Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2014 ... from the SCD Group Inc. team.

Monday, December 30, 2013

7 Things Brown Can Show Your Association

Perhaps you’ve read the stories about missed deliveries of UPS (also known as Brown) or even experienced the delays in delivery of Christmas presents.

Headline writers couldn’t resist as in USA Today's  UPS: Upset, Peeved Shoppers. Others wrote: “The Grinch wore brown this Christmas.” Or this one, UPS Shipping Delays Show Perils of Stores Overpromising.

Background of Christmas 2013:

  • Shoppers shopped later.
  • Retailers (both online and bricks & mortar) promised presents would arrive on time (some even saying you could buy on December 22 and still get it delivered by Christmas Eve.)
  • Delivery companies (especially UPS) underestimated volume and missed Christmas deadlines.
  • Millions of customers were angry.
  • Retailers blamed the shippers.
  • Shippers did not adequately communicate issue to consumers.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

To Hold A Press Conference, or Not To Hold A Press Conference:

That is the Question--and here is one answer

Guest post by Sheri L. Singer, President, Singer Communications

  • I started my association career in association public relations. I’ve written and issued numerous releases and help multiple in-person and phone news conferences. So, when I saw Sheri Singer’s comments on ASAE’s Collaborate discussion about news conferences, I asked her to share them with you.
When I started working for nonprofits a few decades ago, we'd hold several press conferences every year--at our annual meeting, after testifying on the Hill (often as a member of a coalition), to announce the results of a study and more.

Today, I advise my association clients not to hold press conferences. The only caveat may be if you have an A-lister like Jennifer Aniston or President Obama. And even with an A-lister, colleagues say they have had trouble getting journalists there.


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

We will be publishing sporadically over the next 10 days.

May you and your families and friends have a joyous, happy and safe holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Steve Drake

Monday, December 23, 2013

Laughter, Leadership, Performance and Other Great Reads for Association Executives

Leadership Is About Emotion
By Meghan M. Biro via Forbes

This ability to reach people in a way that transcends the intellectual and rational is the mark of a great leader. They all have it. They inspire us. It’s as simple as that. And when we’re inspired we tap into our best selves and deliver amazing work.

Let’s Take A Look At Tools That Allow For Talent To Shine:
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Continuous learning 
  • Contextualize
  • Let Go
  • Honesty
  • Kindness and respect
  • Collaboration
  • Partner with your people

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Are Downton Abbey and associations both last century dramas?

What does Downton Abbey suggest for Association Professionals

I’m late to the party in terms of watching and enjoying PBS’s show Downton Abbey. We’ve been watching Seasons 1, 2 and 3 on BluRay to get ready for Season 4 which starts on PBS this January.

If you’ve not watched it, it is well worth your time!

Here’s the key scenario of the plot which is set in England in the early 1900s: http://taylorholmes.com/2012/08/14/downton-abbey-explained-infographics/
  • Overall plot: protecting Downton Abbey for future generations
  • Upstairs House: the lords and ladies ... similar association volunteers and board members
  • Downstairs House: the servants ... similar to association staff

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Is Google the Ultimate Example of Targeting?

A friend shared a 12/18/13 posting from delanceyplace.com titled The same internet search yields two different results.
Here’s the intro:
  • In today's selection -- from The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser. Because of the personalization of the internet, an internet search of the same term by two different people will often bring very different results. We are each increasingly being served not only ads for what we are more likely to want, but also news and information that is familiar and confirms our beliefs. The issue is that we are increasingly unaware of what is being filtered out and why -- leaving us each more and more in our own unique and self-reinforcing information bubble. Author Eli Pariser calls this "the filter bubble" -- and it is leaving less room for encounters with unexpected ideas:

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What do we do about apathetic association boards?

Back on September 12, I posted a blog “9 reasons to fire your association board members.”

