Tuesday, December 30, 2014

SCDdaily’s 9 Top Ranked 2014 Association Blogs

As a year-end post, I reviewed SCDdaily’s 141 blogs posted in 2014.

Here are the top nine – based on readership;

#1 6 Ways to Engage Xers and Millenials on Your Board 2/11/14

#2 5 Ideas About Information Overload for Association Members/Donors 2/18/14

#3 How Will Association Boards Recruit New Leaders? 2/9/14

#4 Association Boa
s That Fail 5/6/14

#5 The Long Tail of Association Content and Social Media 4/19/14

#6 Unwritten Rules of Association Board and Staff Determine Its Culture 2/27/14

#7 Associations & Nonprofits: Big Boards. Big Bureaucracy. Big Problems? 4/8/14

#8 Survey Says: Top 10 Reasons Why Boards Fail 7/22/14

#9 Gen Y Challenging Traditional Way 9/4/14

Interesting review. Is it coincidental that the most popular posts came in the first five months!

Thanks for reading!

Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

PS.  Can't resist:  Go Buckeyes!  Beat Bama!!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Food for Thought for Associations and Nonprofits

I spotted this quote in the local paper this weekend:

“Money is like manure. If you pile it up, it stinks. If you spread it out, it makes things grow.” – Peter Kleist (I also see this quote attributed to J. Paul Getty.)

It made me think of a quote from a board member 30 years ago:

“Nothing ruins a good organization like too much money. – Wilf Illingworth

In my nearly 40 years experience in associations and nonprofits, I’ve found both to be true.

What about you?

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Apple, Amazon, QVC & Associations

Ok, I finally broke down and switched from my trusty Blackberry to a new iPhone 6.

The iPhone 6 buzzed through its battery so I went to an Apple store for the first time.

Wow! What an awesome experience. An impressive culture. And a friendly, helpful tech rep who shared some easy steps to reduce battery usage. (Wish the AT&T store would have shared them when I bought the phone!)

Even in the middle of the Christmas rush, the Apple store was an experience most associations dream about (or should!).

The experience reminded me of some other organizations which offer associations and nonprofits models for customer service and organizational culture.

Let’s take a look:

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

Thanks for reading this year!

We wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

What Should Associations Do About Old Emails?

I recently replaced my Blackberry. When I activated the new phone, it uploaded more than 14,000 old emails.


And, I had a double 'whoa' when the Sony hacking story burst on the news ... including distributing private Sony emails.

So, the Wall Street Journal article headlined Are You Sure You Want to Use Email?  grabbed my attention and should be something associations and nonprofits consider.

Some highlights of the story:

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Hiring Dilemmas Facing Association HR Directors

A few weeks ago, the local school board here was forced to fire an assistant football coach who had a record of multiple arrests. Members in the local community wondered why the school district had hired this person and why they had not screened his application to discover the arrests.

Last weekend’s Wall Street Journal story headlined Hiring Managers Bedeviled By Flood of Arrest Records shed some light on the situation and serves as a “warning” for association and nonprofit hiring managers.

Here are some excerpts of the story:
  • Eddie Sorrells is evaluating job applicants he knows he can’t hire. The chief operating officer of DSI Security Services, a provider of security guards, is checking out potential employees with felony or certain misdemeanor convictions even though they wouldn’t get licensed in many of the 23 states where the firm operates. Driving the company in that direction are government officials in Washington and elsewhere who want to give people with rap sheets a better shot at a job. Mr. Sorrells figures the reviews take up hundreds of hours of staff time a year.
  • Three decades of tougher laws and policing have left nearly one in three adult Americans with a criminal record, according to data kept by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That arrest wave is washing up on the desks of America’s employers.
  • Companies seeking new employees are forced to navigate a patchwork of state and federal laws that either encourage or deter hiring people with criminal pasts and doing the checks that reveal them. Employers are having to make judgments about who is rehabilitated and who isn’t. And whichever decision they make, they face increasing possibilities for ending up in court. 
  • Ignoring the records can leave a company vulnerable to making bad hiring decisions and to lawsuits. But using them can raise the ire of government officials and lead to charges of discrimination.
Many associations and nonprofits use at least two screening tools:
  • Background checks to explore any legal or ethical issues of candidates
  • Drugs tests to check on the use of illegal drugs
What tools does your association use before hiring new staffers?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Flipping the Classroom of Association Education

AP Photo from The Wall Street Journal

A week ago, the Wall Street Journal wrote a football story that offers ideas for association education programming.

