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.

Batter Up: Team Building Lessons from Red Sox Owner John Henry

Batter Up: Team Building Lessons from Red Sox Owner John Henry

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the 15th 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.

“As 2013 began, expectations were modest,” notes Bloomberg BusinessWeek Senior National Correspondent Joshua Green in a recent article about the Red Sox.

During the previous two years, the team had underperformed, and its leaders were at odds. One costly misstep was recruiting “pricey talent” that didn’t deliver.

The team’s principal owner since 2002, John Henry acknowledges the error: “We had a certain discipline for the first five or six years that really paid big dividends, and we got away from that. We learned a lesson in ever-growing, long-term contracts with free agents.”

Willingness to acknowledge when a strategy doesn’t work as planned is one of the lessons organizations can learn from Henry’s approach to managing a championship team. I would like share three others that I find particularly relevant for associations.

Don’t let emotions cloud your judgment. Before entering the sports arena, Henry had a successful career trading commodities futures, and his friends credit this background with his ability to ignore sentiment when making decisions. Like baseball teams, associations foster a fair amount of nostalgia, which sometimes makes it difficult to execute the best strategies, especially if that means eliminating an unprofitable program that all of their members love.

Invest in the future by recruiting younger players. Unlike some teams, the Red Sox organization has been willing to part ways with star players to ensure that less experienced players have an opportunity to thrive within the organization. For example, Green notes that “minor league pitchers factor prominently in a bet that Henry and his colleagues have made that will determine the organization’s future: that relying on young talent is the best way to extend their run of success.” Along similar lines, associations are working to create opportunities for all of their members, who now may come from at least four different generations.

Always be ready for the next season. During the White House ceremony honoring the team, observers noted that Henry “stood quietly off to the side, occasionally greeting people who recognized him and offered their congratulations.” His mind already seemed to be on the next season. After the ceremony, Henry said, “You can never rest. You have to continually adapt to change.” The associations Fonteva has worked with recognized the need to change and adapt to meet their members’ expectations. For them, investing in a new AMS like Fonteva For Associations means they will have the flexibility and functionality they need to be ready for the next season and every one after that.

If you’re next up at bat for your association, consider these lessons and how they might prove useful as you make key strategic decisions.

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Mobile Money Maker: Using Apps to Generate Non-Dues Revenue

Mobile Money Maker: Using Apps to Generate Non-Dues Revenue

In the past five years, I’ve rarely encountered an association that isn’t concerned about generating additional non-dues revenue. The reality is that money matters.

To manage their programs and services effectively, associations need funds beyond dues revenue. And the mobile apps that associations offer – most often for their publications and conferences – represent another opportunity for generating non-dues revenue.

According to Tristan Louis, a contributor to Forbes.com, on the mainstream market, average revenue generated per premium app ranges from $625 to $4,000. Depending upon your association’s goals and objectives, you can put this dollar range into context.  In some instances, your goal may be to cover the cost of developing your app. In others the goal may be to contribute additional revenue to the bottom line for a specific event.

As you consider which apps to make available to your members, opportunities for generating revenue likely will factor into your decision-making process. Recently, Kelly Donovan, team leader for online marketing with Naylor Inc., highlighted four ways to generate non-dues revenue from apps, which I’ll summarize briefly here.

    1. Sell advertising space. As Donovan points out, “most mobile app vendors that provide conference, event or news apps reserve space within the app for advertisers.” These ad spaces might include banners, splash screens, and promoted posts. In general, if your association can segment industry-specific advertisers so that the messages they offer are relevant to your users, advertising space within an app is unobtrusive.
    2. Obtain an app sponsor. Perhaps, there’s an industry partner that wants to reach your members in a non-traditional way.  Donovan says, “Ask if they'll sponsor your app for a flat fee, and offer the company the advertising spaces mentioned above. Companies enjoy this option because they can more easily launch an integrated marketing campaign when they own an entire suite of advertising options.” Obtaining a sponsor for your app makes a significant contribution towards covering your overall app-related costs.
    3. Charge a fee to download the app. While your members might expect your association- or event-app to be included as part of their membership or event fees, consider making your app a member-only benefit and charge non-members for the privilege of using it. Donovan points out that “this may cause some additional administrative work on behalf of your staff or mobile vendor,” which you’ll need to take that into account when anticipating app costs.
    4. Offer in-app features for an additional fee.  As Donovan explains, “another fee structure to consider is offering the app for free, but charging users for certain in-app features. For example, you might include a customizable calendar within your app, but charge a small fee for the app to send the user a reminder about when their event begins.”

By all accounts, use of mobile apps and their acceptance as a primary source of information is only expected to increase. Given that, associations will want to consider how they might capitalize on this trend to take full advantage of this mobile money maker.

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Don’t Fight, Write

Don’t Fight, Write


TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the 14th 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.

It may be that you have to talk with a staff member whose performance is not up to standards. You may need to communicate with a volunteer leader about behavior that’s out of bounds. There could be an industry partner who needs to be gently reminded of the requirements for communicating with your members.

In my opinion, all of these interactions fall under the category of difficult conversations. Often times, we build up considerable anxiety about having these conversations, which only increases the likelihood of our emotions getting the better of us and not achieving the desired outcome. According to research from The University’s Chicago’s Human Performance Lab, “writing may be an effective way to boost your performance in pressure-filled situations.”

