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.