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A Breakdown of Short- and Long-Term Marketing Strategies

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Monday, April 20, 2020

marketing stragety book and laptop computerConstructing a marketing strategy is a crucial practice for any organization. It is important to keep a timeline in mind when creating your strategy, as some activities will help you achieve short-term goals and others will help you achieve long-term goals. The distinction is important for project organization and task delegation.

Short-term marketing strategies: They are used to temporarily increase sales or awareness. These plans are generally set for less than a year. If you have a new product or service, the activities surrounding its promotion would be in the short term. That would be a temporary boost. Short-term plans also include smaller details surrounding the promotion of those goods and services such as how social media is used, any outreach to media or email promotion.

  • Consider events that would warrant short-term marketing. Do you have a conference? Online professional development? A new e-book? Think about how you are going to get the word out about it.
  • Marketing automation tools can help with scheduling emails (and so many other tasks) in the short term while providing analytics to inform a longer-term strategy. Best-selling author Neil Patel offers a guide to help streamline marketing functions.
  • Social media is great for short-term marketing. It is free and relatively easy to reach people.

Long-term marketing strategies: These comprehensive plans are used to increase sales or awareness over a longer period of time. These strategies should be aimed toward organizational goals. Long-term marketing strategies include things such as branding, building a public relations team and maintaining a social media presence. Generally, anything that stretches over a year would count as long-term. While it’s possible for one person to create and implement a long-term marketing strategy, a team approach provides more varied talent and perspectives.

  • Search engine optimization is a powerful tool to have as part of your long-term marketing strategy. It can help you determine keywords to include on your website and give insight into what your competitors are doing.
  • Generating quality content on a regular basis is another building block in a long-term strategy. Blogs, e-books, printed or online magazines, podcasts and recorded webinars can all be used to show thought leadership and expertise. The Content Marketing Institute has excellent resources to help with ideation and implementation.
  • Qualitative research is another tool to consider in building a long-term strategy. This kind of research helps you discover more in-depth insights like the strengths and weaknesses of your organization or how your organization is seen. QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) has wonderful resources to teach you about and help you conduct qualitative research.

It is important to have a balance between both short- and long-term marketing strategies. Short-term strategies are great for individual projects and smaller goals while long-term strategies ensure that the organization as a whole is working toward larger goals.


Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Tags:  association management  marketing & communication  strategy  tools 

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Five Things to Consider Before Cancelling Your Conference

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Friday, March 20, 2020
As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing retail stores and restaurants close, artists postpone concerts, and large events such as festivals cancelling. What should you do about a conference you may have scheduled for next month, or even three months from now? Vicki Thein, Director of Events at Ewald Consulting, has a few thoughts on what to consider before cancelling your conference:

 

1.     What does the venue contract say?
Carefully review the terms of your contract with the venue. Check to see if force majeure applies and what it covers. If it does not apply, determine the costs of cancelling and if those funds could be applied toward a future event. Additionally, closely monitor the conditions of the venue location and try to get a sense of how many attendees may cancel in order to help you state your case to the venue if needed.

2.     What do your vendor contracts say?
Like venue contracts, review contracts with your vendors. See if force majeure applies, the costs if it does not and if they could give you credit in the event of a cancellation. The flexibility on cancellations with vendors will vary, so be sure to look at each contract closely.

3.     Is there cancellation insurance?
If you have cancellation insurance, get in contact with your insurance agent as soon as you can as they are very likely becoming overloaded with similar requests.

4.     Are you able to distribute the content virtually?
Are there opportunities for your conference material to be put into a virtual conference, podcasts, or other forms of content? Brainstorm what this might look like and if you think it could be successful.

5.     Financial considerations
Can your organization afford to go without a conference this year? This will be a major factor in your decision. Considering alternative conference options like the ones mentioned above could provide potential sources of revenue.

