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6 critical-mistakes-association-managers-make

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  • 1. 6 Critical Mistakes Association Managers MakeWith Their Non-Dues Revenue Programs Now ThatStaff Has Been Slashed andResources Have Evaporated and ...How You Can Avoid Them Mistake #1: Ignoring member feedback and not understanding members’ needs or your association’s fundamental mission According to a recent McKinley Marketing survey of 300 association executives, improving member retention is the #1 priority for associations in 2009.So, how do you overcome the pitfalls of using costly and ineffective “old ways” ofretaining your members … and start focusing on new ways to achieve better results?Your first step is to read this white paper and take advantage of four industry experts whoshare their secrets. Stop losing members and start overcoming the challenges of engagingnew members … even during our current economic meltdown.What’s Your Purpose?What are your members’ most pressing issues? What problems do they need you to helpthem solve?Get back to the basics and make sure you know (really know) the expectations of yourmembers and the reasons they’ve chosen “you.” Make sure you fulfill (and understand)their needs … as well as their expectations.Remind members you exist for them and are with them for the long term. It’s alsoimportant to be the most credible source for information in your industry — a resourcefor your members.Ask for Feedback … (and never stop asking)Always be listening! It may “We conduct a Friday Focus Survey and ask our membersseem obvious, but not only 1 to 3 questions on a topic that’s been on our listserv,” saysdo you need to ask for Karen Krzmarzick from ASOA. “We’ve used these surveysmember feedback, you also for benchmarking and have developed a publication for ourneed to respond and follow members around the results.”up on questions, comments
  • 2. and suggestions … which is just as important as (if not more important than) asking forfeedback. • Survey members via email and/or your website to inquire about their needs Ron Precourt from NTCA • Conduct surveys on a regular basis says, “Our organization does a survey every other • Conduct focus groups – virtual or in person at your year to ask members if meetings they had $100, how would • Utilize feedback from event evaluations they spend it?” • Listen and respond to anecdotal commentsDon’t forget: Sharing feedback is also another great excuse for you to communicateimportant information to members.Battling the Loss of Members During these tough economic times, while you’re doing more with less, you still need ways to keep members happy, engaged and looking to you for answers, solutions and help. Your first tactic in the battle of member retention is to keep in front of your members … don’t let them forget about you and don’t make it easy to put you on the chopping block for cutting back costs. Hear how Karen Krzmarzick from ASOA is battling the loss of membersEasy (and Quick) Tactics with Load$ of Value • Offer a dues payment plan • Offer a job search service • Offer trial (e.g., 3 months) or complimentary membership for members in dire financial straits • When it’s time for membership renewal, make your first offer your best offer — give them the most benefits, save them the most money, etc. Don’t “train” people to wait until the last minute to renew • Provide value in your communications, e.g., “tip of the week” • Offer a newsletter or listserv for members’ direct reports or bossesGo Beyond Retention … to EngagementOffer a new member a mentor — a long-time member who can answer their questions,provide guidance and be your association’s “cheerleader.”Develop a system for categorizing members’ involvement – • Track their purchases, webinar and conference attendance, etc.
