Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Integrated Marketing Tip for Associations and Nonprofit Organizations

Shared by Betsy Wintringer, Director of Marketing, Association Management Center

Before you begin digital marketing, consider the desired outcome when developing a social media strategy and make sure it aligns. And ensure it is supported by your marketing plan. They must both work towards the same goals.
Tip: What is Your Goal

Click here to download a free copy of AMC’s Best Practices in Social Media: A Resource Guide for Associations.


This is just one tip from Marketing Tips in Social Media Age: Sharing Solutions & Solving Problems that will be presented and discussed at the 2012 ASAE Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX.

During the session, five association marketing executives are sharing six tips each. The session will conclude with roundtable discussion during which attendees will surface other tips and ideas.

The session (with the ID: #ASAE12 LD3) will be held from 1:30 – 2:45 p.m., Sunday, August 12.

Monday, July 30, 2012

8 Great Articles to Help Associations Grow with Content Marketing

Here are 7 articles that help associations and nonprofit organizations build content marketing capacity that helps extend their thought leadership, advance their profession/industry and add member value.

7 Content Marketing Lessons from Napoleon Hill 

By Joe Pulizzi via Content Marketing Institute
Napoleon Hill’s classic Think and Grow Rich was first published back in 1937. Now, in its 75th anniversary year, Mr. Hill’s lessons are still extremely relevant and valuable, even today. I had the opportunity to dust off my version of Think and Grow Rich (from 1960, with dog-eared and coffee-stained pages) last week during a brief golf holiday. In its relation to content marketing, I noticed some clear takeaways that most corporate marketers simply do not embrace. In the book, there are 15 powerful chapters that are helpful to all individuals, but seven chapters were spot-on relevant to content marketing.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Using Stories and Member Perceptions to Shape Your Association’s Strategic Planning Process

Guest Post by Jim Schnurbusch, founder of OrgStory 

You’re a board member of an association and you’ve been asked to describe the benefits members receive and why your association would be attractive to those for which it’s intended. 

You can respond to that question, can’t you? Of course you can – you certainly know what you think would be the pat answers (if you’re in trouble you can always go to your association’s web site to find copy points) – probably something like, “great education and networking resource, terrific lunch meetings” – sound familiar? 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Are you engaging your association members 24/7?

Like it or not, we live in a 24/7 world.

Unfortunately, association are staffed (laws, job descriptions, culture) for a 40-hour world.

Our typical members are 24/7. 

They experience 24/7 engagement/connection with most of their life: whether ordering a book from Amazon, purchasing a computer from Dell or ordering concert tickets.

The dilemma? 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Reverse Mentoring and Associations

Guest Blog By Maddie Grant, SocialFish
Two months ago, I wrote an article detailing what I perceived (and still perceive) as some of the most pressing failures of contemporary association recruiting tactics. You can read the entire article if you haven’t already, but I’d like to return to my suggestions for improvement near the end of the article.
But first, a very short introduction to the logical development of this thought:

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Time or Money: Which is the Biggest Challenge for Your Association or Nonprofit?

As associations and nonprofit organizations, we have multiple competitors.
In fact, every other business, charity, association or entertainer is our competition.

No way!

Yes, really.

In two major ways ...

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.
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 your biggest challenge: time or money?

Please complete this 3-question survey before July 31.

I’ll post the results in August.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Association Strategy: Hire Slower, Fire Faster

Guest post by Carl Greenberg, Ph.D., CEO of Pragmatic HR Consulting, LLC

Throughout my career I have encountered two common situations. Employers consistently want to hire someone to fill a position yesterday yet these same people spend months, if not years tolerating poor performers before terminating them. Both run counter to what is good for their business.

Making quick business decisions may be self rewarding, fulfilling the role of a decisive and powerful leader. People pride themselves on being able to size up people quickly and accurately, particularly when there is little information available. It is the latter that usually suffers when evaluating the people for even the simplest of jobs.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

7 Association Membership Articles Worth Saving

You may want to share these articles with your membership and marketing teams.

