Money-making opportunities for consultants and freelancers abound in American associations – business, technology, healthcare and science. This is true elsewhere in the public and private sectors.

That’s the conclusion from a 2015 study conducted by SmithBucklin, an association and management services company.

“The study shows how association executives are augmenting their in-house teams,” said Carol McGury, executive vice president, Event and Education Services, SmithBucklin.

“Association executives realize they cannot hire and employ every talent they need to deliver against the important work of their organization,” she explains. “By outsourcing solutions for specific needs, they can ensure that their organizations thrive while serving the best interests of their members.”

In essence, the study provides valuable information on what services you can sell to associations and clues on how to brand your offerings.

Respondents included 360 U.S. association and professional society executives.

The most-outsourced services are graphic design, multimedia and video.

Second most-popular outsourced services are editorial, publishing and advertising sales.

Third most-popular services include membership technology, tradeshow management, exhibit/sponsorship sales and advocacy/government relations.

Breakdown of outsourced services

52 percent – Graphic design/multimedia/video

27 percent – Editorial, publishing, advertising sales

26 percent – membership technology

19 percent – Tradeshow management

18 percent – Exhibit/sponsorship sales, Advocacy/government relations

17 percent – Marketing/public relations

14 percent – Financial management, accounting

13 percent – Event strategy or management

8 percent – Education program development

7 percent – Social media

Other conclusions: What outsourcing services associations are considering, how associations plan to achieve their goals, and benefits they expect to achieve from outsourcing.

Outsourced services under consideration

12 percent – Membership technology

11 percent – Event strategy/management

10 percent – Marketing/public relations and graphic design/multimedia/ education

9 percent – Program development, social media

“In key areas, we outsource where it is difficult to have in-house expertise,” one respondent said. “In areas where the business is changing rapidly, like technology support, it makes more sense to outsource.”

Clues on how to brand yourself – why associations outsource to achieve goals

53 percent – For specific skills

34 percent – Supplementing in-house staff

27 percent – Saving money

9 percent – Solution for temporary staffing challenges

6 percent – Fulfilling functions outside of the organization’s core purpose

4 percent – Meet goals and objectives

Clues for value propositions – expected benefits through 2017

70 percent – Accessing specialized talent

58 percent – Increasing organizational capacity

54 percent – Increasing staffing flexibility

53 percent – Improving organizational performance

48 percent – Reducing costs

31 percent – Increasing revenue

25 percent – Increasing competitive edge

“The association sector recognizes that outsourcing is an effective way for organizations to extend their teams and wisely allocate resources,” said Matt Sanderson, executive vice president, SmithBucklin.

“In that way, associations mirror the overall business sector, which continues to rely on outsourced services as a time-tested business strategy,” he adds.

In addition to associations, he says a 2014 KPMG survey concluded that 72 percent of major enterprises were planning to make increased expenditures in outsourcing services over the next two years.

From the Coach’s Corner, here are related tips for consultants:

Valuable Secrets for Profitable Deal-Making with Clients — If you’re in professional services or you’re a consultant, many times you’ve heard the phrase: “Give me a proposal.” Here’s a better way to respond. You can be more successful with clients using deal memos. Here’s how.

Performance Gap Solutions for Consultants in Income and Image — If there’s a disparity between your income goals and your current financial situation, it would appear that you have a performance-gap issue.

Consultants – 5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — The five strategies that enhance relationships between consultants and clients.

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings — Signs you have good client relationships: They’ll thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and will respond well to your recommendations. If you don’t have all three of these, here’s what to do.

Consulting: Effective Management of Difficult Clients — Start with this premise: You should be focused on the continuous, improvement and performance of your firm. If you have difficult clients, here’s what you can do about it.

Consultants – Helping Clients Deal with an Emotional Crisis — No matter what kind of a consulting practice you have, it’s sometimes necessary to help clients deal emotionally with a business crisis. If you’re a management consultant and you’ve branded yourself well, the clients see you as a trusted confidante and visionary.

“It’s not who you know that matters – it’s who knows you that’s important. Personal branding builds up your reputation to the point where you have a presence even in your absence.” 

-Jarod Kintz


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.