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.