When Satisfying Member or Customer Needs is not Enough: Connecting with the Heart
  From SocialFish 
What does satisfying customer or member needs (and I use these terms interchangeably) really mean? Is it designing programs or services that your organization believes are relevant? Discounting fees for the unemployed? This top-down, provider–to-customer product design conjures up for me images of amateur target practice. You aim in the general direction of the target but which of its concentric circles you will hit is a tossup. All you can do is just hope that you may per chance land at the center.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

When Building Donor Relationships, Talk is Cheap

A guest post by Joe Waters via Razoo

A recent series of three posts on the Harvard Business Review blog by Karen Freeman, Patrick Spenner and Anna Bird of Corporate Executive Board explored some of the myths surrounding consumer-buying decisions. The authors conclude that consumers, more than ever, want a simple buying process that gets them the things they want and need without hype or excessive interactions.
Nonprofits can learn a thing or two from their findings, especially about donor preferences for interactions.
But, first, a reality check.

Myth #1: Everyone Loves You

Despite what we desperately want to believe, most donors don’t want a relationship with your nonprofit. The gift comes in the mail because the donor is honoring the request of a friend or colleague, or maybe they want the deduction for their taxes. These donors don’t really care about your organization. They just gave you some money.
Of course, there are other donors who really do care about your nonprofit. The key is to know the difference between the two and to interact with them accordingly. Just don’t think that more is better, because it’s not.

Myth #2: Talking Builds the Relationship

It doesn’t. Instead of just communicating with donors, focus on having a strategic conversation around the shared values between your cause and them. For example, I’ve always admired the anti-hunger organization Share Our Strength. I grew up on free lunch at school and support their goal to feed America’s kids (and love their cause marketing!). These common values cement the relationship. According to the Corporate Executive Board, of the consumers who said they had a brand relationship, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason.
The message for nonprofits is clear: talk is cheap. Shared values and messaging is what gets and keeps donors’ attention.

Myth #3: More Interactions Are Even Better

Over-sharing with supporters doesn’t work either. You’re just drowning the donor in a sea of talk that only leads to information overload. If I follow a new person on Twitter and they clog up my stream with too many tweets, I’ll ignore or unfollow him–even if some of his tweets are thoughtful and helpful. I’ve argued before that more tweets are better than not, but we still have to choose our interactions carefully and value our connection with the donor.
As a marketer it’s almost heresy to say it, but we have to remove frequency as a factor in donor communications. Freeman, Spenner and Bird suggest asking if the communication is “going to reduce the cognitive overload consumers feel as they shop my category? If the answer is ‘no’ or ‘not sure,’ go back to the drawing board.”

This blog is a guest post with permission from Joe Waters and Razoo's Inspiring Generosity. Razoo's Mission
To better the entire cause marketplace by elevating social fundraising practices, and strengthening relationships between nonprofits, donors, and fundraisers. Inspiring Generosity covers social fundraising trends, news, and case studies, democratizes traditional development best practices, and provides other relevant information.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Associations have stories to share. Spotlight them.

Back in college, my pr prof reminded us that “the guy that catches the biggest fish doesn’t walk home via the alley.”

Sometimes, we as association professionals don’t take time to communicate the wonderful stories without our associations and nonprofits.

So as I was reading John Haydon’s Stupidly simple Facebook Page features guide, I was a bit surprised that he started with “a word about storytelling:”

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Thoughts for Embattled Association CEOs: 3 Lessons from one who’s been there

You may not be there yet ... but, keep this advice for when you are.

Before creating and selling my association management company, I served in multiple capacities for a very large ($40 million budget with 200+ staff) international association finishing as the association’s Deputy CEO.

After 16 years on the job, the association’s board asked my CEO to leave and, as his deputy, they said I could leave too!

Given the success we had built and my total commitment to the association, being fired was a shock.

Monday, July 16, 2012


“The better you understand your member, the better the relationship.”

That’s a quote from the Words of Wisdom section at the end of Marketing General Inc.’s recently released Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report. After writing about MGI’s report last week, that thought was still swirling around in my brain when I read a post by Jamie Notter about listening to members.

Jamie wrote, “We’re getting data, but I’m not sure it’s necessarily the RIGHT data. Are we really getting truth? Do we really understand our members?”

