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The Next Step for Greenfield: Taking Over the Management of CanSPEP

Greenfield Services is pleased to announce it is undertaking association management for the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners (CanSPEP).  As of August 1, 2014, the company will be providing strategic business development and stakeholder engagement support for this association of independent meeting professionals.

CanSPEP represents a powerful group of entrepreneurs, many of whom are recognized leaders in the meetings and events industry.  Formed in 1996, the organization provides a forum in which members meet to exchange ideas, develop skills through educational programs, and share partnership opportunities that foster business growth.

CanSPEP is an active member of the Business Events Industry Coalition of Canada and an organizational leader in the meetings and events industry.  The average buying power of CanSPEP members contributes over 65,000 room nights and $30 million in revenue to the industry.

In a recent message to its members 2013-2014 CanSPEP President, Catherine Paull, CMP, announced,

Over the past few months the Board of Directors, with assistance from the Past Presidents’ Council, carried out an extensive RFP process for association management services for CanSPEP.  As a result of this diligent process, the Board of Directors has made the decision to engage Greenfield Services Inc. for association management, effective August 1, 2014.  

CanSPEP has grown to become the vibrant association it is today and that would not have been possible without the dedication and efforts of Carol Ford.  Please join the Board of Directors and the Past Presidents’ Council in thanking Carol Ford for her past service and tremendous dedication and extending a warm welcome to Doreen Ashton Wagner and the Greenfield Services team.

Greenfield’s Chief Strategist, Doreen Ashton Wagner, explained the company’s decision to move into the association management company (AMC) space: “Since 2003 professional and trade associations have been turning to Greenfield for project-based member recruitment, retention and engagement.  We’ve also been executing more sponsorship and exhibit sales programs.  But as our associations see shifts in the landscape – with very rapid changes due to demographics and technology – many are choosing to become more strategic.  This means focusing on the “big picture” for their industry, handing the reigns to a proactive, hands-on partner who goes beyond administration.  We’ve been preaching engagement, pull marketing and the smart use of technology for years.  This was a natural evolution for us.

For more information on CanSPEP or Greenfield’s association management services, please call 1-866-488-4474, extension 4512 for Doreen Ashton Wagner, or extension 4517 for Meagan Rockett.

#Engageassn – A Successful Summit

Last week, Greenfield Services, along with its partners, held its first annual Engaging Associations Summit, at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa, ON.  We welcomed 74 people to the event: 52 executives, and 22 partners and speakers.

The launch of the Engaging Associations Summit represented a significant shift for our company.  The decision to create this event for the association industry helps us have a deeper understanding of challenges, best practices and successes of our clients, prospects and the industry in general”, says Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield’s Chief Strategist.

While the decision to create this event was ours, we certainly did not do it alone.  It truly was co-created; from our focus groups last Fall, to our amazing partners this year.  And I was truly speechless when people started to arrive – it was wonderful to see the buzz the Summit created before, during, and after the event!” adds Meagan Rockett, Director of Client Solutions.

Our commitment to the industry and the Summit’s participants won’t stop there – stay tuned for event re-caps in blogs, a case study of the event,  and a live debriefing of the event at the PCMA Canada East Canadian Innovation Conference in November.

And, of course, we have announced tentative dates for 2015, so block Thursday and Friday, July 23-24 on your calendars!

We look forward to watching the ideas and best practices exchanged at the Summit grow, and keep the momentum of engagement going!

When Change Causes Pain, Conflict and Excitement

We have all been there.  When your employer, your industry or your competitors make a change, it can unsettle, disrupt and even cause major friction.  Whether it’s a change in the law, a change in operations or even a move to raise the bar in an industry, change is never comfortable.

Why is this painful?

When one creates change the intent is likely to improve people’s conversations, processes or policies.  Take Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation for example, at the base level, the intent of the legislation is to stop spammers from disseminating unwanted messages, which have nothing to do with your business.

However, when you dig deeper into the legislation, it will actually dramatically change the way small business, and associations market their products, services, events, and membership.

We all knew this law was coming for a while, and when the dust settles, we will all be wiser – and have smarter marketing practices.  BUT the pain is happening now – questions are being raised such as “What do I have to have in place to comply?”, “How much will this cost me to have systems available for tracking?”, and “How much of my communication is actually affected?”

