Battle for Relevance: Learning from the Business World


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Battle for Relevance - Learning from the Business World: What the Army, Harvard Business Review and Twitter have to do with Associations

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  • Battle for RelevanceLessons from the Business World: What the Army, Harvard Business Review and Twitter can teach associations about recruiting, growth and engagement.Introductions
  • So I saw a speaker yesterday who talked about loyalty and engagement. He said if I want to you to listen, I have to create an emotional connection. And since visuals are a more powerful way to do that, I want to introduce my wife of two and a half years Corey, my dog Henry who just turned 4; he’s a rescued English Springer Spaniel, my fun car, a 1979 Toyota Landcruiser, my teams and where I’d rather be the other 364 days a year. That happens to be Yellowstone, but I’ll take anywhere outdoors.Professionally, I serve as VP Sales & Marketing for AMR Management Services. I’ve been with AMR since 2002 in a variety of roles including client management and marketing.My background isin journalism – that will be important later -- and I earned my MBA in 2007I’m passionate about uncovering and applying for-profit business lessons to non-profit organizations to help them be more effective.
  • Today, we’re going to examine how recruiting methods, community engagement and new value propositions from organizations outside the association industry may help ramp up recruiting and retention in the nonprofit sector. By the end of our presentation we hope you will:Objective 1: __ Better understand how and why associations can and should adapt their membership value proposition to the changing economic and professional climate.Objective 2: __ Think more critically about how corollaries, lessons and examples from outside the association industry can be applied to your organization.Objective 3: __ Be able to identify opportunities to accelerate membership growth possibilities through non-traditional, yet emerging platforms.
  • When AMR surveys members about the benefits their associations’ provide, members of 15 of our 20 association clients cite “networking and knowledge sharing” within the top three benefits of membership. Boiled down, the same is true when we look at ASAE studies like Decision to Join.Associations serve as platforms, vehicles for like-minded people with specialized interests to interact and learn. And association models are designed around the idea that the non-profit, membership-based organizations are the best at delivering connections to similarly situated professional people and learning opportunities. Associations are structured that way, too, with an emphasis on membership as a pre-requisite for access to the association’s benefits. Most associations rely on membership for revenue, typically 30-50 percent of net profit. And for years we’ve provided “benefits” above and beyond “networking and knowledge sharing” like lightly-used, but revenue-generating membership directories or face-to-face conferences supported by profitable tradeshows, while also providing limited avenues of connection through sometimes clique-ish volunteer committees and politically charged boards of directors. We’ve even limited online discussions through member-only listservs and closed LinkedIn groups for fear our association’s value would be damaged by giving access away for free.So if a platform comes along that can provide professional networking and knowledge sharing as a benefit, that might be a threat to the association model? It might also be a learning opportunity.
  • I’m passionate about the association model, but in the last decade, social media such as Twitter – it could be Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest or numerous others – have caused a disruption in the value proposition - remember 3/4th of our associations highly value networking and knowledge sharing - by creating platforms for friends, like-minded and diverse people to connect and engage with each other quickly and easily. Although I think we’re all tired of hearing the fear and dread about how social media will kill the association – I don’t think that’s true. I do think the industry doesn’t understands how social media can match, and best, one of the key membership benefits for associations -- networking and knowledge sharing, successfully. Nor do many of us have any interest in learning why Twitter or other social media could be better at delivering “networking and knowledge sharing.” But only by understanding the how and why of success for a platform like Twitter can you help your organization adapt, find opportunity and be more relevant and valuable to members.Before we get too far down that road, let’s back up and look at Twitter in a bit more detail, it’s rapid expansion and discuss how it connects people, communities and events. And, maybe, we’ll identify an opportunity for associations to offer a more relevant, value-added networking and knowledge-sharing benefit for members.
