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Do You Have a Mission Statement? Or a Mission Culture?

Posted By Wes Sovis, Manager of Marketing and Business Development, VP Demand Creation Services, Friday, December 5, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 14, 2014

One task we routinely help our clients with is re-writing a mission statement. We have expert copywriters with advanced degrees in their field with over 50 years of combined experience in writing and testing copy. When a company asks us to help write a revised mission statement, we get a serious look on our faces. Writing a mission statement is easy - anyone with a pen or computer could give you few lines of inspirational copy in less than five minutes. But a mission statement is not just copy - it’s an ambitious statement about a company or association’s culture and interaction with its members or customers.

C-level executives and marketing managers (especially) usually are in the school of thought that the company’s logo or mission statement is the face of the company or association - the public’s perception is based on the creativity of the logo and the inspiring copy in the mission statement. But a logo is just a symbol for brand awareness purposes and a mission is just a bunch of words if you don’t deliver on the promise conveyed.

Consider the following:

“Our mission is to build unrivaled partnerships with and value for our clients, through knowledge, creativity, and dedication of our people, leading to superior results from our shareholders.”* What an admirable mission statement, right? The problem is that it was clearly just a bunch of words to the leadership and employees - this was Lehman Brothers’ mission statement until they went bankrupt in 2008 amid allegations of fraud and unethical business practices.

Ask any employee at your organization to recite the mission statement. If they can’t recite it, how likely is it that you’re succeeding in living up to the ambitious goals of the mission? Probably not happening. Your organization’s culture isn’t just internal either - if your employees lack enthusiasm for their cause, you can be sure your members or customers will notice when things aren’t quite right within the organization through interactions and dealing with the staff.

So when we are asked to write a mission statement for a partner, it’s not something we just throw together. We ask the questions, “Can you live up to the expectations of this mission? What will you do to promote the goals of the mission to staff and your clients?” These are questions everyone at the company should be asking themselves on a daily basis. You should be living your mission every day in everything you do.

*Shamelessly taken from How Google Works pg. 86. Read this book. Seriously.


Wes Sovis

Marketing Manager and Business Development

VP Demand Creation Services


Tags:  culture  google  mission statement 

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Five Tips to Keep in Mind for Your Publication

Posted By Jill Lacross, New Media Director and Publishing Associate, VP Demand Creation Services, Friday, November 28, 2014
Updated: Tuesday, November 18, 2014

You could call the most wonderful time of the year the “most promotional time of the year.” Retail catalogs are already filling up mailboxes, specially designed with winter and holiday themes that evoke in us the magic and joy of the season – with top gift picks and deals almost too difficult to resist.

Holiday time is a big time for publications. Deals and special offers can bring in a lot of new subscribers. Why? Because people expect them and it may be just the incentive they need to join your ranks.

Let’s focus on how to communicate your magazine promotion via digital. With more and more shoppers making purchases on their smart phones, tablets, and desktop computers than ever before, a digital strategy for your holiday magazine promotion is essential. The best holiday strategies include these five components:

1.       The offer is specific. “Specific” means two things. One, that the offer is designed and phrased to appeal to a specific type of person, your “typical” subscriber; if you are using your own list to promote a digital offer that includes subscribers and expired subscribers, consider segmenting the list and targeting each group with a different offer. A subscriber would probably like 15% off a gift subscription to give to someone else, but it’s not relevant for an expired subscriber, who may need extra enticement to convince them to return. Secondly, “specific” means sticking to a specific offer. The offer should be easy to understand, without any confusing elements or caveats.

2.       The experience is easy. There’s nothing more frustrating than an abandoned shopping cart. According to Baymard Institute (March 2014) the average online shopping cart abandonment rate is 68.07%. Though this probably is more for retailers, it is meaningful for magazine publishers, too. Potential subscribers expect it to be easy to take advantage of an offer and connect with you. Try to eliminate roadblocks to create as seamless of an ecommerce experience as you can. For example, if you have a login that requires a customer number of account number (which people can find difficult to remember), take steps to auto-populate that field if someone clicks through an e-mail offer. This is a more advanced goal that may take some investment. A few other tips that help make a more seamless experience: providing clear and brief instructions, leading subscribers through the transaction, and having an optional guest checkout so that registration isn’t required. Easy could also be construed as “accessible.”

3.       The experience is consistent. Subscribers are reaching out to magazine publishers in a wider variety of ways than in the past, and they expect to see the same information and have the same experience regardless of the channel or touch point. For example, a potential subscriber may see an ad on a website while browsing on the Internet, then may research the magazine more on his tablet, and then may receive a piece of direct mail that encourages him to subscribe online. The offer needs to be consistently understood and consistently designed, both to resonate with a potential subscriber if he “experiences” you in more than one place and so that he knows what to expect.