Why does it cause conflict?

Change can cause conflict when groups of people do not believe that you can (or, should) implement this change.  They believe that for the greater good of the company, or the industry, that you should not be the one to make the change.  These are the people who say “When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

But this thought process is all wrong.  Jeff Hurt recently addressed this in his blog.  He maintains that, when things are going smoothly, it is exactly the right time to look at ways to improve it.  Change BEFORE your process gets boring.  Those who dare, win.  Not everyone will agree, but those who are forward-thinkers, and innovators in your industry, will recognize the attempt to make change for what it is:  someone filling a gap or a need that has been swept under the carpet for too long.

Why is it exciting?

Of course change is exciting!  But why?  Because you are trying to get people to believe in your cause, your process, or your new product/service.  Because you saw a need, heard the feedback, and created something that will help.  And it is a wonderful feeling when you see who will be the first on the bus with you.

Change is going to happen anyway – so it may as well be you who creates it, and reaps the benefits.

What is your organization doing to create change for your members, or for your industry?

Beyond Logo Soup: Time to Reimagine Trade Shows and Sponsorships

For a decade or more, meeting and trade show organizers have been looking for ways to get beyond logo soup.

You’ve seen it before, possibly even at your own event: programs and signage with branding from two or three dozen sponsors or lead exhibitors, all competing for the very limited time, attention, and interest participants can devote to what amounts to highly-paid advertising.

Which means your definition of short-term financial success almost guarantees your sponsors that their messages and branding will be lost in the crowd. Not exactly the way to express your commitment to a long-term partnership, or to spur their interest in a multi-year deal.

Jeff Hurt, Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, described the problem in a recent blog post.

“Logos hanging from the ceiling at the trade show.  Ads covering windows, elevator doors, and escalator ramps. Symbols, signs, and emblems stuck to the floor, carpet, and wrapping columns. Logos on lanyards, room keys, and conference bags."

“All of these are the traditional ways conferences approach sponsorship,” he wrote. “And the majority of them have little value or ROI. Most of them are the wrong way to approach conference sponsorship today.”
In a special presentation during the Engaging Associations Summit in July, Hurt will discuss strategies for pushing beyond logo soup. In his post, he suggests that “smart, savvy sponsors” are most interested in:

  • Making participant engagement easier
  • Creating a better experience onsite
  • Delivering lasting value for participants.

“It’s not just about logo placement anymore,” he writes. “In the end, successful conference sponsorship developers are working with potential sponsors to create customized packages that improve the attendee experience, add something that the attendee values, and results in real ROI for the sponsor.”

Click here for more on the Engaging Associations Summit, July 24-25, 2014 in Ottawa.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

Marketing and Communications: The Age of the Audience

Audience members have moved to the front and centre of association and event marketing, with a new generation of communicators deploying a powerful set of techniques for defining, segmenting, understanding, and reaching the unique, often demanding individuals in your membership.

From inbound marketing to outbound email, from blogging to social networking, an explosion of new tools is changing the way the most innovative marketers think about and practice their craft. At the Engaging Associations Summit in July, you’ll get a first-hand look at emerging marketing philosophies that point toward a more open, balanced relationship between associations and their members, participants, prospects, and other stakeholders.

Panelist Rachel Stephan, Principal of sensov/ event marketing, urges clients to check all their assumptions before launching a campaign, beginning with how and where a target audience congregates and which platforms they use to communicate.

“You certainly don’t want to market to an audience where they can’t be found!” she states on the sensov/ website. “To figure out which sites you should use and how, audience mapping will allow you to determine your best course of action” for any organization or event.

For panelist Jeff Hurt, Dallas-based Executive Vice President, Education and Engagement at Velvet Chainsaw Consulting, a crucial step in effective marketing is to recognize that the audience is in charge.

“Audiences are not owned,” he wrote in a recent blog post. “We like, follow, and subscribe to brands, organizations, and people…when it brings us something of value, saves us money, or provides timely content.” That dynamic has shifted the emphasis from traditional media and advertising to a constant commitment to building loyal audiences.