  • In March 2006, a small team of people started working on a prototype of the service that we now know as Twitter. It is a simple tool based the idea of group text messaging through cellular SMS networks, but broadcast via the internet.Today, on every measure of growth and engagement, Twitter is still growing at a record pace. Here are some numbers:#tweets3 years, 2 months and 1 day. The time it took from the first Tweet to the billionth Tweet.1 week. The time it now takes for users to send a billion Tweets.50 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, one year ago.140 million. The average number of Tweets people sent per day, in the last month.177 million. Tweets sent on March 11, 2011.456. Tweets per second (TPS) when Michael Jackson died on June 25, 2009 (a record at that time).6,939. Current TPS record, set 4 seconds after midnight in Japan on New Year’s Day.#accounts572,000. Number of new accounts created on March 12, 2011.460,000. Average number of new accounts per day over the last month.182%. Increase in number of mobile users over the past year.500 million active users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per dayFewer than half of tweets are posted using Twitters native web interface. Most users use third-party applications. And more and more, the third-party application is mobile. Research indicates 50 percent of users access twitter via a mobile device.Twitter has also seen early and rapid adoption in diverse demographics including african-americanaudiences who overwhelmingly connect via cell phones and smart phones and older, professional audiences (35-49) who access twitter during the workday via desktop applications like TweetDeck and Hootsuite.Twitter does have it’s detractors….Many people stop using the service after a month – the retention rate is 40 percent, therefore the site may potentially reach only about ten percent of all Internet users. Currently, only 8 percent of adults are twitter users, according to a recent Pew Study. Some users fall in love with it, others hate it. My mentor, a tech neophite, who’s 67, loves it. It connects him to peers who share his interest in association management and cause marketing. He gets and shares ideas, and would definitely have a harder time giving up Twitter than ASAE. But one of our tech-savvy industry friends hates it, doesn’t understand it. He quit after sending one tweet and without following a single user because he didn’t “get it.”
  • So if you don’t “get it,” how is Twitter like an association and why that’s important?Let’s say I’m a young association professional unaware of or unable to join ASAE. I Google “young association professionals.” I find a twitter feed on I create a twitter account and start following some people, asking questions on #assnchat and sharing interesting information while learning a bit about the people I follow who are also sharing helpful resources for my professional development and association. Do I need ASAE to create those connections? I may need an association for other things, but not the networking and knowledge sharing component. Who uses twitter?Why?What’s the benefit you receive?Has anyone changed their membership model because of Twitter or social media? How?
  • Like I said, Twitter is a platform for like-minded people to connect and engage with each other.Take away the technology, and broad scope, and the parallel of Twitter as an association comes into focus. It’s a place for individuals to come together to connect, collaborate and share information. But rather than being fed a stream of information from a top-down perspective, users select the content and level of engagement they want to pull from, at least somewhat, familiar, vetted or trusted sources or followers. Because of the disruption caused by social media, associations have to relinquish networking and knowledge sharing as a primary benefit and look for other ways to provide value to members.So what do we do with that?We can’t expect to replicate it, therefore we look for ways to adopt, adapt and amplify a tool like Twitter through innovative ideas. Here are four key lessons from the development and success of twitter:Keep it simple. The best ideas are easy to understand and provide clarity. Twitter captures this perfectly: 140 characters about What’s happening now…Be open. Inclusiveness helps foster adoption and growth. Twitter opened its platform to third-party developers to create apps for search, mobile, metrics and more. Twitter put the benefit – connection – is more important than the platform.Allow users to find value in the community. Don’t control the message. Different people find different value in your community. I get association information on twitter, but others get tweets from Justin Beiber.Embrace new voices and ideas and engage with new technology. Twitter has been an organizing platform and voice for the Arab Spring and other social change movements. Twitter and social media have changed the value associations can provide members, which forces us to look for ways we can adopt, adapt and amplify networking and knowledge sharing for our organizations. ____Many of my association contacts are friends I follow on twitter, and without that platform, we wouldn’t be nearly as engaged or aware of each others work. ASAE hasn’t replicated the networking power of or knowledge sharing ability of what I can get from Twitter. What are people doing on Twitter? How are they connecting?SXSW conference, in the classroom, professionally – connections based on shared experiencesArab Spring and other uprisings: used twitter (and text messaging) to broadcast quickly to a broad set of users and usurp censorship controlsUsing hashtags, finding like minded users, search functionsSharing links to interesting resources – expands followers and following by exposing friends to additional resources creates and organic growth chain
  • For our next case study, we’re going to switch gears again from technology to publishing.Coming from the media world – I told you the journalism thing would be important, I often see parallels between magazines and associations. The most striking similarity has always been between subscribers and members, but our niche focus and the ability to meaningfully inform audiences also stand out. Additionally, both need to retain current customers and attract new ones while continuing to deliver value. Unfortunately, media and associations have been experiencing a similar pattern disruptive to the status quo, which has been accelerating through the last decade: trends toward digital publishing, online engagement and community-generated content. This trend strips traditional media and associations of subscription / membership revenue, depresses ad revenues and results in little left over for investment in good journalism, or educational programs and new ventures in the case of associations. Basically, it’s evil. Or at least that’s what newspaper publishers would say. I see opportunity.
