Thursday, January 31, 2013

eBooks and Associations: Anatomy of an analysis

The Wall Street Journal recently ran a column by Nicolas Carr (author of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains) headlined Don't Burn Your Books—Print Is Here to Stay. The e-book had its moment, but sales are slowing. Readers still want to turn those crisp, bound pages.

SCDdaily Note: I’m a bit biased on this topic because I do not like eBooks because I generally read “business books” that I yellow highlight and mark with sticky notes. On the other hand, I strongly believe ebooks should be part of an association’s content delivery tools. 


As I read Mr. Carr’s column thinking it would offer good advice for associations who are trying to determine whether or not to convert print publications to digital. I viewed the column as a followup to my March 6 post 5 Reasons E-books Should be in Your Association’s Marketing Toolbox.  

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tips & Exercises to Tweak Association Messages

No matter how you slice it, messages matter!

As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog, the CEO of a national association asked me for suggestions on helping a “messaging task force” develop key messages for her association. 

I also shared the six key points from a FastCompany piece on neuromarketing.

So, here is what I suggested to the CEO to help her task force accomplish its goal:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Associations & Neuromarketing: Are You Sending the Right Messages

No matter how you slice it, messages matter!

A week or so ago, a CEO asked me for ideas to help her association’s messaging task force come up with revised key messages for the association.

A few days later, Twitter brought me a FastCompany article called the Basics of Neuromarketing.

Reading it reminded me of the 3-part “Tell’em broadcast axiom” I learned in my initial broadcast journalism class at Ohio State:
  1. Tell’em What You’re Gonna Tell’em
  2. Tell’em
  3. Tell’em What Ya Told’em

Monday, January 28, 2013

8 must read articles for Association Executives

4 Things Membership Organizations Can Learn From Innovative Companies By Lori Halley via Wild Apricot

After reading about FastCompany’s Top 50 innovators, Lori captured 4 things that membership organizations could learn from the World’s 50 Most Innovative Companies:
Walk the talk (#1 Apple) 
Play the long game (#4 Amazon)
Relentlessly reinvent (#12 Southern New Hampshire University) 
Make yourself useful(#30 LinkedIn)

Time For Your Conference Sponsorship To Grow Up  By Jeff Hurt via Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections

Has your conference sponsorship grown up? Or are you still offering first generation sponsorship that flashes logos on any and all available space at your conference venue? If you are, you have bought into the concept that displaying logos to masses of cynical consumers equals marketing return. Guess what, it doesn’t!

How Nonprofits Can Sidestep Content Marketing Pitfalls  
By Clare Mcdermott via Content Marketing Institute

This is a really great article for associations and nonprofits. For the last five years, Director of Editorial & Creative Services Michael Buller has helped shape content marketing strategy at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He’s found great ways to tiptoe around that nonprofit four-letter word (marketing), shaping a content-focused strategy for his organization. He recently told us how he overcomes the challenges of his industry.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Dear Associations, Here’s Why You Need to Know Social Media

Ok, I borrowed this headline from Andrea Smith’s post on Mashable. And, changed "Today Show" to "associations."

Here’s the key point of her blog about the Today Show journalists:

  • “It’s not OK to know nothing about social media or the Internet anymore. It’s especially not OK if you are an anchor for a major network TV news program. It was meant to be cute, but it came off as plain dumb. Here’s a wake-up call, morning crew; your audience is not that dumb.”
While this post is directed to journalists on the Today Show ... it is highly relevant to association CEOs, association executives, association professionals and association leaders.

Could something similar be written about your association and/or its CEO or leaders? Do comments about social media during board meetings or staff meetings still include “I don’t get it” or “Why do we have to invest resources on that stuff”? 

Is your association still debating social media policies? Or, whether to “designate” a staff member to “do social media”? Or, have you made social media part of your core functions ... integrated with everything else you do and with your traditional communications tools?

As Andrea wrote about tv audiences, your audience (members & prospects) have become more sophisticated. They are using social media in their daily lives ... business, professional and social life. 

So, when it comes to objections to invested resources in technology and social media: get over it and get on with it!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

eMeals Demonstrates Value-added Member Benefit Opportunities for Associations

Last month, AssociationsNow ran a fascinating story titled “Are there no new benefits under the sun.”  It evolved around its efforts to find the “Best Benefits Ever.”

