Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Web Design Company Featured on Lead411 Blog

Pretty cool, but I was featured with my part-time web design firm on the Lead411 Blog.

Thanks again Susan!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Webinars

We are starting to do webinars at my association. Some will be paid, some will be free. If you haven't seen it, Associations Now has a great article on webinar pricing and whether or not to make them free. (Sorry, I couldn't find the link. Maybe Lisa Junker can help out.)

[Edit - Thanks to Mark from ASAE for finding the link]

I am of the mindset that if the webinar is about the core of your member's being, why you exist, then it should be free to members. But, if it is a value add or extremely specialized, then charge. A good mix will be appreciated by all. My two cents.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Rogue Mobile Apps

Maggie McGary had a great question to my earlier post about Mobile Apps:

Now--what's your call on this: a member contacts your association saying they've developed an app that includes content created by your association (say a Twitter or blog feed). They intend to charge for the app. Do you grant permission or not? Hypothetically-speaking only, of course ;)


My two cents, and I am not a lawyer, don't play one on TV and didn't stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night...

That is your content. It isn't public domain. No one should be able to profit from something that your association created (albeit it was most likely volunteers donating the time and knowledge). You wouldn't let your competing association do it, so why a member?

Now, if they had extra content or some new technology to offer that piggybacks off what your association created, I would try to license it or purchase it from the member and launch it under the association's umbrella. That way the member gets the money they were looking for and the association gets another product.

Developing a Mobile App

Lindy Dreyer over at Social Fish has a great blog post about mobile apps for associations. Are they a waste of time?

We had some extra money in the budget to use by the end of the year, so we decided to dip our toe in the app world. We did a quick survey and found that 2/3 of our members who use smart phones use Blackberry, 1/3 iPhone, and one using an Android. So we took one of our products, a listing of crane hand signals and their graphic representations, and made it an app. OSHA just passed a regulation on cranes and derricks, so it is timely.

Here is what I learned in the process.
- You have to register as a developer with both Blackberry and Apple. This step takes time. I thought our vendor was registered and could just put it up, but if we wanted our name on it, we needed to have our own vendor account. Again, this is not a short process. Even if you are just thinking about doing an app, register now. Apple does charge $99 per year.

- Spend the extra time mapping out exactly how you want it to function and how you want it to look. Remember, graphics on the phone are small, so be sure you have them setup appropriately (contrast, colors, etc)

- Free vs. Paid - tough call. Know your members. What is the content of the app? Is it a service or a revenue center.

And for the big piece of info you wanted to know - we paid $2500 total to have it done on both platforms. But it was a pretty simple app and we had the graphics already. Nothing new needed to be created.

**Update**
I checked the stats and we have over 600 downloads in under 10 days. I am guessing many of those are non-members and non-industry related, but that's pretty good numbers!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Stuff I Use and Love - Wall Mount

I really wanted to hang my 32in TV in my bedroom instead of having it on the dresser. I got this mount, and it went up easy and holds it with no problem. Swings out to boot.

Love it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

Stuff I Use and Love - Volume 1

I get a lot of folks asking me for computer recommendations, other stuff to buy recommendations. So, I thought I would start a new feature on this blog highlighting some of the stuff that I use and love.

First up, My Netbook.

I have the Acer Aspire. Love it. Highly recommended. Stick with the 6 cell or higher battery, though.

The Whole Cook Source Flap

I am going to give my 2 cents on this whole Cook Source thing. If you don't know what I am talking about, you can read more here and here. I am sure a few folks are going to take umbrage with my stance, but that is bound to happen.

So a magazine found a blog post, liked it, printed it while giving credit to the author. The author hears about it, and gets pissed? She wants printed apologies and a donation made, because she got published? What am I missing here? Who wouldn't want their stuff to be published while being credited? Isn't that one of the main tenants of blogging, to be linked to?

