Sunday, December 14, 2008

Effective in Aggregate

As I continue my slow read through Here Comes Everybody (I am reading many other things at the same time which is my downfall), I think I have found the crux of social media. I am sure everyone already realizes this, but I figure I will mention it anyway. Shirky comments that most people don't get active about a cause because it takes a lot of effort and the actions of one are tough to see in the face of a much more powerful force. The old way was to try to convince the folks who cared a little bit to care more. But now with social media, the barriers to join in are so low that people can be effective in aggregate.
Having a handful of highly motivated people and a mass of barely motivated ones used to be a recipe for frustration... Now the highly motivated people can create a context more easily in which the barely motivated people can be effective without having to become active themselves.

The key here is that there still needs to be highly motivated people. If you are an association starting a social network, you still need champions to get it started and keep it going. The inactive masses may get active, but need a model to follow.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Apathy vs. Lack of Proper Training

I, like many, worked at a grocery store in high school. First a bagger, then a cashier, then the produce department. Each job required training on how to do it. I usually spent several shifts shadowing someone, then several on my own but with supervision. This method seemed to work just fine. I see it employed places other than the grocery store.

Lately, I have been amazed at how poorly grocery bags are packed by store employees. I know that you have to adjust to the bag type, cloth or plastic these days, but I can't tell if the employees are lazy or just didn't get proper training. I even go as far as emptying my cart strategically to try to help - put all the cold stuff together, bread and eggs last so they can go on top, etc. But it doesn't seem to matter.

I think there is a fine line between apathy and lack of training, at least trying to identify which situation it is. Anyone have any great ideas for identifing and then fixing either situation?

Monday, November 24, 2008

This should be on a tee shirt

Another Shirky Quote:

Revolution doesn't happen when society adopts new technologies -- it happens when society adopts new behaviors.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

What Are Your Members Comparing You To?

Another great quote from Shirky in Chapter 6 that I think gets lost on a lot of folks.

Prior to the spread of movable type, scribes didn't write slowly; they wrote at ordinary speed, which is to say that in the absence of a comparable alternative, the speed of a man writing was the norm for all publishing. After movable type came in, scribes started to write slowly, even though their speed hadn't changed; it was simply that they were being compared to something much faster.


So what are your members comparing you to?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

A Word of Warning

Shirky has a great quote in Chapter 6 that you should use as an association professional in advocating your boss for starting a social media program or hiring someone dedicated to your current social media efforts.

With many more possible groups competing for the average individuals time, the speed with which a group can come unglued has also increased.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Back to the Blogging

Wow. I just realized it has been 5 weeks since I posted last. That is what having a new job as ED and a 7 month old will do. Needless to say, I have been busy. But, I have started reading Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky again. So, be ready to see a few posts about what nuggets I dig up.

Here is today's nugget. In Chapter 5, Shirky talks about Power Law distributions and Wikipedia contributors. And this quote is something I think too many people forget in associations when planning or launching their social media projects:
To understand the creation of something like a Wikipedia article, you can't look for a representative contributor, because none exists. Instead, you have to change your focus, to concentrate not on the individual users but on the behavior of the collective.

If you don't have champions ready to help lead the effort and be the top of that power law curve, you won't get anywhere. Plus, if you are only looking at a small sample of your members, you may not be getting the true picture of who will participate.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Lots of Changes

I am so sorry I haven't blogged in a while. 9 days between posts is a lot for me. But, I traveled last weekend to see my beloved Wolverines get crushed by Illinois. Then this week I was out for 3 days for my final InfoComm trip which was to St. Louis and Nashville.

So here in my last day, I am organizing, handing off, and packing. Lots of fun.

Just so you know, my new email is mattbaehr@arlingtonsoccer.com.

And Tuesday, I will be at the ASAE Membership Idea Swap - From Membership Pro to CEO. Talk about timing since Monday is my first day as Executive Director.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Associations Shouldn't Be Like Verizon or the DMV

Yesterday I went to my local Verizon store to get my new cell phone. I compare the experience to the DMV. I walk in and there are kiosks (that I walk right by). Someone stops me and asks how they can help. I tell him I need to buy a new phone on a corporate account. He says great and starts typing on a kiosk. He asks me my name, then says the next sales person will be with me. I see my name go up on the nice LCD TV under sales. There are also queues for Technical Support and Customer Service. There are also employees standing around doing nothing.

This is why it reminds me of the DMV. You get in a queue based on what you need to do. It takes forever, yet there doesn't seem to be a reason why, because there are plenty of workers not doing anything.

I really hope your association isn't like this with member services. Cross training is very important. You need to have your specialists, but you need people who can take care of your members. Most people like to be cross trained. It broadens their skill sets while reducing monotony. It also shows them that you are interested in developing them as an employee. Plus, you don't get into the situation where people see your employees standing around while members stand in line (or wait on hold).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Room Sets for Meetings

Most people who plan meetings and conferences know that how you arrange the chairs makes a big difference in how people interact and learn. I got a chance to see this firsthand on Wednesday.

We had a regional meeting in New York City. We have run this type of meeting in 20 cities over the past few years, so we have it down to a science. However, this time we used a facility of a client of a member. The price was right, but there wasn't enough space to put in the 5 rounds of 8-10 that we wanted. Instead, we had to do theater style seating. When it came time for the discussion portion of the program, people just got up and started moving around, networking, etc. The discussion really didn't happen. And it was truly all because of the room set.

We readjusted and the meeting still was top notch. Attendees raved about it. But an important lesson was learned/reiterated. If I had to do it all over again knowing what I know now, I may have changed venues so I could have the room set I wanted. It would have been worth the few extra dollars.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I have to say something

I am sorry. I try to leave any political views out of my blog. And maybe this doesn't truly count as political, but whatever.

Long story short. PETA is nuts.

I have a new job

I am so very excited to announce that as of Oct. 13, I will be the new Executive Director of the Arlington Soccer Association. This is the perfect opportunity for my to combine my work experience and my education (I have a Masters in Sports Administration) with one of my true passions, soccer. I played in college and still play several times a week (which may change since I will most likely be a touch busier.)

I still plan on writing this blog. My guess is that you will see the topics change slightly to focus less on membership and more on overall association management areas.

Thank you to all who have helped me along the way. I don't want to list names for fear of leaving anyone out, because Lord knows there are a lot.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Clinging to the Status Quo

I had the pleasure of facilitating a Membership Idea Swap at ASAE today. We had good attendance and a good meeting. But one thing that someone commented to me on after was that so many people were stuck on doing things the same way that have always been done. When confronted with a new way or a new idea, the initial response was to say that won't work.

I think many people fear change. It is natural. But even if you fear change, you can deal with it in a positive way. You don't have to jump instantly to "it won't work." Some ideas are just that. They are meant to spark further innovation or discussion. But if your reaction is that "it won't work," you will miss the chance at that further innovation and discussion.

So, keep your ears and minds open, wherever you are!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cool Mashups

I know a lot of us like to pass along cool websites we find. Well, I found a site that gives awards to cool new mashups. Check it out.

http://mashupawards.com

Lots of Twitter based mashups among others. Ping.fm might be the most useful one I found.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Why do you "tweet" if you already have a blog?

I got an interesting anonymous comment on my post about drawing the line on social media.

Why do you "tweet" if you already have a blog?

For those that don't know, a "tweet" is a message someone posts on Twitter. Twitter is a microblogging platform that people can post messages of up to 140 characters.

People use Twitter for a variety of reasons. For many, it acts just like your status on Facebook or your IM away message. You are answering the question "What are you doing?" That is what is written on the Twitter site right above where you post your message. By "following" other folks on Twitter and having them "follow" you, you can see what people are up to. It almost acts as a large group chat room that you don't have to be in all day to catch up on what people are up to.

Blogging for me is totally different. 99% of my blog posts are going to be longer than 140 characters. Plus, they are open to the whole web versus just those with Twitter accounts. I usually think about blog posts and really try to say something with them or ask a question seeking comment from readers. On Twitter, I am simply telling folks what I am doing or having small conversations with others.

