Sunday, February 26, 2012

Best of the Week: 7 articles important for Association Management Professionals

One of the goals of SCDdaily is to provide association management professionals links to articles and content that stimulate thinking about our work. I especially seek articles that you may miss in your regular reading. Each article here includes a summary and a link to the full story.

Here’s the best from the past week.Content Marketing: A 35-minute video conversation with Joe Pulizzi
“Blog posts. Email. Social. Webinars. Every quarter brings a next big thing (hello, Pinterest). With so many moving parts, how can you find the time to evolve your content strategy for optimal results?” What association management professional hasn’t echoed these comments? Hope you have time for this interview. And, plan to attend a special Content Management for Associations and Nonprofits which will be held in Columbus (OH) just prior to the Content Marketing World Conference September 4-6, 2012.
Content marketing is about companies (read associations) telling stories that attract and retain customers (read members). We want to be the content: creating valuable, compelling, relevant content story telling on a consistent basis that will attract and retain customers (members). We want to have customers (members) find us on the Web. If you want to grow your business (association), you need to be one of the leading experts in your nitch.
In this conversation, we covered several topics from his new book, Managing Content Marketing, including:
  • How to identify your best niches and become an expert in them.
  • Why you need to pay more attention to your customers’ buying cycle than your sales cycle.
  • How to use customer pain points to create content that gets more traffic and leads.
  • Ways to not just repackage content, but reimagine it and stretch its value for different audiences.
  • Which stats and analytics you need to know (and which ones execs don’t care about).
Why the 21st Century Author is an Internet Entrepreneur 
From Brian Clark’s Entreproducer eletter.
As you read this article, please be thinking how your association can “build an audience before you try to sell memberships or other services.”

Twenty-six year-old Amanda Hocking doesn’t fit existing stereotypes of Internet entrepreneurs. Amanda’s been profiled in the Times and many other places because she’s sold around $2,000,000 in ebooks — without a publisher. On the first day, Amanda sold 5 books. The next day provided similar results. A couple of months later, things got out of hand: June 2010, she sold 6,000 books; July 2010, 10,000 books; January 2011, over 100,000 books; Summer of 2011, 9,000 books each day!
The Key: One way or another, you need to build an audience. And the smart entrepreneurial approach for authors involves creating free online content to build that audience before you try to sell a book (or anything else). Your first book is simply your first product, no matter the level of artistry you put into it, and your biggest asset is your audience. Successfully market something ... which is specifically not limited to ebook publishing. Once you have an audience, the door opens to consulting, paid speaking, software, innovative new platform launches, and more.

Apple’s Secret Weapon Against Windows 8  From ZD Net
As you read these key comments, be thinking about your association and its membership programming ... Especially the three highlighted points. (Highlights are mine.)

Many people seem to think that Apple’s ’secret sauce’ advantage over Microsoft is that it (1) controls both the hardware and the software, allowing it to bring to customers a controlled experience that Microsoft working through OEMs can’t match. That’s certainly an advantage, but most consumers aren’t switched on enough to recognize the advantage that this offers. Others seem to think that it’s the (2) excellent customer service the company offers. Again, that certainly helps, but if good customer service were paramount, companies offering bad service would have hit a wall a long time ago. And then there are those that think that Apple’s power lies (3) in the healthy profit margin it commands for its hardware that’s allowed it to accumulate billions in the bank, giving it the opportunity to step outside of the mass market and offer something better (or at least different). Again, I’m sure that this helps in that it’s allowed Apple to be innovative and take chances when bringing a product to market, but there’s a big difference between bringing a new product to market and selling said product. So what is this secret weapon that Apple is bringing to the table with OS X 10.8 that gives it an advantage over Microsoft’s Windows 8? One word - integration.

Technology Soars as Economic Driver 
From USA Today interview with Ben Horowitz
This article offers hints at why associations need to go mobile quickly: that’s where our members and prospects are. A “new app” linked to an “old website” won’t cut it.

We are in a super special time in technology. The number of people on the Internet means you can reach a giant market very quickly, reaching 2 billion people much faster than ever before in the history of business. The number of people on the Internet with smartphones is set to double over the next four or five years. At the same time, there have been a number of platforms that have come out, such as mobile computing, cloud computing. Thirdly, there’s social networking. The important thing about mobile is, everybody has a computer in their pocket. The implications of so many people connected to the Internet all the time from the standpoint of education is incredible. Also incredible is people know their location, everybody’s got a GPS in their pocket.

7 Tips to Bring the Customer Experience Mindset to Every Department
Posted by Linda Ireland in
Who in your association is responsible for a member’s experience? A prospects experience? Are there lessons in here for your association’s member relations efforts?

Summary Points:
  1. Appoint executive-level accountability for customer experience.
  2. Define a target, or ideal experience, for your product, brand and whole organization.
  3. Get crystal clear about your target customer experience.
  4. Require customer experience goals in annual operating plans.
  5. Add overall measures of customer experience to enterprise metrics.
  6. Define target or ideal experience for non-customer constituencies, too.
  7. Practice “positive conspiracy.”
5 Ideas to Help You Learn More About Your Content’s Audience
 By Wayne English for Content Marketing Institute
Associations (like businesses) can create and distribute more engaging content when they have increased knowledge of member needs and interests. While many associations have done readership surveys, conference evaluations and market research, this article provides additional ways to determine what stories interest your members and potential members.

Creating great content requires more than skilled writing. It requires market research and personal conversation so that your content will anticipate the audience’s needs and be well targeted to address those needs.Before you start to write, you need to know what information your readers will want to see on your blog, website, or social networking campaign. You need to know what will be relevant and important enough to command their attention. Think of ways you can make their lives easier, more fun, more informed, or more efficient. 

Here are five ideas to help you learn more about your content’s audience:
  1. Create a contest
  2. Organize an online scavenger hunt
  3. Offer a free report or white paper
  4. Provide a coupon
  5. Offer a discount on your conference or seminar registration fees
When CMOs Learn to Love Data, They'll Be VIPs in the C-Suite
By Natalie Zmuda in AdAge
Companies are using data mining to better serve their customers. And, customers experiencing this targeting will soon expect a similar experience from their associations and professional societies. In addition to this post, see my blog Associations & Micro-targeting: How/What Target Knows

Macy's, for example, is mining customer data in partnership with customer-insights specialist dunnhumbyUSA to better understand shopping preferences and behavior. That enables Macy's to make informed marketing decisions by looking at the day or even the time consumers prefer to shop. It can also offer solutions; for example, a black handbag to complement the black shoes just purchased. "Those are the kinds of things we've started to do with customer data so we're not polluting her mailbox, so we're not guiding her through a 98-page [catalog] when the first 50 pages aren't relevant," said Macy's CMO Martine Reardon. "This fell to marketing, because we are the team of people that really have the customer on our minds 100% of the time."

Companies that are already established in gathering and analyzing customer data include credit-card companies, as well as other direct marketers such as Geico and Dell , said David Williams, chairman-CEO of CRM agency Merkle. Retailers, consumer-packaged-goods and health-care companies are trailing.

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