  • Harvard Business Review (HBR) has embraced the digital trend and transformed itself from a stuffy, 90-year-old business journal to a content-rich, powerhouse hybrid publication with an engaged user community. And its revival serves as a useful example of audience engagement, community building and strategic focus, which associations can learn from.Until 2010, the venerable business journal was Struggling With Decline. Like many print media outlets, HBR was facing declining subscriptions and advertising. (This should sound familiar to associations struggling with membership and sponsorship.)HBR’s print advertising revenues dropped 24 percent in 2009. And subscriptions fell 4 percent from 2008 to 2010. In 2009, HBR dove into the digital divide. However, it wasn’t a blind leap. HBR reorganized into a customer-centric model that united editorial, sales, and marketing for HBR, book publisher Harvard Business Press, and its websites. HBR launched a significant redesign of the magazine; its first in nearly a decade. And it combined and, which were divided into paid content and free content sites, at the time.The redesign was driven by extensive reader research and deliberate strategy to integrate offerings across formats under the Harvard Business Review brand: print, digital, books, and mobile. Publisher Josh Macht said: “HBRs objective is to meet our readers wherever they are and to deliver ideas and inspiration in the formats that best suit their needs.”Before 2009, was a paid site that housed the magazine content, archives, and online store for books, reprints, and subscriptions. Macht had been responsible for, which published the business school’s free online content: blogs, forums, and conversation. The free site was well received when it launched in 2007, but HBR discovered online readers were difficult to convert into print subscribers and that the content they digested wasn’t the same as those who subscribed to the magazine.Macht said:“They quickly learned that the type of content that drove eyeballs online was very different from what was at the heart of HBR in print. And even though they tried to market the magazine to visitors, they struggled mightily to convert this new audience—and when they did convert them, subscriberstypically didn’t stay long.”To improve the value of overall publication, HBR unified the print, magazine, and website by creating one editorial team and one marketing team. They brought together authors across platforms from blogs to books.Although the redesigned magazine retained the long-form, researched case studies, current news items and shorter business articles were added. The new website mimicked the look of the magazine and integrated popularfree content (blogs, forums, and conversations) with magazine content and archives, which continued to be housed behind a paywall. In addition, HBR made it much easier to connect with the content through social media.“Because the magazine and website offer a more consistent experience, HBR is much more capable of turning surfers into subscribers,” according to Macht.The result has been 8 million monthly pageviews on and 2.5 million monthly unique users, up from about 100,000 in 2007. HBR has experienced a 25 percent increase in online subscribers. Moreover, the total social media audience is more than 1.1 million, a combination of Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and the HBR app has more than 600,000 users. HBR has also seen a 20 percent increase in newsstand sales (at about $16/issue)and significant growth for reprints and case study sales. Print subscriptions are stable at 240,000. Think that bigger, more engaged audience had anything to do with sales growth?Does anybody read HBR? How do you access it? Are you a subscriber? When did you start reading it?Through this process of listening to their subscriber and reader community, and looking at their strategy, HBR also dropped website features and content items from the magazine. A heavilyhyped and popularAnswers Exchange, a community-driven Q&A website feature, was scrapped because of the staffing requirements. And the publishing group stopped accepting unsolicited manuscripts. In addition, both the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief acknowledge the print edition will likely be scrapped within five to 10 years.It doesn’t get much older and stuffer than Harvard Business Review, and they’re willing to drop a printed addition. What sacred cows are we willing to sacrifice?
  • So what can associations learn from HBR?•Understand your audience. HBR surveyed and analyzed its readership and reader habits (online and in print) before embarking on the reorganization and redesign. Associations need to ask, analyze, and interpret how members and prospects want to interact and what information they need.• Embrace disruptive trends. HBR recognized the need to change given the current media climate of disintegrating advertising revenue and shrinking paid readership. It embraced a freemium model with outstanding and on-topic free content from noted reporters, authors and bloggers, yet retained traditional, premium content – case studies, research, and other features behind a pay-wall. (INSERT BRIAN’S PRICE TEIRS)Many associations have outstanding brand equity within their industry, yet it sits unleveraged because they don’t reach out beyond their membership through an accessible website with engaging, informative content. Keep the most valuable resources – industry studies, research, conference experiences, but offer more for free to create a broader audience and foster engagement around the brand.• Ditch what doesn’t work. If a stodgy institution like HBR can reinvent itself, to the point that it will likely kill a printed publication within five years, your association can do it too. Cancel programs that don’t provide an appropriate return on investment. Redesign your membership model. Open your content to nonmembers. Shake it up, because what you’re doing now won’t work in five years.• Stick to your mission. HBR didn’t deviate: “We’re trying to have a management conversation that’s true to our mission,” Macht says. Associations can reorganize and redesign without losing focus on mission.By examining and analyzing reader and subscriber habits and understanding real-world trends disruptive to its traditional business model, HBR shows associations how listening, engagement, and top-notch, on-target content can transform an organization.
  • Now please break into small groups at your tables. Your challenge will be to ID and discuss how organizations outside the association industry are developing membership models, driving engagement or experiencing rapid and sustainable user growth.  How could your example be put to work in your association?In about 10 minutes we’ll ask you to share your ideas with the group.
  • Cognizant:Adopt, Adapt, Amplify: Associations will have to find different and relevant ways to deliver networking and knowledge sharing. Consider how you can appropriate technology for your benefit. HBR embraced the digital trend and used its platform to amplify it towards success.Embrace and listen to your communityDon’t be afraid to blow it up: Made significant changes while staying committed to its mission and vision. Our slides are online with our contact info and some source material (the link is listed at the back of the slide deck).Thanks for joining us today. We appreciate your time. Enjoy the your evening and the rest of the convention.Alignment of content and quality across delivery platforms: live, print, electronic and social. Create a non-member’s positive expectations of membership and deliver throughout that interaction/engagement.
  • Battle for Relevance: Learning from the Business World

    1. 1. Battle for Relevance August 13, 2012 3:15 to 4:30 p.m. Hub Tag: #ASAE12 LR3August 13, 2012@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee #ASAE12LR3
    2. 2. Battle for Relevance What the Army, Harvard Business Review and Twitter can teach associations about recruiting, growth and engagement.August 13, 2012@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee #ASAE12LR3
    3. 3. Introductions @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    4. 4. Battle for Relevance• Introductions – Brian Riggs, Association Headquarters – Brian Reuwee, AMR Management Services• Case Studies – U.S. Army recruiting – Twitter’s explosive growth – Harvard Business Review engagement• Breakout Activity – Identify examples of innovative thinking and how they could be applied to your association• Questions• Summary @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    5. 5. U.S. Army (Military) Recruiting • To examine recruitment categories, posters and efforts used by the US Army • To examine the level of commitment the Army requires from their recruiting officersAugust 13, 2012 • Online efforts@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee #ASAE12LR3
    6. 6. Goal• To think differently about your approach to engaging membership
    7. 7. Recruitment - Approach• Prior to WWI – State Level• Post WWI - National Approach
    8. 8. Recruitment Categories• Patriotism• Adventure / Challenge• Job / Career / Education• Social Status• Travel• Money• Miscelanous
    9. 9. Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
    10. 10. James Flagg, Lithograph, 1917
    11. 11. World War I Recruiting Poster
    12. 12. World War II Navy Recruitment Posters
    13. 13. World War II Navy Recruitment Posters
    14. 14. U.S. Navy recruiting poster, 1974
    15. 15. Army Recruiting Functions
    16. 16. Skills of Today’s Recruiter• Intelligence gathering provides market data for the planning of recruiting operations. It gives the recruiter a historical and current demographic view of the market.• Prospecting identifies interested people who agree to hear your Army story. Your mission success is relative to your prospecting success.• The Army interview is the art of recruiting. During the interview you must determine the person’s goals and passions, devise a career plan, and ask them to join the Army.• Processing ensures only qualified applicants become Soldiers. Processing matches an applicant’s qualifications and desires with the needs of the Army.• The Future Soldier Training Program reinforces the Future Soldier’s commitment, prepares them for basic training (BT), and reduces the personal and family anxiety often associated with joining the Army. The FSTP also supports your recruiting efforts by providing quality referrals and market intelligence.• Training is the leader’s domain and is necessary to sustain your recruiting proficiency. However, it is your responsibility to master the art and science of recruiting.• Sustainment is the military, civilian, and contracted support that provides the physical means for recruiters to work and accomplish the mission.• Command and control (C2) enables commanders to make informed decisions, assign responsibilities, and synchronize functions. It helps commanders adjust plans for future operations while maintaining focus on the current operation. Through C2, commanders can focus all systems toward the common goal of mission success.
    17. 17. U.S. Army Online• Website – mission & vision• Blog• Games• YouTube• Twitter
    18. 18. Insert title here
    19. 19. Connecting with the Audience
    20. 20. Games
    21. 21. Social Media
    22. 22. Engage & Stay Engaged
    23. 23. We can learn from Twitter“Current and future stakeholders often have free orlow-cost access to a variety of „good enough‟ andsuperior alternatives for building networks,retrieving information and pursuing learning.” Jeff DeCagna, Principled Innovation @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    24. 24. Unique, powerful, accessable“The power to dictate the terms of new valuecreation has shifted away from traditionalinstitutions and toward individualscollaborating through public platforms, self-organizing groups and distributed networks.” Jeff Hurt, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    25. 25. @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    26. 26. Discovery Engine Search for topics or discover hashtags (i.e. #ASAE12) Follow others who See tweets from he RTs @BrianJohnRiggs Follow @BrianJohnRiggs @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    27. 27. Battlefield Lessons from Twitter• Keep it simple “The qualities that make• Open connectivity can Twitter seem inane and lead to rapid growth half-baked are what and adoption makes it so powerful."• Allow users the space Jonathan Zittrain to find value in the Professor of Internet Law Harvard Law School community/platform• Embrace new voices and ideas, engage with new technology @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    28. 28. Intersection of Associations & Media @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    29. 29. HBR: Old media, new direction Old School New School @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    30. 30. Battlefield Lessons from HBR• Understand your audience• Embrace disruptive trends• Ditch what doesn’t work• Stick to your mission @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    31. 31. Breakout Activity • Identify and discuss examples of non- associations successfully using association tactics – Example: MarketingProfs • How could your example beAugust 13, 2012 put to work in your@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee association? #ASAE12LR3
    32. 32. Questions• Huh? Twitter is like an association? @BrianJohnRiggs | @BrianReuweeAugust 13, 2012 #ASAE12LR3
    33. 33. Battle for Relevance• Be cognizant of emerging communities and organizations outside of the association industry and what we can learn from their approach.• Adopt, adapt and amplify• Embrace and listen to your community• Don’t be afraid to blow it up @BrianJohnRiggs |August 13, 2012 @BrianReuwee#ASAE12LR3
    34. 34. Thank You Brian Reuwee VP, Sales & Marketing AMR Management Services (636) 449-5058 Brian Riggs VP, Business Development Association Headquarters (856) 380-6832 briggs@ahint.comAugust 13, 2012@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee #ASAE12LR3
    35. 35. Sources 13, 2012@BrianJohnRiggs@BrianReuwee #ASAE12LR3