Hopefully that answers that question. Anyone else who is tweeting and blogging want to respond? @bkmcae @jamienotter @maddiegrant @lindydreyer @pinnovation???

The Passing of a Great Man - Monsignor Thomas Bennett

Hopefully everyone has had the opportunity to have a teacher that touched your life and/or affected who you are as a person in a way no other has. For me, one of those teachers was Monsignor Thomas Bennett. To many, he was Father Bennett as he acheieved his title of Monsignor while I was in school at St. Charles Prep in Columbus, Ohio.

Fr. Bennett passed away on Sunday at the age of 76. The story in the Columbus Dispatch can be found here. He taught at St. Charles for 46 years. He was the kind of teacher, priest, man that made you grow up from being a snotty high school kid into a man. He had many quirks which made him all the more lovable.

If you did something stupid or swore in class, Father would make you do pushups at the front of the room. If a woman entered the classroom, everyone must stand (St. Charles is an all boys school). He was a disciplinarian, but a just one. He made you study and work, but not just because. There is a Facebook group called Msgr. Thomas M. Bennett Fan Club with over 750 members. He was famous for his one-liners and tongue-in-cheek dry humor.

"Now gentlemen, let's turn our happy thoughts to the joys of history."
"I was sentenced to St. Charles for kicking the bishop's dog."



Requiescat in pace.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Tagged in the Changeblogging Meme

Maddie Grant tagged me in the Changeblogging Meme. Here are my answers to the three questions.

What is one change - big or small, local or global - you want to see in your lifetime?
Since it is a timely topic, I would like to see the end of the two-party system. I am tired of all politicians lining up on one side of the fence when it is obvious they don't all have the same ideals. Stop the spin and just have people run on platforms not parties.

Who is already working this issue that you think others should support? I have no idea. I am sure they are out there, but I don't know who they are.

How are you going to use your Web/tech/marcom skills to further this cause? (Or, what are you already doing that works?)
Again, I am not sure. Maybe I didn't pick the best answer to question #1. I am all for change, and doing what I can. But I am honestly at a loss on this one. I am not a political person to begin with, but I hate listening to red vs. blue when there is clearly a purple area. (Sounds better than black vs. white in this instance)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Great Fast Company Article

The September issue of Fast Company has a great article about how Clorox partnered with the Sierra Club on their new line of green products. The lessons are very relevant to non-profits, associations and charities who are or plan on partnering with for-profit companies.

Rule #1: Make sure perception and reality are the same when it comes to the member's view of your mission.

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/128/cleaning-solution.html

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Where do you draw the line on social media?

I try to keep up. I have a feed reader. I blog. I comment on other people's blogs. I tweet. I have multiple websites. I have accounts on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and others.

But you have to draw the line somewhere.

I wrote earlier about being app'd out. I still feel that way. But each day I feel farther behind. Maybe not behind, but not necessarily maximizing potential. I don't Digg. I don't StumbleUpon. OK, maybe I do like once a month if I have some spare time. But I know I am missing out on a lot of cool things. I usually check out other people's links to cool tools or the next new thing. But right now, I feel like I am in the Dip.

Any suggestions on how to get out?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Catching Back Up with Shirky

I took a small break from my Here Comes Everybody reading. Fatherhood, a trade show, and a growing stack of magazines will do that. But last weekend I had a chance to read a little bit more, and wanted to share my favorite nuggets.

Shirky quotes investor Esther Dyson: "When we call something intuitive, we often mean familiar." Have you looked at your membership offerings/benefits/communications to see if they are intuitive or just familiar?

Shirky borrows another quote from author and activist Cory Doctorow: "Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about." At ASAE Annual, many were talking about their social media strategy and what to do. Focus on facilitating conversation, not just content generation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Ideal Conference

Lot's of folks have talked about San Diego and the ASAE Annual Meeting.
NFI
BMart (aka Captain Fogdirog)
JNott (aka McLovin)
Kevin Holland
New Association Blogger Caron Mason
Lisa Junker compiled a list on Acronym, including some of these too.

It got me thinking of a few posts Jeff did back in June (here and here) about cool conferences. I wanted to pose a separate question. If you could start a conference from scratch for association professionals, how would you do it? Location, sessions, timing, registration, special events, cost - the whole nine.

Let's hear your ideas!

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Fun Stuff in San Diego

With ASAE Annual now over, reflection is necessary. I will say that this year's social aspects of the meeting were phenomenal. Great networking opportunities. Great receptions. Great parties. It was fun meeting some folks IRL (in real life)for the first time. I was also able to make many new friends that I am sure I will keep up with through the power of social media. That way when we get together next year, it will be like we never left. Here are my highlights:

- YAP 80s/90s Dance Party. Truly the party of the year. Too many photos are online that will incriminate many of us.
- Monday night reception hopping. Too many stops though. I need to pace myself.
- Food and Wine Classic. Very cool on the USS Midway. Thanks Boxwood.
- Closing Block Party. Great setup. Wish I could have stayed longer.
- Opening Reception. Nice beer tasting on the Embarcadero.
- Padres game. Petco Park is nice. It was also fun to see the Philly fans sulk.
- Last but not least, Fogdirog. Nuff said. (Check out the link)

Some other big launches at or around the show:
- ANPMP
- Social Fish
- A List Bloggers

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Thoughts from ASAE Annual in San Diego

I was bad. I didn't blog one post from San Diego. I am going to recap San Diego in two posts, one on the serious stuff and one on the fun stuff. This will be the serious one. I think I can break it into three lists: the good, the bad and the ugly.

The Good:
- San Diego is a great city. Everything was easy to get to and fairly easy to find.
- There was plenty to do. If you were bored, it was your own fault.
- Most of the A Listers were in attendance. You know who you are. You're kind of a big deal.
- Plenty of sessions on Social Media, including a social media lab.
- Environmentally friendly badge holders.
- Free Wifi in the convention hall.
- The number of ideas I now have to sort through.

The Bad:
- Speakers were still tethered to mixers by long cables on their microphones.
- Too many receptions on Sunday night. It's ok to let people have something the same night as the Food and Wine Classic.
- Too much cheese with singing and dancing routines before general sessions.
- It's a shame the Blue Ocean Strategy session ran late and she didn't get to go through the whole thing. But she also needed to tailor it more to her audience.
- "Green" badge holders broke easily.

The Ugly:
- Me trying to hang with the youngin's.
- Taking the red-eye back on Tuesday night.
- Having to wait a year to do it again.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Don't be too picky

Miriam has a great post on Acronym that I wanted to talk about in a different vein. I want to caution people not to be too picky. I know I have posted several suggestions about what ASAE could/should do, but that is me thinking like a member. I am sure we all have members who are always offering suggestions. Some good, some you have just smile and nod. I am guessing I fall into both categories.

Because this is what we all do on a daily basis, we are prone to be the worst critics. When you see something that isn't quite right or could be better, put yourself in ASAE's shoes before you comment. If it was your conference, when and how would you prefer your members to tell you about it? Then do that.

ASAE is going to put on a good show. There will certainly be some things I look for and try to implement that I see them do. And I am sure I will have comments for the evaluations too. And dang-it, if the AV isn't right this year...

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Great Words that Really Don't Exist

I know Elizabeth hates quote marks.

I know Maddie wants some words/phrases to go away.

So I am pushing for some new words/phrases to be added to the lexicon. Mostly because I am not that smart when it comes to the English language and want to make things easier on myself. Plus, I looked dumb in my last post. So I am lobbying to make myself (and W) look smarter!

Proposed additions:
#1 - Inclusionary - works better than inclusive in some instances, right Jamie!
#2 - Commoditization - the turning of things into a commodity.

Bonus - for all you SNL fans: Dignitude.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

ANPMP is Officially Relaunched

A while back, I tried to launch an open source association. Last week I said I would relaunch. I have.

www.anpmp.org

This one is using Wordpress and BBPress. I am sure I will weave in some other open source apps over time.

What now? Join. Participate. Discuss. First up, logos and graphics. Tag 'em in Flickr.

The Buzz Topics

Diversity and Social Responsibility

I want to start off the post with a disclaimer, I am not against these things one bit. So please don't think that. I think we should all make efforts to be inclusionary (evidently not a word) and to do our part in being socially responsible.