Headlined Taking the Buckeyes to School outlines some of the innovative coaching methods of Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer.
  • The theory behind it is that introducing students to new material through short video lectures, screencasts or online slideshows outside of class time allows for the lower levels of cognitive work—gaining knowledge and comprehension—to be performed outside the classroom on their own schedule and at their own pace. Class time can then be repurposed into workshops where students can inquire about the material and interact with hands-on activities. These methods help accomplish the harder task of assimilating knowledge.
  • "The whole idea is that if you can get players thinking about it and doing the mental work prior to being in the football facility, your time in the classroom will be that much more productive," said Keith Grabowski, a former college assistant and founder of Coaches Edge Technologies, an online aid for coaches.
Some definitions from The Flipped Class: Myths vs Reality

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Associations and Urban Myths for the Holidays

Some stories stick. Even when they are not true. And, if it impacts your association or your members, it spells problems.

Two examples of holiday myths surface almost annually at this time of year:

MYTH: Suicides Spike During Holiday Months (November, December, January)

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

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

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

To hell with your Association’s “grass seed” ...

... what will it do for my “lawn?”

As I was watching a couple of recent television commercials, I recalled a comment my PR professor made more than 40 years ago:
  • If you are in the lawn seed business, remember that your audience is saying, “To hell with your grass seed, what will it do for my lawn?”
I’ve never forgotten this (and some other gems from Walt Seifert).

So, I wonder what companies/agencies/associations missed when their TV ads (or other marketing pieces) tell me ...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How does your association greet its members?

Ken Williams, the singer greeter at The Home Depot in Fort Myers

Walking in to Home Depot this weekend, we were welcomed by Ken Williams ... a singing greeter!

It shouldn’t surprise you that such a warm and friendly greeting lifts your spirits as you start your shopping experience.
Nor that you leave this Home Depot with a really positive outlook on the store and company.

My wife and I talked about this ... 

Thursday, December 4, 2014

8 Steps to Getting Great Proposals for Your Association!

Want great proposals? Submit awesome requests.

The other day I received a request from an association seeking qualified contractors for a marketing project.

I’ve been on both sides of the “RFP” process: seeking contractors via RFPs and building proposals responding to RFPs.

This specific request (a “request for concept papers”) seems a step in the right direction ... with some exceptions.

Bottom line: issuing great requests results getting great proposals.

Here are eight steps to help you get contractors that best fit your needs:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

3 Takaways Common Core & Associations

National Urban League PSA on Common Core

Target marketing. One-to-one marketing. Demographic marketing.

Communications and marketing designed to recruit members, generation donations or register attendees recognize the individual differences in the population we reach.

Yet, the concepts of the Common Core education system assume all children are equal.

Coming from a family of teachers, I may be more aware of education issues ... including the ongoing debate about “common core,” a topic impacting many associations.

The National Urban League has been airing a TV public service announcement (PSA) over the past few weeks made me think about this.

Rather than helping common core advocates, the PSA may actually illustrate the fallacies of the common core concept.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Wishing you a blessed Thanksgiving.

Despite all the bad news around the world and in spite of all the Black Friday hoopla, most Americans have benefitted from the freedom and abundance of this country.

Take time to be thankful.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

6 Thoughts on Innovation

With rapid changes impacting association members, associations need to be innovative as they move forward. Here are six quotes to empower you:

When there is no market, create one
* Sony co-founder Akio Morita

Great innovators are successful because they are not aware of their limitations.
* Gene Landrum, Profiles of Genius

Imagination is more important than knowledge. 
*  Albert Einstein

Leap and the net will appear. 
*  Author Unknown

Creativity is intelligence having fun. 
*  Author Unknown

Learn from the past, watch the present and create the future. 
*  Jesse Conrad

Thursday, November 20, 2014

6 Articles for Associations and Millennials

Millennials Will Become The Majority In The Workforce In 2015. Is Your Company Ready?

