Tips of the Week
SLSAE Tips of the Week are single-focused topics including approximately 250 words and a graphic similar to the tip above. SLSAE will rotate tips among key association content areas. Examples of tip topics include: governance, marketing, membership, human resources, finance, meeting management, and communication.
If you have content that you would like to see featured as an SLSAE Tip of the Week, please send to Jan Holt at email@example.com. If you have any questions call 314-416-2250.
All previous tips are listed below:
|April 13, 2011 Tip
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|April 20, 2011 Tip
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|May 25, 2011 Tip
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|August 31, 2011 Tip
||September 7 , 2011 Tip
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||September 28, 2011 Tip
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|October 12, 2011 Tip
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||October 26, 2011 Tip
|November 2, 2011 Tip
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||December 7, 2011 Tip
|December 14, 2011 Tip
||December 21, 2011 Tip
||December 28, 2011 Tip
|January 4, 2012 Tip
||January 11, 2012 Tip
||January 18, 2012 Tip
|January 25, 2012 Tip
||February 1, 2012 Tip
||February 8, 2012 Tip
|February 15, 2012 Tip
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||February 29, 2012 Tip
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|March 28, 2012 Tip
||April 4, 2012 Tip
||April 11, 2012 Tip
|April 18, 2012 Tip
||April 25, 2012 Tip
||May 2,2012 Tip
|May 9, 2012 Tip
||May 16, 2012 Tip
||May 23, 2012 Tip
|May 30, 2012 Tip
||June 6, 2012 Tip
||June 13, 2012 Tip
|June 20, 2012 Tip
||June 27, 2012 Tip
||July 11, 2012 Tip
|July 18, 2012 Tip
||July 25, 2012 Tip
||August 1 , 2012 Tip
|August 15, 2012 Tip
||August 22, 2012 Tip
||August 29, 2012 Tip
|September 5, 2012 Tip
||September 26, 2012 Tip
||October 3, 2012 Tip
|October 10, 2012 Tip
||October 18, 2012 Tip
||October 24, 2012 Tip
|October 31, 2012 Tip
||November 7, 2012 Tip
||November 28, 2012 Tip
November 28, 2012
5 Signs That You Don't Know Your Audience
As the marketing and online communication landscape whooshes by at the speed of light, one particular mantra seems to get louder and louder: "Know Thy Audience."
Listen up CEOs, CMOs and COOs: Audience Personas are not just a nice idea or a warm fuzzy. Locking eyes with your audience in every piece of communication is more essential than ever - especially when it comes to the complex sale that requires helping a prospect or customer make a complicated decision.
Yet, those of us here at Well Planned Web who facilitate the process of intense audience profiling are often met with resistance. We hear push-back like, "We already know our audience," or "I’ll just send you the demographic report."
Our favorite: "We know our customer. We just don’t know how to reach them."
We’re proud to say that once clients see their customers through the new set of lenses, it creates a ripple effect across their organization. In fact, two clients have even made their Profiling documentation part of their new employee packets (yes...that’s the sound of us tooting our clients’ horns).
The fact is...when it comes to reaching your customer or prospects today, there is no such thing as knowing them "well enough."
Audience Profiling should be an ongoing process - not a one-time exercise that gets tucked away after a series of meetings. We admit, our process at Well Planned Web is ridiculously thorough. We’ll also admit that it uncovers gold - we’re talking the super shiny nuggets - that make online marketing efforts take off!
There are hundreds of signs that you may need to connect with your audience on a level not seen by your team in years.
However, here are five "easy to spot" signs that we see often.
1. Your team hits decision traffic jams
When you don’t clearly define and commit to who exactly you’re talking to, copy and design reviews instantly become unfocused and subjective. Collaboration turns into "the loudest voice wins" when, in fact, the customer’s voice should be always be front and center.
If your team is forever relying on the CMO or CEO to "break the tie" on copy, content and design - you’re likely not connected to your audience, ideal customer or prospect in every way that counts. Break the cycle and you’ll not only find harmony in the workplace, you’ll find ROI with your online content.
2. Your mom understands your content
If your content is targeted, spot on and locks eyes with your prospects, it solves their problem and helps them make a decision. It causes them to ask more questions, seek more information and explore further.
If your mom nods and applauds your content, though, chances are it’s way too broad. Like marketing of old, it speaks to everyone, yet reaches no one.
Whether it’s a new report, blog post, case study or infographic, be sure your content addresses specific questions your prospect is asking.
And...unless your mom is the absolute spitting image of your target market, consider her head-scratching or disinterest in your content a compliment. Sorry mom.
3. Your editorial calendar is blank
If your editorial planning process is painful, your team is likely having trouble "seeing what’s ahead" on the content horizon. Being connected intimately with your audience, on the other hand, results in easily identifiable "mission critical" content that begins to write itself. It then becomes a matter of prioritization versus, "I guess we should talk about what to write next month."
4. You’re trying to "sell" rather than "solve"
This may be the surest sign that you’re completely out of touch with your audience. After all, when you meet someone in person who you can genuinely see benefiting from your product or service, you probably don’t shove literature in their face or yell phrases like "Still not convinced?! Let me tell you more."
Today’s content has to help a prospect learn a new angle, create a new solution or solve a problem *themselves*. Let go of trying to be the hero. Fire your inner sales guy. Become part of the research process and journey that prospects take. The web makes research easy. Serve up real help and quality information - not "convincing copy that will hook them in" (oh...how the old phrase kills me now.) Knowing your audience intimately makes solution-oriented content the easy choice.
5. You freeze up when it’s time to share
So your content is targeted, your message is solution oriented and your mom doesn’t have a clue. But...hmmm...now what? As part of the audience profiling process, it’s critical to identify "real life" examples of each segment and where they gather and share information - whether it be through email, LinkedIn, Twitter, trade organizations, news journals, blogs...etc.
Most importantly, concentrate your sharing on a few channels that speak directly to your audience. Shed the broadcast mentality. Discourage marketing teams from striving for broad-reaching numbers when they could be directing concentrated efforts on a smaller segment that’s more likely to respond, listen and...ultimately...convert!
Source: Deana Goldasich, Well Planned Web
November 7, 2012
Grievances of the 5-Minute Member
I admit it. I don’t have enough hours in the day. I believe in my professional association. I know it’s an important network and a resource to help me do my job better. But when it comes to making time to “engage” it falls off my plate as something that won’t kill me if it doesn’t happen today. Day after day, engagement falls to the wayside until a topic arises that I’m so passionate about that I spring into action.
So what prevents me from being a more engaged member? My 5 grievances of the “I’m too busy member”:
1) I’m really busy, and sometimes I forget things. I just received my third membership renewal reminder in the mail. Did I get a first? Must have flown by and gotten lost in the stack on my desk. Same thing happened last year. Hmm, maybe there is a pattern there. Yes, I should probably get better about that, but after being a member for 10+ years am I going to change?
2) My inbox runneth over, so be careful what you e-mail me. In an average day, I receive 200+ e-mails. I scan each quickly, looking for my action items. Those with easy responses, get quick responses. E-mails that need more time then get prioritized...what won’t kill me today... Messages that aren’t relevant to me - well those are a huge waste of my time. Do it too often and you’ll end up on my spam list.
3) I need what you have, but don’t make me hunt for it. I’m working on a project. If I need a quick answer, I turn to Google. But if I’m trying to interpret thousands of search results into an actual action plan, then I need you and my fellow members. Only you can provide me with connections between pieces of information, resources to act, and the experiences of others to save me time and money. I come to you with hopeful eyes, eagerly scanning your Web site for the answers I need. I scan, I scan, I search, I grumble. I don’t have time to not find what I need.
4) I want your support – when, where, and how I need it. I’ve fully embraced the non-traditional workspace. I have a standing desk with no chair. I’m never at my desk, but always connected by my iPhone and iPad. This gives me more freedom and enables me to connect in more ways. So why can I still not connect with you? The bottom line is, if I can’t read what you send me on my portable devices, you miss a big opportunity to connect with me.
5) My participation isn’t premeditated. How often do I go to your Web site thinking, “Gee, I want to participate in a discussion today. I’ll go to the discussion area of my association Web site?” Don’t force me to go out of my way to be social. I’m most likely to engage around a topic that is already top of mind.
Does this sound familiar? Stay tuned to learn how to engage members like me.
Source: Alex Mouw, AssociationCentric, A blog by resultsdirect
October 31, 2012
Once Upon a Time...there was an association leader who was thinking about how to best communicate the association’s message. There were so many things to consider. What was the story to be told? Why would members listen? Would members share the story with colleagues and non-members?
To be effective, the association leader knew that the story had to have the following elements:
- Feature characters that resonate with the audience. Is it the Member of the Year announcement? Is it changes to the certification program that make it harder to become certified in the profession? Is it notification about advocacy efforts impacting the profession? Is it announcing the resolution of a long-standing feud with a related association?
- Be of interest and relevant to the audience. Target your message.
- The right mix of emotion, suspense and humor. Evoke imagery that connects with the audience. In promoting a certification study group, say something like “Tired of those long nights pouring over the body of knowledge all by yourself? You don’t need to go it alone!”
- Connection to universal themes. There are universal archetypes to connect man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. time. “Make your voice heard!”
- Easy to share. Keep it simple and to the point.
The right mix of these elements draws the audience in and engages them.
In addition, the association leader needed to consider how the message would be delivered. The way association leaders communicate with their audience has changed over time. What is the right delivery mechanism for the message?
- Would it be told at an association event?
- Would it be shared in a newsletter?
- Would it be tweeted?
- Would it be on the association’s blog?
- Would it be posted on the association’s Facebook Fan Page?
- Would it be delivered via a You Tube video?
- Would it be delivered in PechaKucha format (20 slides, 20 seconds per slide, four minutes total?
- Would pinning things in Pinterest be the best way to tell the story? You know…a picture is worth 1,000 words. This digital age of storytelling provides lots of options.
The moral of the story…we are all storytellers. Connecting with association members in a meaningful way makes them care. This is how association leaders can share information effectively.
...and they all lived happily-ever-after.
Source: Beth Quick-Andrews, CAE, Executive Director, St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership
October 24, 2012
Composite Engagement Score Helps Associations Meet Strategic Goals
At last week's STIAL luncheon, Matt Van Cleave, Senior Vice President of Aptify, shared details about what he called the Composite Engagement Score or CES.
Van Cleave's words provided ideas and guidance for associations interested in monitoring member engagement, and helping determine success for specific goals.
Matt was clear that CES is a management tool, not an affinity or loyalty program (like frequent flyer miles). As such, he strongly recommends that CES not be shared with members, but rather used to monitor and analyze results of your strategy. CES is NOT an affinity program; it rarely changes from year to year.
Here are the notes from his presentation. To view his PowerPoint, click on this link:
Why should your association be interested in engagement?
- Engaged members = stronger organization = enhanced experience
- Engaged members help you fulfill your mission
- Exchange of value: pay and get
- What does an association get from the member?
- Align people to what you need to get done
So, the question becomes, "How do association's measure engagement?"
First, define what engagement means.
Engagement is effectiveness when aligned with strategy. If it is not aligned, it is not relevant.
Methods of engagement should change over time, and the way you measure needs to change with it. As your strategies and objectives change, you need to change how and what you measure.
Four suggested steps:
- Set strategic goals
Example: Assuming the VFW wants to recruit younger members, it may create a CES that places greater value for Gulf War veterans than WWII
- How to measure progress toward strategic goals via Strategic KPIs (Key Performance Indicators)
# of speaking engagements
# of events attended
# of hours volunteered
$ of referrals
Revenue per member
# of Tweets, blogs, Facebook, etc.
- Create a composite index - allocate 100 points
Weight points for each KPI
Use composite for just one year - can adjust KPI and weights each year
- Assign weights to create a 100-point scale
Example: if events are 35%, have 4 possible scores
0 events = 0 points
Committee: 1 hour = 20 points
CES can be micro - just a department (meetings) or macro (entire association).
October 18, 2012
What Association Executives Can Learn From St. Louis Cardinals
What a 2-out, 6-run come-from-behind win over the Washington Nationals in the 2012 baseball playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals rekindled images of their improbable 2-out, 2-strike come-from-behind Game 7 win to capture the 2011 World Series. Just last week (before the Cardinals playoff win), Jason Selk posted a story in Forbes called "What Business Professionals Can Learn from the St. Louis Cardinals."
Here are the highlights from his post:
- In regards to the St. Louis Cardinals' wild card slot and momentum toward the 2012 World Series, manager Mike Matheny said this about his team, "They believe they can do it, and that's hard to stop."
- 20 years ago, I heard the statement, "You are what you think you are."
- Jack Welch, (former) CEO of General Electric, uses this idea in his leadership. He states, "The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important - and then get out of their way while they do it." He has also bee quoted as saying, "Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing I can do. Because then they will act."
- Confidence is home grown.
- Sam Walton, founder and CEO of Wal-Mart said, "High expectations are the key to everything."
After the 2011 World Series, I wrote about "3 Association Leadership Lessons from World Series Champs."
The three lessons are:
- Never give up
- Work as a team
- Trust your younger generation
While the fate of the 2012 Cardinals could change in the series against the San Francisco Giants or in the World Series, the lessons of the 2011 Cardinals and the current 2012 Cardinals remain.
And, serve as great guides for association executives.
Source: Steve Drake, SCD Group, What Association Executives Can Learn From St. Louis Cardinals
October 10, 2012
The Nine Biggest Mistakes Meeting Planners Make
Planning any kind of event is a complex, time-consuming process that is filled with potential pitfalls. All kinds of factors, big and small, can mean the difference between your meeting being an outstanding success or a dismal failure. When planning your next event, avoid these common mistakes.
1. Not choosing the right meeting room
A sub-par environment diminishes the ability of your speakers to be effective and makes your attendees uncomfortable. Before you book the venue, scope out the room(s) thoroughly.
Q: Are there good site lines to the stage?
Q: Is the sound system clear and crisp?
Q: How are the acoustics?
Q: Is the lighting bright enough? And is it adjustable?
Q: How is the temperature controlled?
Q: Is there good Wi-Fi reception?
Q: What’s the noise level like outside the room?
Q: How many bathrooms are there? How big are they?
Q: What is the furniture like?
Tip: Many venues will invest a lot to make their meeting rooms look nice, but will cheap out on the sound system. Check it!
2. Not including proper force majeure provisions in contracts
Meeting planners work very hard to ensure that no problems will arise in connection with the meeting. We all have experienced many reasons why a meeting is interrupted: hurricanes, snow, union lockouts, etc. These events are out of the control of either party. Yet, unless the issue of force majeure is properly addressed in the contract, a group may have little to no protection.
Tip: Have more than one person review the contract.
3. Not knowing what else is occurring at the venue
What is booked in the meeting room next to yours? If some group is having a Grateful Dead concert with only an air wall in between, you want to find out before- not after- you book the room.
Tip: Let your sales contact at the venue know what types of groups you are and are not willing to be near.
4. Not hiring professional speakers
Too many meeting planners will budget for meeting space, food, A/V, décor, printing and even alcohol, but don’t budget anything for the one element that can make the biggest impact on their attendees: the speakers!
Professional speakers are not just subject matter experts, they also are skilled at engaging audiences and helping them learn more effectively.
Tip: Have your executives write out the goals of the meeting and the role the professional speaker(s) will have in meeting their objectives. Be sure and schedule at least one conference call with the speakers to discuss your goals and have at least one executive on this call.
5. Selecting the wrong speakers
Some speakers look good on paper, but don’t perform well on stage. Some speakers are terrific presenters, but are a nightmare to work with. Some speakers are phenomenal with certain groups, and not so phenomenal with others. Vet your speakers thoroughly. Does the speaker you are considering use Power Point? Pictures not just words are better learning tools compared to a boring slide with too many words. What experience do they have and how long have they been speaking?