Sunday, July 15, 2012

6 examples on using video in your association marketing

Video is growing rapidly as a key content marketing tool that associations can use to build awareness, meet mission and distribute content.

Here are six case studies that show how your association can use videos as part of your content management/marketing tools.

Reminder: once the association video is produced, use it across multiple platforms beyond posting it to your YouTube channel: embed your video in your blogs, your website, your “digital magazine.” If the video applies to a subset of your membership, consider a blast email to them with a link to the video and/or website landing page.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Are Associations Neglecting a Big Slice of Potential Members?

Today's guest poster is Sarah Sladek, CEO of XYZ University and author of The End of Membership as We Know It (ASAE Press). 
Membership associations are a lot like pizza parlors.
I read somewhere that three-fourths of Americans like pizza. Likewise, most Americans belong to a membership association. (However, if you're among the one-fourth of Americans who don't like pizza, bear with me. I do have a point to make here.)
For a really long time, associations have been serving pizza. In other words, associations have mastered how to deliver products, services, and events that really appeal to one audience in particular.
The baby boomers love the pizza that associations serve up, and in most cases they are the ones frequenting the pizza parlors and eating all the pizza, as well as managing the pizza-making process and restaurant operations, and possibly even making the pizza themselves!
Now you have people coming into your restaurant asking what else is available. Maybe they don't like pizza. Maybe they're hoping your association will offer something else in addition to pizza.
These new consumers tend to be younger. Their unique interests, needs, wants, and expectations have left some boomers thinking these consumers are self-centered, demanding, and foolish for wanting something other than the fantastic pizza they've made.
Suddenly, as the owner of the pizza parlor, your association has a mess on its hands. Your new customers are storming off in frustration while management complains that new customers are needed but they certainly aren't serving anything other than pizza.
So what does your association do? Do you stop serving pizza altogether? Or do you continue to serve only pizza?
Your pizza parlor should continue producing its great pizza and recruit these new consumers to come in and help your association master making some new foods, too.
If your association expects to grow membership, it can't abandon its traditions. But it also can't ignore the opportunity to introduce new members to new members benefits and marketing strategies.
The U.S. Census Bureau and Bureau of Labor Statistics both predict that by 2015 baby boomers will cede the majority of the workforce to generation Y. It will be the largest shift in human capital in history.
Yet most membership associations remain almost entirely governed and supported by the baby boom generation. If we take an honest look at membership we can see that most associations are still struggling to engage generation X (currently ages 30-46), much less generation Y (ages 16-29)!
Can you fathom the world being dominated by people in their 20s and early 30s? The baby boom generation has been in power for so long, it's difficult to imagine our corporations, government, schools, nonprofits, and just about every industry out there being influenced by other generations.
And if gen Ys aren't already highly engaged in your association, do you have a plan for engaging them within the next four years? You can't keep your pizza parlor intact and expect to miraculously build a membership monopoly that engages younger generations. It won't happen.
So take off your apron, roll up your sleeves, and let's get started on building a highly successful, multigenerational membership monopoly.
Step 1: Understand Generational Differences
Many association executives make the mistake of thinking that younger generations just aren't joining their association because they haven't grown into it yet. "Just give it time," they say. "Soon they'll have more interest in their community/more money/more responsibility/more something and they will want to join."
And to these associations I say, "Don't hold your breath."
Think about it. We're all a little more footloose and fancy-free in our twenties. As we age, we gain more wisdom and responsibility, get tired more easily, and approach life very differently. The behavioral differences between a 20-year-old and 60-year-old are age differences.
However, the decision to join an association (or not to join) isn't an age difference. It's a generational difference.

