Sunday, March 31, 2013

Association Executive Calling it Quits

SCD Group is relocating its office.  During this transition, Steve is revisiting and/or updating some former blogs.

Last fall I posted two pieces about "knowing when it is time to leave:

Well, SCD Group’s move to Florida has begun and I have a fuller appreciation of the issues around knowing when to leave. 

The moving vans are coming. The estate sale has been scheduled. Our new location selected.

This transition forces one to reflect.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Branding for Associations

SCD Group is relocating its office. During this transition, Steve is revisiting some former blogs.

For the last three months, we've lived in an active community of two or three thousand people.  I wear this Varsity O hat at all our events.  It drives my wife a bit crazy to see me in the same hat day after day.  Yet, I keep wearing it.  Why?  Well, I wear it a bit to brag since only those who have played a varsity sport at Ohio State can get one.  I also wear it because it starts conversations (usually around athletics or where I'm from).  And, I wear the hat because it has become my brand.  People around here recognize me because of my hat.

Two previous posts talked about the power of visuals and branding for your association:

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Association Marketing: Connecting & Rewarding Your Customers

I spotted this headline a couple of Saturdays back: Sheryl Crow plays VIP concert for 100 in Fort Myers  

It was a short piece on how the local Clear Channel folks brought in Crow for a 20-minute show that christened the new Zoom Tan Live Lounge in Clear Channel’s Fort Myers headquarters. 

Crow came as part of a radio tour promoting “Easy” and the upcoming album.

This is a win-win program

Crow gets to promote her new album; Clear Channel rewards its advertisers and selected listeners. 

What can your association assemble that accomplishes the same thing?

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

“Even if you’re on the right track ...

... you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”

SCD Group is relocating its office.  During this transition, Steve is revisiting some former blogs.

I originally posted this on 1/1/12.  The post still applies.  

Think Blackberry, Dell and other breakthrough companies who seemingly didn't seek to improve on their initial success and watched as competitors changed the game and moved forward, leaving them in the dusk.

I’ve always thought this Will Rogers quote applies to associations and nonprofits. Often, our desire for consistency gets us into a rut without realizing it.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What can association publishers learn from the Time Inc.’s magazine dump?

Time Inc has is "spinning off" its magazines such as Sports Illustrated, Money and Time.


When I first started work in the association world, I was assigned to manage the transition of the association’s magazine from a house organ to a commercial magazine. My first job: hire an outstanding association publisher and let him take over and do his thing. Six years later, our magazine dominated our industry publishing. We went from gross ad sales of $195,000 to more than $3 million a year. I realize this was “pre-Internet” but the following story shows that it still can be done.

A few weeks’ back, USA Today’s Rem Rieder wrote Magazines don’t deserve to be dumped.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

SCD Group relocating to Florida

From St. Louis to Fort Myers
Good morning.

SCD Group, publisher of SCDdaily blog, is relocating from St. Louis to Fort Myers, Florida.

As we make this transition, I want you to be aware that we will not be publishing daily posts again until about May 1.

During this transition, I will post blogs as I have time and/or include some of the best of the last 375 posts.

I look forward to reconnecting with you from our Florida office.

Thanks for your continued readership!


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two thoughts for association executives on opportunities of ambush marketing

Major events such as the NCAA's Final Four tournament bring out ambush marketing
Big events (Super Bowl, Oscar night and/or NCAA’s Basketball Tournament) provide ideas worth watching for association executives and marketers.

The Super Bowl showcases creativity (advertisers and the half-time glitz). The Oscar’s feature “the Red Carpet” and a big time show. NCAA’s tourney features nationwide “bracket busters,” office pools and three weeks of “madness.”

Most of these “big time” events charge megabucks for sponsorships and/or advertising. The television networks share in the cost and the loot.

Smart marketers find ways to connect with the hoopla of these events to fulfill their marketing strategies.

This year’s NCAA men’s basketball tournament (also known as March Madness or Final Four), showcases what some are calling ambush marketing. USA Today recently ran an article headlined Running an Ambush on March Madness®  

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Associations Unplugged: Four Questions for Association Executives

Back in the early 2000s, some of our members complained about the download time of materials our associations provided. I couldn’t grasp the problem until one day I was in a member’s office and realized his dial-up connections couldn’t handle our materials which were designed for “higher speed” connections.

As I listen to association executives today, I sometimes think about that experience and wonder if many associations are still in the dial-up mode focused on desk top computers, fax machines, static websites and quarterly printed publications.

It’s a bit like RIM which failed to keep reinventing the Blackberry, lost market share and perhaps the company itself.

Two recent articles in the USA Today Money section hit me as a great illustration of the technology challenges facing today’s associations.