Additional Resources:

·      Event Industry Council - https://www.eventscouncil.org/
·      Meeting Professionals International - https://www.mpi.org/
·      AMC Institute - https://amci.memberclicks.net/

 

Tags:  association conferences  association events  association management  COVID-19 

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Hot Legal Topics for Associations

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Heidi Christianson, shareholder and firm president at Nilan Johnson Lewis, recently gave a presentation for Ewald Consulting staff on the top legal issues pertaining to non-profit associations that her law firm handled during 2019. Here is a short recap.

Certification
Many associations provide certification programs and/or certificate courses, offering specialized education for members and others. Heidi reported that there has been an increased focus recently on international standards, especially ISO. It is helpful if associations can demonstrate separation between the testing and educational aspects of a certification program. In marketing education programs, the association should not imply that people will perform better on a certification exam by taking courses offered by the association. It is also helpful for an association to have a process for any complaints about the certification program.

Member Demand for Special Meeting
Generally, if at least 50 members or 10 percent of the total membership of an association request a special meeting, the association must call a meeting of the members, even if the members request successive meetings. Obviously, holding member meetings requires the commitment of significant cost and time on behalf of staff and the board of directors. Heidi recommends that when member concerns arise, associations set up listening sessions with members rather than trying to shut them down or writing them off as disgruntled. Many times, special member meeting involve perceived conflicts of interest or appearances of unfair benefit within the association. Listening sessions and transparent communication with members can sometimes head off larger-scale member demands. Association staff and leaders should be aware of bylaws provisions regarding special meetings.

Antitrust Concerns
It sometimes happens that one or more association members demand that another member (a competitor) not be allowed to exhibit, sponsor and/or advertise with the organization. Heidi stresses that all members (and non-members) should be treated fairly. Unless a member company has violated a law or regulation (and the association has some type of hard evidence that the law or regulation has been violated), the association should allow that entity the ability to advertise, exhibit or sponsor. It’s OK to charge more for non-members, within reason. Denying a member company the ability to advertise with an association probably would not rise to the level of impeding the ability to do business. Association boards should be cognizant of antitrust issues, and thoughtful about when an association’s decisions may impact a member’s ability to compete in the market.

Please note that the information provided here does not constitute legal advice; please consult with your own legal counsel on your specific situation.

Tags:  association legal issues  association management  non-profit legal issues 

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Transition from Traditional Board Meeting Agendas

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, December 5, 2019

people sitting around table in a board roomThe issue, as anyone who has served on a board or managed a board can tell you, is that most board meetings are boring and ineffective.  They tend to focus on reporting instead of using their time to discuss important matters and to make effective decisions. The International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) is no different, with five different sections and several committees that all want to ensure their work toward ongoing objectives is shared with the other board members.  As a result, this reporting took approximately three-quarters of each meeting—leaving little time to work together to solve issues or to further develop their strategic plans.

The leadership and staff spent a great deal of time discussing how to more effectively use staff and volunteer time before, during and after board meetings; so in June 2018, they began utilizing a standard report template that each board member would upload onto their Higher Logic folder/file system.  A file system had been built within their Board of Directors folder system with a folder for each board meeting and within those, folders for an agenda, board reports, financials as well as additional items.  Each month, a reminder email would be sent to the board 5-7 days prior to the meeting that included the directions on how to upload the file.  This process has worked extremely well and has saved staff many hours working to obtain, compile and deliver board reports. This process was well received and has had very positive feedback

With the standard report process in place, the leadership decided to take things a step further and proceeded to re-organize their board agenda.  In June 2019, they eliminated reporting items and requested from board members agenda items that would drive discussions.  They worked with staff to build a new agenda template and new processes which included requiring board members to read through all of the uploaded reports prior to each meeting to be prepared. 

The first step that was implemented involved staff working with the board to establish a roll-out timeline to coincide with one of IARP’s three in-person board meetings where a full explanation of the reasoning could be shared, and a complete review of the materials and processes would be communicated.  The reason for the in-person explanation and directive was to ensure that each board member understood the purpose and the new process, which would then lead to greater participation.