Sure, the response from the editor was one of the dumbest things ever written and she handled it tremendously bad. However, I am just floored that this person is pissed off. True, the internet is not public domain. However, every college paper in the world has citations. And all those students didn't contact the author to make sure they can use it. And every blog post (ok, not every one) has someone else linking back to it, and they didn't ask first before linking.

So what is the rub here?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Web Redesign - It's Always More Than You Think

I realize I have been off of this blog for 2 months now. Partly because I have 2 small kids. Partly because I have traveled a decent bit. Partly because it is budget time. But mostly because we are in the wake of a total web overhaul.

I am leading the charge of our new site, complete with lots new functionality. And the lesson here is, it always takes longer than you think it will. I knew this going in, and it still is taking longer than I thought. It is not really anyone's fault in particular. It is just how life goes. You have lots of people doing little parts, but many of those parts can't be started until another is completed. And unless the perfect storm of everyone doing their part, on-time, in the right order happens, you will have delays.

I know there are project managers out there saying, "that's what we are here for" and "you have to plan properly." I understand and agree. But even if you do that, it will still take longer. Trust me.

Friday, August 27, 2010

More Thoughts on #ASAE10

I knew that I had to get my thoughts out yesterday as early as possible because a much more eloquent post from Maddie Grant would be on its way. If you haven't read it yet, you should, especially the comments.

I wanted to write a bit more regarding some comments left on both posts. Michelle (@ExpoQueenUSA) asked some good questions, which I will answer from my perspective.

1) Did they plan the activities, sessions, and expo according to the needs of those attending? - I would say yes. A few speakers fell flat, but nobody bats 1,000. And it is hard to have one conference covering such a vast array of attendees. I think that is why the MMC and Tech Conference are so popular. They are more laser focused.

2) Did they communicate their travel info, schedule of events, etc. successfully with attendees, exhibitors and speakers, etc before the show? (In print, email, online) - Totally, 100%

3)Did they encourage and enable all parties to communicate, connect, and ENGAGE with each other? - Encourage yes, enable mostly. Others and I mentioned the layout issues didn't help.

4) Were they "hospitable" and make the conference more about their guest (me) than about themselves? - This one is dicey. ASAE was truly hospitable. I have never met a staff person that wasn't super friendly and helpful. However, as noted, the general session stuff was much more about ASAE than the attendees.

5) Did they spend their money wisely on things that will help me go home fulfilled, or were they wasteful? - The only truly wasteful thing I saw was the Guilt by Association video. I skipped Joy Behar, but to me, if they paid her, then that is a big waste.

I would add a 6th question, which I think is what both Maddie and I were trying to address: What could be done better for next time?

Tammy had a great comment suggesting some behind the scenes sessions given by ASAE staff about how they planned the conference. Brilliant! I know not everyone in attendance is ready for cutting edge. Some would just love to know how it was done. What an opportunity!

A few other suggestions I will throw out for fodder:
- For the second time in 3 years, I led a session at the request of ASAE that was a sort of idea swap for trade associations. It was again, very well received. I would love to see a dedicated time slot that was dedicated to various idea swaps. The non-DC folks don't get to witness the greatness that is these swaps. Bring them to annual for all to enjoy. Maybe as that last Tuesday lunch session.

- Have an un-conference room during each session slot. Why not?

- Have the show floor open Monday and Tuesday instead of Sunday and Monday. That way booth tear down doesn't prevent exhibitor staff from attending anything.

- Add a space for Twitter handle on the name badge. Can't hurt to ask.

Looking back, I found my posts regarding 2009 and 2008 ASAE Annuals. Looks like I already suggested the idea swap thing. One bummer, I see several themes emerging. Need more education slots. Need less cheese factor in general sessions. As Maddie and others have said, I hope the right folks are listening.

And again - thank you ASAE for all you do. You truly have a tough job keeping all of us happy.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

10 Thoughts on #ASAE10

Ok, so I could have spelled out the title, but chose the hashtag - #asae10. Supposedly there were over 8,000 tweets with the hashtag, but probably countless more direct messages of messages that left out the hashtag but were conference related. Two years ago, we were using twitter as a backchannel to talk about speakers. Now, over 800 people sent conference related tweets. If you aren't on Twitter, you are already late to the party. Anyway, on with the post...

