Spark Consulting

Trending Sources

Launching: Membership 101 Series

Spark Consulting

I’ve had several clients hire me recently to do webinars/presentations on basic concepts in membership. It occurred to me that other people might want this information, too. So I’m launching a series of blog posts designed to introduce readers to – or remind them of – key concepts in membership recruitment, engagement, retention, and renewal. Leave them in the comments.

Associations and Trump’s Travel Ban

Spark Consulting

Airports and cities large and small erupted into chaos this weekend as Donald Trump’s executive order temporarily banning Muslims from Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Somalia, Libya and Yemen from entering the US took effect. People with valid entry visas and legal permanent resident status (“green card” holders) were detained at airports across the country. Internet Association.

Retention is a Relationship

Spark Consulting

And you can’t claim to have a relationship with people you don’t know. This topic has come up frequently with clients in the past six months, both within full engagements, where we’ve been looking at how to increase membership, and in speaking engagements, where I’m trying to help chapter leaders learn how to be more effective. That’s a data issue. ACTING is key.

Where are the YPs?

Spark Consulting

“How can I recruit young professional members if there are no young professionals entering our industry?” ” I’ve been thinking about this question a lot recently, not least of which because I have a client that is in this EXACT situation. Their industry is blue collar, but it is also one with excellent career and salary prospects and a clear educational track.

Catch Spark at #ASAE16

Spark Consulting

I’ll be presenting two sessions at the upcoming ASAE Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City in a few weeks: Unsession: The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm, Sunday, August 14. Deep Dive: The Lean Startup Changes Everything, Tuesday, August 16. We plan to challenge your thinking about the role associations can play in bridging the education to employment gap.

The Mission Driven Volunteer Rides Again!

Spark Consulting

Earlier this month, Mission Driven Volunteer co-author Peggy Hoffman and I had the opportunity to present about our research on this topic for Wild Apricot. As is often the case with webinars, we weren’t able to get to all the questions during the Q&A. So we’re answering them now. and don’t want to change? PH: Start outside the system. Even better? How would that work? EE: YES!

The Perfect Storm

Spark Consulting

I’d like to share some sobering statistics about higher education and employment: In the United States, students graduate from college with an average debt load of nearly $29,000. Total student debt in the U.S. is $1.23 trillion and rising. 47% of college-educated workers under 25 work in jobs. that do not require a college degree. Worldwide, 73.3 million people under the age of 25 are unemployed, representing 36.7% of total global unemployment. In the United States in 2015, 32% of employers reported. struggling to find qualified workers. form of postsecondary education or training.

Four Keys to Writing Good Marketing Copy

Spark Consulting

How do you write good marketing copy? In a nutshell: Think about your audience. Who are they? What do you know about them? Use that information to craft a personalized message. Talk like a real person, and write like you speak. Shorter and simpler is better than longer and more complex. Don’t be excessively formal, don’t use jargon, and don’t use undefined acronyms. Focus on benefits not features.

What’s Your Marketing Resolution for 2016?

Spark Consulting

I’m totally stealing this idea from smartie Beth Brodovsky , who emailed me this same question recently for her Driving Participation podcast series. My resolution for association marketers would be for us to stop talking about segmentation and personalization and start doing it. No more excuses! What would your 2016 marketing resolution be? Tell me in the comments!

Five Tips for Overcoming Your Fear of Sales

Spark Consulting

One of the toughest things in marketing is crossing over into sales. While our end goal is to get people to buy what we’re selling, no one wants to be this guy –> So how do you get one (sales) without the other (obnoxious dude everyone avoids at parties)? Understand that selling is really about matching problems to solutions. Realize that selling = making connections. NOOOOOOO!).

Tips 89

Bridging the Education to Employment Gap: Where Can I Learn More?

Spark Consulting

Now that you’ve had a chance to learn a little bit about the disruption affecting education, the changes in the employment market (both in the US and world-wide), the “wicked” problem that perfect storm has created, and how Shelly Alcorn and I think associations are uniquely positioned to respond, what if you’d like to learn more? We’ve got you covered. Download The Association Role in the New Education Paradigm white paper. Remember: it’s free! The webinar also provides 1 CAE credit.

