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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, June 23, 2017

IT’S ABOUT THE HALL
Has it been awhile since you would describe your exhibit hall as bustling with energy? Instead of convincing attendees that it’s important to support exhibitors, design an exhibit hall your attendees don’t want to leave.

THREE TIPS

Tip #2

Create an appealing environment

  • Test your hall. Walk in as if you were a first-time attendee. Do you feel drawn in it? Many of us order coordinating carpet, pipe and drape and call it decorated.
  • Look above and around the booths and identify low-cost ways to add any visuals, color, graphics, lights, etc. Up lights are one of the least expensive ways to create a dramatic effect. Well-designed signs add art, as well as facilitate attendees’ visit.
  • Consider all senses when planning. In addition to visuals, how can you also introduce scent, sound, touch and/or taste? Consider the energy level you want to achieve. Don’t play calming music when you want an animated crowd.
  • Ensure that enhancements do not detract from your goal—your target audience talking with exhibitors. (Which is why I do not allow announcements of any kind in an exhibit hall.)

Tip #2

Get the right exhibitors

  • Don’t settle for only the obvious. Ask your audience which companies are missing. Who would drive them into the exhibit hall?
  • Desirable destinations are a draw. Create a desire to be where the cool suppliers will be.
  • If you think an interested company is not a good match for your target audience, ensure you make it clear to them. Bad fits result in disappointed exhibitors and participants.

Tip #3

Give your exhibitors lots of TLC

  • Happy exhibitors have more energy, which rubs off on participants, which makes them happy to be there, which keeps them in the hall.
  • TLC can mean lots of things; customize it to your exhibitors. Maybe it’s lots of hand-holding pre-event, a few extra drink tickets, or visits from association VIPs. If you’re unsure, ask exhibitors how you could enhance their personal experiences.
  •  

ONE AWESOME IDEA

Design a Hall of Experiences, not an exhibit hall

Invite exhibitors to sell experiences. Not every exhibitor will be able to fulfill this challenge, but many will. The goal is for participants to experience the benefits of using products and services. An experiential introduction will stick with people longer than a sales pitch. Be creative and challenge your exhibitors to be, too.

WANT MORE?
See how Girls Scouts of the USA’s exhibit hall includes a Hall of Experiences at its G.I.R.L. convention—click here.

Catherine Simmons, VP, Strategic Events at Salesforce.com spoke at the PCMA Northern California Chapters’ L.E.A.P. Conference last month in Oakland. She presented, “Bringing Dreamforce to Life,” a description of how her team reflected Dreamforce’s 2016 Trailhead theme in a 37,800 s.f. space called Campground. Other themed convention areas were also designed for experiential participation, all based on the Trailhead theme. Check it out on Facebook and in a Convene article.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

 DMM|1711|06-23-17

ABOUT DANA
Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website!

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, June 16, 2017

MAKING SPECIAL EVENTS SPECIAL
I am still exploring Event Design, one third of The Meeting Planning Triangle©, whose strength lies in having well-written objectives for your meeting.

Each of your special events should have clearly identified objectives that is supported by current needs and participant interests, not those established 33, or even three, years ago. Additionally, planning a special event can soak up a lot of money and staff time, making it imperative that it is a worthy investment.

So, are your special events really special? Would your participants think so? Have you asked them lately? The objective of all special events should be to provide a lovely experience—which can be a challenge with so many types of participants!

Tip #1
Don’t plan a special event just because it’s what you’ve always done.

  • That is, unless you can confirm that it continues to provide that lovely participant experience.
  • Consider whether it’s the special event that is important or the reason for the special event. For example, do you have the 3.5 hour Awards Gala because everyone loves the banquet and award winner honors or is it because the association wants to recognize the honorees in a special way? If it’s the second, how else can you accomplish that?

Tip #2
Participants from multiple generations might have different preferences.

  • There are many people who really love a banquet—the atmosphere, the public recognition, the food(?), the entertainment. They are likely long-time members who would miss it if it were gone. Consider how you can honor them while also including the preferences of younger generations.
  • If your special event is not a banquet, the same thought process applies. How can you create a special experience for each person, regardless of generation? Consider a split-interest event—same destination, different ways to experience it.

Tip #3
Ensure you know the entire cost of implementing a special event.