In no particular order, my thoughts on this years ASAE Annual Conference:
1. LA was a good venue. Lots to do. Hotels close by. Only downside was the rooms were a bit of a hike.

2. I missed Sunday because of family obligations. That really put me behind the 8 ball. Since I led a session, that meant I only got to go to 3 true sessions. Sorry, I don't count Joy Behar and the closing session. Although Marshall Goldsmith was good, I probably wouldn't have gone to see that speech as a Learning Lab.

3. Based on #2, I think ASAE has to look at the schedule again. There just aren't enough time slots for education sessions, and too many offerings during each slot.

4. I was surprised at how many sessions weren't recorded. When I did have a conflict of multiple sessions I wanted to go to, I looked at the book to see which one(s) were recorded to help make my decision. Many times, every one wasn't being recorded. As many of the sessions touted how easy and cheap it is to record, this was a surprise.

5. I know many are talking about it, Guilt by Association. I only saw the episodes on the last day, but that was more than enough. Take that budget and spend it on AV to record more sessions.

6. Some others and I talked about this conference in relation to Great Ideas. I would really like to see them really distinguish themselves with regards to level of education. I know you need a mix, but I would like to see it more defined.

7. Free wifi and the bottled water was tremendous. Every meeting needs this.

8. I liked not having the show floor on Tuesday. I know some exhibitors complained about the Sunday session overlap, but that's ok with me.

9. I am very curious to hear from those who were the Virtual attendees.

10. At the end of the day, it is all about people. No matter what, the meeting was AWESOME because I got to see some of the smartest, coolest people I know and spend time meeting new, smart, cool friends.

**PS**
I do want to state that overall I loved the conference. These are just my random critiques/observations. ASAE does a great job. I don't envy them one bit in having to put on an association conference for people who put on association conferences. Talk about open for criticism. But ASAE does a good job of taking it in stride, listening and trying to make adjustments. Just another reason I wanted to be sure to get this stuff down.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Final Google TV Ad Update

I had ads run Thursday and Friday. The final totals are this:

453,750 impressions
93 spots ran
Avg. CPM $0.65

I only had 2 people go to the website directly, but I did have 2 search for my company name exactly on Google, which hasn't happened before. Plus, I had several type in the web address directly, but without the /TV.

Interesting experiment. Hope it helped some folks.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Google TV Ads - My Ad

Since I had a request for it, here is the ad I created. Realize that I did this with stock photos, screen grabs, the microphone on a webcam and cheap and free software.

Google TV Ads Update #8 - I was on TV!

So I logged in this morning to see if the ads had finally been approved, and it turns out I had ads run yesterday!

Here is the screen shoot of what I had run yesterday. Looks like almost 310k impressions in 72 spots. My average CPM was $0.46, which is actually less than the minimum bid of $0.50. Here is the Google definition of an impression:

Impressions within a Google TV Ads context are counted as the number of set top boxes tuned into a specific network when your ad is aired. The set top box must be engaged with your ad for at least five seconds to count as an impression. Your account is charged for live impressions and DVR (digital video recorder) +1 impressions. Final impression numbers -- the basis of billing -- are determined four days after your ad airs


The one issue I have right now is, looks like 0 people came to my website as a result of the ad. Overall lessons learned:
1) Don't be too afraid to have a max bid on the top end of the estimates. You will most likely be under it.
2) Just like you need to optimize your online adwords with targets, your ad creative, and more...you need to do the same with your TV ads.

Here is the basic campaign screen and the Played Spots report that you get in the reporting tab.



Thursday, July 8, 2010

Google TV Ads Update #7

I get up this morning and check my account. The ad has not been approved by all partners, which means no ads today. Google takes up to 24 hours. Then the partners get it, and who knows how long they take? I also notice that the next auction dates for many of my day parts are next week. So, I am wondering if that means I am not going to get those displayed tomorrow.

