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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.

 

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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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You Need to Know Your Association’s Value Trigger Point

Posted By Amanda Kaiser, Smooth the Path, Monday, March 20, 2017

This will be one of the concepts discussed at the March, Monday, 27th by speaker Amanda Kaiser. Be sure to check out the link to the ebook - Fueling exceptional new member experiences [e-book].

Ask engaged members when they realized the value of the association and many could tell you the exact moment. They can quickly recall a single event or moment when it was clear to them they made the right decision in joining.

The moment new members understand the value of the association is the Association’s Value Trigger Point (AVTP). For some members, it was their first conference or chapter event. There they met people like them struggling with the same challenges. They solved some of their problems listening to excellent speakers or by connecting with individuals who have been where they are now. They got support. They felt included. They learned a lot. They met other like-minded professionals. They realized they were not alone.

Now that they experienced the AVTP and understand the value of the association they are more likely to be engaged in other ways. They look to the association first for information. Members like these remain members longer, they contribute, and they evangelize.

Associations usually just have one AVTP. It is the one product, service, event or interaction that most members identified as the event when they realized the value of their membership. Not every association’s AVTP is the same. For some it is the conference, for another, it might be a webinar series, for others a new member tour, for others a call from staff, for another association, it might be new-to-the-profession training. Whatever your association’s AVTP is, members who experience the trigger point event feel more engaged during the life of their membership.

Knowing our Association’s Value Trigger Point provides us with more opportunities to increase value for everyone. By knowing our AVTP we can:

  • Discover ways to get more new members to experience the trigger point event soon upon joining to engage more new members faster.

  • Learn if there are more ways to improve the value trigger point event to provide even more value.

  • Use the AVTP as a gateway to introducing new members to a couple of other benefits of their membership.

Not every association currently has an AVTP. Your members might indicate that they learned the value of the association over time. If most engaged members say this, you may not currently have an AVTP, but you can create one.

Does your association have an AVTP? If it does are you fully leveraging it?

Related:

Inspired by a favorite article first published on this blog March 17, 2015.

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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 17, 2017
Updated: Friday, March 10, 2017

 

Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

I’M ATTENDING WITH MY GRANDPA!

Many of today’s association meetings host attendees from up to three generations—from 60+-year-olds to 20-somethings. This is both exciting and challenging.

As a planner, it’s your job to ensure that each participant leaves your meeting knowing she/he is better off for attending.

Besides planning two different events to make everyone happy, consider these ideas.

Tip #1

Recognize that attendees from different generations generally have different learning and behavioral styles.

·         Seasoned professionals prefer expert lecturers and cringe when asked to turn to a neighbor. They are less likely to use devices as learning or networking tools.

·         Young professionals just want to do it—whatever it is! At the same time, they will be on their devices sharing every aspect of the awesome experience.

Tip #2

No rule is universal.

 ·         There are Boomers who like experiential learning (me!) and Millennials who like lectures.

·         Do not label sessions as “Boomer” or “Millennial.” Simply describe the teaching format and your attendees will find the ones they like.

Tip #3

If you don’t plan for multi-generational attendance, you risk losing everyone.

·         Plan for all generations to ensure sustained attendance. You need Millennials who love attending your event; Boomers won’t be around forever.

·         Create mentor-like opportunities for seasoned pros to coach or formally interact with emerging professionals.

·         On surveys ask for their age category—Boomer, Gen X or Y, Millennial—and use responses for future planning.

One Awesome Idea

Schedule one topic to be presented in two different learning formats.      

We’re planning a session on how to make soup. Using the same learning objectives (very important), schedule one lecture and one hands-on.

 

Boomers, and auditory learners, will like the lecture where an experienced chef shares his/her wisdom, a great recipe and a photo of the soup.

Younger participants, and kinesthetic (physical) learners, will head toward the kitchen where a chef is directing them in making the soup that they get to eat. Yum!

