Sunday, December 30, 2012

SCDdaily's Readings of the Week for Association Executives

These articles might help you through boring holiday football games!

A 12 Word Social Media Policy 
By Maddie Grant via Socialfish

Here is the Mayo Clinic’s 12-word social media policy:
Don’t Lie, Don’t Pry
Don’t Cheat, Can’t Delete
Don’t Steal, Don’t Reveal

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Do One Thing Right? AT&T Gets off track: lesson for association leaders

AT&T's Roadside Assistance Flier in AT&T monthly bill
Last month, Jeff Hoffman wrote a piece in Inc. titled Do One Thing & Do It Better Than Anyone Else. “Become the best darn whatever-you-are that you can be,” Hoffman suggested. “Set aside your other good ideas. The rest will follow. Find your "golden purpose" ... the reason you and your company (association) exist.”

Shortly after seeing Hoffman’s post, my AT&T bill arrived ... and included a flier that “congratulated” me for being a new member of the AT&T Roadside Assistance service. The brochure outlined all the “member benefits” and even included two “membership cards” for the Signature Motor Club & AT&T Roadside Assistance. (Those two different names on one card confused me!)

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What does a Great Association Website Look Like (rewind)

This original piece was first posted January 5, 2012. 

If you want to review your website, I urge you to reread the original post plus include this story as part of your research. Top 10 Mistakes of Association Web Sites—and How to Fix Them.


Over the holidays, I explored more than 25 association websites.

Looking at association sites other than your own is an interesting (and informative) process.

And, somewhat alarming!


Sunday, December 23, 2012

Branson Experience Parallels Most Associations

My wife and I joined colleges friends recently for a trip to Branson (MO) for its Christmas shows.

What a great experience. From the visitors center (which gave us tickets and tips) to the restaurants (which quickly handled the four of us plus 3-4 busloads of tourists) to the awesome shows (Andy Williams, Six, The 12 Irish Tenors and Shoji Tabuchi) to the holiday light shows.

Branson delivered a great experience ... especially for retiring boomers or older folks.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Four Lessons Associations Can Learn from Radio Flyer’s Little Red Wagons

Growing up in the 1950s I really, really wanted to have a red Radio Flyer wagon. 

I dreamed about it and pestered my parents about getting one for Christmas (probably when I was five or six).

But, with five kids, they couldn’t really afford one. So, Christmas passed.

On my birthday in April, however, my oldest brother took me out to the barn. And, there, gleaming in its red glory, was a Radio Flyer red wagon! What an awesome birthday gift from my family!

This memory flashed back when I read a USA Today story (11/30/12) about CEO Robert Pasin and the “reinvention” of Radio Flyer. 

For associations, this fascinating story shows how an iconic company has worked to reinvent its products so it can thrive in a rapidly changing environment. And innovating to meet changing needs represents a major challenge for today’s associations and nonprofit organizations.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Generation Flux ... Impact on Associations

When I finished college, I joined The Associated Press as a news reporter. It was an awesome learning experience. My time on the “night broadcast desk” taught me to write fast and concise in broadcast style.

It was my Saturday morning moments with News Editor Alf Hall that may have taught me the most about myself.

Alf (probably in his mid-50s at the time) had started his career at the Springfield Daily News along with Pulitzer Prize winner James (Scotty) Reston. Young journalists like me admired and almost idolized Reston and his work. He was an aspirational goal for many young journalists.

During a slow period one Saturday morning, Alf gazed out the windows of our office overlooking the Supreme Court Building and Ohio State Capitol in Columbus. Slowly and proudly he said, “You know Steve, I was here when they planted those trees.”

Knowing Alf had once worked with Scotty Reston and looking at what appeared to me to be huge – thus old – trees, I responded “That’s really something Alf.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Association Staffing and the End of Toll Booth Workers: 3 Lessons for Association Executives

Goodbye Toll Booth Worker (left); Hello Automatic Billing (right)
When driving with my son in the Dallas area a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that Texas is tearing out toll booths.

