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Overcome 3 Content Marketing Roadblocks for Associations

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

by  | AssociationsContent Strategy

A lot has been written about the benefits of content marketing for associations lately. But even if you understand how effective it is, that doesn’t mean you know how to launch a strategy. You might think you need a background in marketing or experience with online advertising before you begin. This isn’t the case. Content marketing doesn’t need to be difficult, especially for associations with existing content. There are, however, some preconceived roadblocks that prevent associations from getting started.

Here are three preconceived roadblocks that can prevent an association from starting an effective content marketing program.

Roadblock #1: Online marketing requires a lot of technical knowledge.
Reality: Online tools make it easier than ever to promote content online

Using the web to market your association can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. In practice, though, content marketing can start simply. If you know how to use social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, then you already know how to use some of the most powerful tools for promoting your content. If these were the only two tools you used to promote your materials, you’d still be able to reach a large percentage of your audience.

When you are ready to expand beyond your existing social media sites, there are free tools to help you. Content Management Systems like WordPress make it almost as easy to publish a blog post as it is to write a Word doc. Other tools are available to help you manage multiple social media accounts. And there are dozens of options for creating eye-catching images to give your online presence a professional look.

Roadblock #2: It’s complicated to put content on the web

Reality: Using a single site to store your content makes hosting materials easy

Technology has helped here, too. Just like it’s easier than ever to create blog posts and graphics, there are new options that de-mystify hosting content. New tools exist that make it possible to create an online library without having to customize your existing website. A “digital content library” is built specifically for PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and images. It also includes simple options for sharing materials on social media and allows your content to appear in search results...read more

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Making Meetings Harassment Free

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 5, 2019

In the era of “Me Too”, association managers and meeting planners have increased responsibility in ensuring that they have developed -- and are enforcing -- a code of conduct for behavior of the attendees at their meetings. Meetings must be an enjoyable experience for all attendees, free of any kind of harassment. 

While there is no current case law of an association being sued for misconduct of an attendee at their meeting, I understand from a recent conversation with a lawyer colleague that it is just a matter of time before such a case will arise. That means each association has a responsibility to develop a code of expected conduct at society events and then ask each attendee to attest to the code as they are registering for the event. 

One PMG client took an early stand. In 2016, with the help of PMG and legal advice, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) developed a code of conduct that defines harassment and explains its zero-tolerance policy (a copy of the code can be found here). In addition to harassment sexual in nature, the code also prohibits any bullying behavior that can occur in academic research meetings. The policy also clearly outlines a process for reporting a complaint and a description of how a complaint is then to be handled internally.

As many organizations have small, collegial memberships, we recognize the importance of ensuring that neither volunteers of the organization (usually peers) or direct staff manage these complaint reports. At PMG, senior staff within the leadership manages the process of receiving the report and staff or another independent third-party firm (like a law firm or human resources firm) takes responsibility for investigating the complaint and compiling a report to the committee tasked with adjudicating the reports. This process alleviates volunteers of the organization from becoming closely involved with complaints that may come from or be about a colleague. The PMG staff or other third party does its best to keep the identification of the individuals involved confidential. 

One other important aspect of a code of conduct is outlining the levels of repercussions from any founded complaint. It is important to note that just as an organization should not accept reports of misconduct of members or attendees from outside of a society-sponsored event, any punishment from violations of the code of conduct should also be kept confidential within the organization and must relate directly to the organizations’ activities. 

After having the code of conduct in place now for just over two years, the ACNP has dealt with six complaints to date. Several of those stemmed from incidents at meetings prior to the incorporation of the code. Each complaint has been expeditiously reviewed and if deemed a violation to the code, investigated. The Executive Committee of ACNP has reviewed the findings of all investigated cases and has chosen to deal with any sort of repercussions privately rather than getting the Ethics Committee or full Council involved. 

While dealing with these sorts of cases is never pleasant, having a clearly defined code that each attendee has attested to uphold, along with specific steps for dealing with complaints, has shown attendees and members’ expectations for a collegial, harassment-free meeting. *Parthenon Management Group, Inc., a full-service association management company, began in 2008 with two clients and has grown to manage 16 full-service national and international professional association clients. With a staff of 40, PMG’s focus is on medical research associations. The mission of Parthenon Management Group is simple – Help our clients achieve their mission.