  • Have you ever tallied the cost of planning and putting on a special event? This includes your time, site visits, printing, publicity, gifts, etc., as well as the obvious costs of f&b, rentals and entertainment.
  • For fun I did some math and came up with $144 per person for 25 hours of planning time and very conservative figures for f&b, printing, entertainment and a gift. Double that for a city-based meeting. Does your ticket price cover it? Is it a $145 experience?

One Awesome Idea
Invite your participants to plan a special event.

Assuming that you are planning to rethink your meeting, ask your participants to help redesign the special event. Schedule a brainstorming session at this year’s meeting, inviting them to respond to key questions, including

  1. What do you think is the purpose of the XX event?  This could be very telling.
  2. If you had no limits on resources what would this XX Event look like? Dreaming big.
  3. If you had very limited resources what could this XX Event look like? Back to reality.
  4. What other ways could we fulfill the purpose?

Want More?
Read how nonprofit consultant Joan Garry ensures the success of special events. How can you apply her ideas to your events?—How to Create a Successful Special Event

Another nonprofit consultant, Richard Male, writes about fundraising special events. Once again, what can you learn and apply?—How to Make Your Special Events Special

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, May 26, 2017

PARTICIPANT NEEDS + TOPICS + SPEAKERS = A CHALLENGING EQUATION

Most participants say they attend meetings for the education and/or the networking. They want the networking, but to justify the expense, they need the education. Nothing interesting? No registration. It behooves you to research and deliberately plan your programming.

Tip #1

Develop your programming based on topics, not on speakers.

  • To identify current needs, regularly poll members at board and committee meetings asking something like, “What is your biggest challenge right now?” “If you could attend only one session at Convention, what topic would it be on?”
  • Include valuable education for each subgroup in your target audience, considering expertise, years of experience, and other factors pertinent to your group.
  • Even with your popular, come-every-year speakers, careful topic selection should be a priority.

Tip #2

Free isn’t always good and expensive isn’t either.

  • Base speaker choice on expertise and podium presence, regardless of your budget. A volunteer should be vetted as carefully as a professional. Adopt a protocol that requires proof of successful presentations for all potential speakers, including board and committee members.
  • Presenters with higher fees may be proven speakers, but are only worth their fee if they are a good fit for your audience.

Tip #3

Call for Presentations don’t guarantee good sessions.

  • For non-scientific and non-academic meetings, relying solely on the CFP process for session selection may be limiting because you can’t be sure you’ll receive applicable topics and/or skilled presenters.
  • Honestly assess the value of your CFP model and determine whether you’re getting what you need. If not, consider a strategy to solicit proposals for specific topics in addition to an open invitation for topics.

One Awesome Idea

Be on the hunt for speakers and topics all year.

  • Ensure topics address this year’s needs by reading industry publications, newsletters, blogs, etc. throughout the year. Save links and references to pertinent information for easy retrieval. Ask your education committee members and coworkers to do the same.
  • Ask your counterparts in other states and at affiliated industries for their lists of topics and speakers so you can do some parallel development (copying their good ideas!).

Want More?

Learn tips from other planners:
9 Unshakeable Tips for Choosing Conference and Event Speakers by Jeff Kear, Planning Pod
5 Tips to Choose the Perfect Speaker for Your Conference by Brand24

Earn CMP credit by reading Are You Finding the Best Speakers for Your Event?, one of Convene magazine’s CMP Series articles.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, May 12, 2017

CHANGE HURTS, BUT NOT IN SMALL PIECES
Meeting planners are thinkers and doers. Let’s get those good ideas in place so participants can benefit from them, pronto. Members are not always so eager. Even with reluctant leaders, change can happen, but it may need to happen slowly. (Patience, dear planner…)

Tip #1

Respect their reluctance.

  • Acknowledge their hesitation.
  • Ask questions that unveil their fears. They may not even know what they are.

Tip #2

  • Don’t fight slow adapters, plan for it by proposing changes in bite-sized pieces.
  • For example, you think the (long, boring, tired) Annual Awards Banquet needs to retire. Instead of wiping it off the agenda at once, consider the following:
    • Year 1—Hold the banquet, but downsize the ceremony; recognize the honorees in other ways, e.g. Wall of Fame, meet the winners, publish winners’ profiles.
    • Year 2—Design an event on the same night that is less banquet-y and more fun for your participants (you’ll have to determine what that would look like); introduce honorees and continue to recognize them in other ways.
    • Year 3—Based on feedback from the past two years, determine if giving awards is still necessary. Might it be wise to invest time and resources into a different, more meaningful celebration of industry excellence?