So, I’ve read with interest a recent string of comments on ASAE Collaborate responding to Mike Levin’s query:

  • “Our Board of Directors (12 people) seem to have become apathetic. Have any of you run into this situation or have any suggestions? Thanks.”
Here are the responses to date.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Creating fun & appreciation to help recruit members and employees

Get your staff out of the office and create some fun?
As part of a generational issues session I led at last week’s Syngenta Business Institute (SBI) for selected golf course superintendents, I asked small groups of participants to come up with solutions for three key questions:
  1. How to create fun in your work place?
  2. How to recruit younger members/golfers?
  3. How to create appreciation for your staff?
While these participants focused on golf clubs, their tactics can apply to staff of associations and other nonprofit organizations.

Here their ideas:

Monday, December 16, 2013

4 Fast Reads for Association Executives

How to Keep Client (Member) Rants from Going Viral
By Ryan Holmes via The Wall Street Journal

Here are a few stats that might keep customer service managers up at night. According to a recent Nielsen survey, more than half of all U.S. consumers now turn to social media to air questions and complaints about products and services. Meanwhile, Oracle reports 81 percent of Twitter users expect a same-day response to their queries. Whether your business is a startup scrambling to build a customer base or an enterprise-level company with tens of thousands of clients, dealing with consumers online is a new – and daunting – challenge.

Frontline support teams remain critical, but customer service in the social media era needs to be radically decentralized. In other words, it’s essential that all employees become the eyes and ears of an organization on social media.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What have you done to surprise your association members and enthuse your staff?

Surprising your members (customers) can convert boredom (cneter) into excitement!

Check out this amazing video story about West Jet’s AMAZING CHRISTMAS STUNT ON PASSENGERS.

As you view the video, think about these three items that this one event achieved:
  1. Surprised its customers (members)
  2. Engaged and enthused its staff
  3. Generated media buzz
I know you are not WestJet or a major corporation ... but ...

Think of the “activities or events” you could do to surprise your members and enthuse you staff!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Who is guarding your association’s finances and resources?

Association & Nonprofit CEOs:
  • When was the last time you really looked at your association’s financial systems and safeguards? Your members and boards assume you are protecting the funds you hold on behalf of your members and organization.
  • Think what happens to your career if you violate that trust?
Association & nonprofit CFOs:
  • Are you following financial checks and balances to ensure the funds you manage for the association?
  • Have you shared any concerns with your CEO and boards?
  • If not, who is going to protect you and your organization?
These questions come because another high profile embezzlement gives all associations and nonprofits a black eye.

Here’s the recent story from the Washington Post:
  • An administrative assistant admitted Monday to stealing more than $5 million from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) one of the largest embezzlement schemes from a Washington area nonprofit organization.
This article outlines the embezzlement that was recently reported at AAMC.
  • A Washington Post analysis last month of federal disclosure records filed by nonprofit groups across the country revealed more than 1,000 “significant diversions” of assets at such organizations. Many of the diversions identified by The Post were described as acts of theft and fraud carried out by insiders, contractors and investment advisers.
  • As an administrative assistant, Green had sole sign-off power on invoices up to about $20,000. 
  • “We are truly stunned,” Darrell G. Kirch, the AAMC’s president and chief executive, said in a statement that referred to Green as a “long-time, trusted employee.”

Trust but verify

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Perfect Practice Makes Permanent: Wisdom for Association Professionals

When I coached youth ice hockey, I always started the season asking my players:
“How many of you have been told ‘practice makes perfect?’”

Nearly all raised their hands ... every year for more than 10 years.

I then told them the statement was a lie!

“Only PERFECT practice makes perfect!”

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The 11 Ws of Buyer Persona for Associations

Guest Post by Jim Schnurbusch

There may be a no more talked about topic today in the Association world than “buyer persona”. This topic may be topping the charts of conversation as Associations continue to recruit, and retain, membership. Of course, understanding what your “buyers” want and understanding their behaviors as they relate to your Association and alternative resources are the keys to success.

