Association Today

Association News You Can Use

Association Today is a blog authored by Paul Lundy that talks about the news and insights relevant to the association industry.

You Wear It Well: Finding the Right Fit For Your Products and Services

You Wear It Well: Finding the Right Fit For Your Products and Services

TAKEAWAY THURSDAY

Take it away! This is the 16th in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

All organizations, both for-profit and non-profit, are always looking for ways to expand the menu of the products and services that they offer to their customers. The most critical step in this process involves understanding what your customers want from a particular product or service.

Recent efforts by Apple and Samsung to begin retooling their wearable technology lines provide an instructive look at what happens when new products miss in the marketplace. In a recent article in The New Yorker, Amy Merrick discusses “tech companies’ fashion dilemma: how to create wearable technologies that people will actually wear.”

On the one hand, Merrick writes that “companies love the idea of wearable technology because that constant data stream would be a bonanza for marketers, measuring what people are doing every second, even while they’re asleep.”

However, on the other, she notes that “customers are reluctant to strap still-bulky computers to their foreheads and wrists.” Further, Merrick references a recent Pew Research Center Study, which shows that more than half of Americans think life will change for the worse if many people wear implant technologies that constantly provide information about the world around them.

Despite their creators’ best efforts, wearable technology products seem to have both design and image problems. You may have found yourself in an analogous situation where your association invested in a product or service that wasn’t received quite as well as you hoped. If you’re in that position now, the key takeaway to be drawn from the tech industry is that you can rethink and rework your product before you suffer any greater losses in revenue or reputation.

To do that, I think you need to ask two important questions that are implied by the tech industry’s response to the situation:

1 – Do you have the right people in place to effectively roll-out the product?

Earlier this month Angela Ahrendts, formerly CEO at Burberry, joined Apple as its head of retail. This might seem like an unlikely hire for a technology company, but if as Merrick observes, “Apple is seriously considering building technology into clothes and accessories,” then the former CEO of a fashion label may be just who the company needs.

2 – Are you willing to change how your organization and its businesses operate?

Tech blogger Om Malik made this observation about Apple’s hiring Ahrendts, “This new intimate computing era means Apple has to stop thinking like a computer company and more like a fashion accessory maker: whose stock in trade is not just in great design but aspirational experience.”

With the right mindset and appropriate human resources in place, your association can wear almost anything well.


 

Continue reading
1414 Hits

Satisfaction Guaranteed in Just 10 Seconds

Satisfaction Guaranteed in Just 10 Seconds

Do you find that staff in your member services department rush members off the phone? If they do, that’s a missed opportunity for sure. A member who’s taken the time to call your association directly is likely an engaged member, and staff need to see value in determining how to keep them that way by finding out if there’s anything else you can do to improve their experience and level of satisfaction.

This concept of “taking a few extra seconds to find another way to help members (guests) and then improve their experience and level of satisfaction” comes from Walt Disney World’s guest relations as Robert C. Harris, CAE, noted association management expert, shares on his website The Nonprofit Center.

“We can do the same with member calls,” Harris writes. “Before hanging up, practice taking just 10 seconds longer to ask them a satisfaction-question.” Here are five that I particularly like:

    • Is there anything else I can help you with today?
    • Did you receive the most recent newsletter?
    • Are you planning to attend the upcoming conference?
    • Can I help you with any other membership questions?
    • Would you like to speak with anyone else in the office?

Taking just 10 seconds longer on the phone with a member could provide you with a wealth of information. Even better, if you’re using a flexible AMS like Fonteva For Associations, it will be easy for you to record, track and report on that information.

Continue reading
1647 Hits

Data-Driven by Design: 3 Lessons from Amazon

Data-Driven by Design: 3 Lessons from Amazon

TAKEAWAY THURSDAY

Take it away! This is the 16th in a series of posts that will be featured on Fonteva’s blog highlighting important strategies associations can take away from other industries. In today’s sixth-degrees-of-separation world, your members are assessing your association not just in comparison to similar organizations but in relation to the totality of their experiences as consumers. As such, we want to help you stay abreast of key trends and best practices, those takeaways that may benefit your association.

Forget the devil! The details are in your data, and the sooner your association harnesses this key asset, the better.

According to IBM consultant Andrew Waxman, banks have quite a bit to learn about data collection as well. In a recent article for American Banker, Waxman asserted that Amazon might be one of their best teachers.

