“Sign-up and Receive Automatic Renewal Member Perks!”
We’ve all received promotions like this to reward automatic renewal. No longer do companies exclusively focus on the incentive of saving time on future purchases; they instead focus on tangible benefits to encourage anyone who might be on the fence about auto renewal.
For example, by signing up for the Entertainment Book’s automatic renewal program, I receive exclusive Renewal Members’ perks like:
$5 off your Renewal books every year
Free shipping on your Renewal books every year
Early delivery—15 full months to use each book
10% off additional books you buy as gifts or for yourself
Renewal Members-only exclusive offers and discounts
50% off additional Member Fine Dine Cards
New! FREE Companion mobile app — view your book on your phone
What if one of the associations I belong to was to send me a similar email, would I sign up for their automatic renewal program? What about you, would you sign up? What type of perks would entice the typical association member to choose to automatically renew their membership from year to year? How about:
$5 off the next year’s dues
Free shipping on your next order from the association’s bookstore
5% off the next Annual Conference registration fee
Admittance to a free webinar held exclusively for Renewal Members only
Do you have other ideas to add to this list? Does your association offer an automatic renewal program?
Things can get hectic when attending or working onsite at a conference, not to mention the numerous distractions you encounter. In the blink of an eye someone can grab an unattended item (i.e. laptop, mobile device, etc.) for which your chances of recovery may be very small. You might feel a false sense of security while among your peers at a conference but you can’t forget about all of the other individuals who might be walking around a hotel or conference center.
Here are some tips on theft prevention measures to take while traveling to or attending a conference:
Do not leave your device(s) unattended. This may seem like common sense but it’s so easy to think “I’ll be right back” or “I’m just stepping away for a second.” Don’t risk that your device(s) aren’t where you left them when you return from a quick coffee break or a trip to the restroom.
Use a theft deterrent device. Consider purchasing a theft deterrent device for extra safety and security. Something like a cable security lock for a laptop would be a good investment that allows you to easily secure your laptop to a fixed item which will hopefully deter any theft attempts. Just don’t forget to hold on to the key!
Secure your device(s) in a locked room when not in use. Make sure to keep rooms, such as your conference storage space, locked when you are not present. Especially overnight if this is where you opt to store your device(s) when registration is closed. The same thing applies to leaving them in your hotel room unattended. It might be a good idea to use that cable lock, an available hotel room safe or to just keep the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your room while you’re out so that nobody enters your room unexpectedly.
Be vigilant when traveling with your device(s). Don’t forget your laptop when packing your bag up after going through security. Also make sure not to let your travel bag with your devices out of your sight when in the airport. Don’t leave it in the overhead bin of the plane either! The same reminders apply with transportation methods while traveling, such as taxi cabs and airport shuttles.
Protect your data. Make sure to password protect all of your devices using strong passwords. And when able, encrypt your local files and folders; or consider storing these sensitive documents someplace other than on your device while traveling (i.e. Dropbox). In the event your device does end up in the hands of someone it shouldn’t, you will want these added layers of security. And you will also want to consider making a back-up of the data from your device prior to traveling.
We at IMI were proud to send four staff members to this year’s ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, Mich. With such a large team in attendance, we were able to take advantage of a variety of sessions to get a good taste of what ASAE had to offer at this year’s conference.
These are the top speakers and sessions that our staff found to be dynamic, informative and memorable. Whether you are scoping out potential speakers for an upcoming conference or looking for educational resources, this post is for you.
Speaker: Jared D. Harris, faculty member at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business and a Senior Fellow at Darden’s Olsson Center for Applied Ethics
Comments: This was by far my favorite session out of all the sessions I have attended over the past eight ASAE Annual Meetings. If ASAE partners again with the Darden School of Business for future sessions I will be there! Workshop participants were presented with two real-life business situations which presented an opportunity for us to test our mastery of techniques and to refine our business judgment. This workshop definitely helped me improve my way of thinking about business situations.
Speakers: Glenn Tecker, ADHD, DsLx , Chairman and Co-CEO, Tecker International LLC; Andy Clarke , CAE, former President, League of American Bicyclists; Cynthia Mills, FASAE, CAE, CMC, CPC, CCRC , Founder, President & CEO, The Leaders Haven
Comments: I attended this session after finding one of Glenn Tecker’s books to be extremely helpful , so this session was a “must attend” on my list. I found the session to be interactive and had to chuckle at the two scenarios which were presented for consideration on how to navigate and how to prevent a similar scenario from happening.