As you contemplate your Association’s “buyer persona”, consider gaining insights about them using the follow 11 “Ws” – of course, the first five are of the “duh” variety but important nonetheless – the others push you past the obvious to really gain a more intimate view of your members and prospective members’ attitudes, awareness, understanding, behaviors – needs – from an Association like yours.
  1. Who – demographics, firmagraphics, titlegraphics, geographics, genegraphics will help your Association create a profile of your member, and prospective members;
  2. What – beyond who they are, what do they do? What are their responsibilities? Who do they interface with most often? Another important “what” to answer: what products, services, resources of your Association do they find most important and use most often? What Association-provided resources are hardly being accessed? A deeper understanding of “what” will make your Association more effective and relevant – and make your staff more efficient;
  3. When – knowing when your members and prospective members most think, most need the resources of your Association and access to their peers helps create focus in your marketing efforts to recruit them, and retain them;
  4. Where – a deeper relationship with members and prospects will reveal where they want, and expect, your Association to be present as a resource to them. You may think your bi-monthly member magazine is where your presence needs to be; members and prospects may tell you otherwise. Ask them where their Association should be present to best meet their needs;
  5. Why – do you know why your members are willing to share their professional journey with your Association? Why is your association being given the privilege of their time and maybe money? 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Mental Toughness, Leadership & 2 Other Readings for Association Professionals

Mentally Strong People: The 13 Things They Avoid
By Cheryl Conner via Forbes

1. They Don’t Waste Time Feeling Sorry for Themselves
2. They Don’t Give Away Their Power
3. They Don’t Shy Away from Change
4. They Don’t Waste Energy on Things They Can’t Control
5. They Don’t Worry About Pleasing Everyone
6. They Don’t Fear Taking Calculated Risks
7. They Don’t Dwell on the Past
8. They Don’t Make the Same Mistakes Over and Over
9. They Don’t Resent Other People’s Success
10. They Don’t Give Up After the First Failure
11. They Don’t Fear Alone Time
12. They Don’t Feel the World Owes Them Anything
13. They Don’t Expect Immediate Results

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Handwriting, Creativity & Associations

Ok, I must admit that my handwriting (cursive) is terrible ... and getting worse!

I attribute it to missing 66 days of school in 1st and 2nd grades ... but it may be more of speed and 50+ years of typing. (I always tell people the one semester of typing – now called keyboarding – was the most useful class I took in high school.)

So, now I discover there is research on the importance of cursive writing and brain development.


Nancy B. Loughlin wrote a column on it that was headlined Know Thyself: Demise of cursive writing a sad tale .

A University of Washington study led by Dr. Virginia Berninger determined that the brain and the hand working together to execute the strokes of individual letters activates the areas of the brain dedicated to thinking, memory and language. Selecting a key on a board doesn’t.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Euchre, Small Groups and Engaging Association Members

Can a card game increase member engagement?

Well, it was euchre that engaged us with Pelican Preserve and gave us connection, fellowship and engagement with other snow birds here. And, I’m convinced that euchre and its friendships, represents the primary connecting in moving here.

We experienced the same connection with our church and its small groups. They became the key strategy in engaging members.

As I reflected on this, it reminded me that the initial connections members have with their associations determine whether they remain with their association. That experience might come at a chapter meeting or a national conference. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

On the Road with Charles Kuralt and Association Membership

As a young AP news reporter in Ohio, I loved CBS’s On the Road with Charles Kuralt ... the quirky video stories that ended many of Walter Cronkite’s CBS Evening News shows. 

As a reporter, I envied Kuralt and his freedom to gather such stories. Later, as a public relations professional, I desperately wanted to “place” a story with Kuralt. I got close once. He did a radio show based on information a friend of mine and I gave him.

One summer, the person responsible for the college lecture series sent over the list of speakers for the year so I could produce a promotional piece. And, Charles Kuralt was listed as one of the speakers! I called the lecture chair and said only half jokingly, “If you don’t get me dinner with Kuralt, I’ll not promote your lecture series again!” 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What happens when your association’s CSO (chief staff officer) leaves (quits, is fired, dies)?

Last summer, I watched as two school districts “struggled” with replacing school superintendents who were “nudged” out (one took a lower-paying superintendent’s job at a small district, the other “retired.”)