Via FastCompany

Next year, people born between 1981 and 1996 are poised to become the new workforce majority and will eventually remake the workplace in their own image. That means office culture is in for big changes. As a new survey shows, this generation is already chafing at today's traditional company structures. More than half of the hiring managers agreed that it was difficult to find and retain millennial labor. Nearly 80% of the millennials surveyed say they would consider quitting their existing jobs and working for themselves in the future.

Study Debunks Myths about Generations’ Workplace Preferences

As a generation, millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are widely characterized as being extremely connected, tech savvy, diverse, expressive, optimistic and socially minded. In the workplace, they have been described as being adaptable and collaborative, multitaskers, and as having a general disregard for organizational hierarchy. As it turns out, how millennials work and what they want from their work environment is not drastically different than what Generation Xers and baby boomers want. In fact, in the vast majority (75%) of the 250 questions CBRE’s Workplace Strategy team posed to more than 5,500 U.S.-based professionals from a wide range of industries in its workplace surveys, there was no more than a 10% difference between how millennials responded versus how other generations responded."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Shirt. The Lie. The Seal. Lessons for Associations

Matt Taylor (l); Jonathan Gruber (c); Robert O'Neill (r)
Three men have been prominent in the news this month. Their stories show associations what can happen when a leader, staffer or member get “off message.” This can create big issues for associations.

Here are the three stories:

The Shirt

From Scientific American 
During interviews streamed to the public about the Rosetta’s Phil lander mission, Project Scientist Matt Taylor described the mission as the “sexiest mission there’s ever been”, but not “easy.” He conducted on-camera interviews in a colorful shirt patterned with pin-up images of scantily-clad women. Social media exploded with negative comments about the shirt’s sexist statement while ignoring the mission’s huge success.

The Lie

From the Washington Post
Multiple videos surfaced in which MIT economics professor Dr. Jonathan Gruber (sometimes labeled the “architect” of “Obamacare”) was quoted saying “the stupidity” of American voters and their “lack of economic understanding” made it possible to pass the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Documents showed Dr. Gruber may have been paid as much as $6 million for ACA consulting with the Administration and various states.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

3 Tips To Ensure Full Potential of Association Promotions

Anything Missing from Your Key Association/Foundation Messages

My wife (and proof reader) shared this email and asked me, “What’s wrong with this email?”

Ignore the typos!

Did you find it?

Ok, it is so obvious it may be hard to see ....

Thursday, November 13, 2014

4 Stories about Association Membership

Managing the Membership Journey
via Silverbear Member Solutions

As with any journey in life, the membership journey has a beginning, a middle and an end. The member moves through the initial engagement to becoming a member, until such time as they reach the end of their journey. A strategic membership organization will look to engage with its members based upon where they are in their membership journey and where they should, logically, look to go next.

Member Engagement is Vital, So Why Don’t More Associations Track It?
Via CQConnectivity

Ask association executives what the most important metric is, and member engagement is often near the top of the list. Fully 67 percent called it their top membership priority, according to a survey by Marketing General, a membership consultancy. Almost 9 out of 10 ranked it “very critical” in a survey by Tate & Tryon, a Washington accounting firm that specializes in non-profits. Yet two thirds of those executives said their organizations were not tracking member engagement at all.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Is Junk Cluttering Association Membership Appeals?

One day's snail mail (Left); Inserts in Sunday paper (right)

You’ve crafted a well-designed, well-worded appeal to recruit new members. The call to action grabs the recipient.

But, despite these superior marketing aspects, your response rate is well below expectations.
What is going on here?
In a word: clutter.
  • Note the two photos above: on the left, our snail mail for just one day (no political campaign mail in this!). On the right, the undesired ad fliers that came with our Sunday newspaper.
Your brilliant appeal probably did not break through the clutter of your recipient’s inbox (whether that is a snail mail box, social media or email.