Tip #3

Give them lots of details.

  • Be prepared to answer questions you didn’t even think of. You know that one person who will ask, right?
  • Present the pros and cons. Be honest about the cons, even though you’d rather not.
  • Include proof of the benefits and/or examples of the change successfully integrated at other meetings.

One Awesome Idea

Use a design-driven model, where you create innovations customers don’t expect, but come to love.
I interpret this concept from the corporate world to mean that, when possible, slip in a change or two you are confident will be accepted, perhaps loved, if only given a chance. In my experience, I find that volunteers over think and under try. The other way to describe this is to ask forgiveness, not permission.

Want More?
Design-Driven Innovation—http://www.designdriveninnovation.com/

There is an association for everything, including change management. I wonder how often the Association of Change Management Professionals changes its convention, which is next week in New Orleans? http://www.acmpconference.com/cm2017

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

 

DMM|1708|05-12-17

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 28, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 27, 2017

CONVINCING THEM IT’S A GOOD IDEA
The most difficult part of change can be convincing stakeholders that it’s needed. You’re working with people who see the meeting through their own filters, including long-held beliefs (beef for Thanksgiving, anyone?). This allows for healthy debate, but can be a stumbling block when consensus is the goal.

How can you manage the conversation without tearing out your hair?

Tip #1

Know your audience

  • Know your supporters and detractors.
  • Pre-wire key influencers.
  • Determine how your stakeholders best accept change—managing the scope (not all at once); demonstrating the new practices (see it in action); hearing it from an outside expert (they always know more than you, right?!); etc.

Tip #2

Prep them

  • Identify strategic goals in advance so everyone starts on the same page. The goals are not part of the discussion, they are the basis for it. Support this by listing them on your agenda.
  • Provide examples of:
    • successful use elsewhere
    • measurable benefits
    • potential outcomes if change is not accepted
    • additional material needed to support objections you’re likely to face

Tip #3

Allow for time acceptance

  • Build in time to ponder the proposals. Don’t expect full acceptance at the first meeting.
  • Get feedback, asking for their likes, concerns and suggestions.
  • Consider a phased-in approach by introducing changes over several years instead of all at once.

One Awesome Idea
Make them feel the change, not just think about it
Your stakeholders’ responses are loaded with emotion. To sort that out, assign each stakeholder a role that represents one participant perspective (e.g., young professional, seasoned exhibitor, one discipline, etc.). Coach them to put themselves in that person’s shoes as you verbally walk through your meeting, asking them to think about how they feel as they “attend” the meeting.

You need to be a great storyteller. Stay neutral by focusing on the outcomes. They need to shed pre-conceived notions and to stay in their assigned personas.

When you get to “happily ever after”, discuss their reactions to determine if you’ve built consensus, need to tweak some things, or try a new approach.

Want More?
There are many resources about persuading stakeholders. Check out a few based on the Google search “how to persuade stakeholders.”

Source Credit:
Aimee Gabel, Solar Energy Trade Shows, LLC and David Saef, GES MarketWorks, who presented the awesome session, Win Stakeholder Support for Cutting-Edge Programming at PCMA’s 2016 Convening Leaders.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  events  isae  Leadership  marketing  meeting planners  meeting tips  meetings  social media 

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Where to Start

Posted By Stone Interactive Group, Wednesday, April 19, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

A successful online marketing effort starts with identifying goals, examining expectations, and organizing a few foundational tools you’ll want to have at your disposal.

Goals

Goals are good and lofty goals can be even better.  They keep us motivated.  They push us.  And, often, we will never achieve significant results without having aggressive goals.  But the higher our goals are set, the more time, effort, and potentially budget will be required to hit them.

Interested in doubling website traffic?  Tripling website lead flow?  Would a quarterly email outreach to current customers help drive incremental or repeat sales?  Each of these goals is achievable.

Goals should be quantifiable, trackable, and within the realm of reason.  We won’t outrank Zappos for shoes but we can get creative and identify many ways to improve our site visibility.

Writing these goals down somewhere visible and reading them at least once per week will help keep them real, relevant, and top-of-mind.

Online marketing goals are reached one step at a time.  Website traffic will likely increase 5% before 10%.  It will increase 20% before it does 50%. Don’t get discouraged if results take a bit of time.  Continual improvement is the key and should be the focus.

