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Additional Resources You Can Offer Your Members (At No Extra Cost to You!)

By MemberClicks, Callie Walker 

Member resources directly equate to member value. The more resources you can provide, the more valuable a membership with your association or chamber of commerce will be.

That said, what if we told you there was a way to offer your members MORE resources at no extra cost to you?

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Pennsylvania Legislation Threatens Private Certification, ASAE says

A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania legislature is the latest in a series of state-level measures that threaten certifications offered by associations and other private organizations, according to ASAE and the Professional Certification Coalition.

Echoing concerns it has raised over the past year about similar legislation in other states, ASAE is seeking amended language in a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House that it says poses a threat to private certifications, including those offered by associations.

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Why Certifications Matter

Coincidentally, the pencil I grabbed to draft my outline for this article conveniently reads, “Create your future. Earn your CAE.” The fact that I grabbed a pencil for this clearly indicates a preference to old-school ways. Despite them, I remain eager to stay on top of industry trends and best practices. Maintaining my CAE is one way of accomplishing this goal. 

I am fortunate to work for an AMC that heavily supports its employees to pursue professional certifications. The comradery and pride among staff who are working towards the goal of a certification (CAE, CMP or another) is palatable. Cultivating this sense of togetherness is one reason to encourage your team members to pursue professional certifications. 

Pursuing a certification is an excellent opportunity to encourage mentorship within your AMC. The learning process that takes place prior to a certification exam is an experience that cannot be matched by taking a course. It is a great equalizer, allowing junior staff to have an opportunity to mentor veteran staff as well. And staff that have recently taken the exam are able to share their knowledge of the process and content. It is common knowledge that one of the best ways to learn material is to teach it. Individuals that may not work closely together within your AMC structure are brought together by working to achieve a common goal and those individuals become future sounding boards. 

Of course, having staff that are certified in their specialties will serve as a value-added or recruitment tool for new clients. The broad knowledge and deep understanding that is needed to obtain certification enhances your overall product and service offerings. Having a team that has pursued the highest level of knowledge in their position demonstrates a commitment to excellence, professionalism and continued learning. When considering different AMCs, a potential client can use professional certifications as a metric, especially if the client’s industry takes particular value in them, too. 

Supporting staff in their pursuit of professional development goals is a key factor in employee retention. Employees across generations have demonstrated interest in continuing to advance their education and it is especially important for Millennials and Gen X employees. Creating a professional development plan for your team members produces security, purpose, and provides them with a goal. Reminding your employees to be aware that the certification journey is just as important as the destination enables customization for these plans that can be accomplished on a timeline set by both the employee and AMC. Racing through the certification process will not afford the same outcome as taking time to deliberately select the appropriate programs to prepare someone for the exam. It’s critical to ensure the information is retained and used practically. Supporting certification is an investment at the beginning of the process, but the support for continuing education to maintain certifications must to continue to really enable the employee, team, and clients to benefit. 

I studied for the CAE as a brand new Executive Director and it was an excellent guide to the position. Not the designation itself, but the learning process. Of course, now having the CAE provides me a level of confidence in my knowledge and experience. I am grateful for the CAEs I have within our team that I can turn to for discussion on industry best practices when my client faces a challenge. So, as my pencil says, through earning and maintaining my CAE I am continually creating the future I desire within association management. Supporting your employees’ goals of earning a professional certification will similarly guide the future of your AMC.

10 Easy Ways to Promote Your Call for Papers

Are you looking for creative ways to attract the best speakers and content contributors to your event? If so, you’re not alone! Many struggle with this same challenge.

One sure fire way to improve the quality of speakers at your next conference is to create a larger pool of applicants. Take a look at this infographic by OmniPress to learn 10 easy ways to promote your call for papers.

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Top Ways to Skyrocket Revenue in 2019 and Beyond

As leaders, you are responsible for brainstorming ideas on how to meet and exceed new revenue goals. How much are you expected to increase revenue in 2019? 5, 10 or 15 percent? Luckily, you are not alone and we are here to help!

Community Brands partners with over 13,000 associations and nonprofits to help meet and exceed their revenue goals each year. We understand the pain points of needing to generate incremental revenue and, in turn, have created various ways to help you do just that.

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What Should You Look For in an AMC?

Cyber Scams and Phishing on the Rise?

The emails we are receiving offering lists for sale for some of the events we are attending are arriving in our inbox at an unprecedented rate. Just last week we received nearly two dozen emails offering to sell us lists, including our own member list. These are scam emails, usually selling fake lists, with a goal of getting money from you. Here is a great article about the “Eight Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List”. 

AMCI reached out to Hugh Webster, Partner, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, LLC, to see what we could do as an organization to try to put a stop to the person offering our member list for sale. The long and short of it is, sadly, not much. Hugh did issue a cease and desist on behalf of the Institute and AMCI did report the email to the US Department of Homeland Security Cyber and Infrastructure Division. He also mentioned that more often than not, the scammer is from outside of the US and is not concerned about complying with US laws. Frequently they will simply change their email address and continue their illicit practice.

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Overcome 3 Content Marketing Roadblocks for Associations

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.

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Making Meetings Harassment Free

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. 

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Omnipress Releases 2019 Training Trends Report

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.

Insights on Strategic Priorities, Growth Outlook and Technology usage

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?

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







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Improving the Member Experience with Data Analytics

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.

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

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.