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.

How Can Association Management Leaders Better Understand Their Members?

How Can Association Management Leaders Better Understand Their Members?

All too often association management personnel spend a ton of money searching for a CEO and then the leader leaves after a year on the job. What happens? While there are lots of reasons, many times it’s because the new leader didn’t understand the market or the culture of the organization.

It happens all the time in all kinds of businesses all around the world.

A recent article on the Associations Now website discusses one very public example of how this poor knowledge of organizational culture can cause major problems. The article highlights how the Chicago Cubs’ manager ticked off an entire fan base, leading to his departure. According to the article, back in 1983, Lee Elia was recorded ranting about the team’s disrespectful fans, claiming that most of them were probably unemployed.

“A recording leaked. Fans turned on Elia. The team foundered. He was gone by August,” the article says. “The Cubs wouldn’t necessarily have become a better team if Lee Elia had better understood the Cubs’ idiosyncratic fan culture. But ... he might have avoided the blow-up that lasted only a minute or two [rather than doing] permanent harm to his standing as a leader.”

Elia may have understood the culture of players, managers and owners, but he didn’t understand the culture of the fans. For association management, the key is to understand the culture of the organization’s members AND their clients, according to the article.

“After investing considerable time and money recruiting the ‘right’ candidate, boards seem to wipe their hands and walk away like a dealer at a blackjack table once the [CEO] search is completed,” the article says.

To avoid these problems, the Associations Now article suggests preparing a playbook for new association management leadership. This folder of information should include evaluation reports about major meetings; communication from people explaining why they are no longer interested in membership or events; and a list of social media outlets of industry leaders.

It’s a good idea to visit 20 to 30 members each year, the article notes.

The fundamental adage of any business is to know your audience and know your market. It’s so important to understand them and listen to their feedback. This also underscores the need for CEOs to get out of the office and visit with members. It’s not always easy to find the time, but it’s a powerful thing to do.

Source: Associations Now, April 2013

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What’s The Best Association Management Approach To Big Data?

What’s The Best Association Management Approach To Big Data?

When it comes to their association management strategy, organizations should take a crawl, then walk and then run approach to Big Data.

Big Data can be intimidating for any association to deal with — or even think about.

According to a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, the globe’s population adds about “2.5 quintillion bytes of data” each and every day. Just pondering this number of bytes — let alone doing something with it — is a challenge for many people.

Fortunately, there may be an opportunity for less experienced techies at associations to tackle Big Data by starting with smaller “bytes.” When it comes to their association management strategy, organizations should take a crawl, then walk and then run approach to Big Data.

And they MUST try. For businesses everywhere — including nonprofits and associations — all this data provides a huge potential for monetization, improvement and overall success. Ignoring these kinds of possibilities could stifle growth.

So how do associations tackle this effort? The key to adding Big Data to your association management strategy is to take baby steps with what the Harvard Business Review calls “medium data.”

“Big Data is the search for meaning in the haystacks of massive databases of transactions, sensor readings, and records,” the article explains. “Fear not: It doesn’t require terabytes of data and supercomputers. Medium data is simply organized storytelling — and if there’s one thing nonprofits do well, it’s tell stories about the need in our communities.”

Here are three keys for association management leaders to remember as they map out a data strategy.

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6 Tips To Improve Association Management With Online Payments

6 Tips To Improve Association Management With Online Payments

Improve your financial association management by accepting online payments. It costs too much time, effort and money to process checks. Six tips can help you boost your association management by handling member payments online. Once the process is all set up, it runs by itself. You receive the cash and everything is done.

It costs associations lots of time, effort and money to accept and process offline payments.

Just think of this: With a check, the association has to wait for it to arrive in the mail, wait for someone to open it, send the check to the accounting department, wait for a few checks to come in and then take them to the bank. It’s a huge operational burden to have to deal with offline payments. Not to mention potential theft issues.

This is why the key to improving one aspect of financial association management is for organizations to accept online payments.

With these kinds of transaction options, organizations don’t have to touch a single paper, open a single envelope or drive to a single bank. Once the process is all set up, it runs by itself. It works and you have to report on it. You get the cash and everything is done.

With that in mind, here are six tips to improve your association management by handling member payments online.

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4 Free Metrics To Improve Association Management

4 Free Metrics To Improve Association Management

To be successful in the digital era, associations must monitor the ins and outs of their website traffic. The key is to know what to look for. On its Big Ideas Blog, Omnipress recently shared four free metrics that associations should monitor using Google Analytics. Use these free tools to improve your association management.

To be successful, associations must monitor the ins and outs of their website traffic. The key is to know what to look for.

On its Big Ideas Blog, Omnipress recently shared four free metrics that associations should monitor using Google Analytics. These are all good association management tools that any company should pay attention to.

“Most organizations are unaware of the absolute power that analytics unlocks for them, simply because they haven’t taken the time to train themselves on the basic metrics,” the post explains.

Granted, it does take time to understand the analytics. You can’t have people doing this every now and then in their free time. You have to stay on top of this and live it. Plus, the person in charge of tracking the analytics must understand what the numbers mean.

Every association can afford to do this because the tools are free.

Here are four ways to improve your association management using Google Analytics, according to the Big Ideas Blog.

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Why You Should Train Your Employees To Use Association Management Software

Why You Should Train Your Employees To Use Association Management Software

Finding association management software for companies to keep and analyze Big Data in-house isn’t the problem. The thing that’s missing is the aptitude and training necessary for employees to mine the data. A new survey highlighted in an article on the Associations Now website shows why associations should keep Big Data analytics in-house.

Finding association management software for companies to keep and analyze Big Data in-house isn’t the problem. The thing that’s missing is the aptitude and training necessary for employees to mine the data. It’s a neglected area for most associations.

Here’s how it happens: All too often, the association’s IT person in charge of the data doesn’t have the skills or context to truly understand the information that they’re drilling down into. And why should they? They’re experts in information science, not in your association’s mission. You probably only hired them to keep the Internet connected and the computers working.

This is why it is absolutely vital for associations to invest in a data specialist who is intellectually curious, familiar with the business and has the skills to analyze data.

Remember, continuity is important, too. It’s best to have a data specialist who has been with the organization for a long time and is quite knowledgeable about the industry.

A new survey shows that associations should keep Big Data analytics in-house. Investing in employees with a particular skill set — such as those that a data specialist would have — is the most effective way to handle the data so that it reaches the people in the company who need it.

A recent article on the Associations Now website discusses the survey, which was performed by the Economist Intelligence Unit. According to the article, the key to having a data-driven culture is to operate as if data is everyone’s responsibility. That means training lots of employees on how to use the association management software.

And that’s not easy.

“Almost 70 percent of respondents — more than 500 senior executives in organizations around the world — said recruiting and retaining people with a data analysis skill set is somewhat to very difficult,” the Associations Now article reports.

To train lots of employees to handle the data, have a toolkit and algorithms to help the process. It is also important to show them how to translate data in visualizations.

Keep in mind that data analysis skills aren’t something people can pick up in a day. It’s going to take repetition and practice. If someone is just pulling up a customer report once per quarter, they’ll always be challenged. It’s something they must be doing on an ongoing basis.

Source: Associations Now, March 2013

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