Is “the PC is deader than the phone booth?” 

A piece by Scott Martin and John Swartz was headlined The Newest Dinosaur: The PC-osaurus focused on the consumption stats. 

Here are a couple of key points from it:

  • People want mobility, so Microsoft-powered PC products are competing against enormously popular smartphones and tablets for consumer dollars. Once leading the way, Dell, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft now face a new world order led by Apple, Google, Samsung and even Amazon.
  • Consumers aren't replacing those old home PCs with the same. The traditional PC business is grasping for reinvention, slow to emerge from Microsoft, Intel or household PC brands.
  • "We don't think consumers are going to have a PC per person. That's an old idea. Instead, we think that if you have three people per family, then you will have one PC that is shared, and each one of them will have one kind of device like a tablet or a smartphone," said Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Weather “channel” changes provide examples for association executives

Rapid changes changed Weather Co.; will it do the same for associations?

Most associations are content/information providers for their profession or trade.

The rapid changes of the last decade (internet, smart phones, tablets) have drastically changed how consumers (members) seek and share content/information. If your association isn’t found at the top of page one of a Google search, you don’t exist in the minds of millions.

Given that assumption, USA Today’s Jefferson Graham’s story about changes at Weather Co. showcases changes that association executives should be considering.

1.  Name change: Weather changed its name from The Weather Channel to Weather Co

  • Why? The old name (Weather Channel) started defining us as a channel instead of the weather.
  • What does that mean for associations? Is your association’s name preventing your organization from fulfilling its mission in today’s world?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Association executives and member recruiters can benefit from the Quiet Art of the Ask

In today’s world of telemarketing, unsolicited sales emails and other interruptions, it is sometimes nice to be engaged with a more subtle approach.Associations can benefit from these examples when recruiting or renewing members.
The other day, we received a simple letter from our chiropractor.

It opens:
  • “Spring is almost here! Warmer weather brings golf, gardening and home projects. Please take caution with your weekend warrior activities and remember the tips and stretches we discussed at your most receive appointment.”

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Changes at Encyclopaedia Britannica Provide Lessons for Association Executives

The Encyclopaedia Britannica continues to share lessons for association executives.

On March 4, Mark Athitakis of Associations Now wrote Keep the Mission, Change Everything Else.

  • "Truth is, most associations’ overall structures tend to be fairly rigid: Familiar governance and membership models, familiar nondues revenue streams, and familiar big concerns in the C-suite
  • "So it’s easy to understand why many association leaders are hesitant to make modest changes, let alone transformative ones. Association management can at times feel like a zen koan: How do you affect change without changing anything? But reading about Encyclopedia Britannica’s experience has been an eye-opener for me—its story is evidence that you can hold fast to your legacy while actively changing the direction of your organization."

In the March issue of Harvard Business Review, Encyclopaedia Britannica's President shared insights on the changes they made.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Part 3 - Helping Your Association Establish a Credible Reputation with the Media

Moving Past an Acme Anvil Approach to the Media, Part Three

Guest Post By Kathy Deters

Building and maintaining a strong relationship with the media can be an effective way to help your association spread the word about the good work it’s doing and to share your viewpoint on changes that might impact your industry. But for many, the thought of talking to the press can be daunting.

In the first two installments, we shared a few tips for establishing and maintaining a positive relationship with reporters who regularly cover your beat. Today, we’ll be looking at the most important part of building your public image with the press: Making good choices. 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Part 2 - Helping Your Association Establish a Credible Reputation with the Media

Moving Past an Acme Anvil Approach to the Media, Part Two

Guest Post By Kathy Deters

If your position requires fielding questions from the media, chances are, at some time or another, you’ve felt like that little Roadrunner, waiting for the coyote to drop an anvil on your head.

Yesterday, we debunked the four myths that many hold about the press. Today we’re looking at tips to establish yourself as a credible, reliable media source. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Helping Your Association Establish a Credible Reputation with the Media

Moving Past an Acme Anvil Approach to the Media, Part One

Guest Post By Kathy Deters

If your work requires being interviewed by the media, you’ve probably felt like one of the characters in a Looney Tunes cartoon.

  • Perhaps it was Elmer Fudd, tricked into walking into a furnace—or a public relations firestorm—by a fast-talking reporter. 
  • Or maybe you were Yosemite Sam, angry, blubbering and incoherent because you felt your words were being used against you. 
  • Or possibly you just arrive at work every day feeling like the Roadrunner, always on your toes in hopes of avoiding the boulder that’s about to be dropped on your head. 
Many professionals find the easiest solution is avoidance: Keep your head down so that anvil can’t find you. But for the association leaders that make the time and effort to build themselves as credible media experts in their fields, the benefits can be numerous.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Boosting Member Awareness of Association Affinity Discounts

By guest blogger Andrew Bank 

Have you ever bought something and later realized you could have paid less by using a membership discount you forgot you had? 