4.       The offer is irresistible. Here it’s all about human psychology. It’s not just the type of offer, but how the offer is framed. There are certain words that grab people’s attention and certain words that tend to turn people off and away from your product. For example, free always catches people’s notice. So does the word “limited” because people want what is in short supply; the value of the product is perceived as higher. Design is equally important. For example, we are naturally hardwired to follow the same direction of another person’s gaze. Make sure your images direct people’s focus to your offer. These are just a couple examples, but there are more that can be used to make an appeal to the unconscious minds of those who see your offer – and help them convince them to take advantage of it.

5.       The offer is trackable. This is perhaps the most important component, because it tells you how the promotion performed. PURLs, redemption codes, source codes, and e-mail address verification are all methods to tracking who took the offer – and how. Performance data will help you make decisions for your next promotion and give you an indication about which areas may need refinement (i.e., a high click-through rate but a low registration rate) or be left out altogether.


Jill Lacross

New Media Director and Publishing Associate


Tags:  black friday  communicate  consistent  digital  easy  holidays  promotional  trackable 

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How to Ensure That Values Are Actually Lived in Your Organization

Posted By Matt Tenney, Author of Serve to Be Great, keynote speaker, & social entrepreneur, Friday, November 21, 2014
Updated: Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Most leaders today understand the importance of having clearly articulated values that guide the decisions and behaviors of team members.

But it seems that many organizations treat "core values" as just another couple of buzz words.

Leaders get excited about creating core values that they hope will inspire both team members and customers. The values are printed on a document that hangs prominently in the CEO's office, or might even be displayed on the company website.

Unfortunately, many organizations never move beyond this point. As a result, it's difficult to find team members, or even leaders, who consistently live the core values or use them to guide decisions.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with S. Chris Edmonds, author of the great new book entitled The Culture Engine.

Chris shared several powerful tools for creating a workplace culture where values are inspiring, and result in a culture that people enjoy being a part of and produces great business outcomes because the values are actually lived on a consistent basis.

The Organizational Constitution

The central component of Chris' work is what he calls an organizational constitution. This document defines the culture at an organization. 

The first key element of the organizational constitution is a clearly defined purpose that goes beyond producing a product or making money. Although it may take some time to uncover a deeper purpose that is inspiring for everyone on the team, it is well worth the effort. An inspiring purpose can significantly improve engagement levels of team members.

Limiting Core Values to the True "Core"

Another key element of the organizational constitution is the list of the most important values in the organization. This should not be a list of 15 or 20 values. It should truly be the absolute most important values that are non-negotiable. Chris recommends no more than five.

By really getting clear on the absolute most important values and limiting them in number, it's much easier for people to remember them and apply them.

For organizations that have already been in existence for a while, Chris suggests that you make an effort to include team members in the process of defining the core values, leaning heavily on your top performers. Thus, there will be more buy-in from team members.

Clearly Defining Values with Associated Behaviors

If you ask five people on your team what "integrity" means to them, you will probably get at least several different answers.

If you want to ensure that people are clear on what each value means, each value has to be defined in terms of the two or three behaviors that are most associated with that value. Chris recommends defining values with "I" statements.

For instance, the value of integrity might be defined partly with the behavior, "I do what I say I am going to do."

In addition to making it easier to understand what is meant with each value, defining them with behaviors also makes them easier to measure.

Measure Values with the Same Effort We Measure Performance

Nearly every organization does a great job of measuring things like sales and quality and expenses. However, many organizations could do a much better job of measuring the alignment with the stated core values.

We should place just as much importance on values alignment as we do on business outcomes because values alignment is what creates the strong culture that drives long-term business outcomes.

The first people to be measured should be the leaders. Leaders should be rated by peers and subordinates on the degree to which they live the values of the organization.

When values are lived from the top down, the results include higher levels of trust, engagement, innovation, and ultimately business outcomes.

Chris reports that organizations that follow through with designing and abiding by well-crafted organizational constitutions often see dramatic improvements in engagement levels, customer service, and profits within 12-24 months.

To see the full interview with S. Chris Edmonds, click here.


Matt Tenney is a social entrepreneur, an international keynote speaker, and the author of Serve to Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom.

Follow Matt Tenney on Twitter:

Tags:  Alignment  Core Values  Engagements & Proposals  Great Workplace Culture  Increased Profits  S. Chris Edmonds  The Culture Engine  Values 

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What is Search Engine Optimization?

Posted By Kyle Noland, Software Engineer, FIRM, Inc. , Friday, November 14, 2014
Updated: Friday, November 7, 2014

Have you ever noticed that when searching for your association or perhaps another company on a search engine such as Google that it quite possibly is the first result on the page? Many search engines have a way of determining which websites are displayed first when you search for a specific term, such as a company name. Search Engine Optimization (or SEO) is the process of manipulating website elements and content in order to raise the position of a website in search engine results such as on Google or Bing.

