Thursday, August 30, 2012

Association Billboard & TV Advertising: Really?

A while back, I noticed some discussions/questions on the ASAE "list serve" about whether associations should be advertising .... Including ads in airports.

My first reaction was "is this serious?

What association has enough money to effectively run ads that can "break through the clutter?"

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Does print still work for association marketing & communications?

As you know by now, I’m an advocate of many of the new digital communications tools. I’m also a strong proponent that associations  need to determine distribution platforms based on their  target audience(s).

So, I read with interest a Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch article saying that despite the prevalence of digital media, catalogs remain a huge part of retail business.

Here are some highlights of the story:
  • “The catalog continues to open new doors and opportunity for us,” said Jim Wright, senior vice president of marketing at Express. “We see a strong future for the catalog, with this being one of many ways that we communicate with our customer.” 
  • The numbers are remarkable, too. More than 12.5 billion catalogs were mailed to U.S. homes last year, according to the Direct Marketing Association, and 89.6 million Americans bought an item from those catalogs. 
  • Even younger shoppers, the least-likely customers to use printed media, are hip to the old-school format. The National Retail Federation recently reported that 15 percent of college shoppers plan to buy back-to-school items via catalog. Although the percentage might seem small, it has tripled since 2003. 
  • “The catalog is really a multichannel driver,” said Shawn Brown, vice president of creative services at SBC Advertising. “You’ve got a lot of Internet sales, a lot of people visiting stores because they saw it first in a catalog.” 
  • “As we think about our catalog business, we really don’t think about it as a separate business,” said Sharen Turney, CEO and president of Victoria’s Secret, in recent comments to analysts. “Our goal is to have one seamless experience from the customer point of view.” 
  • The Express catalog “drives customers into all of our channels, including mobile,” Wright said. “Associates often see customers come to the store with our direct mail and catalogs asking for specific merchandise.” 
So, as you review your content marketing and promotions strategies, don’t automatically eliminate print … it may be the tool that works for a key portion of your audience …. And, remember, build an integrated marketing plan that delivers desired results.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Tune-up Your Association

Guest Post From ANDY FREED

One of my favorite features in my car is the simplest one—it has a little message that comes up when I’m due for an oil change. It’s simple, but it sure beats the little sticker that the Jiffy Lube guy puts in the window that always falls off.

That someone took the time to develop that feature tells me something—a periodic “tune up” is important to keep the engine running right.

That’s a great message for car owners. Its also a great message for associations to heed in a different way.

The mid-year mark is a great point to reassess your annual goals, the effectiveness of your board, and other critical measures for the organization. Here’s my “tune up check list”
Are the annual goals still the right ones? Sometimes the initiative that started with the best of intentions in January needs to change. I’ve seen too many organizations on a “march to completion” of annual goals that are no longer relevant to the organization.
Is the budget on track? June is still a time that you can make adjustments and throttle back expenses to maintain budget targets—by the time year end hits in December, it’s too late.
Do we have the best people? This goes for the Board, volunteers and staff. There’s no substitute for the right talent—mid year is a good time to assess whether you have the right people, and if not, start putting in place transition plans to execute by year end.

Oh, and don’t forget to check the wiper blades. Mine are always worn down, and there’s no little light for that…

Monday, August 27, 2012

5 articles + 1 Discussion Thread: Readings of the Week for Association Executives

Here are some great articles worth your read.

Why are you running a race with weights on your ankles?
By Jamie Notter vai Get Me Jamie Notter blog
The way we run our organizations, generally speaking, is simply not cutting it. The “weights on our ankles” is the rigid, mechanical, and control-oriented management practices that we have been using for decades. They make it hard for us to be nimble, and they make engaging employees and customers more difficult than it needs to be. McKinsey has a report out this summer about the social economy that concludes that knowledge workers could be a full 20 to 25% more productive if the organizations embraced social technology internally.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Under Armour’s race to discover innovative fitness gear: a model for associations?

In an interview with USA Today (July 9), Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank offered insight fit for association leaders and executives:

On when he started the company: "I was smart enough to be naive enough to not know what we couldn't accomplish."