If you answered ‘yes’, you’re not alone. 

In a member survey of alumni, professional, recreational and other associations by loyalty technology company, Larky, 73% of respondents say they “know they are entitled to member discounts, but don’t know what they are or how to get them.”

Despite the best efforts of associations, affinity programs appear to be flying far under the radar for most members.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Is your association membership marketing unwanted-spam or permission-driven?

Email continues to represent an effective marketing tool for many associations.
While you see your association marketing efforts one way, how do you analyze what your prospects are thinking and feeling?

Open rate, response rate and join rate are important metrics.
What’s harder, however, is “measuring” the attitudes of your recipients.

Within the last week, I’ve received three different email marketing “appeals.”

  • One feels like spam
  • The second not so much 
  • The third an invitation to play!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Association Boards Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for The Competitive Association

Today's Guest Bloggers are Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers, CAE Associations today are confronted with unprecedented levels of competition. 

For decades, membership organizations operated in a kinder, less competitive environment. But suddenly they find themselves overwhelmed with competition from multiple directions and non-traditional sources. 

The array of competition is vast. 

Competition comes from other associations; from the association’s own members; from publishing houses and media companies; from cooperatives, buying groups and self-directed peer groups within the association; from for-profit companies: both large with considerable resources and small, quick, tech savvy entrepreneurs. Last, but not least, the internet where information is available free in a split second, 24/7, where ever you are. Social networks offer a potent alternative to the face-to-face connections and search engines enable members to easily find information and resources that in pre-internet times they didn’t even know existed. 

Failure to adapt to this competitive threat puts an association’s relevance in jeopardy. Simply put: when an association’s competitor does a better job, they matter more and the association matters less. 
Unfortunately, the traditional association model is not a very competitive one. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Words Matter for Association Executives: 3 Tips to Make an Impact

Your words matter to your association and its success. 

You spend hours drafting, editing, rewriting, proofing and publishing them to communicate key association messages.

Since words matter Don’t Disguise Them When Published.

So, spend the extra time to ensure they are not hidden when published in a newsletter, on a website or in a PowerPoint presentation.

Here are three tips to keep your words making an impact: 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Association Media Relations: Two Scoops are Always Better than One

Guest Post By Kathy Deters

If you’ve ever had a scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream, you know that the only way to improve upon one scoop of that creamy deliciousness is to make it a double. Media relations work much the same way: The only thing better than giving the press one good scoop is to give them two.

I’ve had the opportunity to work on both sides of the media relations process, having been a reporter and a media relations specialist. I currently work as a senior writer and social media manager for an online magazine in St. Louis. One of the perks of the job is occasionally being invited to private media events. 

Monday, March 4, 2013

6 Awesome Reads for Association Executives

Is Smart Making Us Dumb? 
By Evgeny Morozov via Wall Street Journal
“Would you like all of your Facebook friends to sift through your trash? A group of designers from Britain and Germany think that you might. Meet BinCam: a "smart" trash bin that aims to revolutionize the recycling process. But many smart technologies are heading in another, more disturbing direction. A number of thinkers in Silicon Valley see these technologies as a way not just to give consumers new products that they want but to push them to behave better. Sometimes this will be a nudge; sometimes it will be a shove. But the central idea is clear: social engineering disguised as product engineering.” Perhaps these tools will work for associations with an advocacy mission? 

Why Fast, Cheap, and Easy Design Is Killing Your Nonprofit’s Brand 
By Heath Shackleford via FastCompany

A logo doesn’t equal a brand, and nonprofits would be much better served trying to formulate a real strategy than trying to use graphics to hide a lack of true mission. Technology is fueling a democratization of design, giving ordinary people the power to create with speed and ease. Among nonprofits, many feel that technology is leveling the playing field when it comes to expressing themselves and their brands. Nonprofits are trading originality, vision, and identity for templates, plug-ins, and off the shelf solutions.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

3 Steps Association Boards & Executives Can Learn from Driver’s Ed

Moving eyes from close (left), far (center) and rear (right) helps drivers and associations
While driving a crowded street the other day, I was thinking about the lessons of my driver’s education class from high school.

The instructor shared a “3-step process” for driving with our eyes:

  1. look at the road just in front of you
  2. look up high to see the road way out ahead of you
  3. look in the review mirror to see what is coming behind you

These three rules are pretty good for association leadership.