But haven't we beaten these topics into the ground? They aren't new. In fact, it seems that we are talking more and more about them, but with less and less new insight. Can't we just figure out a few low-key ways to enable people to increase diversity and social responsibility where needed and/or where they can and let it snowball from there? I feel like dialogue and hollow or poorly executed programs are all that seem to flying around.

I hate to complain and not offer any solutions, but I don't have any right now. I just think if the time and effort spent on dialogue were channeled into actual actionable items, we might get people more engaged in both topics.

OK, let the wrath begin.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More ASAE Annual Thoughts

One of my yearly comments on the ASAE Annual post-meeting survey has been about the sessions. There are just too many offered at the same time. I was sitting down planning my sessions and found many I wanted to go to, but were in the same time slot. For example, on Sunday from 1:30-2:45 there are 25 Learning Labs. Doesn't that seem like a lot for one time slot?

I understand more choice is better and there are lots of different types of attendees, but I would rather have more, shorter sessions. Break those up into groups of 12 and make them 45 minutes. Force presenters to skip the fluff. Or, have them offered twice during the convention.

Just some thoughts. Hopefully this isn't viewed as a complaint. Really it is a compliment. The sessions and speakers are great. There is just too much I want to do and not enough of me.

Monday, August 11, 2008

ASAE Annual Thoughts

I just figured out my schedule for ASAE Annual. Wow, lots to do. I have a packed schedule, as I bet most do.

For my fellow trade association folks, I will be leading a discussion in the Decision To Lounge at 3pm on Sunday. It will focus on how trades can use the DTJ study.

Not sure I like the pre-reg process for Thought Leader sessions. Didn't even know I had to until it was too late. Oh well.

Here is a pet-peeve. Exhibitor phone calls pre-show. When did this become acceptable? I can deal with the postcards (even though I think I have gotten one from every single exhibitor). But stop calling me. Just because I am going to the event doesn't make me a qualified lead.

I hope the AV in the meeting rooms is better this year. If not, I really hope ASAE will let us help them with it in the future. It is our industry and we have offered to help. I hate being at a conference with bad AV and then telling people I work for the AV trade association.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Relaunching ANPMP

Back in February, I started an open source experiment creating ANPMP - Asssociation for Non-Profit Membership Professionals. Using Drupal and trying some other open source products, I wanted to create a web-based assocation with low startup costs. I actually got 8 folks on board, even though I really didn't do anything with it except post to this blog. 5 of those were people I have never met and are all outside the DC area.

Turns out, you really need time and a very good backend web/database brain to make multiple, database heavy platforms work. I didn't have the time, nor the information architecture knowledge to get this to work how I wanted. Time being the biggest factor.

So, I am relaunching just using Wordpress and bbPress. Ben's post inspired me to re-think this and try again. Plus, I have used Wordpress before, so I won't be learning a totally new thing like Drupal. My plan is to have something up by San Diego. I will let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

How Big is Your Social Network?

As I approach my 200th LinkedIn contact, I noticed a tab I hadn't noticed before. Network Statistics. Right now, LinkedIn tells me I have 198 contacts. My 2nd degree (friends of friends) is a whopping 16,700+.

Anyone who asks why would I want to market using social media can now be shown some legitamate numbers.

Now only if you could import your Facebook friends to LinkedIn like your outlook or webmail address books.

The n00b

Again, Seth Godin gets you thinking - Should you ignore the n00bs?

This is from the end of the post:

The words and interactions you use often have a sophistication that will confuse some portion of your audience.

Why not consider making it easy for the confused to ask for help? And treat them with respect when they do. If you don't create a little confusion, it's unlikely you've built something remarkable.

And to go one step further: sometimes it's okay to lose the n00bs. Not in an arrogant way (except for some brands) but in a way that says, "this might just not be for you..."

Is your association trying to be something it's not just to get more numbers?

Monday, August 4, 2008

More Cowbell

I was catching up on my blog reading when I came across a post by Seth Godin about singing it. He linked to this post which I wanted to pass along here. Brian Clark make a few great points, most of all:

Successful content relies on the hook, the angle, the tiny little element no one else takes time to notice. It’s not that others are more talented than you, it’s that they work harder finding the winning difference.

In the blogging game, there are two typical winners:

The person who gets the scoop.

And the person who notices, thinks about, and amplifies the cowbell.

Guess who endures?


PS - one of the best SNL skits, ever! Walken and Ferrell are genius.

Friday, August 1, 2008

I have to complain for a minute

I try not to pummel specific companies who mess up with customer service, but this one takes the cake. Meeting News has got to be the worst publication customer service ever. I have now gotten 4 calls in the last 3 weeks by people trying to renew my free subscription. I don't want it. I don't read it. I don't want to keep getting a magazine I instantly throw in the recycling bin. I am trying to be more green.

I even got 2 calls on the same day. Why can't they actually just get me off their mailing and call list? I have tried asking nicely and more aggressively. Stop calling me! Actually take me off the list.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Baseball in San Diego during ASAE

BMart, DGamm and I took in a ChiSox game last year. So this year, we are making it a Padres vs. Phillies game. Open to all takers.

Game is Saturday night at 7:05. Tickets will be between $15-$20 depending on how many people come which will dictate where we sit.

If you would like to go, let me know by Monday August 4 at noon. Either comment here or shoot me an email at mjbaehr@infocomm.org.

Sorry Elizabeth, no overzealous Philly fans are allowed ;)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

International Blogging and New Media Association Relaunched

See the Press Release here.

In the context of all the recent conversations, would this group be better served as an association or the hated term, self-formed group?

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Discounts

There have been many conversations about discounting dues. The best I can remember can be found here.

For those offering new member discounts, once a member goes to renew, I am guessing you have them start paying regular dues. How much do people complain? Once you start offering a discount to new members, do current members complain?

I am up for renewal on one of my magazines. I thought the price seemed high. I Googled the magazine and found I could get it at a 25% discount from a number of online retailers. So, I emailed the customer service department to find out why. Here is the response I got:

{blank} Magazine has always valued its loyal renewal subscribers; however, there are times when {blank} must add new subscribers to its subscriber list. This can be done in several ways: {blank} may offer a subscription plus a premium at the basic subscription rate, we may offer a subscription for less than the basic rate, or we may allow our agents to offer a subscription for less than the basic rate. Please note that these are special one time only introductory offers. Upon expiring these subscribers are renewed at the regular renewal subscription price. We try to be fair in our methods of doing business and from time to time we will make special one-time-offers to our renewal subscribers.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know. To ensure your future concerns are handled in a timely fashion, please include all previous e-mail correspondence.


What is different about this from associations is, the number of options. If you want membership, you have to deal with one entity. For subscriptions, I can deal with hundreds and find the best price. They really aren't one-time introductory offers if I can find them anytime online from a number of retailers. And I would be willing to guess that the magazine pays a fee to the online retailers for each subscriber obtained. So why wouldn't you offer the same price they offer and keep the whole thing? It sounds like you would make more money and make people happier. What is stopping me from letting my subscription run out and just buying it every year from one of these retailers for a cheaper price?

25% is quite a difference. What would happen if you let Wal-Mart sell your memberships tomorrow for 25% less than you charge? Would people still go directly to your association to renew?

What if you flipped traditional thinking? What if first-time members paid X, but when you renewed, it was cheaper? I would love to hear Tony's take on that one.

The Innovation Routine

I have stepped back away from Shirky for awhile because my magazine pile was getting a little out of control. Here are the mags I try to read monthly, in no particular order:

1. Associations Now
2. Inc
3. Fast Company
4. HR Magazine (SHRM's publication)
5. Forum

I love Inc and Fast Company. Great stories and many nuggets that can be applied to association work. In the June Inc, they talk about innovation. I thought this was an interesting piece that might help you in the way you innovate or brainstorm new things at your association.

Obsolescence and Banking

In some ways, the recent conversations have asked if associations will become obsolete. Greg pointed out that some associations have run their course, while others mentioned how as the world changes, and industry may cease to exist (see Shirky talking about scribes).