Moving from Inside-Out to Outside-In

Spark Consulting

Anna Caraveli ( The Demand Networks ) and I recently had the chance to sit down with Justin Burniske ( fusionSpan ) to talk about some of the issues raised in our recent whitepaper, Leading Engagement from the Outside In , for the Small Staff – Big Impact blog. In part two of our video interview, we talk about: The difference between the inside-out and outside-in approaches to member engagement.

You Engage By Being Engaging

Spark Consulting

Anna Caraveli ( The Demand Networks ) and I recently had the chance to sit down with Justin Burniske ( fusionSPAN ) to talk about some of the issues raised in our recent whitepaper, Leading Engagement from the Outside In , for the Small Staff – Big Impact blog. In the video interview, we talk about the three main engagement mistakes associations make: Equating engagement with sales.

Five Ways NOT to Brainstorm

Spark Consulting

Brainstorming has come under fire recently as being a crummy way of coming up with new ideas. Perhaps it’s because people are doing one or more of the following? Inviting as many people as possible – the more, the merrier! (Of Of course, that means most people won’t have a chance to speak, but too bad for them, right?). Only the Very Important People get to contribute ideas.

Recruit the Whole Person

Spark Consulting

Last week, I was teaching the volunteer management course for ASAE’s Association Management Week with the smart and talented Andrea Rutledge (Executive Director of the National Architectural Accrediting Board), and she and I got chatting about membership recruitment. Andrea’s been a volunteer with ASAE’s research committee, which supports the work of the ASAE Foundation, and we specifically got talking about the Future of Membership project. What they discovered in all cases was that the Decision to Join was not an individual one. ” Really? Is this even on your radar?

The Whats, Whys, and Hows of Brand Identity Guides

Spark Consulting

A number of clients have been working on various branding related issues lately, so I’m so pleased to be able to share this guest post from my colleague Sharon Bending at Rx Creative Lab on the keys to putting together effective brand identity guidelines: A set of brand identity guidelines (also referred to as brand standards) is a part of every rebrand. It documents the whats and whys of a brand’s look and feel, including color and font specs, overall guidance on tone and message, and layout rules. Who writes the guide and who has input? View their work at www.rxcreativelab.com.

The Lean Startup Changes Everthing

Spark Consulting

I’m excited to share the launch of the seventh whitepaper in the ongoing Spark whitepaper series, Innovate the Lean Way: Applying Lean Startup Methodology in the Association Environment. The whitepaper addresses a simple (but not necessarily easy) concept. To quote my co-author, Guillermo Ortiz de Zarate , Director of Information Services for the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards : “There’s no bigger waste than investing resources working on the wrong thing.” Our contention is that associations can benefit from applying this methodology as well.

Coming Soon from Spark

Spark Consulting

All kinds of exciting goodies on the horizon, which is part of the reason the blog’s been fairly quiet of late. Whitepapers. Winter is for writing, and that’s what I’ve been up to! I’m excited to share that I’ll be coming out with two new whitepapers this spring/summer. The first, co-authored with Anna Caraveli (The Demand Networks) is on member engagement.

Collaborate LARP at #ASAE15

Spark Consulting

Many association executives are familiar with ASAE’s online member community, Collaborate. In just under two weeks, at the 2015 ASAE Annual Meeting in Detroit, I’ll be facilitating a session called “ Request and Re-gift.” ” It’s based on 2014 annual meeting opening keynoter Adam Grant’s concept of giving and receiving via reciprocity circles. In other words, it’s kind of a live-action, IRL Collaborate, designed to allow you to expand your network and tap into that network in some hopefully unexpected ways. What kind of help?

ISO Your Board Transformation Story

Spark Consulting

Sherry Marts (of S*Marts Consulting ) and I are starting to work on a whitepaper looking at what’s going on in diversity and inclusion in the association space. This will be the ninth whitepaper in the ongoing Spark collaborative series. You may have already read some of the others, on topics like the association role in the new education paradigm , lean startup methodology , member engagement , mission-driven volunteering , and data-driven decision making. Have you started creating seats for students and young professionals? Have you added socioeconomic/educational background diversity?