  • Once we lose our “awe,” we get “stuck” with the way we’ve always done things. And, that can stifle our innovation. 
Under Armour has figured out how to make an emotional connection between it's consumer and itself. "What we're building is the capacity to dream," Plank says. “The consumer wants to know "what have you done for me lately."
  • What is your association doing to make an emotional connection with your members and prospects? 
And are you giving your association professionals the freedom and capacity to dream so you offer exciting products and services that excite your members/prospects?

If not, why not?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Conversations on the Future of Associations

At the ASAE convention in Dallas, Bob Harris and Russ Salzman lead a wonderful discussion on the future of associations. 

Bob began with a summary of key points from four current association leadership books: 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

40% of Association Members’ Online Time is in Professional Communities [Research]

Guest post from Joshua Paul, director of strategy at Socious, a leading provider of private online community software to associations. Learn more at

I was fascinated with this post and asked Joshua for permission to share it with SCDdaily readers.  

Attention Professional Associations! Will You Be That Community?

A new research project from the Society of New Communication Research called, The Social Mind, examines the rise of new social behaviors and interrelationships between individuals, organizations, and influencers. The three year series of studies surveyed more than 400 professionals and highly educated people in North America who participate in social media networks.

The research found that 40% of professionals’ online time is spent engaging in peer-to-peer online communities, followed by interacting with friends at 31% and family at 13%.

The large percentage of professional members’ time and mindshare spent in online communities has significant implications for associations. Imagine all of things that someone can do online from watching videos to keeping up with friends to searching for and consuming content. If a professional spends 10 hours a week online, this data suggests that 4 of those hours are spent in peer-based professional online communities. That is a significant chunk of their time online and an even larger percentage of their industry-related Internet time.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Social Media & Internet have replaced 2 of top 3 reasons members join: What does this mean for your association?

Erik D. Schonher, vice president of Marketing General Incorporated, shared a summary of the 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report on It was headlined: Top 10 Benchmarks in Membership Marketing.

Good stuff. And, a special thanks to Marketing General for this annual survey.

“Among the findings of Marketing General Incorporated's 2012 Membership Marketing Benchmarking Report: Higher dues correlate with higher renewal rates, and word of mouth and email are two of the most preferred marketing channels for associations. Find out more in these highlights from the report.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Short, Sweet & Easy to Repeat: cornerstone to association communications

The opening general session at the ASAE annual meeting in Dallas featured a “duel” between political consultants Karl Rove and James Carville.

For many attendees, the session fell short because it really didn’t relate to our day-t0-day association management functions.

It was entertaining (for a while) but many wished (if Twitter is a good barometer) that Carville would have spent less time “clowning around” and more time on serious topics.

This was disappointing to me because Carville offered some very insightful thoughts in his Associations Now interview leading up to the convention.

Here are a couple of key points (from my perspective):

Sunday, August 19, 2012

12 Tips for association board/committee work

Assumption:  Reminder: board time is a non-renewable resource ... Don't let it be wasted!

So, how do we enhance the time spent in board or committee meetings?

Here are 12 possibilities:

1.      Never hold a meeting without an agenda.

2.     Agendas should have a precise starting and ending times ...
·       I normally start meetings at something like 9:59 (rather than 10) and post adjournment times as 2:59 (rather than 3).
·       My clients started referring to this as “Central Drake Time.”

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Go Mobile Association. Go Mobile!

Note: This is an update from an original blog posted 11/17/11.

The last nine months have only reinforced my original thinking that – as members, donors and prospects move to Smart Phone and iPads – associations must get mobile quickly.

Yes, it is great that your association has developed one or more mobile apps ... but, if that ap sends your members or prospects to an “old style” (e.g., desktop formatted) website, what have you accomplished other than to frustrate your members and prospects?

The hassle of “going mobile” has been that you had to go mobile in two to three different formats. And, that just added time and money ... and, perhaps, kept some associations from getting there.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

“If you are explaining, you are losing” applies to associations as well as elections.