Expectations

Between the status quo and your goal sits a metaphorical hill.  For some goals that hill is steep.  For other goals that hill is easily crossed.

What makes such a hill steep?  There are three primary factors.

Competition – The number of competitors and the quality of their web marketing efforts have a direct effect on your results.

Desired Visibility – The phrases you’d like to be found for affect that incline.  General search phrases and visibility across a wide geography will take more effort than specific phrasing and geo-specific efforts.  For example, achieving excellent rankings for “native plant seed in Michigan” is a much easier task than simply “plant seed”.  The good news is that – most often – we truly only want traffic resulting from specific phrasing.  More on this soon.

Starting Point – If a website is poorly optimized or poorly designed, then basic improvements will most likely yield significant progress toward your goals.  When a site is already highly optimized and well designed, the low hanging fruit has been picked.  More sophisticated strategies and offsite marketing efforts will be required to improve results.

For each piece of this online marketing plan, we will provide guidance on how to access the competition, desired visibility, and starting point.  To start, though, take an honest inventory of which competitive sites you’d like to analyze, emulate, and eventually surpass.

Tools

There are a few building block tools that you’ll need to be familiar with to have online marketing success.  They are mostly free, well-supported, and relatively easy to use.

Google Webmaster Tools is your control panel into your website’s health in the eyes of Google.  Via this tool, you can ensure your site is indexed, address any Google errors, understand how Google is interpreting your site, and manage your link profile in some important ways.

Google Analytics is the de facto standard for website analytics.  It is imperative that you have Google Analytics tracking code on your site, allowing you to gain a world of insight into your site’s traffic and usage patterns.

Keyword Analyzer software can provide a wide range of useful info such as: how often a key phrase is searched for, how difficult it is to rank for a search phrase, as well as listing complementary words and phrases to consider.  One such high quality tool is KWFinder.

It’s well worth an hour or two to familiarize yourself with these foundational tools as they will play an important role at every turn.

Local Search is an increasingly important piece to the online marketing puzzle and we’ll dig into that exciting topic in our next post.

 

Stone Interactive Group is a web design and online marketing company based in Ann Arbor Michigan.  For more information please feel free to visit our site at http://www.stoneig.com.

 

 

 

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Online Marketing Made Simple

Posted By Stone Interactive Group, Friday, April 14, 2017
Updated: Thursday, April 13, 2017

Americans spend an exorbitant amount of time online.  The web is our source of news, our social outlet, our entertainment, and our primary form of communication.

Purchases are researched and completed online; from big ticket electronic items to dinner plans.

The web has become our new marketplace.  Our customers are online and – more importantly – our future customers are online.  Knowing this, it only makes sense that companies effectively market themselves online.

But just what does that actually mean?  And how does a company go about effectively marketing itself on the web?

Most things in life look more complicated than they actually are. Perhaps said a better way, things are easier when you know what you’re doing.  Having a plan makes all the difference and online marketing is no different.

The web is brimming with articles and conversations pertaining to online marketing.  It’s not easy to know exactly where to start or whom to trust.  If your company is already out there spreading the word, then a sincere congratulations to you.  If you haven’t started or, more importantly, if you’re unsure where to go from here then this guide was written for you.

Our team of online marketing experts has created a series of straight forward articles as a guide through the seemingly complicated world of online marketing. We’ll cover the best place to start, how to put the fundamentals in place, and we’ll provide links along the way to helpful tools that will make everything just a bit easier.

Topics will include:

How To Start
We’ll being by discussing goals, expectations, and a few building block tools that will let you take control and actually see the benefits of your online marketing activities. 

Local Search
Google and the 2nd tier of online business directories are the modern day yellow pages. They provide results, directions, reviews, photos, links to websites, everything a potential customer might want to start. We’ll discuss the major local search players and how to ensure that your profile information is included and accurate.

Site Optimization / SEO
An optimized site is critical.  In this piece, we’ll examine the most important site elements, ensuring that you give Google what it’s looking for when determining site relevancy.

Social Marketing
Some of us are fans of social media - Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram – while some of us just don’t pay attention to it.  The fact is that social media can play a helpful role for your organization and we’ll lay it all out for you. It’s not difficult and can even be a good deal of fun. 

Content Marketing
Back in the 2000’s there was a go-to phrase in the online marketing industry … “content is king”. To a very large degree this is still the case. 

Email Marketing
Email marketing can be an extremely effective way to grow revenue. Here we’ll uncover some ideas and tools to make email marketing simple.