The second step included developing thorough explanations and directions for the new process and tools.  Many board members were unsure about their ability to work within the new system—but with consistent messaging and patient assistance, we have been able to ease them into the new process.  We have worked closely with our volunteers for the first few months to coach them how to think differently and to establish timelines and consistent directives.

The final process included a reminder email sent by staff 5-7 days prior to each board meeting.  The reminder included directions on how to upload their reports as well as a request for discussion/decision agenda items no less than 3 days prior to the board meeting so the agenda could be uploaded with plenty of time for review. 

As a result of implementing this new agenda, the IARP board meetings now consist of meaningful dialogue and effective decision making.  We have received very positive feedback as the board has been able to focus more time on strategic plans, future objectives and necessary discussions/decisions.  They have seen less wasted time and consequently feel more involved and capable of leading others.

To manage ongoing effectiveness, the board will assess the process annually and will correct course as necessary.

Tags:  association management  board  Case Study  meetings 

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Trends in Conference Management

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, October 17, 2019

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce. As of 2017, there were 56 million Millennials (ages 22-37) working or looking for work — over one-third of the workforce.

Chart displaying growth of millennials as a segment of the workforce

With a growing need for our workforce to be trained and upskilled, conferences can play an important role in employee development.

To get Millennials to attend conferences and join our organizations, we must create more engaging and technologically focused offerings to meet this market segment who are interested in experiences, involvement and engagement.

7 Conference Best Practices

  1. Define and communicate the purpose and mission of the event to prove ROI. Create downloadable “Convince Your Boss” letters.
  2. Personalizing strategies – who are the sessions designed for? Are they interactive to engage attendees? Is there time for connection and conversation? How can attendees connect with other attendee segments and interests onsite?
  3. Purposeful experience – well-being activities, social impact days to give back to the community.
  4. Performances and offsite events at museums or local attractions.
  5. Enhanced conference technology including chatbots, 5G internet, wearable technology, real-time data, creative room design with technology access and charging stations, mobile apps.
  6. Nutrition, mindfulness and wellness: planning for dietary requirements; creating time for “brain breaks” – doodling, coloring, outside walks, Legos.
  7. Engage attendees using gamification – there are many gamers in this segment of the workforce.

Here are some additional resource articles on meeting trends to generate more ideas for your conference.

As our attendees and stakeholders continue to shift, associations must change up our conferences to not only maintain registration numbers but to take them to a whole new level: driving community, engagement and membership. Over one-third of the workforce and those who need education, community and engagement the most are counting on us to drive innovation and offer engaging and memorable experiences using trends and technology.

Tags:  association management  conference  delivering value  engagement  engaging millennials  event planning  member engagement  millennials  tips  trends 

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MUST-HAVE Event Formulas

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, October 3, 2019

Planning an event? Here are some MUST-HAVE event formulas from functional room set-ups to food and beverage formulas that will help you plan the perfect event!

I. FUNCTION ROOM SET-UPS

Reception

  • 9-10 sq. ft. per person (standard bar/hors d'oeuvres)
  • Rule of Thumb:  10 feet

Theatre

  • Less than 60 people = 12-13 sq. ft. per person
  • 60-300 people = 11-12 sq. ft. per person
  • 300+ people = 10-11 sq. ft. per person
  • Rule of Thumb:  10 feet

Theatre Notes:

  • Allow at least 24 inches of space between rows
  • If room is rectangular, set presenter to the long side
  • First row no closer than 2x screen height (2x8 rule)
  • Center section of seating no more than 14 chairs
  • 2 side aisles should be at least 4 feet wide

Schoolroom

  • General = 17-22 sq. ft. per person (18" tables - add 1 sq. ft. per person for 30")
  • Less than 60 people = 22-23 sq. ft. per person
  • 60-300 people = 20-21 sq. ft. per person
  • 300+ people = 17-18 sq. ft. per person
  • Allow 3.5' between rows
  • Rule of Thumb:  20 feet

Conference

  • 2-3 feet of table length per person

Banquet

  • 60 inch = 8-9 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • 66 inch = 9-10 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • 72 inch = 10-11 people (12.5-13.5 sq. ft. per person)
  • Rule of Thumb:  13 feet