Although not really association related, I wonder when checks will become obsolete. It still baffles me when I go to Giant and see someone write a check. In the era of online banking and debit cards, there aren't too many situations that require having a check. Plus, it is the one form of payment that you aren't sure or not if it is good.

I like Bank of America's savings program where they round up your purchases and put the change into your savings. What a great idea. Now, could some non-profits team up with BOA and have them round up and put the change in account as a donation to that charity or foundation? Now that would be something!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Humility

Just read a nice article about the USA Basketball team that will competing in Bejing. The last statement was terrific.

There's something to be said for humility. Until an athlete bows his head, after all, no one can hang a gold medal around his neck.

Apathy vs Ignorance

Today was trash day in my neighborhood. It amazed me that in my little townhouse court, I saw 4 CRT monitors and/or TVs put out for the trash guys to pickup. Don't people know that those TVs have harmful things in them and that there are several electronics recycling programs available?

I am guessing some know and some don't, even though I feel everyone should know at this point. So then here comes a question like Ben's - Do they care? As shown by the TVs in the trash, no.

Are there topics like this in your association with your members? Are you struggling between figuring out if it is apathy or ignorance? I know I am.

PS - Something tells me there could be a really cool graph to display an apathy/ignorance curve of some sort.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Association Survivor

I was just going to comment on Ben's latest post, but then figured it needed an entire post of its own.

I still go back to my original statement. There will still be a need for associations/institutions to handle larger scale projects that require economies of scale and true, professional management. Many of these things do fall into Ben's category of "problems that most people don't really care too much about, but that need to be handled." But what we are really talking about is opportunity costs. Economics 101. It's not that people don't care. It is that people care about other stuff more. They care about their jobs, their families and having fun.

So, in a way Ben, I guess you are right. Associations will continue to thrive because people have better things to do.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Interesting Blog

Inc Magazine has several guest bloggers on their website. One interesting one is Jay Goltz and his blog Boss School. Interesting to read the comments and hear what small businesses are going through.

From CSI to Member Benefits

It is going to take me minute to get to my point, but I figured I would give you my crazy train of thought. My wife and I have a game where we try to figure out how our brains jumped from one thing to a seemingly unrelated other thing. So here is the road map to the point of this blog post.

I saw that William Petersen is leaving CSI, the CBS TV show. It reminded me that I totally missed last season. I figured I should catch up on the show before the season starts. Turns out, CBS doesn't put all old full shows online. NBC and ABC do. So now, I may not really watch CSI this fall since I missed a bunch of shows last season. Why wouldn't you put up old episodes to help drive traffic to the new ones?

So here it is. Are you giving your members old products for free to help drive traffic to new ones? If not, maybe you should be. The best example I can think of is market research. If you have a new version of the study out, why not send all your members a copy of the old study? You can say you want your members to have the solid data available to help them do business. So here, take this study for nothing. But, if you want the most up-to-date data, this new study is available for purchase.

I am sure this could work with other benefits/products/services. There are probably arguments against it, but just like me with CSI, you may have people expecting it. And if they don't get it, they just walk away.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Cost Benefit

At ASAE Annual in San Diego, I am leading a discussion in the Decision to Join Lounge on Sunday at 3pm. The topic is how DTJ applies to trade associations. I have been a big trade association cheerleader in trying to get ASAE to do a DTJ for trades, which I hear is their next study.

So, I am going through DTJ again, just preparing some things for my talk (which is right after Blogger-Con BTW). I discovered, or was reminded, of an interesting dichotomy.

The first sentence of the book reads: "A person’s decision to join an individual membership organization is not a cost-benefit analysis." However, when the folks who had ever dropped membership in an association were asked the main reason why, "Did not receive the expected value to justify the cost of dues" was the #1 answer.

Long story short, don't think that you don't have to worry about cost/benefit. It may not be the main reason people join, but it will be the main reason they stay.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Alltop

I passed the very tough entrance exam, and now this blog is listed on the Non-Profit network of Alltop, a “digital magazine rack” of the Internet (as they put it).

Check it out and see what other YAPstars you find!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Today's Nuggets from Shirky

I didn't read as much as I wanted to over the holiday weekend, but I did get a few nuggets that I wanted to share and get your thoughts on.

If everyone can do something, it is no longer rare enough to pay for, even if it is vital.

Here Shirky talks about the demise of the profession of scribes. But think about it in terms of your association benefits. If the only benefits you offer are things people can get other places for nothing, you better have a true value proposition other than those benefits. And chances are, discounts or member pricing on conferences, etc. aren't going to cut it.

Here is something you can show all the naysayers at your associations when it comes to blogs and social media:

It's also easy to see why the audience for most user-generated content is so small, filled as it is with narrow, spelling-challenged observations about going to the mall and picking out clothes...And it's easy to deride this thing as self-absorbed publishing -- why would anyone put such drivel out in public?

It's simple. They're not talking to you.

It's not always about you. And that's ok. But when it is about you, you want to be there to hear it, and answer if appropriate. Because if you are not, it will never again be about you. And if you lose one engagement, how many more are bound to follow?

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

More from Shirky

Ok, so it looks like I will be posting my thoughts fairly frequently when it comes to Shirky's book. Here is my latest nugget:

In particular, when a profession has been created as a result of some scarcity, as with librarians or television programmers, the professionals are often the last ones to see it when that scarcity goes away. It is easier to understand that you face competition then obsolesence.


This is talking more about a profession, but could be about associations too? Any thoughts?

Ben Talks About Self Forming Groups

http://caeexam.blogspot.com/2008/07/there-is-no-such-thing-as-self-forming.html

See my comment on his take, too.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

More on Groups and Shirky

Can I tell you that I love reading Shirky's book while having this great conversation at the same time? Anyway, Lindy had an interesting comment on my last post. I want to take a piece of it out for you:

We have a great group going and a lot of momentum. We're getting calls and e-mails from big name authors, speakers and potential sponsors. But we don't want to do this stuff in a vacuum. We want the professional arm of our industry to step up and help us out and make the big stuff happen.


I think this goes right along with what Shirky says in Chapter 2. Essentially, with transactions costs dropping so much, activities that couldn't be taken on before are now being taken on by self-forming groups. At the same time, there will still be a need for institutions to handle larger scale projects that require economies of scale and true management.

Therefore, associations should embrace the small, self-forming groups and be there to jump on board when the small group has reached a point that it can't do what it wants to without the help of a larger institution.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Why Are We Here - Part 2

I got some good comments on my last post asking why associations are here? (Since that post, I did pick up Clay Shirky's book and am starting to plow through it. Good stuff so far.) Ellen made a good point about professionalism. Many employers want their employees to get professional development and will budget for conferences, training or trade shows. Associations are a key piece of that. I am not sure employers would pay for a person to go to an event created by a Facebook group. (You might get better content from the Facebook group meeting.)

Maddie says content is key and that associations need to be at the forefront. I think the main issue is that associations need to provide a place, the proper tools, and the recognition so that people will give their content to associations rather than other places.

Lindy wants us to be enablers of groups and be the ultimate resource in our industries and not just producers of events.

Ben started this conversation last month and got a number of comments as well.

Here is my take. I agree with Ellen about the professionalism piece. When you hire a plumber, you tend to go for the guy with the nice truck/website/uniform/advertisment or whatever else that makes him/her look more professional than the guy with the beat up pickup truck and cutoff denim shorts. You don't know who the better plumber is, but you are going to go with the more professional one. However, professionalism is only the start. An association must provide value, plain and simple. Each industry will be different, but there must be something worth spending my money on. And I better not be able to get it somewhere else for free.

When it comes to these Web 2.0, self-formed groups, 99.9% will reach a point where they will have a project which will be too big for them to handle without a true management/organizational structure. Or the funds won't be there. Or their employers won't give them the time to work on it. Or the members of the group won't commit because it is just too much. That's where the associations will thrive. And that's where I agree with Lindy in that associations need to embrace these self-formed groups and be there to take the reigns when need be.

Friday, June 27, 2008

BlogClump's Birthday

I was reading Association Marketing Springboard and realized I missed BlogClump's Birthday!