Kevin Holland commented that perhaps too many associations were offering benefits they copied from other organizations that really didn’t seem appropriate for their association. He concluded his remarks with “We have to stop thinking like associations and start thinking like solutions provides for our markets.” Here's his full article in Associations Now.  That Thing You Do (And All Associations Do) 

Barb (my wife and proofreader) shared with me a service that shows the power of a real value-added benefit. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Are retailers trying to become associations? What does it mean for your Association?

And, if so, what does that mean to association executives?


An InternetRetailer post (Retailers Move Social Media Out of Its Silo) focused on retailers working to engage their customers.

I realized that the huge shift toward engaged consumers is just an informal association in disguise.

I’m thinking most retailers are jealous of associations and the connection most associations have with their members. 

So, retailers are trying to engage them. Perhaps that’s why American Express uses the tag line “Membership has its Privileges” and other companies attempt to engage buyers as members?

Associations ask members for two things: time and money.

A key question is whether retailers – in becoming quasi associations through various on and off-line engagement efforts – are diverting their customers away from association memberships? 

The other question is whether associations will have the capability, resources and commitment to adapt new tools to make association membership relevant to members who are experiencing radical changes in their relationships with their retailers?

What do you think? 

 Are retailers our competitors? And are the experiences they provide our members influencing what our members expect from our associations?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Is your association answering its incoming “calls”?

Some sources of inbound contacts to associations
(“Calls” include Tweets, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other inquiries.)

The InternetRetailer reported that “71% of big brands leave customer tweets unanswered.”

Wow! That is a lot of unanswered customer contacts.

And, it makes me wonder whether associations have the same rate of unanswered tweets (or other questions via Social Media sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Pinterest).

While most associations have started engaging members and prospects in most social media platforms, I still hear some association executives grousing about all the time social media consumes. Reminds me of similar complaints when we got telecopy machines (oops, faxes) and email.

How you answer incoming messages ... whether phone, fax, mail or Social Media ... represents the first impressions members or prospects have of your association.

That’s why this topic was one of my first posts when I started SCDdaily. See Ring-Ring. Ring-Ring. Social Media is the new Ma Bell

Do you have a strategy and plan for answering inbound messages? Is it assigned to a specific person? Or is it the responsibility of many people? Please share your processes in the comments section.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Quality of Board Governance: What’s an Association Exec to Do?

An association CEO’s call the other day asking for “governance models” got me to thinking:
  • The lack of influence on the quality of my board of directors represented one of my frustrations as an association CEO.
Since the boards of most of the associations my AMC managed were representational in nature (e.g., the chapters or state associations selected “their” members to serve on “our” board), the national association “accepted” whomever the local (chapter or state association) “sent” to be on the national board.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Should an Image Remake be in Your Association’s Future?

American Airlines and Michelle Obama sported new looks last Friday. And, Materials Handling Industry unveiled its new name and logo this month too!How will the market respond to those changes? 

Will the new looks, logos and brand play well? Or, will they find fates similar to that of University of California and the Gap and their attempts to change images?

Gap logo (left) and abandoned new logo (center); UCal's new logo (right)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Content, Cause & Event Marketing for Associations & NonProfits

The Writer's Domain: Great combination of cause, content and event marketing. 

What do you get when a furniture store hosts an author’s event with proceeds going to charity? And, why is a furniture store hosting an author’s event? (More on that later!)

An awesome example of cause marketing, content marketing and event marketing all rolled into one event!

Here are the “partners” for the event ...
  • Norris Home Furnishings hosted “The Writer’s Domain” in its stores in Ft. Myers and Naples, Florida
  • Barnes & Noble
  • First Books of Collier County
  • Literacy Council Gulf Coast

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Managing Change in Associations – Part 2

I asked one of my mentors -- Barry Schapiro (bio below) to guest blog on association leadership.  Barry and I have known each other for more than 20 years.  Part 1 ran yesterday.  


People will resist change, even when you rationally point out how the change will benefit them. Are they crazy? Probably not. What you can count on is that change usually threatens certain personal needs that everyone has. Unless these needs are met, not a lot of business will get done.

We all share five basic needs :
  • To feel valued and respected 
  • To be heard and understood 
  • To be involved in decisions that affect us 
  • To trust others and be trusted 
  • To be supported without being usurped 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Managing Change in Associations – Part 1

I asked one of my mentors -- Barry Schapiro (bio below) to guest blog on association leadership.  Barry and I have known each other for more than 20 years.  Part 2 will be up tomorrow.