I was thinking about this when I saw a comment from Glenn Tecker, Chair and Co-CEO of Tecker International.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Veteran's Day 2014

It's been 44 years but I still remember my boot camp "call letters" at Fort Jackson:  E-9-2.

I encourage you to participate in the Pizza4Patriots #American Flag Challenge.  Just hang a U.S. flag outside your home and/or office and "register" it at www.pizza4patriots.com.

Here's to all who served.  Bless you and Thank you!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Attention! Association Executives 55+

What do you do? Who are you?

As you get closer to retiring, those are the questions you can expect others to ask you.

Retirement planning involves more than just financial planning. Planning mentally and physically are just as important.

After years as association professionals, you suddenly find yourself answering the easy but difficult question “who are you.”

Nanci Hellmich’s USA Today article headlined “Preparing yourself mentally for retirement” tracks the tough questions and provides guidance good for association CEOs who are heading toward retirement.
  • "When you retire, you have to establish a new identity, purpose and relationships.”

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Waiting: Members are Sick and Tired of Waiting!

Well, I am.

I’m tired of waiting on “service people.” Waiting is almost as annoying as all those political ads.

The annual meeting of members started 8 minutes late. No big deal, right? Well, BS! Wasted time for all of waiting. And, it says that our association disrespects us and the value of our time.

Associations: don’t do this! Start on time. 

Respect and value the time of your members.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Do you need to power your association writing?

Early in my job as a news writer at The Associated Press, I was assigned to the “night radio desk.”

I arrived at 4:00 pm and needed to put the initial “evening news” headlines/stories on the wire by 4:20 pm. This meant converting stories written for a newspaper into broadcast news stories ... which involved cutting a 500 to 600 word story down to less than 100 words.

If I was lucky, the day radio editor had time to get a couple of these stories edited before he left at 2:30 pm.

While often frustrating, the job taught me to write really fast and short!

I recalled this experience when I read a Copyblogger post headlined Are You Too Lazy to Write Less?, Chris Garrett posed a key question:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Replicating Association Success

Is your association still looking for the silver bullet?

Over the years, I’ve watched many associations constantly changing their programs and services ... on a continuous search for the “silver bullet.”

Makes me think of a Seth Godin quote:

“Highlighting what's working helps you make that happen more often.”

Godin’s advice parallels research that Chip and Dan Heath share in their book Switch:
  • They found that “finding the bright spots” and replicating them helps lead to change.
This seems to be great advice for associations ... especially those with successful programs or services.

For example, the Christmas SPIRIT Foundation is celebrating the 10th anniversary of its hugely successful Trees for Troops cause marketing program through which Christmas tree farmers donate farm-grown Christmas trees to military members. And, FedEx Freight delivers those trees to military families at bases around the U.S. and in war zones. While the Foundation has “tweeked” the program each year, they have maintained it and have now provided Christmas memories for more than 10,000 military families.

What is your association or non-profit doing to replicate successful programs or services?

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Asking the right questions key association success

Earlier this year an association executive called to ask for my help in developing a member discovery project to help the association develop strategies for impending generational changes in its membership.

While I frequently speak on generational differences and/or refer association executives to the work of Sarah Sladek, this question suggests the association needs to focus on what it is asking and who it is asking.
  • The first step: Ask the right questions
  • The second step: Talk with a representative sample of the different generations
  • The third step: Probe beyond the obvious ... keep asking “what else?” If you stop asking too soon, you’ll only get predictable answers.
Through it all, try to avoid skewing the results with your own biases.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Taking Time Off Benefits You and Others

“If only we’d stop trying to be happy, we’d have a pretty good time.” Edith Wharton

I mostly took the weekend off ... which puts me behind in my writing. But, it was worth it!

It started Saturday morning when my wife and I volunteered to help the Children’s Network of Southwest Florida 5K walk here at Pelican Preserve ... nearly 500 people participated. It was a fund-raiser for child abuse and foster children.

Our “job” was to serve as the “traffic cops” at the main intersection in our community ... pointing the walkers in the right direction and keeping vehicles from hitting anyone.

My wife spotted someone who needed help ... her feet were bleeding ... after walking about a mile and a half in flip flops! People were incredulous when they heard of her flip flop walk.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Associations and the Paradox of Choice

Early in my career, I advocated multiple member benefits through what I called “membership of your choice.”