I wanted to show a few screenshots for people, so you could get an idea of what shows up along the way.



This main campaign screen tells me my estimates on the right. It also shows me the day parts I bid on and what it looks like I will get with each one. You see my "Ad Approval Status" on the left. The two shots below are what you get when you click there.



Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Google TV Ads Update #6

Things are looking up. I have passed the first set of approvals!!!

Now I am seeing the following:

This ad has been processed by our television partners.
It is still being processed by 5 of our partners.
It is approved and ready to be shown by 1 of our partners.


I also went through and added a bunch of extra target channels and day parts that were the cheapest out there, just so I can try to maximize what I get. My new estimates are 372k unique impressions, 723k total impressions, 76 spots for a total of $300.

So, barring any disasters, I will have TV ads running in the morning!

Lessons learned:
1. Have lots of time available to get this up and running.
2. Make sure everything in your final video is in that action safe area.
3. You can use free video editing software to get the final, TV ready video.

I will have a follow up after Friday, once everything has run its course.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Becoming a Curator with Your Website

A lot of you may already know this tip, but someone shared it with me and I figured I would pass it along. If you are looking to pull in specific stories/posts/articles from other sources into your news section on your website, here is a handy way to do it.

Setup a Google Reader account with all the RSS feeds you might pull stories from. Then use the "Share" feature to select the stories you want to post. Then you can get an RSS feed of your shared stories and display that.

You have now sorted through all kinds of noise for folks and given them the goods!

Googe Adwords Error

I think I have seen this page more than anything else while working in adwords. (I zoomed in so you could read the screen shot)

Google TV Ads Update #5

On Friday, I wrote into Google again about the issue of the broken links and the fact that I still didn't know why the ad was rejected. I did get a call from a live human (different from the first guy) wondering how he could help. However, turns out that the TV ads is a totally different department than regular adwords, even though they both live under the adwords moniker. He tried to be helpful nonetheless and is supposed to call me this week with more info.

In the meantime, I did get a notice this morning from another person that the video failed because not everything was in the Action Safe Zone again. One setting in Visual Communicator is to playback in action safe mode. However, I guess it doesn't save that way. I do have photos in the video that need to be cropped down to be "action safe." I am going to do that this morning, and repost. We shall see.

This just in - the links to VideoPad and Movie Maker are now fixed!!! No one told me they were fixed, but I checked them here, and they work!!!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Google TV Ads #4

Well, this is not going well. Every ad I have submitted has been rejected. However, they don't tell you why. I tried using another video editing program, but I guess that didn't do it. There are 2 broken links on the Google help that give you instructions for specific software, and of course those are the 2 for the free video editing software. Right now, I am waiting for a human at Google to get back to me with reasons the videos failed and why the links are broken on the help page.

But, I did get an email from someone who has had the same "waiting for approval" message for a month. So it looks like this is a bigger issue than just me doing something wrong on my video editing end.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Google TV Ad Update #3

The backend of Google Adwords was having some real trouble yesterday. It was hard for me to manage anything. But last night, everything looked ok. I was just waiting to hear back on my ad. I had bids in for ads to run this morning.

So when I checked the backend this morning to see if anything happened, I found out that my ad had not yet been approved. On the bright side, I am down to one pending approval instead of 2.

This ad is currently pending the basic quality check. This step may take up to 24 hours.


So, the one lesson I have gleaned from all this, don't be in a hurry. The TV ad process with Google is not like search adwords, where you can get up and running and live within seconds. However, since the TV ads is part of adwords and has roughly the same interface, I guess that is what I was expecting. But it seems like there are multiple approvals that have to take place and none of them happen in under 24 hours.

One other thing of note, the estimates for impressions and spots continually changes. Don't get too hung up on numbers, because they will be different the next time you look at them.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Google TV Ad Update #2

I went back and made my video "Action Safe" (at least I think I did). I tried a new video editing software that Google listed in their Technical Specs page, VideoPad. It seems very similar to VideoSpin, but what I like about VideoPad is that you can change your encoding options for video and sound using a number of codecs and settings. Hopefully this will ensure my compliance with what Google wants. However, there are lots of options, so we shall see.

