Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Are You Using Identity as Association Marketing Strategy

Sitting in the airport last Saturday, I noticed a huge number of people wearing logoed clothing that identified themselves with their team, cause, city, company. Rather than a team or cause, some were unpaid walking billboards for “cool” apparel companies.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Offers Associations Creative Growth Opportunities

Halloween Event Photos: Treats Unleashed. HalloweenTown, West County Y & West County Honda

Happy Halloween!

Last week, USA Today featured a Page 1 story about the growth of Halloween. 

  • “This adultification of Halloween is taking place in virtually every city. At bars. At restaurants. At theaters. Even at high-end gift shops. Like treats snatched from a trick-or-treat bag, adults have slowly been stealing Halloween from kids for years. Now it appears, grown-ups own the holiday.
  • A record $8 billion will be spent by U.S. consumers this Halloween, most by adults, for adults. Seven years ago, when the National Retail Federation asked adults if they planned to celebrate Halloween, 52.5% said yes. This year, it's 71.5%. ‘I call it Occupying Halloween,’ says consumer anthropologist Robbie Blinkoff. ‘My gut tells me that it's bigger than Halloween, and is actually part of our culture. We need to creatively express ourselves to find pure joy.’”

Monday, October 29, 2012

5 Articles to Enhance Associations: Promotion, Print, Video, ROI, Livestrong

Great Promo Drives Attendance 
By Cynthia D'Amour, MBA via People Power Unlimited
Would you like to have more people at your next event? The right promotion plays an important role in filling your room. Check out the California Water Environment Association’s flyer. 30 days out from the event, they already have more registrations than last year. What are they doing right in their promo? 
• Incentive to register right away.
• Colorful, fun photo with good use of white space.
• Clear benefits important to potential attendees.
• “Back by popular demand.”
• Actual raves from last year’s attendees.
• What about the fact the program is free?

Sunday, October 28, 2012

3 Reasons Why One-Year Terms are Better for Association Board Officers

Establishing the length of terms of office represents a key governance issue ... especially if your association attempts to change the terms. (As I share below, I see 3 key reasons why one-year terms are better for most associations.)

Folks on ASAE’s Executive Management Section Collaborate are having an ongoing discussion on which is best for association boards: one year or two year terms for officers. Here is the original question and excerpts of the responses:

Barbara Tulipane, CAE, President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Recreation and Park Association, began the dialog with this question:
“Does anyone have experience with a two year term for the chair? We recently changed our bylaws to allow this and we are struggling with how this impacts the other officers. The chair can choose to have a second year but its not mandatory.” 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Attention Associations: Your Competition May Not Be Who You Think

I’ve written several blogs about what our members experience as consumers impacts their expectations of their associations. And, I’ve posted before that associations – which need time and money from members – are in competition with anyone else seeking time and money.

The other day, I saw an awesome blog from Scott McKain, a friend, Twitter buddy and professional speaker. Scott gave me permission to plagiarize from his post on competition for businesses.

Take just a moment … right now … and write down the names of your two biggest competitors.

What did you put down?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Would Outsourcing Benefit Most Associations?

Have you ever noticed our common practice when introducing ourselves (and our associations) saying the size of our budget and number of employees we have? It is almost as if CEOs and associations define themselves and their “worth” based on these two factors.
When I first read The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman, I was surprised to learn that Ford Motor Company had outsourced shipping of its cars to UPS.

Here’s Tom’s account:
  • In 2001, Ford Motor Co. turned over its snarled and slow distribution network to UPS, allowing UPS to come deep inside Ford to figure out what its problems were and smooth out its supply chain. “For years, the bane of most Ford dealers was the auto maker's Rube Goldberg-like system for getting cars from factory to showroom,” BusinessWeek reported in its July 19, 2004, issue. “Cars could take as long as a month to arrive-that is, when they weren't lost along the way. And Ford Motor Co. was not always able to tell its dealers exactly what was coming, or even what was in inventory at the nearest rail yards. 'We'd lose track of whole trainloads of cars,' recalls Jerry Reynolds, owner of Prestige Ford in Garland, Tex. 'It was crazy.'” But after UPS got under Ford's hood, “UPS engineers... redesigned Ford's entire North American delivery network, streamlining everything from the route cars taken from the factory to how they're processed at regional sorting hubs”– including pasting bar codes on the windshields of the 4 million cars coming out of Ford's U.S. plants so they could be tracked just like packages. As a result, UPS cut the time it took autos to arrive at dealer lots by 40 percent, to ten days on average. BusinessWeek reported: “That saves Ford millions in working capital each year and makes it easy for its 6,500 dealers to track down the models most in demand... 'It was the most amazing transformation I had ever seen,' marvels Reynolds. 'My last comment to UPS was: 'Can you get us spare parts like this?'”
I thought of this story when I saw a UPS bar code sticker on a Ford I rented a week ago.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

How Content & Thought Leadership Can Build Association Value

Those attending last week’s St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership (STIAL) meeting got a personal look at the strategies and tactics of the Composite Engagement Score system.

Matt Van Cleave, Senior Vice President of Aptify, shared the details of the Composite Engagement Score system and encouraged participants to download his presentation  and an ebook with more details on the system.

Monday, October 22, 2012

7 Articles for Association Executives: SCDdaily's Readings of the Week

Here are seven articles of value to association executives and other association professionals:
The Static Website Is Dead — Long Live Personalized Content  
By Mark Sherbin via Content Marketing Institute

Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time is tricky. But existing techniques and new technology are upping the ante in an emerging trend called content personalization. Your content marketing could benefit big time from it — especially if you cater to different audience segments. Content personalization (or customization — take your pick) is a strategy that relies on visitor data to deliver relevant content based on audience interests and motivations. It ranges from a highly targeted call to action to a revolving landing page based on geographic or industry-specific segments. It’s a user experience shortcut that connects your audience with the information it needs more quickly, enhancing the chance of converting the lead.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

5 Principles for Increasing Staff Engagement: How Associations Can Avoid Sick Day Abuse

Photo courtesy of People Insight-
The USA Today story (Say what? For a workday off, some employees say anything) – based on CareerBuilder surveys of 3,976 employees and 2,494 hiring managers and HR professionals – grabbed my attention. The study made me wonder whether association employees are engaged or are making excuses for taking time off from work?
“They may think of sick days as a fleeting benefit,” CareerBuilder's Rosemary Haefner says, "They think, 'I've got to use it or lose it.' Sick-day abuse not only alienates managers and co-workers who are left to handle the workload.”

How engaged is your association’s staff?

Thursday, October 18, 2012

3 Steps to Get Association Boards to Challenge S.O.W.S. & Sacred Cows

S.O.W.S. & Sacred Cows Can Block Forward Movement of Associations & Nonprofits
Association boards often have two major areas that keep them from moving the organization forward.
  • S.O.W.s ... which stands for “same old way”
  • Sacred Cows ... A program or service that has outlived its usefulness
Over the last 30 years, I’ve watched association and nonprofit boards (and staffs) struggle with both. As association executives, many of us complain to colleagues about boards that add new programs without eliminating old ones. This program creep often taxes staff and the organization without adding real value to members and prospects.
When I first entered association management, my first task was to evaluate a Sacred Cow (called the Princess Soya cost) and make a recommendation to the board about what to do with it. Being new to associations and new to this association, I was mindful of potential land-mines about chapters, boards and staff. With a lot of research, I presented facts and options to the board ... which led to the decision to cancel the program.
These three steps to help boards transverse a landscape filled with the S.O.W.s and Sacred Cows.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What can associations learn from Fearless Felix & Red Bull Stratos?

Sunday, October 14 ... You Tube says more than 3 million people watched the live streaming of Felix Baumgartner’s 4-mile plunge from the edge of space
I’ve got to admit that I was one of those 3 million glued to the live streaming video. Pretty amazing stuff.

And, not so subtly (given its official name), Red Bull sponsored the event.
What a great fit given Red Bull’s target audience and carefully nurtured culture for “extreme sports.”
And, that is the lesson for associations.
If you partner with corporations (as sponsors for your events and/or as a cause marketing partner), be sure that the company fits with your culture and your members/prospects.
That “fit” helps ensure success.

Another great example: Avon Foundation for Women’s Walk for Breast Cancer. / Avon’s target audience is clearly women. And, their Foundation focuses on breast cancer and domestic violence.

A great example of the fit of culture and target audience.

So, when you are seeking corporate sponsors or partners, be sure you search and screen based on the company’s culture and target audiences.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

3 Business Trends Impacting Associations: Ripped from the Headlines

Three stories in the last week show association executives some key trends/issues that could impact associations and association members.

Here are excerpts of the stories ...
eBay unveils new logo, fresh look  
From USA Today via
EBay is hurtling into the digital age with a new logo, major redesign and aggressive plans to wade deeper into daily deals, search and shipping. Industry watchers say the changes are necessary, as more consumers opt for smartphones and tablets instead of PCs. "We believe every online experience will become organized around individual users and their preferences," says Jon Ehrlich, co-founder of social-commerce company Copious. On Wednesday, the company unveiled eBay Now, an app that offers "on-demand delivery service" of goods from local stores.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Best of the Week: 6 Stories for Association Executives from SCDdaily

Here are six stories and articles selected for association executives.

Pew Study: News consumption up via mobile, social media 
By Dan Farber via c|net
The Internet is continuing to erode TV, radio, and newspapers as the source of news for Americans. According to the latest Pew Research Center survey covering the changing news landscape, the proliferation of mobile devices and social networks is accelerating the shift to online news consumption. In the survey, 39 percent said that they got their news online, up from 33 percent two years ago. Social-networking sites grew from 9 percent to 19 percent as a source for news in the last two years, but only 3 percent of respondents say they regularly get news from Twitter.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Association Executives Can Learn From St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis Cardinals celebrate beating Washington Nationals in Game 5 of NLDS.
With a 2-out, 6-run come-from-behind win over the Washington Nationals in the 2012 baseball playoffs, the St. Louis Cardinals rekindled images of their improbably 2-out, 2-strike come-from-behind Game 7 win to capture the 2011 World Series.Just last week (before the Cardinals playoff win), Jason Selk posted a story in Forbes called What Business Professionals Can Learn from the St. Louis Cardinals.  

Thursday, October 11, 2012

3 Studies Impacting Association Member Pricing Strategies

After seeing another TV commercial offering a membership for only $19 a month, I remarked to my wife that there must be some magic in the $19 a month number.
I’ve posted before about the “magic pricing” for association memberships and a case study of one association that added a free member category.

Is there a "magic" price for association memberships?

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

Now, Gregory Ciotti of The Daily Egg shares 3 Research Studies That Reveal Smarter Pricing Strategies.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

7 Techniques & 9 Examples of Association Videos

Video is rapidly becoming a major communications tool. 
Yet, based on questions on the ASAE Collaborate, many associations are still struggling with what to do and how to do it. 
Here’s a sample of the responses to an ongoing video discussion among ASAE members:

Looking for any and all feedback from associations utilizing video to reach potential and current members. I've written a blog providing insight (from our end) on the topic as well.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Changing How Associations Think: What Business Can Show Us?

Someone on the ASAE Collaborate CEO Online last week asked, “What are you budgeting for salaries in 2013?” An exec from a local realtor association responded, “We’ve budgeted 3% for staff raises in 2013.”Something about this discussion bothers me. 
But, I’m not sure what. Perhaps I’m bothered by this apparent “doing what we’ve always done” attitude? 
The online discussion makes me wonder how associations can continue to increase the overhead costs reflected in staff salaries and the corresponding benefit increases? 
I’ve been both an employee of a large national association and the owner of an association management company which served as the staff and headquarters of nine national or regional associations. As an AMC owner, I knew that anytime salaries and benefits exceeded two-thirds of my total revenue, I was in trouble. I’m not sure of the ratio for stand-alone associations.

Monday, October 8, 2012

6 Reports for Association Executives: From SCD Group

Pew Study: News consumption up via mobile, social media  By Dan Farber via c|net
The Internet is continuing to erode TV, radio, and newspapers as the source of news for Americans. According to the latest Pew Research Center survey covering the changing news landscape, the proliferation of mobile devices and social networks is accelerating the shift to online news consumption. In the survey, 39 percent said that they got their news online, up from 33 percent two years ago. Social-networking sites grew from 9 percent to 19 percent as a source for news in the last two years, but only 3 percent of respondents say they regularly get news from Twitter.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Dueling Boards for One Nonprofit: Would You Do this for Your Association?

Here’s a new definition of insanity:  create two boards to be “in charge” of one nonprofit organization!

That’s what has happened with “big five cultural institutions” in St. Louis (Zoo, Art Museum, Science Center, Botanical Garden & History Museum).

And, it has exposed the underbelly of accepting taxpayer funds to support your nonprofit.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch (P-D) has been running a series of articles about the Missouri History Museum (MHM) “gone wild” in going around its politically-appointed commissioners. As an association professional, I think the organizational structure unveiled about “vital big five” St. Louis institutions is a much bigger issue.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Association Member Recruitment: New Opportunities vs Same Old Ways

A question on the ASAE Collaborate for Small Association Professionals grabbed my attention ... and made me wonder about the changes in “association recruitment.”Here’s the question that was posted:

"We are in the planning stages of a membership drive and I am looking for any information out there on the following:

  1. Types of incentives for those recruiting.
  2. Types and methods of promoting - anything special I should think about beyond email, newsletter, website, and social media promotion?
  3. Qualifications for a new member to qualify as a "new" member - do you include those folks that were members within the last year, two, five, etc.? Do you have a cutoff, or any other sort of parameters? We are not including current renewals, but what about someone that lapsed during the previous renewal?
  4. Anything I need to think about in terms of providing incentives? Liability or tax or anything? Our plan is to provide a $50 Amazon gift card to anyone named in an accepted new members' application upon the members approval.
  5. Has anyone provided any sort of additional incentive, such as an extra bonus for the top three people that bring in the most new members?
  6. Lastly - what did you do to ensure they were more than "flash in the pan" members and renewed the next year? Any special communications, outreach, bonuses, and so forth?"
As you look at what this exec laid out, you find a “classical” member-get-a-member recruitment program. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Millennials, Multitasking and Associations: What Can We Do at Work

I’m a piler not a filer. I’m a multitasker. I’m easily distracted. Probably would have been diagnosed as ADD but they didn’t have that term when I was growing up.

I’ve progressed from being the guy to “run” to the fax machine (when it was called a “telecopier”) when I heard one coming in. Then, I progressed to opening an email as soon as I heard it chime in. Now, it’s watching Twitter, Facebook & LinkedIn. And, oh, how I love the ability to have multiple screens and programs running simultaneously via Windows!

I’m like a squirrel chasing nuts ... when another drops, I stop what I’m doing and chase the next one.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Will Government’s Conference Scandals Spillover to Association Meetings?

First it was the General Services Administration spending $823,000 for a conference in Las Vegas.Now (10/1/12) comes an Inspector General’s report of lavish conference spending on the part of the Veteran’s Administration which spent more than $6 million on two conferences in Orlando. A 15-minute $50,000 “Patton video” was one highlighted expense. 

While some see these as examples of out-of-control federal spending during the Obama Administration, I see them as a threat to association meetings.

  • Will these two scandals result in new legislation governing conference spending?
  • Will they lead association members to question association meeting expenses?
  • Will they result in travel restrictions that hurt the conference & meetings industry?
  • Do they mean that association CEOs need to more carefully examine conference expenses? 
Those of us involved in planning and implementing conferences need to be mindful that these two scandals will have our members and volunteer leaders taking a closer look at what we are doing and how much it costs.  This is especially the case in industries/professionals that the recession has hit extremely hard (associations representing housing, construction, reality, etc.) 

This is a reminder of the old phrase “Perception is Reality.”

10/11/12 Update:
Ernie Smith shared the following report in Associations Now:
Roughly 80 National Weather Service employees couldn’t travel after the Department of Commerce failed to authorize funding.

This week’s annual meeting of the National Weather Association could best be described, as, well … stormy.

Last week, one of the conference’s largest contingents — employees of the National Weather Service (NWS) — found out they couldn’t attend after the Department of Commerce, the parent agency of the group, failed to approve more than $200,000 in funding for travel to the conference, forcing a 65 percent cut in the agency’s travel budget for the meeting,according to The Washington Post.

The conflict may be the first major manifestation of new rules implemented by the federal government limiting spending on conferences in the wake of the Government Spending Accountability Act, passed after a General Services Administration conference in 2010 drew congressional attention.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Tips on 4 Tools that Boost Association Membership

A few years ago, I was working with a client on its membership marketing program. The committee wanted a “list” of key people to reach. While the committee debated, I did a quick LinkedIn search and discovered more than 4,000 people with that exact title. With that knowledge, they began to develop a LinkedIn engagement strategy starting with a LinkedIn group around the specific topic (not the organization).

Since then, I’ve been watching and studying other “non-traditional” tools that can help associations and nonprofits reach their goals.

One tip included in Geri Stengel’s LinkedIn tips applies to everything we do in association membership, marketing, advocacy and development:
  •  Build Your Network (audience) Before You Need It. If you try to build your audience (members, nonmembers, prospects, etc.) during crisis, it is too late. Start now if you haven’t already.