The Results Are In: What Readers Value Most in Trade Associations

A survey of roughly 400 readers zeros in on which services offered by InfoComm and NSCA are most important to them.

Photos & Slideshow
View the slideshow View the slideshow

With NSCA‘s annual Business & Leadership Conference and InfoComm‘s annual North American trade show in the rear view mirror, we decided to take stock of the integration industry’s two major trade organizations.

Both events are extremely tied to each organization’s brand. Industry folks will often say, “Are you going to NSCA?” or “See you at InfoComm,” but both associations offer much more to their members.

CI Research conducted a survey of 406 Commercial Integrator readers, asking them to share which of each organization’s offerings are most valued.

Inside InfoComm’s Results

For InfoComm the survey of 239 respondents that identify as InfoComm members, “reaffirmed what we already susptected — that our members highly value the trade shows, our education certification standards [and] thought-leadership,” says executive director David Labuskes. “I think it highlighted that we need to make additional investments in market research. It pretty much jibed with what we knew.”

Indeed, InfoComm is focused on furthering its market research offerings.

“We’re really looking at InfoComm as a hybrid between a trade organization and a professional society.”    —David Labuskes, InfoComm

“We’re really looking at InfoComm as a hybrid between a trade organization and a professional society,” Labuskes says.

Click here to see the InfoComm survey results.

“On the trade organization side we’re serving the business members of the value chain. On the professional side we’re serving the individuals. On the business side, the trade organization side, I know there is a great hunger for additional market research. From our own surveying, talking to our members, talking to our members that exhibit with us, et cetera, there’s a real hunger for greater knowledge about our industry from a market research perspective.”

Meanwhile, InfoComm sees respondents’ high scores for its Certification Technology Specialist program as a reflection of the distinct value it offers integrators. It’s no surprise that its trade shows and conferences scored even higher since they offer more broad appeal beyond integrators and consultants to end users and manufacturers.

“We have 10,000 or so CTS holders around the world,” Labuskes says. “We have 40,000 people coming to the trade show in one year. You start to look at that. You look at just the numeric of a reader survey like you did, it wouldn’t surprise me the way the numbers worked out just because of scale.”

In general, the survey reflects relatively high engagement with each of InfoComm’s offerings, adds director of communications Brad Grimes.

“All of them are highly valued. When you ask someone whether you value something or you highly value something you sometimes get into subjectives of what they consider ‘highly.’ We felt that the things that we hear are especially valued that InfoComm offers were reflected in your survey, including certification.”

Inside NSCA’s Results

NSCA executives didn’t hold back enthusiasm at seeing how valued its market research and reports are to the 100 (of 370 responses) who identified as NSCA members. The association pours a lot of effort into selecting topics and compiling research for its biannual Electronic Systems Outlook, Financial Analysis of the Industry, Compensation and Benefits Report and other resources.

That the category was so popular with respondents is good news. “You kind of wonder if anybody is reading it,” jokes VP of operations Katie Chism.

The key to its value, she adds, is that “we continue to add research in areas where it’s needed and where it hasn’t existed in the market.” Many of the thought-leadership pieces, a category that also scored high among surveyed NSCA members, are written by executive director Chuck Wilson.

Click here to see NSCA’s survey results.

“I do get a lot of feedback. I’m always shocked when I go places and people say they watched a video or read a blog that I did,” he says. “I’m pleased by that because it gives you confirmation that the effort that goes into these things is appreciated so, I’m glad they do see value in it. That stuff takes a lot of work.”

It gives you confirmation that the effort that goes into these things is appreciated so, I’m glad they do see value in it.” —Chuck Wilson, NSCA

NSCA feels it has a unique product in its Business & Leadership Conference, and Chism says it comes down to commitment to a particular goal.

“BLC evolved from there being lots of access to all sorts of technical training, but you can’t run a successful business without business savvy. When you see us add new products or services or events, it’s always to [help] people have that business acumen to be successful in the industry.”

One area where NSCA would like to see more participation among its members is with its government regulations education and advocacy. NSCA is dedicated to providing those resources to members, but Wilson acknowledges that it can be thankless at times.

“My guess is that the 17.9 percent that say [that service] is of great value, those are ones that had an issue of direct impact that we were able to help them understand or adhere to a law.”

On the other hand, he says the 9.5 percent that deem it of little or no value likely don’t feel directly impacted by regulations. That’s the wrong way to look at regulations affecting your business, Wilson says.

“If we have a bill being debated in Massachusetts it always trickles west to the other states, so we try to educate our members across the country to watch for that and read our action alert emails about bills that could negatively affect their business. We’re saying read it carefully because it’s coming to your neighborhood, but we’ll get a call six months later, after the law comes out, telling us to do something about it. Six months ago we probably asked them to call their legislator about it.”

In general, Wilson says the survey results offer a “clear reflection of what our mission as an organization is. We’ve positioned ourselves as the voice of the integrator, as a business forum, as a trusted advisor. I’m glad they’re paying
attention.”