I uploaded the video and got the following message:
This ad is currently pending content approval by Google. This step may take up to 24 hours.
This ad is currently pending the basic quality check. This step may take up to 24 hours.


I canceled my earlier campaign and started over in terms of targets. I went for Thursday and Friday morning, throwing some more channels in the mix and increasing my CPM bid which seemed to get me more impressions for my money. Hopefully it works this time.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Google TV Ad Update

So I logged in today to see if my ads ran. Turns out my ad video was denied for technical reasons. There are 2 problems here. One, Google didn't notify me, so I missed out on trying to fix it before my ads were supposed to run today. Two, there were no details on why it failed. I can't fix it if you don't tell me why it is broken.

I have contacted Google TV ads service. We shall see what they say.
_____________

Update at 3pm. Google called me back and told me that the reason the ad didn't meet technical specs was because some of my content was outside the action safe zone. I am fixing my video and re-uploading to see if I can make it in for tomorrow.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Testing Google TV Ads

If you haven't heard, you can now buy TV ads using the Google Adwords platform. That's right, regular old TV spots, bidding just like you do for keywords. (I highly recommend watching the video linked above)

I am doing my own test. I do some freelance web design work, so I created an ad for that, and am trying to get it on TV. My goal was to do this as quick and cheap as possible, while still producing something worthwhile. Here is the blow by blow.

1. Creating the ad
I went stupid simple. I just used still shots with my voice recorded over them using the mic in a webcam. Not ideal. If I really wanted to put some time and effort into this, I would have used a much better sound setup. I used Adobe's Visual Communicator product (originally created by Serious Magic). I really like this tool. You can make cool video very simply with it.

With Google TV ads, you can have various length ads (15, 30, 60, etc) but they have to be exact. I tried uploading one that was like 29.17 and Google told me I couldn't upload. I then had to find a free program to try to make the video exact. I found Pinnacle's VideoSpin that allowed me to cut right to the thousandth of a second. It didn't give me frame numbers, but it worked nonetheless.

2. Setting up the Campaign
This part is easy. Just like adwords, you set your CPM bid, your daily spend limits and length of campaign. You have to upload your video and then choose where you want it to run. There are a boatload of options here. For my test, I am choosing cheap. I am looking to run on Bloomberg Business TV and The Weather Channel, Tuesday and Wednesday between Midnight at 7am. According to the Google Estimator, with my bid of $1 CPM, my spot should air 13 times, with 245k unique impressions and 455k impressions for $300 (which is my cap).

Google told me that I am unlikely to run on Bloomberg between 5-7am because my bid it too low, but I should be fine from 12-5 and on the Weather Channel. I also saw my estimated traffic change while on the site and selecting my targets.

I will let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Content Creation and Consumption

If you have been reading anything regarding the social media space over the last few years, you have probably heard of the 90/9/1 rule. It states that 90% of folks are just lurkers. They read what you put out and see what you have to say. Then 9% are there commenting and participating in some way. The last 1% are your core creators. They make the content and drive the conversations that are happening.

But what about all the other content that you are creating or have at your disposal? How do you use that to reach the greatest total audience and connect them with the content that they are looking for?

I see another 90/9/1 rule out there in terms of depth of the content. You can delve 1% into the depth of the topic by providing a tweet or short blog post. Then provide 9% depth by giving folks the 2 minute video interview with your speaker post-presentation or a longer magazine/newsletter article. Lastly, you will have your core, in-depth 90% content which may consist of presentations, webinars, journals, face-to-face meetings, etc.

If you aren't providing all three types of content to your members, you are missing engagement opportunities.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Facebook Ads - CPC vs CPM Follow Up

In the end, it looks like your bid price does matter with Facebook CPC campaigns. If you haven't read my posts leading up to this one regarding my Facebook CPC vs. CPM ad campaigns, you can catch up here and here.