There are now several books and magazines devoted to what is called the "voluntary simplicity" movement. Its core idea is that we have too many choices, too many decisions, too little time to do what is really important.

Some of this began with The Paradox of Choice - Why More Is Less a 2004 book by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In the book, Schwartz argues that eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.

I thought of this when I read about the troubles at Olive Garden. Here’s a quote that caught my eye:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Leadership & Culture: Lessons from Microsoft’s new CEO

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella
In a story headlined “Interview: How Nadella plans to upend Microsoft,” USA Today’s Marco della Cava, gave excellent insight.

Here are three paragraphs that I thought valuable for association executives:
  • "You need new concepts with new innovation, and you have to have new capability and culture to go after those new concepts," he says. "Your existing success kind of fights those things, so you have to over-amplify the new concept and the culture required for it. And that's the journey."
  • "Turns out that adoption rate was wrong, we'll exceed $150 billion by 2017, which will be 10% of total IT spend," says Michael Heric, a Bain partner focusing on technology, media and telecommunications. "Cloud computing is bringing sophisticated technology to large and small companies, from those working on cancer research to someone trying to predict weather patterns."
  • Nadella's desire to play nice with others in the tech world reflects the ongoing devolution of the industry. Where once stood monoliths such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Apple and Microsoft — each warring for faithful consumers — today's startup-fueled tech world places technology itself in a secondary role to innovative ideas and disruptive business models typified by the likes of Facebook and Uber.
In reading the interview, I saw three important elements for association managers:
  • Culture of change
  • Culture of leadership
  • Culture of collaboration
Read and enjoy!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Finding Passion within the Association Community

A couple of quotes:
  • Be careful not to close the door too quickly ... You may be locking yourself out. – Audrey Harvey
  • Nobody notices normal. – Scott Ginsberg
I thought of these as I read a USA Today piece headlined “Finding your passion for a 2nd or 3rd career.”  It is largely based on the book The Encore Career Handbook and One Person/Multiple Careers by Marci Alboher, a vice president at Encore.org.
  • “Many people want to continue working well beyond the traditional retirement age, and to do that they're finding new creative ways to stay employed in not just one new career, but two, three or more careers.”

Two important points for associations and association executives:

  1. Association executives nearling retirement should be focused on “what’s next.” Don’t wait until “it’s time to go.” Think ahead and plan. After all, you’ll spend 20 to 30 years in “retirement.”
  2. Associations may want to look at retiring association executives for special projects, consulting or short-term efforts requiring association experience.
So, don’t close doors too quickly!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Power of Odd Numbers (Associations)

A local auto dealer has been running a tv commercial in which the staff sits frustrated in the board room waiting for the chairman to arrive. Meanwhile she is driving through the ranch in her new vehicle.

Cute commercial, right?

Not really.

I can’t help but think about all the wasted staff resources.

It, unfortunately, reminds me of staff meetings and board meetings that failed to start on time because we were waiting for a key person (or more) to arrive.

Some 30 years ago, a farmer shared a secret to getting meetings started on time:

Establish an “odd” starting time such as 8:01 or 12:29. Then, be sure to start at that time no matter who is in the room.

It works. 

My clients referred to it as “Central Drake Time.”

Odd times/numbers work in other areas too.

The photo above is about a $2.05 donation to the Fort Myers Rescue Mission for a complete Thanksgiving meal. Notice that the precision of this amount offers more meaning than if the mission had said $2.

You’ll see the same thing on infomercials asking for donations of $19 a month.

There is power in using “odd” numbers in your association work ... whether meeting times, member dues or donations.

Are you doing this?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Content, Millenials & Videos{ 7 best of the week for associations

How to Overcome the 'No Time to Create Content' Challenge
By Joe Chernov via MarketingProfs.com

How can we maximize our content output in the minimum amount of time? The answer, it turns out, isn't particularly complex: Spend time only on content that works. HubSpot recently surveyed nearly 3,600 marketing and sales professionals for our annual State of Inbound report (available at link; email required), and asked several questions related to content creation and impact. Then we pivoted the data to see where high performers—that is, marketers who generated greater year-over-year return on their inbound investment—spent their time and resources. A pattern emerged.

