Tuesday, April 29, 2014

What Would Your Association Do If A Board Member Made Racist Remarks?

The NBA is an association.

Donald Sterling, one of its owners, was recorded saying pretty racist stuff.

The NBA Commissioner just announced a lifetime ban for this owner.

The Commissioner announced the ban in a very powerful personal statement of outrage.

While some may have wanted a faster decision, acting within a few days shows thoughtful action.

My question for associations and nonprofits:

Sunday, April 27, 2014

8 Points Associations Can Learn from Ohio State’s Marching Band

The hugely successful Ohio State University Marching Band incorporates several practices for associations and nonprofit organizations.

I gleaned ideas from band director Jonathan Waters’ presentation and discussion with the Ohio State Alumni Club of Southwest Florida. I’ve shared some other ideas in two previous posts:

  • Secrets from a Hugely Successful Marching Band
  • The Engaging Story Behind Innovation, iPads and the Ohio State University Marching Band
The Ohio State Marching Band – the first college marching band in the U.S. – is steeped in traditions yet exhibits innovation and creativity that associations can discover.

Here are some key points for associations and nonprofits:

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Engaging Story Behind Innovation, iPads and the Ohio State University Marching Band

You may have seen the mind-blowing performances of the Ohio State University Marching Band on YouTube or the Today Show or read about them in USA Today.

During the fall of 2013, the Ohio State Marching Band hit the big time with 20+ million views on YouTube and six billion media exposures worldwide. More than 1,000 media outlets internationally wrote about the band which was also featured in part of an Apple tv commercial.

It began with a new band director and a downpour during band practice.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

7 Secrets from a Hugely Successful Marching Band

The other day, Jonathan Waters, director of the highly rated Ohio State University Marching Band, shared ideas about the traditions and innovations of the band.

During the fall of 2013, the Ohio State Marching Band hit the big time: 20 million people have seen us on YouTube; six billion media exposures worldwide. We have been covered by over 1,000 media outlets internationally and a few are popping on the screen including a Today Show feature and a portion of an Apple tv commercial.

You may have seen the band’s mind-blowing performances on YouTube, the Today Show appearance or USA Today.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Will MOOC’s Impact Association Educational Offerings?

As I read a news story about 300,000 people enrolling in an environmental course, I wonder how exposure to massive open online courses will impact educational offerings of associations and professional societies.

Here’s the news item:
Ohio State Offers Public Online Environmental Science Course

  • Nearly 300,000 students -- from the U.S., China, Canada and other countries, enough to fill Ohio Stadium three times over -- have accessed a massive open online course, or MOOC, on environmental science offered by Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences. 
  • “I wanted to be able to teach environmental science to a worldwide audience,” said the course’s creator and teacher, Brian Lower, assistant professor in the college’s School of Environment and Natural Resources. “I don’t believe education should be exclusive to those individuals who can afford it, and iTunes U offers a great way to provide free world-class educational content to anyone, anywhere, anytime.”
As younger professionals experience this type of online learning, won’t they assume that their associations and professional societies will offer classes and courses with similar technology?

And what will this mean to associations generating non-dues revenue from such educational classes?

Should you be pursuing your own version of MOOC courses? Will this allow your association to provide a value service and thus create more potential members?

What are you doing or considering as the MOOC movement expands?

Thursday, April 17, 2014

New & Improved Valid Strategy for Associations & Nonprofits

I grew up somewhat cynical of advertising claims for “new and improved” products. They seemed phony ... somewhat like the “wait, there’s more” claims on cable tv ads.
I thought about this as my wife and I were shopping for accessories for our new home the other day. This included one store that we have visited several times and from which we have purchased several items.

After leaving this time, my wife remarked, “I was disappointed. It didn’t seem as though they had any new items. Everything seems to be in the same place.”

This led to a discussion about “new and improved.”

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

When it comes to change, is your association board pro-active?