“Companies like Amazon and Facebook have put customer analytical data at the center of their business model,” he writes. “For banks, however, leveraging, mining and exploiting customer data has often been an afterthought.”

The same could be said of many associations. They share a number of parallels with banks when it comes to the difficulty they experience in leveraging data effectively, the chief one being what Waxman calls “an incoherent view of the customer.”

According to him, Amazon has managed to conquer this obstacle by adhering to three basic principles that might serve as important lessons for organizations in other sectors:

    1. Amazon knows each of its customers and maintains a single customer record as the basis for developing a relationship with them.
    2. Amazon wants to learn as much as possible about its customers. From the very start, Amazon’s curiosity about customers’ tastes and buying habits has set it apart from other retailers.
    3. Amazon has built a true partnership model with its customers. In this partnership, the use of customer information for marketing and business development purposes is quite transparent and almost taken for granted by the customer.

Could the same principles apply to your association and distinguish it in the marketplace? Have you thought about how you can be more Amazon-like?

The realities of an Amazon.com world were certainly within our frame of reference when we developed Fonteva For Associations. One of its key advantages is the ability to give our customers a 360 degree view of each member and of their organizations as a whole. Because we recognize how important that perspective is for associations, our solution is data-driven by design.

Continue reading
1612 Hits

Skimming the Surface: How to Get Donors’ Attention

Skimming the Surface: How to Get Donors’ Attention

Let’s be honest. A good portion of the mail we receive electronically or via the post office doesn’t get read. By read, I mean that you’ve opened the message or envelope and reviewed its entire contents.

Very few people “read” at this level. And it’s important to keep this in mind when communicating with donors and/or members.

“You browse first. If you find something of interest, then you start reading,” writes Tom Ahern, noted nonprofit communications specialist and author of Making Money with Donor Letters. “And even then, you often read no more than a paragraph or two before jumping to another story, unless you're enjoying a leisurely morning.”

An excerpt from Ahern’s book was featured on GuideStar’s blog earlier this month. It highlights his observations about how donors actually approach reading correspondence from the organizations which they support: “When your newsletter arrives, the first thing they do is browse: skim a few headlines, look at the photos, maybe read a caption, to see if anything’s of interest. If nothing is, they put the newsletter aside, likely never to return.”

Given how donors approach reading, Ahern says “if you have nothing of interest in your ‘browser level,’ you’ve wasted your time and money.” He suggests that nonprofit organizations adjust their expectation that donors “read deep” because “most of them won’t.”

In general, Ahern asserts that instead of thinking in terms of how donors read their newsletters, for example, organizations need to be more concerned with how they skim them. They can factor this tendency to skim into the design of their communications by including:

    • Photos and illustrations

 

...
Continue reading
1853 Hits

Evaluation and Evolution: 5 Important Questions to Ask about Your Relationships

Evaluation and Evolution: 5 Important Questions to Ask about Your Relationships

“I don’t know how individuals or business can’t evolve!” — David Nour, CEO, The Nour Group

Relevancy and relationships are inextricably connected. This was my thought as I read David Nour’s recent blog post. If you aren’t relevant, how can you bring value to your relationships?

Nour essentially answers my question when he writes, “We’re relevant to our relationships when we exchange value with them – never forgetting that relationships are between individuals and not logos.”

He goes on to discuss the importance of “constantly evolving to meet if not exceed the needs or demands of our relationships.” As the president of a relatively young company, I understand his point of view. At Fonteva, we are constantly evolving and bringing new and innovative products to the marketplace. Our desire to bring value to our relationships often fuels these efforts.

We expect our peers and partners and customers to evaluate their relationships with us based on our ability and commitment to bringing value by being ahead of the trends that may impact their business and ours. Nour proposes that each of us see our relationships through this lens. He believes the primary question we need ask about our relationships pertains to whether the organizations with which we associate ourselves are nimble: “How have you evolved in the last 18 months?”

Here are four more that he suggests you might consider when evaluating relationships:

    • Do they really have their finger on the pulse of the market they serve?
    • How intentionally are they in constantly extending their reach with their current and prospective value propositions?
    • Do they push themselves beyond their perceived reach to grow, personally and professionally?
    • What do they believe are their next iterations of growing edges?

Nour is also a proponent of self-evaluation. I’ll leave you with what I think is one of the most important questions we need to ask ourselves to remain successful and lead our organizations into a bright future:  “If you’re not evolving, reinventing yourself, or pushing your organization to think and lead differently, how will you remain relevant?”

Continue reading
1492 Hits