Neither had been in their jobs for more than three years.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Millennials+Content+Mobile = 6 Great Reads for Association Professionals

Study Shows One-third of Workers Aren't in Occupations Related to Their College Major
AgriMarketing Magazine via CareerBuilder

Choosing your college major is a significant life decision, but a new study from CareerBuilder suggests it may not necessarily define your career path. Nearly half (47 percent) of college-educated workers said their first job after college was not related to their college major. Thirty-two percent of college-educated workers reported that they never found a job related to their college major. Among more seasoned workers - those ages 35 and older - that number is 31 percent. The national survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive© from August 13 to September 6, 2013, and included a representative sample of 2,134 workers across industries and company sizes who graduated from college.

Content is a Verb
By Sonia Simone via CopyBlogger.com

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Exit, Voice and Loyalty: Choices for Association Executives, Leaders, Members

Over the last 30+ years in associations and nonprofit organizations, I’ve witnessed:
  • Major donors defect from the organization 
  • Board members yell and debate over seemingly inconsequential matters
  • Members resign in protest over the organization’s policies
With that background, I was astonished to read about Albert Hirschman’s 1970 piece called Exit, Voice and Loyalty” as noted in Roger Lowenstein’s Wall Street Journal review titled The Choice: To Squawk or to Go?  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!

In recognition of this holiday, we will not be publishing SCDdaily again until Monday, December 2.

Sort of our way of "boycotting" Black Friday.

And, getting ready for the Ohio State - Michigan football game!
O.H! Go Bucks!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Associations Note: Being 1st to Market Still Relevant


  • Who was the second man on the moon? 
  • Who was runnerup to last year’s World Series? 
  • Who was the second person to fly non-stop, solo across the Atlantic?

We’ve been told for decades that it is important to be first to market with a product or service.

At the 2012 Content Marketing World Conference, Sam Sebastin, Google’ Director of B2B Markets, talked about the Zero Moment of Truth.

Rule #5: Be Fast!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Speaking+Writing+3 Other Reads for Association Executives

Obama May Have Twitter, But Lincoln Was the First President to Go Viral
By Devon Maloney via Wired
Lincoln’s address that afternoon, which came after a two-hour speech from famous-at-the-time orator Edward Everett, contained just 272 words, a shockingly short length that allowed it to be transmitted rapidly and become, arguably, one of the first messages from a U.S. president to go viral.
“Lincoln was a master political strategist. He truly understood what it took to get the message out to the people,” said Schnall. ”He knew the speech would be telegraphed across the nation; within 48 hours every newspaper as far as California had printed the speech straight on the front page, which is exactly what he was aiming for. He was using the media of communication in different ways than a president had ever done before.”

Beyond the Boom: Changes Chambers Must Make to Engage the Next Generation
By Sarah L. Sladek via Membership180

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Quick Technique to Stop Wasting Association Board and Staff Meeting Time

7:29, 12:48 & 9:02 Central Drake Time
Board time is a non-renewable resource. 

So is staff time!

Yet, American culture and practice says you don’t need to get to a 9:00 am meeting until 5 or 10 minutes after 9.

And, recognizing this, many meeting chairs don’t start the meeting “until a few more members arrive.”

This represents a ridiculous waste of time and resources. And, those arriving late show they don’t respect their colleagues or the value of their time.

Years ago, a soybean farmer gave me a tip to stop wasting time.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"Ask Not What Your Country Can Do for You ...

... ask what you can do for your country."

                   -- President John F. Kennedy, first inaugural address
Like anyone else of my generation, I remember exactly where I was when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

I was in the living room of the Alpha Zeta fraternity house when Chuck Dix raced into the house and yelled “turn on the TV, Kennedy’s been shot.” And, then, we watched mesmerized as the news unfolded and as other brothers came in from campus.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Get Out Before You Are Forced Out: Steve Ballmer’s Lesson for Association Executives

I was stunned when the board fired my boss and, as the #2, asked me to leave with him.

After all over the 15 years of our leadership, the organization had doubled in membership and revenues and had become the envy of other associations within our community.