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Omnipress Releases 2019 Training Trends Report

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

We are excited to announce the release of the 3rd annual Training Trends Report. The report compiles data from an online survey of 100 training and education professionals to understand how education is currently being delivered to learners, and what changes lie ahead. Thank you to those who participated in the survey several months ago! Like our companion State of the Conference Industry Report, the goal of this report is to shed light on common trends and help spark a strategic conversation within your organization. Download the report, and feel free to share with your peers.

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Insights on Strategic Priorities, Growth Outlook and Technology usage

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 1, 2019

Associations with small staffs still face big challenges. They must attract and engage new members and plan for their organizations’ futures. But, what are their top priorities? Are they expecting growth? How are they preparing for the future?

hese are just some of the questions Community Brands set out to answer in a recent survey of professionals from associations with small staffs (10 or fewer). These associations are referred to as “small associations” throughout this report.

The survey was conducted between January and February 2019, and responses came in from more than 350 association professionals.

Of the respondents:
Most are in a leadership position at their association
About 70 percent of their associations have annual revenue of $1 million or less
Most of the associations represented have 5,000 or fewer members
About half of the associations’ revenue comes from membership dues

In this benchmark report, uncover:
The inner workings of small associations
Insights on the strategic priorities, growth outlook and technology usage of small associations
How your organization compares with other small associations
Tips on how to use data from the report to more effectively meet your strategic priorities and grow your organization

Click here to download the report.

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Improving the Member Experience with Data Analytics

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 25, 2019
By Brian Sugarman, Senior Marketing Manager, Association Analytics 

A recent Aberdeen Group report, entitled “Getting Ahead in Customer Analytics: Which Technologies Do You Need to Succeed,” outlined how many organizations struggle because data is captured and stored in disparate, disconnected systems. The problem is that the association tech stack includes numerous tools designed to meet the needs of members that collect data including AMS, websites, email marketing platforms, learning management systems, etc. and these resources are rapidly expanding. On top of these tools, networking and social media services that collect data such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are also being used to connect with members.

The problem today is not a lack of data, but rather the expanding volume of data and ensuring you have the skillset and resources to manage it all. Many organizations still find it hard to use data to inform decision-making and to drive strategy. They’ve made good investments in the data and the technology, but it’s difficult to see the true business impact when data lives siloed across various functions in the organization. 

In response, many organizations have started to invest in robust data analytics platforms to help connect data from different source systems and create a 360-degree view of members. 

By using data analytics platforms, organizations can improve the member experience and make informed, more confident decisions that improve business efficiency and operations. Let’s explore some of the ways associations today are using data analytics to grow revenue, reduce costs, and improve member experience. 

Personalizing Content Based on Member Segments 
It’s no secret that when content is personalized and relevant, we’re more likely to engage. A top leader in marketing automation, Hubspot, concluded, based on their considerable data, that personalized calls-to-action perform 202% better than all others. Corporations are cashing in on this, with companies like Amazon recommending the next purchase based on expressed interests from customers. But it’s not just corporations that can benefit from this, associations can capitalize on this approach, too. 

So how can you get started? The first step is to integrate data into a central repository, so you are looking at a complete and consistent view of your members. Once you have integrated data, you can see the full picture of member behavior, allowing you to perform deeper analysis and segmentation. 

Let’s say you decide to segment members by geographical region and discover that members on the east coast have completely different interests than members on the west coast. Or maybe you look at members by job type, to better understand what topics Managers are searching for compared to Executives. This type of segmentation will depend on the data you collect from your members and what is relevant for your association. The outcome of this type of analysis is that you can drill down into member segments, allowing you to better personalize marketing content and outreach to those segments. 

Social platforms and online communities are examples of where you might find this type of member engagement data. By performing deeper analysis, you can learn more about what your members like or dislike and use that information to create a better experience for them. This can drive more revenue, improve retention and lower costs by improving your marketing effectiveness. Instead of blasting the same message to all members, you can deliver the right message, to the right member, at the right time. 

