline rules of engagement for the industry.  For example, the IAB has an email committee which is a forum for direct marketing media professionals of IAB member companies whose objective is to support this medium as a valuable channel to advertisers and their agencies.  The MMA has a Consumer Best Practices Committee, comprised of member participants from across the value chain, whose goal is to lead the industry in the development of guidelines for mobile data to ensure a better experience for the wireless subscribers.  Association staff also plays a key role in leading the development of initiatives, alongside member companies.  Evaluate the committees that your association or prospective association offers or is considering to ensure the focus is right for you.

Many associations also offer events.  The role of association events are to educate, evangelize and teach members and non-members about the industry.  Events also provide a good venue to discuss developments within association initiatives as well establish new networking affiliations.  Association events are one of the best venues to gather impartial information about an industry or subject area.  Check your association’s website for details.

When evaluating associations for your company to join, it is best to first determine your company and individual objectives – as well as whether or not you have the resources to apply to membership initiatives (if that is your goal).  Then, pick the associations whose issues most closely align with your goals and objectives and join the team.  In many cases, it makes sense to join multiple associations in order to ensure all of your needs are addressed. 

At the Mobile Marketing Association, we work with member companies to identify their goals and objectives and seek to match association participation against these goals.  All associations will do this to ensure that member needs are being addressed, both short term and long term, and members are satisfied with their participation in the organizations. 

Associations are a rewarding experience for those interested in taking a leadership position in their industry.