Chuck Rumbarger, CAE, told me:

“Your friends come and go but your enemies accumulate.”

I thought of this when I read Monica Langley’s Wall Street Journal article headlined Impatient Board Sped Ballmer’s Exit

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Storytelling Builds Success for Association Execs

I can still recall the angst at my initial talk before the board of a large national association where I had just been named its director of public relations.

I was nervous because the CEO had been criticized for appointing someone with “no agricultural experience.” I had 12 years experience as a news reporter and college PR director but had never worked in agriculture.

The CEO gave me 15 minutes to introduce myself to the board.

What should I say?

So I shared a story from college where I had majored in agricultural economics and international journalism. I told them how I felt when going across the river from the main campus to the ag campus. How the attitude changed. The comfort level increased. I ended saying joining their association felt like coming home. 

And, that was the last of the criticism about my not being an “aggie.”

I thought of this as I read Jerod Morris’s awesome blog on the power of story telling

Association CEOs and association executives should carefully read this blog post and study its lessons. It will help you in meetings with boards, members and other vital audiences.

So, how do you tell a great story?

You make sure that you have the five elements that every great marketing story needs:
  • A hero
  • A goal
  • An obstacle
  • A mentor
  • A moral
But don’t stop here. Read Morris’s full blog.

Then, practice your story telling and watch your results!

Monday, November 18, 2013

6 Great Reads for Association Executives

Storytelling is Still the Most Powerful Way to Persuade
By Jerod Morris via Copyblogger.com
You just need to “find ways to connect with your audience on an emotional level.” These are the words of Cliff Atkinson, author and communications consultant, as quoted recently in the Wall Street Journal. Yes, even a publication known for numbers and news knows that when it comes to persuasion, stories succeed. But not just any story. So how do you tell a good story? You make sure that you have the five elements that every great marketing story needs:

  • A hero
  • A goal
  • An obstacle
  • A mentor
  • A moral
4 Things Your Business Can Learn from a 'Boring' Pre-Flight Safety Briefing
By Ann Handley via MarketingProfs

The new Virgin video is probably the only safety video I’ve ever seen that plays more like a music video than a boring safety briefing. But, what’s more, Virgin is also breaking new ground by linking the pre-flight video to a fun marketing program, using Instagram and other social tools to expand the reach exponentially beyond those whose butts are already in a Virgin seat.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

How is your team work? Association members are watching!

The other night, my wife and I had dinner at the local Chili’s restaurant.

While ordering and eating, we observed how much the staff helped each other regardless of the table to which they were assigned. They engaged customers. They helped buss tables. They helped deliver the meals. Even the manager was bussing tables. 

Clearly this staff cared for the customers and worked as a team. No, “that’s not my job” attitude.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

5 tips to enhance creativity within your association

In a special USA Today piece headlined Brain a 'creativity machine,' if you use it rightKaren Weintraub shared news of new brain research that can help association executives.
  • For years, neuroscientists looked for a "creativity spot" in the brain. But now they know it's in lots of places, and certain practices can help make you think more creatively.
  • "The brain is a creativity machine. You just need to know how to manipulate your software to make it work for you," says Shelley Carson, a researcher and lecturer in psychology at Harvard University and author of Your Creative Brain.
  • The trick to keeping creativity going, she says, is helping kids see that rules and imagination are not at odds.
  • The more we understand about the neuroscience of creativity, the better we will be able to teach people to be more creative, Damasio says. "I think people are getting more and more aware that creativity can be strengthened, fostered and encouraged."

Weintraub shared these five tips: 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sound strategy for associations

Former GE Chairman Jack Welch once said ...

 “Change before you have to.” 

I wonder if these companies heard him?
  • Blockbuster
  • Blackberry
  • Kodak
What about your association?
  • Are you hanging on to the way you’ve always done things?
  • Are you ignoring the wave of technology changes impacting members and prospects?
  • Are you monitoring the vast array of “things” competing with your association for the time and funds of your members and prospects?
Change before you have to is worthwhile advice!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

“Nothin’ ruins a good organization like too much money.”

