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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

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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Engaging Members: Email Marketing Is Not Flashy, But It Works

Posted By Tara Burghart, Director of Content and Marketing, .orgSource, Friday, February 12, 2016
Updated: Thursday, February 4, 2016

In the first part of the “Engaging Members” series, we looked at why associations are seeing their “organic reach” on Facebook drop so dramatically. Simply put, Facebook wants businesses and organizations to pay for advertising.

So where does that leave nonprofits that want to better engage their members but lack the big advertising budgets of corporate brands?

One of the best alternatives is something associations have been doing for so long that it’s become like a favorite pair of sweatpants: Comfortable, reliable, but certainly not exciting.

That something is email marketing, which is consistently shown to outperform “sexier” options like social media and display advertising.

Here are some stats to back that up:

  • Email is nearly 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter combined, according to this study from McKinsey & Company
  • Email reaches its intended recipient 90 percent of the time, compared to about 2 percent for Facebook posts
  • Facebook has more than 1 billion users, Twitter about 255 million users. There are nearly 4 billion active email accounts.
  • A survey by Informz of more than 1,300 large and mid-size associations who used the company’s marketing platform found open rates in the United States averaged about 34 percent with click-through rates of about 15 percent.
  • Email conversion rates are three times higher than social media, with a 17 percent higher value in the version, according to McKinsey & Company.

Even though it feels like email marketing has been around forever, more sophisticated techniques and tools allow for more specific targeting than a decade ago, along with the potential to mine a lot of valuable data. 

Here are just a small number of the things that associations can use email marketing to accomplish:

  • Promote events and continuing education opportunities
  • Increase membership renewal rates
  • Welcome new members with information, tips and resources
  • Share industry news and positions taken by the association
  • Create a regular digital newsletter to replace or enhance your print products
  • Direct traffic back to your website
  • Strengthen relationships with members

OK. So this “old school” tool seemingly has a lot of life in it. But few associations have tapped all the opportunities that email marketing offers. Those opportunities are what we’ll take a look at in Part 3 of the “Engaging Members” series, so stay tuned!

- See more at:

Tags:  content  email marketing  engaging  marketing 

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Three Reasons Why Your Marketing and IT Departments Need to Be Partners

Posted By Sherry Budziak, CEO and Founder, .orgSource, Friday, December 4, 2015
Updated: Monday, November 9, 2015
Payste embed code from YouTube or other video sharing service.

Three Reasons Why Your Marketing and IT Departments Need to Be Partners

Rapidly evolving digital technologies are changing the way Americans live, do business and connect with others.

With those technologies comes data – data from our cell phones, social media sites, climate control systems, electronic transaction records, digital photos and videos, among many other sources. There’s so much data, in fact, that 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years.

Associations now have a large amount of complex information available to them, too. Where and how do you gather data about your organization’s members? It is solely from their visits to your association website? What about their behavior in relation to your emails? Or your e-newsletters, conference apps, membership directories? Do you offer continuing education too? Yep, that’s another place to mine for data.

But if your association is going to properly use, manage and maximize the data from these sources – and to take advantage of the opportunities the digital revolution offers -- it is going to require your marketing and IT departments to become trusted partners. Neither will be successful without the other – and neither will your association.

Here’s three reasons why: 

1.      Members want a seamless user experience. They want to be able to read the details of what’s planned for your annual meeting on their mobile phone, register for it on their desktop and use their tablet to navigate around the conference floor. They expect your digital products to know their preferences and expectations. None of this can be achieved without your marketing department joining forces with your IT department.

2.      Technology has also changed the way members interact with associations – in person, on mobile apps, social media and on the website. You should be able to quickly gather important details about your relationship with your members: When they last attended the annual meeting, when they last called for help with a problem, the subject of the last email they opened from you and what stories or addresses caught their eyes and prompted their clicks. Drill down a bit, and you should be able to find even more useful details. As your IT resources process this information, your personalization efforts with your members become more on-target. Every interaction with them provides you with more insight into how to tend to their needs.