Speakers: Tammy Barnes, Director, Operations State Advocacy, American Psychological Association; John Ganoe, CAE, Executive Director, Community Association Managers International Certification Board; Tracy King, MA, CAE, Principal & Founder, InspirEd, LLC; Jakub Konysz, MA, CAE, Manager, Strategic Global Initiatives, American Chemical Society; Conor McNulty, CAE, Executive Director, Oregon Dental Association; Mark Milroy, CAE, Vice President, Learning, ASAE; Stefanie Reeves, MA, CAE, Executive Director, Maryland Psychological Association; Erik Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated; Catherine Wemette, CAE, Chief Goodness Officer, Good for the Soul; Beth Z. Ziesenis, Your Nerdy Best Friend
Comments: The IGNITE session was my favorite! It’s the learning format that’s fast, fun, and focused where each speaker gets 20 slides, auto-advancing every 15 seconds, for five minutes total. The concept is really cool, and it kept it interesting, fresh, and sometimes funny when the slides advanced before the speaker was ready. I wrote down lots of good quotes and quips from the session, but I think that the overarching theme of the session, “enlighten us, but make it quick”, was probably my favorite. I’m looking for ways to bring this into my meetings.
Reggie Henry, ASAE’s Chief information Officer spoke at a CEO Power Breakfast hosted by Fort Worth CVB. Reggie was a dynamic and engaging speaker. The focus of his session was how advances in technology are changing the way we work and live. Then he shared insights on how particular technology can be used to change the way associations provide content and services to member in order to remain relevant. This session was not one of the regularly scheduled ASAE events. However, if your membership profile has you listed as a CEO of your organization you should receive an invitation to the session directly from the Fort Worth CVB.
Jeff Hurt, EVP with Velvet Chainsaw Consulting led the session Strengthen Your Strategic Thinking Muscles To Become A Better Leader. Jeff tangled with a difficult subject – strategic thinking – to really focus on how thinking more strategically can help us become better leaders. In the process he distilled and defined strategic thinking and provided a plethora of engaging activities for the audience all in a 30 minute session.
Deedre Daniel, Director of Partnership Marketing with GEICO spoke again this year at ASAE. Last year I loved her dynamic and engaging session on LinkedIn. This year she not only provided her insights at a session on her own (Learn to Share or Your Bottom Line will get Spanked), she teamed up with some heavy hitters to present Selling to Association. Deedra is definitely a presenter to watch.
The Association Management Companies Institute just rolled out a report that spell$ big new$ for the a$$ociation management industry. Err… sorry, appears the “s” key on our keyboard is broken, but we’ll just replace it with a $ sign, which is exactly what the July 2015 report is about: more $$$ for associations managed by an AMC. (Learn more about what an AMC is here.)
Commissioned by AMCI, an independent researcher from Brigham Young University found that associations using AMCs have stronger financial performance than those that do not. In fact, the report found that “AMC-managed associations experience more than three times the growth in net assets and 31 percent more growth in net revenue, regardless of size and tax status” (here). The study surveyed more than 160 associations with budgets ranging from $500,000 to $7.5 million, which is a good indicator that the study’s results are applicable across associations of different types and sizes. This is huge news for an industry where many associations still shy away from AMCs because they fear the cost or lack of added value.
The research is in: Using an AMC can more than triple your assets. Check out more info on the research study here or see what IMI could bring to your association here.
Whether it’s a one hour webinar, a conference, or a certification program, professional development is an important investment of our time, resources and attention. How do you make sure you are getting the most out of your investment?
If you’re attending an event, find out if any colleagues plan to attend as well. For the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, IMI sent four staff members which allowed us to take advantage of a variety of the concurrent sessions and maximize the information we learned. Going as a team also helps to alleviate that disappointment when you simply can’t make it to a session on your “wish list.” You can coordinate schedules to see if someone is able to sit in the session for you.
Immediately following the event, get together with attendees and discuss the highlights. Talking through the information can really help to solidify concepts and flesh out ideas. Also, hearing how others experienced the event provides “fresh” eyes on what we experienced. Don’t forget to make a list of any action items that come up as part of the discussion. If you didn’t attend with colleagues, you can journal or write a blog post for a similar effect.
Here are just a few questions you can use to generate discussion:
What excited you?
What was helpful?
What needs further research?
What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
What did or didn’t work for you as an attendee?
How did the speaker make you feel?
What made the session engaging?
Would you attend next year?
What would you do differently?
Who did you meet?
Make sure that you share the knowledge and ideas with the entire team – not just those who attended. IMI best practice is to share meeting notes and any resources with the entire team so that everyone can benefit. Get in the habit of taking good notes! If you take notes the old-fashioned way, like I do, type up the important concepts after the meeting. During a webinar, screenshots are helpful to capture visual resources and quickly summarize key points.
