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:

Make room at the top of your team: Behind the rise of the chief customer officer

More and more companies are reconfiguring their C Suites to accommodate a new kind of chief: the chief of customers, according to this post in Inc. The CCO has one key responsibility: to ensure that the customer is taken into consideration at all times, in all departments, and in all major decisions. The title emerged in the late 1990s; back then, customer chiefs functioned primarily as advocates for customers. But CCOs have begun to play a much more important strategic role, says Curtis Bingham, founder and executive director of the CCO Council, a professional organization founded in 2008. That makes sense, given the growing importance of customer relationships in maintaining a business's competitive advantage, says John Abele, a global managing partner at executive search firm Heidrick & Struggles. "Ownership of the customer has become just as important as, if not more important than, operations," Abele says.
Impact for Associations: A parallel position might be the association’s Chief Listening Officer. Who is monitoring what is being said about your association? Who is taking the member’s point of view in strategic discussions. (Note: the board suffers from the “curse of knowledge” and know too much about the organization. Who is looking out for the “typical member?”)

5 Ways You Are Preventing Your Audience From Growing
While most marketers want to build an audience for their content marketing, without realizing it, they often hinder its ability to reach more people. (Note: This comes before getting your content discovered and distributing your content marketing.) Does this sound familiar? If so, you may be holding your content marketing captive.
Impact for Associations: Nearly all associations invest significant funds for marketing materials: it might be membership recruitment or retention; promotional materials for conferences or webinars; or an advocacy appeal. You can use these five ideas from Heidi Cohen to evaluate your materials and see how you can improve the results.

Gen Y, Millenials, Digital Natives: Whatever you call them, they are changing us
As you may know, I’ve been following research on the impact of Generation Y for nearly 10 years and have given multiple presentations on this topic to a host of associations. Digital Natives are those who came of age knowing how to interact with technology and how to use it to their advantage. Within five years (by 2017), they will have more spending power than any other generation in America. Three really important generational articles ran in the last 10 days:
My Way, Right Way, Why Pay? A Sitel research paper.
Digital Natives: How they are changing the content marketing game.
Young 'Digital Natives' Switch Media Every Two Minutes.
Impact for Associations: This vast (nearly 80 million people) emerging generation will radically change associations and nonprofits. They will be your members. They will be your boards and committees. Some associations won’t adapt in time to survive. If you don’t have time to read these articles (especially the Sitel research which is 19 pages), I’ll be writing a post about the millenials in the next 10 days.

3 Strategies for Becoming More Mobile Friendly
Website traffic from mobile devices doubled between 2010 and 2011, which is just one reason why your association needs to think about a mobile strategy. Here are some tips on how associations can build a mobile platform that keeps on-the-go members engaged. The importance of mobile as a consumer connection channel has been well documented. Armed with an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of wireless gadgetry, legions of consumers are performing searches and accessing company websites via smartphones and tablet devices.Based on current trends, the mobile moment has also arrived for nonprofits and associations. It is becoming critical for nonprofit organizations to incorporate mobile more fully into their e-commerce and marketing strategies.
Impact for Associations: This is more than an app. Go Mobile Association. Go Mobile! See my 11/17 blog by this name. If you want to see an example of “going mobile,” compare two Southwest Airline websites: it’s main website ( and – via your smartphone – go to See the difference? Does your association have something similar?

Content Marketing Lessons from The Daily Show
I don’t watch The Daily Show but I am a fan of ideas and strategies that help create impact for our work and communications. This short article from summarizes four key points that helped make The Daily Show a highly rated cable show.
Impact for Associations: The lessons seem clear: hire the right people; find your focus; discover inspiration outside your industry or profession; and become a trusted resource. Four keys to creating and maintaining a vibrant association.

Will You Be E-Mailing This Column? It’s Awesome
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have intensively studied the New York Times list of most-e-mailed articles, checking it every 15 minutes for more than six months, analyzing the content of thousands of articles and controlling for factors like the placement in the paper or on the Web home page. The results are surprising. People preferred e-mailing articles with positive rather than negative themes, and they liked to send long articles on intellectually challenging topics. Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list.
Impact for Associations: What are you posting or emailing to members and prospects? Is it positive and awe-inspiring? Does your organization produce research that would make a great story that members email to others?

How to Attend a Conference as Yourself 
Interesting post from the Harvard Business Review with a focus on the “networking” process at conferences. This comes from the point of view of someone who really doesn’t like “networking.”
Impact for Associations: Read this article from the perspective of one of your members. Think about those who really don’t like traditional “networking events” at your conference. Then, design programs or events that help them engage with others at your conferences.

What if this kid had gone to soccer camp instead?
This is an inspiring video about a youngster who used cardboard boxes to create an arcade.
Impact for Associations: I see two possibilities in this video. First, that you don’t need to spend $75,000 (as the GSA did) to build teamwork or inspire creativity. A few card board boxes can work! Secondly, it demonstrates how a video strategy might promote your association.

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