I really wasn't sure what to think of my results, so I tried the CPC ad a second time to make sure it wasn't the day or an anomaly, and got the same results. So the next step was to change my bid. However, I did get a comment from Sue Anne that read:

According to what I've been told, Facebook gives you less slots in the rotation on a CPC campaign vs. a CPM campaign. It doesn't actually matter what your bid price is on the CPC, it's still going to get less views.


However, I went from $1.00 to $1.25, and boy did the results change. 81,094 impressions and 9 clicks (avg CPC of $1.11). At $1.00, I only saw about 5,000 impressions and no clicks.

Based on my extremely scientific and flawless research, my recommendation is to go with CPC and bid a little bit more than the highest suggested bid. It may cost you a little more, but you will get more impressions and actually get some clicks.

Now to track what those folks did who went to my site...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Facebook Ad Experiment

My Facebook Ad experiment has come to a close, with confusing results. I ran a CPC campaign on Monday and a CPM campaign on Tuesday. I used the same ad, the same hours, the same demo. The only difference was the CPM vs the CPC. I bid $0.50 for the CPM which was in the middle of Facebook's suggested bid. And I bid $1.00 max bid per click for the CPC ad, which was in the middle of the .81-1.20 range.

I didn't get any clicks on Monday, so no money spent. The ad had 5,457 impressions. On Tuesday, I got 4 clicks on the ad that got 69,476 impressions and cost me $10.

The numbers looked strange to me. Why did only 5500 people see the ad on Monday? I ran it again on Wednesday. 4,958 impressions, no clicks. I am very confused as to why so few people saw the ad. Wouldn't Facebook show it as much as possible until it got the 10 clicks I budgeted for? Or did someone just bid higher per click so they showed those ads more often and mine didn't get shown enough to get the clicks?

When it is all said and done, my cost per click on the CPM model was $2.50. If $1.00 was all I was willing to spend per click, then the CPC model is the way to go. However, nearly 70,000 impressions and 4 clicks might have been worth $10.

PS - I am going to run the ad one more time and increase my CPC bid to $1.25 to see what happens. It is now telling me the suggested range is .68-.98.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Facebook Ads - CPC vs CPM

As some of you know, I do a bit of freelance web design for small businesses. One of the hosts I have been using lately (I do like them!) is SuperGreenHosting.com. With your package, you get ad credits on Google, Facebook, Yahoo and MySpace. I decided to run a test using my Facebook ad credits. I will detail it here.

After going through the options of putting in your link and text of the ad (I didn't include an image), you can select whether to pay per click or pay per impression. In my particular case, my target market based on age, demographics and interests was an estimated reach of 633,000+. The suggested bid price for each click was between $0.81 and $1.20 each. I entered a max bid of $1. I set the ad to run on Monday 5/24 from 5am - 10pm.

I then created the same ad again, but selected the pay per impression model. The cost-per-thousand views (CPM) maximum I bid was $0.50. The suggested bid range was $0.36 - $0.52. This ad I scheduled to run on Tuesday the 25th at the same time period.

In both ads, I set my max spend for the day at $10. I know there are flaws in my test, but for a "free" test, I am ok with it.

My main question that I am trying to answer is, is my CPC going to be higher if use the CPC model, or will the CPM model's conversion rate be high enough to make it a more cost effective method?

Stay tuned for results posted next week!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May is Thinking Time

Another month gone by without a blog post. I swear, it isn't because I don't have anything to say. It is that I am too busy to sit down and write about it. That is why Twitter and Facebook are great. Bite-size chunks of sharing.