Platforms (a.k.a. Risers)

  • Can be 6, 12, 16, 24 or 32 inches high
  • Usually 4x8 or 6x8 dimensions

General Function Room Set-Up Notes

  • All schoolroom and banquet tables are 30" high
  • Rectangular tables that are 6 or 8 feet long by 30" wide are used for U-Shape, Conference, etc.
  • Rectangular tables that are 6 or 8 feet long by 18" wide are used for schoolroom set-ups

II. CONTRACTS AND REGISTRATION

  • Standard Comp. Room formula = 1 per 50
  • One (1) registration personnel per 100 attendees

III. EXHIBITS

Square Footage

  • Apply 2x rule to determine total sq. ft. needed (two times total square feet of exhibit space)
  • 10x10 = 100 sq. ft. per booth
  • 8x10 = 80 sq. ft. per booth
  • Net square feet (needed for booths) x 2 (for aisles) = total sq. ft. needed for booth and aisles + square footage for ancillary services = total square footage needed

Standard (In-Line) Booth

  • 10' deep by 10' long or 8' deep by 10' long
  • Faces one aisle
  • 8' 3" maximum back wall height

Perimeter (Wall) Booth

  • 10' deep by 10' long or 8' deep by 10' long
  • Faces one aisle
  • 12' maximum back wall height

Peninsula Booth

  • Minimum of two standard booths, usually 4 or more
  • Faces three aisles
  • Usually 16' maximum wall height but depends on show rules

Island Booth

  • Bordered on all four sides by aisles
  • Faces four aisles
  • Usually 16' maximum wall height but depends on show rules
  • Rule of Thumb:  20'x20' (40 sq. ft.)

Exhibit Lighting

  • 70-110 foot candles to light an exhibit hall

Floor Load

  • 300 pounds per sq. ft. on ground floors
  • 50 pounds per sq. ft. on upper floors

IV. BUDGETING

BEU = Break Even Units = Number of Attendees
BEP = Break Even Price = Cost Per Attendee
VC = Variable Costs
TFC = Total Fixed Costs
CF = Contribution Margin (Registration Fee-VC)

ROI = (Gross Revenue − Gross Expenses) ÷ Gross Expenses × 100

BEU = TFC ÷ CF

BEP = (TFC ÷ # of people) + VC Per Person

TFC = # Attendees × $ Per Attendee

** To make a dollar profit, add the desired profit dollar amount to the TFC in the above equation.
*** To make a percentage profit, add $ per attendee to VC and multiply by desired percentage profit

V.  AUDIO VISUAL

Formula One - First row of seats and last row of seats (2x8 rule)

  • No one should be seated closer than 2x screen height
  • No one should be seated farther than 8x screen height

Formula Two - Minimum Ceiling Height

  • Screen height + 4 or 5 feet (minimum distance floor to screen bottom)
  • Rule of Thumb:  5 feet

Formula Three - Screen Width

  • Overhead = 1:1 (8x8, 10x10)
  • Multi Image = 1:3 (6x18, 8x24, 10x30)
  • Slide = 2:3 (6x9, 8x12, 10x15)
  • Video = 3:4 (6x8, 9x12, 10.5x14)

VI.  Americans with Disabilities (ADA) Compliance

General

  • Hallways and Corridors = 36" clearance and occasional spaces for turning/passes

Hotel Rooms

  • At least 2% barrier free; at least 1% of these having roll-in showers
  • Doors and hallways inside rooms have 32" clear openings
  • 32" clearance on at least one side of the bed
  • Sink mounted at least 29" above floor with toe clearance under drainpipe
  • Toilets no higher than 29"

Meeting Rooms

  • Doors have at least 32" clearance

Entrances, Corridors, Stairs

  • Approaches to building entrances at least 5' wide
  • Single door entrances minimum of 32" wide.
  • Double door entrances minimum of 48" wide

Elevators

  • Doors have 32" wide clearance
  • Space no greater than 1.25" between the floor and platform