BlogClump turned 1 on June 14th, at which time I was on a plane to Vegas for our tradeshow. Anyway, thanks to all who made it possible and kept pushing me to start one and keep it going. You know who you are, fellow Blogoclumpers...

See you at the YAPpy Hour and/or in San Diego (which is German for, well nevermind).

Why Are We Here?

In my last post, Ben points us to a question derived from Clay Shirky's book (It is tops on my list of books to read right now, I just need to find the time):

Now that forming groups is ridiculously easy, what's the point of "professional group organizers" like association professionals?


Ok, association professionals. Time to defend our salaries. Why are we here? Why are our associations here?

I will post my answers later on, but I want to hear what you have to say!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Groups

I am a big believer in social media, as most of you already know. We had good success last week launching the new InfoComm Community. We leveraged our exisiting Facebook and LinkedIn groups to help the launch. Upon checking our Facebook group today, I looked on the right side to see "Related groups" and found one called:

If you can't fix it with Gaffa tape, you haven't used enough.

If you are an AV person of any sort, this is kind of like duct tape for AV people. What I couldn't believe was that 55,000 people were members of this group. Now granted, I think this is the European view similar to ours of duct tape, but 55,000 members. Unreal.

My question is, would an association do better with a Facebook group for their association, or starting a bunch on several specific topics/products and bringing in outsiders? Could be a good membership recruitment thing.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Social Media Survey

I know I am late to the party on this one (sorry for the delay Jeff), but please fill out the survey on social media.

http://www.principledinnovation.com/blog/2008/06/01/participate-in-the-state-of-social-technologies-adoption-survey/

You have until June 30th. Hopefully this late reminder will help kick in a few responses.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Yesterday

What a day. All because of the weather. I need to get this off my chest. Everyone needs to start acting with more common courtesy and common sense. This was very evident in the traffic situations caused by the weather yesterday.

When a traffic light is out, it is a 4-way stop, no matter what. Several times on my way to the DC United game, I hit signals that were out. Not a single one was treated like a 4-way stop when I got there. I stopped, but people next to me flew through it. Some even honked at me and passed me on the left to get through. Be smart and show some love to others.

Next, when your lane merges into another on the freeway, don't speed up and fly to the end of the merge area and then try to nose your way in. Especially when it is gridlock anyway. Turn on your signal and wait your turn. Just because you came off a ramp doesn't mean you have priority over someone who has been sitting on the freeway going 1mph for the last 10 minutes. I saw some lady get onto 395 from the Pentagon area last night speed up and nose her way in front of a truck and ended up getting hit by the truck. She gets out of her car and starts complaining to the guy driving the truck. However, she was trying to merge in front of him by speeding into the birm and just jetting over. I bet he didn't even see her, considering she was driving one of those new Saturn Skys. Let one person in, then go. And give the wave when someone lets you in.

I made the mistake of trying to go to the DC United game last night. I spent a total of 5 hours in transit, waiting, getting wet and sitting, all to see a total of 15 minutes of soccer. At least I got a free t-shirt for my $12 in parking costs.

Anyway, be safe out there. And pay it forward...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Liberation

So I had a panic moment yesterday that turned out to be liberation. Those familiar with Outlook know that if you hold Shift+Del, it will permanently delete an item (not send it to the recycle bin for later). I do this a lot with spam so I don't have to do another step later to get rid of everything. Somehow I fat fingered the keyboard and it highlighted my whole inbox and killed everything. Poof. Gone.

I look at it this way. The only stuff in my inbox were things I hadn't filed yet or deleted. It was that middle ground stuff that I couldn't decide whether it was important or crap. So now after deleting them all, I figure the important things will reappear. One already has, thank goodness.

It was strangely liberating to see a completely blank inbox for a while. Alas, email purgatory known as my inbox has already started to creep again.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Unsession

We held an impromptu unsession at the MMC yesterday. Our suggestion to ASAE, and potentially every association:

Have one room where members could go and hold their own unsessions at any point during your annual meeting or conference. Give them a flip chart, and have them document any takeaways and tape them to the wall for others who use the room at any point during the conference.

Don't know what an "unsession" is? Look at the definition of Unconference to get the general idea.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Facebook Effect

Jeff De Cagna is leading a session on social networking at the M&M Conference. It is standing room (or sitting on the floor in my case) only. I think many people are still afraid of social networking, or at least are not fully educated about it. So, I am happy to see so many here.

A great question from his presentation:

How would your association be different if engagement was the goal from the first membership moment?

Rockin It in Baltimore

I am here at the ASAE Marketing and Membership Conference. It is great to see so many friends here in Baltimore. I was a little late getting here, as it is tough to get a 7 week old and the wife packed for a 3 week trip to Ireland. I get to hang out alone for 2 weeks before heading to Vegas for our trade show.

Mark Levin's opening session was good. It was pretty basic in comparing the old view vs. the new view of membership and marketing using technology, etc. There were some good nuggets to take back and a few things that it is always good to hear over and over again, like gather the right data and use it. And remember to keep the member in membership.

I am now in the session about recruiting, retaining and engaging young professionals. More later...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Nudge

Dan and Chip Heath write a great article in the May issue of Fast Company. It is about changing people's opinions with just a small nudge, or change in the way things are normally done. One example they give is that in Austria, you are automatically an organ donor unless you opt out. Therefore, 99% of residents are donors. When you have to opt in, only 12% of residents of Germany are donors.

Could you make renewals automatic? Once you sign up, we will automatically charge your credit card each year unless you opt out? Are there laws against that? Would you get a big backlash? I know credit card companies try to do that with their "insurance" plans in you lose your job, etc.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The most dangerous question you can ask your members

What can the association do to help you with issue X?

It sounds harmless. It sounds like it would give you some good, solid ideas. It sounds like it might be the catalyst for the next great member benefit or service. And it may be. However, it may also be the catalyst for members getting frustrated with you. Why is that?

1) They may wonder why you are worried about issue X and not issue Y
2) Once they give you feedback, they may expect you to go do it. If you don't, you look bad.

So, how then do you figure out what you can do about issue X? Find out if issue X is a hot button. Ask other questions to help you formulate possible solutions. What are you currently doing about issue X? Then dig deeper with individual respondents.

I know in the past someone blogged about the way you ask survey questions. If you ask, do you want the association to do something, the answer will always be yes. Asking what you can do about something, totally open-ended, can be just as dangerous.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Some thoughts from my trip

So here is how my trip went last week. Thursday May 1, drove to Columbus, OH to see the parents with new baby, Madeline. Friday, drove down to Athens, OH, home of Ohio University, for an alumni event. I came in 5th out of 75 in the poker tourney, so that was nice. Saturday, did alumni event things. Sunday, drove back up to Columbus for Maddie's baptism. Monday was a regional member meeting in Columbus. Tuesday drove to Indianapolis and did another regional member meeting. Wednesday drove to Cincinnati for yet another regional member meeting, then drove back up to Columbus to stay at my folks and meet the wife and kid who had gone up to Detroit to see my in-laws. Thursday, May 8 - drive back home to VA. WHEW!

Anyway, here are my thoughts from this long adventure.

- 2008 Nissan Altima - nice rental car. Big fan.
- Towne Place Suites by Marriott - nice hotel. Big fan.
- I highly recommend meetings at Ruth's Chris. Great food. The name draws more attendees. And the costs are usually cheaper than a hotel.
- People really do remember good customer service. That is something I wish everyone would take note of. Your customers will remember you if you provide good customer service. Bad service is becoming the norm, so good service sticks out more.
- I am caught in the middle of two polar opposite mindsets. Sleep is a wonderful thing vs. there is too much to do, sleep when you are dead. I don't see this one resolving itself anytime soon.
- Columbus is a test market for many businesses. Its demographics mirror the overall demographics of the nation, so it is a common test market. I had a Mushroom swiss angus burger at McDonalds. Not bad. Seemed more like something Burger King or Wendy's would do. My guess is Wendy's would have done it better.

