Monday, April 30, 2012

Are association (and governmental) boards too big?

If you’ve read Race to Relevance, you know that Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers observed that “most associations are tradition driven, slow and risk averse.”

They note that large boards are cumbersome, slow, full of political entanglements and difficult to manage. And, if you’ve ever been involved in a large board of directors (as I have), you know the truth of these points.

Coerver and Byers offered five recommended changes beginning with overhauling the governance model by reducing the size of the boards.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

7 Readings of the Week for Association Professionals

Here are some articles you and others on your association management team should consider reading and discussing. As you know, I believe we in associations can learn valuable lessons from others outside our nonprofit world. So, as always, please remember to substitute the word association for “company” or “business” or “marketer” in the articles to see how they might impact your association.

8 Core Beliefs of Extraordinary Bosses
From Geoffrey James in Inc. I interviewed some of the most successful CEOs in the world in order to discover their management secrets. I learned that the "best of the best" tend to share the following eight core beliefs.

  1. Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.
  2. A company is a community, not a machine.
  3. Management is service, not control.
  4. My employees are my peers, not my children.
  5. Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.
  6. Change equals growth, not pain.
  7. Technology offers empowerment, not automation.
  8. Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Apple, the Post Office & Associations: Where Do Associations Go from Here?

Two intriguing stories ran in the media this week highlight choices for association management and association professionals:

Congress Working on Bailout for U.S. Post Office

  • "Our business model is broken,” Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe said in an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  “We have insufficient revenue to cover our costs. If the Postal Service were a private company, we would be engaged in Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings."
  • The cost of the Senate bill could prove a major sticking point. The Congressional Budget Office says the bill would cost $33.6 billion over 10 years. Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who is on the Senate budget panel, will try to block the bill, saying it's too pricey.
  • The Postal Service, an independent government agency, says it wants to deal with declining volume and $12 billion in debt by closing up to 252 mail-processing centers, shutting down 3,700 post offices and eliminating about 100,000 jobs. Otherwise, the agency says, it will lose about $14 billion by the end of the year and could run out of the cash it needs to handle day-to-day operations as early as this fall. The agency says the cuts it is seeking would save $6.5 billion a year.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

ATTENTION ASSOCIATIONS: Who is Answering Your Incoming Calls?

Depending on the size of your association, probably a receptionist or a team designated to answer incoming calls. Right?

A more important question for today: Who is answering when your members or prospects are “calling your association” via Facebook or Twitter or LinkedIn or Pinterest? Anyone? Everyone? No one?

Does your association have a chief listening officer? If not, why not?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What’s Your Association’s ROI for Resources Allocated to Conventions/Meetings?

Whether a big annual meeting or local seminars, most associations devote a major portion of their budgets and staff time to conferences.

My question: Is the association getting the full benefits of the budgets invested in meetings?

In my experience, most of the time and resources are devoted to planning and executing the conference. Maximizing the value of the content generated at the conference seems to be an after-thought for most organizations.

Most conferences are a gold mine of content (information, knowledge, education or whatever you call it). But, most of that content is shared only with those members who attend the event. Many conferences feature one or more “highly paid” speakers. And most of us fail to get the full value from our investment in these speakers.

All this means the association’s resources are wasted on a few rather than devoted to adding value to members and nonmembers and the industry or profession you serve.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Disappearing Icons: Will Your Association Join the List?

Several American icons are disappearing.
The laundry list of disappearing or dying “icons” continues to grow. Here’s what I’ve spotted just in 2012:

Sunday, April 22, 2012

BEST OF THE WEEK: 9 Content Marketing/Management Lessons for Associations

Today, I’m focusing the Best of the Week on the topic of content marketing and management ... an area of great importance to associations and association management professionals.
  • Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience - with the objective of driving profitable customer (member) action.
  • Content management is the set of processes and technologies that support the collection, managing, and publishing of information in any form or medium. This information is typically referred to as content. Digital content may take the form of text (such as documents), multimedia files (such as audio or video files), or any other file type that follows a content lifecycle requiring management.
I hope you find these articles of value.  Feel free to share them with your staff and/or association colleagues.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Will radio ads boost your association membership?

I was driving to the Post Office the other day and heard a commercial for a St. Louis-area VFW post.

The commercial appeared to be part awareness campaign and partly designed as a member recruitment campaign too.
I was surprised.