Applying the new information is the most crucial part. One thing I like to do is carve out a small block of time following the meeting to make the first steps on those action items or to schedule further time to research. Perhaps you need to redesign your Twitter header, set an appointment with your insurance agent, schedule a staff meeting to discuss a new process, or research a new association management system. Break any large tasks into smaller, manageable tasks. At next year’s conference you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come.
Stay tuned for a list of our top ASAE sessions and more about what we learned. Do you have any tips for getting the most out of your professional development opportunities? Let us know in the comments!
These ideas are inspired by the session “Making an Impact with Your Membership Materials: What Works, What Doesn’t” at the ASAE Annual Meeting on August 10, 2014, presented byDenise Gavilan, Walter Kim, Theresa Kramer-Burgess and Cecilia Cortes-Earle.
Our members are bombarded by information every day from articles, TV and social media. Many people see more than 350 marketing messages per day. How do you make sure that your membership communications resonate with members and don’t get lost in the clutter?
Here are 9 quick tips to help your next message to members make an impact.
Keep it small and impactful. Choose the top points – no more than three.
Make it about the reader. Focus less on your association and more on the reader – their results, concerns and solutions.
Focus on benefits – not features. Need a refresher about the difference between features and benefits? Read this.
Always answer the question for the reader, “What do members value the organization for?”
Vary your methods of delivery, but always keep the message consistent and authentic across all channels.
Adapt your message to the target audience. A member who is new to the association may need different information than a seasoned member. Make sure you know who your target is and how to best reach them.
Collect and use your testimonials. For great tips on the best ways to use your testimonials check out this post.
Read the copy out loud to see if it flows. If it’s awkward to read aloud it will be awkward for your readers, too.
Every message needs a clear call to action. Always ask: 1) What do I want the reader to do? (Register by a specific date, contact their legislator, “Like” the Facebook page, etc.), and 2) How do I want them to do it? (click a link, contact a staff member, register in person, etc.)
As an association management professional, I find myself constantly wondering how to improve the association and member benefits. In an age of almost limitless free resources available online, associations are faced with the daily challenge to show value and relevance to both current and potential members. What are some strategies association professionals can take to address this challenge?
Overhaul the governance model and committee operations.
Empower the CEO and leverage staff expertise.
Precisely define your member market.
Rationalize programs and services and focus on those that have the maximum effect.
Build robust technology framework.
Not sure where to start? Here are five high impact ideas to implement in your association.
5 Tips for Keeping Your Association Relevant:
Members and volunteers face a work/personal life dilemma. “I don’t have time” really means “I have better things to do with my time.” Volunteers expect a return on investment of time so make sure you are offering some short-time volunteer opportunities as well as ones that are worthwhile to the volunteer.
The board should focus on potential and possibilities; staff on implementation. Ideally you should have a competency-based board made up of five or six people.
Specialization is key. Associations should focus on their strengths instead of trying to be all things to all members. Members will narrow their memberships to those with highest return on investment.
Concentrate on the products that deliver the most value. Unused services and unneeded programs have no value. Prune obsolete services and your message becomes simpler.
Every association function can be enhanced or performed via technology. Not only can automating some tasks free up staff time for other important member projects, it may also increase involvement. Find out what technologies and services your members are already using and integrate current member resources into those systems.
No matter what your generational representation, you have likely heard the phrase, “Loose Lips Sink Ships,” coined during World War II as part of a general campaign of American propaganda to warn servicemen and other citizens to avoid careless talk concerning secure information that might be of use to the enemy.
So, might you ask, what does this have to do with associations?
With any long-term client affiliation, the association staff working with that association develops relationships with members and, particularly, those members in leadership positions with whom staff is apt to have frequent interactions. Those client-staff relationship can often move beyond discussion of the day-to-day operations of the association into more personal conversations on family activities, birthdays, weddings or vacations.
So far, this is fairly benign.
But what about the member who wants to talk with you about a negative interaction or exchange with another member? Your antenna should go up … but does it?
It’s easy to get pulled into negativity. Perhaps you also have had a similar negative response to that same member, or even another member. And since you are intimately sharing information already, it’s easy to add to the conversation with your own experiences with members, all of which seems most innocuous at the moment.
The funny thing about relationships, however, is that a riff in the relationship between two members can be resolved almost as quickly as the initial grievance occurred, and a few months later those two members are suddenly congenial and conversive and you are hoping your negative comments are not remembered or, at the least, not being repeated.
Suddenly the confidential relationship you thought you shared with that member or board member is in question. Might your “loose lips” comments be shared with other members of leadership? The board president? Your immediate supervisor? How might that impact the client’s perception of your management company and its ability to maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality?
