Work with Your Board of Directors to Formulate Online Strategy: Free Teleconference

The snow must go on! And the show will too. If you would like to attend a free teleconference from David Gammel on how to formulate web strategy effectively with boards of directors and other leaders, sign up now! This session was originally in the line up for ASAE’s Technology Conference, which has been canceled due to an impending ice age in the Nation’s Capital.

Online and On Mission: Work with Your Board of Directors to Formulate Online Strategy

Your organization’s website makes substantial and tangible contributions to the mission of your organization, and your board of directors is a crucial participant in developing a Web strategy that achieves breakthrough results. Identify key questions you must answer when creating your Web strategy, and walk away with proven methods to formulate and launch your strategy with the full engagement of your top leaders.

Presented by C. David Gammel, CAE. Author of Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results.

The call will be held at 10:15 a.m. EST on Friday, February 12, 2010. You will receive an e-mail with connection instructions before the call.

You must follow this link and complete the form to receive the conference call instructions. Register now!

My Counter-Rant on Social Media ROI

David Meerman Scott posted a podcast rant against demands for assessing the specific ROI of social media efforts. Here is my podcast push-back on that rant.


In short: Asking how social media can generate value for the company or organization is a perfectly valid question. Any social media advocate or expert has to embrace answering that question if they want to gain support from decision makers. It doesn’t have to be in dollars and cents but it must be answered in the context of how it contributes to the organization’s goals, strategy and operations.

And thanks to David for stirring the pot on this issue!

eReaders and Association Publishing

Reggie Henry, CIO of ASAE & the Center for Association Leadership, posted the following to Twitter this morning:

Looking at all of the e-reader apps at CES just begs the question of when are we going to rethink association publishing…

Interesting question!

About six years ago a board member of a scientific society with significant publishing operations asked me how I thought the Web would change scholarly publishing. I answered that the peer review process was unlikely to go away, unless we change how we do science, but that the medium in which scientific content is published will continue to change over time. In short: don’t abandon peer review but do be very open to changing how your content is delivered.

I believe the same holds for the new round of innovation coming with ereaders and tablet PCs. The core value of association publications won’t be degraded. However, you have to follow your markets in how they choose to access content. If you don’t, you’ll fail to realize a tremendous amount of potential value.

For example, any journal that doesn’t have an online version somewhere (paid or open) has relegated themselves to obscurity at this point.

I expect ereaders and tablets to integrate quite well with the Web while introducing newer forms of content presentation that will be unique to the platform. Therefore, this transition probably won’t be as drastic and problematic as the print to Web transitions proved for a lot of publications, especially if they already have a strong online presence.

What do you think?

Video Interview about Breakthrough Results Online

The folks over at ASAE & the Center just released a video interview with me discussing my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results. In the interview I explain what a breakthrough results looks like online.

You can buy a copy of the book for yourself via my site, Amazon or ASAE. ASAE members should buy from them to receive the greatest discount.

Expand Engagement Before and After Membership

As a follow-up to my definition of member engagement for associations, I’d like to discuss the idea of broadening your engagement strategy beyond membership.

If you accept that engagement occurs when someone invests time or money with the organization in exchange for value, you can then consider opportunities to do so before becoming a member as well as after. In fact, membership could be just another station along an engagement progression path, rather than the ultimate destination.

Examples of pre-membership engagement could include:

  • Viewing content on your website, blog, twitter account, etc.;
  • Paying attention to a PSA or press coverage;
  • Sharing content from your website or other publication;
  • Buying a product;
  • Attending a conference or event;
  • Applying for a job via a career center.

Examples of post-membership engagement could include all of the above, plus:

  • Writing or speaking;
  • Volunteering for a committee or task force;
  • Serving in a leadership role;
  • Awarded Fellowship or other achievement status;
  • Spending significant money on sponsorship, advertising, exhibit space, etc.

The important concept here from a strategy perspective is to plot out what lower value engagement activities and options will feed into higher levels and how you can progress people through them.

Imagine professional baseball without the minor leagues. Moving from high school to pro teams for all players (not just the rare exceptional talents) would be very hard to do well from both the player and team points-of-view. The minors provide an important talent channel for the majors. While I’m not suggesting you develop a minor league association, you do need to consider how people will progress through your organization as their relationship with you matures.

Organizations with an efficient flow from low to high value engagement will tend to be healthier from both revenue and mission fulfillment perspectives.