Scheduling the sessions simultaneously would be very interesting. Be sure to monitor attendance. You would find this Boomer in the kitchen!  

Want More?

Learn what Millennials want from Smart Meetings. Click here. An interesting quote dissuading planners from using social media onsite: “Why would anyone want to invest time and resources to attend an event with amazing people, and then get on their phone [tweeting] for three days? Instead, offer the opportunity for participants to connect authentically, face to face. Focus on attendees, not hashtags.

This article, from Successful Meetings in 2007 still rings true, even though Millennials weren’t in the work force yet! Click here. An interesting quote: “For instance, ‘Boomers love awards nights,’ says Fishman. “Xers couldn’t care less about them. Boomers like to stand up after a 45-miutes keynote speech and ask questions. Xers find all of that a waste of time. Boomers love motivational speakers. Xers can't stand them; they want informational speakers. Boomers love golf and spa. Xers like adventure—this is the generation that invented extreme sports."

DMM|1704|03-17-17

 

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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Content Performance: 6 Essential Truths

Posted By Heather Swink, CAE, MA, Friday, March 10, 2017
Updated: Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Customers today are too busy and have too many choices to invest in content that isn’t relevant or targeted for them—no matter how great the content may be. To be the valued and preferred source of information for your customers, you must develop a content strategy—and make this a priority for your organization.

Oftentimes, what stands in the way of creating and deploying an organization-wide content strategy is not knowing how to create a content strategy or really understand how it differs from what you currently have in place.

So let’s break through these barriers and uncover the 6 essential truths you need to know about content strategy and content performance:

  1. Don’t confuse “creating great content” with “achieving greatness with content”. It’s not enough to create well-written, well-sourced content. If your content is not being seen by the right people, then it doesn’t matter how terrific the content is that you’ve created. Of course, it’s a two-way street. Without great content, even the smartest positioning and the most comprehensive communication plan will fall flat. You need both.
  2. Content strategy is not just the content team’s responsibility. Your content strategy is a comprehensive tool combining strengths from multiple departments—editorial/publishing, marketing/communications, membership, education, IT, etc. Key individuals from each department should be involved in shaping your content strategy and providing input on planning, creating, delivering, measuring and monetizing content.
  3. Content strategy is not about generating volume. It’s about respecting individuals’ time with quality, well-targeted information. Less is more here.
  4. Begin with a robust content assessment to determine gaps. You need a strong sense of where you have been so you can determine where you need to go. This means evaluating common user patterns and surveying key customers to learn about their perceptions of current content (scope, relevance and accessibility) as well as future expectations. Then conduct a content audit—comparing your current content to what you need to better meet your customers’ content expectations.
  5. Determine content development priorities and workflow. Armed with qualitative and quantitative data, you can establish priorities for content development. Measure priorities based upon organizational capacity and capability vs. importance to customers. Then create a well-designed workflow process to guide the creation, production and distribution of content.
  6. Make a commitment to never stop learning from your customers—and from data. Want to ensure you are delivering the right products, services, messages and experiences that delight your customers? Set up key performance indicators and tracking processes to measure performance. Commit to a regular evaluation of your content goals against key performance measures, and a willingness to change as results are assessed. You also need to monitor the content management process itself, and make adjustments as both customer needs and supporting technologies evolve.

Ready to ensure your organization’s messages are received, remembered and acted upon? Want help in developing or executing a content strategy? Contact Sherry to learn how .orgSource can assist!

- See more at: http://www.orgsource.com/blog/content-performance-6-essential-truths#sthash.MMtkkwwf.edSzocES.dpuf

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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 3, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

                        Three Tips and One Awesome Idea for Innovative Planners

 

TARGET AUDIENCE

Is your meeting audience as diverse as it could be? Have you really thought about who your meeting is designed for and whether you are reaching all potential registrants?

Thinking about this could increase your attendance (and income!) and enhance the level of expertise by broadening your list of participants.