  • 3. • Watch their interaction with your social media tools – are they participating on your blog and listservs? Are they “fans” and “friends” and “followers?” • Create surveys to elicit even more specific information about their needsThen USE the information • Customize your communications based on their interests • Develop “stop doing” and “do more of” lists based on what your members perceive to be of value Mistake #2: Not Maximizing Non-Dues Revenue Opportunities from Your Annual Conferences and Meetings Offer More Educational Opportunities … Not Less What’s the main reason your members attend annual conferences and meetings? Education. At a time when you’re forced to cut costs and scale back sessions, don’tlose sight of the hard-core fact that most members attend your annual conference for thesheer educational value.You can skip the free morning muffins or use public transportation instead of shuttles,but do not lose your focus on education. It’s the best way to increase value to yourmembers … and increase your non-dues revenue. Making Your Educational Sessions Count More Make your hard work (and hours of time) pay off with increased non-dues revenue and greater member satisfaction. Improve your educational sessions (and skimp on some other stuff members don’t value as much …) • Offer continuing education credits and/or credits toward certificate programs • Create a ‘kit’ to assist members who need to get permission from their bosses to attend • Retain the best and most knowledgeable top-name speakers “We’ve developed a template for members to take to their supervisor • Get people engaged months before the event with information about our annual by using listservs and other media … meeting that includes all the benefits including social media he or she will get out of attending,” • Hold your events in attractive, yet affordable says Karen Krzmarzick from ASOA. locations “We’ve even included evaluations • Conduct focus groups and testimonials for members to • Go Virtual! Add a web conferencing personalize and take to their boss.” element such as a webinar of your hottest
  • 4. topic or top speaker — to include members who aren’t able to travel to your face-to-face events Mistake #3: Relying exclusively on face-to-face events to generate non-dues revenue and not offering a web conferencing option for participants unable to travel due to budget cuts and time restrictions It should come as no surprise to you that many companies have imposed restrictions on employees for attending professional conferences, meetings and seminars. If you’re an association that relies heavily on annual conferences asa source of non-dues revenue, you’re probably searching for ways to save yourconferences … and your budget!Reach Those Who Can’t TravelNow’s the time to “think outside the box” to find innovative ways to be where yourmembers are … and where they can afford to be.The traditional in-person conferences are no longer effective in gaining the non-duesrevenue you’ve hoped for and need.The reality is: travel budgets have been slashed and employees can’t take time away fromthe office. Unfortunately, if you’re like most association managers, you’re under-utilizingweb conferencing technology.What’s the Solution? Uniting Both Worlds for Maximum ResultsThe real world and virtual world collide. Use webinars and other web conferencingsolutions to make up for non-dues revenue lost from canceled or poorly attended face-to-face events. • Webinars = no travel. Offer value to those who can’t travel to face to face conferences, but don’t want to miss out on all the educational sessions • Repurpose recordings from face-to-face conferences and turn into saleable content • Think hot topics + hot speakers = successful webinar. Give members who can’t attend the opportunity to get great content and speakers online. • Use webinars to complement members’ needs and learning styles • Offer CE credit • Offer speakers you would not be able to get at a face to face conference (industry experts, congressional staff, well-known authors) • Use streaming technology to simulcast portions of your face-to-face conferences … especially the sold out and hot-topic sections.
  • 5. • For international members, offer webinars using speakers from outside the U.S. and schedule at times that are convenient for this audienceThe After-math CountsOne of the biggest marketing mistakes is forgetting to reach back to those who attended(or those who may not have been able to attend) your events after they’re over. Deirdre Hackett, Kiplinger Washington Editors, talks about the tactics she uses to increase audio conference attendees and revenueFact: Not Everyone Can Attend Your Live Events • Promote availability of recordings when you market the live event and continue to promote after the event • Remind your members of the value of creating a library of events • Inspire members to share event information with colleagues • Sell recordings after events … and earn up to an additional 20 to 30 percent more non-dues revenue • Promote recordings using email, direct mail, press releases, social media, etc. Mistake #4: Using low-bidder technology that provides substandard audio and video quality for your webinars, resulting in complaints and refund requests. The old adage, “You get what you pay for” certainly rings true when itcomes to choosing a web conferencing technology provider.Have you ever found yourself distracted by barking dogs, rustling papers or robotic,chopped up voices instead of listening to a speaker (because you can’t hear him or heranyway) deliver content via a webinar?Eliminate lost non-dues revenue from poorly executed webinars where members wanttheir money back. Make sure your ‘word of mouth’ is always positive! Ensure audienceengagement and satisfaction by choosing a reliable web conferencing technology partner.Get Your Members To Attend More Webinars(even though they have few training dollars to spend … make it worth their while): • Choose a reliable and flexible web conferencing provider that focuses on “Attendance to our webinars fluctuates, but customer service and can provide with hot topics or niche topics, we get huge support services … basically everything registration numbers with no pushback on the cost from members,” says Ron Precourt, you need for a successful webinar NTCA.