Years ago, the association I worked for (looking forward to a nationwide referendum among the 300,000 in its industry) sent me to a campaign and elections school.

I came away with three key learnings that impact associations and our communications with members, with prospects, with the public.

1. If you’re explaining, you’re losing.

  •  See how much time the Romney campaign has spent “explaining” the Obama campaign ad saying that a Bain Capital employee’s wife died because he lost his health insurance when Bain closed a plant. (Please: I don’t want to argue the merits or demerits of the ad ... I’m only noting it because the ad made the Romney folks explain ... which got them off message.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: Millenials Crave & Deserve It. Where Does Your Association Stand?

These came labeled as follows: Millennials At the Beach (left); At the Museum (center); On a date (right)
Respect is NOT a generational issue. People of all ages desire respect.

Over the last few years, I’ve watched as many Boomers and others “mock” Millenials and Gen Yers and their “failure” to communicate because they are “always texting.”

A few weeks ago, a friend passed along an email with multiple photos of Millenials (3 of which are posted above) and their smart phones and texting habits.

Monday, August 13, 2012

30 Marketing Tips for Associations: Highly Rated Ideas from ASAE12

At the ASAE annual meeting Sunday (8/12/12), 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.

Integrated Marketing

#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. Set up a “social media bar” during an annual meeting reception. Staffers at kiosks throughout the room provide training and help set up member smartphones with the association’s LinkedIn group, shortcut to association web page, twitter feed and access to Higher Logic collaboration platform. The event was preceded by a brief explanation at the end of the general session. (The American Pediatric Surgical Association via The Sherwood Group.)

 #5 Building integrated marketing plans is a must to effectively mix new and traditional. New additions to plans are content marketing strategies and incorporating social throughout your entire organization – see Spredfast white paper on that topic ... via the Bostrom Corporation.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why Content is Gold for Associations & Nonprofits

Shared by Russell Sparkman, president of FusionSpark Media Inc.

Content is gold for associations and nonprofits.  Here's how:

Like Gold, Content is a Valuable Investment
Like gold, investment in quality content is an investment in a quality asset. Like quality gold, quality content has long term, “evergreen” value. In fact, from a marketing communications perspective, investment in quality content is better than gold because, unlike gold, the value of quality content to your communications efforts rarely fluctuates or goes down.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Do "Best Practices" prevent association innovation?

My dad was a pioneer in AI.

No, not artificial intelligence but artificial insemination.

He was in the "bull business."

This is an agricultural term defining that he was manager of an artificial breeding cooperative that provided bull semen so its members (dairy farmers) could artificially inseminate (AI) their cows. This science helped greatly improve the dairy industry.

Then, along came "cloning," a scientific "breakthrough" that allowed scientists to produce an exact replica of the parent.

Cloning, and embryo transplants, became the newer reproductive methods in livestock.
Several years ago, I asked dad what he thought of cloning.

His response offered pretty good advice for associations:

"If you are satisfied with what you have, cloning is great,” he said. “But, I'm striving to improve not to stay the same."

Many in our profession subscribe to the great value in best practices and are looking to various best practices for association management functions.

As I think about it; however, best practices are closely aligned with cloning .. And, as my dad would say, “They are great if you are satisfied with current practices.”

Me, I'm looking for continuous improvement and I’m not satisfied with doing things the same old way just because others are.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Creating Content that Works for Your Association

Shared by Becky Rasmussen of AMR Management Services 

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend the first-ever Content Marketing World. Think of the best conference you have ever attended and how it left you feeling – energized, connected, inspired and excited to go back to work? That was this conference for me as a content marketing professional. Sitting in session after session led by some of the giants of the marketing world, surrounded by like-minded and creative individuals, I remember my excitement building about how I was going to rush back and put some of these ideas into practice. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Chicken, Bus, Holland America & Associations: How do you treat your members?

Last month, our Holland America (@HALcruises) tour bus broke down while we were driving the Top of the World highway (TOTWH) from Chicken, ALaska, to Dawson City, Yukon Territory, Canada.