Associations and other nonprofits, just as much as profit making entities, have to cope with and manage changes in their environments. It’s not about being trendy – it’s necessary for survival. There are many forces in our environment that require us to make changes in how we operate. These include – just to name a few -- technology, regulation, economic conditions, customer demands and competition. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Give it Away to BYOD: 7 Articles for Association Executives



What will you give away in 2013? 
By Jeff Cobb via Tagoras
As part of my work on Leading the Learning Revolution in 2012, I researched and interviewed a range of people who have had significant success in building high impact, profitable education businesses. If there was one lesson that came across loud and clear in these efforts, it was that the more you give away, the more you stand to gain.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Hawaii Five-O & Monopoly Show Associations How to Engage Members

For tonight’s (1/14/13) showing of Hawaii Five-O, CBS invited viewers to vote on which ending they wanted for its show. They’re doing it live in real time! Talk about engaging viewers! (See A Murder Mystery via Social Media – The Viewers Pick the Killer.)

Subjectively Speaking blogger Alan Belniak (@abelniak) wrote:

  • I think this is a pretty awesome idea! Many people now are watching TV with a companion device (known to many as the “second screen”). So why not take advantage of that? If people are viewing these devices, then they are likely missing some of the content on the TV screen. Broadcasters are smart to put some content there and retain the share of eyeball.
  • I also think this is great because it lets the watchers/users actually participate in the experience, in real time. The voters choose the ending of the show. Aside from talent shows on TV with interactive voting, this is really a great way to get the voice and sentiment of the viewer factored into the program.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Trust, Transparency, ERDs, NHTSA and Associations

A column and an editorial in the same edition of USA Today poses some interesting questions for trade associations and professional societies.

In a column titled “Remember when trust actually meant something?” Michael Wolff poses several questions about the importance of trust and how strong brands embodied trust ...well, until branding experts started brand marketing. 

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

It’s their association not yours, but, it’s your career not theirs.

Chuck Rumbarger shared this insight with me shortly after my boss and I were “asked to leave” as CEO and EVP of a very large ($40+ million budget back in the early 1990s) international association. We had been there 16 and 15 years respectively.

Over the last couple of months, three of my blogs around the topic of “When Do You Know It’s Time to Go” have had high readership.

The common thread: most CEOs are “living on the edge” once they pass seven years in their role as chief staff officer.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Declining Legacy Products Show Potential Impact on Associations

Travelers Checks (left); telegram (center); bank (right)
A couple of things “popped up” in the last month that make me realize how quickly “legacy products” can go. And, that associations need to be mindful to keep evolving or risk the same fate.While searching for something in our “long-trip luggage,” I discovered several unused $100 traveler’s checks. Talk about “found gold!” 

  • But, when we took them to the bank, the teller had never seen a traveler’s check and didn’t know what to do with it! So, she had to get her supervisor to show her how to cash them! Now I know I’m getting really old!

Monday, January 7, 2013

7 Readings for Association Executives

5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2013 By Nell Edgington via SocialVelocity
I’m more optimist than a fortune teller, but I do think that the nonprofit sector is changing in some exciting ways. And I for one am excited to see what the new year brings. Here’s what I think we should watch for: 
  1. More Demand for Outcomes
  2. Decreasing Emphasis on Nonprofit “Overhead”
  3. More Advocacy for the Sector? as a Whole
  4. Savvier Donors
  5. Increased Efforts to Rate and Compare Nonprofits
To Create Engaging Content Marketing You Must Hug the Chaos 
By Robert Rose via Content Marketing Institute
My grandfather used to say something that’s been on my mind a lot recently. Whenever I got frustrated about anything — school, a job, life — he would ask me “What have you created lately?” Then, he’d chide me: “Go create a new experience for someone.” He wrote this to me once in a card that explained this idea, which was: When you create a new experience for someone, you get to experience it — and in turn, it creates new opportunity for you. I didn’t really know what he meant by that until just recently. I’ve rewritten my grandfather’s suggestion a bit, and this is what I’ve come up with:

“It is in the creation of the experience that we get to experience new creation.”
We’ve heard this of course. Business is changing; marketing is changing. But really what’s happening is that people are changing. 

Five Energy Hungry Brain Functions We Use At Conferences 
By Jeff Hurt via Velvet Chainsaw’s Midcourse Corrections

Five brain functions make up the majority of your conscious thought at your conference: understanding, decision-making, recall, memorizing and inhibition. These functions are recombined to communicate, plan, problem-solve and perform other mental tasks. They all use the pre-frontal cortex of your brain intensively and require considerably more metabolic resources than you realize. If you fully understood the limitations of your and your attendees’ brains and the amount of resources–glucose and oxygen–each task requires, you would plan conference schedules differently. Attendees must be given adequate breaks and down time as well as healthy food that replenishes their metabolic resources. Trying to keep a constant focus on mental energy hungry tasks for six to eight hours doesn’t work. The brain just shuts down. This explains why often on the third day of a conference, your attendees are exhausted.