3.      When your marketing and IT departments work together on shared objectives from the start, it can cut down on conflict and delays later. Traditionally, an IT department might be told about the new system or tool the association needs, go off to create or find it on their own, and then come back to the table to be told it isn’t quite right. When marketing and IT work together during the process, systems can be tested and refined along the way. The path way to advancement and digital success is suddenly much smoother!

If you’re ready to create a more collaborative relationship between your marketing and IT teams, .orgSource can help. Take a look at how much we believe in the power of digital transformation, then drop us a line at


Tags:  information technology  marketing 

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Marketing on a Dime

Posted By Destiny Nance-Evans, Friday, November 27, 2015
Updated: Friday, November 20, 2015

Are you a local Springfield association or business? Adopt a Downtown Springfield Planter! This is a very affordable way to spread the holiday cheer and get your name recognized. You can even take it to another level and make it a team building activity for your staff.


 Attached Files:
AdoptAPlanter_2.pdf (1015.08 KB)

Tags:  afforadable  holiday  marketing 

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Taking Back the Word, Outsourcing

Posted By Wes Sovis, VP Demand Creation Services, Friday, February 6, 2015
Updated: Thursday, February 5, 2015

Last week, I made the seven-and-a-half-hour drive to Springfield, Illinois, for the Illinois Society of Association Executives Convention and Trade Show. This was my first ISAE event, and aside from the opportunity to network, I was also interested in attending a few of the speaking tracks. Much to my surprise, speakers at the convention used a word that has been, until very recently, only used in hushed voices in corner offices. It really got me thinking: Why does “outsourcing” get such a bad rap in the association industry?

The vast majority of associations outsource many current services they need on a daily basis. I don’t know many advocacy or membership directors who moonlight as the cleaning crew. Several association executives mentioned during the seminars that they've outsourced their bookkeeping, which saves them from hours of work and unneeded stress every week. One executive director said it very well: “I’m not good at bookkeeping, I don’t enjoy it, and my mistakes cost me time, effort, and money.”

This unwanted stress and lost time could, and should, be avoided, says ISAE speaker and author Mary Byers, CAE. Mary argues that “your job should be your genius.” If you’re not effective at a specific role within your organization, and you’re only doing this role out of necessity due to financial or manpower issues, then a strong option is to explore outsourcing solutions that will put this role in the hands of someone with more expertise, or someone with equivalent expertise but at a scale that offers much greater efficiency. This would free you up to spend more time on what you’re good at, making you more valuable and more effective to your organization.

The reality of the association industry is that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, many executives are facing significant revenue challenges. Some will need to change their business model entirely. This loss of revenue inhibits an executive’s ability to hire or retain someone on a full-time basis who could help to replace this revenue through improving membership renewal and acquisition rates, exploring non-dues revenue opportunities, and more. This is where outsourcing becomes a common sense, cost-effective option. Imagine having access to a market research department, graphic designers, membership marketing and management experts, e-marketing and print marketing experts, a data analyst, and more – all at a fraction of the cost of hiring this expertise. How much more productive, and how much more effective, could you and your staff become with these mission-critical resources at your disposal?

The ISAE Convention addressed many important issues, but the topic that has the most potential to change how association executives run their organizations was certainly outsourcing. In fact, every indication we've seen tells us that outsourcing will become a necessity for many association executives in 2015 and beyond. And it’s not a bad thing! Executives will rely on companies such as VP-DCS to improve membership retention and marketing services, publishing communications, and more because it’s what we do best. This will allow association leadership to focus on delivering the organization’s mission and delivering value to members.

Wes Sovis is the Marketing and Business Development Manager for VP Demand Creation Services in Traverse City, Michigan. He can be reached at

Tags:  graphic design  management experts  marketing  membership  outsourcing 

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