Restaurants and Lounges

  • Self-service counters no more than 34" high
  • Aisle for buffets 36" wide

Public Restrooms

  • Flush controls no more than 44" from floor

Parking

  • Designated parking space within 200' of building
  • One designated space per 25 total spaces

Ramps, Curbs and Walks

  • Slope of all ramps is 1" of rise to every 12" of run
  • Ramps have 5' wide level landing at top and bottom

ADA Budget

  • 5-7 percent of overall accommodations budget

VII.  FOOD AND BEVERAGE

Continental Breakfast

  • One attendant and separate buffet table per 100 attendees
  • Breakpoint for second buffet = 120 attendees
  • Usually run 30 minutes to one hour

Full Breakfast Buffet

  • Usually runs about one hour

Refreshment Breaks

  • 30 minutes = minimum amount of time
  • One attendant per 100 attendees
  • Morning = 65% Hot/35% Cold
  • Afternoon = 35% Hot/65% Cold
  • 50-75% regular soft drinks
  • 25% diet soft drinks
  • Coffee = 20 cups per gallon
  • Coffee = 60% regular/40% decaf

Luncheons

  • Typical time = 1 hour 15 minutes to serve
  • Schedule 90 minutes

Banquets

  • Two hours per dinner service
  • Three bottles of wine per table of 8 (2 white and 1 red)
  • 1/2 bottle per person + 10% buffer
  • Every 10 bottles white=two red (opposite for red meat)
  • Wine Stewards = 1 for every 5 tables
  • Servers = 1 per 20 people (optimal), 1 per 32 (standard), 1 per 16 for upscale or with wine service
  • Rule of Thumb:  1 per 20

Receptions

  • One attendant per 50 guests
  • One bartender per 100 people if arriving in intervals
  • One bartender per 50 people if arriving as a group
  • Immediately following meeting - food consumption is less
  • Less food/more drinks if reception is prior to dinner

Type of Reception

Type of Eaters

# Hors d'Oeuvres
per person

2 hours or less (dinner following)

Light

3-4 pieces

Moderate

5-7 pieces

Heavy

8+ pieces

2 hours or less (no dinner)

Light

6-8 pieces

Moderate

10-12 pieces

Heavy

12+ pieces

2-3 hours
(no dinner)

Light

8-10 pieces

Moderate

10-12 pieces

Heavy

16+ pieces

Beverages

  • 21-25 drinks per bottle of liquor
  • 32 ounces to a quart
  • 50/50 soft/hard liquor consumption
  • Wine consumption = 3 glasses during a 2 hour reception
  • Women consume more wine than liquor
  • Cash bar will consume less than host bar
  • Cash Bar - before lunch - 30% will have 1 drink
  • Cash Bar - after meeting - 50% will stay and have 1.5 drinks (1 hour reception)
  • Hosted Bar - Cocktail Hour - 80% will stay and have 2-2.5 drinks in 1 hour
  • Hosted Bar - Cocktail Hour - 80% will stay and have 3-3.5 drinks in 1 1/2 hours

Source: Pam Soules, CMP Director of Events, Mid-States Distributing

Tags:  association management  conference  event planning  success  tips 

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What’s the Hullabaloo about Content Hubs?

Posted By Anna Wrisky, Tuesday, August 27, 2019

 

 

You keep hearing the phrase “content hub”, in articles and maybe even from your marketing communications team, but what is the hullabaloo about, isn’t it just a library? The answer is yes, and no. First things first. What exactly is a content hub?

According to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital“A content hub is a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user generated, or any type of content related to a topic.”

Content Hubs are a great way to manage all your phenomenal content in a user-friendly manner. A well-designed content hub can neatly and aesthetically display your cumulative pieces in one location. They help you avoid the headache of multi-located content such as training videos only on YouTube, blogs on your WordPress site, and articles residing only in your journal or newsletter. Through content hubs, all these rich pieces that represent your brand become accessible in a single place! 

