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We want to co-create with you! #Engageassn

The 2014 Engaging Associations Summit was such as success!  And, it was all due to co-creation.

When it came to planning the program, the summit was not created in a silo - we held focus groups with association executives to learn more about the topics they wanted to hear, the length and time frame of the event, and the format that they wanted for the sessions - and we delivered!

In 2015, we will continue to push the envelope.

What's new this year?  We have a new name (it will now be called the Engaging Associations Forum).  The dates have been set (July 23-24, 2015), and we are looking to you to co-create the content of the sessions.

We want to know what you would like to see - what would need to be on the roster of education to encourage you to register.  We have created a short (really, a short) survey that outlines the thoughts from the original 52 participant's thoughts on education for 2015.  We ask that you look at what they suggested, and let us know what you would like to learn more about.  If anything is missing, we ask that you let us know what that is.

Those who participate will be entered into a draw to win one complimentary pass to the Engaging Associations Forum for 2015.  Click here to take the survey.

And, if you would like to learn more about what happened at the inaugural event in 2014; you can! We recently launched our e-book that covers the thoughts from speakers and participants from 2014.  Download it now.

Heading to #PCMACIC this month?

This will be my first PCMA Conference ever - and not only am I excited to attend, but we will be speaking there too!

Join us in Montreal on Tuesday, November 25th, where Doreen Ashton Wagner (Chief Strategist, Greenfield Services), Rachel Stephan (President & Creative Strategist, sensov/ event marketing), and I will be proudly presenting a case study on event design.  On what?  The Engaging Associations Summit of course!

The session will talk about lessons learned from the inaugural event.  As a collaboration between a consortium of business event industry suppliers, this event pushed the envelope with many different techniques such as pre-event concierge services, innovative meeting design, participant-led "unconference" sessions, and even post-event accountability circles to help participants implement what they learned.

What worked?  What didn't?  Was it worth it?

Join us at #PCMACIC to find out!

In advance of the conference, if you want to download more information, we recently released our e-book summarizing the event.

Looking forward to seeing everyone in Montreal!

A-HA! #Engageassn E-Book is Here!

We are pleased to officially launch our first e-book, and for something that we are extremely proud of.  The Engaging Associations Summit was an event co-created by Greenfield Services Inc., and a select group of partners.

A Moment of Possibilities for Canadian Associations

Ideas and possibilities were flying through the air when participants gathered at Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature last July for the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit.

Small wonder. The Summit program was co-created with association executives and other potential participants. The program was set up to ask provocative questions, foster deep thinking, and set the stage for constant participant interaction.

Participants responded with more than 100 handwritten “ah-ha” cards that captured the blazing new insights that came to them during two days of intensive discussion, networking, and learning.

Our e-book covers topics addressed in July 2014:

  • What are associations for?
  • How do associations improve?
  • Association strategies that work
  • The next evolution of association conferences
  • The changing face of content

Click here to download your copy.

This e-book consolidates and honours the sparks of hope, inspiration, and determination that participants came up with during the 2014 Engaging Associations Summit. Like the association discussion itself, it’s a work in progress. Visit the to keep up with the 2015 event. You can also join the discussion on LinkedIn to comment on participants’ ideas, share your own, and help us reshape Canadian associations.

A special thanks go to both Mitchell Beer of Smarter Shift & Rachel Stephan of sensov/ event marketing for your continued partnership & support!

@GreenfieldSrvcs launches into #Association Management...

It's official!  Greenfield Services Inc. is pleased to announce that in addition to offering "à la carte" programs for Professional and Trade Associations, that we are committed to taking it to the next level - with a Full-Service Association Management division!

Since August 1st, 2014, we have worked hard with our first association, the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP).  While we are still in a position to offer individual services to well-established Professional & Trade Associations, we are thrilled to be adding ongoing association management to the mix!

We will incorporate our four areas of expertise (Membership Marketing, Membership Engagement, Sponsorship & Exhibit Sales, and Event Marketing) to ensure that the associations we manage not only have a head office address, but that their best foot is put forward at all times.  We believe that an engaged association is one that will grow and prosper, and our commitment to you is to deliver engaging services, and staff to take your association to the next level.

Don't need full-service?  Don't worry!  We are still here for you!

For more information, please contact Doreen Ashton Wagner; Chief Strategist at 866-488-4474 ext. 4512, or Meagan Rockett; Director, Client Solutions at 866-488-4474 ext. 4517.