One of my little pleasure's is reading fellow Ohio U. alum Peter King's Monday Morning QB column on SI.com. He has a section every week called "10 things I think I think." Here is my version right now:

1. I still keep seeing boatloads (at least 5 a day, each way) of commercial vehicles without a website printed on them. Trust me, your URL is more valuable than your phone number.
2. If you say you don't have time for Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook, than you need to look at what you do spend your time on. I bet you do have at least 15 minutes a day to spend on them. And that time will reap rewards.
3. Good is the enemy of great. And moving slow/dragging your feet is the enemy of motivation.
4. Playing is fun. Find a work-related thing to play with (learning to build websites or use Photoshop) and have some fun.
5. Sleep is severely underrated.
6. But so is the feeling of accomplishment of crossing things off your to-do list
7. Jack of All Trades should really be a job title in the association world.
8. So should Director of Other Duties as assigned.
9. If you aren't watching Parenthood on NBC right now, you are missing out.
10. My thoughts and prayers are with those in Nashville and the Gulf Coast.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Are You Advertising Yourself Correctly?

I can't believe it has been a month since my last post, but then again, in that month I have moved, had a conference and had another child (ok, not me but my wife did). Needless to say, it has been busy. Plus our annual conference is 10 days away.

Anyway...

My move has given me the distinct pleasure of sitting/driving on I-66 in Virginia at rush hour. This has given me the opportunity to see many commercial vehicles on my commute. I am shocked at how many of them (vans, trucks, trailers, etc) have the company name and phone number, and that is it. No description. No website. I have also seen many with a tagline or description, but no website listed.

I don't know about you, but the first thing I do when checking out a business is go to their website. I googled a few of these companies to see if maybe they just didn't have a website (shame on them), but most did. (There were a few that didn't, and I will be calling them to offer my freelance web design services.) So if you have a website, why wouldn't you put your URL on your trucks?

I honestly can't think of a good reason, except cost of painting your truck. But in this day and age, isn't your URL more important to shout to the world than your phone number?

Yes, in the car, someone might dial that number directly from their cell right then and there. But more likely, they are going to scramble looking for a pen to write it down and call later. But a URL they can probably just remember (if you have a good one).

Looking at this from an association point-of-view, you should ask yourself, "Are we advertising ourselves the right way?" Can people find you/the information they need? Is there the right call to action? Have we made it easy for people to act? Now might be the time to take a look to see if you are on the right track. If you aren't, people might just be glancing at your truck on I-66 and forgetting all about it because what they were looking for wasn't there.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

What Do Your Members Expect From You?

Do you know the answer to this question? If not, you may want to stop every other project you have and find out. Because you can't exceed expectations (aka provide value) without first knowing what those expectations are.

There was a great conversation on the weekly Twitter chat #assnchat (yes, we know, great name) about using social media as a customer service tool. Scroll through here to see the conversation. I won't rehash the whole thing here, but there was a part about using live chat as a tool, and if you did, members expecting it to be manned 24/7. Would your members expect that?

I am currently taking a deep look at our website, but I have had to step back and dig deeper into my members expectations. Because if they are expecting updates once a week, that is different than daily updates. That difference might change my technology choices, CMS setup, navigation, etc.

So before you go to far with everything you are doing, you may want to find out what the expectations are first.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Do you want your association to be Walmart?

Earlier this week, I had a small Twitter discussion with Kevin Holland (@associationinc) regarding aggregation as a value proposition.

@associationinc - Deciding your role is to aggregate other people's value is like George Costanza wearing sweatpants. "You're telling the world, 'I give up.'"

@cardcat - Interesting comment about aggregating. Don't you think it is a viable option for a small association who can't afford it?

@associationinc - Nothng wrong with aggregating content as long as you don't perceive it to be your value proposition. There's no real future in it.

@cardcat - Don't think it is THE value proposition, but I think it could be A value to members, a big value.

@associationinc - A big value is something you offer that nobody else can or that u can do better. Aggregating content is easy, there4 unsustainable.

@cardcat - True, it isn't sustainable. But I almost think if you don't act as an aggregator, you risk folks going somewhere else.

@associationinc - And if you don't do your members' taxes, you risk folks going to H&R Block. :) ... Like I said, nothing wrong with it.

@cardcat - Ok, ok. Now you are just getting carried away ;) Yes, nothing wrong with it, but not a long term value prop. Agreed.