More Tips to Improve Your Open Rate

Spark Consulting

Tips to help your blast emails shine, Part 2: Personalize it – It’s 2014. We all have the ability to send emails to “Dear Elizabeth” rather than “Dear Colleague” so be sure to call people by name. Be a real person – Write like you would talk to someone, not like the first draft of a Business Communications 101 project. Even better? Bullet points! Edit, edit, edit! Get Part 1 here.

Tips 70

Rethinking What It Means to Be a Member

Spark Consulting

A few months ago, I had a chance to sit down (virtually) with Beth Brodovsky and talk about what’s changing in membership relationships. The podcast is out ! Some of the key points include: Not all members are created equal, and because of that, your limited resources should not necessarily be evenly distributed among them. which is a point Mark Golden has also made).

Recapping the Outside-In Engagement #Assnchat

Spark Consulting

Anna Caraveli ( The Demand Networks ) and I had the opportunity to guest moderate #assnchat on Tuesday, July 14, with discussion focused around the issues we raise in our new whitepaper, Leading Engagement from the Outside-In (download your free copy at [link]. In case you missed it, here’s a recap of the high points of the conversation. Q1 How do you currently learn about your audiences? How do you share that knowledge internally? PartnersInAssocMgt (@Partners_AMC) July 14, 2015. Q2 How are you capturing and sharing learning from less formal interactions? Brandon Robinson asked: A2.

Team 57

Adopting the Mission Command Mindset

Spark Consulting

A few weeks ago, the Washington Post ran an article about some of the latest developments in military leadership , and, as part of it, they shared the idea of the Mission Command Mindset. At its simplest, Mission Command dictates that senior leaders provide guidance and intent — the what and the why — and that subordinate leaders have maximum latitude to design the how. leadership

Matching Your Channel to Your Audience

Spark Consulting

One of the most important principles in creating successful multi-channel communications is to match your channel to your audience and your purpose. Are you sharing information about something that’s open to the public? Use public channels like Facebook, Twitter, and unprotected areas of your website. Are you sharing information about something that’s for your members only?

Turning Ideas into Reality

Spark Consulting

Also known as “the hard part.” ” I’ve been working with an association lately where the focus of the engagement is on transforming the organization. I’m specifically working with them on a membership transformation, but a piece of that is looking at transforming programs, products, and services. So we’ve been talking a lot about innovation. Now, this is not their first time at the rodeo on the subject of innovation. In fact, they’ve been working on innovation initiatives for almost two years. The problem has been: what happens next?

Five Tips to Increase Your Email Open Rate

Spark Consulting

Want to increase your bulk email open rate? Of course you do! The subject is the most important part of the email. Spend time writing a meaningful one that will ensure your recipient will open and read more. Stay away from wacky typefaces, odd or excessive use of bold and italics, and weird capitalization in an email. For the highest response rates, send email on Tuesdays and Thursdays. marketing

Tips 61

What Is Your “Customer Journey”?

Spark Consulting

Reading a recent article in the Harvard Business Review on the topic of “ customer journeys ” got me thinking about their role in the association space. What is a “customer journey”? The example HBR used was of a solar company. The company then sent references who were neighbors of the author, and a single-click lease tailored to his needs. Where are the member outcomes?

Team 43

Supercharge Member Loyalty & Power Community Engagement

Spark Consulting

“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”. During our April 16 Higher Logic Learning Series webinar on volunteerism in honor of National Volunteer Week (#NVW2015), Peggy Hoffman and I were unable to get to all the questions in our allotted hour. So we’re hitting the rest now: How do you find out what rewards the volunteers like/want? EWE: Ask them! And it’s OK to be forward about it: “What would be a meaningful way for us to show our appreciation for your contributions?” Run with the fact that you know that she’s a dedicated cyclist or he’s a Washington Nationals super-fan.

Is Growth Necessarily Good?

Spark Consulting

At CalSAE’s ELEVATE Conference last week, I attended a session on association trend spotting led by Shelly and Mark Alcorn. My team was assigned the mindfulness trend. After some discussion about information overload, the pressure of always being connected and what that does to face to face personal connection, and what is the appropriate role for an association in a member’s life (hint: you are not the most important thing in your members’ lives), the innovative idea we came to was that growth is not always necessarily a good thing. And up is always better, right?