Tip: Speakers Bureaus save you time in finding the best speakers for your budget, goals and audience, as well as keep you from hiring prima donnas...all at no cost to you! Be sure the company you use to book speakers belongs to IASB.
6. Choosing the wrong A/V company
Great audio-visual work doesn’t get noticed, yet it is a huge factor in a successful event. Poor A/V can doom even the best speakers and entertainers.
Tip: Check A/V companies’ references and be sure they have experience in the venue you have chosen.
7. Not using IMAG
You wouldn’t consider not amplifying the speaker’s voice. It is also important for your audience to see the speaker. Budget for and use IMAG (Image Magnification) when you have more than 150 guests in a long and narrow room or more than 300 guests in a square room.
Tip: Always have enough in your budget for a dress kit. Those naked screens look cold and detract from the atmosphere you’re trying to create.
8. Using the wrong seating arrangement
Rounds are fine for a meal, but not for any other type of program. Unless your speaker/entertainer is performing during or immediately after the meal, use a different seating arrangement.
For a motivational speaker or humorist, theater style is ideal. It creates the right atmosphere because attendees feel like they’re at a theater or club. (Think about comedy clubs- people are more likely to laugh in crowds in a tight area because laughter is contagious.) For a content speaker (sales, marketing, leadership, etc.) set the room classroom style. This way, everyone can see the speaker and has a surface on which to take notes.
TIP: Set classroom tables in a chevron and curve theater style seating so that everyone has a better view of the speaker and screen.
9. Putting an aisle in the wrong place
One of most common mistakes I see meeting planners make is setting the room so that there is a large aisle right in the middle of the room. That’s where the best seats should be!
Instead, set two- or even four- aisles with seats in the center. As a bonus, setting more aisles makes it easier for attendees to come and go.
TIP: Aisles don’t need to be as wide as most meeting planners think they do, especially when you have more of them.
Source: Debbie Taylor, Taylor Made Events & Speakers, Summer 2012 Issue, Colorado Meetings & Events
October 3, 2012
Establishing a Knowledge Base for Membership Marketing Success
Do you remember the saying “Stop the world I want to get off!” Today’s fast-paced, ever-changing world is speeding by many associations who are trying to determine what is best for their members and for their organizations.
As associations roll out new programs to maintain and increase membership, the best way to be successful is to create a guiding sustainable strategy as outlined by Association Laboratory, a strategic think tank specializing in association business strategy. This guiding strategy is designed to provide a focused vision in delivering the necessary outcomes and methods of the association. This strategy involves three broad steps:
- Identification and definition of the potential market
- Identification of the market’s need
- Creation of a strategy to address the need
The following information is a brief outline of an area too often ignored by associations. This information is vital to the creation and successful implementation of a member marketing strategy.
Before you spend all of those valuable resources in developing a new member marketing program, you must first define your market. As Association Laboratory says, “It is important to create a definition of your market that accurately describes the characteristics of the individuals or companies you intend to target.” By creating a definition it allows you to do the following:
- Prioritize limited staff and financial resources
- Target the most lucrative markets
- Understand the changes in your market over time
The purpose of defining your market is to identify key market characteristics. The market characteristics will vary by whether you target companies or individuals but will assist you in determining the size of your market. Once you have determined the size of your market you must then create a market segmentation strategy.
Market Segmentation Strategy
A segmentation strategy is the method by which you divide your global market universe into individual sub segments for specific marketing programs. To determine your market segmentation strategy you must consider the following steps:
- Analyze your association’s marketing history and identify individual member markets where you have been successful
- Identify where other associations similar to your own have been successful in targeting a particular member prospect universe
- Identify specific impactors that help determine the value of a membership market
At the end of this process you should have identified, understand and prioritized the primary target market for your membership marketing efforts. For the full article go to http://associationlaboratory.com/education/articles/knowledge.asp.
Identifying Market Needs
Now that you have identified and prioritized your markets, you must focus on the specific needs of this market. When focusing on specific needs you should consider:
- Member needs not member satisfaction
- Addressing the specific problems of your prospective members instead of the symptoms of these problems
At the end of this process you will have identified, understand and prioritized the primary needs that should be addressed within the market. Review these needs to your organization’s mission to make sure they are relevant to the organization’s goals.
Your strategy is the roadmap for your marketing efforts. It is a clear, concise statement identifying how a specific marketing objective will be achieved. This is vital to focusing your resources and making sure you and other members of your staff keep their "eye on the ball.”
Your optimal strategy for addressing specific membership needs is subject to many parameters but should consider some of the following:
- Staff parameters, including number of staff and expertise
- Financial parameters, including total available financial resources and estimated cash flow
- Internal and external politics
- Association's ability to adapt to change
- Nature and quality of activities of your competition
The unique characteristics of your market and their specific needs will determine your strategic options.
September 26, 2012
Will Associations Go From Good to Great to Gone?
"The key to success in such a fast-changing environment isn't developing clairvoyance. It's being open to numerous possibilities, having the discipline to experiment with conflicting strategies and moving quickly to embrace one of them when the direction of the market becomes clear."
In his article, In Tech World, Good to Great to - Gone? in the Washington Post Business Section, Steven Pearlstein was talking about the rise and rapid fall of several market-leading technology companies, but he could have been talking about any company - or any association - operating in today's mercurial environment and attempting to plan for the future.
As their customer base ebbed away and their competitors grabbed market share, the tech companies Pearlstein uses as examples - Nokia, Research in Motion, Best Buy, and Circuit City - failed to see it as a warning that their world had already changed, and failed to act to change with it. They failed to see, as Pearlstein says: the "danger faced by dominant firms that refuse to give up existing sales in order to get the jump on next-generation products and services."
In the words of Jim Collins, Nokia, et. al., had gone from "good to great." And, then they stopped improving, believing they had secured their customers for life. Instead of their customers, they focused on the price of their stock. Because they envisioned a future that looked exactly like their present, they lost touch with the customers, their markets, and their competitors. And, as a result, these companies went down in flames.
This sounds like a lot of associations today. Used to dominating their markets - being the "go to" information resources, or certifiers, educators, influencers - associations are also failing to see the warning signs that their members' worlds have changed, and are failing to act to get in front of or even keep pace with that change.
Associations' New Normal
Instead, many associations have accepted a "new normal" defined by fewer members, fewer products and services, fewer staff, lower revenues, and reduced influence. They are watching membership, advertising revenue, and conference attendance continue to stagnate or decline, and failing to see these trends for what they are - a warning that members and customers are already looking elsewhere for the products and services in which the association used to dominate the market.
Like the failing tech companies, associations are stuck in the moment in time when they were the most successful. They envision only one future - where the association retains or regains its market leadership by pushing "new and improved" versions of the same old thing (membership, chapters, conferences, webinars, publications, a Facebook page, etc.). They cling to inflexible, top-down governance and staff models that make it impossible for the association to understand, track or respond quickly to changing member needs or adjust course to pursue developing opportunities. They cherry-pick "best practices" from other associations and dismiss for-profit competitors as unworthy of imitation (just as many are reading this blog and thinking: "This has nothing to do with our association, we're not a tech company"). They believe that as long as they stick to their guns and do what they have always done, "as soon as the economy improves," the members will return on their own.
For comparison, consider another article in the Business Section, a reprint of Farhad Manjoo's Slate article "How Apple Invented the iPhone." It's about how Apple "set out to create an iPod killer before any of its competitors could." It's a fascinating story not only about the development of a technological icon, but a telling juxtaposition of a hugely successful company's willingness to challenge itself to greater excellence by focusing on understanding, planning, and executing for the future even while it was already leading the market.
In contrast to Research in Motion or Best Buy, and many associations, Apple envisioned a future where it was not the market leader. As a result, at the height of its success, after going from good to great, Apple set out to be better - not at what it was doing then, but at what its customers would want in the future.
Like Apple, and other successful organizations (including thriving associations) that are in sync with today's interactive, knowledge-age environment, associations need to:
- Be "open to numerous possibilities," including future missions, membership models, and products and services that look nothing like today's
- Have the "discipline to experiment with conflicting strategies" such as partnering with perceived competitors and knocking their own best-selling products off the market with better ones
- Put in place governance, leadership, staff, product development and customer engagement models that allow the association to move "quickly to embrace" a strategy or identify opportunities "when the direction of the market becomes clear"
The warning signs are clear. Will associations heed them and take the necessary actions? Or will many associations go from good to great - to gone?
Source: "Will Associations Go From Good to Great to Gone" by Andrea Pellegrino
September 5, 2012
30 Marketing Tips for Associations
At the ASAE annual meeting on August 12, five panelists from five accredited association management companies shared 30 Marketing Tips in the Social Media Age. It was a packed room ... both standing room and seating room only. The participants asked the panel to share our tips thus this blog and the full power point posted on SlideShare. (Be sure to download the file and view/print in the notes format so you can see more details from most of the tips.)
The tips were organized in six categories.
#1 Step 1 Start with your desired outcomes (goal), your audience and your messages, then build your campaign via Association Management Center (AMC).
#2 Use the 1-7-30-4-2-1 editorial calendar from Joe Pulizzi of Content Marketing Institute via SCD Group.
#3 Consistent brand messaging from the National Pasta Association via the Kellen Company.
#4 Increase member engagement with your social media tools by providing hands on training and support at your annual meeting.
#5 Building integrated marketing plans is a must to effectively mix new and traditional.
#6 Don’t be afraid to ask your members to get involved with the launch of your organization’s Twitter Strategy—just make sure they have the tools to get the job done! From AAHPM (American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine) via AMC.
#7 Increase results by combining live and digital events from U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance via AMR Management Services.
#8 Build Twitter relationships by retweeting tweets from NYC Women in Communications Inc via Kellen Company.
#9 Use a force multiplier to increase your association members’ twitter engagement, non-member followers and promote your association’s advocacy agenda.
#10 Getting started on Twitter can be tough – use Twitter Search and Twazzup to find people who are already talking about your profession or industry who have a lot of followers and link to them, mention them etc. to get your Twitter feed going. via the Tile Roofing Institute via Bostrom.
Mobile & QR Codes
#11 Personalize your invitation with a QR code sending members to a personal invitation from the president from APHON via AMC.
#12 Create mobile apps or mobile sites specific for your conference from NASCIO via AMR.
#13 Use your data: When the Airline Passenger Experience Association developed a new mobile application, it was able to test its success by using Google Analytics via Kellen.
#14 Use a force multiplier to increase your association members’ twitter engagement, non-member followers and promote your association’s advocacy agenda.
#15 Combine mobile apps with your website development from PiMA/Tile Roofing Association via Bostrom.
Facebook & LinkedIn
#16 Use Facebook to engage your members for feedback from AANN (American Association of Neuroscience Nurses) via AMC.
#17 Develop a LinkedIn marketing strategy for your association from American Academy on Communications in Healthcare via AMR.
#18 Enlist member companies to expand reach of your SM campaigns from NPA via Kellen.
#19 Don’t allow the association to force you to be social network police from the Sherwood Group.
#20 Build specific Facebook accounts for individual programs such as certification from the Tile Roofing Institute via Bostrom.
Blogs, Websites & SlideShare
#21 A slide show on your website is a great way to showcase members from NFBA (National Frame Building Association) via AMC.
#22 Train your members to blog to create “an army” of bloggers with a consistent local and national message via the National Christmas Tree Association and AMR.
#23 Use content to drive membership: New York Women in Communications (NYWICI) combines web branding, blogging, twitter, facebook and YouTube into a cohesive marketing campaign via Kellen.
#24 Adaptive and responsive web sites don’t frustrate or penalize users based on their technology.
#25 Google Analytics’ new features include mobile and social tracking tools, advertising tracking enhancements, and so much more from Bostrom.
Wildcard (miscellaneous ideas)
#26 AAHPM added value to an already valuable course. They created a new offering in conjunction with their regularly sold out Board Review Course—Premium Seating via AMC.
#27 After determining desired outcomes, target audiences and core messages, use the Periodic Table of Content Elements to determine delivery tools from Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media via AMR.
#28 Window Covering Safety technicalities can get dry, so Kellen developed The SuperBaby Safety Campaign on behalf of the Window Covering Safety Council. It is a series of online videos in which your host, Super Baby, explains how children can be kept safe with window coverings.
#29 Use a live audience response system via any web-capable smartphone to engage meeting participants in an interactive session.
#30 Use off the shelf tools to track ROI or the effectiveness of Social Media tools like Twitter – tools are www.twazzup.com, socialmention.com, and addictomatic.com via Bostrom.
Source: "30 Marketing Tips for Associations: Highly Rated Ideas from ASAE12" posted by Steve Drake
Click here to read the full post.
August 29, 2012
What to Look for in A Budget
The budget identifies how much money an organization needs to implement its program or plans, and forecasts how much money the organization expects to receive. When reviewing the budget for the upcoming year, here’s some suggestions for what to look for in the budget
- Does the budget relate closely to the plans made for the year?
- Can each item on the budget be explained in terms of the plans for the organization as a whole?
- How does the budget compare to last year’s budget?
- Are there sharp increases or decreases in spending and do you understand them?
- Are the sources of revenue realistic?
- How does what we are actually spending compare to what we planned to spend?
- Look at the balance between administration costs and operating costs. Does it make sense in terms of the work the organization does? As a general rule, administrative costs should not exceed 10 to 20 percent of the budget.
Understanding the budget and knowing how to communicate it to board members and others within your organization is vital to the organization’s financial management.
Source: Information taken from The Step Up to Leadership curriculum which was developed by University of Missouri Extension in cooperation with the Missouri Association for Community Action, Inc.
August 22, 2012
199 Ideas – Membership Recruitment and Retention
Last week, I attended the ASAE Annual Meeting in Dallas, Texas. It was a great meeting, getting to see friends, colleagues and learning from other associations. One of the best things about the ASAE Annual Meeting is stopping by the bookstore and seeing what is being offered.
One of the books I came across was 199 Ideas: Membership Recruitment and Retention, developed by the ASAE & Center Membership Section Council. While I have been involved in the membership and recruitment area for more than 17 years, I find this book to have some good points and thought I would share a few of the ideas.
Recruitment Basics –
• Idea #2: Membership growth and retention both require your marketing attention – Marketing is not just about soliciting prospects to join your association. It’s also about reinforcing your brand, your promise, and your progress to current members.
Where to Find Members –
• Idea #38: Yahoo, Google alerts – You can set up daily alerts with Yahoo, Google and other internet providers that provide you with links referencing key words for your association.
How to get Prospects to Join –
• Idea #64: First, position your association – Think of one precise sentence that fully describes your association and cement it in as a focal point throughout your promotions.
• Idea #85: Link your email to a landing page designed to give members and prospects a quick and easy place for more information – Your landing page should reinforce the messaging in your email, expand on the offer, and give visitors a clear pathway to get what they came for.
These are just four of the 199 ideas offered in this book on membership recruitment and retention. For more information about this book visit the ASAE bookstore.
August 15, 2012
Top 5 Networking Tips
Political commentator Armstrong Williams once described networking as “an essential part of building wealth.” No matter what type of business you’re in, effective and consistent networking delivers a number of advantages. The most important advantage may be an increased customer base, but networking can also help you:
• Develop your reputation as an expert or thought leader
• Collaborate with peers or even competitors on new projects
• Improve your knowledge of your industry and target customer
• Increase your business’ top-of-mind awareness among your customers
• Support your branding initiatives
• Generate or evaluate new product or service ideas
Start adding value to your business today with the five networking tips below.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can network remotely. Sending emails, mailing letters or making phone calls won’t get the job done. A true networker makes appearances, shakes hands and converses face-to-face with customers, targets and peers. Make a commitment to attend at least two meetings or events monthly.
