3 steps to making a successful trade association

Trade associations are formed when businesses in an industry set aside competing interests for common goals, shared ambitions, and industry gains. Associations can vary in size and membership structures but always aim to champion the work undertaken by the sector and head off any challenges on the horizon.

As the secretariat of one of the UK’s largest trade bodies representing the vaping industry, JBP has learnt how to make a successful trade association in three steps:

1. Understanding the Industry of the trade association

Understanding how the sector was formed, how it operates and the challenges and opportunities it faces is fundamental to the association’s success.

For the UK Vaping Industry Association (UKVIA), we have been championing vaping’s harm-reduction potential for public health. From the types of devices available to adult smokers to the regulation which informs the scope of the industry, being able to appreciate how external activities may impact the industry (positive or negative) will help shape the industries response and how it resonates with the intended audience.

2. Building member relationships

It’s important to build effective relationships between members and the management team that supports the trade association’s day to day running. 

Understanding the membership is helpful for numerous activities:

  • Membership recruitment
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Public relations and reputation management

The messaging for each of the above is informed by the members, so building those relationships will help deliver the desired results, drawing upon member expertise. Sharing intelligence is also key, working closely with members, learning about their desired approach and what it is they are hoping to achieve from campaigns.

3. Bringing step one and two together

The success of any trade association is very much based on raising the profile of its industry and representing the interests of its members.

At JBP, we have developed and rolled out major national and international campaigns, facilitated All-Party Parliamentary Groups, devised and organised major events, created media channels and established the first port of call media status for industry associations to maximise their value to their members so they keep coming back and growing.

Earlier this year, for example, the UKVIA launched its response to the post-implementation review of Tobacco and Related Products Regulations, the primary regulations which govern the industry. By understanding the industry and by building relationships with the UKVIA’s members, the Association pulled together a CIPR Silver Award-winning proposal – A Blueprint for Better Regulation.

This document drew on member experiences and knowledge, combined with strategic messaging developed in the Association’s Policy and Regulatory Committee, chaired by JBP.  

The Blueprint, and the policies it put forward, were endorsed by parliamentarians and featured in a Westminster Hall Debate, firmly putting the UKVIA on the map and presenting its views front and centre with the Minister of Health reviewing the regulation.

This has all been made possible through close collaboration between the UKVIA, JBP and its members, and by JBP fully immersing itself within the vaping industry.

“JBP has been instrumental in putting vaping on the national map through providing an integrated stakeholder communications and secretariat service for the UKVIA. This has included establishing the Association as the voice of the industry in the national media and in political circles; launching a major nationwide educational campaign aimed at smokers and establishing the biggest business-to-business event in the sector. Membership has grown exponentially since the UKVIA was founded and is now the largest sector body of its kind in the UK.”

John Dunne

Director-General, UK Vaping Industry Association


Archie Ratcliffe Account Manager

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