Improving the Event Experience
When planning and looking to increase the value in events, it is important to draw on what worked and what was less successful in the past. In order to successfully do this, more association professionals are looking to perform deeper analysis on the member experience at events. If you can identify ways to improve the event for members, while spending less money, the result is a much higher profit margin for your association. Here’s a few key ways associations are using data to improve events:
  1. Reduce Waste, Increase Conversions
    Marketing effectiveness is dramatically improved when using data to influence strategy. One example of this is employing predictive analytics to examine which member segments are most likely to register for your event. This enables you to target your marketing resources to your best prospects and avoid expending effort on those that are unlikely to attend the event. For example, using predictive analytics associations can segment members that have a very high percentage to attend this year (based on historical data) and therefore, might need to see different advertisements than those who are on the fence about coming to an event. Likewise, if a member is in a segment that has a very low percentage of attending, you should allocate marketing spend on segments with a higher conversion opportunity. Associations want to find the segments in the middle, those who have the highest likelihood of being influenced by advertising to come to the event. This strategy has helped associations to reduce their marketing spend, while increasing event registrations.

  2. Improve content relevancy
    How do we know which content is most relevant to our members? The best way is to look at the data and see which topics are most relevant to each of our member segments. Associations are using things like sentiment analysis from channels like Twitter to better understand which event sessions or topics are well-received by their members. They’re using this data to then improve on the member experience by providing more targeted and relevant information.

  3. Improve the registration experience
    Is your organization performing deep analysis of the event registration process? Another way to grow more revenue for your event is to analyze data on the registration experience to better understand where members are frustrated in the process. Associations have found that by analyzing this information they can make changes to the registration process to reduce friction and increase participation.
What’s next? 
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analyzing data and you’d be surprised what insights and value you’ll discover when you dig a bit deeper. Think about how you can utilize organized and complete data to lower operational costs, drive revenue, improve the member experience and engagement and then begin to explore what systems are best for your organizational needs. 

Not sure how to get started? Association Analytics has created a free assessment -- the Data Analytics Maturity Model -- that can help you benchmark your organization and provide actionable next steps and recommendations. We’re here to help – we work with leading organizations and can help you get started on your data analytics journey.

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The Ultimate Guide to Generating Non-dues Revenue: Ten Best Ideas!

Posted By Administration, Friday, March 15, 2019
Non-dues revenue is considered revenue from any source other than membership fees. Non-dues revenue has always been an important factor in any association’s financial health, but in the current economic climate, it is even more important. The type of non-dues revenue you want to pursue depends on the nature of your association. It’s key to find ways to generate this additional revenue that fit into your brand and mission. Our teams at Community Brands have assembled ten of the best sources of non-dues revenue to consider for your association. Download the whitepaper today.

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Top Tips to Monetize Your Association’s Webinars

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 17, 2018
Top Tips to Monetize Your Association’s Webinars
By Jodi L. Ray, Channel Manager, Blue Sky eLearn 

With so many choices to deliver education, events and information online like self-paced courses and live streams, webinars continually rise to the top as the most popular and widely used technology tool. And with the right web event technology and strategy, associations are able to reach more people more immediately and more frequently than traditional place-based meetings while saving the association and their audience time and money.

Ultimately, if the virtual events are engaging and professional with content that is relevant to the audience, associations can bring value to their members and attract new ones.

BONUS: Those who do it right, are also reaping the rewards of creating new and significant revenue streams. 

Check out these tips to maximize opportunities for additional revenue: 

1) Find sponsors.
In return for sponsor support, offer creative ideas to give your sponsors value. Some ideas to consider:
Acknowledge your sponsors during the webinar or let them provide a quick company overview at the start or at the end of the webinar.
Offer branding opportunities (e.g. logos, video) on marketing promotions prior to the webinar, at registration, during the event (e.g. banners, links or downloads to resources) and in the on demand recording.
Create a series of webinars on a trending topic that one sponsor can participate in exclusively, perhaps giving them an opportunity to present or choose a presenter.

2) Leverage your in-person meetings. 
Make webinars a pre-requisite by inviting attendees to participate and potentially purchase related webinars to your meeting sessions before the actual face-to-face meeting. This allows you to “flip” the experience either way by offering more lecture style content in the webinar and more interactive and hands-on learning at the onsite event. Or offer some engagement in the webinar to crowdsource questions and stir up interest and excitement to be used for the in-person event. 
Repurpose your live meeting content by taking a popular session and using a recording from the live event (or re-record with your Subject Matter Expert) and replay it during a live webinar with an opportunity for breakouts or a Q&A session.