How is this different from a website? A website contains all the information a user may need to know about your brand and organization, including specific calls to action. A content hub is a resource area of a website, a one-stop shop to finding articles and media regarding a specific topic or by topic area. It’s also more encompassing than a blog, because there are multiple authors and different media formats, including articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and videos.

Some great examples:

Ewald Consulting is also working on content hub strategies and launches with our nonprofit clients using different technology platforms. We will be expanding our content hubs across our clients to better share resources, thought-leader articles, blog posts, enews, webinars, video, discussion forums and more.

One example is the Product Development and Management Association Knowledge Hub (kHub) which just launched. This is an example of offering member value by granting permission-based access to content and a discussion forum alongside the more typical Content Hub collateral such as articles, webinars and books.  

Now that we have a basic understanding of what a content hub is, let’s talk about the benefits of having one.

 

Brand Authority:

You work hard on the content that represents your brand. We have learned in past blog posts that carefully curated and tailored content communicates to your target audience that you are a thought leader in your industry. A content hub strengthens your brand, identity, and your authority in the field. By focusing on topics, your site becomes more relevant in search engines.

 

Building Connections and Engagement

It’s a community! When you have multiple authors and a multi-media hub it generates a following from audience members who prefer social posts, or podcasts, or people who like to comment on blog posts. A content hub can reach all of these audience members. Content Hubs promote engagement. Instead of an article living in a newsletter that’s read and forgotten, users can directly interact with the piece. A content hub is ideal for reading, commenting, sharing, tweeting, buying and so on.

 

Analytics

By now you know that your website analytics are a treasure trove of information that can break down how people are coming to and interacting with your website. Content hubs can help you further understand your audience’s interest! By tracking the performance of different pieces on your hub, you can discover which topics interest your audience, what’s driving traffic to your site, and preferred content types, then use this information to further tailor your content to meet the demand!

Take it from us, content hubs done well are complicated and need to be mapped out carefully within the right technology platform, site architecture and taxonomy. Without a clear plan from the start, things can go awry quickly. So now that you know what content hubs are and how they can help you elevate your organization, here are some quick ways you can get started:

  1. Define your goals: Be clear about how you want to utilize the hub and how you will measure the use of the platforms.  
  2. Define your audience: Examine your analytics and your target audience profiles. Create a hub that will fit the styles of communication preferred by your audience.
  3. Assess your content and your access to new content: What content do you have now that should migrate to the platform and what can be left behind? Determine a schedule and responsibilities for the creation and posting of new content.
  4. Create a strategy to organize your content: Make sure that you organize the content in a manner that is understandable, the best way to do this is usually done by topic and/or by the type of media.
  5. Determine which platform suits your needs: Maybe it’s your current website, maybe it’s a sub-domain, whatever it is use the above evaluations to help you determine the best fit for you.
  6. Design and Launch: Create your design layout and go for it!
  7. Maintain it! Determine how you will continue to add new content on a weekly basis at a minimum to keep the site fresh and vibrant. Don’t forget to track your analytics to fine tune your content to your audience’s needs.

Content hubs can give your organization a strategic advantage with your customers and stakeholders and a new way to drive engagement, community and conversation. 

Tags:  association management  content hub  content marketing  marketing strategy  member engagement 

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Using Technology and Creativity to Drive Association Marketing Strategies

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, CRP, QAS, Thursday, August 1, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Associations have a long history dating back to the 1800s. They are the original communities and influencers for professions long before social media became prevalent. This marks my 30th year in association management and I currently am the Vice President of Marketing Communications & Technology for Ewald Consulting.

When I started my career with the Builders Association of Minnesota in 1989, our technology tools were a fax, typewriter, pagers, lots of file cabinets for paper registrations and membership applications and a DOS database with the blinking bright orange text on a small screen, big box computer. No email, no website, no cell phone, no Microsoft Office – they hadn’t been created for the mass market yet. We launched the association’s first-ever website in 1996.

