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!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Association boards should know that salary and compensation are not the same

Last week, the local paper ran a story on foreclosures of Habitat for Humanity homes and included a sidebar on Habitat’s “well paid CEO.”  

“With a total compensation package of $179,073, records show Katherine “Kitty” Green is one of the highest paid leaders of a Habitat for Humanity affiliate in the U.S.” 

My problem with this story is that about 95% of journalists do not know the difference between salary and compensation! And, the public level of knowledge isn’t much better.

Here’s the total compensation my association management company paid its staff members:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Defending Your Association’s Industry or Profession Not Easy

Most associations I’ve been associated with focused on promoting the industry or profession.

Many associations, however, do not have a strong, viable media relations program.

When the media comes after your industry or profession; however, you have no choice. 

Here are three stories that illustrate associations in the news media.

Case 1: Certified Financial Planners

The CFP Board discovered this when the Wall Street Journal’s recent investigative story about fee-only planners forced them to respond.
  • Consider the coveted "certified financial planner" designation, which requires an adviser to complete a thorough course of study and pass a rigorous exam. Investors can search for one on, a website run by the CFP Board, which administers the program.
  • Over the past week, my colleague Rob Barry analyzed the descriptions of 33,949 certified financial planners who were then listed in's public-search area. He found that 8,122, or 24%, described their compensation method as "fee only." A mere 3% called themselves "commission only," while 59% said they earn "commission and fee"; 14% didn't specify how they are paid.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The New Normal Began in the 1920s

Art via
When my dad was growing up, Grange Halls dotted the rural landscapes. The National Grange was the dominate farm associations and the Grange Hall the prominate social meeting place for farmers and others in rural America. Today, not so much.

When I went to Ohio State, Woody Hayes coached football. He became one of the winningest coaches with his “three yards and a cloud of dust” philosophy. The forward pass? Better to punt. Today, Urban Meyer coaches Ohio State football featuring a pass-heavy spread offense.

When I was a kid, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company (known as the A&P) was the dominant chain store in America. Thousands of them throughout the country. So many that politicians adopted laws and regulations to keep them from lowering prices to “unfair levels.” In When Creative Destruction Visited the Mom-and-PopsMarc Levinson writes about the A&P and the history of capitalism in the U.S. His column concludes:

  • “By then, John and George Hartford were dead, and their company, after passing into the hands of less competent managers and going public, had entered a death spiral that appears to be in its final stages. A&P, once the country's best-known brand, is by now so tarnished it probably has negative value, and any buyer will likely retire it. But even if the Great Atlantic & Pacific doesn't live on in name, it will leave an important legacy: the idea that capitalism can benefit consumers, if only capitalists will allow it to do so.”

So, what does all this have to do with associations and association management?

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Does Rewarding Engagement Work for Associations?

A few weeks ago, the Southwest Florida Ohio State Alumni Club emailed to say they had two tickets for the Ohio State at Michigan football game. To “earn” them, you need to sign up at their weekly events.

I joined the golf club last week. They have a passport program through which your passport is stamped each time you attend one of their member passport events. Each stamp earns one entry into a drawing for a $750 gift certificate.

The News-Press here Fort Myers ran a story last week headlined Spending has its rewards.  The story focused on the benefits of loyalty programs. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Employees + Skills + Feedback + Dreams = 5 Stories for Association Executives

5 Tips to Keep a Conversation Going When You Meet New People
By Paul Sanders via PurposeFairy blog

When you meet a person that seems interesting or fun, and that could potentially be a friend, what do you do to keep the conversation going, and stay in touch?
  1. You Don’t Have to Be Super Interesting.
  2. No Need to Filter Yourself.
  3. Get People to Talk to You More.
  4. Become a “This Reminds Me Of…” Person.
  5. Stay in Touch with New Friends Using the “Double Commonality” Technique.
Keep It Simple: Lessons On Feedback Tools for Nonprofits
By Perla Ni, CEO of GreatNonprofits

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Tough Teachers and Assolciation Meetings

Graphic by Luci Gutiérrez
Tough Teachers Get ResultsBy Joanne Lipman via Wall Street Journal

Ms. Lipman is co-author, with Melanie Kupchynsky, of "Strings Attached: One Tough Teacher and the Gift of Great Expectations," to be published by Hyperion on Oct. 1. She is a former deputy managing editor of The Wall Street Journal and former editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Portfolio.

Most associations – whether at conferences, webinars or blogs – include an educational component for members.

Recently, we’ve seen blogs and articles about changes needed in our educational programming ... the death of the lecture; Ted-type sessions; etc.

So, as I read this story in the Wall Street Journal, I was intrigued.

So, I’m sharing these excerpts and urge you to read the full story or purchase the book.

Here are the excerpts from Ms Lipman’s story:

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Does Your Association Member Recruitment Program Include Thank You?

I officially joined the golf club Wednesday afternoon.

While on the driving range Thursday morning, the golf pro came up to me and thanked me for joining.

Friday morning, the General Manager called me to say welcome and thank me for joining. He asked if I had any questions. And, invited me to be sure to call him if I did

A golf club is much like an association: members paying dues.

I’m trying to remember the last time one of the professional association I joined thanked me. I believe the answer is “Never!”