You’ll want to memorize some “go-to” information, so you don’t get stuck with nothing to say. First, write a short, simple synopsis of your business and memorize it. Keep it limited to one or two sentences, and use it only when someone asks you, “What do you do?” Then, make a list of conversation starters about non-controversial topics. Think sports, weather, hobbies, interests, etc.
Next, identify an accessible place to keep your business cards. You don’t want to fumble around in your pockets or hand out crumpled card stock. Keep your cards in a front pocket and practice taking them out gracefully. Also figure out where you’re going to put the cards you collect.
Learn to listen and ask questions
Learn to listen and ask questions, instead of talking about yourself and your business. Encourage others to tell you about their successes and challenges before you launch into what you can do for them. View these conversations as your opportunity to learn about how your product or service addresses the market’s needs.
Be laser-focused on adding value
The only time you should talk at length about yourself is when you have the opportunity to add value. Maybe you have the expertise needed to help someone address a particular business challenge. If you can give some free, helpful advice in a short conversation, go ahead and do it. Consider it an opportunity to build your reputation.
Learn how to end a conversation politely
One mistake novice networkers can make is sticking with a conversation for too long. The last thing you want is to make your new friend feel like she’s stuck with you for the rest of the evening. Some networkers use the business card as the closer. To do this, you’d thank the other person for chatting with you and offer your card. Then, walk away and start the process over with someone else.
It takes some practice, but you will learn to have short, genuine conversations with strangers. Make enough of these impressions and you’ll start adding real value to your business and your reputation.
August 1, 2012
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
Recently, SLSAE members and guests had the opportunity to hear Mary Byers speak on the key points from her book Race for Relevance: 5 Radical Changes for Associations. The program was very entertaining, and helped drive home some very relevant points.
As an Association Professional, it shouldn’t come as a surprise – the association landscape has changed, dramatically, over the last few years and there doesn’t seem to be any indication things are going to go back to “the good ole days”. Associations and membership staff are struggling with this on a daily basis – trying to grow their membership (on a good day)…most days it must feel like they are working hard to maintain their membership numbers.
This is evident. Just Google “association membership trends” and you’ll find top hits are on action plans, sustainability plans for associations, etc. – to help stop the drop in numbers. One blog, from Association Trends, caught my attention.
The decision to un-join… it’s a decision our members (and WE) may face when determining where our money will go. This particular article was from an association professional’s point of view (not from the association membership view), yet the key points and take away apply across the board:
1. Associations need to realize that they are not the only game in town for professional information. – Associations can no longer hang their hat on the fact; they are the keeper or bearer of professional resources. True - there are MANY resources available via internet, local resources and professional network. And often these resources are free!
2. Associations need to treat different members differently. – There’s not just 1 type of member, therefore associations shouldn’t assume there’s a 1 size fits all membership option. Associations should be savvy in their approach, because members are becoming savvier with their time and money.
3. Prospects are not sure “what the association has to offer” or have seen “no compelling reason to join” in the first place, and new members are not sure what they are getting for their dues, so it’s easy to let the membership lapse. – Getting to know your members and getting them engaged from day 1 is imperative. Are member’s schedules hectic? YES… but… if association professionals are assuming someone will say “no”, but haven’t actually asked the question, or approached new members to get them entrenched in your organization, then you are doing a disservice – both to the organization and new member!
To read more, click here.
July 25, 2012
3 Questions Your Board Members Really Need to Know
- Where does our Money go?
- Why Does it cost so much?
- What $$ do we need to invest right now?
Ever presented your funding plan to your board and watched their eyes glaze over. Here you are, laying out important strategies that can make or break your budget. These are strategies your board needs to buy into, right?
Here’s how to rub your plan right into their brains.
Try a New Format: Try a Question and Answer Interview
Try interviewing your executive director in front of the board. Or if you are the executive director, you can interview your top officers and/or knowledgeable board members. Your goal is to generate a real give and take discussion on these fundamentally important questions. This is not a presentation or a brain dump. Give the board members something to actually chew on in order to actually get it.
Try this series of questions:
- Ok, now what’s our annual budget?
- How much do we have to bring in every year?
- How much can we count on bringing in every year, and how much do really have to bust our butts to bring in?
This really gets their attention and they are really interested in finding out this amount.
Then switch it over to programs:
- What’s our top program area and about how much does it cost?
- Why do we even need private contributions anyway?
- Why does it cost so much?
- Where exactly does the money go
- Why does it take so much staff to do this work?
- What would we do if we had an additional $100,000?
When your board members start taking notes, you’ll know that you are providing good information to them. They get fired up about the organization!
Source: Gail Perry’s article “What’s the Math? “3 Questions Your Board Members Really Need to Know”. July 21, 2012. Click here to read the full article.
July 18, 2012
Utilizing Membership Dues as a Marketing Tool
When it comes to membership dues, they are usually viewed as a necessary evil. Dues, for many associations, are the primary revenue source. Many association leaders, in order to compensate for their dues, have focused on non-dues revenue programs. Recently, according to Dean West, President of Association Laboratory, said associations have recognized that membership dues, in combination with other revenue sources, are an integral part of the overall financing solution necessary to provide superior, sustainable levels of service.
Membership dues signal a financial investment of the member belonging to your organization. The amount of dues signifies the dollar value they place on their affiliation with your organization. This investment creates a relationship between the member and the organization, which the organization can leverage to achieve the mission and specific strategic objectives.
The following are some specific ways membership dues can be used as a marketing device
- By keeping membership dues low the association encourages more people to join so that a specific target audience is identified for the sale of association products
- By keeping membership dues high, the association establishes a sense of exclusivity
- By gradually increasing the cost of membership, you can predictably increase the financial investment of members into the organization while continuing to build affiliation
- By coordinating membership with product pricing you can create incentives to join or incentives to purchase based on the objectives of the association
Additionally included in this article are specific items that need to be considered in developing a membership dues strategy. Some of these items of consideration are:
- What limits the use of membership dues as a revenue stream?
- How do you evaluate the use of membership dues?
- When are membership dues most important?
- How might your association use membership dues as funding mechanism?
Dean reminds association leaders that dues are only one component of a portfolio strategy and that it is important to develop multiple sources of revenue to avoid a single source of income for new initiatives or member services.
For more information on Membership Dues as a Strategic Marketing Tool, go to http://associationlaboratory.com/education/articles/dues.asp.
July 11, 2012
Time or Money: Which is the Biggest Challenge for Your Association or Nonprofit?
As associations and nonprofit organizationciation or entertainer is our competition.
s, we have multiple competitors.
In fact, every other business, charity, asso
In two ways ...
1. Our organizations ask members, donors and prospects to give us money: dues, donations, registration fees.
- So any entity seeking money is our competitor: that includes retailers, Amazon, for profit events, sports, arts and musical events that charge fees. The list goes on.
2. Our organizations ask members, donors and prospects to give us time: to be volunteer leaders, to participate in service projects, to attend our events.
- So any entity seeking time is our competitor: churches, Red Cross, governmental programs, charity walks, Habitat builds. The list goes on.
So, which is organization’s biggest challenge: time or money?
And, what strategies are working to help you overcome these challenges?
Please complete this 3-question survey before July 31.
I’ll post the results in August.
June 27, 2012
Are the Strategies different for Non-Profit Social Media Posts?
According to Amy Rose Brown from her blog on Marketing Zen Group, tactics should be slightly different. A few of her suggestions follow:
- Share and discuss information rather than broadcast
- Inspire people with success stories
- Intergrate social sharing buttons on your website
- Include social media information on all employee signatures
- Share photos
- Publicize volunteer opportunities
- Research what organizations you admire are doing on social media for ideas
Click here to read the full blog.
Source: "40 Social Media Tips for Nonprofit Ogranizatons" by Amy Rose Brown, Marketing Zen Group
June 20, 2012
ECPAT-USA & Your Meetings
This may not be your normal tip of the week but it is something that those who put on conferences may want to be aware. St. Louis meeting planner Kimberley Ritter has been active in increasing awareness of this issue (see STLToday link below).
ECPAT-USA, Inc. (End Child Prostitution/Child Pornography and Trafficking) is a network of organizations and individuals working together to eliminate the commercial sexual exploitation of children around the world. It has, in collaboration with ECPAT International, funded by UNICEF and supported by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, formed an industry-driven method of enlisting tourism-related companies in fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. Suppliers of tourism services are asked to adopt a Code of Conduct.
The following travel industry corporations have signed the ECPAT Code of Conduct.
|Millennium Hotel St. Louis
Country Inns and Suites
Park Inn by Radisson
Carlson Wagonlit Travel
Delta Air Lines
Hilton Garden Inn
Home 2 Suites by Hilton
Hilton Grand Vacations
Wyndham Hotels & Resorts
Wyndham Grand Collection
TRYP by Wyndham
Planet Hollywood Hotels
Baymont Inns and Suites
Microtel Inns and Suites
Global Exchange Reality Tours
Article in Suburban Journals
June 13, 2012
The Unanticipated Benefits of Content Curation
Beth Kanter has produced a fabulous workbook on content curation in NTEN’s June issue of Change (subscribe for free at http://bit.ly/LpJpzo)
The Three S’s of Content Curation: Seek, Sense, Share
Content curation is a three-part process: Seek, Sense, and Share.
Finding the information (or “seeking”) is only one third of the task. Making sense of the information is just as important. Sense-making can be as simple as how you annotate the links you share, the presentation, or what you’ve left out. Sense-making can be writing a blog post using the links or summarizing the key points in a presentation. But it has to support your organization’s communications objectives or your professional learning goals. Finally, the sharing: it’s about giving the best nuggets of content to your audience in a format that they can easily digest and apply.
Putting content curation into practice is part art form, part science, but mostly about daily practice. You don’t need to do it for hours, but 20 minutes every day will help you develop and hone the skills. It is best to do the seeking part in small bursts to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
Two other pieces for your reading ...
How Content Management Can Make Your Association Stronger?
Curating, managing and distributing content has become a major function for associations focused on thriving over the next decade. Join us at Tuesday’s (June 19) SLSAE meeting. After a brief presentation, Steve Drake will facilitate a hands on content management work session. This meeting is designed for CEOs and staff professionals. You’ll get maximum benefit if more than one from you association attend. Register here: http://ow.ly/bvsPT
June 6, 2012
Habits of a Strategic Thinker
“We need strategic leaders!” is a pretty constant refrain at every organization. However, one reason why the job is so tough is that no one really knows what the job entails. It’s hard to be a strategic leader if you don’t know what strategic leaders are supposed to do. Adaptive strategic leaders in today’s uncertain environment do six things well:
Most leaders only focus on what’s directly ahead and not have “peripheral vision”. To anticipate well, you must search beyond the current boundaries of your business and build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better.
- Think Critically
Conventional wisdom opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herd like belief, and safe opinion at face value, your organization loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To do this, you must force yourself to:
- reframe problems to get to the bottom of things
- challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
- uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions
Ambiguity is unsettling. The temptation is to reach for a fast and potentially wrong solution. A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To improve these skills, you should:
- Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
Encourage others to do the same
- Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously
You have to develop processes and enforce them. To do that well, you have to carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter, leave perfection to the higher powers, and take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views.
Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage people, especially when views diverge. To do this, you need to understand what drives other people’s agendas and bring tough and uncomfortable issues to the surface.
Honest feedback is hard to come by. You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial to success and failure because they are valuable sources of organizational learning. Here’s what you need to do:
- Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons
- Shift course quickly if you realize you’re off track
- Celebrate both success and well-intentioned failures
Source: "6 Habits for True Strategic Thinkers" by Paul J.H. Schoemaker
May 30, 2012
Develop Future Leaders with a Little TLC
Many associations are struggling with an aging membership and a lack of interest from the young professionals in their industry. The American Coal Council (ACC) has designed a program to help counteract this issue. In 2009, ACC introduced Tomorrow’s Leadership Council (TLC) which is annual leadership development program for new hires in the industry.
This program is designed to benefit all associated parties. The young professional participants received training and the chance to engage in networking opportunities. The sponsoring companies, which pay the $1500 fee to enroll their employees, benefit from having more knowledgeable and connected employees. The ACC benefits from the final project which is designed to advance the industry in some way.
TLC begins at the start of each new calendar year. Participants join a virtual community which hosts meetings electronically and by conference call and also receive complimentary registrations to the two annual strategic industry conferences. At these conferences, the TLC participants can attend a special dinner with an opportunity to network with industry peers and learn from the senior professionals.
This program has been very well received by both its participants and member companies. Although it may not be a revenue generating program because the participant fees simply cover the cost of the program, it shows dedication and commitment to industry. The ACC staff initially supported TLC, but it is now self-sustained with the help of the program graduates and a single ACC staff liaison. If you are considering forming a similar program, ACC CEO Janet Gellici, confirms that the TLC program has “been very successful at our organization, and its adaptable to any program.”
Source: Click here to read the full article written by Christine Umbrell
May 23, 2012
100 Content Marketing Ideas for Your Association
Content (information, knowledge, etc.) is the lifeblood of most trade associations and professional societies.
Most associations produce volumes of content including:
• research studies
• annual reports
• Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn posts
Key questions about the content you produce:
1. Is it coordinated across the association and does it follow your strategic communications plan?
2. Is it free to all in the profession or industry as a strategy to increase awareness, build an audience (of prospects), urge action?
3. Or, is it restricted to members only and housed behind a pass-word protected page?
4. Is it a combination of both: some for members only and others for the industry/profession and/or the public?
Given the rapid use of Goggle search, mobile technology and social media platforms, managing and marketing your content has become one of the most important (and valued) roles within an association. And, a component that is more difficult to “restrict” to “members-only.”
Creating, curating and distributing free and paid content has become a vital tool for associations today. I’ve been talking about Content Management/Marketing for more than two years.
Now the Content Marketing Institute has published this great ebook of content marketing examples ... 100 concrete examples for your review. Remember, as you examine these lessons, “convert” the examples from these businesses to your association or nonprofit.
Here are links for more on content management/marketing strategies for associations:
$ Your Website is the Mousetrap, Your Content is the Cheese
$ Content Marketing Builds Associations 4 Ways
$ In “Content Fried” World, Associations Content Curation Can Benefit Members
Want to discover more about content marketing and how it can increase value for your association? Here are two opportunities for you and your team:
1. Attend the June 19 SLSAE working lunch. Steve Drake, editor of SCDdaily and president of SCD Group Inc., will facilitate a discussion on the importance of content management in your association. This working lunch is ideal for staff teams engaged in communications, marketing, membership and association management.
2. Attend the 2012 Content Marketing Workshop for Associations and Nonprofits at the Content Marketing World conference in Columbus (Ohio) September 4-6, 2012! Save $100 on the registration when you put SCDGroup in the discount code.
May 16, 2012
4 Useful Tools to Help Juggle Your Social Media
According to Amy Rose Brown from her blog on Marketing Zen Group, the following applications can help organize your Social Media Marketing procedures.
- Helps manage Twitter accounts and also supports Facebook, Foursquare, Googe+,LinkedIn, WordPress, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube and MySpace
- Gives you the ability to schedule future tweets
- Analytics to see clicks and retweets
- Basic version is free with limited functionality
2. Dropbox (not strictly for social media)
- Useful tool for a collaborative team
- Can be downloaded to computer or smartphone
- Files uploaded to Dropbox will automatically be uploaded to any device with Dropbox installed on it and can be shared with all co-workers on the account
- Do not need internet connection to access your downloaded Dropbox files
3. Screenr (not strictly for social media)
- Created shareable content.