In 2005 when I joined Ewald Consulting, my first major initiative was to find us a new database and migrate our clients to Affiniscape 24/7. After researching limited options, we chose a custom database built in Microsoft Access. Every Friday, I would export the client data into 24/7 so they could have searchable directories and see their data online. A few years later, Affiniscape launched its M360 platform which integrated the website with a database providing a dynamic experience for our members.

A few years later, Affiniscape was bought by YourMembership (YM) and we proceeded to transition our clients from Affiniscape to YM. A few years later, Community Brands bought YM and several other platforms to have a suite of offerings for associations. Which summarizes the current platform environment of technology platforms – thousands of options plus mergers and acquisitions is now the norm.

The marketing technology landscape is one of my favorite graphics that demonstrates the extensive proliferation of tools over the past 8 years. In 2011, there were 150 platforms. As of April 2019, there were 7040. There are plenty of tools to choose from now. So unlike the 1990s, options, access and affordability are no longer barriers to entry for associations.

Choosing a limited set of tools, learning how to implement them creatively and executing value are critical for associations to remain relevant. We are at a critical junction of technology and human behavior that will create our future depending on how we strategically implement our choices effectively with simplicity and clarity key for our customers.

With a plethora of platforms to choose from, our Marketing Communications Team is focusing on executing relevant and measurable marketing strategies for our associations. Key strategies include:

  1. Building out a content marketing strategy for the long haul. Content marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to build awareness, generate interest from new audiences and expand our base. Our volunteers are our Subject Matter Experts (SME) for content for our conferences, blogs, social media and have a wealth of insights that are core to building our community. Generating content with context and driving conversations will keep the association vibrant and the go-to resource for professions. Going beyond conference and membership promotion is critical to drive the value proposition of being a part of the association.
  2. Reviewing the business models and clearly delineating the value proposition of being a member and buying offerings from our associations;
  3. Conducting website audits to ensure clarity, clean and creative design and coding for mobile responsiveness and effective Search Engine Optimization;
  4. Creating strong landing pages for our home pages, membership and conference pages to  have a strong and clear Call to Action, concise benefits, bullet points for scanning, original photography and call out buttons to prompt action;
  5. Implementing marketing automation to build awareness and convert prospects to customers and ensure a clear customer journey;
  6. Using an event mobile app platform for our clients’ conferences. With the technology development of Progressive Web Apps (PWA), we are looking at developing year-round mobile apps for our clients in the next year to connect our  members year round.

Other initiatives we are working on include business intelligence, data collection and analysis and the implications of AI (Artificial Intelligence) for our clients. We are excited about the tremendous opportunities that nonprofit organizations now have access to and to implement best-of-class strategies to ensure their success.

We are excited to be implementing our own content marketing strategy based on our research and experience with our clients. Please email me if you have any questions at kathiep@ewald.com.

Kathie Pugaczewski is the Vice President of Marketing Communications and Technology. She has more than 30 years of association management experience with a focus on technology platform strategy, marketing communications, conference management, continuing education and certification programs. She joined Ewald Consulting in 2005. Previously, Kathie worked for the Midwest Association of Association Executives (MSAE) as Marketing Director and the Builders Association of Minnesota as Executive Vice President. She has a Bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota and completed the Institute for Organization Management at the University of Notre Dame. In 2003, she earned her CAE designation. In 2009, she earned her Certified Meeting Planner (CMP) designation. In 2019, she earned her Certified Recognition Professional (CRP) designation and her Qualified Association Specialist (QAS) designation.

Tags:  association management  associations  content marketing  marketing  marketing strategy  marketing technology  technology  value proposition 

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The Why and What of Member Services

Posted By Barb Mann, Director of Operations, Thursday, December 15, 2016
Updated: Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Member Services department plays a crucial role in an association management company (AMC). The major focus of this department is customer service — keeping members happy — thereby contributing to member retention and promotion. Members are the lifeblood of the association, making it vital to serve their needs in any way possible.

An efficiently run department communicates professionally and effectively with association members and leaders to achieve the organization’s potential and fulfill the association’s mission and goals. Member Services staff understand that members are involved in their association to grow in their profession and advance their credibility in their industry.

