Sunday, September 30, 2012

Association Executives in Sprint Toward New Thinking

All associations have one thing in common:
• We seek time and money from our members, donors and prospects.

And since we’re seeking time and money, we are in competition with every other entity getting people to give their time and money: a professional sports team, a church, a community theater, a great book, a lousy reality TV show.

I’ve said this for years as I work with association and nonprofit boards about turning their association around.
I was reminded of it again today when Mary Byers, CAE, co-author of Race of Relevance, shared this quote in her September newsletter:

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Example of Engaging Your Prospects: A Great Idea for Association Marketers

You may remember from my prior blogs that David Gammel CAE’s Maximum Engagement highlights the importance of creating “steps” along the “engagement acceleration curve.”

Today, I had a first-hand experience of what David means.

I received this email:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

If everyone’s complaining, perhaps its an opportunity for your association

“Great listeners never run out of (blog) ideas!” Marcus Sheridan, The Sales Lion

I really don’t like complainers but, those who follow the iPhone story have discovered that listening to complaints/concerns/problems is a great way to find solutions!

Farhad Manjoo’s It Smelled Something like Pizza story on Slate on the invention of the iPhone suggests associations can find opportunities among the complainers. Here are some key points from Manjoo’s story:
  • “The iPhone began not with a vision but with a problem,” Mr. Manjoo writes. “By 2005, the iPod had eclipsed the Mac as Apple’s largest source of revenue, but the music player that rescued Apple from the brink now faced a looming threat: The cellphone. Everyone carried a phone, and if phone companies figured out a way to make playing music easy and fun, “that could render the iPod unnecessary,” Steve Jobs said once.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

When Do You Tell Your Association Members What It Really Costs?

I just finished working with a group on the draft budget for its 2013 annual meeting.

About 600 people attend.

Budgeted expenses total $457,000.

So, that calculates to $1,072 per attendee.

The group charges members a registration fee of $345.

Monday, September 24, 2012

8 Articles for Association Executives: Best of the Week from SCDdaily

A lot of great stuff this week. I edited it down to eight topics readings for the week.

Will Associations Go From Good to Great to Gone?
By Anna Caraveli in The Demand Perspective blog
“The key to success in such a fast-changing environment isn’t developing clairvoyance. It’s being open to numerous possibilities, having the discipline to experiment with conflicting strategies and moving quickly to embrace one of them when the direction of the market becomes clear.”
  • Nokia, Research in Motion, Best Buy, and Circuit City: Because they envisioned a future that looked exactly like their present, they lost touch with the customers, their markets, and their competitors. And, as a result, these companies went down in flames.
This piece questions associations and provides three possible answers.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Kids & Brushing: What Can Associations Learn About Innovation?

Have you ever watched a young child brush his or her teeth? Talk about innovation!
A week or so ago, Jamie Notter wrote a great post on association innovation

Here’s how he defined innovation:

Innovation is change that unlocks new value.

I like it!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Free to Fee: One Association’s Response to the Freemium Membership Model

[This is Part 2 of Maximizing Association Membership via Engagement.  Part 1 was posted 9/20/21.]

After eight years of watching its membership stalled at 5,000 members, the board of the  Small Business Association Of Michigan (SBAM) decided to make a change. Despite Michigan’s businesses mired in a long recession, SBAM was not satisfied with the status quo.

SBAM is a broad-based “chamber-like” organization advocating for Michigan small business. With 15,000 members (5,000 paid members), it is one of the top 3 voices for business in the state. But, the association had a desire to engage more small businesses to enhance our voice within Michigan.

I visited recently with Rob Fowler, president/CEO of the Small Business Association Of Michigan and asked him to share SBAM’s story and the decision to dramatically expand membership and clout with a 10-year growth strategy that features a free membership.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Free to Fee: Maximizing Association Membership via Engagement Strategies

3 merging trends are crushing down on associations and nonprofits and challenging for changes in the traditional association membership and dues revenue models.