This was for a single post not the whole VFW organization.

Why a radio ad? Is broadcasting to prospects and a whole lot of non-prospects the best approach?

Did it work? Unfortunately, I’ve not been able to get this VFW Post to respond to my questions.

I looked at the VFW’s website ... there was no link to “join.”

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Jazz and A Kid with Cardboard Boxes: Can Associations Energize Creativity & Innovation?

Innovation and creativity seem to be the current rage in the association and nonprofit communities.

Those of us attending the ASAE Great Ideas Conference were enthralled as John Kao  entertained and inspired us on a jazz piano and a live video connection with a jazz pianist in San Diego. (FYI: using 4-5 notes suggested by the audience, the San Diego pianist improvised a tune ... he was playing it in San Diego and, thanks to an internet connection, also playing the keyboard on the piano in Colorado Springs. Interesting technology for collaborative efforts for organizations!)

“Every note is a choice,” John told us. “When we understand the rules (of jazz), we can throw them out and create/innovate. The rules allow jazz musicians to play together. It allows us to be in a community and to play up when others are better than you.”

Interesting: learn the rules so you can throw them out and be creative.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Question Today: “How do you get your association members from snailmail to twitter?”

Seriously, that is the question a colleague of mine was asked during an interview to be the CEO of a local association here in St. Louis.

Here’s the email I received from my colleague:
 “The question of the day...How do you get your members from snailmail to twitter??????? I was asked this in an interview...I'd love to see some of the answers to this.”

As I probed, my friend says the organization is eager to get younger professionals to join the association.
 “They are thinking Twitter but what they need is a strategy to get young professionals to join. They aren’t coming to meetings because some of the older members aren’t even using email.”

My first response to my friend was:

Monday, April 16, 2012

Marketing the Association in the Digital Era: 5 Tips on Mobile

Five AMC professionals shared 60 ideas/tips on marketing the association in the digital age at the recent ASAE Great Ideas Conference. The ideas were shared in 5 categories: 
  • Integrated Marketing 
  • Twitter &/or IM 
  • Mobile &/or QR Codes 
  • Facebook &/or LinkedIn 
  • Blogs, Websites &/or Slide Share
Over the next week or so, I’ll share the top 5 ideas in each of the 5 major categories and any of the ideas the audience surfaced. You can click here for the full PowerPoint.  This week, we're focusing on the Mobile/QR Code tips. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

7 Readings of the Week for Association Professionals

Ok, based on your comments and emails, it appears that you like the weekly digest of articles important for association CEOs and other staff professionals. So, I plan to increases the frequency of the “readings of the week” to a couple of times a month. Please use the comments of this section to let me know the kinds of articles you would like to see in the best of the week.

Here are 7 articles from the past week:

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lurkers & Mailboxers: same association member type but different generations??

From Mailboxers to Lurkers, most association members still "sit on the sidelines" watching.
During our panel session at the ASAE Great Ideas Conference (Marketing the Association in the Digital Era), someone – noting limited participation in association social media sites – asked why we advocated involvement in social media marketing.

Interesting question.

Which made me recall the “mailboxer” label and what it means for associations today.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Oops: Address Glitch Doesn’t Impress Your Association’s Members or Prospects

After returning from the ASAE Great Ideas Conference, I received a postcard from a vendor encouraging me to visit them at the conference.

The postcard’s late arrival was only a small problem.

The bigger issue:

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Honk or Help: A Choice for Association Professionals

On the way to the grocery store this morning, the folks ahead of me didn’t move when the light turned green. While I was trying to figure out what was going on, the driver behind me started blasting his horn. I finally determined one of the cars upfront had stalled and I pulled into the next lane and continued on my way.

This situation reminded me of a story that Buck (Merle) McCann, the volunteer president of the American Soybean Association, told the board of directors many years ago.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Association Professionals: Build an audience before you need it

While this headline is a mantra for associations and nonprofits, it also applies to association professionals and our careers.

In the last two weeks, I’ve had calls or emails from five friends/colleagues who are out of work.

My overall question to all is: Why wait until you are out of work to build your audience?