Holland America's response with this unexpected delay made me think about how our associations treat members when the unexpected happens.

Monday, August 6, 2012

5 info-packed articles for associations: Best of the week

Here are 5 articles that association executives will find valuable:

The Insanity of Strategic Planning
By Jamie Notter in Get Me Jamie Notter Blog

In a keynote session last week about Humanize, I once again challenged the effectiveness of strategic planning. In the book, strategic planning is one of three traditional management “best practices” that we shine a critical light on, revealing that there is solid scientific research that indicates that the way we do the practice does not work. (For strategic planning, please read Henry Mintzberg’s The Rise and Fall of Strategic Planning.)

It’s the Message, Stupid
Interview with James Carville in Associations Now

I’ve often used a phrase (from a soybean association colleague) that your messages need to be “short, sweet and easy to repeat.” Carville reinforces this saying,” “If you want people to know three things about you, have three parts to your message. If you want people to know nothing about you, then have nine." The interview changed my mind: think the ASAE12 general session featuring Carville and Karl Rove will provide some useful information.

7 Steps to Creating Your Content Marketing Channel Plan
By Joe Pulizzi via Content Marketing Institute

Once you create content, you need to decide how you are going to distribute it. To figure this out, you need to consider the context in which your audience will view the content and then use that to alter the content accordingly. In short, you need a content marketing channel plan that considers these seven factors:

  • Situational analysis
  • Channel objectives
  • Content/conversation plan (how you’re telling your story)
  • Metrics
  • Personas addressed
  • Content management process
  • Editorial calendar 
Are American Companies (associations) Headed for a Succession Crisis
White Paper (19 pages) by Sarah Sladek and Bob LaBombard via Affiniscape

The quick answer is Yes! An estimated 78 million Baby Boomers (1946-1964) will file for retirement benefits over the next 20 years – an average of 10,000 per day 0r almost 4 million per year. The recession pushed back the “war on talent” and probably allowed us to pay lower wages then we might have. What will the impact be on your members and your associations? It is an important question for you to address. And, my own challenge for you: how do you engage people like me ... WWPs (working while retired)?

The Mobile Content War Continues: Apps edging out mobile browser
By Jason Keath via SocialFresh blog

Some of the basic numbers:
  • There are now 234 million US residents using mobile devices
  • 110 million use smart phones
  • Google’s Android is still very strong, leading the US smartphone market with a 51.6% share
  • Apple’s is 2nd with 32.4%
  • Apple is the fastest growing of all smartphone manufacturers, by far

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Integrated Marketing Tip shows value of adaptive sites

Shared by Greg Schultz of The Sherwood Group

You blinked, and mobile-optimized is old news. Responsive and adaptive sites deliver the best experience and allow the best access possible to your content. This new way of developing sites is platform independent and allows features to be added progressively based on users device, browser and connection speed. Your customers don’t feel penalized or judged for not having the latest technology. In the slide, you can see the site scale and adjust its features for computer screen to tablet to smartphone screen sizes.

Click on this link to see the site scale and adjust its look and features for computer screen, tablet screen and phone screen sizes. 

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.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

LinkedIn Promotes Association’s Leadership Position

Shared by Russell Lemieux, Group Vice President, the Kellen Company

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association uses Linkedin to raise awareness, promote other ARMA programs and collateral, and position the association as an industry resource and authority. By creating a profile page for the association, joining industry groups, participating in discussions and proactively reaching out to make connections with people, ARMA has generated over 1000 connections. 

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.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Integrated Marketing Tip for Associations and Nonprofit Organizations: Combine Live & DIgital

Shared by Hugh Whaley of AMR Management Service  

Combining live, physical events (e.g. town halls) with live streaming/tweeting/online chat.  Social media can be a great compliment to a live event with the proper promotion. In this case, the U.S. Farmers & Ranchers Alliance producewww.amrms.comd the Food Dialogues which were both live streamed and online.

To see how it worked, you can watch the video  and look at Tweets via #foodd.

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.