Just take a look at generation X---its oldest members are 46 and associations are still struggling to engage them. This generation is nearing middle-age and they still aren't "joiners"!
The decision to join an association isn't something you grow into alongside mortgage payments and diaper changing. The decision to join isn't the result of wisdom or maturity; it's rooted in our most basic needs and wants.
If younger generations aren't joining your association, there's a reason. It has absolutely nothing to do with their immaturity and everything to do with your association's inability to deliver value to them.
As I mentioned above in the pizza parlor example, your association is likely managed, supported, and frequented by baby boomers. That would mean baby boomers are your association's target market.
This is all fine and good, but if you want your association to grow and sustain, your target market needs to shift to generations X and Y---and these generations want their memberships to provide them with ample opportunities to learn, lead, and make a difference.
Step 2: Create a Place to Belong
Even more basic than that, all members, regardless of age, needs to feel like they belong. Your association doesn't see much turnover within the boomer membership because you are satisfying their need to belong.
But what about the other generations? Do they feel like they belong in your association?
Belonging by definition means two things. It means that you have a secure relationship and it also means that you have ownership in something.
For generations X and Y to feel like they belong, they are looking to your association to listen---and act upon---their points of view, generate new ideas and create alternatives , provide a positive and motivating membership experience, and include them in leadership and decision-making processes.
Generations X and Y need to feel a secure relationship and a sense of ownership in your association before they join. In contrast, most baby boomers will join an association because they feel it's the right thing to do and they work at the belonging piece of it after the fact.
However, your association will struggle to recruit and retain younger members if they don't feel like they belong in your association. As soon as you understand the significance of that need, your association can begin to make progress towards meeting it.
Menu Diversification
I've made a strong case here in favor of recruiting and retaining younger generations. It's not because I think you should fold up your prosperous pizza-making business and start up a spaghetti factory.
What I do want you to do is to start thinking of your association like a buffet.
It's 2012 and your most loyal customer base has started to shrink. You may not even notice anything happening yet, but it will. With each passing year, it will get a little smaller and 20 years from now, it won't even exist.
The question is: Will your association still exist?
Younger generations have different needs and wants. Their appetite is different. Ignore them, and they will find somewhere else to eat.
And I'm not talking about feeding a little goldfish here. At 120 million people, generations X and Y are the equivalent of a herd of elephants! They have the power to make or break your association.
Start thinking about all the needs within your membership and cater to them all.
It's the only way to keep your pizza parlor from going bankrupt.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

4 Ways Content Marketing Builds Associations

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. Your association 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).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Some Associations Are Exploring YouTube's Potential

Today's Guest Bloggers are Elissa Leif & Barbara Haupt of MiniMatters and focuses on the use of video for your association's communications and member engagement.

"...[T]echnology will fundamentally change the way associations deliver value. It will enhance or replace existing delivery systems. It will create new ways to add value that were not conceivable in the past." 
--Race for Relevance: Five Radical Changes for Associations (ASAE) by Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE 

We love to assist associations in adding to their value equation through video technologies, including through presence on YouTube, which is one of the most popular sites on the web. YouTube is not the be-all-and-end-all for how Associations can use video, but a look at YouTube offers a window to the many ways Associations are using video---to promote conferences, to connect, to provide formal and informal training, and most of all, to demonstrate value to members and potential members. We hope you enjoy this smattering of Associations that are really providing something special on YouTube. 

First, the Digital Services Unit at MiniMatters client American Chemical Society has done a wonderful job of showing videos to advantage on multiple YouTube channels

From ACS YouTube channel

Here are three things we like about their approach: 

1. Their "Featured Channels" cater to their different audiences---those searching for training, those focused on the latest research, science teachers, etc. Even within each channel, ACS has handy playlists that help viewers to find what they need.

2. The channel makes use of branding to create an attractive appearance; the look and feel is contiguous with the American Chemical Society's organizational website using the same color palette, but it doesn't replicate it.

3. Most or all of their videos include thorough, searchable descriptions that help people searching for content like theirs to find it with search engines. 

SHRM YouTube channel

The Society for Human Resource Management has another approach we like. They keep their YouTube channel up to date with new videos; the featured video shown here is part of their "Focus on HR" series. The frequency alone likely keeps their members interested. And their featured playlists really help the casual visitor sort through material. We especially like the way they used YouTube to promote their annual conference in Atlanta and encourage attendees to use social media at the conference. It's a subtle point, but some of their conference videos include the conference hash tag in the title, thus increasing Twitter visibility.