Tip #1

List types of people/positions affiliated with your industry. For example, if you’re planning the Annual Convention of Dark Green Architects, your target audience is Dark Green Architects, but could also include:

·         their co-workers in other departments, e.g. light green architects, designers

·         professionals from affiliate industries, e.g. engineers, mortar specialists

·         academics and students from universities

Tip #2

Your association leadership is one of your target audiences.

You are primarily planning for Dark Green Architects, but your board and committee members may want/need a say in your meeting design, making them a target audience.

Tip #3

Plan only for your target audience.

Don’t toss in a session for non-target audiences in the hopes more people will show up. Be clear who you’re planning for and then plan well for them. That will increase attendance.

One Awesome Idea

Ask members what types of people help make them successful and then pursue them as future participants.

Ask them one or all of these questions:

1.      What types of people do you partner with in your job?

2.      What types of people would you like to connect with at the meeting?

3.      What is one type of person not with your same expertise who has influenced how you do your job?

Want More?

Check out this blog by Jeff Hurt of Velvet Chainsaw. He uses exhibitor satisfaction as the basis for target audience identification, but the concept supports all aspects of meeting planning. http://velvetchainsaw.com/2012/11/09/identifying-segmenting-conference-target-audience/

DMM|1703|03-03-17

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)

Tags:  events  meeting planners  meeting tips 

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Positioning the Association of the Future

Posted By Doug Klegon, Friday, February 24, 2017
Updated: Tuesday, February 21, 2017

.orgCommunity has been engaging association leaders in a series of discussions regarding the evolution of associations and the need for innovation. Emerging—and as yet unseen—disrupters will require significant changes in the nature of associations, how they envision fulfilling their missions and serve their constituencies.

In some industries we already have seen complete transitions due to technological innovations. Blockbuster’s brick and mortar business for renting DVDs has completely disappeared as Netflix led the revolution to DVDs by mail and then streaming content.

Other industries—such as transportation—are still very much in flux. It is safe to predict that self-driving vehicles eventually will be the predominant mode of transportation. But the full impact of on-demand transportation services, self-driving vehicles and drone-based package delivery systems is yet to be determined.

The pace of implementing transportation innovations also remains undetermined given the complexity of the cultural, legal and infrastructure changes that accompany the new technological capabilities. So for now, successful automobile manufacturers must face imperatives for innovation using a dual strategy: stay in the present and build vehicles drivers want now, while also investing in a future without those drivers at the wheel.

Functions Most Likely to be Disrupted, Requiring Innovation

Similarly, associations must be innovative while also maintaining their ability to meet the needs of current members attuned to past models. With that in mind, .orgCommunity asked association leaders to rank seven areas according to which would be most impacted in the next 3-5 years by outside disruptive forces and therefore require innovative responses in their strategies and operations. The seven areas ranged from a broad-based concept such as “business models” to specific products like “conferences” and “publishing.” 

As indicated below, respondents clearly felt that overall business models were most likely to be impacted and require significant innovation.

% ranking an area first or second most likely to be impacted by external forces

Education and membership, which can be considered subsets of an association’s overall business model, also ranked high. However, conferences were seen as less likely to be impacted over the next several years. This suggests that associations may be looking back with one eye to extend the traditional strength of conferences, while also keeping the other eye on the future in terms of redesigning education and membership models.

Framework for Addressing Disrupters

While there obviously is no single solution for associations, the comments of the leaders queried by .orgCommunity suggest an overall framework for positioning an organization for a future characterized by multiple external disrupters:

1. Develop new and collaborative business models in core areas:

  • Education
  • Community building and membership
  • Career development

2. Adopt new ways of doing things:

  • Strategic thinking throughout the organization
  • Efficient, timely decision making
  • Entrepreneurship and acceptable risk taking

3. Invest in cultivating new resources for the future:

  • People
  • Financial resources
  • Technology

What do you see as the most significant disrupters facing associations over the next several years? How are they impacting you current planning and future strategies? We invite you to share with your colleagues by commenting on this blog.

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