- Can record your desktop (great for webinars or how to demonstrations)
- Free and web-based
- Maximum recording length of five minutes
- Limited editing capabilities
- Use updated version or similar applications (Camtasia and ScreenFlow) for longer videos and better editing capabilities
- Attempts to measure your influence on a number scale
- Higher number = more influence
Source: Marketing Zen Group Click here to read the full blog
May 9, 2012
Coaching For Your Staff: Who, Why and ROI!
A coach is hired to work with staff to help them become leaders or better fill their roles in order to bring greater value to the organization. The decision to hire a coach can come from three different places. An individual may decide to hire a coach as an investment in their future. The management of an association may hire a coach to help support an individual’s role in the organization. Lastly, a coach by be hired by management during a downsizing to assist those being affected and help them in their future job search.
The goal of hiring a coach is to achieve a shift in the mindset of an association in order to see a new plan. A coach will not solve all problems, but will help gain clarity, discover new options, and make choices which will lead to different results. The top three issues that coaches help organizations resolve are: relationship and communication issues; prioritization and focus; and leadership development.
In order to determine your ROI from the hiring of a coach, you must consider the role of the person that is being coached and how much they bring to the association. For example, if he is a team manager, will he gain the skills to increase the level of motivation and satisfaction of the employees which he manages? Many studies show that employees don’t leave organizations, they leave managers. What would be the cost of hiring and training new employees to replace those who may leave under an inadequate manager? It is also important to consider the more intangible costs of relationships that are also lost with an employee who leaves. If your organization is investing in training they may also want to look into hiring a coach to ensure that the training actually results in a change of behavior.
Source: Coaching For Your Staff: Who, Why and ROI!, May 3, 2012
May 2, 2012
Uses for QR Codes in Meetings
At the SLSAE Idea swap in March, these ideas on how to use QR codes for meetings were shared:
- Put them on printed marketing materials (flyers, direct mail, brochures, etc.) and have them direct users to the conference website
- QR codes could direct people to the speaker’s bio, business card (vcard) or their session handouts.
- Put a QR code on all the attendee badges, speaker’s badges, or on the sign outside of each speaker’s session, to download bio, contact info, or handouts.
- Use QR codes for exhibitors. Allow them to scan attendees who visit their booth. One association used iTouches for the scanners (see if the hotel’s A/V will rent them to you).
I also opened up this question on a LinkedIn group and got many ideas about how people were using them.
Here are the ones that apply to meetings:
- QR codes can be very effective when used on poster or brochure at charity events, annual meeting or fund raising event, events to invite participants & new members to join promotional walks, become volunteer advocates and become annual fees paying member.
- By scanning QR code, new members & interested volunteers can go on online page to signup.
- On pop up banners for trade shows.
- One of the most interesting things I have seen with QR codes is having them made into jewelry - a woman at the last trade show I was working had one and it linked to her twitter account.
- Make sure to add the URL under it for those who don’t use smartphones.
- Right now I am using the QR codes provided by our online ticketing and donations software program. They create a code specifically for a ticket purchase page for our events and to the donation page for our organization. Other than taking up some space on sponsorship brochures, postcards, and fliers, adding the QR code had no extra cost.
- Use them instead of the costly printouts given out at the end of their one day courses. Instead they now give out little cards with a QR code on the back which leads them to the webpage with all the PDFs and other resources for that seminar.
- Used them across print collateral and even on promotional t-shirts as part of a community service initiative.
- We've used them across print collateral and even on promotional t-shirts as part of a community service initiative. The code used links to the office's Facebook page which on the day(s) leading up to an event would supply details on how to participate in the service activity, including the option to RSVP. As a brand new office (dedicated to promoting civic engagement) the use of QR codes really aided in capturing students' attention and interest. The t-shirts were a major hit.
- We recently used a QR code in combination with event photography to get young people interested in our ministry. We set up a booth at a youth ministry conference, took photos of young people against a backdrop and had them scan a QR code to see their photos. Student received unique photo IDs so they could only view their photos. From that photo page, they could then post the picture to their social media sites and we were able to capture their email information.
Here are some places to learn more about QR codes:
No matter how you use them, remember the importance of linking the code to websites designed for mobile devices!
April 25, 2012
5 Techniques for Breaking Free From Your E-mail Inbox
Whether we like it or not, your e-mail inbox is likely where you spend the majority of your work time (and some of your non-work time!). Many time management gurus suggest checking email only once or twice a day. But many find it difficult to put that into practice in the real world. Here’s five best practices for handing your e-mail account.
- Keep your inbox as empty as possible.
Either delete or file e-mails as soon as you open them. If it sits in your inbox, they will drive you crazy! If you cannot respond immediately, file it away in a folder so you can batch process all items in that folder at one time.
- Use “Rules” to automatically file emails
Most email systems allow you to set up “rules” to automatically send e-mails to a specific folder based on the sender or subject line. For Microsoft’s Outlook, you can find the feature under Tools > Rules and Alerts. For Gmail, you can find them under More Actions > Filter Messages.
- Dial Down the Send/Receive frequency
In Outlook, you can control the frequency in which Outlook checks for new mail. Under Options > Mail Setup > Send/Receive, you can control this frequency. Imagine only receiving emails every 30 minutes or every hour. You will be able to focus on your task at hand much better without a new email to distract you at sporadic times.
- Close your E-Mail completely
If you really need to get something done, consider completely closing your email. Sometimes this can be quite scary. Will the world end? What e-mails might come in while you’re actually accomplishing something productive? Mobile devices can come in handy here that allow you to casually check e-mails while making it inconvenient to compose one.
- Send fewer E-Mails, especially during off-hours
The term “it’s better to give than to receive” doesn’t apply to e-mails, where the more you give, the more you’ll receive. During weekends and off hours, focus on sending emails only on a “need-to-send” basis. Since we tend to check e-mails 24/7 these days, thanks to smartphones, you probably receive e-mails during unconventional working hours from fellow workaholics. Don’t get sucked into their game of looking productive!
Source: Five Techniques for Corralling Your E-mail Inbox Accountingweb.com. Posted on 1/6/12 by Brett Owens.
April 18, 2012
Content Marketing for In-Person Events:
15 Ways to Extend Your Reach
Many associations hold education-based events throughout the year, but unfortunately many are not capturing the content throughout the entire life of the event. Below are some strategies to help extract content from your event which will help you to drive your content marketing efforts throughout the rest of the year.
- Twitter and Hashtags – Be sure that all speaker presentations display both the speaker’s Twitter sign and the hashtag for the event on as many slides as possible. This promotes customer and prospect sharing.
- Wi-Fi Access – First, make sure Wi-Fi is free, available and fast. Second, make sure you post the access code and directions in as many places as possible.
- Report on Your Own Conference – Make sure you cover your own conference with your own reporters and journalists
- Scheduling Speaker Interviews at the Event – As part of all speaker deals, make sure they are aware that you wish to interview them immediately after their presentations. After they finish with conversations following their talk, pull them aside for two conversations: first, have them share their take on the conference (for use as a testimonial) and second, have them share the core concept with a few examples from their presentation that you can use in a conference follow-up post.
- Move Away from the Normal Event – Think about mixing up your format to gather better content assets and engagement.
- Cater to the Blogger Community –If you don’t have a blogger lounge, make sure you know who the bloggers are and give them access to pretty much whatever they need.
- Market All Year Long – Don’t wait to start marketing the event until just a few months before the event. Convince your staff that event marketing actually never starts or stops, but is in continual motion, you’ll be MUCH better off.
- Develop a Content Platform – Be creating content EVERY day.
- Record the Presentations – Make a decision whether you are going to live stream the content, or record and post after the event…but regardless, record them (all of them).
- Engage Your Speakers in Content Creation – Many of your speakers love to share with their audiences that they are speaking at your event, but they may need some prodding. Make sure you continually reach out to them with exciting event news that will give them ammunition to blog or tweet.
- Q&A with Speakers – For the most part, speakers will be happy to complete email Q&A’s or even podcast interviews with you for promotion on your site. Prepare this in advance and make it a part of your editorial calendar for the event.
- Slideshare Mashups – Why not take the content from the event and put a visual spin on it leveraging Slideshare.
- Create Conversations Online - Give people the tools to chat and schedule meetups before the event begins. Leverage your Facebook and LinkedIn event pages, as well as post listings on Plancast and Lanyrd.
- Leverage Live Event Tweeting - Rachel Foster details multiple ways to leverage twitter with live tweeting and wrap ups distributed via Twitter post-event.
- Event Videos that People Want to Share – Create a video that people would want to view and share beyond the event.
Source: “Content Marketing for In-Person Events: 15 Ways to Extend Your Reach” by Joe Pulizzi
April 11, 2012
Enabled Employees Are Happier Employees
Most employers are not realizing that their high potential employees may also be frustrated employees. Research shows that highly engaged employees who face barriers which prevent them from doing their work efficiently make up at least 20% of the workforce. These employees are leaving their organizations because the nonsupportive organization structure is preventing them from effectively and efficiently doing their jobs.
Due to the recession, employee engagement can be seen as difficult as many employers cannot ask their employees to take on any additional responsibilities. However, they can focus on how employees can become more effective and efficient. Engagement also encourages employees to perform above and beyond typical expectations. Engaged employees show stronger attachment to their organizations and are more willing to give the extra effort needed to deliver superior performance. Although engaging employees is important, it is essential for managers to also ensure that the internal systems and work environments support personal and workforce effectiveness.
With the proper system and environment in place, an employee will be enabled. Enablement consists of two main components: optimized roles and a supportive environment. All employees to need to be appropriately aligned with roles in which their skills are being put to good use. The work environment also needs to be structured to support, rather than hinder, individual productivity.
By gaining a more effective and enabled workforce, a more positive work environment is created with less stress and work-life balance issues. Employees will be more likely to work late or come in early if they are being encouraged to complete the most important tasks as efficiently as possible and are given the authority to make the decisions on how to best accomplish these tasks.
Source: “Enabled Employees Are Happier Employees" by Mark Royal and Tom Agnew in ASSOCIATIONS NOW, February 2012
April 4, 2012
Getting Past the No! Overcoming Objections
Asking members to do membership recruiting can be a difficult task. Many members believe in the organization and want to sell memberships but are so afraid of rejection. Turning the rejections into a Yes doesn’t require a thick skin, it requires the ability to understand.
Sue Froggatt of Sue Froggatt Training and Consulting says that when looking at objections, see it as an opportunity to understand. Sue outlines in her article Overcoming Objections, that people object to joining an organization because they have not found enough perceived value for the price or they are resistant to change.
Sue states that recruiters should think of objections as simply a request for more information. Recruiters should be prepared to ask questions to help them uncover the real reason for the objection. Sue outlines several steps for recruiters on what to do when an objection arises:
- Do not interrupt. Allow them to finish so you don’t miss out on additional information
- Ask for more information to define their needs and priorities. For example, “When you say…what exactly do you mean?”
- Clarify that it is the only objection. For example “If we were able to overcome this objection, would you join?”
- If you are still struggling, use the opportunity to gather additional feedback.
These are just a sample of some of the tips. For additional steps in what to do when an objection arise and to respond to those objections vie the entire article.
March 28, 2012
Pinterest and Nonprofits
Pinterest is now turning out to be the new social media traffic source for nonprofits! If you are not aware of Pinterest, think of it as a social media group based on images. You can create numerous bulletin boards on your personal wall where you can “pin” pictures of things that interest you. These “pictures” or images can be of food, fashion, favorite quotes, blogs, exotic places, or FAVORITE NONPROFITS. You can also see something someone else has “pinned” and “repin” it to your board or “comment” on someone else’s “pin”.
Nonprofits and associations should tell their “stories” and pictures can say more than words. Find images that tell your association’s “story” or relates to your organization’s passion or mission and start “pinning”. By connecting socially with others through Pinterest your story can be shared.
To get started and Pinterest your association, click here to find a step by step tutorial for nonprofits.
March 21, 2012
So, What's The Purpose?
OK, we’ve all been in them. The interminable, sleep-inducing meeting. Or the one when the rambling, off-topic member grabs the floor and won’t let go. Or the one which gets consumed with multiple topics with no clear idea of why you are meeting?
But what if you could make your meetings more effective and efficient?
As Stephen Covey says in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, "Begin with the end in mind."
What is the purpose of the meeting?
Undoubtedly, this is the most important part of your meeting planning. Without a purpose, a meeting can become like a huge ocean liner without rudders…you are just stuck in the water! Often we meet just because the calendar says we should; every meeting should have a purpose!
- So the first question should be “Why are we meeting?” Is this the most appropriate use of your volunteer’s time and energy? Could an email discussion accomplish the same thing more efficiently?
- Once you have decided that a meeting is the best format, set clear-cut, achievable goals of what the meeting should accomplish and build the meeting around these goals. (Make sure you confer and get buy-in from your volunteer leader about the purpose; nothing derails a meeting faster than staff and volunteer leader going in different directions).
- Add the purpose at the top of the agenda so it is clear why you are meeting. No ambiguity! So if your end is to decide the theme of your next conference or election of officers or to adopt a new strategic plan, let everyone know at the top of the agenda the purpose of the meeting. They’ll thank you!
March 14, 2012
What Should You Do?
If you suspect that you have been hacked, what should you do?
a. Unplug/Shut down your computers/servers and make sure you disconnect the internet service
b. Run and hide and hope nobody else finds out
c. Don’t disturb the environment and reach out for professional help
d. Upgrade the servers with the latest security patches and this will fix all security issues
The answer is c. During the SLSAE March Meeting presentation, Security: How to Safeguard Your Confidential Information, we will discuss the appropriate steps to take after you suspect a security breach, but more importantly the steps you should be doing to prevent the security breach from happening.
March 7, 2012
3 Tips for Delivering an Effective Message
Why is it so difficult for some people to get to the point? The ability to sharpen an idea so it can be communicated quickly and effectively is becoming critical. With the use of the internet and other social media, information has expanded, while the time left for analysis and decision making has shrunk. We can't afford to wade through reams of material and convoluted arguments. We need to get to the core of an issue as quickly as possible. But zeroing in is not easy. Here are 3 quick tips for how to more clearly convey a message:
- When you prepare a presentation, work backwards. Start with the key message or that you want to convey. Then, instead of using PowerPoint slides and charts, imagine you had to use Twitter and limit your key points to 140 characters or less. Use this as your focus, then think through what you need for backup and support.
- Practice making your presentation without any slides or other supporting materials and limit the time to six minutes. This will force you to be very clear about you want to say and how to say it with conviction and zest.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your audience and imagine how they might react.
It's not easy to say less and convey more. But if you learn how to do it well, you'll have much more impact on your audience and your organization!
Source: "In Presentations, Learn to Say Less" by Ron Ashkenas in Harvard Business Review
Febraury 29, 2012
Targeting Young Professionals Requires 21st Century Thinking
Today, successful associations survive because of their ability to increase membership and develop a pipeline of new leaders. The biggest reserves of leaders lie in the younger generation. However, many organizations are still using 20th Century techniques to reach these members.
Just like technology has evolved, so must associations when it comes to reaching out to younger members. Associations can no longer expect the prospective young member to join because it’s the right thing to do. Those days are gone. Associations must lure the younger generation in to learn about the purpose, benefits and services of your association. Associations can utilize the following tips to reach younger members:
- Show a Guest List: Inviting younger members to meetings can be stressful for them. When inviting a younger member to a meeting you can help reduce that stress by providing them the ability to view a guest list. By showing them a guest list, it can help them break the ice if they know someone is attending or if there is someone they want to connect with.
- Make Registration Easy: Don’t have a long form or process to register for meetings. Keep it simple.