Conflict resolution expert Dr. Tammy Lenski cited this research in a recent blog post.  Lenski says writing about your thoughts and feelings frees “your mind to put its resources where you need them most when you’re under pressure.” Here’s the advice that she offers to her clients and students about using this exercise to prepare for a difficult conversation.

    1. The writing must be expressive, that is, it must focus on your thoughts and feelings about the upcoming event.

 

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App of the Month: Conga Composer

App of the Month: Conga Composer

Yes, there probably is an app for that, for just about anything you want to accomplish professionally and personally. But how do you know which apps are the best ones for your association? With so many of them being available, it can be hard to know which ones will be most effective for your organization. Just because there’s app for that, it doesn’t mean that you need it.

One of the biggest benefits Fonteva For Associations users are able to take advantage of is access to the more than 2,000 business apps available through the Salesforce App Exchange. In fact, you may be using various software Platform Solutions and don’t even know those same Platform Solutions have built an app for Salesforce users. Some good examples are Eventbrite for events, Box.com for document storage and collaboration, and Vertical Response for email marketing.

All of the apps featured on the App Exchange can be downloaded and used to extend the functionality of both Fonteva For Associations and Salesforce, and I’ll be highlighting one app from exchange the every month so that you’ll have a better idea of what’s available and may be most useful to you in your work.

The fourth app that I would like to highlight is Conga Composer developed by Conga, a company based in Broomfield, Colo., providing the most frequently used set of reporting and document creation tools for Salesforce CRM and Force.com applications.

This app helps users create personalized templates for presentations, reports, invoices, contracts, and other documents and produce consistent output every time. They can easily deliver customized documents, presentations and reports using Word, PowerPoint, Excel, HTML email and PDF forms from standard and custom objects. This app is great for designing and printing badges for your conferences!

One user’s review emphasizes flexibility and affordability of the app:

“My business case to use Conga was easy. It saves time and effort, and for the price charged, it’s [an] excellent value. I needed to create statements, invoices, accounts plans and lots more. The flexibility of being able to use Excel, Powerpoint and Word really helped me to create nice looking templates that impressed [other] users who were going to have to press the Conga button and send [documents] to the customer.”

Another review highlights how easy the app is to use:

“I have heard of many other nonprofits using Conga that I had to give it a try myself. I was impressed how quickly I could get up and running. Plus the standard template library is super helpful to see what capabilities are out there. I am very excited to showcase this app to others to see how it may be a fit for them.”

Given this functionality, think of the time and efficiencies your association’s meetings or marketing team could gain using Conga Composer. Read more online to see if this app might be right for your association.

 

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Getting Greener All the Time: Associations Highlight Earth Day

Getting Greener All the Time: Associations Highlight Earth Day

TAKEAWAY TUESDAY

Take it away! This is the 13th 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.

Today is Earth Day, and all around the world, celebrations and special events will be held to raise awareness about the environmental concerns facing the planet. The official theme of Earth Day 2014 is Green Cities. This campaign focuses on helping cites around the world becoming more sustainable by reducing their carbon footprints. It centers on three key elements: buildings, energy and transportation.

These three areas have been on the collective minds of association leaders for quite some time, especially since their organizations host some of the largest events in cities around the U.S. and increasingly around the globe. Discussions about greener meetings have resulted in the rise of both paperless and virtual events.

Of particular note is the formation of ASAE’s Convene Green Alliance in 2007. Founded by 16 high-profile associations, the alliance’s mission is to provide education, share real-world experiences and leverage the collective voice and buying power of all its members to lessen the environmental impact of associations and the meetings/events they sponsor.  Membership in the alliance is complimentary for all associations and similar nonprofit organizations. CGA provides networking opportunities for associations and suppliers to exchange ideas and strategies for developing and executing environmentally friendly policies and practices.

Certain types of associations (i.e. conservation or recycling) may traditionally come to mind when thinking about these issues, but I would like to briefly highlight the efforts of two organizations that one might not necessarily count among the usual suspects, who are promoting Earth Day to illustrate that their industries care about the environment.

You may have thought that red and white were the only options, but The Wine Institute, an association of 1,000 California wineries, wants you to think green as well when it comes to their product. During its third annual Down to Earth Month celebration this April, members across the state have engaged consumers, policy leaders, and the media in learning about California wine’s eco-friendly practices and the people and places behind them.

Perhaps, the most eco-friendly diners will want to pair their “green” wine selection with a “green” entrée, bison. The National Bison Association recommends delicious, naturally-raised buffalo as the perfect choice for entertaining during this year’s Earth Day celebration.

According to the association’s executive director, Dave Carter, ““Earth Day was established to draw our attention to the importance of respecting all of the factors that make for a healthy planet. What is more appropriate in our part of this planet than to enjoy the delicious meat from the animal that has been a vital part of our ecosystem through the ages?”

There are two key takeaways here. First, our collective efforts are often more significant than they would be individually. Second, it’s worth taking the time to observe the world around us to see how we might be more “creative” in drawing worthwhile connections between our organizations and critical issues that need to be addressed. Happy Earth Day!

 

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