AdWords / Pay-Per-Click / Retargeting
Google AdWords and Facebook advertising can provide valuable website traffic. There are strategies to consider that only the pros use and, best of all, it can cost a lot less than expected.

Reputation and Reviews
The power of good reviews cannot be underestimated. We will cover the major players, what you can do about poor reviews, and simple day-to-day tactics we can employ to help generate positive reviews.

Google Analytics
Google Analytics can feel overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be.  There are a handful of key reports and metrics that you should track and we’ll point them out at this time.

Look for our next article – How To Start – on this website in the coming days.

 

Stone Interactive Group is a web design and SEO company based in Ann Arbor Michigan.  For more information please feel free to visit our site at http://www.stoneig.com.

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, April 7, 2017, Friday, April 7, 2017

 

 

TWEAKING TO ENGAGE

 

Increased participation and engaged meeting participants may be as simple as tweaking the design of your event. 

 

Even if your target audience has not changed, the people representing that audience have. How might you better serve your current audience? 

 

Tip #1

People use time differently today. Have you kept up with the changes?

  • Ensure your arrival/departure pattern is still the best fit for your current potential participants.
  • How long is your meeting? How many overnights are required? Would making it shorter or longer serve participants better? 

Tip #2

Design your agenda so attendees have time to create their own experiences.

  • Plan informal time purposefully. This is when serendipitous encounters are more likely to occur and where memorable experiences are created.
  • Consider longer breaks, shorter sessions, ending earlier and/or starting later in the day.
  • Plan unscripted receptions and meals—let them simply eat and talk.

Tip #3

Make it hybrid; it will increase participation, not decrease it.

  • Before you do anything, clearly define your objectives for adding a virtual aspect to your meeting.
  • Plan your strategy based on your objectives and prepare for it. 
  • There is a lot to gain, but also a lot to consider going forward. Find links to more information in Want More? below.

 

One Awesome Idea

Condense your trade show into one high-impact event.

What if your trade show opened and closed on the same evening? I implemented this successfully for a 500-delegate /40-booth convention and trade show.

 

Schedule it for several hours, maybe 5:00–9:00 pm, on your opening day. This is your welcome event, which I call the kiss & hug event, creating the first opportunity for engagement and connections.

 

Provide plenty of food and beverage so they don’t want to leave to eat dinner. Serve the area’s specialty dishes (bite-sized), plus local beer and wine. Serve appetizers the first 30 minutes, the entrées the next 60 minutes and lots of desserts until close. Scatter service stations throughout the exhibit hall to create your next source of engagement—the natural connection over eating.

 

The third connection actually comes the next morning after the show is moved out and rounds are set in their place. Breakfast with exhibitors allows small-group conversations with participants who sit with one exhibitor who is hosting a table identified with a simple table tent.

 

This model works well with smaller groups that can visit all of the booths in a short time. It is enhanced if the exhibitors, as part of their booth fees, are full convention registrants and stay for the remainder of the event to continue informal networking.

 

Want More?

Planning hybrid events:

These are older articles, but the content is still valuable:

 

Making changes:

This is a case study of an association doing more than just tweaking. Click here for Reinventing Its Outdated Education Model, PCMA Convene, August 12, 2015 

 

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

Tags:  association  meeting planners  succession planning 

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Dana's Meeting Minutes: Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

Posted By Dana Saal, CMP, CAE, Saal Meeting Consulting, Friday, March 31, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, March 21, 2017

                        Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER—HOW TO LEVERAGE ATTENDEE EXPERIENCE LEVELS

In addition to planning for the generational and learning style differences of your participants, you also want to plan for a variety of experience levels. Remember, you can have inexperienced Boomers and experienced Millennials.

Tip #1

Create mentor-mentee opportunities that are based on expertise, not age.

·         Have tech-savvy members coach not-so-tech-savvy members.

·         Match newcomers with long-timers as convention buddies. This will ease the newcomer’s entry into your meeting, plus it engages long-timers who should be tasked with ensuring newbies become

o   familiar with your association;

o   acquainted with industry experts who will be future resources; and

o   comfortable at your meeting…ensuring future attendance.

Tip #2

Offer session content for all experience levels (obvious, but…)

·         Clearly publicize this in advance. They will be more inclined to register because they can see exactly where they will benefit.

·         Hire speakers to present at specific levels instead of leaving it in the speakers’ hands to identify. Speakers asked to describe the level of their own content typically say intermediate, risking the loss of learners on either side of that.