- Appeal to the Boss: Many young professionals need permission from superiors to attend events. If you want the younger person to attend you may want to develop marketing materials designed for their bosses so the bosses can see the benefits of attending and allow younger member the time away from the office.
- Give them a Voice: When a young person attends don’t just have them sit there and listen. Get them engaged. Get them involved by encouraging them to participate in roundtable discussions or idea swap type meetings.
These are just a few examples to engage younger professionals. For more tips view the entire article, "How Associations Are Targeting Young Professionals" by Michael C. Lowe in Meetings and Conventions Magazine.
February 22, 2012
6 Marketing Tips to Engage Your Members
When it comes to marketing, association professions have a unique opportunity to actively explore new and innovative tools to reach potential members and volunteers. If you spend time reading association-industry blogs or discussion groups, you’ll be sure to see case studies and comments on how social media marketing has helped increase engagement.
When it comes to engagement, there are several social media tools that you can easily fit into your association’s marketing plan.
- Take advantage of the cloud. Instead of spending most of your marketing budget on expensive software programs you can take advantage of either free or affordable programs online. Use Google Apps for online collaboration, Dropbox to share files and Constant Contact for email marketing.
- Make your website fun. You want members and potential members to have a good experience on your website so take a lesson from the Twitter “fail whale” or Zappos basset hound and get creative.
- Update contact lists. Before you send out your next big email marketing campaign, make sure you update your contact lists to include any new business cards you or your co-workers may have picked up.
- Keep up with Facebook pages. Make sure your association is getting the most out of its Facebook page by checking your page’s insights weekly and tracking your “likes”.
- Simplify your social media marketing. Instead of switching back and forth between Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and LinkedIn, use an online tool like Roost or Hootsuite to help you schedule your social media marketing campaigns in advance.
- Host a Meetup. Move beyond your computer screen and talk to your members face-to-face. Use website like Meetup to plan a “Member Appreciation Party”.
Source: 6 Marketing New Year’s Resolutions for 2012 by Janine Popick
February 15, 2012
Story Teller or Story Crafter?
We all like a story teller. But what about a story crafter? You know, the person that is responsible for developing the story the story tellers tell. Have you ever wondered what you are? A story teller or a story crafter? Come to the SLSAE lunch on Tuesday, February 21 and learn 7 tips that will make you better at crafting meaningful stories about your association -- stories that will enhance your reputation, increase visibility, attract new board members and help lead to better fund development results.
February 8, 2012
Seven Event Venue Must-Haves for 2012
- Easy Access – Attendees must be able to easily reach the destination. Attendees will rule out the trip if it requires multiple flights or a long drive especially in today’s economic conditions.
- Value Pricing – Many venues have found it necessary to add-on charges to stay profitable, but they should only go so far. Avoid venues which charge extra for the basics and rather select those who offer high-impact extras.
- Sense of Place – Allow guests to get a feel for the city they have visited. Choose a venue that has an open air space from which attendees can enjoy local views.
- Local Food – Attendees are interested in the food that gives them a taste of the city. Choose foods grown by local farmers or that use local ingredients.
- Wired Meeting Rooms – Venues must be able to accommodate all the digital devices (smartphones, laptops, iPads, etc.) brought by attendees. Reliable Wi-Fi and a strong cellular network are essential.
- Right Tech Staff – Look for a staff that is able to adapt to changing technology needs quickly.
- Adequate Storage – Look for a venue with reasonably priced storage. Many hotels are trying to charge so much that it is cheaper to just rent a guest room instead.
Source: “SEVEN EVENT VENUE MUST-HAVES FOR 2012” by Elaine Pofeldt in MPI’s one+ Magazine
Click here to read the full article
February 1, 2012
Scheduling Your Social Media
To help reign in your social media tasks from taking over your work day, think about creating a social media schedule. Set up a regular routine for particular social media actions to become more effective and efficient. Follow the six rules below to simplify your posts.
- Identify a time of day when you are free to be online
- Create a spreadsheet or simple to-do list
- Create a list of possible posts updated regularly (include links and other information you have come across online)
- Weekly, review these lists at a scheduled time and identify what action needs to be taken
- Set aside a few minutes 2-3 times a day to scan posts, respond to messages as well as collect and share links you have collected.
- Consider delegating some of the tasks to be even more efficient
Source: "Create a Social Media Schedule" from Social Media Coaching Center. Click here for more helpful articles.
January 25, 2012
5 Tips to Improving the Budgeting and Planning Process
It’s that time of year again to review your actual numbers and finalize your 2012 budget! Budgeting and Planning lay the foundation for an organization’s fiscal health and you need to make sure you make the best use of critical data. Below are 5 tips that can be taken this year to make a difference.
Are you getting the most out of your current tools? Most organizations use spreadsheets and the majority of excel users take advantage of very few of the package’s features. It may be beneficial to sit down an excel “expert” to walk you through your budgeting spreadsheets. Devote some time to improving templates to help benefit the end user of the budget. Do not spend time pulling together data and reconciling it, but spend time building plans from it!
- Focus on Material Items
It may be fun to count paper clips and laptops at the employee level, but in the grand scheme of things, it may be a waste of time. Use driver-based metrics whenever you can (e.g. budget laptops based on employee counts rather than calculating them separately). Driver based metrics are faster and allows you to focus on areas that can truly improve business performance.
- Be Honest
Focus on the end product and the needs of the organization. Communication around expectations will save time and effort and result in a happier budgeting process all around.
- Make Time to do it Right
Thinking about budget decisions and future direction is incredibly valuable if done right. It may be necessary to build a mental picture to see how the year will play out, but that cannot be done without having all of the information and input from staff members. Take the time and talk it out to get the full picture.
- Review and Improve
Keep track of what’s working and what’s not. If you consistently are over budget for certain items every year, start planning next year’s budget and think ahead while things are fresh in your mind from planning this year’s budget!
Source: "6 Steps to Improving the Budgeting and Planning Process" by Bill Brydges in Business Finance Magazine. Click here to read the full article.
January 18, 2012
New Year Provides New Opportunities To Review Membership Plan
Welcome to 2012! The holidays are over and it’s time to dust off the annual membership recruitment plan and make sure it’s still up-to-date. Include these six critical elements in the 2012.
Element #1: Economics
Determine a member’s worth. Analyze the scope of the member acquisition program and how much can be spent on recruiting.
Element #2: Target Market
Determine who you want to reach as a prospective member. Identify where potential members can be found. Examine target market for size, composition and competitors.
Element #3: Membership Offer
The offer is the second most important element in the success of membership recruitment. Effective incentives might include free months of membership, dues discounts, or premiums.
Element #4: Marketing Message
Tell your association’s story. A strong message conveys the offers and convinces prospects of reasons for joining. The message should be comprehensive, succinct and persuasive.
Element #5: Promotional Tactics
Tactics are the day-to-day decisions that execute the overall recruitment plan of your target audience.
Element #6: Testing and Tracking
Never stop examining recruitment effort results and comparing them with previous efforts. This requires patience and a willingness to risk some of the marketing budget to discover the optimum elements.
Keep your plan simple. Don’t spend more time planning than actually executing the plan. Just like your organization’s strategic plan, keep this plan a living document that can be updated to adjust for unforeseen challenges.
Source: Marketing General Incorporated: http://www.marketinggeneral.com/blog/category/tipster/
January 11, 2012
Economic Outlook for 2012
The economic outlook for 2012 has improved since last summer, both for the St. Louis region and the nation as a whole. Nonetheless, the recovery from the financial crisis and deep recession will continue to be slow and painful. Most importantly, real-estate markets have not yet stabilized, while employment and income growth remain weak. A bright spot for our region is that the housing boom and bust we experienced were less severe than elsewhere in the nation. On balance, the St. Louis economy is likely to continue its slow improvement.
Join us next week for Bill Emmons' full report on the economic outlook for 2012. Click here to register for the January 17th SLSAE Meeting.
January 4, 2012
4 Ways to Improve Outreach in 2012
The New Year is a great time for organizations to look at their marketing, communication and social media plan and find ways to integrate them. A good marketing plan consists of dialogue with your audience and social outreach. A New Year brings promise for something great and your organization can start by injecting social contagion into your outreach for 2012.
Katya Andresen of Network for Good provides four ideas to keep in mind while coming up your integrated marketing plan for 2012.
- Include social sharing links in all of your communication to encourage word of mouth marketing.
- Include quotes from members about why they support your organization on your website’s home page.
- Have members or volunteers write your next appeal detailing why they are involved and how they benefit from your organization.
- Remember that your greatest messengers are your current members and supporters so utilize them as much as you can.
Source: "Four ways to inject social contagion into your outreach in 2012," Katya's Non-Profit Marketing Blog: http://www.nonprofitmarketingblog.com/
December 28, 2011
7 Ways to Turnaround Meeting Attendance
In a recent Association Trends poll, trade associations and professional societies expressed surprise at higher-than-projected attendance this spring. But they remain only cautiously optimistic about future attendance as uncertainty about the US economy looms.
After 25+ years of managing conferences, workshops and meetings, I’ve found 7 ways that you can sustain growth in meeting attendance:
- Topics are key
- Advance notice importance
- Pre-conference publicity
- Post conference ... builds for the following year
- Live streaming extends value
- Presentation Styles/Strategies
- Price IS a factor
Click here to read the full article.
Source: Steve Drake, President, SCD Group
December 21, 2011
Do You Need a Social Media Policy?
A social media policy can become bogged down with so many restrictions that the spontaneity of the writer is missing. Social media policies need to be about what employees can do rather than what they can’t or shouldn’t do. According to Employment Lawyer, Heather Bussing, “…the more you control it, the more you will be legally responsible for everything that happens.” Her recommendation is to have a simple policy that promotes professionalism. Following are three of Heather Bussing’s reasons why your social media policy might backfire:
- Most Social Media Accounts Belong to the Employee.
If it is an account in the employee’s name, whether they use if for work or personal or both—it’s theirs and they get to say what they want.
If it is a blog or company page that belongs to the employer, the company is going to be liable for everything in it anyway.
- It’s Bad For Your Brand.
The effectiveness of social media is that it is more spontaneous and authentic—more real. If you dictate what can be said or require all posts to be approved, you lose that edge, as well as all the fun.
- If You Control It, It’s Yours.
If you have a comprehensive social media policy that dictates what can and cannot be discussed, you will have to pay someone to monitor what is being said, demand that inappropriate posts come down and discipline when the edicts are violated.
Under agency law, if you are directing the conduct of employees in social media, the company will be liable for everything that is said. If you are not controlling it, then the company generally will not be liable for things said and done in employees’ personal accounts. This is because the employees are not acting in the course of their employment and the employer is not controlling or implicitly approving the actions of its employees.
Click here for more tips and to read the full artile.
Source: HRExaminer.com, a magazine focused on the people, technology, ideas and careers of senior leaders in Human Resources and Human Capital. The company is located in Bodega Bay, California.
December 14, 2011
5 Ways to Reduce Your Organization's Fraud Risk
- Require a Background Check on all Employees
Background reports are great and inexpensive way to protect your organization’s culture and quality. It’s important to know who you’re hiring especially since the organization is essentially making an investment in that employee. Check for inconsistencies between the background report and the application. Also, take the time to call the previous employers and references listed in the application. Failing to utilize background checks could create additional liability for the organization
- Be Actively Involved in Your Organization’s Finances
Check your company’s bank balances and reconciliations. Pay attention to the expenditures on a monthly basis and compare the check log to the deposit slips. Make sure you open up the bank statement when it comes in the mail before you give it to your accounting staff (if you have the staff). If you’re a board member, reviewing bank statements can be even more important. Ask a specific question if something doesn’t seem recognizable. This really lets them know that you’re paying close attention!
- Limit Access to Key Data
All financial programs have ways to limit access to valuable information and you don’t need all employees to have access to that information! Each employee should be set up with their own passwords and controls. Also, safeguard your passwords and don’t post them on the computer with a sticky note.
- Establish Policies for Credit Card Purchases and Employee Reimbursements Reports
Be extremely careful when giving someone the privilege of the organization’s credit card. If you have staff that you give your company credit card to, establish specific rules for company credit card use and have employees sign contracts indicating that they will not make any personal purchases. Make sure to get back the original receipts!
- Increase the Perception of Getting Caught
One of the most effective deterrents to fraud occurrence is the perception of detection! Rarely people will commit fraud if they think they will get caught. Creating internal controls and communicate to your employees that those controls are reviewed and enforced can really help prevent fraud. If you’re a not-for-profit organization with a small staff, then this perception may need to come from the board of directors. Also, mandatory vacations, fraud education classes, and fraud hotlines all help to create and anti-fraud culture.
December 7, 2011
Value of Hearing the Voice of the Customer
Are you satisfied with what you know about your members? About what they want, need and expect from their relationship with your organization? What else would you like to know?
After hearing Lon Zimmerman's presentation on the Value of Hearing the Voice of the Customer you will understand why the ASAE and Center for Association Leadership's book, The 7 Measures of Success, stresses that "Remarkable associations build their structures, processes, and interactions…around assessing and fulfilling members’ needs and expectations."
Attend the SLSAE December lunch meeting on the 13th at Ces & Judy's Catering to get this information and much more. Click here to register.
November 30, 2011
Tips to Increase Member Renewal Rates
As December and January approaches, associations who use a calendar-based membership model are diligently working on renewals like a holiday shopper on Black Friday. Frantically mailing renewal invoices, calling lapsed members or expiring members all in an effort to get them to renew.
We all believe our associations offer great benefits and services and ask ourselves, perhaps in our minds, why wouldn’t everyone want to renew. As Cathi Hight with Hight Performance Group noted, “High satisfaction rates don’t guarantee renewals or long term loyalty to an association. Satisfaction has more to do with ‘rear view mirror’ than it does with ‘windshield’ or the future.”
Hight offers organizations, no matter when their renewal time is, 10 tips to increasing renewal rates. Some of these tips offered require changing the process or payment options and some require more commitment to focus on proactive, long term retention strategies. The following is a brief sample of some of the tips:
- Allow 24/7 online renewals;
- Offer multiple year memberships;
- Allow for more automatic credit card renewals; and
- Most importantly: develop a real retention plan.
Source: To learn more about these tips and the remaining tips, click here.
November 23, 2011
4 Simple Ways to Increase Email Open Rates
Last week, ASAE sent their bimonthly Marketing Insights newsletter which focuses on easy-to-implement strategies, tips and ideas for all different types of associations.
An attention getting article in this newsletter was, 4 Ways to Improve Your Open Rates by Mark Athitakis. Any organization that uses email newsletters to engage their current membership or attract new members understands how important it is to be aware of content, frequency, open rates and clicks and conversion.
The article provides four common sense tips from Brett Meyer, communications director of The Nonprofit Technology Network, to increase open rates that will, in turn, increase clicks and conversion.
- Segment your messages. People are more likely to open emails that are personalized and pertain to their interests and email marketing companies make it easy for you to separate email lists based on interests.
- Look for new segments. Our interests are always changing so be sure to watch for email trends and click through rates to identify new segments. Your audience will tell you what is important to them through the open rate and click through rate.
- Test different subject lines. Try sending the same email with different subject lines to identify what your audience reacts to. Always do a spam check to make sure your email is not getting lost.
- Clean your lists. After each email you send, check your spam rates and remove bad or broken email addresses. You want to make sure you are reaching people who want to hear from you.
These 4 tips are great to keep in mind next time you send an email newsletter, promotion or invitation to your membership.
How do you keep your audience engaged through email marketing?
