February 19, 2009

Word of Mouth and Communications

So I was recently tagged by Lindy Dreyer over at SocialFish to participate in the WOM meme that has been going around. I was excited that I was asked to participate, and hope I can provide some nuggets of wisdom below...

My example relating to word of mouth comes from something I am working on right now. We are integrating word of mouth into our communications efforts to help push and promote our upcoming Convention this summer.

We have developed a blog for our Convention where we are pushing people for the most up to date information, interesting thoughts about past Conventions, and even little tidbits about the events that we are planning this year. We have also asked a number of regular attendees to share "Why I attend the Convention" guest posts that we'll be using throughout the run up to the event. This is not only an opportunity for us to get some faces and well-known names out to potential attendees, but also an opportunity for them to hear firsthand accounts of things that these folks LOVE about the event - hopefully building the word of mouth buzz about it. We are then going to ask the people who are guest posters to pass along the post that they did to people they know in order to push that message out to additional potential attendees.

In addition, as an all men's organization, throughout the year we are mostly promoting our events and services to men. However, for the Convention, we also want our alumni to bring their spouses and guests. So, this year we have also asked one of our regular spouses who attends to provide a guest post to talk about why she LOVES attending hoping to hit the potential spouses of attendees. By having the potential attendees share that perspective with their spouse who might be hesitant to attend, it will hopefully be another way that we are enhancing the expectations and attendance numbers for the big event using word of mouth from someone like them who has attended in the past.

Anyway, we're compiling the guest posts now and will begin posting soon. Hopefully the word of mouth that this tactic creates helps as we push our registration for this exciting event!

February 18, 2009

Volunteerism Meme

I as tagged by Maddie Grant for the Volunteerism Meme to answer the following question that was originally posed by Peggy Hoffman:

"...how can we create volunteer jobs that don’t require being on a committee, a long-term commitment or gobs of time? So, share five short-term, ad-hoc volunteer jobs you’d love to have and then tag five more bloggers".

Here goes nuthin':

1. Create content for an association's blog for a month
2. Facilitate a discussion at an event
3. Provide feedback on an organization's web site and publications
4. Collect tangible donations for a local non-profit
5. Coach a youth basketball team (a little longer term than the rest, but I think it'd be fun!)

I am someone who likes serving on committees with lots of structure, so this was a little hard for me! However, I think the five things above are all ways to volunteer that I would enjoy, and are things that could be useful to organizations/associations who need the help!

I am tagging the following:

Jeff De Cagna
Patti Digh
Mickie Rops
Julie Hewitt
Jeffrey Cufaude

February 17, 2009

New Look and Features

Maddie over at the Socialfishing blog inspired me to change the look of my blog, and to add a few new features like the Feeds, etc. While my new look isn't as dramatic as hers, I think my old look was a little stale and needed something different.

Hope you like it, and that you are finding value in the content I am creating here at Insights from a Future Association Executive!


February 2, 2009

A Lot of Learning This Week

This week, I am off work, a place where I usually learn a lot on a daily basis. However, that doesn't mean I am not learning.

I am actually working all week on my new house that my wife and I purchased late in 2008. My Dad is in town to help me paint every room in the house. Actually, it's the opposite - I am helping him!!

So what have I learned so far?

1. I am not now, nor will I ever be a very good painter. However, what I learned is that you need to know what you are good at. I am good at communicating with members, writing and editing our organization's publications, etc. I likely will never be a full-time painter because I know it is not something at which I will be happy or as proficient as is necessary... I hope the office doesn't ask me to paint our offices the next time it needs it!

2. At first, I was a HORRIBLE painter... I am still not very good, but I am learning and improving. The lesson that I have learned (once again in my life) is that even if you aren't good at something, practice makes perfect. Sitting there without taking action on something at which you need to learn doesn't help in the long run.

It's been three days, and I have already learned a lot. Perhaps I'll post again later in the week about what else I have learned... Perhaps it will help you learn something too!

Good to Great?

So I was having a conversation with blogging buddy Ben Martin and ASAE Volunteer Relations Manager "DJ" Johnson on a recent trip to DC for an ASAE meeting, and we began discussing Circuit City and its demise. (Ben works out of Richmond where Circuit City is/was based.) He pointed out that they were actually a Good to Great company in Jim Collins' book, which took me a little off guard.

Really? A company that has begun liquidating was listed in this 2001 book as being one of the best companies in the country? It's amazing that it happened so quickly, but as Ben pointed out in our conversation, it wasn't that surprising.

Circuit City was slow to innovate and even slower to see that its competitors were beating its brains out by doing things more simply - having the merchandise on the shelves instead of in the back... You could walk up, pick up a DVD player, walk to the register and check out at Best Buy, while at Circuit City you would have to take a ticket, have an employee go to the back to find it, bring it back to you, and THEN you could check out. It was the convergence of convenience and simplicity, something that Circuit City FINALLY got, but it was too late.

So, I was thinking about that conversation, and about how we in associations should look at Circuit City's demise... Below are a couple thoughts I had:

Be Vigilant - If our associations are vigilant and see what we're up against in terms of competitors to our markets, we have a good chance of not meeting the same fate as Circuit City. However, being vigilant is not only about watching what our competitors are doing. It's also about knowing what our members are looking for, and figuring out how we can provide it simply and effectively.

Be Agile - Our associations need to be agile, which means that we need to be willing and able to change course if in our vigilance, we determine it's necessary. Agility is something that is not easy to master, especially with clunky strategic plans that are often five years or longer in length, but it is really a necessity.

Innovate Regularly - A failure to innovate is a failure to be great. The Circuit City situation is a bit of a cautionary tale of a once-great company failing to innovate and in the end failing to provide the value to its customers. It can also be a learning experience in that if we aren't innovating, we're essentially losing ground to our competitors.

Be Great - If your association is providing value, innovating in the right ways, developing new revenue streams while bringing in new members, all while being willing to change if you're not doing these things effectively, you're on the right track to being great.

I'm now off to the nearest Circuit City to buy up some of that inventory that they're selling at bottom basement prices... I hope your members will never do the same with your association's stuff.