A board member shared that bit of wisdom with me more than 25 years ago.

The more time I’ve spent in association management, the more I realize the wisdom of his thinking.

As association budgets go larger, committees began to argue over which got the most money. Board members seemed to bicker more. There were more jealousies between staffs and among board members. 

And, perhaps worse for the association, a tacit agreement board members not to "cut" each other's favorite programs. And, when money is plentiful, than is how association budgets explode.

Now, when I’ve worked for associations with limited budgets, I always wished for larger budgets. But ... you can have too much money?!

What is your experience? Has too much money been a problem?

Monday, November 11, 2013

Content+Email+Tweets+Elearning+Parents = 5 readings for association executives

7 Reasons to Hire a Former Teacher for a Content Marketing Job
By Roger C. Parker via Content Marketing Institute

I think content marketers are overlooking a significant resource: former teachers. Here are some of the general characteristics that make experienced educators excellent candidates to fill a content marketing job.

  1. Teachers are planners
  2. Teachers are explainers
  3. Teachers know the proper ways to conduct research
  4. Teachers believe in measured progress
  5. Teachers believe in measured progress
  6. Teachers are used to the “battle for attention”
  7. Teachers are relationship builders
Making Email Work for Membership: Is it Generational?
By Shannon Neeser via XYZ University

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Have Association Board & Staff Cultures Become Too Cumbersome?

The commentary surrounding the changing of the guard at Microsoft has pointed to an organization that became too slow to change.

The company has suffered in recent years from its inability to move quickly and come up with exciting new products. Its lumbering pace stands in sharp contrast to the speed with which companies such as Facebook and Google update their services.

"The tech industry, more than any other, is one full of fast change and new trends. Microsoft just became very, very corporate," says Nigel Nicholson, professor of organizational behavior at the London Business School and author of The 'I' of Leadership: Strategies for Seeing, Being and Doing. "Microsoft is now looking like the fat kid on the block. You need (to be) slim, fast, agile in order to innovate.”

Slim, fast, agile. 

How many associations – structured with multiple committees, subcommittees and task forces – can claim those characteristics?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

How Many Members Do You Represent

Over the last 30 years of visiting Congressional offices in DC, I can’t really estimate how many times the congressman (or Hill staffer) has probed: “So, how many members does your association represent?” (Or some variation of wanting to know how much “clout” we have.)

The other question is often, “How big is your PAC (political action committee)?” 

Which reminds me of a real story ...

A Hill staffer called and told me his boss (a Congressman) was going to be visiting St. Louis and wondered if he could stop by our association’s office. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Do you have what it takes to succeed as an Association CEO?

If you are an association professional seeking to move up to become the CEO or association executive director, what characteristics and habits do you need to follow to get there and to be successful?

While I could probably provide a laundry list for you, I’m not going to.

Rather, I want to share some insights (and links) to two recent articles that share valuable points and stories on becoming successful.

In Fail Your way to SuccessScott Adams (creator of Dilbert) shared excerpts of his new book with Wall Street Journal readers.

Here are some key points I gleaned from the article:

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

What can Association Execs Learn from HealthCare.Gov?

I’m old enough to have learned two lessons from converting member records to a computerized database:
  1. It takes longer than expected.
  2. It costs more than expected.
So, I should not have been surprised by the fiasco surrounding the creation of HealthCare.gov nor of the issues surrounding the online version of the Common Application.

In his column headlined Hidden lessons from HealthCare.gov's failure , Harvard’s Nicco Mele offered some advice good for HealthCare.gov and for association executives.
Here are some excerpts:

Monday, November 4, 2013

Robert Gates, David Stern and Association CEOs

Two headlines grabbed my attention a couple of weeks back:
  • Boy Scouts of America hired Robert Gates as its new president
  • Sacramento welcomes retiring NBA Commissioner Donald Stern
So, what caught my eye is the hiring strategies of two large associations.

The Boy Scouts – coming out of national turmoil – hires the ex CIA Director, ex Secretary of Defense and former university president ... who has no association management experience.