3) Market to both non-members and members.

Non-members: you can charge more for webinars when marketing to non-members, which will then bring in higher returns. Webinars also are a great way to market the benefits of association membership, build recognition within the industry, and also recruit new members.
Members: you can offer webinars at a reduced cost or offer them as an incentive and value-add of membership.

4) Repackage your webinars.
Offer packages for purchase at a special price. Examples include:
Bundle multiple webinars in a “Best of…” or Ultimate Guide for….” or simply bundling together multiple webinars or presentations in the same topic area. 
Bundle one or multiple webinars or on-demand presentations with additional resources like a template, toolkit or reference guide, all available digitally for streamlined delivery.

5) Offer on-demand viewing.
After a live webinar or conference, make your recordings available on-demand as quickly as possible. Some important tips to keep in mind:
Be sure your audience has an optimal mobile viewing experience. 
Use a platform where you can track activity so you can gauge the success of the presentation and plan accordingly in the future.  
To ensure your audience is aware of these on-demand offerings, start marketing before the content is even available, and continue to ramp up the promotion of the content once it has officially gone live.

6) Enhance with additional eLearning opportunities.
You can add additional value and relevance with the following tools:
Wrap engaging tests, surveys, commenting or additional resources around the recordings for an opportunity to earn CAE credits and certificates.  
Offer a certificate of completion. Even if you are not offering continuing education credits, a certificate offers incentive and a sense of accomplishment that can be tracked and reported.

Many associations who are maximizing revenue potential utilize managed services so the association team can focus on finding the right SME and marketing efforts, as well as ensuring the event is engaging and pulled off flawlessly. They understand it’s essential to have staff, presenters and attendees have a great experience! 

Check out these infographic resources:  Keys to Webinar Engagement or Managed Webinars VS DIY

Or contact me and I’ll be happy to help!
Jodi L. Ray
Channel Manager, Blue Sky eLearn 

Direct: 858.900.2258 | Cell: 608.669.0786| toll free: 877.925.8375 ext 2258 
jray@blueskyeLEARN.com www.blueskyeLEARN.com https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodiray/

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Running Productive Team Meetings

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 6, 2018
By: Joseph Sapp, CAE, Director of New Business Development, Talley Management Group, Inc.

We’ve all been there-stuck on another conference call or in a meeting that seems to have lost focus. How much time do we spend in meetings or on calls that are not accomplishing what they are set up to do? Studies show a typical employee spends 31 hours a month in unproductive meetings. That is a lot of wasted time-too much. Whether you are leading a team meeting or are a participant, we can all contribute to improving how we spend time in meetings and make them as productive as possible.  

Have an agenda
Write and distribute an agenda in advance of the meeting. Everyone involved should be on the same page and prepared for what is going to be discussed.

Keep an eye on the clock 
Meetings will go on and on if you are not sticking to the established timeframe. If the meeting is scheduled for 30 minutes, make it 30 minutes or less. Do not let points linger on; discuss, find a resolution and move on.
Send things to the parking lot
Implement the “parking lot method.” Things come up in the meeting that are important, but not part of the meeting’s agenda. When that happens, record it and put it in the “parking lot” to be addressed in the next meeting. Do not let it take up time in that meeting.  

Ensure participants participate
Do your meetings have other participants reporting out on specific topics? Make it clear that participants have an active role in the meeting. When it is their turn to report or discuss an agenda item, ensure they are prepared to lead the meeting during that section of the agenda.
Make follow-up a regular thing
A successful meeting always has action items and follow-ups. Task the follow-up to a team member to follow-up on action items and ensure they are not lost in between meetings. Reach out the same day with a list of action items that came out of the meeting so that everyone knows the take-aways and who is responsible for them.  

Your time and the time of your team is valuable-treat it that way. Meetings are important times to collaborate and gain and share information. Keep them focused and make the best use of everyone’s time. We can all have an impact on improving how we interact in meetings, ensuring increased productivity and collaboration. 

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The Community Engagement Committee in Action at the Annual

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 5, 2018

The Community Engagement Committee in Action at the Annual
By Karen L. Kramer, SPHR, Executive Director of HR, Association Management Center

Face-to-face networking simply can’t be replaced by online meetings or social sharing. That was proven over and over again at AMCI’s Annual Meeting.