That got me thinking more about value in general. Wikipedia talks about value proposition primarily in terms of Benefits and Costs. And many would define value strictly in terms of Benefits and Costs. However, I want to bring up one other word that is key: Expectations.

There is an expected value in a transaction. You expect that Benefits > Costs or you wouldn't do it in the first place. You expect certain benefits for your costs. Although anyone can aggregate data then distribute it, association members tend to expect their association to be the place to go for information (the bigger value proposition). Therefore, you may need to aggregate to meet those expectations. And if someone else aggregates the same info, chances are you are still going to be preferred because of the other things you are doing and your reputation as an industry representative.

If you don't do it, then you may not be filling members' biggest need and expectation, which risks them walking away from the other values that you offer, simply because of convenience. It is why a lot of people go to Walmart. I may have better selection and quality somewhere else, and maybe even price, but at least I can do it in one stop. The question you have to ask yourself is, do you want your association to be Walmart?

**For the record, I am not saying being Walmart is good or bad. It's just one of the many options out there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Do We Need Social Media Certification?

My friend Maddie Grant tweeted this post the other day about Social Media Certification. I remembered another 2 posts from this time last year (here and here). In Andy's post he says something that is the crux of it to me.

There is no authority in Social Media Marketing, there is no standard.


Instead of authority, what I think he meant to say was governing body. I bet these folks doing the certifications are trying to become the authority by offering them. But there is no recognized governing body. The second part is the most crucial. There is no standard.

As many of the above posts and others have said, there is no one thing that will work for every company when it comes to social media. We all have different audiences, different technology, different goals, etc. However, I think there is one way to help narrow the field from the people who have been on board from square one (or two) versus those out to make a quick buck.

There is a certain amount of objective data and knowledge out there regarding social media. How many characters are in a tweet? Which systems work with each other? And many more. I wouldn't want to be the person who had to cull through and create the body of knowledge, but it could be done. I am not advocating a certification, but there might be a way to do one that wasn't totally full of fluff.

Would someone who has a passing score be better or worse than someone who doesn't? Only your experience with them would tell. But isn't that like all certifications? After all, what do you call the guy with the highest passing grade in medical school? Doctor. What do you call the guy with the lowest passing grade in medical school? Doctor.

Update on Read This Post, If It's the Last Thing You Do

Last night I saw a tweet from @CopyBlogger linking to this blog post about blogging basics. #1 was about the title! Further proof of its importance.

Also, just after one day, that post is my most read since Sept of 2008.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Read This Post, If It's the Last Thing You Do

Don't you wish all your blog posts could have that title, and the corresponding effect of everyone who sees it follows through? As I was digging through my Google Reader this morning, I realized how much I rely on the title (and first sentence or part of the first sentence) to help me decide whether or not to read more of the post. I have boatloads of unread posts in my reader and just can't get fully read each one. Granted, I have probably already read a number of them because I clicked through to it when a trusted source tweeted about the post. However, I know I am missing good content because the title and first sentence don't grab me or tell me what the post is really about.

Therefore, I am making a resolution to do better with my title and first few words to make it better for my readers.

In addition, if you have any tips on Blog Post Title creation, please share. I am all ears!

PS - this is also a test to see if my page view numbers increase at all with this title. We shall see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Who Doesn't Need Help With Colors?

We are getting ready to buy a new house. Every room in the new place is that dull, off-white. So the topic of colors and patterns is constantly in the conversation at home. My wife keeps looking for samples and inspiration, and then I remembered this:

http://kuler.adobe.com

If you haven't been here, you have to go. It might waste a full day, but it is so worth it if you do any sort of web or marketing work and you need color palette help. Of course, it is also perfect if you are thinking of redecorating your house too. It helps you create color palettes based on a base color or off a photo. It lets you choose several options once you have your base selected. It even lets you manually adjust if you feel the need. In addition, people create and save their own palettes, so you have plenty to look at for ideas.

Here is another one solely based on web photos, and it only gives you 2 options with all colors in Hex format. But it works if you need something quick and easy.

http://www.degraeve.com/color-palette/