Member services is often the first point of contact members have with their association — and sometimes their only contact — so these interactions provide evidence of how well the association is being managed. Knowing that an understanding partner is a phone call or an email away provides security to members that they have made the right choice to be active in their professional trade association.

A great member services representative provides excellent customer service by listening to the inquiry, understanding the question or problem, empathizing with the member, and offering a solution. This representative has a clear and complete understanding of all aspects of the organization to be able to assist with complex inquiries and can handle the day-to-day needs of all association members. The department answers membership questions, provides information to access membership benefits, and trains members to make full use of their membership through online benefits (such as searchable directories, professional development webinars and publications).

Additional roles of a member services department include working proactively to avoid problems or difficulties members might encounter accessing member resources, renewing memberships, and registering for association events and functions. Being on the front line and having a constant finger on the pulse of the organization, member services staff offers feedback to all other departments on best practices as members actively use their association’s services. 

Tags:  AMC  association management  customer service  member services 

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Run Hard to the Finish Line

Posted By Bill Monn, Vice President of Client Relations, Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sports are a good example to use to make this point. Every track coach since the ancient Greek Olympics has implored their athletes to run hard to the finish line. Every football coach since Knute Rockne has urged their players to run all the way to the end zone. Hockey, basketball, soccer – every sport can point to the improbable play where someone was caught from behind or didn’t give a full run all the way to the finish line and paid a heavy price.

Turning to managing your association, running hard all the way to the finish line is a great message for all leaders to use the last weeks of the year to push hard and finish strong to set up next year for success. Here are some ideas to get your head in the game to do that.

Make a list and check it twice. Some key questions should be:

  • Our strategic plan or goals for the year – did we accomplish them? Why/why not? Is there time to get them done, make a dent in them or position them for the coming year? Are they still relevant?
  • How’s our budget look? Did we perform as well as we thought? Where are we off? Too optimistic on revenues? Unexpected expenses? Are we better off compared to a year ago? Do we need to put a team of smart people on this now to get next year right?
  • Key metrics of the association – are they pointing up or down? Is membership growing, stagnant, shrinking? Is attendance at our programs, conferences, events growing? Is industry support strong?
  • Is the association doing what it is meant to do? Are members happy, engaged, enthusiastic? Have we asked them lately? Do we need to formally take their temperature?
  • Finally – and don’t miss this one – has the world changed? Has anything happened in our industry or elsewhere that impacts our industry? Has anything changed since we made our goals for the year? Probably yes, so take time to understand and pla

One forward-thinking leader that comes to mind loved the end of the year because all the outside noise in the world helped to force greater concentration on the important matters at hand. Said another way, this leader reveled in the opportunity to take dead-aim at a time when it was easy to be distracted. The leader made it a game, made it fun, then made it work.

This thoughtful leader asked his board to come prepared to a brainstorming meeting with an idea that would greatly benefit the organization but was (almost) impossible because of time, money, resources. Take the blinders off and think big without worrying, for the moment, about how to get it done. The energy created by the ideas was intoxicating. And once a good idea got rolling it is almost impossible to stop. In short order, a great idea was begetting more ideas and it was like hanging ornaments on a Christmas Tree. If the idea is good enough, somehow the barriers of time-money-resources get taken care of.

Also worth remembering is that creativity and purpose come in many colors and shapes. While those people we call the “idea creatives” will be brainstorming the new and cool, a good leader will be identifying the people who are passionate about buttoning up details. These are the folks you want massaging your budget and creating that financial plan that will let the new ideas fly.

A word of caution is to not turn over the budget and financial planning completely to a buzz-kill who will be developing a long list of “cant’s.” Best case is you’d like some creative thinking and if/then propositions – if we fund A then perhaps B can’t be funded this year. A great, creative-minded financial planner is worth their weight in gold – the gold they will find to fund the creative ideas.

Tags:  association management  goals  strategic plan  year-end review 

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KNOWLEDGE & RESOURCES

MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
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MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
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MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
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VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
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