Why Steve Jobs Obsessed About Office Design (And, Yes, Bathroom Locations)
By Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute

Creativity is a collaborative process. As brilliant as the many inventors of the Internet and computer were, they achieved most of their advances through teamwork. Even though the Internet provided a tool for virtual and distant collaborations, another lesson of digital-age innovation is that, now as in the past, physical proximity is beneficial. The most productive teams were those that brought together people with a wide array of specialties.

Three Tips for Producing Online Video from a Popular Youtube Host
By Katie Bascuas via AssociationsNow

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Greening the Association

Office Depot Pavilion at 2014 Bioproducts World Showcase & Conference

I attended the Bioproducts World Showcase & Conference (BWSC) last week and came away impressed with the huge array of products available for associations interested in greener alternatives.

The Office Depot pavilion – which included several companies – showcased multiple biobased products associations could use in their day-to-day operations or at meetings.

Two examples:

  • The B2P (as in Bottle 2 Plastic) pens from Pilot. The casing of the pens are made from recycled plastic bottles. Cool tool. Great handouts. Great use of recycled products.
  • 100% bioblend tree-free pads and paper from Roaring Spring. The BWSC used these papers for producing the conference program and for notepads provided to attendees. 
These were just two of the biobased products that associations might use in efforts to be more environmental friendly.

I recognize that some association conferences “go paperless” ... which means most attendees print the materials at their office or home. This practice doesn’t save paper, just pushes the cost from the association to the attendee.

Wouldn’t it be better for associations to use this type of biobased products in all association operations?

What is your association doing?

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Building Association Culture from the Get Go

The other day while browsing at a bookstore, I purchased a copy of Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano’s book Sidelined. The book focuses on his first year as head coach ... during which he was diagnosed with acute promyelocytic leukemia or APL.

Starting with the book’s foreword, I realized the book provided some value lessons for association executives and leaders of any organization.

Tony Dungy, former NFL coach and author, set the stage for the book about Pagano’s fight against APL during his time as head coach. Dungey coached the Colts starting in 2002. In the foreword, he shares his common core with Pagano:
  • “You win by having good people who are united in a common cause. Yes, you have to have talented players, and you have to do things in a fundamentally sound way. And, its takes preparation, hard work and attention to detail to succeed. But, in the end, having a team that functions like a family – a close-knit, loyal group that will not let each other down – those are the teams that win championships. Winning is not the most important job of a coach. The real joy in coaching comes from building relationships. Relationships with players, coaches, staff and families that you can never replace.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

6 Stories for Association Executives

New CEO? Five Ideas to Help You Thrive.
By Kerry Stackpole via Wired for Leadership

Every leader faces the inherent challenge of making their mark. None more so than a newly appointed CEO. When you are the new CEO, you face an emotional landscape that differs markedly from the otherwise already challenging task of just being a fresh face. As you take on the role and responsibilities from the previous leader, the hazards on the path to success grow exponentially. While many Board and Search committee members intellectually understand and will profess a desire to move the organization to the next-level, their hearts may still be entangled with the emotions of losing your predecessor as a longtime ally, confidante and in many instances friend.

Why is your content strategy failing?
By Maddie Grant via Social Fish

There is a spectrum of factors that contribute towards making your content marketing strategy a success instead of a complete flop. From content generation to content publishing – each step is crucial and has to be handled cleverly to create the best possible content marketing strategy for your organization.  Don’t make these blunders.

Healthier Association, Higher Membership Performance
By Joe Rominiecki via AssociationsNow

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Association Convention Pricing Strategies

A client called the other day. His “big convention” was three weeks away. It had not “sold out” (either hotel rooms or sessions/trade show).

“Should we create some special, last minute pricing to fill the spaces?” he asked. “Like one day passes, two for one hotel rooms, etc. Isn’t some income better than no income?”

Tough question, right?

Most associations that I know “hold the line” on conference pricing.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Association Marketing: 27 times! Really? Yes!