Those trends are:

  • Mobile, social media & online presence 
  • Free and downward price pressures 
  • Engagement expectations 
I’ve written previously about most of these. Specifically two posts back in May:
Today, I want to focus on the engagement aspect of FREE as developed in Maximum Engagement, an awesome book and compelling read from David Gammel, CAE.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lessons Association Executives Can Learn from Politicians: 7 tips from an Executive Coach

Guest Post By David Scruggs, Professional Speaker & Executive Coach

As Campaign 2012 winds down, association executives can learn vital communications tips.

Politicians and political candidates are just like the rest of us except they live their lives under a microscope. A lot like movie stars in that respect. Bigger than life to us, while all is seemingly normal to them.

I enjoy working with politicians and political candidates. They know the power and importance of communicating effectively at all times because they really feel the pain when they slip up. They know the cost of mistakes or missed opportunities. They know that they are the message.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Top 5 Roadblocks to Association Content (Marketing) Strategy

About 30 associations and nonprofit organizations participated in the 2012 Content Marketing World Conference workshop for associations and nonprofits. 

Last week, I wrote on ... 

10 Reasons Why Content Marketing Benefits Associations

During our CMWorld 12 session, we asked participants to give us the issues and roadblocks to implementing content marketing strategies within their organizations.

Here are the Top 5 “roadblocks” to content (strategy) marketing:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

5 Articles on Association Meetings & Education

Education (whether conferences, seminars or webinars) represents a key component – and major revenue source – of most associations. Here are five articles for association executives.

Boring Conference Education Creates Zombie Attendees
By Jeff Hurt via Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections
What created this zombie army? Boring conference education! Bad And Boring Education Is Unacceptable. Bad presentations are not acceptable. But boring presentations are. Boring presentations are not effective. What can conference organizers do to limit boring presentations? What are some things presenters can do to create lively, engaging presentations?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

E-learning will Impact Association Education Programming

While fishing in Canada last month, my brother (a trustee for a small liberal arts college) and my nephew “discussed” whether mobile learning was inferior to in class learning.

Envisioning some of the “fly by night internet colleges,” they both argued that the college classroom environment was superior to online learning.

Obviously, I took the opposite side. I noted that most online and/or “satellite campuses” offered “regular” classes with “real” instructors. I shared with them that my on-campus learning included freshman classes that involved watching a math professor lecturing to a class of 300+ over a video channel.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

10 Reasons Why Content Marketing Benefits Associations

Done strategically, content marketing attracts members to your association
Experiencing the Content Marketing World Conference for the second year reinforced my belief that associations need to reinvent themselves -- and market themselves -- as content-rich organizations.

Whether designed to serve as a thought leader or add member value, most associations produce great volumes of content ... most associations don’t use the term “content” but rather call it publications, websites, conferences, webinars, newsletters, etc. In larger associations, our content is often produced in silos we label as publications, meetings & conferences, communications, marketing, etc.

Too often; however, our content is produced without any content strategy and without a common core.

And, as a result, associations fall short and don't get the full return/results for the resources invested on behalf of our members.

So, the key question is: “Why should my association have a content strategy?”

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Is there a "magic" price for association memberships?

Dynamic pricing graphic from The Wall Street Journal
Over the last 34+ years in association management, I've watched associations struggle over where to set member dues and how often we should change dues. We've had the wait and leap philosophy versus the “steady creep” model of small annual dues increases.

Last week I heard/read two pieces of information that may challenges our traditional member dues models. (By the way, the same challenge applies to conference registration fees, webinar fees and any other pricing decisions at your association.)

Monday, September 10, 2012

Content Marketing World Conference Provides Valuable Info for Associations

The CMW12 was loaded with inspirational sessions and specific tips about content marketing strategies and tactics. Here are the rough (meaning not edited) notes I took at the sessions I attended. Because of the number of sessions I attended, this is a much longer post that normal. I’ve put a pdf version  on SlideShare in the event you want to download the file. 