You are starting to sweat and so you should be.
The advice is quite simple. Do NOT under any circumstances allow yourself to be drawn into negative conversations about any association members. If you find yourself a party to such a negative conversation, excuse yourself and make a hasty retreat.
You can politely and professionally suggest that any problems between two or more members be directed to the association president for action.
Don’t let your “loose lips” be the reason your management company loses a client or you lose your job.
Imagine this scenario: You arrive in the office one morning to find a letter of resignation from Chris, an employee who has served as an executive director for the past six years. He’s given two weeks’ notice; not nearly enough time for a smooth transition.
Your first reaction may be:
“Oh no, what will we do now?” Chris has served as the executive director to one of your larger clients. You feel Chris’ departure is a significant loss.
“It’s for the better. I have had this nagging feeling about Chris’ performance over the past six months which has required several serious coaching sessions.”
Either way, you are concerned about the immediate transition steps that need to take place. You worry about who will manage the day-to-day priorities of the association in the interim, and may feel as though a search for a new executive director needs to happen immediately.
Not so fast. When an executive director leaves the organization, it provides an opportunity to take a step back and assess several areas: your current organizational structure, your client base, your long-term goals, and the capabilities of your staff. So, don’t panic. Often, what seems like your worst nightmare at the moment can result in an opportunity to reassess your company’s priorities and make changes that will result in increased efficiencies and enhanced effectiveness.
When an executive director leaves, whether it is because they resigned or were dismissed, it’s time to consider your options by taking the following steps:
Begin an assessment of your organization. Do you have the correct structure in place? Maybe your AMC has grown and it is time to move to a more departmentalized structure. How is your client base performing? Maybe this is a good time to assist a struggling client with finding a different management resource that might be a better fit for them. What about the current staff? Maybe the executive director’s departure will afford you the opportunity to promote a star employee who has really proven him/herself.
Write a plan. Draft a clear and precise plan that details the responsibilities of the outgoing executive director, as well as who will handle all other aspects of the transition during the interim period between the executive director’s departure and naming a new key contact person.
Get on the same page. Schedule the outgoing executive director to spend time with management reviewing the client’s production schedule to determine the status of all projects. If a new executive director has been selected, that person also should be involved in this meeting.
Communicate. Inform the staff of the changes, what you know for certain and the decisions that are still pending. Any change to a client’s team has an effect on the entire office. Communication is vitally important in keeping a staff functional and positive in spirit. People are social creatures and tend to discuss what is going on around them. It is important for staff to have factual information otherwise there will be a lot of speculation.
Notification should take place as soon as possible, even if they have to be told that final transition plans have not been made; the discussion should be open and frank. Consider involving staff in the transition and search process. It also is helpful to meet individually with those employees that are directly impacted by the change to give them an opportunity to share how they are feeling about the changes. This will help alleviate some of the stress that naturally occurs when there are significant changes in an employee’s role within the organization.
Determine board input. During the transition, decide how much input the board of directors should have and, possibly, in the candidate selection process as well. There are some clients that interact on a daily basis with the staff and who place a high regard on the executive director, so it would be important to notify the board of directors immediately. There are other clients with whom it would be very important that you have a transition plan firmly in place to reassure them that the AMC has a clear transition plan in place. In either case, the executive director’s scheduled departure should be communicated as soon as possible. This communication with the client leadership should include regular and frequent updates on the transition process; all such communications should be done face-to-face, whenever possible, and should be done by a senior executive of the AMC.
Resist the urge to rush the interview or selection process. Conduct a behavioral-based interview, asking questions that will help you determine if your candidate is a good overall fit. Don’t forget the importance of background checks and be sure to call those professional references (be aware of the employment laws in your state). Do not settle for a less than perfect fit for the client or you will surely regret it later.
Once the new executive director is selected, immediately introduce the new executive director to the board of directors. As soon as possible, send an announcement should to all of the client’s members informing them of the exciting news. With your new executive director in place, it is time to start positioning the new hire for success. Extra involvement from the AMC management team may be needed during the learning curve, particularly in the case where an executive director is replacing someone who was dismissed or who had a history of performance problems. Perform a 30-60-90 day review to assure that the new candidate is indeed a good fit and continue to check-in often with the new executive director and the association’s leadership.
Now, pat yourself on the back for successfully putting out another fire.
The Apple-invented adage “There’s an app for that” has never rung truer than in 2015 where there are apps, websites, and tools to assist any process or task imaginable. But sorting through all of the available “tech tools” out there can get just as overwhelming as managing your work day itself. To get you started, we polled our staff to pick their favorite tools that help in various areas of their day.