Jay Conrad Levinson's Rule of 27 Provides Model for Associations

In today’s communications cluttered world, many association marketing plans fail to connect because they stop too soon!

J. Conrad Levinson, author of Guerilla Marketing, created The Rule of 27:

  • “A marketing message must penetrate the mind of a prospect a total of nine times before that prospect becomes a customer, and your message gets missed or ignored two out of three times.”
  • Well, despite our best marketing efforts, people miss two out of every three messages! Too much clutter.
Do the math:
  • Your target audience misses two out of three of your messages but you need to connect with them nine times. So, to really connect, you need to send your message 27 times!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

17 Minute Breaks Every 52 Minutes for Association CEOs?

Lisa Evans recently wrote an interesting piece in FastCompany headlined The Exact Amount of Time You Should Work Every Day.

It is important reading for Association CEOs and Association Executives!

As a 24/7 “switchtasker,” I read this piece with interest.

The story talks about new research that reveals how much downtime we should be taking during our work week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Alligators, Pepsi and Association Social Media

I was standing at the kitchen window the other day and saw an alligator swimming up river.

It was gone within five minutes.

Later I was sitting in my car and noticed a Pepsi trunk drive by. 

 It was gone in less than a minute.

Both reminded me of a quote attributed to Guy Kawasaki:
“Twitter is like a river. If you tweet when people aren’t looking, they’ll miss it. So, for important information, tweet seven or eight times.”

For associations seeking to enhance their social media presence, the idea of repeating your Tweets represents value.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Who, Why & Where before What & How

When associations and nonprofits contact me regarding consulting about social media or content management, they often begin by asking, “Should we focus on Twitter or Facebook?”

Wrong question!


Because you (associations, nonprofits, small businesses) should ask Who, Why and Where before you focus on What and How!

Let’s briefly explore these four questions.

  • Who are you trying to reach? Members? Customers? Prospects? Media? Influencers?
  • What do you want them to do, not do or let you do?
  • Where are the folks you are trying to reach? Are they on social media? If so, are they on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter or something else? 
  • After you have answered the first three questions, now you can explore which social media platforms you should use to connect with your targets and engage them as you desire.
  • Once you’ve identified your media of choice, dive in. Understand how each works. Explore how to get maximum results.
So, if you and your organization are trying to determine where to place your engagement resources, follow the flow of these five questions: who, why, where, what and how.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shark vs Mosquitoes: Thoughts on Association Communications

One of the quotes I’ve often used in sessions for association executives is:

  • If you think you’re too small to make a difference ... you haven’t been in bed with a mosquito!
I meant it as a nuisance caused by such a little bug.

Now, AARP the Magazine recently shared some startling facts:
  • Number of people killed by sharks each year: 10
  • Number of people killed by mosquitoes each year: 725,000

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Association Leaders Struggle with the Duty of Loyalty

Association board members often struggle with the Duty of Loyalty. Here’s a definition from our association attorney:

  • The Duty of Loyalty dictates that officers and directors must act in good faith: A director shall avoid advancing their own personal interests in ways that may injure or take advantage of the Association. A director shall exercise honesty and must not allow his/her personal interests to prevail over the interests of the organization. The duty of loyalty has three key components: (1) the director must not usurp corporate opportunities for personal gain, (2) must avoid engaging in interested transactions without board approval, and (3) must maintain the organization’s confidential information.
During board orientations, I’ve had directors strenuously object to the concept that they have to support board actions even when they disagree with them.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

When Is It Time to Eliminate a Failed Program?

One major challenge facing many associations is “killing” a failing program. A program that doesn’t meet today’s member needs. A program that costs way more than the organization can afford. A program that just doesn’t add member value the way it used to.

So, why don’t we eliminate these programs and use the resources for something of more value?

  • it may be a “sacred cow” of one or two board members or perhaps the entire organization.
  • it may be considered a program that the association can’t do without.
  • It may have dedicated staff that defend it as a way to defend their jobs.
The current news about the U.S. “War on Poverty” illustrates the problems with failed programs.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

6 Stories About Millennials & Associations

5 Surprising Reasons Millennials Join and Stay with Your Association
By Sarah Hill via Member Clicks

How do you get more Millennials in your association? Sure, networking and community good are very important to this up-and-coming generation, too, but they have other reasons for signing up and some of them may surprise you!