As in all I post, convert "company or business" to "association" as you review these notes.

The Content Marketing Institute provided additional highlights. You can find them here:

The pdf file includes summaries from the following:
How to Reboot Your Content for a Mobile World 
Mitch Joel, Author of 6 Pixels of Separation @Mitchjoel

Cut the Bull ... Build a Powerful Blog
Jason Falls, Social Media Explorer

Customer Stories: How to Unlock an Abundance of New Content
Deana Goldasich, Well Planned Web @Goldasisch

From 0 to 170,000 Subscribers ... the Copyblogger Content Marketing Model
Brian Clark & Sonia Simone, Copy Blogger Media

The Gift Economy: Content as Social Currency
Mark Bonchek, Orbit& Company

Goole's Zero Moment of Truth
Sam Sebastin, Google

Distilling the Magic & Mystery
Marcus Sheridan ...The Sales Lion & River Pools & Spas

3 Super S's: Syndication, Search & Social
Michael Pranikoff, Pr Newswire

Getting the Choir to Sing: Selling & Developing the Process for Content Marketing Inside the Organization
Robert Rose of Content Marketing Institute
NEW WAY of looking: real differentiating power
For full presentation, go to HTTP://BIT.LY/2BTHECHANGE

Sunday, September 9, 2012

6 Articles for Association Executives

Here are six articles for association executives:

Top 3 Ways to Increase Association Membership
By Michelle via
#1 – Ask for a referral
#2 – Make it “stupid simple”
#3 – Tell the story for them

Breathe New Life into Your Home Page, Gain Loyal Readers
By Mark Sherbin via Content Marketing Institute
A truly engaging home page keeps visitors hungry for more material. While catchy headlines and high-quality content play their own roles here, the key to retaining readers is to keep them engaged with more content on your site. A home page that simplifies the way your audience finds your content represents one of the best ways to accomplish this. Major publishers on the web experiment, test and retest to make their home page layout as engaging as possible.

How to Dramatically Grow an Association's Membership and Sponsorships 
By Russ Alan Prince and Bruce Rogers via Forbes
To a large degree, when an association grows its membership it’s able to generate meaningful revenues that can be applied to benefitting the members. With the goal of growing the membership, coupled with generating new sponsorship opportunities, associations would be well served to consider their own thought leadership campaigns.

Content Marketing for Nonprofits & Associations
By Becky Rasmussen from Content Marketing World Conference
Is your association/nonprofit looking to content marketing to tell your story and engage members? This presentation covers some of the challenges and opportunities awaiting you.
Content marketing serves as a magnet for members, donors and prospects.

Creating Special Moments Through Social Listening
By Jessica Levin via 7 Degrees Communications
While I was participating in the Twitter stream (at ASAE’s convention), I stumbled into a discussion with ASAE’s community manager, Mandy Stahl (@MandyStahl), about how it’s always cold in convention centers. We joked about the temperature being 100 degrees outside, yet we needed to wear sweaters.

Will A Hybrid Event Cannibalize My Face-to-Face Attendance?
By Brian Slawin via The BusyEvent Blog
Richard Feldman, has stirred the pot once again in the LinkedIn Virtual Events and Meeting Technology group by asking the question: Will running an online event in conjunction with a physical event cannibalize my face-to-face attendance or enhance it? It’s a great question and a topic that’s been blunting the full-fledged embrace of virtual tools by the events industry. As we add smart phone capability to the BeLinker software platform, the discussion of revenue possibilities, profitability and ‘eyeballs’ has been a frequent one with our clients.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Mobile Tools Impact Expectations of Association Members

While on a trip to the Yukon and British Columbia last month, I experienced a new payment process that I’ve not experienced in the lower 48.

When it came time to pay the bill at restaurants, rather than asking for my credit card, the server brought a mobile reader and asked me to enter the tip and swipe my card.

At first it was a bit off-putting adding the tip into the card reader while the server hovered (mostly to help me work the machine).

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What Do Political Conventions Tell Associations? 5 Items to Consider

My wife Barb and I were driving somewhere last week and she mentioned comments on the NBC Today show that 2012 is probably the end of political conventions as we know them.

As a political/news junkie who watches convention speeches nearly 24/7, I started to push back.

Barb said: “Who wants to watch speech after speech after speech ... it’s boring.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

5 Articles for Association Executives: Best of the Week from SCDdaily

The 4 Big Reasons You Should Try Mobile Learning
By C.O. Elephant via
The idea of implementing mobile learning into a course or instruction may be daunting for many educators. They may assume that mobile learning (aka m-learning) is too complicated and so decide to stick to the methods they have more experience with. Besides, the old fashioned methods of learning have worked for centuries, so what’s the need for change?

Review: IPads, smartphones in world-changing 'Mobile Wave' 
By Jeanne Destro via USA Today
The mobile wave is coming. If you're not ready to ride it, you'll be swept away by a tsunami of change that will fundamentally alter the world. That's the theme of The Mobile Wave by software entrepreneur Michael Saylor. The book explores how mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads will change jobs, healthcare, banking, politics, law enforcement, and much more.

Think Responsive for Your Association Website
By Deidre Reid via Avectra blog
Have you ever pulled up a website on your phone and been frustrated by the tiny text and tabs? Unless I’m desperate to do something there, I usually give up. In either case, I’m frustrated by the awful user experience. Don’t they care about their customers? When’s the last time you looked at your association website on a mobile phone? Hopefully, it was a good experience because, according to technology research firm Gartner, by 2013 more people will access websites with mobile phones than with desktop computers. Members increasingly want your association in their pocket. When they’re not at a desktop computer, they want to find and read what they need, look up other members’ contact info, register for events, attend webinars, and participate in online community discussions.

A 5-Step Plan to Improve Every Blog Post You Write
By Ali Luke via
Are your blog posts getting the results you want? When you’re blogging to build or grow your business, you need each post to pull its weight. That means writing articles that draw readers in. Articles that get shared and discussed and linked to. Articles that keep readers coming back for more. Articles that persuade readers to take action. If your posts aren’t getting the traction you want, you might think you’re not a good enough writer. But the truth is, every writer can follow a few simple steps to improve their posts. (And that goes for the old hands, too.)

The $1.3 Trillion Price Of Not Tweeting At Work 
By Ryan Holmes via FastCompany
A new report from McKinsey Global Institute makes the business case for social media a little easier to sell. According to an analysis of 4,200 companies by the business consulting giant, social technologies stand to unlock from $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value. Among the most promising new social technologies are tools like Yammer which bring Facebook-like functionality into the office. Social-savvy employees post queries and comments to internal conversation threads and coworkers offer feedback, crowdsourcing solutions. Content can be shared and searched, so the same issues don’t resurface. Meanwhile, virtual groups offer a more interactive alternative than email or phones.

Monday, September 3, 2012

3 Presentations Illustrate Importance of Content Marketing for Associations & Nonprofits

This afternoon at the opening of the 2012 Content Marketing World Conference, I’ll be facilitating (on behalf of AMR Management Services) a 3½ hour workshop titled Content Marketing for Associations and Nonprofits.

I’m looking forward not just to the workshop but also to the full CMW12. Last year’s initial Content Marketing World Conference was awesome and I can’t wait to share the ideas surfaced this year in Columbus!

Our workshop kicks off with background and principles of content marketing for associations and nonprofit organizations. Then, we’ll work with the audience to surface what’s working and what’s not working in their organizations. We’ll conclude with teams (from the audience) working on content marketing strategies and tactics ... a hands-on effort.

For those unable to attend, here are the three opening presentations:

For more about the 2012 Content Marketing Conference, follow #CMworld on Twitter or click on

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Hope you are enjoying your Labor Day Weekend!