Source: Associations Now, www.asaecenter.org
November 16, 2011
6 Reasons Why Your Organization Needs a Social Media Hub
By Colleen Dilenschneider, Know Your Own Bone
A hub is an important part of an online communication strategy. The hub serves as a landing page for engaging content (stories, videos, anecdotes, etc). The hub functions much like a blog– It is critical for community building and, unlike most websites for visitor serving organizations, it must be updated constantly. Some organizations merge website and blog formats successfully by integrating their hub directly into their website. The hub is a place where social media links are directed and content is aggregated. Not to mention, having a hub is resourceful and it makes achieving online goals a whole lot easier.
Here are six ways that your organization will benefit from having a social media hub:
1. The hub provides a consistent home for engaging content.
2. The hub provides an opportunity for the coordination and curation of stories.
3. The hub is an easy, go-to place for real and potential visitors and evangelists.
4. The hub allows you to direct messaging so it aligns with your social media goals.
5. The hub also allows you to direct links so that you can better achieve your social media goals.
6. The hub increases site visitation and the possibility of earned media… and it only gets better from there.
In sum, a hub is a critical way to harness interest in your organization. Without a hub, social media channels link out to YouTube, Flickr, Facebook statuses that are hard for interested parties to reference over time, various portions of an evolving website that may only be accessible for a few weeks, and other places. A hub gives an organization the opportunity to coordinate content, better meet social media goals, and tell a more compelling story online.
For the full story, click here.
November 9, 2011
Are You Attracting the Right Customers For Your Conference?
The customers at your conference include the paid registrants, exhibitors, and sponsors. Since your paid registrants are what attract your exhibitors and sponsors, attracting the right conference registrant who also posses buying power is vital. The following are the three steps to finding the right conference registrant.
- Getting to Know Them
Identify the segments within your market. Determine which are your top three segments, which have the most potential for growth, which have the most qualified economic buyers, and what are their needs and wants. Once the segments have been identified, content and experiences can be designed to attract the appropriate customers.
- Identifying the Economic Buyer
The economic buyer is the one who has his own budget and ability to purchase goods and services.
- Selling a Conference Experience
It is easiest to sell a conference in an atmosphere of need. When your conference aligns with your customers’ greatest needs, it will be easier to sell. If the customer can see the value, there will be less reliance on sales tactics to boost attendance.
Source: Event & Meeting Planning by Jeff Hurt, October 11, 2011
Click here to read the full article.
November 2 , 2011
9 Ways to Become a Better Board Member Today
- Educate yourself on both your industry and your association
Too many board members don’t even know all the programs and services their association offers.
- Do your homework before meetings
Read the background materials, understand the issues to be discussed, and take part in online pre-meeting discussions. (Board leaders should also make certain they understand the decisions that need to be made. If you are to lead the dialogue in a decision-making process, you must be clear on what the board actually needs to decide on.)
- Be an engaged listener
Don’t plan what you’re going to say while someone else is speaking. Actually listen to what people are saying. Ask questions so you understand all views.
- Have an open mind
Don’t solidify your opinions before you hear the views of your peers. Be open to all possibilities, and don’t tune out what you don’t agree with.
- Learn and use facilitation skills
Use open-ended questions, rephrasing, and other skills to help to draw out ideas. This is very important for all board members, but essential for board leaders. In fact, I believe facilitation is the most under-rated board leadership skill of all. Leadership is not just about running the board meeting according to the agenda; it’s about promoting full and rich dialogue, encouraging all board members to contribute, and ensuring that you get the best out of the board as a team.
- Respect the board’s time
No "me too's" or trying to restate what the last three people said, just to go on record as having said it. Don’t ask questions that could have been answered by reading the background materials. Don’t engage in side conversations or other disruptive behavior. (Board leaders, your role here is to set reasonable ground rules for dialogue that the whole board can agree to. Once the rules are established, any board member should feel comfortable speaking up when the board steps outside those parameters).
- Respect board decisions and be a full participant
Don’t be silent during discussions and then share your real views later in the hallways; support all decisions of the board publically.
- Lead change and don’t resist it
Ask tough but non-confrontational questions. See out all voices, both supporters and detractors (this is a critical role for board leaders to play). Build relationships and trust across the organization. Help your board, staff, and membership to be ready for change in your industry and your association.
- Challenge yourself and grow as a leader
Seek out professional development opportunities to further your leadership skills. Mentor new board members and prospective ones. Share your experiences and insights. Board leaders who are ambassadors for the experience of association leadership can ensure their associations have an ample pipeline of qualified, enthusiastic future leaders.
Ultimately, the choices are yours. What kind of board member do you want to be? What kind of relationships do you want to build? What kind of impact do you want to have? What kind of difference do you want to make?
Source: Jean S. Frankel, President of Ideas for Action, LLC, in Boca Raton, Florida. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 26, 2011
Is Your Association Giving Members Reasons to Join?
In this down economy, members are demanding a return on their investment. With the internet and independent vendors, members can access all kinds of professional development and networking for free.
Today, associations should focus on “outcome-based member benefits.” Outcome-based member benefits are benefits that add value to their businesses and/or lives. Are your member benefits enhancing their profitability or providing a valuable service?
In the article, "What Are You Giving Your Members?" based on her book, The End of Membership as We Know It, Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University, says associations that fail to deliver member value fall into three categories and provides a Member Benefits Matrix for associations to use to help measure the success of your benefits and if these benefits are meeting the core needs of your members.
The three categories of organizations are:
- Scrooge Associations: Associations notorious for nickel-and-diming members - charge too much and give too little.
- Milk Associations: Paid membership offers little exclusivity or access - difficult to distinguish between the benefits of joining or just paying a la carte services.
- Antique Associations: These associations have benefits that have been around for many years but are in decline because no longer relevant.
Sladek says, “The most successful member benefits solve a problem or deliver a positive experience or emotion.” For more information about developing a Member Benefits Matrix click here.
Source: Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University. This article is excerpted from her new book, The End of Membership as We Know It, which is available in the ASAE Bookstore at www.asaecenter.org.
October 19, 2011
5 Tips to Writing for the Web
With so much information at our members and customers finger tips, it’s becoming even more important to make sure that we are communicating effectively with our audience. A great way to create a community, encourage discussions and build your brand following is though your association’s blog. Blog readers want information handed to them in an easy-to-read format.
Heather Markovich of Social Nicole provides some best practice blog writing advice to help you tackle the “skim” reading technique of many blog readers.
- Be Prepared – Before you start a blog post, make sure you know what you want to say. Your goal should be to get your message across effectively in a short amount of time.
- Headlines Matter – Headlines and headings are a great way to draw your readers in and keep them engaged. You can make reading easy by separating out your points and adding section headers to new thoughts.
- Keep it Short and Sweet – You don’t know what device your reader will be using to catch up on your latest news so keep paragraphs short and broken up.
- Bold your Words – Be creative in your writing and when you really want to get a point across, use the “bold” button. It’s a great way to highlight the important points in your post.
- Engage with Comments – Enabling an easy-to-manage comment section to your blog is a great way to start a conversation with your readers. DISQUS is a popular commenting system that allows readers to easily comment and share the conversation across the web.
How can you make your association’s blog more readable?
For more tips and to read the full article, click here.
Source: Socialnicole.com is a virtual agency that brings together the best and brightest digital communications talent and helps clients improve their community building through social networks. Find out more information at www.socialnicole.com.
October 12, 2011
10 Ways to Use Presentatons to Promote Your Association
- Post the speaker Power Points to Slideshare.net (a channel in name of your organization)
- Live stream the event (free) on your organization’s YouTube channel or via UStream
- Write and post a blog featuring the presentation’s key points
- Tweet small chunks along with links to Slideshare, the blog and the Ustream video
- Take key points of the presentation, create a 7-10 slide Power Point and post to your website
- Record the presentation and create a podcast posted to your website
- Conduct an audio and video interview with your speaker to create a video cast
- Curate the post by linking/adding related blog writings from your organization
- Monitor and respond to comments
- Combine all Power Point summaries into a “best of the conference” Power Point and blog
- Post to your Slideshare channel
- Post to your website
- Tweet the links
Source: Steve Drake, President, SCD Group Inc.
October 5, 2011
4 Ideas Your Event Can Learn from a Japanese Steakhouse
In a recent blog post from Jay S. Daughtry, M.Ed., entitled What Your Event Should Learn from a Japanese Steakhouse, he parallels his experiences as an attendee at events, conferences, meetings and seminars with his recent experience at a Japanese steakhouse. How can meeting planners ensure that their attendees are finding value in attending an Association event? An abbreviated version of his post is below, but make sure you click here for the full story.
Here are Jay’s probing questions, which each meeting planner and association professional should ask of themselves during the meeting planning process:
- Immerse people in the culture- ...What are you doing to immerse them in the culture of your organization, its message, and the awesome learning and networking opportunities you’re offering them?
- Give choices but not too many- A Japanese steakhouse offers a few entree choices, mostly steak (thus the name “steakhouse”) and seafood. They’re not trying to be [...] any other restaurant that offers you a food catalog when they seat you.[ ...] Similarly, is your organization trying to be all things to all people? Perhaps it’s time to re-focus on your core competencies, the topics that your members and/or attendees look to you for when it comes to valued content.
- Give people a peek behind the curtain- ... Are there ways that you can give attendees a glimpse of staging areas- literal and/or virtual? Can you make them active participants before the conference? Think about it. Simple accessibility may make the event more meaningful to them. It could also make the meeting a more powerful learning experience for delegates as they gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the association.
- Make it fun, even a little goofy- ... Most people will tell their friends what made them laugh more than they’ll tell them the latest statistic or trend. ...
So I challenge any meeting planner or Association Executive who relies on an annual meeting or conference for the lion’s share of their annual budget, to take a long look at the attendee experience. How can your event provide an interactive and engaging environment and leave your attendees wanting to come back again...?
Source: Jay S. Daughtry, M.Ed. @ChatterBachs is the Founder of ChatterBachs… Composing Social Media Strategies. A social media and communications consulting firm and an Association Executive at TMA Resources. You can follow his blog at http://chatterbachs.wordpress.com/.
September 28, 2011
4 Ideas to Engage Busy Volunteers
Have you ever had problems managing volunteers or keeping volunteers engaged? Let’s face it, we’re all very busy people. Often times, volunteers are feeling too busy and sometimes lose sight of why there are there in the first place. Here are a few tips on how to better engage volunteers:
Try to celebrate your volunteers in a balanced way and avoid always celebrating the martyrs! When associations have challenges getting or keeping volunteers, there is often a correlating martyr culture in the organization; meaning that those who do the heavy lifting are the only ones who are valued. If the only volunteers who are celebrated are the ones who throw their lives out of balance, then you may see a decreased number of volunteers who don’t feel appreciated. So an awareness of your culture and a shift to balanced glory can definitely help keep volunteers involved in their meaningful work.
- Lack of Training
Many volunteer leaders don’t know how to lead! They know how to boss people around and tell them what to do, but they need to know how to bring others with them and encourage them. They also need to know how delegate so the work gets done. Good leaders know not only how to do, but how to teach someone else to do it, so they in turn, can teach others. Training can make a big difference!
- Poorly Run Meetings
Given that volunteering can happen at meetings, it’s worth noting that they need to be engaged here too. If meetings are boring and don’t give volunteers opportunities to participate in meaningful ways, then why do they need to attend? Keep them involved!
- Linking Value to Time
Showcase the relevant value individuals get when they participate as volunteers. Everyone has a hot button for the value of their time. Your leaders need to become effective at helping volunteers see both the value received and given from their participation. It can be as simple as asking at the end of meetings or events, “What did we accomplish today?”
Source: MICROSTAFF Digest for Wednesday, August 31, 2011
September 21 , 2011
Member Retention Strategy is Just as Important as Member Recruitment Strategy
In these tough economic times keeping members can be a struggle. Many organizations spend valuable resources on member recruitment campaigns and believe the tactics and strategies will also help them with their retention.
According to customer relationship expert Frederick Reichheld, organizations can increase their revenue just by retaining five percent of their members. Associations must ensure they provide adequate member benefits and incentives for members to renew.
Tips for retaining members:
- Remind members of the benefits –Members need to be constantly reminded of the benefits and not just at renewal time…
- Keep your promises –Make sure your association is able to effectively deliver the services your organization provides...
- Provide value beyond the expected benefits – Members expect the basic services for their membership investment. Consider opportunities to provide additional value for their membership…
- Create a sense of belonging to foster loyalty – Engage your members by giving them an opportunity to communicate with you and with their colleagues…
- Make your association relevant – Members need to believe their membership holds personal value. Associations can foster this by creating special events or interest groups of association members…
- Strategic Renewal Campaigns – Consider offering members an incentive to renew their membership…
- Create membership levels for members to aspire to – Reward members for their commitment. Consider incentives and rewards that include the prestige of a senior membership level…
- Reward Loyalty – Make long-time members feel valued…
Source: Third Sector Magazine, August 2011, Membership Marketing: 8 Tips for Retaining Members written by Jacinta Hannaford and Candice De Chalain. Click here to read the full article.
September 14 , 2011
Marketing Lessons from the Ice Cream Man
How many times have you hear "The Entertainer" playing down the street, grabbed your money, and ran outside only to find the ice cream truck already down the street? Do you wonder if he ever sells any ice cream because you can't be the only one missing the truck almost every time?
The ice cream man's marketing strategy or lack there of presents 3 valuable lessons for the association world.
- Frequency (Drive slowly!) - Give your audience the opportunity to respond and react. It is also important to repeat this message to ensure that you have gotten their attention.
- Being frequent isn't enough (You can't park the truck) - Make attempts to contact the right people at the right time rather than everyone all the time only. Try to send only the information that is pertinent to them and leave out everything else.
- Avoid "carpet bombing" strategies (You can't park the truck in front of my house and blast "The Entertainer" for an hour in the evening) - By emailing everyone the same campaign over and over again members will lose interest and start ignoring emails.
Source: marketing lessons from the ice cream man by Steve Thomas
Click here to read the full article.
September 7 , 2011
The Folly of Friending
Think social media has finally provided you with the quiet "sneak peak" you needed before you hire that recent job candidate? Do you believe that friending your employees is great for moral?
These issues, and more, are on the minds of today's employers operating in a world saturated by social networking. Just when you start to get the notion you can finally see what people are doing in their personal lives - and how it may impact the job they perform for you - you may not see the huge chasm of potential liability opening up in front of you.
Why would social media present a challenge to employers? Should you friend a job candidate? How could you possibly get into hot water for not hiring someone because you saw the recent party photos online?
To hear answers to these and other questions regarding the use of social media in the workplace, be sure to attend the upcoming SLSAE meeting featuring Social Media Challenges for Employers, a presentation by Jennifer J. Raymond, a Partner with The Stolar Partnership LLP.
August 31, 2011
8 Notable Thoughts from #ASAE11
- Ethics: You need courage to address lapses in judgement (@GregWilsonCAE)
- Mission Statement: If you can't fit it on a t-shirt, people are not going to remember it. (@ashleyhodak)
- Board: Be consistent with your communication to your Board, it helps them understand and be engaged. (@bkpitman)
- Board: If you want your board to be strategic and not operational, they need to meet less. (@ashleyhodak)
- Board: A good board needs to be able to say no. (@healthywrtr)
- Value: We create value in 3 ways for members - make them smarter, save them money, make life easier. (@Lowellmatthew)
- Change: No one was ever extraordinary by keeping things the same. (@hospicedave)
- Change: The "leave no member behind" mentality is killing us. (@BillSheridan)
Source: AE on the Verge: 24 thoughts for Assocation Execs - picked up virtually from #ASAE11
Click here for full blog post.
August 24, 2011
8 Technology/Social Media Tips from #ASAE11
- Ask members to link back to your site to improve your linkability (help if you aren't sure how) (@ljunker)
- Polls on your site can improve SEO because they are content that naturally evolves and changes. (@ljunker)
- Save your PowerPoint presentation as a PDF. (@adamsharkwebb)
- Mobile friendly emails should be 1 column, no photos, stories short & sweet. (@LaurenMangnall)
- 64% of e-mails are opened on a smart phone so we must design e-marketing for them. (@marianazario)
- People will accept bad video but not bad audio. (@prbrian)
- Poll Everywhere provides real time audience response system. (@gfinecae)
- Member outreach - send onesie with association logo to members with new baby - have them send pic back for association Facebook page. (@Lowellmatthew)
Source: AE on the Verge: 24 thoughts for Assocation Execs - picked up virtually from #ASAE11
Click here for full blog post.
August 17, 2011
Tips from ASAE 2011
As most of you already know, the ASAE Annual Meeting and Expo 2011 was held in St. Louis August 6-9. ASAE offered an abundance of industry related education sessions as well as the camaraderie of networking with about 5,400 association professionals. This event was a huge success for both St. Louis and the association community.
Several SLSAE members shared of some ideas they took from the ASAE meeting. Did you attend the ASAE convention? What were the best ideas/tips you learned? Please email it to email@example.com and it may be featured as a future Tip of the Week.
- How ready is your website for mobile devices?
If you have not already done so, a good tip might be to use a smartphone and/or iPad to navigate your website so you can experience your site from this vantage point. When looking to make your website more accessible via mobile devices, remember most of these devices are personal devices and therefore it is viewed as coming into someone personal space. Make things easy and accessible that someone would want to do from a mobile device. Your whole website does not need to be optimized for mobile devices as some of the content could be irrelevant for a mobile user.
- For great example, on your computer, go to www.southwest.com … and then, on your smart phone, go to mobile.southwest.com … See the difference? What do you members and prospects get when they use their smart phone to go to your website??
- Creative Whack Pack.
Want to do some creative thinking?? An illustrated deck of 64 creative thinking strategies that will whack you out of habitual thought patterns and enable you to look at your life and actions in a fresh way. Use the cards alone or with others to seek innovative solutions to issues. Created by best-selling author von Oech, the cards have been used by many organizations, including NASA, in strategy development and problem solving. Complete with detailed instructions. And yes there is an app for that…
- Attracting the next generation.
If we want to attract and keep gen X and Yers to our associations as members and employees, our associations need to be progressive and utilizing the latest technologies. According to a couple of speakers of whom I do not recall where they got their stats, to attract and retain generation X and Y to our associations as employees, it’s not the salary and benefits that are necessary do this but the tools we are using. If we are not using social media and making our information available via mobile devices, then we may have a hard time retaining these individuals as employees and keeping then engaged as members.
- Are using QR codes?
There was a great deal of talk about them at the recent ASAE annual meeting in St. Louis. According to Wikipedia, a “QR code (abbreviated from Quick Response code) is a specific matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) that is readable by dedicated QR readers, smartphones, and, to a less common extent, computers with Webcams. The code consists of black modules arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded may be text, URL, or other data.”
You’ve probably seen more and more of these square barcodes lately. Generally, they’re used to link to a Web site. Here’s a great tip: For your next convention or annual meeting, use one on the cover of your promotional brochure to link to the meeting’s promotional page on your Web site. Or use them throughout the brochure to link to a variety of promotional pages on your Web site. Since these codes are free to create, go ahead and jump right in, and create one for your next event.
- Search engines like new content
… so change the content of your home page frequently. Engage visitors to your site with quick surveys such as: “Are you going to the next meeting?”
- As an employer, be careful how you use social media
… to determine the suitability of a candidate. That person may not be really as they may appear (good or bad). As a prospective employee, be very careful how you use social media to portray yourself to the general public and, thus, potential employers. Millennials don’t seem to truly grasp (or care) what future implications posting personal comments and photos may have on their careers. The seeming lack of modesty or lack of concern about privacy by Millennials is difficult for previous generations to understand.
- Engagement of members is important at every stage:
- Making phone calls to ask members to serve on committees - it still works
- New member welcome breakfasts are a hit
- Parade your 50+ year members through the seats at your event or down the aisle of a trade show
- Survey your members to find out what they like best about being a member and their needs
- Have two surveys – one for engaged members and one for non engaged members – then share survey results with the members
- Consider having a mentoring program, but realize that younger members have a lot to share also with the established member. It will be a win – win for both sides
- Generations X and Y value the opportunity to Lead, Learn and Make a difference.
- Every 8 seconds someone will turn 65. Make use of your retiring members. Their years of experience are priceless and it can serve you well to harness that knowledge to train and recruit others.
- If your member loses their job you may want to consider allowing them to stay a member at no charge for one year. This creates loyalty and helps them find a job.
- Your instincts aren’t always right.
In “Create Outrageously Effective Marketing Materials,” presenter Ron Rosenberg threw out several commonly held marketing beliefs. For one, “junked up” almost always beats “pretty” when it comes to design. As marketers, we strive to make our promotions/materials look clean, professional and “pretty” when in fact it’s often the busier, cluttered, or “out there” designs that capture the eye and the attention of the recipient. Also, don’t be afraid to bring up objections to your product/service/meeting in your marketing. The tendency is to shy away from negatives, but they’re already there in your members’ minds so it’s better to address them up front and explain how you’re going to overcome them.
- Vote with your feet – change to different breakout session
One of the lessons I took away was probably not one that ASAE planned for. On the second day of the conference, I found myself in a session that just wasn’t what I was looking for. Heeding a co-worker’s advice, I got up and walked out and ended up wandering into the session next door – “What We’re Learning from What We’re Reading.” It certainly wasn’t a session that caught my eye in the program book – it wasn’t a hot topic or a big-name speaker. I mean, let’s face it, how engaging or relevant can a session about books be? Turns out I was dead wrong, and it taught me an important lesson about meeting content. Don’t be afraid to shake up your meeting formats and try something new … if you find people who are passionate about the subject, you’ll almost never fail. The Ignite sessions may have been the big attention-getter at ASAE, but this session, which for all practical purposes was a staged “book club” had an equally jam-packed audience. Ultimately, meeting attendees are looking for ideas/tools/resources they can take home to improve themselves and their businesses – it’s time to think about new ways to design and structure your sessions to do just that.
- Free tools increase productivity
Beth Ziesensis (AskBetZ.com) calls herself “your nerdy best friend” and she offered some awesome free online tools that help increase productivity and efficiency. As someone who creates power points and uses “screen capture” (you know the “control prtScn” function on your keyboard), I am finding jin (techsmith.com/jing) to be an awesome time saving tool for screen capturing. Beth offered a 2-page handout on various tools and had a chance to preview several of them. By the way, one of the free tools (that I’ve not yet used) is Remember The Milk (rememberthemilk.com) which is a free “to do list” tool.
- Peter Sheehan was an entertaining and motivating speaker.
He challenged us to not just think outside of the box, but in my words “turned the box upside down and use it as a stage” as we embrace new ways of thinking. This may be why one of Peter’s bestselling books, Fl!p, is an international best seller and emphasizes the need for leaders to have mindset flexibility.
I loved Peter Sheahan’s statement that “Innovation isn’t sexy.” Innovation isn’t just the big ideas that make headlines, it’s the down-and-dirty work we do in the trenches to improve our day-to-day processes.
July 27, 2011
Non-Dues Revenue Ideas
Last week’s SLSAE luncheon featured lively roundtable discussions on non-dues revenue generation. Each table shared various ideas to raise funds that can be especially helpful during these challenging economic times. In case you missed the meeting, here are a few ideas that were shared:
- Bring conferences and conventions to lower tier cities. These cities are often much lower cost and very accommodating to do business with.
- Partner with other similar organizations for trade shows or conferences in order to split some of the expenses. Sponsors may also be willing to shell out more money since they only have to travel to one city instead of two or three.
- Create an exclusive sponsorship program in which one sponsor supports an event or promotion year after year. For example, an XYZ Company Educational Conference or the ABC Membership Referral Contest.
- Offer webinars as an alternative to live educational meetings. This allows your association to still gain meeting revenue, while giving the member the flexibility to receive the information without having to physically travel to a meeting.
- Include a “donate now” button on all levels of your website. This allows visitors to easily donate to your association without needing to hunt around your website to do so.
- Use early bird pricing structures to "soften the blow" of price increases. By giving members the opportunity to pay last year’s fee if registered by a specific date, everyone will not be as upset about the price increase and you will still gain additional revenue from your "last minute" registrants.
- Customize your sponsorship packages. By giving your sponsor a package more suited to their individual need; they will be more likely to become a sponsor and continue to do so in years to come.
July 20, 2011
QR Codes: The Next Generation of Marketing Technology
For those who may not already know, QR codes (short for “quick response” or “quick ready”) are the small bar codes that you see popping up all over advertisements, products, and storefronts. The goal of a QR code is to attract attention and provide the user with additional information. The popularity of QR codes is rapidly increasing as they are a great way to integrate technology into your marketing plan.
Free QR code technology can be easily found on the web. When a QR code is created, it is linked to a URL. When consumers scan the code with their smart phones they will be sent to this URL, so it is imperative that the consumers find value at this URL. These codes can be used to serve a variety of functions. For example, in a conference setting, attendees can scan the code to get real time updates on conference activities. Another use would be to allow higher level sponsors to set-up a code on their promotional material that would link attendees to additional information on their products or services. It is recommended that you do not have the URL set to your regular website, but instead a specially designed mobile site. Mobile websites can be designed for smart phones with content that is more easily downloaded and navigated.
Although the technology to create a QR code may be free, the development of the materials to go along with the code is not. These costs are variable depending upon the technology needs of your association. Remember to do your research before you dive right in to ensure that you are providing your members with a new, fully functional program.
Source: Marketing Insights, July 2011 written by Marilyn Mages, CAE
Click here to read the full article
July 13, 2011
6 Lessons to Serve Members Better
Two years ago, the Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) decided to make service a priority as both a tool of membership retention and value of their staff. The following are some lessons they learned throughout at this process.
- Start with the Best and Never Stop Training
The ability to empathize with members is crucial and is key skill to seek in future employees during the interview process. Empathy allows employees to go above and beyond in their response and service to the members. Constant training with customer-service experts as well as employee recognize of good service helps to keep this value as a priority in the daily activities of each employee.
- Mistakes are Opportunities
You may not be able to control mistakes, but you can control the response to these mistakes. By surveying your members, you can get their feedback on the areas in which you are excelling, but more importantly the areas that need improvement. By responding to the members concerns, you are getting the chance to build a positive relationship that otherwise may not have been formed.
- Examine Every Interaction
Even seemingly insignificant interactions create your members’ overall perception of service. For example, what is the response time for an email sent to your generic account? Test it by using an anonymous email account to really understand their point of view.
- The Abundance Mentality
Actively seek ways to over-deliver to both members and fellow employees. EO sees this a commitment to work together to exceed expectations.
- Be Proactive
Be aware of how you show your commitment to your members. There are many high impact, low cost ways to reach your members. Try to reach out to them before they have to come to you asking.
- Measure Your Progress
Create goals and metrics to track your progress on achieving these goals and survey your members to measure changes from year to year.
Now, does this work? EO was able to keep their retention rate between 85 and 90% in a down economy. Surveys also show that their ratings on staff interaction improve each year. EO plans to continue this initiative in the future as they say, “we know that excellent member service may not make a member stay, but bad member service can easily be the reason a member leaves.”
Source: ASSOCIATIONS NOW, June 2011, Feature written by Miranda Barrett
Click here to read the full article
July 6, 2011
Four Tips to Integrate Social Media into E-Marketing
Most of us are very familiar with the use of email marketing in our associations. We are also aware of the impact that social media is continuing to have on the association world. However, the combination of these two efforts can prove to be most powerful. By combining social media along with an email campaign members become more engaged with your content while making each member a potential asset in your marketing campaigns.
Here are four tips for using social media in conjunction with email marketing:
Source: ASSOCIATIONS NOW, May 2011, Community now written by Michael Al-Megdad
- Take advantage of your social media pages by allowing visitors to sign-up for your e-newsletters or mailing list. This way your Facebook fans, Twitter followers, or blog readers can easily subscribe to the rest of your communications.
- Analyze the benefits of all your communication efforts and how they can work together. For example, in an email blast you can easily send long, detailed versions of your content and then use Facebook or Twitter for short, quick updates or reminders related to this same content.
- Incorporate "share" functionality from your email provider. This will allow your readers to re-post this content through their own social media outlets.
- Be sure to analyze your efforts. By tracking conversations on the various outlets, you will be able to determine the content most appropriate for each medium.
Click here to read the full article
June 29, 2011
The Ins and Outs of Workplace Etiquette
How often do you see employees constantly on smartphones during meetings, failing to return important phone calls, or leaving a mess in the common kitchen area? Poor workplace etiquette has unfortunately become rather common in many organizations today. However, these issues are not limited to just lower-level employees. Managers are also often caught berating employees in public, unethically using their power, or taking credit for the work of others.
In order to tackle these issues, managers must be proactive in addressing them by intervening promptly and appropriately. It is also important that a manager addresses the issues with the same respect they would require of their employees. Workplace etiquette needs to follow a top-down approach. Employees won't conform if their managers won't, and managers won't conform if the senior executives ignore the behavior. Remember that bad behavior affects all levels of an organization.
Here are a few ways for organizations to proactively address workplace-etiquette issues:
- Develop appropriate policies and procedures.
- Train managers to respond appropriately to violations of workplace etiquette.
- Include training on etiquette during orientation.
- Develop a culture of mutual respect with management defining the norm for the organization.
- Deal swiftly with managers who violate etiquette guidelines.
- Establish multiple avenues for conflict resolution.
- Provide training on etiquette that incorporates role playing, so employees have concrete examples of what's expected of them.
- Develop an awards program for employees who exhibit excellence, leadership, or civility.
- Tailor interventions to the specific workplace.
- Bring in a consultant or specialist if the issue is to difficult to handle internally.
Source: ASSOCIATIONS NOW, June 2011, Intelligence written by Lisa G. Phillips
Click here to read the full article
June 22, 2011
Smart Steps for Online Continuing Education
There are a variety of points to consider as you assess your online Continuing Education (CE) technology options. Below are the elements to research as you begin the process:
- Course production. Online programs often start as live events captured on video. Some are created as webinars, specifically for online use. In either case, high production value is a must. Most course participants have been exposed to quality streaming video, so the bar has been set.
- Online catalog. A well-designed course catalog sets the stage for the complete online CE experience. Make it easy and pleasant for your participants to shop for courses. Also make it easy to find the course catalog on your website. Look for catalogs designed specifically for education content. Everything from search and filtering to navigation and merchandising are notably different.
- Registration. A well-designed registration process is simple and secure. Once your customers have found the courses they're interested in, sign up should be painless.
- Order processing. Participants expect a shopping cart that works as well as the big online retailers. On the back end, sales transactions should be handled in a way that helps your organization manage the business of online CE.
- Participant notification. Savvy participants expect to receive purchase notification, login information, and event reminders once they've registered. Providing real-time login information with registration confirmations requires integrating the delivery infrastructure with the rest of the system.
- Course delivery. Smooth delivery requires the proper infrastructure. A distributed content delivery network provides scalability, performance, and redundancy so programs are delivered with quality, consistency, and reliability.
- Evaluation. Tracking and testing capabilities are not only the mark of a professional online CE program but also a necessity if you provide accredited content.
- Certification. Once a licensing body determines the criteria for certification, you will need to deploy tools that prove completion and competency. Methods used by CE management systems include: time tracking, polling, online affidavits, and embedded participation codes.