Outside Opinion: Millennials Frustrate HR Execs
By Sean Bisceglia via Chicago Tribune

This just in: New study on millennials. Text and you'll miss it. By 2020, millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce. By 2025, that number is likely to reach 75 percent. Given the huge millennial population, companies must hire them in increasing numbers. A study this summer by my company, Scout Exchange, and Oracle HCM Users Group sheds light on what we can expect from this generation of Americans born between 1976 and 1994.

5 Ways to Get Generation X and Y Engaged with Your Association
By Donna Vieira via Association Marketer

Sunday, September 14, 2014

6 Lessons for Association Executives

Muhtar Kent, chairman and chief executive officer of the Coca-Cola Co, wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal headlined Truett Cathy’s Lessons on Life & Business.

Who was Truett Cathy? He was the Chick-fil-A founder who died last week at the age of 93.

  • “How did Truett do it?” Mr. Kent wrote. “As someone lucky enough to know him, I saw six characteristics that defined the way he approached business, people and the communities he served.
As I read these six characteristics, I envisioned them as pretty good lessons for association volunteers, leaders and association executives.

Here they are:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

What are association members saying?

I was at the driving range the other morning and overheard a couple of members complaining about the association (golf club) ... fussing about the executive director.

It made me wonder what association members might be saying behind our backs.

And, it reminded me of something a former board member of the Ohio State University Alumni Association once told me:
  • “It’s hard for staff to see the difference between fans and members,” he said. “Staff are exposed to raving fans. But the vast majority of alumni are members not fans. They don’t come to these events. They are pretty much silent. But as staff and leaders, we must look beyond the fans who attend our events and better understand the needs of those who don’t come to our events.”
Pretty good thinking.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Yes, You Can Restructure Your Association Governance Model!

Guest Post by Marilyn Jansen, Association Management Center

Name of Association: 
  • A certification board in healthcare 
Description of the Organization: 
  • Currently 1000 certificants; 7 member commission, with 3 Task Forces/3 members each; $400,000 budget
The Problem: 
  •  A top-heavy governance structure for a small organization was too complex, preventing strategic decisions and making it challenging for the group to grow. The board met 5-6 times annually but had been “decision paralyzed” for 10 years and as a result were behind in the industry. The group’s goal was to certify as many industry professionals as possible, but rather than increased certifications, their base was decreasing and the sustainability of their business model was in jeopardy. They were losing money due to recertification drop off and too many commissioners were micro-managing staff preventing them from reaching their goals. Also, there were too many committees that all relied heavily on staff support. Finally, there was no focus or importance placed on market development to increase the market share. 

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Association Leadership: Stepping Into Chairs Role

Guest Post by Russ Lemieux, The Kellen Company

Name of Association: 

  • International Transportation Industry Trade Organization
Description of Organization: 

  • 400 member companies, including transportation companies and vendor companies; 50% based in the US, 25% in Europe and 25% in Asia and South America. Governed by an 11-member Board of Directors. Annual budget: $3 million. 
The Problem: 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Gen Y Challenging Traditional Way

In leading a session on generational changes for a small company, I listed some examples of organizations/industries taking a big hit from the generational shift from Boomers to Millenials.

They include:

  • participation down (from 60.2 million in 2007 to 45.3 million in 2012). 
  • participation down (from 27.6 million in 2008 to 22.4 million in 2012). Number of rounds played: down. Number of golf courses: down (closing rate is 1 every 48 hours). (See the future of golf HBO show). 

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Smaller Boards Get Bigger Returns

When Harrison Coerver and Mary Byers suggested (in Race for Relevance) that association boards shrink to five members, most in the association community exploded with a multitude of negative comments.

Not possible was the common cry.

The book reported that Harvard’s Richard Hackman (among others) said groups of six or seven are most effective at decision making.

Now comes reinforcing research for the concept of downsizing association and nonprofit boards: