Marketing Annual Meetings Webinar Q&A

I gave a webinar presentation about marketing annual meetings on Monday as part of Avectra’s Academy. The full archive of the audio and slides is available for free on the Avectra web site: Marketing Strategies and Tips to Drive Annual Meeting Attendance.

I have also recorded another podcast covering some additional questions from the session that I wasn’t able to cover. I also go back over some questions I thought were particularly important.


Finally, here is a link to Kevin Holland’s post the served as one of the cases I covered in the presentation.


They Built It and We Were There: The Missing Tapes

We had a great crowd at the webinar today. I spoke about increasing participation with association social media programs. About 100 sites signed on, many of them with teams listening in. We had over 30 questions submitted and I didn’t get through all of the promised content for the session. So, without further ado, here is a podcast of the 3 ways to kill an online community and the one secret to success. (Runtime: 5 minute-ish.)


Also, Ryan at Boston Conferencing is going to send me the unanswered questions which I will address in another podcast on this blog. Hope to record and post it over the weekend, so stay tuned!

By the way, I am available for keynotes and workshops to address your staff, members, customers and other audiences. Check out the speaking page for more. I’m starting to book out late summer and into fall now.

Webinar Next Week: They Built It and We Were There

I am leading a webinar with Boston Conferencing next week on social media and associations. The session is titled They Built It and We Were There: Maximizing Participation in Association Social Media Programs. The session will be held at 12 Noon Eastern on Thursday March 12.

Here is an audio summary of the program.


Lots of organizations are experimenting with social media these days. I often hear laments about lack of participation and engagement during early efforts. If that is something you are concerned about then this is the session for you!

Our learning objectives for the session include:

  • Top uses of social media to create value for associations and their members
  • A clear plan of action for developing and sustaining social media projects
  • Key staff and volunteer capabilities for working with social media
  • Concrete examples and ideas that you can use immediately

Should be a fun program! For those of you who were following me on Twitter earlier this week, the discussion about cathedrals and bazaars will be a central theme and framing device for our discussion of social media and associations.

I hope you will register for the program and join us online next Thursday!

My First Word of Mouth Whoa Moment

Lindy has asked me to contribute a story about the impact of word-of-mouth marketing. So, here goes.

Back in the dark ages of the Web I was working for the Employee Relocation Council in the research department. ERC launched one of the earliest association web sites and I was listed as the contact for research information, including international relocation.

The day the site went up (probably in 1995, maybe 1994), I started receiving e-mail from people all around the world with questions about how to get a visa to come to the United States. This was way before e-mail scams were that common, they were genuine people looking for help. I was blown away and knew this was something new and special. I have no idea how people found this page on the web with my e-mail but they did. Search was next to useless or non-existent then, if you can imagine. ASAE used to maintain a single page that listed all the association web sites online, to give you an idea of how sparse the web world was back then.

All of these folks found me somehow through links and clicking and sharing information with others back when you had to get through some pretty significant hoops to be online.

That’s word of mouth powered by strong needs and desire.

How's that value proposition?

Kevin Holland point to an article recently that ended with the following quote about a publishing trade association membership:

Henry Donahue, CEO-publisher of Discover Magazine, said his magazine is still a member of the MPA. “We are,” he confirmed via e-mail, “though it’s an ongoing source of discussion given the expense.”

A quote sure to strike fear into the heart of any association executive.

Be sure you are proactively communicating and delivering the value of your association. You almost can’t do it enough. Ideally it’s self-evident but even the highest of value services need to do some self promotion.

Last Call for NPO Exec 2009 Web Goal Survey

This week is your last chance to get a response in to the survey I am fielding on NPO top web goals for 2009.

The survey is to support a book I am writing on web strategy for non-profit organizations. Respondents will receive an executive summary and an invite to a free teleconference where I will report on the results.

Here is the link to the survey and a link to my original post with the full details.

Join the 50+ executives who have already responded! Survey closes on Saturday morning.

Session Summary on Super-charging Web Teams

Mark Athitakis, senior editor with ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership, posted a great summary of my presentation last week at the ASAE Technology Conference.

In the session, titled Super-charging Your Web Team: Recruiting, Training, and Managing Your In-house Web Talent, I shared my top tips and secrets on how to maximize the value that your web staff can contribute to your organization. You can read Mark’s notes here on ASAE’s wiki.

Consumers and Association Web Sites

I’ve dealt with the question of how to address consumers online with association web sites for much of my career. In this context consumers typically means the customers/clients/patients of the association’s members.

I’m going to provide a few thoughts below on how to approach it but there is an important question to be answered first.

Your senior leadership and Board must define what your association hopes to achieve overall with the consumers in your members’ market. Buy more products or services? Support legislative changes? Appreciate your members’ contribution to society? (That last one is a tough one if they don’t on their own!)

If that high level strategy isn’t clear than you are going to spin your wheels online until it is. I often recommend not to bother with anything significant if you don’t have a solid organizational strategy for that audience.

Some other key questions to consider:

What outcomes do you want to achieve with consumer visitors?
What specific actions can consumers take on your web site that will support your overall goals for them? This can include everything from learning via content to taking a specific next action such as contacting one of your members.

How will you know that you have achieved them?
Identify specific measures for success in these efforts. What will let you know you are achieving your goals? Demand creation and branding efforts are notoriously hard to measure but many outcomes can have hard numbers to back them up. The example above of helping consumers to contact one of your members is easily measurable via their path through your site.

What is the value of achieving those outcomes?
The value of the outcomes should determine the budget for your online efforts. Assessing the value will help to avoid over or under investing. A simple concept but rarely done, in my experience.

Should we have one site for members and consumers or two?
This is the last thing to consider although it is often the first question people start with. My patented consultant answer is: it depends.

A key question is which brand you want the consumers to pick up on, the association’s or the members’? If the effort should be closely associated with the organization’s identity, then going with a single site for all with the consumer content wrapped in the association’s look and feel. If the brand of the organization is irrelevant or harmful to the effort, then a separate site and design may best support your goals. The ‘Got Milk’ campaign is a great example of the latter.

Answering these key questions can be a challenging task for even highly focused organizations. A large part of the value I provide to my clients is helping (and forcing, sometimes!) them to answer these and then plan an approach aligned with those strategic goals. Drop me a note if you would like to discuss your specific situation.

Should You Have a Web Committee?

An association executive on a list I belong to asked this week if organizations should have a web committee to determine the content, design and functionality of their site.

My answer? No.

The problem I have had with most web committees is that they often pursue solutions via consensus. Each individual comes to the committee with their agenda and the group then works out some compromise where no one gets everything and everyone gets something. This results in web sites where no one can find anything and that produce relatively low value for their organizations.

Every site must have defined, focused, outcomes that it is intended to create if it will generate significant value. Committees just can’t do this because of their structure.

What does work? Teams.

This isn’t just semantics. A team is a group of people who are pursuing a common goal. They will succeed or fail together and therefore have incentive to collaborate and endeavor toward common goals. This requires some extra effort and thought by senior management but, hey, that’s why they have that job!

Web committees, as they are usually constituted and governed, fail to produce value at the level that a focused team can achieve.

Two Excellent Resources from Consulting Colleagues

I wanted to point you to two great resources from some consulting colleagues of mine.

First, Wes Trochlil is publishing a series of podcast interviews with the CEOs of association management system vendors.

Second, Jeff Cobb is publishing a series of reports on survey results for association elearning trends.

Wes and Jeff are offering original material you won’t find anywhere else, check them out.