The Community Engagement Committee (CEC) had the honor of hosting the First Timer’s Reception at the 2018 Annual Meeting, held in beautiful Vancouver. There was a great number of new faces – 44 – including a mix of current and new members. The Meeting’s theme was ‘Inspiration to Implementation,’ and focused on giving attendees the opportunity to gain knowledge that would assist in running their business, looked at best practices in client management, and enabled unparalleled daily opportunities for peer-to-peer interaction.

The CEC designated Ambassadors whose task it was to welcome new attendees and connect them with people and opportunities that would help advance their business and ensure they could fully leverage all that the Meeting had to offer. That is just part of the work the Committee does in this area. In January of this year, a new member orientation program was developed by the CEC, creating a relationship-based orientation that informs, engages, and inspires new members to become lifelong members.

In addition to hosting the First Timer’s Reception, the CEC continues to foster the concept of community through ongoing efforts to engage all members by providing opportunities for valuable, affordable education and networking. This is done through AMCI’s one- and two-day regional meetings, online webinars, and Member Matters articles. The Committee hosted its first two-day regional meeting last May in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and had a great turnout of 75 members. We are hard at work developing content for the next regional meeting. Watch your email for details.

If you are interested in hosting a meeting in your area, please contact AMC Institute at info@amcinstitute.org.

The Committee is thrilled to be part of helping to shape the future of the AMC industry and connecting and learning from the amazing, talented members of AMCI. Those personal connections are the backbone of our industry and we will continue to work hard to foster them. 

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Associate Members on the Value of Attending AMCI’s Annual Meeting

Posted By Administration, Thursday, December 21, 2017
Associate Members on the Value of Attending AMCI’s Annual Meeting
By Betsy Delfosse, Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder, Dynamic Benchmarking and Jeff Baryenbruch, CHSP, Executive Director of Sales, Visit Milwaukee

Associate members have much to gain from the friendly AMCI community of business professionals, who are so open to learning and sharing ideas and best practices. The best way to get to know the members and invest in our education about the AMC market and association industry is by attending the next AMCI Annual Meeting in February 2018.  As associate members, we are running or managing a business of our own…a technology business, an accounting firm, a destination organization or hotel group…but you’ll find that much of the content of the AMC annual meeting is also relevant to our businesses or operations. 

The meeting’s Speed Dating event is your introduction to AMC business owners, who are organized into small groups for the purpose of hearing about associate member products and offerings. It’s a quick and comfortable way to make new connections and begin conversations that drive your business objectives. Take advantage of this great opportunity to meet as many AMC members and other associate members as possible to set the stage for a successful meeting experience.

If you haven’t attended a meeting before, you will be invited to the First Timers Reception.  New attendees are grouped together with a mentor (someone who previously attended meetings, is part of AMCI leadership or participates in the AMCI Community Engagement Committee). This relaxed, welcoming event is the perfect way to meet a new group of people that you will continue to see throughout the meeting. 
Then, jump into the program! In 2017 the Annual Meeting’s opening keynote address was about identifying both personal and employee strengths in order to build effective teams.  It was a perfect reminder to all of us to spend time evaluating what is going well, as opposed to focusing too much attention on what is going wrong. Additional session options included everything from how to grow a business while maintaining profitability, security and privacy in the workplace, business exit strategies, understanding how to work with AMCs as associate partners, and much more. 

A broad offering of content again this year will not only inform you about the challenges that AMCs face, but will help you develop strategies for positioning your product/offering as a solution to these challenges. The keynotes and sessions are designed to have content that is meaningful to members and associate members alike and this year’s theme is about moving your organization from ‘Inspiration to Implementation.’  And, you can share what you learn as you engage in conversation with other attendees.

Other opportunities will arise as you work your way through the meeting including: 
Learning about the AMCI committees that welcome associate partners
Seeing how your business can contribute to AMC:
How DMOs and CVBs provide important destination insight for meeting planning
How technology can be a differentiator or save AMCs time

The AMCI annual meeting ROI is easy to calculate from both the learning and networking perspectives.  It’s this deeper understanding of the AMC business and relationships that will help drive your success. As the saying goes “people do business with people they know, like and trust.”

We hope to see you at the AMCI Annual Meeting in February 2018 in beautiful Vancouver, Canada!

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