A few more trips coming up. I will try to have something more focused next time.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Back in the Office - Free and Attrition

I am now back in the office, albeit exhausted, from my paternity leave. They baby, Madeline Louise, is doing great. So is her mother. Here are pics:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mattbaehr/MadelineLouiseBaehr02

As I was in the photo place last night having some of these lovely pics printed to mail out to some less techie people, I overheard a conversation the sales guy was having regarding some class the store offers.

The store offers some sort of photography class(es). They used to be free and they would get a bunch of people to sign up. Half would show, and they would have spent way to much money on renting chairs, space, food, etc. Now, they charge $25, but you get a $25 gift card to the store when you finish the class. Now they only get 25 people, but they all (or most) show, and they make some money in the process.

We have done the same thing with many of our programs. Attrition was so high, we couldn't plan properly. For some programs, we actually get more people now that we charge.

Chris Anderson's new book is about free, and you could get a free copy of the issue in Wired that he talks about it: http://www.wired.com/techbiz/it/magazine/16-03/ff_free Free is powerful, and will probably be the future for a lot of things. But, there is still something to be said about charging something.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

More on the family

My wife's family lives forever. And they are athletic. James Roy is my father in law and still plays ice hockey at 74. I may have mentioned this last year. Here is a story about him and his buddies.

http://www.hometownlife.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080412/SPORTS16/80412013&SearchID=73314564968469

And here is a video I shot a while back at one of their tourneys in Laurel, MD.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VcgTrQXjWOY

Thursday, April 10, 2008

My life has changed forever

I am so excited to announce the birth of Madeline Louise Baehr. She was born Monday night, 6 lbs 9 oz, 19.75 inches. Here are some photos:

http://picasaweb.google.com/mattbaehr/MadelineLouiseBaehr02

Thanks to Associations Now for the plug in their blogroll. Sorry, but I am guessing I won't have anything spectacular to say for a while, except how gorgeous my daughter is. Not that I am bias...

Saturday, April 5, 2008

My childhood home

As of today, my childhood home is on the market. My parents lived in the same house for over 30 years. They are retiring to New Jersey this summer, near the shore. So, my next visit back home will be my last. I am not sure how I feel about that. I still have a few friends back home, but I am not sure I have will have many reasons to head back to Ohio. That makes me a little sad. But, my folks will be a bit closer now, which will be nice. It won't be a long drive for them to see the grandkid, and we will have a place near the beach.

Anyway, the baby isn't here yet, but I have a feeling my posts may be a little sporatic.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Off topic

So I am getting ready for our tradeshow in a few months. As trade show vets know, shoes are key. I found a new site that Amazon runs, www.endless.com. This is a cheap shoe site that offers free next day delivery and free shipping on returns. I ordered shoes last night at 7pm and they arrived this morning at 9:45. Crazy. They are nice shoes and were about $10-20 less than comparable shoes at DSW.

Now to break them in.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Unsubscribing

Somehow, I find many enewsletters in my inbox that I never signed up for. As I was just unsubscribing from one, I had an interesting wrinkle. The web page I used to unsubscribe asked me what state I was in. This is the first time I have had to put in any info (besides the address to unsubscribe) in order to get off a list. Does this now mean I will be on a different list for just my state events/news? Who knows? However, I did find it an interesting way to get more info from your list. I believe most people would answer at least 1 demographic question in order to unsubscribe, probably a few.

Fast Company

I am a big fan of Fast Company magazine. In their latest issue, with Barack on the cover, they mentioned launching their new website complete with social network on www.fastcompany.com. I had to check it out.

Looks like it will be cool when enough folks get on board. I joined the group: Nonprofits & Associations - Company of Friends.

I guess they built it using open source Drupal, like what I used in starting ANPMP. I know, I haven't done anything more with it, but I just haven't had time.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

How you treat your members

I went into a bank for the first time in I don't know how long. I always use ATMs and online banking, but today I needed a cashier's check. As I waited in line, watching the tellers shuffle back and forth behind the counter (wondering who they were helping), it made me think about how associations treat their members. If you have an eMembership or a large number of members who do a majority of their association stuff online, what is the experience you give them when they do come to you in person? Is it just like the experience your other members have (the folks who come into the bank every week)? Should it be?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Understanding

Seth Godin has a great post/challenge about learning new things. Could your association provide a quick daily/weekly nugget helping members learn something? I bet this would be easier than you think and get members to check your site daily/weekly.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Legal Stuff

Everytime I hear people talk about social media, liability issues are raised. Thanks to Ben for his Craigslist update. I have linked to other sites as well.

What drives me nuts right now, is that I haven't seen or heard about any definitive rulings with regards to social media liability. If everyone's so worried about it, why isn't there a magic bullet ruling/terms and conditions/waiver/how-to?

Or is it everyone's worried, but no one has sued, so no one has done anything about it? Yes, there was a Craigslist suit, but any out there in association land? Any law associations want to step up and take a stab at this?

Monday, March 17, 2008

Back From Travel, Again

I am now back from my short, 3-day Florida trip. Ah, the sun and nice weather. We held a quick regional meeting for our members. We have been doing these with good success for a few years now. Nothing beats a chance to ask your members what their industry issues are, and how you as an association can help. They love it. You get great info, and they leave feeling like you care. Plus, you have faces with member names, and they now know your face. It is beautiful.

Luckily, I have no travel in April as I wait for child #1 (due date April 5). So, if things get slow around here, it is because the baby is keeping me away.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Association 3.0

I just got a chance to read Jeff's article "Beyond Today".

One paragraph stands out to me:

In a long-tail world filled with an infinite number of niches, choice is now a paramount business consideration for all organizations. If Association 3.0 is going to be an attractive and worthwhile opportunity for diverse people and perspectives, we must make it easier for those individuals and ideas to find a home in our organizations. By creating more choices for how that can happen through new forms of collaborative engagement, we can increase the total surface area of our associations and, in the process, make them more inclusive. Rather than being all things to all people, Association 3.0 can be a trusted community in which all interested contributors are welcome to follow their inspiration and pursue their aspirations.


I think this is the single hardest thing facing association professionals right now. How do I avoid trying to be all things to all people, but still create an environment where a diverse body of members can get the information, opportunities, benefits and services they want? And, how do I do this while simultaneously trying to grow my membership? It seems to be a bit of a paradox.

I hear people like Seth Godin talking about pushing past the Dip. Sometimes you have to know when to quit, or when to drop a program. But then how do you stay relevant to the few members who joined just for that program? Yes, you would hopefully have sold them on other valuable member benefits, but sometimes people join for one thing, and one thing only. As you continue to add new programs and benefits, they become harder and harder to manage. But if you don't add new things, you lose members because you aren't relevant any more.

The vicious cycle continues, and we must find a happy medium.

I am App'd Out, but not Blogged Out

Here are some other places you will find me lately:

PITV - with fellow bloggers Ben, Jeff and Maddie.

ANPMP - my open source association experiment.

Friday, March 7, 2008

I am getting app'd out

Maddie and Ben have posted recently about Twitter and other applications.

I think I am officially app'd out. I am signed up for way too many different web-applications. I can't remember if I joined some of them or not. I test drove some for a few days, then forgot about them. I keep reading blog posts about new, cool ones. I even had a co-worker show me bubbl.us yesterday. Very neat.

However, I think I have reached my limit. Anyone else feeling that way? How do you keep track of all the apps you have out there? Oh wait, someone is going to respond with another app that brings them all together for you, right?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Thoughts from the Doctor's Office

I went to the doctor today, nothing serious, just needing a little check up and prescription. Anyway, I had two thoughts that came to mind, and I think I can apply them to the association world.

1) There was a magazine among the usual suspects in the waiting room, called Garden and Gun. What? Excuse me? Where is Fish and Bicycle? Two seemingly unrelated things in one magazine. Why? It has a subhead, which mentions something about the South. Ah-ha. Garden for the women. Guns for the men. A magazine that both can enjoy (part of).

Could you do that in your association? Put two seemingly different items together to reach a broader audience? Maybe someone won't come for just one, but if there was a second thing, even something they were only remotely interested in, would it be the clincher?