Today’s social media platforms allow you to network globally, to become a thought leader and to keep your knowledge/skills fresh.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Best of the Week: 7 Valuable Articles for Association Management Professionals

Here are seven articles association management professionals will find of value.  Again, for those that are about companies/businesses, remember to substitute "association" for

Do People Still Use Fax Machines? - Assoc Life
After months of designing, building and testing, the new online membership renewal system is online and waiting for your members! But what comes next completely overwhelms your office and your staff. No, it’s not a jam-packed email inbox - it has nothing to do with emails at all.  It’s the fax machine! Here are three thoughts from 
Support Services Unlimited: (1) Remove your fax number from all forms, especially the electronic ones! (2) Start phasing out your fax number on all communications (email signature, etc.). (3) Make the online process incredibly intuitive with large submission buttons and simple instructions.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

10 lessons for Association Management Professionals from Ice Hockey

Yes, that's me.  Dressed for senior team photo (left). And, game shot (right) ... even had my head up!
A quote in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch column on St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock caught my eye and reminded me of the lessons I learned while playing varsity hockey at Ohio State. And, since the NHL playoffs are beginning, it seems appropriate to talk about the lessons hockey provides association management.

Here’s the quote:
"There comes a time when you have to make a decision whether you're going to coach people that play hockey, or you're going to coach hockey," Hitchcock said. "And there's a difference. I enjoy people as much or more than I do the game. I'm not a hockey junkie. I am a people junkie. I love working with people. For me my focus here from Day One was coming in and enjoying people. Because I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to do this."

I learned to play ice hockey on a farm pond and ended up playing varsity hockey at Ohio State. My first coach was an “old-school” hockey teacher from Canada. It didn’t take him long to learn that I wasn’t schooled in hockey knowledge (or talent!). During one practice he shouted “Drake, you would be a better hockey player if you were more mobile, agile and hostile.” I’ve not forgotten his words (with a Canadian accent) and, as you see below, feel that they apply to association management.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Will Your Association Face a Kodak Moment?

The Last Kodak Moment?  From Claudio Munoz in The Economist
Remember the marketing phase “Kodak moment?” Well, technology has changed the definition.

This winter, the Kodak moment changed from a rare moment captured in a gorgeous photo to the near death of a large (seemingly stable) American corporation at least partly because technology and its customers (members) passed it by.

A couple of recent headlines and a blog post got me to thinking about whether associations will adapt or die in their version of the new Kodak moment.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Content Marketing Builds Associations 4 Ways

Managing Content Marketing, the relatively new book from Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, offers valuable information for associations and nonprofits interested in connecting with their members and prospects.

If you’ve been reading SCDdaily, you know that I strongly believe content management and content marketing are core functions of associations and nonprofits. You may call it education or publications or something similar but it all refers to the content that we create (whether in journals, conferences or the like).

While the book is written mostly for business-2-business markers, it offers great insight for associations and nonprofits.

Monday, April 2, 2012

11 Tips for Association PR professionals AND CEOs

Before becoming an association professional, I worked as an Associated Press (AP) reporter and a college public relations director. It was great training for my career in association management!

One lesson I never forgot came as a result of my role as a sports information director for a Division III college in Michigan. One Friday afternoon, a sports reporter from the Detroit Free Press called and asked if I would be attending the football game at another Michigan school about two hours away. “Yes,” I said. “Would you call me with the results of the game,” he asked. “Well, I can, but the home team is responsible for calling in the scores and highlights,” I said. His response stunned me and offered a lifelong lesson for PR professionals. “I know,” he said, “but they never call if they lose.” No wonder our opponent didn’t get much positive coverage in the media!

Tip 1. Share the good and bad with the news media and you will build credibility that will help your association in the long-run.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Marketing the Association in the Social Media Era: 11 1-minute crowd-sourced tips from Ideas12

I facilitated a panel of association marketing professionals at last week’s ASAE Great Ideas Conference. Our topic: Marketing the Association in the Google+ Era.

We closed the session with roundtables during which participants provided their ideas and tips.

Each table shared one tip with the standing room only audience.

Here are the tips as recorded by Jeannie Sheehy of the Bostrom Corporation:
  1. Group put together Facebook ad to increase their likes – cost was $500 and it greatly increased the likes on their site and trained their membership about Facebook.
  2. Twitter & personality – selected Board members and volunteers tweet when out visiting residents and advocacy contacts – let’s the membership know what’s going on from an individual leader perspective.