Learn about the factors that determine trade association effectiveness in the United States
What is TradeMarks?
TradeMarks is a research study which helps trade associations measure the extent to which policy leaders believe they are effective in achieving their policy goals. Grounded in more than 30 years of experience studying the attitudes and perception of policy leaders, APCO Worldwide produced the first-ever study to tackle the question of association public policy effectiveness with a systematic, survey-based and objective approach. Policy makers and influencers rate associations on both overall effectiveness and a range of detailed areas. The results show in detail where associations must excel in order to enhance their impact.
With the release of our eighth study in the series, we continue to discern patterns in the data, identify shifts in policy leader expectations and provide associations with a data-driven roadmap for engagement strategies that enhance impact. Read the 2022 press release.
APCO Insight® developed the TradeMarks Study to identify the key characteristics that define association effectiveness in achieving the public policy priorities of its members. Advanced statistical analysis allowed us to isolate the characteristics that have the most impact in shaping policy success, helping associations to act with conviction. This same model has been used in subsequent studies.
Think all characteristics are equal? Think again.
The 2022 model reveals challenges and opportunities facing associations:
- Association effectiveness softens since 2021 but remains higher than years prior. In 2022 the overall TMI sits at 68.1, a score higher than most recorded years despite falling slightly over the past year. While the consistent and gradual incline has broken, TMI remains notably strong in 2022. Associations may be perceived as resilient yet somewhat stymied by the current DC gridlock.
- The playing field shifts. Like in 2018 there is one party control of government, but the previous Republican majorities were more substantial. The 2022 environment facing slimmer Democratic majorities is plagued by worries of rising costs and inflation, a weariness from the pandemic, and Trump fatigue. Relationships continue to define effectiveness combined with a need for associations to show strength in commitment, unity and representation.
- The value of bipartisanship. Despite a moderately strong performance in both 2021 and 2022, bipartisanship has risen as a top priority for 2022. DC area policy elites likely are reacting to the narrow edge Democrats currently hold and are anticipating a divided Congress come 2023. Now is the time to shore up relationships on both sides of the aisle.
Top Rated Sectors
For the sixth time in eight surveys, the Healthcare sector is collectively viewed as the most effective. The next tier of sectors rated above-average is comprised of Financial Services, Telecommunications, and Manufacturing. Perceptions of Manufacturing associations have rebounded from 2021 when the sector was collectively viewed as the least effective sector.
The differentiation between sectors on perceived performance has narrowed – the top-rated sector stands at 70.5 versus 66.0 for the lowest-rated, a difference of 4.5 points – compared to last year when 5.1 points separated the top-ranked and lowest-ranked sectors (and 4.9 points in 2019).
Top Rated Associations
Policy leaders recognize that different associations focus their public policy efforts in different areas. By understanding how the associations are viewed on each of the discrete drivers of effectiveness (characteristics) and the relative impact these drivers have in shaping overall effectiveness, the TradeMarks Model prioritizes the most important strengths to be leveraged and the most important opportunities to be seized to increase effectiveness.
The table displayed shows which association has the highest performance rating on each of the 15 characteristics that comprise the TradeMarks Model. In 2022, nine different associations are viewed as performing best across the 15 characteristics, matching the number recorded in 2021.
About the TradeMarks Model
TradeMarks is a groundbreaking model developed by APCO Insight that measures the extent to which policy leaders believe associations are effective in achieving their policy goals for their members.
TradeMarks is the first study to ever tackle the question of association effectiveness with a formal, systematic and objective approach. The TradeMarks model pinpoints the specific actions that can be taken to achieve optimal impact in each area and quantitatively determines the relative impact of each factor. It allows associations not only to gauge their effectiveness, but also to provide an actionable roadmap for how to increase their perceived effectiveness and achieve their desired outcomes.
By understanding how the associations are viewed on each of the discrete drivers of effectiveness (characteristics) and the relative impact these drivers have in shaping overall effectiveness, the TradeMarks model prioritizes the most important strengths to be leveraged and the most important opportunities to be seized to increase effectiveness.
The TradeMarks Model is informed by more than 30 years of conducting qualitative and quantitative research for associations among Washington, D.C., policy leaders—the Members of Congress and their staff, executive branch professionals and other influencers who shape the opinions of associations.
Based on this experience and conversations with our partners, a list of 52 characteristics that define association effectiveness on policy issues was developed. A pre-test survey was conducted among policy leaders to isolate and validate the key characteristics that drive perceptions of association policy effectiveness; the modeling identified 15 valid factors that explain what policy leaders consider when evaluating an association’s public policy effectiveness.
In 2013, a full-scale survey of policy leaders in Washington, D.C., was conducted using a mixed-mode methodology offering respondents the opportunity to complete the survey either online or over the telephone.
Policy leaders were asked to evaluate five randomly-selected associations with whom they are familiar from a list of 50 associations in Washington, D.C. The results shown on this site are limited to data for the overall association sector represented by the 50 associations. All data, including association-level data, are the exclusive property of APCO Worldwide. For information on findings for individual associations, please click here to contact us for more information.
Beginning in 2014, this study was repeated annually using the same methodology.
The Rankings present the top scoring organization for each characteristic, from among the trade associations we studied in Washington, D.C., using the TradeMarks methodology. As such, rankings do not necessarily include “best in D.C.” — some organizations were not reviewed. Furthermore, top scores on a particular characteristic should not be interpreted as receiving top scores overall. Some organizations performing very high in aggregate on the TradeMarks Index did not receive top marks in any one category.