Tuesday, January 27, 2015

SkyMall, Jaycees, March of Dimes and Future of Associations



In an article headlined What Skymall Teaches about Captive Audiences, AssociationsNow wrote about the implications the death of SkyMall has on association publications.
  • Does the news about SkyMall hurt the case for publishing an association magazine? It’s not clear, but it’s nonetheless worth considering Association Media and Publishing’s recent reader survey that delved into how challenging it is to make the case for maintaining an association magazine. While 44 percent of respondents said it’s not hard at all, more concerning might be the 25 percent of respondents who constantly have to defend their publications’ value to their bosses. 

Meanwhile, Gannett reported that online advertisers are looking for deeper readership data than clicks. This too will impact association media. See Selling advertisers on reader attention, not clicks http://archive.theleafchronicle.com/usatoday/article/22074703
  • First came clickbait. Now comes engagement.
  • Disillusioned with page views as a reliable metric of their ads' effectiveness, advertisers are increasingly demanding to know whether readers stick around long enough to actually see their online ads. Publishers - as if the need to pursue clicks and Facebook "virality" wasn't stressful enough - implore their troops to post stories that might actually be read, preferably all the way to the end.

What about the Entire Organization?


I want to focus more broadly on the impact it has for the entire association community. The SkyMall story illustrates the need for organizations to be looking ahead to forecast overarching changes that may impact the organization’s future.

Here are three snapshots to consider:

SkyMall
  • Failed to foresee the impact mobile media would have on catalog sales.
  • Thus, it kept doing business as usual ... until it was too late.
Jaycees
  • Failed to foresee two major issues in the 1990s: (a) that the size of Gen X meant they had 30 million fewer potential members and (b) the decline in “monthly lunch clubs.”
  • As a result, national membership dropped from 250,000 to 25,000 over about 10 years.
March of Dimes
  • Recognizing the end of polio (its sole mission in the 1950s), MoD switched its cause and focus from polio eradication to “helping moms have full-term pregnancies and research the problems that threaten the health of babies.”
3 Questions
  • Does your organization conduct 360 environmental scanning constantly seeking for disruptive technologies and major changes that may impact your members and your association? 
  • Do you keep the results of this scanning before your board and members? 
  •  Are your leaders coached in taking such changes seriously or are they more focused on “we’ve always done it this way?”
Not all change impacts your organization or membership. But you really can’t afford to ignore what is happening around the world.

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