Small staff? No problem! 4 Tips for Keeping Up with Content

We’ve all been there before: Reading a great blog post or sitting in a conference breakout session where the writer/presenter is talking about all these fabulous ideas you can implement as part of your marketing strategy. They sound great! They’re going to help with so many leads! So many new members!

But wait, how much do those fancy new strategies cost again?

And furthermore, who is going to implement those?

There are some really great content marketing ideas out there and some wonderful companies and organizations that have (what seems like) unlimited resources to carry them all out. But we’re not all in that same boat.

And so, this post is for you—the solo marketer for your organization (or one of the mighty few that are charged with all things marketing). Ideas for keeping up with content at a pace (and budget) you can handle.

Create a routine

This may sound simple, in theory, but we’ve all been there before. We say we’ll do something and, if we don’t write it down, it doesn’t happen. The same holds true with content marketing.

Make content a routine and stick to it. Set aside certain times during your day or week (really, block them off on your calendar) for content. Think about:
  • Setting aside 10 minutes a week for Twitter research and use that as a source to develop ongoing blog content, shared social media posts or topics for newsletter articles
  • Giving yourself 15 minutes a day: Log in to your online channels (ie: blog, social media, etc.) for 5 minutes at the start of the day, middle of the day and end of the day to check for conversations, mentions or comments that need approving or responding to. 
  • Developing a monthly content calendar that has all of your channels (including print, if needed) for content. I have a few included in my “Best Practices in Social Media” eBook.

Understand your audience

Even when we sit in the latest-greatest workshop about up-and-coming trends in content marketing, those particular tools may not be best suited for our audiences. You know your audience best. Embrace that and own it.

  • Define your target audience. There is no need to please everyone and honestly, you want to put the bulk of your resources where the bulk of your audience is
  • Choose the top 3 (or less) relevant channels where your audience is most apt to engage with your content and focus your efforts there.
  • Ask for ideas! User-generated content is great because it allows us to engage our audience AND it takes some of the work off of your shoulders for always needed to think of new, innovative and interesting content to post


Are you putting content out there just for content’s sake? Content marketing is for the long haul. Think about some of these questions, make note of the answers, and keep them in mind anything you do anything that is content-specific.

Make sure your content marketing tactics fit with your organization’s overall objectives and goals. If it doesn’t, skip it and move on to another tactic. Content is fast-paced; it’s OK to move on when something isn’t working.

Be Consistent and Patient.

Rome wasn’t built in a day (yep, I used that analogy). But really, it’s important to remember that. You are only one person (or the mighty few) and it makes more sense to be phenomenal at a few things than it does to be mediocre at everything. Results will take time. While you’re waiting:

  • Don’t be afraid to re-purpose content. The article that everyone loved in your member newsletter? Turn that into a short blog post, a 2-minute video slide show, an infographic or a meme.
  • Plan ahead. This is where content calendars come in to play. If you know you have a huge event coming up next month, allow yourself time to schedule your content in advance so that you don’t lose any momentum you’ve built
  • Utilize scheduling apps. For instance, SproutSocial is an application that can be helpful in keeping content consistent and track ROI.

BONUS: When in doubt, delegate. There may be others on staff that can help with content strategies throughout the month. Ask your executive director to send you bullet points of the top 5 things they learned at a recent conference (and turn that into a blog post) or, ask your intern to take pictures of your latest new member breakfast (and share on Facebook).

It’s OK to start small and grow as your resources grow. There are lots of content marketing firms out there
that can help you get started with strategy as well and then give you the reigns to take over. Do what’s the best fit for your organization (and sanity!) and all will fall into place.


This guest post was submitted by Melissa Harrison, founder and CEO of Allee Creative, LLC, a content marketing and branding firm in the Twin Cities. Melissa has more than a decade of experience in content management and strategy, branding and design, working with organizations to build strategic social media and online content strategies. Listed as one of the “Top 36 Content Marketers Who Rock” by TopRank and Content Marketing Institute, Melissa believes that organizations must adapt to what customers want, which includes using social media and creative online content to provide relevant, consistent information, in order to survive.  

Melissa is also a four-time recipient of the Hermes Creative Award and a regular speaker on the topics of branding, content strategy and social media. Melissa is also certified by Google Analytics Academy in Digital Analytics Fundamentals. Follow Melissa on Twitter.  