Definition of Member Engagement for Associations

The term ‘member engagement’ is often bandied about in the association world. More of it is considered better yet we rarely state what that actually means. I thought I would put a stake in the ground with my definition of it in the work I do with clients.

Member engagement is the result of a member investing time and/or money with the association in exchange for value. The more of these precious resources they invest, the more engaged they are.

A member who speaks at a lot of conferences and writes many articles for association publications is highly engaged.

A member who invests hundreds of thousands of dollars in sponsorship money is also highly engaged, even if they do absolutely nothing else.

Engagement is about value. The value for the person doing the engaging as well as the value of that engagement for the association.

Healthy associations create more engagement opportunities in areas that create strategic value for the organization. Having a surfeit of articles to publish is nice but doesn’t really matter if the budget has been in the red for the last three years.

Create engagement where it matters. Survey: CIOs Discover Other Departments in Organization!

The white paper I posted yesterday was timed well, given the results of survey of CIOs. They came out with similar survey results a few years ago but it still boggles my mind:

Today’s Focus for IT Departments: Business Opportunities

This year, nearly one third—30 percent—of the 594 IT leaders we polled say meeting or beating business goals is a personal leadership competency critically needed by their organizations, up significantly from the 18 percent who said so last year. Eighteen percent also named "external customer focus" as a critical skill, double last year's 9 percent. Double.

Meanwhile, 22 percent cited "identifying and seizing on commercial opportunities"—more than triple last year's 6 percent. Yes, triple.

Sadly, the same is probably true for a lot of other departments that serve, in theory, the rest of the organization (HR, Accounting, etc.).

It’s not hard to be a rock star within an organization in any of these functions. A simple focus on outcomes and value that is relevant to the whole enterprise will do it.

Transformation or Travails: The imperative for IT’s shift from support function to strategic asset

For my snow-bound East Coast colleagues (and everyone else!), here is a white paper I co-authored with three other management consultants: Transformation or Travails: The imperative for IT’s shift from support function to strategic asset (PDF).

We argue that world-class IT departments take a value-oriented approach to supporting the rest of the organization in achieving their strategic priorities, rather than defending their technocratic fiefdom. The paper concludes with the criteria for a truly strategic IT operation.

We welcome sharing this paper with your colleagues and staff.

Questions to ask when you run the website.

Good news! You are now in charge of the website!

Now what?

Here are a few critical questions to consider when you take over the website. Discuss these with your team, your boss, and your peers.

How well does the site support our strategic outcomes?
What is your organization trying to achieve? How much of a contribution is the site making to those goals? What more could it do to provide value?

This is the first thing you have to understand before you can really do anything significant with the site.

Which segments of our target markets are the most relevant for us online?
Of all the markets your organization serves, which are the most relevant to your online goals? How well does your site target and serve those people?

Attracting welders to a knitting site probably doesn’t do anyone much good. Make sure your site has the right audience. If it doesn’t, you have a great opportunity to have a tremendous impact by getting the right people to the site.

Do we have the tools, technology and skills to execute effectively on our current goals?
Does your content flow freely to the site without errors or revisions? Do you have process bottlenecks? Are some things that should be simple to achieve highly complex?

As the new leader of the website, you have an opportunity to spot problems that have become invisible to everyone else yet are a big drag on productivity. Fixing some of these right off the bat is often relatively easy and gives you some early wins for your team and organization.

Does your new responsibility signal a great shift that the site must reflect?
Big picture: does your new role signal a broader change in the organization? If so, make sure you consider how that new high-level direction can be best supported by your team and website.

Get a mentor.
Finally, be sure you have a mentor or two to help you explore and master this new job. A mentor can be your boss, another internal leader, a colleague or someone outside the organization. The key thing is to have someone who will ask the tough questions of you to make sure you are focused on creating results and executing effectively to do so.

I offer coaching and mentoring to web and IT leaders if you desire an independent, external, source of feedback and advice.

Two Web Strategy Screencasts

I created two screencasts (video of a browser session with voice over) showing websites that demonstrate several of the web strategies that I cover in my book, Online and On Mission: Practical Web Strategy for Breakthrough Results. The videos accompany an article I wrote for the December issue of Associations Now, What Drives Your Web Strategy?. You can view the videos below or go to read the article and see them there as well.

Revenue Examples

Market Needs and Marketing Examples

Many thanks to the folks at the following organizations: Air Conditioning Contractors of America; American Institute of Physics; Maryland Chamber of Commerce; and HopeWell Cancer Support.

Finally, thank to Lisa Junker for inviting me to be their first author to contribute both text and online video for Associations Now.