by: James Young

A Short Introduction to a Product Portfolio

Associations exist to create value for their members. 

They typically do this through offerings (events, membership, learning, publications, etc.). A product portfolio is an approach to organizing your offerings in a way that can be strategic, value-driven, and market-centric. 

A robust product portfolio helps get new, high-quality products to market efficiently and in anticipation of growing and diverse market needs. Over time, your product portfolio contains only high-performing products. Initially, this may seem easy, but often it’s harder than you think. 

How is this achieved?

  1. Pull together a diverse team. Ideally your team is cross functional with a broad and diverse perspective on your association. 
  2. List your products. Even if you don’t use this terminology, what do we offer? Include all value-drivers, not just the tangible things you sell.
  3. Talk to finance. What are people buying? Can they run reports to help you identify patterns? 
  4. Identify the person or unit responsible. Who is responsible for each product?
  5. Describe your current product pipeline. This is the process you take to get from idea to execution on a new product, program, or initiative. 
  6. Understand the product life cycle. Your product life cycle is the length of time from when a product is introduced until you no longer offer it.
  7. Build logical connections. Find areas or commonality across the portfolio in order to find areas you can leverage.
  8. Conduct a stakeholder analysis. Define the stakeholders for each of your products.
  9. Team build. Use the product portfolio as a tool for team-building and to tease out product similarities.
  10. Update the portfolio. Do this at regular intervals. 


  • Ensure each product (or product line) has a clear strategy (value proposition, persona map, buyer’s journey)
  • Clarified product lines with identified interdependencies (answers: “what do we do?”) 
  • Aligned pricing strategy across the portfolio (link to market positioning)
  • A high-level product life cycle 
  • Refined processes for getting good, in-demand ideas to market efficiently
  • A simple product cost model 
  • Utilize a common, repeatable framework for new product creation

About the Author

James Young is founder and chief learning officer of the Product Community®. Jim is an engaging trainer and leading thinker in the worlds of associations, learning communities, and product development. Prior to starting the Product Community®, Jim served as Chief Learning Officer at both the American College of Chest Physicians and the Society of College and University Planning.