51 Shades of Gray (Hair)

One of the associations that we work with celebrated their 51st anniversary in 2014 at their Annual Conference and Trade Show.  After the big 50th Anniversary Extravaganza blowout in 2013, staff had to work hard to ensure that the 51st Anniversary was just as exhilarating, so that we harnessed the positive momentum moving forward.  While we were successful in making our 51st Anniversary Conference effective and exciting, we also noticed a trend that we may have been purposely overlooking.

As we started looking around the room at the 200+ attendees at the conference, we quickly realized that it was a room with 51 (or more) shades of gray hair.  Our members are aging!  This means that eventually (soon), they will be retiring and passing their businesses on to their sons and daughters or selling them to current employees or outside parties.  And many of these new owners will be younger and new to the industry and the association.  While we’ve enjoyed 50+ years of continued support from our current members, we can’t just assume these new owners will embrace the same principles of joining and supporting our association.

In order to ensure the continued success of the organization, we are going to have to strategically recruit and retain these younger up and coming members.  As our staff and board discussed this new “look and feel” that would be transcending on the association in the next few years, we knew we had to quickly get ahead of the game and create some new services and benefits that would have these newbies not only joining, but embracing and enjoying our association’s activities and services!

Here are some quick tips we’ve found that helped to encourage the younger generation to participate in our association:

Tip 1:  Technician Subscription – We developed a Technician Subscription Program that would allow up-and-coming professionals to try out and participate in our association without investing a lot of money and time.  Our Technician Subscription Program allows participants to receive all association communication (including the quarterly magazine), attend one educational seminar at the member rate and participate in other member benefits for a one year period; all at a very affordable rate.  We even offer quantity discounts off multiple technician subscribers from the same company.  Since we weren’t sure of the success of this venture, we decided to offer this as a subscription service rather than a membership type, which would have required a change in our bylaws.  Since its inception, we now have 28 new technician subscribers, many of whom are under 40 and excited to be a part of our association!  We see these 28 technician subscribers becoming true new members in the near future!

Tip 2:  Social Media Presence – Social media has become very important to the success of associations in today’s world.   Per USA Today, a recent study conducted for an online casino found that one in four people spend more time socializing online, via sites such as Facebook and Twitter, than they do in person.  This means that 25% of the population would rather spend time communicating online than communicating in person.  With this statistic (and the many others found online), we knew that we had to accelerate our social media presence in order to attract and keep our younger generations of current and potential members interested and excited about our association.  We did research and developed a weekly marketing plan to ensure that information was posted to our social media sites 2-3 times per week at a minimum.  We also worked hard to ensure that different information was posted on each of the venues so that visitors didn’t see the same posts on all of the social media sites.  Finally, we created an email newsletter called Agents of Change that we use to remind our current and potential members to visit our social media sites on a regular basis.  With this new focus on social media, our online presence has grown tremendously!

Tip 3:  Mentoring program – We are currently developing a mentoring program, where we will partner a more experienced (gray haired) member with a newer (younger) member or potential member.  They will communicate via social media, email, phone, etc. throughout the year and then meet in person during our Annual Conference.  Our goals with this mentoring program are two fold and include the sharing of a wealth of industry knowledge from the well-oiled professionals with the newbies and also the importance of supporting their industry trade association.  Only time will tell how successful this mentoring program will be, but we’ve already had some good support on both sides!

Tip 4:  Seminar Topics of Interest to Younger Audiences – Like most trade associations, many of the educational seminar topics we offer are driven by the rules and regulations of the state requirements for continuing education for our industry.  But we are lucky in that some of our required educational requirements include Business Practices, which can cover an array of topics.  With our new goal of attracting younger members, we have recently offered seminars like website marketing, online reputation management and online marketing to grow your business.  In 2015, we plan to offer even more topics (both in person and online) that are of interest to the younger audience and play upon their preferences to communicate and learn differently.  We have received very positive feedback in our post-seminar surveys about these new topics!

Tip 5:  Member Grandstanding –  In today’s world, we all love to share any and everything about ourselves on our personal social media sites, but very seldom does this information get shared with your association.    We are now encouraging our members and subscribers to brag about themselves and their accomplishments and to share this information with their association.  We are creating areas on our website, social media sites, in our magazine and other member communications to allow other members and interested parties to learn more about the association, members and industry.  This information adds a human touch to the association, but also may inspire others to share and do great things!

By implementing these tips and continuing to make many other enhancements to our association and the way we communicate with our members, our goal is that the younger generation becomes just as enamored with the association and 30 years from now becomes our new “50+ Shades of Gray!”

Thanks Amy for providing this post!