Rather than stopping to drop coins in a basket and watch the gate go up to let you through, he just keeps driving. A scanner checks his easy pass every so often and deducts the toll. And, if you don’t have an easy pass? Simple, the toll authority snaps a picture of your car’s license and sends you a bill for using the highway.

Technology at work ... disrupting the workforce ... and, in this case, the life of highway toll booth operators.
I was thinking about this and associations the other day.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Readings of the Week: Appraisals, Tweet Clicks, Titles and 3 Other Top Stories for Association Executives

The Performance Appraisal: A Workplace Evil That Must Be Destroyed Like a Blood Sucking Vampire  By Kevin Kruse via Forbes
Did you know that the two things managers hate most are firing people, and doing performance reviews? And the two things employees hate most are being fired, and performance reviews. Why? Because everybody knows they are awkward, contrived and a huge waste of time. Here are 4 reasons why the annual performance review—as it’s traditionally practiced—is an evil, toxic ritual that must be abolished:
  • The annual schedule is an enabler of delayed feedback. 
  • They are based on preset, generalized “standards” that are vague and subjective.
  • The five point scale is vague and subjective. 
  • The appraisal is tied to compensation. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Associations and Urban Myths

Some stories stick. Even when they are not true. 

If the myth negatively impacts your association or your members, it spells problems.

Two examples of holiday myths surfaced this month: 

MYTH: Suicides Spike During Holiday Months (November, December, January)
REALITY: The months of November, December and January actually have the lowest number of suicides per day, according to the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center, which analyzed 1999-2010 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It found that averages were highest in the spring and summer. (See USA Today ... Holiday suicide myth persists, research says.)  

The center, which has tracked the media's reporting of suicides since 2000, looked at stories that linked suicides and the holidays. In 1999, 77% of those stories said, erroneously, that suicides increased over the holidays. The proportion of stories that supported that myth dropped after the center's analysis came out, but rose again last year to 76%.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

7 Ways To Build An Association Brand Like Bond

Note: With express permission from
Ken Carbone,  cofounder and chief creative director of the Carbone Smolan Agency, this post is based on Ken's FastCompany story titled 7 Ways to Build a Brand Like Bond.

Under SCD, you'll find my questions and comments about “lessons for associations” based on each of Ken's seven points from Bond.

James Bond might be British, but his brand strategies are universal. Here are 007 tips to ensure your association brand is shaken, not stirred.

With a bang, the 23rd James Bond film will open in U.S. theaters on November 9, and no doubt it will be a blockbuster like all the films from this franchise. The media buzz has already begun, and actor Daniel Craig will attempt to once again put his edgy stamp on the iconic character. But the Bond "brand" is much bigger than any one actor. It is built on a solid and winning formula that has worked for more than 50 years. It's totally scalable, always on trend, and continually innovative. A close look at James Bond as a brand reveals seven universal lessons that are applicable to any company in search of brand stardom:

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why you should create Association videos that rock

Ok, so we know that our associations should be using video to help reach our objectives. So, what’s keeping us back? Are we editors and not broadcasters? Do we think producing videos will cost too much or take too much time? Or, does our CEO and/or board think videos are a waste of time? 

This “2012 rewind” looks at some great posts and stories about associations and videos.

For additional examples, guest bloggers Elissa Leif & Barbara Haupt of MiniMatters shared this post last July: Some Associations Are Exploring YouTube's Potential

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Building Experience into your Annual Association Conference

Have you ever been part of a “tail gate” party before a college football game? (Or, a pro game?)

When I return to Ohio State in the fall for a “big time” college football game, the tailgaters amaze me! Complete barbecue setups. RVs with big screen TVs. Lawn games. Beer and soft drinks. And lots of celebrating. 