There are two types of search result listings – organic and paid. Paid listings require a special fee to be paid to the search engine company for heightened results in their listings. You may see this on Google as “Sponsored Links”, which are usually the first two or three links on a page. More information on this can be found at  Obtaining higher organic listings are what SEO usually focuses on as it requires no payment to the search engine provider. Research by Thorsten Joachims, Laura Granka, Bing Pan, Helene Hembrooke, and Geri Gay found that approximately 80% of the clicks on any search engine listing page were for the sites listed in the first three spots. A website listed in the first few spots on a search engine is definitely a very valuable asset! Some companies will pay thousands upon thousands of dollars a year for SEO just to reach or maintain that position on a page.

In my opinion, the most important steps to search engine optimization are – keywords, indexing, and site optimization. Keywords are words, or phrases that people might use to search for your site on a search engine. As an example, if your site was related to pets – someone may search for dog, cat, bird, animal, etc. and you may want your site to show in the search result listings. Google has a great tool for planning keywords and more information is available here: Indexing is the ability to have search engine bots crawl your website and hopefully giving your page a high rank, which corresponds to higher result listings on the search engine. It doesn’t matter how many websites you link to, the main idea behind indexing is to have other high ranking sites link to your site, which will then boost your own rank. How can one do this? The use of blogs, RSS feeds, forums, or wikis may help you to have new and interesting content that others can link to. This is also a good idea because search engine bots tend to visit sites with fresh content more often that website pages that are not newly updated. Finally, site optimizations can be made to perform better at SEO. Having things such as a Title, Description, and Keyword meta-tag on each webpage help the search engine bots to more accurately get an idea of what content is on your website which may translate to heightened rankings. Making your website mobile-friendly, although not necessarily translating to a higher page rank on a search engine, may also help to attract more users to your website and keep them there for a longer period of time. I think it’s also worth noting that although your website can be promoted online through blogs and social media, they can also be promoted offline through other sorts of media such as print. It doesn’t matter where a person hears about your website, as long as they go to it they may end up posting a link to your website on theirs!

According to a Moz industry survey, Analytics, Content Marketing, and Keyword Research are the Top 3 marketing activities in the industry. If you’re not doing any Analytics or SEO, there is no better time to start than now!

In closing, I wanted to add a link to an image I found online titled “The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors”. I think this chart does a fantastic job of showing what is important for SEO. It can be found here: This post is only the start of what you could do with SEO and I am hopeful that you and your association are able to benefit from this knowledge.


At the ISAE October Roundtable, I spoke about Analytics and a little on SEO. In an effort to get more of this information out to each of you here is a list of interesting website links that may help you to achieve a better online presence for your association:










"2014 Industry Survey." Moz. Web. 7 Nov. 2014. .

Joachims, Thorsten, Laura Granka, Bing Pan, Helene Hembrooke, and Geri Gay. "Accurately Interpreting Clickthrough Data as Implicit Feedback." Special Interest Group on Information Retrieval (2005). Web. 7 Nov. 2014. .

Tags:  browser  engine  google  optimization  search  seo  technology 

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Eight Keys to Success When Creating a Technology Strategy

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Thursday, November 6, 2014
Updated: Thursday, November 6, 2014

Associations typically have an organizational strategic plan. But there is often a lack of strategy when it comes to technology, even though it is needed in order to implement successful marketing and membership initiatives. 

Your association’s technology strategy must be more than a patchwork of IT systems and digital solutions. Each component should align with your organization’s overall mission and goals. An effective digital or technology strategy is both a communications and management tool. It demonstrates IT’s understanding of the association’s objectives, establishes a methodology that facilitates the accomplishment of those objectives and provides a suite of metrics to determine how effectively those objectives have been met.

Do you want to increase operational efficiency? Take a 360-degree view of your members? Extend your reach to non-members? Ensure you don’t get left behind during the mobile revolution? Having a technology strategy can help you do that. 

Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and .orgSource founder, recently teamed with other experts to develop a strategic technology planning practice statement for the Association Forum of Chicagoland. It concluded:

“To be successful over the long-term, (an) organization must develop strategic technology goals that support an organization’s business goals in every other functional area. …. Understanding the centrality of IT to an association’s strategic initiatives is more important now than ever before.”