2) I waited at least 30 minutes before I was seen. That is 30 minutes after my appointment time. Why do they make appointments then? There were 4-5 other people waiting with me. The killer was that during my 1 hour total visit, I saw at least 5 drug reps visit. There may have been more that I missed during my 10 minutes in the exam room. 5 in one hour. Does that happen all day? If so, when does the doc see anyone? (I think he is a one man shop.) Oh wait, that is why we all have to wait so long. He has twice as many appointments - his patients and his drug reps.

Associations - be sure you know who your real customer is. Know who can wait and why you are really there. That may be my last visit to that doctor.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Your Meetings

Mike posted about lessons learned from his annual meeting. He mentions AV. I did this post back in July, but it still holds true.

1) If you are recording your sessions, don't chain your speakers to a mixer by using a hard wired lav mic. Spring for the wireless. Your speakers will thank you, and so will your attendees. No one likes to watch speakers who can't move more than 6 feet, and who are carrying a thick cable so they don't trip over it.

2) Make sure screens are places high enough so that people in the back of the room can see them. I was in a session where the speaker kept showing New Yorker cartoons, but unless you were in the first 2 rows, you couldn't read the captions at the bottom. Only 30 people out of 500 got the jokes.

3) Many times, you get what you pay for. Just because a computer rental company says they do AV and will bundle your package for a better price, doesn't mean it is the best deal. There is a big convergence going on between AV and IT, but they are still two distinct things.

Good luck with your meetings. And be sure not to forget the AV!

Monday, February 25, 2008

It's not what you say, but when you say it

I joined the ASAE Circle Club right before the new year. I asked them to not charge me until Jan. 1, which they said wouldn't be a problem. However, I didn't hear anything after a week, so I called. They had a staff transition, which I knew about, so no big deal. I was taken care of. I registered a few people for things, renewed a few memberships, and even signed up a few new people. I got an email with a few documents, etc.

Today, I received my Welcome to the Circle Club package. Today. Over 8 weeks after I joined. Granted, I did get the email right away, but it took over 8 weeks to get me the print materials. Why bother? If I wouldn't have gotten anything, I wouldn't have thought anything of it, to be honest. But now that I did get something, I could care less about its content, because I am so disappointed it came so late.

Here lies a good lesson. We spend so much time crafting great marketing messages and pretty materials that we forget it is more about timing than anything else. Make sure you are sending things at the RIGHT time. We just had a member meeting where manufacturers were asking dealers how they could get more of their attention. The answer - you can't force it, the information just has to be in front of them when they are looking for it, or open to it. The solution, keep sending emails and direct mail pieces, just not so many that you annoy someone so much that they opt out. And provide the information in as many ways as possible, so that when someone is looking for it, they can find it easily.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

ANPMP is Up and Running

Ok, the basic website for the ANPMP is up and running. You can join, enter a brief profile, read the latest from the Blogoclump, start your own blog, or chat in forums.

I am curious to hear your thoughts. I have other things I want to add on the back end, as well as increase the functionality on the front end. But, I need your help too, to let me know where to go next.

PS - I am now over 100 posts on BlogClump. YEAH!

PSS - Thanks to Vinay for kicking me in the butt to add email subscription. You can now get Blogclump in your email box, just subscrive via the link on the right sidebar.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

The Open Source Experiment Continues

I really wish my experiment could go faster, but I don't have loads of free time to work on this. I have now installed Drupal as my CMS and am working with it. If you visit the site, it will redirect you to the Drupal-run site. You will notice the Drupal logo and a bare minimum of any content.

I tried to upload CiviCRM, but had issues. I unzipped the program after downloading, but as I tried to move it over to the server, I had FTP issues. So I don't have CiviCRM up. I will try again once I get back home (I am on the road for work).

My next thing to add was going to be the ELGG open source social networking application. However, in looking at the documentation, I don't think I know enough PHP and database stuff to pull this off by myself. I think using a cheap hosting service like GoDaddy (which is what I am using) might not give me all the access to everything I may need.

When I get some time, I may try to wrangle up some tech help.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Obstacles or Qualifiers

When it comes to joining your association, do you have obstacles or qualifiers? Here is what I mean. Anyone can join my association. They can join via the web, print application mailed in, or by calling. I would say we have no obstacles or qualifiers. Anyone can join, so there are no qualifiers (must be in this age bracket, this profession, etc.) We have no obstacles either, you can join however you want. However, I think there are times when associations confuse the two and one becomes the other. When you put in qualifiers, they can become obstacles.

Think about job postings. Many places have their own job banks where candidates must register, re-type their resume, etc. But, doesn't that cut down your potential applicant pool? I am sure there are people who don't bother applying because it is that much harder/time consuming. Is that happening with your members?

On the other hand, there are associations who limit how people can join. I know that many chapters of the Jaycees only let you join by print application and check. So I am guessing that one extra obstacle prevents some people from joining.

So, please think about your obstacles and qualifiers.

Really Cool

I am not one to shill product for someone else, but I saw a cool tool today. YourMembership.com is an all-in-one tool for associations. If you were starting a small, individual based membership association, this could act as a store, email client, AMS and CMS. And it is cheap. It may not be as cheap as my pure open source try, but at $995 setup and $495 a month, it is not bad.

On the flip side, as a community tool for integrating into what you currently have, it is somewhat limited. It really only has profiles and blogs. No message boards, wikis, or document collaboration. Although they say some is on the way.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Open Source Association Experiment

Over at PITV, I just posted a video blog entry about the lowered barriers to entry for new associations. With the sprouting of open source everything, anyone can start an "association" or community, and have the tools to run it effectively.

So, over the next few months, I am going to try it. I am going to get an old laptop, and load Linux with OpenOffice. I am going to use a Linux hosting package through a cheap web hosting service and upload a CMS, CRM and other various social networking tools in order to create the back-end or staff side of an association.

The questions I hope to answer:
1. Can I do it by myself (or with little tech help)?
2. How much money will I have to really spend?
3. Once it is setup, can I get people to jump on board?

I wish I could take a month sabatical and really tackle this, but alas I cannot. However, I will detail my thoughts here. Wish me luck as I try to create the Association for Non-Profit Membership Professionals.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tech Conference Wrap Up

I feel bad, I didn't post during the conference at all. Primarily because I didn't want to lug my computer around and I am not a fan of typing on my smart phone just yet. Anyway, here are my quick hit thoughts.

1. I wish the floor had more pure social media companies. I counted 3. Several claimed they did social media, but were more AMS or CMS consultants.

2. The sessions were pretty good, but why is everyone so in love with SharePoint? As a collaboration tool, I find it cumbersome and wouldn't touch it with a 10 foot pole.

3. It was good seeing the Blogoclump crew. We should get ASAE to give us a booth next year to talk about blogging about association work.

4. I am sad I missed the 80's dance party. Frankie does say relax.

I will have more thoughts over on PITV later this week.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Now Part of PITV

As you may have seen on Jeff's blog, I am now part of Principled Innovation TV. I had started up my video blog, 501cTV, before the holidays, but slowed down as my work and personal travel picked up. So I am happy to announce that I will be focusing my efforts on PITV. I wish to thank those that supported 501cTV and hope you will do the same for us on PITV.

See you at the Tech Conference!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Sports Are Powerful

I thought about posting this on my sports blog, but I think it can apply here too. Things that you wouldn't necessarily think are powerful, really are. The men's basketball coach at IUPUI coached barefoot last night for a cause. The game drew only 1,000 fans, less than some high school games. Most people have probably never heard of IUPUI and may not again. But he was able to make a huge difference in the lives of a lot of people.

Sports are powerful. Even small college athletics can be powerful. What is something that your association can do that is truly powerful? And don't be so nearsighted that it has to totally align with the mission of the association. If it does, that's a bonus. But if not, don't worry about it. Giving you members an opportunity to make a difference in someone's life that needs it is a universal mission.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

A Chuckle for Your Thursday

I love Dilbert. Great stuff. This is just too funny.

http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2008/01/the-hit-song-yo.html

Might be a good contest for your association - come up with nonsense song lyrics and produce a song about your industry.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Generalizations versus Stereotypes

What is the real difference between generalizations and stereotypes? I took these two definitions from dictionary.com.