Most associations have aggressive membership recruitment programs. But, it stops when the member pays his/her dues.

In reality, it should not end until after that all important thank you and welcome.

Does your association have a “thank you and welcome” plan beyond sending a “new member packet?” If not, why not?

I can hear some association executives saying “but we have too many new members to call them all.” 

So, improvise!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

What Happens When Digital Education Reaches Your Profession/Industry?

Sharing knowledge represents a core mission for many associations. Knowledge transferred via conferences, webinars, websites, blogs, etc.

The digitally-driven rapid changes in higher education could be a precursor for associations and our role in knowledge transfer.

And, what’s coming may well signal competition for very large associations representing industries and professions.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Association's Open House Engages Members & Prospects


Back in August, I wrote Should an Open House be in Your Association’s Future? 

Well, one of my readers saw my idea about an association open house and tried it!

A huge success.

Here’s what Bill Knopf, Executive Director of the Asphalt Pavement Association of Indiana shared:
  • “I took your idea and ran with it. We have 100 people coming next Wednesday for BBQ on our parking lot under a giant tent. The lunch follows a committee meeting that morning.” 
  • “Five sponsors footing the bill so cost to APAI was a few hours of staff time. And we arranged the event to “honor” the new INDOT (Indiana Department of Transportation) commissioner who is coming to shake hands with our members.”
  • “I also usedhis as a member recruitment tool, encouraging prospects who have been “on the fence” to come by and meet and greet our officers and board members.”
Perhaps Bill’s event and my post will help your association too!

Share what you’ve done by adding to the comments section of this post at

Monday, October 7, 2013

Crowdsourcing + Generations + Social Media + Content Marketing = Readings of the Week

Crowdsource Your Mentors: Harness Networks for Career Support and LeadershipBy Danielle Russell

In the face of the ever-changing knowledge economy; now more than ever, there is no manual for a successful career (however one chooses to define success). After nearly 10 years in the working world, I’ve unconsciously sought and received mentorship from a “crowd” of engaging, successful and extremely generous people.

  • Traditional mentor model
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Harnessing my accidental crowd
One Page Website Design for Events and Conferences
By Keith Johnston via PlannerWire blog
Here is something that I bet you never thought you would hear me say….

  • Not all events need an app
  • Not all events need a content marketing program
  • Not all events need an amazingly huge web presence
  • Some just don’t and there are a ton of reasons why. Maybe it is a once a year fundraiser, it might be an association holiday shindig, or maybe it is an all day event that only has one speaker….
The reasons don’t matter if your event is in this category, it just is.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Is Multitasking a Myth?

Guest post by Dr. Mandi Sonnenberg, assistant professor in the Department of Education at Rockhurst University

Association executives face multitasking challenges daily.  Personally, I've labled them as switch-tasking ( term I "borrowed.")  See Switchtasking into 2013: confessions of an association professional.  Nevertheless, this post from Mandi Sonnenberg, should be helpful to most association professionals.

Is Multitasking a Myth?

With all of our techno gadgets, it's pretty easy to fall into the trap of multitasking. 

Often we feel the need to respond quickly to a few emails in the latte line, or glance at our friend's social media status while filling up our tank. How about checking the score of your favorite sports team while you should be watching your friends or child play on the field? 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blogs About Association Boards: 500th Milestone for Association Blogging

Well, this is my 500th post since starting SCDdaily blog two years ago.

In my initial post, I outlined five core areas:

  • trend watching: associations, marketing, social media, cause marketing
  • consulting: digital media, governance, marketing, communications audits
  • speaking: bridging the generations, marketing in the digital age
  • blogging: association & nonprofit trends; cause marketing
  • tweeting: @stevedrake (associations, agriculture, nonprofits) and @causeaholic (cause marketing)

So, how are we doing?

  • SCDdaily readership has ranged from a few hundred to thousands.
  • Most of my posts come from my trend watching and avid readership of newspapers, journals and pieces noted by Twitter colleagues.
  • I’ve continued to consult on branding, generations and conference management.
  • I remain active on Twitter as @stevedrake but fewer posts as @causeaholic.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

It’s their organization not yours ...

.... but, it is your career, not theirs!

Charles Rumbarger, CAE, shared this bit of wisdom with me when my CEO and I were struggling through contentious issues with a major national association more than 20 years ago.

I thought of this when I read Joe Rominiecki’s Associations Now post onThey’re not your members.” 
  • “It’s true that, once a member has paid her dues for the year, that dues money belongs to you. But that’s it. The member’s time, attention, energy, and loyalty don’t belong to you. They never do. They must constantly be earned. Godin’s reminder is an important one.
  • For associations, his point can be drawn a step further. Not only are members not ‘yours,’ but one could argue that you, the association professional, are in fact ‘theirs.’ The association that employs you is an organization formed and governed by members. Their dues pay your salary.”

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Looking at Your Association from Recipient’s View

Does your association engage members and participants with serious CRM?

What happens when there is a glitch?

And, how does this look from the viewpoint of a recipient?

A few weeks ago, I received this lovely note from an ASAE customer care staff member.

As the photo shows, it thanks me for being a first time attendee at the ASAE annual meeting.

Nice gesture.

Only problem is ...