Here are eight keys to success when building or revising your organization's technology strategy: 

  • Involve a senior leadership “sponsor” and include strategic thinkers from across the organization. 
  • Assess current technology capabilities and determine if there are infrastructure gaps that are hindering you from meeting your organizational goals. 
  • Identify key features and benefits needed to further your objectives.
  • Interview staff, volunteers and members to gain an understanding of current and future technology needs that will help them meet their goals. 
  • Explain how the technology plan will help your organization achieve its business objectives. Sometimes it’s easier to get buy-in from your board when the pitch is jargon-free and comes from someone outside of IT.
  • Prepare a roadmap for the evaluation, acquisition, implementation and/or enhancement of systems.
  • Set realistic timelines and budgets. 
  • Ensure clear matrix are established and monitored.

Best of luck as you develop or revise your technology plans for 2015 and beyond.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  leadership  strategy  technology 

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Three Ways to Take Advantage of Opportunity Thinking

Posted By Sherry Budziak, executive lead consultant and CEO, .orgSource, Wednesday, October 15, 2014

You don’t need to be a million-dollar organization to be innovative. You just need to be opportunity thinkers.

Members of the .orgSource team recently attended the Wisconsin Society of Association Executives Innovation Summit. Pam Henderson, Ph.D., author of “You Can Kill an Idea, but You Can't Kill an Opportunity!” was the keynote. Her presentation got me thinking. How could I (and the associations that I work with) become “opportunity thinkers”?

According to Henderson, opportunity thinking empowers us to see potential in new places—across markets, technologies, business models, brands and design. Her definition of opportunity is a convergence of needs, the ability to create the right value and the right conditions that allow it to come together. So, how can an association steer themselves into this perfect storm?

Here are a few ways I think we can harness the concept of opportunity thinking:

1. Be inclusive. A big take away from the Innovation Summit was to understand others’ perspectives and how they solve problems. Don’t assume that the best ideas will come from your board or senior team. Include as many people as possible when you’re brainstorming so that you get different points of view and a new combination of ideas. Collaborate at all levels, from your junior staff to your CEO. Mixing up those in the weeds and those at 35,000 feet might surprise you.

2. Let people fail. If people are afraid to experiment with outside the box thinking, you’ll never break free from the mundane checklists of to-dos that so many associations follow. Swap out “because we always do it that way” with “if it isn’t broke, break it.” Create a culture where it’s OK to try something as long as you learn from the success or failure.

 3. Think about tomorrow’s opportunities rather than today’s capabilities. Don’t go to the dark place of budgetary or staffing restrictions when an idea is presented. Think about your members’ future needs. Better yet, come straight out and ask them. If you can add value (a new benefit, product, service, event, etc.) before your competitors do, you’ve just created your own opportunity.

Innovation takes practice. Experts say that it can take thousands of bad ideas before coming up with a “good” one. Your association can have a 10-person staff or 200. Size doesn’t matter when it comes to thinking outside the box or capitalizing on opportunity.  Just look for potential in new places, let your teams share their ideas and don’t get bogged down with what you’re capable of today. 

Sherry Budziak is an ISAE member and is the executive lead consultant and CEO of .orgSource.


Tags:  .orgSource  association  innovation  isae  Knowledge Management & Research  Leadership  opportunity  opportunity thinking  Organizational Management  thinking  wsae 

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Why CAE?

Posted By Eric Klinner, Friday, September 12, 2014

There are several different reasons that individuals purse the Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation. Professional development, career planning, professional pride, dedication to their career, self-fulfillment, and commitment to a career in association management are just some of the reasons one might choose to take this additional step in their career.

 As my association management career moved forward, I realized that I was already gaining the valuable (and required) education to take the exam. The resources used and the knowledge and experiences gained through the exam process have not only benefitted me personally, but have also benefitted my association. There have been instances regarding anti-trust, best practices and legal issues that I have felt very comfortable answering (for myself and the association) because of the knowledge I gained in conjunction with the CAE experience.

 I feel that being a CAE has created connections and opened several doors for me that would not have been possible without it. From CAE only networking events and study groups, to invite only speaking engagements with nationally recognized speakers at the ASAE convention. With only 4,100 CAE’s nationwide, you will be part of an elite group of association professionals.

 Testing for the CAE occurs in May and December. For more information regarding the CAE, the ISAE CAE study group or requirements to test, please contact Destiny at ISAE at or myself at  You can also visit the ISAE website at


Eric Klinner, CAE

ISAE Board Member

AIA of Illinois 

Managing Director

Tags:  ASAE  CAE  Education  ISAE 

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Welcome to the ISAE Blog!

Posted By Destiny Nance-Evans, Monday, August 25, 2014

New to ISAE, The ISAE Blog! 

We are currently looking for potential bloggers to share their knowledge of the Association world with us. Interested in being apart of our group of "experts"? Submit your article for review here

We hope this becomes your favorite newest member benefit or gives you a reason to be the newest ISAE member! 

This post has not been tagged.

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