Generalization - a proposition asserting something to be true either of all members of a certain class or of an indefinite part of that class.

Stereotype - an often oversimplified or biased mental picture held to characterize the typical individual of a group.

The only real difference I see is in our perception. Stereotypes are usually frowned upon, but generalizations are ok. When we look at our members, which are we making? Does it matter?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Milestones

I am not as cool as Ben with my numbers, but I am happy to report I have more than 100 connections on LinkedIn and am approaching 100 posts on this blog.

Going back and reading Ben's post, it looks like I need to spend more time on Facebook. Oh well.

Catching Up on my Seth Godin

I love reading Seth Godin books. They just help to energize you and your creativity. I was reading The Big Moo last night and saw a great line (page 134 if you have it).

"Don't let the seeds stop you from enjoying the watermelon."

Seth goes on to say you should tell yourself this everyday to help change your attitude. I couldn't agree more. I know I sometimes let the seeds get in the way.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits

I love reading Fast Company. I was on their website and saw a web-only article with the above title. It is really an excerpt from an upcoming book, but thought I would share nonetheless.

On the surface (without reading the book) this seems very "No Duh" to me. You spent 3 years studying 12 non-profits and came up with this? Sorry, it really seems basic. See Good to Great or 7 Measures.

I will be interested to see the book. But I have a feeling this will be re-hash.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

On a Serious Note - Could Use Your Help

One of my Catholic U. classmates, Kevin Beirne, recently suffered a huge tragedy. His wife Maggie, another CUA alum, passed away unexpectedly at the age of 31. You may have seen the story in the Post. He is now the single father of twins under the age of 2.

There is a fundraiser scheduled for Friday night, Feb 1 to help the family. It will be held at Adams Mill in Adams Morgan. Details can be found on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=7628251381&ref=mf

If you can go, I would appreciate it, as well as their family. Come out for a few cocktails after the Tech Conference. We can celebrate my birthday too, while helping a family in need.

If you cannot make it, you can still help here.

Maggie was a wonderful person, and so is Kevin. I can't imagine what I would do if this happened to Mary. Please help if you can.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Too Much Hype = Less Value

Don't you feel that you can hype something so much, even something of value, to the point you lessen its value?

Church of the Customer talks about the opposite. No hype at all = lots of value.

Two topics are swirling around everything these days, and there is so much hype and lip service around them, that I feel we haven't moved anywhere significant with either one: diversity and social responsibility.

Let me say first of all, I am for both of the concepts wholeheartedly. I am just tired of constantly reading someone's update on either one or both. Just do it. Don't constantly tell me what you are thinking about doing, what you are doing and then what you did. No one is arguing that these are bad. No one is saying do less. I just want to be at a point where both are inherent, and updates are not constant beckons for pats on the back.

Time, or Lack Thereof

Melinda Dreier, I am sorry, Lindy Dreyer posts about Overload. (sorry, had to do it)

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone I tell about blogging and RSS feeds looks at me like I don't do anything on a daily basis besides blog. I hate the huff I get, and then the diatribe about how they have no time already, and they can't imagine reading a blog, let alone writing one.

Get over it people. It takes the same amount of time to write a blog post as it does an email. And feed readers allow you to find content you choose, new content, a million times faster than reading the newspaper. And I am sure you all have your guilty pleasure websites you spend 5 minutes to 5 hours a day on. Replace that with 5 minutes of blogging or reading blogs, and you will be part of the collective blogoclump in no time.

It is ok to be afraid of new things. That's natural. But don't do yourself a disservice by making up excuses that aren't real excuses. It is easier than you think, and you will be happy you did it.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

My Turn for 8 Things

I did an earlier version of this, but it was about 8 habits. Ben tagged me for a list of things you don't know about me. Ok, I will bite. Some of you may know some of these, but oh well.

1. My wife and I are having our first baby, due April 5th. It is a girl, and we don't have a name yet.

2. I was an entrepreneur at an early age. I hosted a baseball card show in my parent's garage at age 11.

3. I have an MBA and a Masters in Sports Administration. Sports Ad - oh well. I could be ED of a sports association.

4. My wife and I actually both work for the same association. It is the second time we have worked at the same place since we have been married.

5. I have a puggle named Erin (go braugh). We got her before puggles were "in" dogs, as a co-worker put it, "before they came out."

6. I still play soccer anywhere between 1-4 days a week.

7. I watch way too much TV. I love DVR, but it means we watch a lot of shows.

8. I once caught a 30 lb. striped bass and have it mounted (but my wife won't let me hang it in the house.)

Enjoy everyone! Have a great weekend!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another Great Term

Seth Godin has a post today about Non-Profit fundraising. In it he mentions an earlier post and ebook he created about "Flipping the Funnel."

I love that term - Flipping the Funnel

Now, if I could only figure out a way to combine that with my juice and squeeze line... Any suggestions?

One of My Favorite Metaphors

While listening to a DC morning radio show, I was reminded of a great metaphor that came from a mediocre teen comedy movie, but one I truly love and can see relating to a lot of what we do.

"You gotta ask yourself, is the juice worth the squeeze."

It can apply to members deciding to join or renew. It can be for you, deciding to do a task or start a new program. There are endless ways to apply this. Long story short, make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Social Media Experiment

To dip our toes into social media, we created groups on Facebook and LinkedIn. Very easy, nothing to it really. Before the email (posted below) had even finished processing, we had 43 members of the Facebook group and 55 in LinkedIn. I am happy. I know that those will only grow as more people read this email. Now we have to figure out how to leverage this.

Friday, January 4, 2008

If I Read Any More Books, My Head Will Explode

Upon gentle nudging after my 2 Books You Should Read post, I read another book on generational differences. It is a nice, fairly short ebook (about 60 pages).

Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Hype Won't Get you Results by Jamie Notter, yes the Jamie Notter.

I knew Jamie had written this a while back, but I had just never gotten around to picking it up. Jamie does a good job talking about the generational differences and how you should take them into context. Two sections are especially worth reading: Products and Services and Systems and Processes. These two are where I think association folks will get the most out of the book.

The book does focus more on workplace/management issues rather than dealing with members. To me, Sladek's book is more about applying the generational information to members or potential members. Either way, both are solid reads in my opinion if you are interested in the generational discussion.

Now, back to Maslow.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

I Dig Mark Cuban

I dig Mark Cuban. Always have. I dig Cuban for the way he got to where he is. He had some luck on the way, and he will admit that, but he also worked his butt off. He is in an enviable position. This blog post of his sums him up.

The Sport of Business

One particular section jumped out at me that could be related to associations:

Every day some stranger from any where in the world that you have never met is trying to come up with a way to put you out of business. To take everything you have worked your ass off for, and take it all away. If you are in a growing industry, there could be hundreds or thousands of strangers trying to figure out ways to put you out of business. How cool is that.

The ultimate competition. Would you like to play a game called Eat Your Lunch. We are going to face off. My ability to execute on an idea vs yours. My ability to subvert your business vs your ability to keep it going. My ability to create ways to remove any reason for your business to exist vs your ability to do the same to me. My ability to know what you are going to do, before you do it. Who gets there first? Best of all, this game doesn't have a time limit. It's forever. It never ends. It's the ultimate competition.


Are you making sure you are competing to keep your members and to keep your association relevant?

Another Book


I can't believe I am doing this, but I am going to talk about another book. Seriousy, I am not a big book reader, but lately I am. In my last post, I mentioned the latest book on my nightstand - Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow by Chip Conley.

I am only halfway through (which is pretty good for me), but I wanted to share some nuggets.

"Psychologists and business consultants look for what's broken and try to fix it. Yet, "fixing it" doesn't necessarily offer the opportunity for transformation to a more optimal state of being or productivity."

From Nietzsche - "He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how."

When looking at Maslow's Hierarchy, business managers tend to focus on the bottom, because things like salary and satisfaction are measurable. David Ogilvy of Ogilvy and Mather once said, most companies use research and surveys "as a drunk uses a lampost...for support, not illumination."

So far, good stuff as a hit the halfway point.