- Reporting. From attendance to test results to revenue reports, managing an online CE program requires accurate, detailed input. An automated reporting system is critical for a well-managed program.
- Self-service. Providing a mechanism for self-service is critical for a scalable CE program. End users must be able to easily launch or download programs, complete tests and evaluations, and obtain certificates and transaction receipts—without help. This will help ensure that your organization isn't overwhelmed by customer support requirements.
- Customer support. As with any online undertaking, online CE invites a range of potential problems that can require customer support.
Focusing on these 11 elements and how they are to be accomplished will help your organization assess the needs of your members. Is that all there is? No. But it's a big head start.
Source: ASSOCIATIONS NOW, June 2011, Supplements written by Brian Giuffrida
Click here to read the full article
June 15, 2011
Two Strategic Corporate Blogging Tips Often Forgotten
Joe Pulizzi, content marketing strategist and speaker from yesterday's SLSAE luncheon meeting and Drake Forum, shares the following on his blog as well as numerous other tips.
It is imperative to remember that the purpose of an association's blog is to attract and/or retain members. However, the following key components are often overlooked causing the blog to be less effective.
- Calls to Action - Every blog post should have some call to action. If at all possible, you want to see a behavior change or action taken (behavior change is core to the definition of content marketing).
- Blog to Many - One blog post is just a part of something bigger. For example the blog post could be a part of a larger eBook or an actual printed book.
Most of the time it's not about developing more content...it's about being smarter with the content we are already creating.
Source: The Content Marketing Revolution: A Blog by Joe Pulizzi published June 1, 2011
Click here to check out other blog posts.
June 8, 2011
Race for Relevance
At the SLSAE June CEO Special Interest Group, Harrison Coerver presented an overview of his new book Race of Relevance: Radical Changes for Associations . The presentation and conversation were certainly thought-provoking.
Harrison noted that there is a new environment in which associations are functioning. We underestimate the time pressure of our members. Expectations of value and return on investment are more pronounced than in previous generations. Associations are not homogeneous organizations anymore. There is tremendous diversity in our memberships. Generational values as they relate to associations have changed dramatically. There is competition from specialty organizations for everything…especially education. There is a technology gap that needs to be bridged. Associations cannot operate successfully with static technology in digital/mobile world.
He recommends five radical changes that associations must do to win the Race for Relevance.
Have a five-member competency-based Board. This is key to the other four changes. Boards need to be composed for performance, not based on a sense of entitlement. The selection process needs to be very carefully managed. (Nobody said this would be easy.)
Empower the CEO and new staff skill sets. The objective is to optimize human capital. You need to get the most bang for the volunteer and staff time spent. More and more associations are bringing industry expertise on staff to assist/consult with members.
Rigorously define the member market. Markets are dynamic. Make sure that you are serving a market that still exists. If you have a smaller market, membership will be a higher value-added.
Rationalize programs and services. Associations are trying to be all things to all people and doing too much. Volume does not equal value. Ask yourself, “How many businesses can we be in?” There is power in a narrow product line.
Build a robust technology framework. One of the more significant takeaways from the conversation was that associations need to have a technology mindset. The mantra today is to take the association to the member rather than expecting the member to come to your events and conferences. Harrison noted that today, most associations spend 4% of their total revenue on technology. The investment in technology should be more like 8-10% of their revenue. He noted that most associations spend more on food and beverage than they do on technology.
Harrison noted that there are four strategies for success:
Ask the “keystone” questions.
Data…strong data wins the argument every time.
Matrix analysis….look at all the options and compare.
Political skill….successful association professionals have astute political skill. These skills are necessary to successfully lead any association.
For more information, visit www.raceforrelevance.com.
Beth Quick-Andrews, CAE
St. Louis Society of Association Executives
June 1, 2011
10 Ways to Get More Out of Your Videos
YouTube is now the number-two search engine after Google. Mobile web use grew 110 percent in 2010, with video being a large part of the consumption. What does all this mean for your branding, marketing, and fundraising projects?
It means you have more and more channels for telling your association's story through the personal narratives that video captures so well. Having produced hundreds of videos for advocacy, motivation, education, and marketing, I recommend the following 10 best practices for video content. They'll help you tell your most compelling stories while keeping your content organized and achieving your best return on investment.
- Know your brand
Understanding your brand will help define your creative approach, the most important element in your video toolkit.
- Know your target audience
If you don't spend time thinking about your audiences, you can waste a lot of time and money on video that doesn't connect.
- Know your goals
Each goal will require a different creative and technical approach, from camera selection and editing style to your list of interviewees and music.
- Know your workflow and tools
These days, high-definition video at 720p and a 16:9 aspect ratio is the minimum standard. To avoid lengthy digitizing sessions and ensure great-looking images, shoot with cameras that record to P2 cards or optical disc rather than tape. On the editing side, develop a system for identifying your footage so it's accessible not just for this project but also future productions.
- Understand your formats
How your content looks has an impact on viewers' perception of your brand and the effectiveness of your story.
- Know your budget
Offer vendors a targeted understanding of your audience, your goals, and your organization, along with a narrow budget range. Also consider the number of views you expect so you can better assess the cost-per-impression.
- Consider downstream uses
If you plan right, you can multipurpose your raw content for other projects.
- Build your library
If you're going to multipurpose your content, you need a system to archive and manage your media assets.
- Measure impact
How will your roll out your video? How will you measure the video's effectiveness? How can you drive traffic to it?
- Remember that communicating about your mission is as essential as achieving it
Be sure both staff and stakeholders understand it's their mission to think about how video or photography could communicate what they do every day so your association can harness these tools to tell its story.
Source: Communication News, April 2011 written by Amy DeLouise
Click here to read the complete article
May 25, 2011
Tips to Make Transportation At Your Conference Greener
Your conference is paperless. Attendees eat local food on china with metal silverware. There is not a styrofoam cup or plastic water bottle in sight. And you even found a hotel that composts food scraps and powers its air conditioning with wind. You're not green, you're emerald. But can you do more?
Here are some often overlooked, innovative ways to move people while being environmentally friendly.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Bikes
- Supply links to train and bus schedules, routes, and prices, which can be cheaper than airfare.
- Facilitate car pooling to the conference the same way you promote room sharing.
- For the brave—not to mention fit—hire a bike-tour company to provide a guided ride from a major city to the conference.
- Engage the city's bike-sharing program to transport attendees to event destinations.
Location, Location, Location
- Choose event places situated within walking distance of each other.
- Preadvertise train, subway, or public bus routes and fares to transport attendees from airport to hotel. Make it easy for your attendees to purchase a multiday fare pass.
- Work with the local chamber of commerce for walking routes to conference events and nearby tourist locations.
- Make common-sense decisions based on the season and location. For example, it's best not to plan a lot of walking in San Antonio in August or biking in Minneapolis in January.
People-powered movement provides tremendous opportunities for conferences to enrich the event experience, engage the attendee through multiple learning styles, and maybe move people to be more green.
Source: ASAE Meetings & Expositions, May 2011 written by Julie Stetler
Click here to read the full article.
May 18, 2011
Selling Change: 6 Ways to Engage Members in Your Rebranding Process
In order to successfully rebrand your association, it is essential to involve your members in this process. Last year, Safe States Alliance underwent a complete organizational rebranding in which they changed their name, logo, vision, mission, and goals. Their main goal throughout this process was to create an new identity that was a true reflection of their members. If you are considering rebranding your association, it is recommended that you follow the six strategies below to ensure success.
- Allow Members to Set the Pace of Change
By letting your members move at their own pace, they will feel as though they are involved in the transition. This will help the transition to go more smoothly and be accepted by the membership.
- Obtain Buy-in From Leaders in Your Membership
Be sure that your leadership embraces this change. Your leadership is going to be the one approached with the questions and concerns of your membership and they need to be prepared.
- Conduct Focus Groups with Members
Get formal feedback from your members and partners. Focus groups will allow you to gain valuable opinions from your members.
- Survey Members for Feedback on Specific Brand Elements
Allow members to rate your current brand and express their opinions on the changes they would like to see in the new identity of the association.
- Make the Rebranding Process Democratic
While members may not have the final say in all elements of the rebranding, give them a chance to choose at least one element. This will allow them to feel more engaged in the rebranding process and more comfortable with the changes when presented.
- Give Members All the Credit
Reinforce that the opinions and feedback from your membership was valuable in the rebranding process. This will help to set a positive tone with new and existing members when promoting the new brand.
Source: ASAE Martketing Insights, March 2011 written by Jamila Porter and Amy Woodward
May 11, 2011
4 Steps to Tracking Your Social Media Efforts
Think of social media as a content delivery tool much like your association publications or website. So that means it's just as important to know what, why and when you are “publishing” and tracking these results to measure your effectiveness. Here's one way to go about it:
Source: Drake & Company – http://blog.drakeco.com
- Start today. Even if you're just getting started in social media, now's the time to start tracking. Getting a baseline helps you set goals for the future and measure whether you've been able to accomplish these goals
- Determine the key metrics for your social media strategy. In the case of many associations, you'll be measuring across multiple sites – Twitter, Facebook, blogs, YouTube, LinkedIn, etc. Key stats may include frequency of posting, number of fans/followers, number of re-tweets/click-throughs, frequency of comments, referral traffic to website, etc. Spend some time exploring the built-in metrics on the various sites, such as Facebook Insights or Blogger stats, so you know what's available to you.
- Create a spreadsheet for tracking. A basic Excel spreadsheet is really all you need to get started – just set it up with each metric as a column header. At Drake & Company , these measurements help our staff stay on top of our content goals as well as measure whether the effectiveness of our efforts. We prefer to keep all of our sites on one spreadsheet to easily compare the effectiveness of different social media sites. For example, if we've had a huge increase in our Twitter followers but our Facebook page is stagnant, it might be a sign that we need to devote more time in this area.
- Set goals and track your results frequently. Stats are only helpful if you take the time to record, review and share them. We update our stats monthly - but you'll need to figure out what works for your organization.
May 4, 2011
Need a Nudge in Your Networking?
Are you constantly finding the same groups of people sitting together at every meeting? Are you looking for a new tactic to break up your association's cliques? Hopefully the tips below submitted by various members of the ASAE listserve will help increase networking at your upcoming meeting or event.
- Have board members separate and sit with other members of the association instead of all at the same table.
- Label each table with some defining characteristic, such as birth month or a color that everyone is wearing and have attendees sit at the appropriate table.
- Give each person a "dance card" with people they should find during networking such as dog owners or the oldest child in their family. The first person to finish their card will win a prize.
- Ask each person to write down 3 open ended questions and give a minimum number of people they need to get to answer their questions before sitting down.
- Provide a common place object at each table and give each person a few minutes to create a new use for this object. Have each person share their new invention.
- Have a few discussion topics at each table that can be used to kick-off conversation.
Remember to keep simplicity in mind when devising a networking activity. If it is too complicated, your attendees may get confused or discouraged and decide to disregard the activity all together. Hopefully, these tips should not only get your attendees to mingle, but it should also create some interesting conversation.
If you have some of your own networking tips or ideas, feel free to submit them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will feature them on the website or in a future tip.
April 27, 2011
You're So Vain … You Probably Think Your Content's About You
In “ 10 Reasons Why Your Content Marketing is Killing You ,” Joe Pulizzi tops the list with “selfish content marketing.” As associations, the usual gut reaction to this is, “How can we possibly be selfish? Everything we do is for our members!”
While true, you wouldn't always know it from reading your typical association promotions:
“ABC is the premier national trade show and convention for … make plans now to attend!”
“ABC is the largest association for … contribute now!”
“ABC offers the following member benefits … join now!”
We're all guilty of this. We're proud of the work we do and the products/services that we offer members, so we want to tell them about it. But how often do we talk about “them” instead of “us”? How often do we address their “pain points”? If the content you're providing isn't addressing their needs or solving their problems, members will eventually tune you out.
When's the last time you asked your members, “What's keeping you up at night?” Or, “what about this industry makes you excited to get up in the morning?” Try it on your next member survey, or the next time you're talking to one at a meeting. You might be surprised at the answers. These answers should be the starting point for your content strategy. Your content – from articles and publications to webinars and meetings – should be centered around these challenges and opportunities. In addition to serving your current membership, providing this content can help attract and convert prospective members.
Source: Drake & Company – http://www.blog.drakeco.com
April 20, 2011
Think that Twitter is A Useless Waste of Time…Think Again!
In a recent blog post from Joe P.R. Guy, he tells how ONE tweet to a local reporter turned into a TV story seen all over the United States. Click here for the full story.
Joe P.R. Guy also previewed the results of his Phoenix media survey regarding social media. Some 120 Phoenix-area journalists responded to an online survey that investigates specifics of how they are using social media in their professional roles: Consider this….
99% say they use Twitter
92% characterize Twitter as a useful media resource
80% said they have received a story tip from the general public on Twitter
76% say they have found a source to interview via Twitter
Here are a few reasons why Twitter needs to be a part of your association's communication strategy.
Reach a wider audience. Twitter and other social media tools enable you to reach, not only your current constituencies (members, prospects, sponsors, etc.), but also a much larger audience who has an interest in your industry or profession.
Become a recognized “authority” in your industry or profession. It is often said that you can't control the message when using social media. This is true…to an extent. You can't control the reach of your message. But you can tell the story. You have the opportunity to produce and distribute as much authoritative content about your industry or profession. The search capabilities of Twitter enable anyone to search for information on anything. By participating in and monitoring the “conversation,” you can be viewed as trusted resource.
Proactive Risk Management. Shortly after I joined Twitter, I started following quite a few different people, including an investigative reporter from one of the local television stations. I noticed in a tweet from this reporter, that he/she was looking to speak “off the record” with housekeeping staff at one of the downtown hotel properties. I quickly copied the tweet and e-mailed it to a client of mine who was the Director of Sales at that hotel. He thanked me and immediately called the reporter to find out what was going on. This stopped what could have been a very damaging story not only to this downtown property, but to the larger St. Louis travel and tourism community.
You may be saying to yourself, I just don't have the time to keep on top of all of this Twitter stuff. The more important question is “can you afford not to?”
April 13, 2011
You're Talking … But Are Your Members Listening?
As associations, we're churning out content on a daily basis in the form of magazines, newsletters, white papers, videos, social media postings, emails, websites and more. But how do we know our messages are really getting through to members?
Here are a few ways to evaluate the success (or failure) of your content strategy:
Member/Reader Surveys – The simplest way is to ask! With the availability of free online survey tools, there's no excuse not to regularly check in with members. But try to get beyond the standard “Rate XYZ on a scale from 1 to 5” or “How often do you read XYZ?” You want to ask questions that help you understand how members use the publication – how much time they spend reading, which sections/types of content prefer, how often they pass it along to others, how long they keep it, etc.
Email, Website & Social Media Metrics– If your association creates digital content, tracking key metrics can help you judge whether your strategy is effective. And you don't have to shell out big bucks for complicated services – simple tools like Google Analytics or Facebook Insights can often provide the information you need. If you don't have someone on your staff or board assigned to monitor metrics, start today.
Communications Audit – Sometimes what you really need is a fresh set of eyes. All too often, associations wait to conduct an outside audit because there's not an immediate problem or complaint. But do you really want to wait until your board or membership is pushing for an immediate overhaul to determine where your problem areas are? Think of an audit as a check-up for the health of your content. ( Click here for more on what an audit entails.)
If your budget won't allow for a professional communications audit or you have a specific issue to address (i.e. a lackluster magazine), consider a “critique exchange” with another association. We all have our sacred cows and blind spots – putting your content in the hands of someone without this baggage can be an eye-opening experience.
Source: Drake & Company – http://blog.drakeco.com/