Is this one of your board members?
Following Sunday’s Master’s Tournament, USA Today sports columnist Christine Brennan wrote a stinging column about the lack of action to stem the bleeding in the game of golf:
  • The game of golf is in serious trouble, but it has little to do with the aging of Tiger Woods.
  • Every year, as many as 1 million participants decide to stop playing golf. Their reasons? It's too expensive. It takes too long. It's too hard. It's too elitist.
  • The recession of 2008 hit the game particularly hard, with stuffy country clubs doing the unthinkable: reducing fees and practically begging people to join. But golf's leaders otherwise have been stunningly slow to react, and they have their reasons. What they must do to make their game more appealing to prospective new players will alter – and perhaps destroy – what they love most about the game.
  • Golf will never be as accessible and inexpensive as sports such as tennis, basketball and soccer. But it can do much more than it has so far to welcome new players, if only its leaders decide to truly grow the game rather than keep it the way it always has been.
Over the last 35 years, I’ve witnessed many associations paralyzed by the fear of change. 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Old Fashioned Tool May Boost Association Communications.

Drinks on the Driveway
Our neighborhood has a “drinks in the driveway” gathering every other Friday afternoon. It’s a great way for neighbors to stay in touch.

The social committee promotes the event (including time and the driveway hosts) via email, notice on the website and sign at the street entrances.

For the last two events, the social committee chair has been away. As a result, the signs have not been posted at the neighborhood entrance.

Interestingly, participation in the events dropped dramatically.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Long Tail of Association Content and Social Media

Back in 2006, Chris Anderson wrote a powerful book called the Long Tail.

In it, he defined the Long Tail, in a nutshell  as ...
  • The theory of the Long Tail is that our culture and economy is increasingly shifting away from a focus on a relatively small number of "hits" (mainstream products and markets) at the head of the demand curve and toward a huge number of niches in the tail. As the costs of production and distribution fall, especially online, there is now less need to lump products and consumers into one-size-fits-all containers. In an era without the constraints of physical shelf space and other bottlenecks of distribution, narrowly-targeted goods and services can be as economically attractive as mainstream fare. The Long Tail book is about the big-picture consequence of this: how our economy and culture is shifting from mass markets to million of niches.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Associations & Nonprofits: Big Boards. Big Bureaucracy. Big Problems?

Some time ago, I met an association executive who talked about her “committee on committees” as a tool to get a handle on the bureaucracy within her board of directors.

I spent 15 years as an association executive at a large (200 staff, $40+ million budget) national association. (Keep in mind, this was in the “pre-internet” era.) As much as we tried to avoid it, staff size and board size (two boards totaling 89 directors) became a bureaucracy.

  • The boards each had executive committees (which met jointly).
  • Each board had its own committees.
  • The staff was organized into seven “departments.” Each had a “matching” board committee.
I recently wrote about a colleague who had 274 board members on his national association board of directors.  He talked about how his association had to “bypass” the bylaws to help overcome its inability to make decisions with such a large board of directors.

All this reminded me of what is happening at General Motors, a major corporation known for its complex management structure.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Do you put your Association’s “bakery” up front?

The other day my wife returned from the grocery store and mentioned the power of the wonderful aroma of the bakery ... which, of course, is at the front of the store.

And, why not?

All the research (see Paco Underhill’s Why We Buy) shows that aroma is a powerful motivator. That is one reason grocers put milk at the back of the store and the bakery at the front.

This got me to thinking.

What is the association’s version of the bakery?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

When fishing for members or donors, use the right lure.

A week or so ago (3/20), I wrote that successful associations fish where the fish are.

But, that is not enough.

Success means not only selecting where to fish but also carefully selecting which lures you should use to find those members or donors.

For example:
  • If I want to catch bass in a fresh-water lake, on the surface, I’ll select a spinner, popper or buzz bait. But, if the bass are not on the surface, I’m going to go with a crank bank or some other deep running lure.
  • If I want to catch trout in a mountain stream, I’ll use a fly rod and flies. 
  • If I want to catch walleye in a Canadian lake, I recognize they run deep. So, I may troll with a deep-running lure or perhaps jig over deep holes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

4 Posts on Association Marketing

This Best of The Week focuses on tips for association executives on association marketing:

The 8-Second Challenge: Email Marketing for Our Shrinking Attention Span
By Cynthia Price via Entrepreneur

Email is not dead. Indeed, the ROI for email is more than $40 per dollar spent, a return higher than any other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association. While email isn’t dead, one thing is clear: The email newsletter is a dinosaur. Emails that mimic print newsletters of yesteryear are bulky, lumbering and sometimes monstrous in size. But like the T-Rex’s stunted arms, the reach is tiny. These newsletters try to accomplish too much, and in the end, they do very little to drive results.