Some friends of ours have a huge family tailgate. Four tents, four generators, four big screen TVs and 30-50 people. The “lead person” for the game gets up around 5 so he/she can be on campus by 6 am in order to get “their space.” Their tailgate trailer holds all the “stuff” packed neatly in tupperware containers for plates, silverware, TVs, generators and all the other stuff. Whole families attend. Kids play football and/or frisbee and/or bean bag toss. Adults talk, watch games and “get ready” for the game. About half of these tailgaters actually go to the game; the rest soak up the atmosphere and head home before it is over.

College football – from tailgating to marching bands to pre-game rituals to the actual game – provides an exiting environment and experience for the fans.

So, what does tailgating have to do with associations?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Trust, Disruption & 3 other articles for association executives

In The Trust Economy, Marketers Are Bankrupt By Mitch Joel via Six Pixels of Separation blog
It's getting ugly for marketers. Too bad, because marketing is just starting to get good.
We have a major issue with marketing. Bottom line: marketers need to prove the business impact of our work. Seems simple enough, doesn't it? Well, the CEOs of our world do not believe that we are delivering on this concept. That is the sad (and, ultimately, very scary) news out of the Fournaise 2012 Global Marketing Effectiveness Program, which interviewed over 1,200 CEOs from across North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

4 Ideas Associations Can Glean from P&G’s 175th anniversary

I once managed an organization through its centennial celebration as well as a major foundation grant to help determine its future. Unfortunately, its leadership chose not to make changes toward the future and the nonprofit flounders and struggles to remain relevant.So, I read with great interest the story of Procter & Gamble’s 175th anniversary and its future path.

"I think the issue for Procter is that it has to respect its past but be more adaptive to the changing marketplace and be quicker to market," said Matt McCormick, a portfolio manager with Bahl & Gaynor, a large P&G shareholder with nearly 5 million shares. "They're not going to be able to rest on their laurels."

Associations can learn from the four challenges P&G faces and its solutions.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Update: How Association Execs Know It is Time to Leave

Back in November, I wrote "How do you know when it is time to leave" and then followed with "13 Associations Executives Respond to When It's Time to Leave."

Over Thanksgiving weekend, St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports columnist Bernie Miklasz wrote a piece about Missouri football coach Gary Pinkle headlined Has Pinkle Gone Stale?  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Introducing STIAL: an example of association rebranding

Guest Post by Jim Schnurbusch, Chief Storyteller, OrgStory [Please see footnote] 
“It was a cold, snowy Wednesday morning in January. The group of 16 had gathered around the table to put the past behind them…” 

Sounds like the beginning of a novel – a story about change, a story about letting go of the past and looking forward to the future. Well, it is. But it’s not a story to be read, it’s a story to be lived. Effective today, 12.12.12, members of the St. Louis Society of Association Executives (SLSAE) celebrated with style and welcomed a more relevant and meaningful membership into the St. Louis Institute for Association Leadership (STIAL).

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Top 5 articles for Association Executives for 12/5

Since today is 12/5, I've selected 5 topics all offering 5 tips or ideas!

5 Signs That You Don’t Know Your Audience  
By Deana Goldasich via Well Planned Web blog
Audience Personas are not just a nice idea or a warm fuzzy. Locking eyes with your audience in every piece of communication is more essential than ever — especially when it comes to the complex sale that requires helping a prospect or customer make a complicated decision.
Our favorite: “We know our members. We just don’t know how to reach them.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

3 reasons to know your association’s RPM (Revenue Per Member)

What is Your Association's RPM (Revenue Per Member)?
When I interviewed Rob Fowler, president/CEO of the Small Business Association Of Michigan, for my September 20 post about SBAM’s freemium membership model, he talked about their Revenue Per Member or RPM metric.

It made me realize many association’s may not think about the importance of knowing your RPM. Or even of including RPM in your association’s metrics dashboard.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Will “Subscription Economy” Impact Association Memberships?

Two recent stories outline changes in the economy that might impact association membership strategies.

As you surely know, newspaper subscriptions continue to tank and threaten the business model for most printed newspapers.

You may not know, however, that some companies have created a subscription model as a cornerstone of their businesses.

The question is will either of these impact association memberships and what, if anything, associations can learn from the media.