·         Write objectives that reflect outcomes based learning levels. For example, say “Following this session, early professionals (or seasoned pros; or all pros) should be able to …”

Tip #3

Design distinctive spaces for connecting with pros of all experience levels.

·         Set up a Problem-Solvers Pub or a Coffee & Conundrums spot on the show floor for participants to enjoy a (sponsored?) drink as they seek direction for their own problems, or for those you post on tent cards placed at tables.

·         Label tables at meals by experience level, challenge question or other prompt that will naturally mix participants.

One Awesome Idea

Set up an App and Learning Lounge

I first set up an App Lounge in 2011 when my client debuted a conference app. In exchange for a comp registration and hotel, an industry pro who was also a techie sat with his own smart phone in an exhibit hall lounge area and helped participants download the new event app. More importantly, he collected a list of other apps useful to the industry, which we published post-event. As an added bonus, it was a sponsored item.

This is still a good model for associations with slow-to-adapt participants. For those who are past this level, how can you upgrade this idea to create a space for your participants to acquire skills or knowledge on a very individualized basis? How can each leave with something personally beneficial?

Want More?

Read about the redesign of a 16,000 delegate event and be inspired to find ways you can be innovative for your 60- or 600-delegate event. Click here.

See how one association matches new and experienced professionals at its convention as Conference Buddies. Click here.

Dana’s Meeting Minutes is based on the Meeting Planning Triangle©. Click here for a link.

 

DMM|1705|03-31-17

Dana L. Saal, CMP, CAE, has been planning meetings for associations for more than 30 years. She recently decided that coaching meeting planners is now more fun than proofing BEOs, counting coffee cups and writing scripts. If you think a bit of coaching could improve your meeting, send a message via her website! (www.saalmeetings.com)

  

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1:1 Association Marketing - Let’s Get Personal

Posted By Michael Al-Megdad, Vice President of Product Marketing, RealMagnet, Friday, March 24, 2017
Updated: Monday, March 13, 2017

 

An excerpt from An Association Marketer’s Guide to Creating Personas

The term “persona” may sound like highfalutin jargon, but really it is just the latest term for what always has been Marketing 101: Know your audience, and deliver what is interesting and relevant to it. This is especially true for associations.

By understanding your members’ roles and responsibilities, motivations and drivers, you can create meaningful dialogue with them

. Here are four steps to developing member personas.

    Step One: Define Your Membership

Before taking on the task of creating a unique persona, you must define your association. Once this is established you can begin to segment your membership data

For example, if you are a ...

Trade Organization: demographic groupings can be built based on such things as the member organization’s revenue, number of employees or geographic business scope .

Or a...

Professional Association or Society: you can begin to segment those members by such demographics as where they are in their career and by their specialization within the industry.

You can also use member scoring as a tool to group your members. Highly engaged members likely are further down the sales funnel as potential buyers of value-added member benefits.

In order to develop the right personas for your association, ask yourself these two questions..

     Is it meaningful?- Will this persona make sense to you and others? Will it be recognizable?

     Is it manageable? - Is my persona too specific? Is it too broad?

    Step Two: Uncover the Data

Where do you find the information you need to build out your personas?

Membership applications: Great place to start gathering the “who” and the “what”

Your AMS or CRM systems: Good sources to spot potential persona groups.

Rely on subject matter experts: Ask your colleagues for input from their respective areas

Go to the source: Ask the members themselves.

    Step Three: Document Your Personas

Keeping track of your personas could be as easy as creating a Word document, or an infographic that paints a picture of the types of members comprising that persona.

Don’t forget to ask yourself those two important questions: Is it meaningful? Is is manageable?

    Step Four: Put Your Personas to Work

Now that your member personas are developed, you can deliver more useful, relevant content to them. How?

Marketing automation enables you to take what you know about various personas, and customize your messages.

Two advantages to using marketing automation:

Dynamic content: This sophisticated tool enables you to create one campaign, but with sections of dynamically rendered content that target specific personas.

Segmentation: Marketing automation makes the job of segmenting your campaigns easier. It enables you to look at your audiences and customize your offers and segment to your various personas.

    Bottom Line

-start small

-keep personas simple and manageable

-refine and expand over time

-personas= insight

To learn more about developing personas for your association, please download our paper

An Association Marketer’s Guide to Creating Personas or visit our website.

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