5 Underrated Traits of Great Leaders 
By Jeff Haden via Inc Magazine
Some bosses who inspire, motivate, and make employees feel better about themselves. Here's what they do differently from everyone else.
  1. They quietly pick up trash
  2. They don't ask poets to diagram sentences
  3. They go back for their own notes
  4. They shy away from spotlights
  5. They jump on grenades

Sunday, January 6, 2013

15 And/Or Dilemmas Facing Association Leaders in 2013

In the 12 months of curating the SCDdaily blog, I’ve covered a lot of issues facing associations, association executives and association volunteers. I’ve read (and/or scanned) thousands of pages of blogs, tweets and articles (from HBR, FastCompany, Forbes, WSJ, USA Today).
During 2012, I listened to the issues facing associations at local and national association and marketing meetings: 
  • “Should we move all our publications online and if we do, what does that do for our (older) members who don’t have access to internet media?”
  • “How do I break down our organizational silos so I can get people in other departments to fully implement what we are doing?”
  • “I hear what you are saying about the freemium model but don’t you get what you pay for? Doesn’t free membership devalue what our association offers”“
  • “How do I get my board to step back and take a hard look at who we are and what we offer?”
  • “If we live-stream conference sessions, won’t fewer members attend out conferences?”
  • “How do we keep up with all the changes?”
To start 2013, I’ve created a list of “association challenges” that I’m labeling the “And/Or Dilemma Facing Associations.” [By the way, these are not listed in any specific order.] The choices in this list are not right or wrong even though most associations probably need to select one or the other. Please feel free to use the comments section below to combine, delete or add to this list.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Golf’s Multi-Generational Marketing Efforts Suggest 7 Questions for Associations

As 78 million Millenials (aka Gen Y or Digital Natives) come of age, some professional associations are watching and wondering what to do while others are embracing generational differences.
  • In a guest post last February 19, Jim Nagel outlined the generational issues decimating most service organizations and/or monthly lunch clubs (chapters). 
  • Sarah Sladek’s The End of Membership as We Know It also provides valuable information about associations and the coming wave of Generation Y (aka Millenials). 
Because of its multi-generational appeal, golf’s three major initiatives serve as a case study for associations representing other industries and professions. In addition to trying to engage millenials, golf hopes to engage or re-engage retiring Boomers. 

"There are few people in the game more traditional than I am, but I recognized long ago that our game needs change,” golfing legend Jack Nicklaus has said. “We have been a sport that, historically, has been slow to change and adapt. Creativity, innovation, and a willingness—if not passion—for trying new things are paramount for change."

Slow to change and adapt? That could describe many associations too.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Is Your Association Adjusting for Increased Freelancers & Self-Employed?

Fred Myers, a retired editor friend of mine, recently emailed me questions related to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports showing that 42% of the U.S. work force are in some form working as an independent contractor.

His comment to me: “Following closely behind are those associations that are ignoring the growing trend of independent thought and action that's replacing the traditional top down order of things. The result is more personal involvement not only in terms of work accomplished but in the decisions leading to that work.”


While Fred was commenting on a specific association, the labor stats may help explain my observations about the “downward pressure” on member dues and conference registration fees.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Switchtasking into 2013: confessions of an association professional

Well, 2012 has wrapped up. Over the last 12 months, I’ve posted 264 blogs!

The crazy thing; however, is I that have 51 partly done blogs sitting in my computer!

Most productivity experts would call me unfocused, unable to finish tasks.

The December issue of Associations Now featured a short piece from Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CAE, titled Switch Off. 

Reading it, I discovered that I am a “switchtasker” ... someone who rapidly alternates between tasks.

Despite sitting in on a dozen or more productivity and/or time management seminars, I am who I am. I sometimes think I’m ADD (attention deficit disorder) but then that term did not exist when I was growing up.

Some signs:
  • I’m a piler not a filer. Which makes me a messy desk guy.
  • Before the arrival of the iPhone, my old Blackberry made me an original “crackberry.” 
  • I have two Twitter handles ... and 14 columns up on TweetDeck plus 6 on HootSuite.
  • As I write this, I have 20 windows open on my computer. I love the “Alt Tab feature” that allows me to switch back and forth between programs, folders, documents and social media.