His appointment – along with a number of other “big name” hires of associations – begs a number of questions for association professionals.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Associations: How CEOs are clueless about technology

Using the HealthCare.gov fiasco as a starting point, Michael Wolff posted a great column in USA Today the other day ... How CEOs are nearly illiterate about technology.The piece offers great insight for associations and nonprofit organizations.

Here are some key points:

  • Then he tried to draw a distinction puzzling to anyone who has ever performed an online transaction: He said the product — these health exchanges that few could get access to — was good; it was the process that was problematic. He seemed genuinely to have no idea that for most Americans steeped in digital behavior, the product is the process. (His distinction is like an airline saying planes are remarkable feats of engineering, so pay no attention to the fact that you might be delayed for hours on the tarmac.)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Teak Furniture + Content Marketing = Great Example for Associations

The local paper ran a story Saturday called “Design Trends: the beauty of teak furniture.”

What caught my attention was not the headline but the photo and caption which showed that the author was with a furniture story we have visited.

As I read the article, I realized it was a great example of content marketing. And, a tactic associations could employ for their profession or industry.

What makes this work?

  • The store offered one of their interior decorators as an “expert” and she writes a customer-focused story about teak furniture.
  • The designer’s story is not self serving ... and doesn’t even mention her store until the last paragraph.
  • The store (or it’s PR staff/agency) recognized that the newspaper seeks good content that offers readers ideas.
  • This story shows that content marketing is not just focused internally at your members or prospects. 
Depending on your association’s mission, using content as an outreach strategy to promote your industry or professional image might just work for you.

Monica Busolati has written several great articles about content strategy. Here are three worth your read:

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

13 scary board situations for association executives

©2013  Mike Drake

In managing their nonprofit organizations, association executives often find themselves facing unexpected situations. Many situations don’t offer easy answers. Many of these situations are not covered in association management literature. I’ve pulled from the recesses of my brain some scary situations from over 35+ years of association management. Happy Halloween!

  1. A board member goes rogue and begins challenging association staff and leadership via Facebook and Twitter. Many of the statements are false. What do you do?
  2. Despite your best checks and balances, you discover one of your key staff members has embezzled association funds. Yikes, this is a tough one for the association executive.
  3. A “large” member of your trade association “balks” at a new association policy and threatens to withdraw if he doesn’t get his way. How do you finesse this one?
  4. A large chapter hires its own lobbyist to pursue federal policies different than yours. This becomes self-defeating for both organizations.
  5. A convention attendee has a stroke and dies at your conference. Tough call. Be prepared.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

How many “Calls to Action” do association members need/get?

Our local television news folks love to say “breaking news.”

In fact, it is so much that it is irritating.

I counted last night. Here are the first words of the first 5 stories of the first 7 minutes of the news:
  1. Breaking news
  2. Breaking news
  3. This just in
  4. Exclusive news
  5. All new at 11
Really, do they think this makes their news more interesting or more important. The “this just in” piece was covered on their 6 o’clock news cast. One of the “breaking news pieces” was from 4 pm (they told viewers this!).

Monday, October 28, 2013

Membership+Marketing+Magazines+ 3 other articles for association executives

Raising Awareness Through Newsjacking
By Lori Halley via Wild Apricot blog

In our lightening-paced, globally connected world teaming with social media memes, 7 second video clips and 140 character news bytes, how can you get attention and keep your non-profit or your cause top of mind? One way is to “ride the popularity wave of a breaking story” to raise awareness of your non-profit or cause through newsjacking.

Tactics for encouraging change in an organization

By Christopher Penn via SH/FT Communications

One of the questions on everyone’s mind about any kind of new process, procedure, or methodology is how to get organizations to adopt it. My answer is frequently this: take it for a test drive. Any process or change that should increase your productivity, improve your results, or create some impact should have a quantifiable, measurable metric attached to it. Having concrete, quantitative evidence that your change recommendation works is one of the best ways to prove its value.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Perspective makes a difference!

Ok, after spending 35 years in St. Louis, I am a Cardinals fan! And, so part of me is focused on this years World Series which pits the Cardinals against the American League champion Boston Red Sox (who happen to hold Spring Training about 6 miles from my new office!).