Price 66

Let Your Member Data Show You the Way

Spark Consulting

Last week, Associations Now did a story on my awesome client NICSA and the new membership model project we worked on together last summer. They’ve graciously given me permission to reprint it below: By Joe Rominiecki / Apr 30, 2014 . How one association unbundled some of its benefits and packaged them around “clusters of behavior” in its member engagement data. Behavioral data will do that.

Do You Know How to Be A Member?

Spark Consulting

You just got a new member! Hopefully, she’ll acclimate and find her place and stay with you forever. Wait: “hopefully”? We can do better than that. Here’s the question you need to ask yourself: does your new member know how to be a member of your organization? Of course not, right? She’s new. Now you need to help her learn how to make the most of that investment.

What I’m Reading

Spark Consulting

Do you know the content marketing 4-1-1 ? MGI’s 2014 Membership Marketing Benchmark report is out. One, you should download it ASAP. Two, Associations Now has been doing a series of posts on the results, and I love the point of this one: “ you have to eat your vegetables.” ” Yep. Advice from Aaron Wolowiec about getting your comms and events teams to work together to create a better event. Kim Howard also has some advice on this topic on her NEW BLOG. Did you know she had a new blog?). Didn’t make MMCC two weeks ago? What makes an effective organization?

How Do I Know What to Charge?

Spark Consulting

One of the hardest things to do in creating a product or service is to set the price – too high, no one will buy because it’s too expensive; too low, no one will buy because they think what you’re offering isn’t valuable. So how do you determine your pricing strategy? Determine whether this is something that can be a “loss leader” or whether it needs to break even or turn a profit. Test it!

Price 55

Three Keys to Inspire New Ideas from Staff

Spark Consulting

What does it take for associations to succeed at innovation? I’ve been doing some research on innovation initiatives in associations for a client and had written a bit about it for the Spark blog a few weeks ago. I recently had the opportunity to speak with Mark Athitakis from ASAE about what I’d learned in a little more length, and he wrote the following piece for Associations Now. They’ve graciously given me permission to share it. The best ideas for your association may come from your employees, but how do you get those ideas launched? I wondered what was happening.

I’ve Looked at RFPs from Both Sides Now

Spark Consulting

Reposting this (slightly edited) Thanks for Playing classic, because this topic has come up recently on ASAE’s Collaborate online community. In 18+ years in association management, I’ve been on both sides of the Request For Proposal process more times than I can count. My very first Big Task at my very first association Real Job way back in 1997 was to complete an association management software system selection. Which, of course, included writing an RFP (after I met all the vendors, but that’s another post). You name it, I’ve written it, seen it, or responded to it. Finito. Really.

Come Chat about Member Engagement

Spark Consulting

Are associations taking a backwards approach to member engagement? Associations have always been “about” engagement of course, and in the past several years, we’ve had a renewed focus on engaging our audiences. The thing is, most of us aren’t really doing it well. Could that be because we’ve been thinking about engagement all wrong, focusing on what we want members to do and how we define value? Join Anna Caraveli ( The Demand Networks ) and me Tuesday, July 14 at 2 pm on Twitter for the weekly #assnchat tweet chat. But it is free! Get it at [link].

Seven Keys to Marketing Success

Spark Consulting

Recently, on ASAE’s Collaborate Community, someone asked for examples of other associations’ marketing plans. The things is, marketing plans are less about taking some other organization’s plan and swapping your acronym for theirs and more about answering some key questions: What do you know about your audiences? Capture EVERYTHING you know and always look to be adding.).

ISO Your Membership and Marketing Materials

Spark Consulting

I’m presenting a session at ASAE’s upcoming Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference, to help you create rockin’ marketing materials. I totally stole the idea from Lowell Apelbaum , who facilitated a similar session at last year’s summer CESSE conference that everybody really enjoyed and had fun with. The concept is that I’ll open the session with 10 quick tips to use in evaluating marketing materials, and then participants will have the chance to go around the room giving feedback on actual association membership and marketing materials.

Five Tips to Write Better

Spark Consulting

I write a lot. Obviously, reading this, you know about the Spark blog (which started in 2008, long before Spark was even a twinkle in my eye, as the independent association blog Thanks for Playing ). I also write whitepapers. And for other association industry publications. And I write a food blog. And I’m just kicking off my 9th consecutive season blogging about the NFL. How does it happen?

Tips 58