If you want to improve your organization, check out…
Basecamp – Working in association management often means you will have multiple clients with multiple upcoming events and multiple pressing deadlines. Multiply the multiples and you are left with a lot of to-do items to keep track of! Basecamp is a great project management tool that lets you create different “project buckets,” each with its own set of categories and to-do items with attached deadlines. Managers can create items and assign them to specific team members. Team members can comment on existing to-do items to ask questions or mark them as completed. You can even choose to view your outstanding action items for all projects at one—or just focus in on a specific section. This tool is a must-have for staying organized on a daily basis.
Google Calendar – Many other calendar tools and apps exist, but the tried-and-true Google Calendar platform is still one of our favorites. It allows you to make multiple calendars—each color-coded differently—and share each calendar with specified people. If you work with multiple clients, having one calendar for each client and adding the appropriate team members is a great way to keep people in the loop without cluttering their calendars with events that don’t apply to them. Add in the fact that Google Calendar seamlessly integrates with most smartphone calendars and you’re good to go. Think you’re a G-Cal pro? Check out these tips for more ways to maximize your calendar efficiency.
If you want to enhance team collaboration, use…
Dropbox – Dropbox became known as a tool to easily create shared folders and allow users to access large files from multiple computers. Recently, however, Dropbox changed the game by adding the Dropbox Badge that lets users edit Microsoft Office documents without leaving the Dropbox platform. This way, instead of having to download a file, edit it, and re-upload it, team members will always have access to the most recent version of a file and can see if someone on their team is currently editing it. This is a great resource for committee work projects.
Google Docs – Google has integrated their document-editing platform with Google Drive to let you store, share, and edit documents all from the same place. While these capabilities are similar to those of Dropbox, one of Google’s coolest features is Google Forms—with Forms you can quickly create easy-to-format surveys and have results automatically collected in a spreadsheet. This tool is great for quick surveys like collecting t-shirt sizes for conference attendees or collecting updated credentials for their name badges, where organizing the results is important but it would be too time consuming to set up a survey on a more extensive platform. If you are new to Google Docs, check out Google’s support page here for some handy overviews.
If you pull your hair out while scheduling meetings, try…
Meeting Wizard – Have you ever tried to schedule a board meeting with 20 people and tried to keep track of the best time in your head as multiple responses and conflicts come pouring in? Meeting Wizard eliminates the need for that mental strain by providing an interface for you to propose times, review responses, and then confirm the appointment with all attendees. Check out the Quick Start tool to take the stress out of planning your next meeting.
If all of your social media accounts are making you crazy, check out…
HootSuite – HootSuite lets you combine your social media profiles including Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ into one place. The free version allows for just 3 accounts, but the Pro subscription includes 50 social profiles for $9.99/month which should cover the needs of at least 10 association clients, meaning you could budget it in for just $1 per month per client. There are countless documented benefits to integrating social media into your marketing plan—here are 10—and employing a quality tool to help keep track of the various platforms is a great way to keep your head on straight.
TweetDeck – TweetDeck is similar to HootSuite but focuses just on Twitter, as the name implies. You can create columns for different handles, hashtags, or trending topics in order to stay on top of the approximately 500 million Tweets sent per day. This tool is especially useful on-site at a conference, where you can keep track of your event hashtag and respond to various threads of conversation in different columns.
If your daily work could use a design makeover, use…
Canva – Many design experts swear by Photoshop with its multitude of features and edit options, but it has a steep learning curve and the interface can be overwhelming for the casual user. Alternatively, Canva is a user-friendly tool that offers a platform to quickly design and export eye-catching graphics for things like social media posts or membership newsletters. It also hosts a Design School with tutorials to actually walk you through design fundamentals. If you’ve ever been super impressed by the branding of a conference or social media site, this is your chance to produce something equally impressive on your own. (Hint: The graphic for this post was made with Canva!)
If you want help keeping sight of the bigger picture, check out…
Grid Diary – Grid Diary is “the simplest way to get started with keeping a diary,” and overall is a user-friendly interface for keeping track of the little things throughout your day or week. With prompts for entering time with family, friends, and exercise in addition to work accomplishments, it’s a great way to remind us of the things we do outside of the work day to help make sure we are balancing our schedules appropriately. Unlike many of the other tech tools we have listed, Grid Diary is exclusively a smartphone app, so if you keep your phone nearby you will have easy access to keeping track of progress big or small throughout the day.
Those are our top tips for maximizing efficiency and productivity every day! What are you favorite tech tools we may have missed? Let us know in the comments below!