  • 6. • Provide high-quality webinars – ‘need-to-know’ topics and the best speakers you can get • Use appropriate technology, taking into consideration: o Is the content visual, requiring PowerPoint slides? Do you require a video component? o Your members’ comfort level with and access to technology (e.g., are they accustomed to attending webinars? Are there firewall or bandwidth issues at their place of employment?) o Are you charging a fee and/or is it a high-profile event where attendees’ expectations are higher? • Read this white paper: 47 Questions Every Senior Association Executive Must Ask Their Audio/Webinar/Video Conference Provider In Order To Avoid Making Embarrassing MistakesMistake #5: Relying exclusively on blast email to increaseattendance to non-dues revenue programs and maintaincommunications with membersIt’s a brave new world out there. First: You have a multi-generational membership base (from Baby Boomers to Gen Y’s) with vastly differing communication styles, expectations and needs. Second: Once you’ve figured out how your members want to receive information, you have to compete with thousands — no wait, millions — of other messages to actually get your members’ attention.And … let’s not forget the gigantic, life-changing, membership-altering array ofcommunication forms called Social Media.All of this together means you have to work even harder to get your members to payattention to the information you send them. And, as hard as it is to change habits, relyingon email is NOT the most effective or all-inclusive way to communicate (especially ifyou want it to be effective) and promote non-dues revenue programs.Resistance is FutileIt’s time to let go of your inhibitions and start responding to your members’ needs.The first thing to do is figure out what communication tools your members use … andthen work from there. The second thing to do is remember that it’s important to use manytools, not just one, to appeal to the varying ages and demographics of your membership.Yes, it’s still important to use email, but not as a one-size fits all solution.
  • 7. Popular Alternatives To Blast Email • Listservs • Website • eNewsletters • Magazines • Opt-in email alerts based on interests • Blogs • Facebook • Twitter • RSS feedsMore Easy Tips • Coordinate communications from your association by using a communications calendar • Market and promote at face-to-face events, e.g., PowerPoint slides on screens in conference rooms between breakout sessions; flyers; sample CDs Never Stop Communicating … and Make It Count Your members expect to hear from you. Don’t make them guess what you’re up to or the value you have to offer. When it comes to communication, more is more. The more ways you connect and offer valuable information, the more engaged members become … and the more likely they are to value your relationship (and not give it up easily). • Personal interaction via phone call before memberships are due • Personal email instead of blast email • Direct and personal responses to listserv comments and emails from an executive director or manager • Produce specific messages – phone, email, direct mail “We try to reach subscribers in as or better yet, all the above for specific constituencies many ways as possible,” says within your membership (e.g., HR, finance, etc.) – it Deirdre Hackett, from Kiplinger makes communication more personal … and more Washington Editors. “We use E- effective zines, RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter • Social media sites to engage in conversations and and our political blog where people help members build a community and network for blog daily about hot issues in D.C.” sharing information … and solutions.
  • 8. Mistake #6: Not leveraging staff and resources effectivelyDo more with less staff and fewer resources by first looking at the thingsyou can stop doing:What Isn’t Adding Value For Your Members? • Stop printing and mailing your magazines, member and service directories, etc. – offer them electronically only • Trim or cut back services your members don’t find value in or aren’t using anymore • Eliminate some of the “frills” at your conferences • Ask them! Survey your members to learn what is most important to them … and focus exclusively on those thingsFocus on “What You Want To Do” and Do More of That • Find ways to partner with other organizations and leverage resources, e.g., join forces with a publication that is in the same ‘space’ as your association • “Repurpose” existing content in new formats – turn a magazine article into a webinar … turn an email into a blog posting … capture ‘nuggets’ from conference and webinar recordings and post them as ‘podcasts’ on your website … turn a member’s question into a poll question to your entire membershipGet more tools and resources (free, must have) to overcome mistakes and startengaging (and keeping) your members.Go to http://www.krm.com/event-management-resources.html

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