So, I was amused while reading about how the Red Sox are at a “disadvantage” for Games 3-5 because they can use the DH (designated hitter who replaces the pitcher for batting purposes).

Here’s what was included in Bob Nightengale’s column in USA Today prior to Game 3:
  • And yes, they can feel a whole lot more comfortable knowing that the Red Sox will be without their DH the next three games, with power-hitter Mike Napoli sitting out Game 3, and perhaps David Ortiz in Game 4 or 5.
  • "I think that we certainly have a little bit of a disadvantage," said Red Sox pitcher Jake Peavy, who starts Saturday, "just because of the way our roster is constructed as opposed to theirs. They're a National League ballclub, and they're going to play with their normal lineup. Our team was built with the DH in it, and it's unfortunate that's got to happen.”
  • "It would be fun to have our normal lineup out there and have (Napoli), a huge threat. You can't help but say that's an advantage to the Cardinals not having him in there."
So, the Red Sox are at a disadvantage while playing in St. Louis?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

What Every Association Executive Needs to Learn From Food Trucks

Image Credit: Timothy J Carroll
Written by Ryan Holmes, CEO at HootSuite

This version of the Holmes blog came to me via LinkedIn. I've replaced "Entrepreneur" of the original headline with "Association Executive."

As you read this blog, feel free to substitute "members" for "customers" if that makes you feel better.  In reality, our members are our customers.  And our members/customers experience much more than just our associations and these experiences impact member/customer expectations of their associations.  

If you just build it, they probably won’t come.

In the era of Amazon, Yelp and Rotten Tomatoes, buyers are increasingly choosy when it comes to what they’ll spend their money on. To woo potential clients, brands have to offer something extraordinary. And then there’s the small issue of retaining those new customers.

I’ve noticed that in the race to win consumers’ hearts (and wallets), entrepreneurs—from restaurants to software vendors—are increasingly turning to an old-fashioned fix. Their quaint recipe for success: Don’t make the customer come to you. Go to them.

These companies—many of which just so happen to be household names—have all found ways to make it easier for clients to engage and transactions to happen. Think of it as door-to-door sales for the digital age.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Pick Your Battles with Association Boards

I don’t know about you but my working with association boards occasionally resulted in disagreements over policies, programs or funding.

The other day someone shared Jonathan Kozol’s quote:

“Pick battles big enough to matter, small enough to win.”

That is something every association executive should have posted on his/her office and/or bulletin board!

When preparing for board meetings – especially when we were making major proposals – my former boss always reminded us that we should not be so connected with a concept that we couldn’t live if the board rejected the idea.

Good advice for all of us working in association management.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Customer service essential for association management success

There is an old saying that “this would be a great place to work if it weren’t for all the members.”

Well, even when said in jest, that attitude is poppycock!

Association members are the association’s customers. 

It is time associations treat members as customers.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Writing+Listening+Communications+Productivity = Readings for Association Executives

How To Write When You Have No Ideas and No Time

By Andy Crestodina via Orbit Media Studios

Once people realize the power of content marketing, a light turns on in their minds. Oh, so this is how I can get traffic from search engines and social media! But the light turns off just as fast. I don’t know what to write about. Or more often: I don’t have time to write. This post will show you how to create content, even when you have no ideas and no time. We’ll do it by finding a topic and then finding people to write about it.

  • Step One: Steal - Find a Topic
  • Step Two: Find People To Write For You
  • Step Three: Copy, Paste (and give it an intro)
  • Step Four: Post and Promote
12 Most Seriously Screwball Ideas You Must Lose to Become a Better Writer
Posted by Daphne Gray-Grant via 12 Most blog
Do you want to become a better writer? Take the time to challenge some popular assumptions about writing. They may be common, but that doesn’t mean they’re correct!
  1. The idea that writing depends on talent.
  2. The idea you need to spend more time at your desk.
  3. The idea that you must be inspired.
  4. Click the link to get the other 9 ideas!