Sniffing Out A Growth & Positioning Strategy

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Growth and Positioning Strategies for Associations

When Mike Canning became President and CEO of the Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council (PIJAC), the most important objectives on his plate were: To position his trade association for growth, and To craft and communicate a compelling value premise to various stakeholder groups. Because the Pet Industry is quite fragmented, effectively engaging industry executives would be critical to expanding PIJAC’s capacity to proactively address the industry’s legislative and regulatory challenges.

For years PIJAC had excelled at tracking and communicating what was happening at federal, state and local levels. However, volunteer leaders felt it was time to become far more proactive and hired Mike to take the organization to the next level.  He soon recognized the urgency of moving quickly; perceiving PIJAC’s existing business model as unsustainable in the long term, much less conducive to growth.

pijac-interiorMike Canning excels at engaging stakeholders and building coalitions.  And, he recognized that to achieve PIJAC’s objectives, he would need to position the organization as the focal point for pulling together industry executives to address the legislative challenges surfacing across the country.  Needing to accelerate this effort, Mike engaged us to create a positioning and growth strategy.

At the core of creating a positioning strategy was rethinking the way they engaged executives within the industry.  Instead of merely pushing out lots of information about industry threats and legislative activities, PIJAC began creating compelling “experiences” for industry executives.  These are taking the form of building grassroots advocacy coalitions at the state and local levels where many of the issues are surfacing, and developing opportunities at a national level for industry executives to discuss their shared “up-at-night” issues.   

To enable PIJAC to move quickly with confidence, we surfaced actionable marketplace data and then facilitated the strategic planning dialogue of his board and an advisory task force.  With the PIJAC board in agreement about strategic objectives, we helped Mike think through the business model and the “are we ready to grow” questions; creating and prioritizing a roadmap of initiatives and actions to put their plan in motion.

What Our Client Says About VLC

“Steve Lane of Vertical Leap Consulting assisted my organization with a strategic repositioning strategy that is helping to make a difference in our level of effectiveness for our members. He brought his wealth of association and business knowledge to bear on our particular situation, and worked with staff and volunteer leaders to design a complete series of solutions to help us grow revenues and serve our members more comprehensively. "Interacting with my Chairman, Board, various committees and our members directly, Steve helped me forge a consensus on how best to move forward; building a high level of buy-in from our many stakeholders. The process concluded in a timely fashion, and we were able to quickly begin executing the plan. Steve is a pleasure to work with and I would recommend him to any group that needed some thoughtful advice.”

Mike Canning

CEO of American Ball Association
former CEO of Pet Industries Joint Advisory Counci

Client Stories

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During a complementary interview, we seek to understand your objectives & current momentum, brainstorming potential process approaches.