AHA's YouTube channel
The American Heart Association's YouTube channel is part of the YouTube Nonprofit Program and incorporates a Google Checkout "donate to this organization" button in a prime location to the right of the featured video. (You can see it in blue in the image.) The image above the video is eye-catching and makes a strong case for the organization's importance. Like ACS, they have several featured channels that cater to different audiences.

These three examples are all organizations that have a fairly robust selection of videos on YouTube; an investment in a number of videos seems to inspire organizations to tend the garden in which they plant those many videos.

As video and social media producers, we believe that it's hard to have too many videos and that each provides an opportunity for touching membership segments in different ways. It is also possible to make a really terrific and well-designed YouTube channel with a small number of videos and to gain great impact by disseminating those videos effectively in your email communications and other social media. Especially if your videos include some that are professionally shot and produced---and you give thought to dissemination strategies and tactics---even a sparsely planted garden will bloom richly.

These associations are making YouTube work for them---how's it working for you?

 Elissa Leif and Barbara Haupt are the co-owner of MiniMatters, a Web video marketing and production company that serves associations, foundations, nonprofits, and partners mainly in Washington, DC; Maryland; and Virginia. In addition to the American Chemical Society, some of their clients are the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Washington Metro Chapter and Society of Former Special Agents of the FBI. You can see some of our video work here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Is Your Association Prepared for Your Etch-a-Sketch Moment?

A 5-step Association Newsjacking PR Strategy

During the Republican primary season, a Mitt Romney aide told CNN when fall comes, “everything changes. It's almost like an Etch A Sketch. You can kind of shake it up and we start all over again."

While the comment embarrassed Romney and his campaign, it created a wonderful opportunity for the Ohio Art Company ... IF ... they responded quickly.

What about your association or nonprofit organization?  A “major news event” in your profession or industry becomes your “Etch-a-Sketch” moment.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

5 articles for CEOs and other Association Professionals

5 Steps for Continued Association Growth in a Changing Market 

By Sara Sladek via Affiniscape
Since 2000, associations have experienced a barrage of challenges that have weakened their position in the marketplace. Financial decline. Demographic shifts. Technology. All have played a role in the altered business environments associations now face. However, with the right vision and structure in place, your organization can evolve and realize its full potential once again. Here’s 5 steps for how your association can flip its fortune:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Which 5 business lies are damaging our associations?

Over 35 years in association business, I’ve heard a lot of business phrases.

Five came to my mind the other morning:
  1. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it.
  2. If you build it, they will come.
  3. Ask your members what they want.
  4. Practice makes perfect.
  5. Boards set policy, staff implements it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Build for the Future: Expand the reach of your association's convention content

This Tweet grabbed my attention:

SHRM Atlanta 2: Malcolm Gladwell on Why Millennials Are So Very Different

First, because I follow generational issues.  So, I was interested in what Gladwell had to say.

Second, because it is a great example of the power of content marketing for association conferences.

As I’ve posted before, using content (such as an association convention speech) only once (at the conference) is a waste of association resources.

This post shows the value of extending the content from your conference to a large audience.  It extends the life of your conference.  It showcases your association beyond your membership.

Great job SHRM-Atlanta.

Note, too, how John Hollon (@johnhollon) of TNLT blogged key elements of the conference.  Great content marketing for his firm too!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Happy 4th!

Wishing you a very happy July 4th.  Enjoy, experience and value your independence!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why are competency-based association boards an anomaly?

Or, rather than an anomaly, is it just associations I've experienced?

The other day I was reading a USA Today story about the “troubles” at the top of U.S. public flagship universities.

It caught my attention – not because I graduated from one nor because I spent 10 years working at colleges and universities – but because it focused on the governance of those universities.

The article and quoted research focused on the dysfunctional boards, most of whom are filled with political appointees.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

8 articles important to association executives and nonprofit professionals

Here is the best of the week for busy association professionals. Enjoy your July 4th holiday!

Five Ways to Market to Gen-Y
By Tim Hare via MarketingProfs.com
Gen-Y has shown a tendency to support heritage brands and engage with companies via social media. Gen-Y has also shown a tendency to shut out brands that bombard them with advertising or "market down" to them. With many Boomers retiring from associations and nonprofits, these tips are important to association executives too.