Hurt cited six key audience types defined by author Jeffrey Rohrs: Seekers, Amplifiers, Joiners, and three categories of “VIP Joiners”: Subscribers, Fans, and Followers. One challenge for conferences, he said, is to turn Seekers and Amplifiers into VIP Joiners who commit more deeply to an organization or an event.

Panelist Mitchell Beer, President of Smarter Shift, focuses much of his work on “narrowcasting” specialized messages to small but influential target audiences.

Many organizations “have important stories to tell. Their target audiences are usually policy-makers or other subject specialists, not a wide group of consumers,” he wrote. “To have an impact, they have to deliver their content and messaging above the lowest common denominator, at a level of detail and complexity that conventional marketing usually avoids.

“That means trading breadth of reach for depth of understanding. So landing at the top of a Google search may or may not be a measure of success.”

Stephan, Hurt, and Beer will talk about association marketing and communications at the Engaging Associations Summit, July 24-25, 2014 in Ottawa. Click here for details.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici /

Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Engaging Associations Summit #engageassn

Thinking about joining us for the Engaging Associations Summit?  Here are the Top 10 reasons why you should participate:

  1. Be a Part of Something NEW:  This is a new event, produced by Greenfield Services.  We did not create this on our own; focus groups were conducted, and we joined forces with Smarter Shift, sensov/, Lou Lou Lounge and AV-Canada to get it in production!  Our goal is to facilitate a change in the way associations operate.
  2. Conversations:  While we have set sessions, our promise to you is that you will not sit in a meeting room all day listening to the speaker.  Participants will be asked to share, question, and challenge what is being said to ensure that all knowledge and experience is shared throughout the summit.
  3. Less Time Away:  Taking place all day July 24th, and just over a half day on the 25th, we are creating an experience that ensures you are taking as little time away from the office as possible; AND that you can get away for a bit of a long weekend at the end!
  4. Engagement:  There are always questions that don’t get asked; whether that is a lack of time, or a lack of comfort publically sharing.  That’s OK here – we have extended the breaks and meal times to ensure that you have the time to speak with the facilitators, our partners, and your peers.  As one focus group participant said, “Business is not conducted in the meeting room, it’s done in the hallway, and 15 minutes is simply not enough time”.
  5. Location, Location, Location:  With the Summit taking place in Ottawa, ON; it is easy for association executives to get here, and it is central to many of the Canadian-based associations; which means lower costs for participating!
  6. Change:  We all want to do things differently.  But how do we get started?  Learn from your peers, and industry experts, like Jeff Hurt, Jeff De Cagna, Meredith Low, and PCMA’s Chief Operating Officer, Sherrif Karamat.  They will all be there to ensure that their expertise is shared.
  7. Unique Approach:  We are committed to presenting this in a way you have not experienced before.  We selected the Canadian Museum of Nature of host this event, as it is a creative and historic building.  It changes our expectations; and has allowed us to utilize the expertise of AV-Canada & Lou Lou Lounge to create an environment that is modern, fun, relaxing, and that fosters the conversations we need to have. 
  8. Action:  With each session delivered, you will receive key takeaways from the facilitators, and we will be providing a forum to share your “A-ha!” moments; little snippets of information that you would like to use in your daily work life.  We will be reporting back to all participants with session summaries, case studies, etc.
  9. Network with Partners who GET IT:  Those who have chosen to partner with us truly understand that change is required to ensure associations thrive in the future.  We will have a select group of partners joining us – our commitment is to present to you quality companies to have conversations with, and not overwhelm you with too many of them.  Businesses who have not officially partnered with us will not be in attendance.
  10. Cost:  We have chosen to keep this Summit affordable for all – and at a rate of $329 plus tax, you cannot beat the education that you will receive!

Interested in attending?  Register today!

Six Big Questions on How Associations Engage Their Members

It’s the million-dollar question in association management.

In an era when member priorities are shifting, generational expectations vary widely, and anyone with a free Internet connection can get the benefits that used to come with paid association membership, what’s the future of member engagement?

At the Engaging Associations Summit in July, you’ll get a C-level view of this existential challenge from an organization that has done a great job of measuring member engagement, then using that market intelligence to build commitment in its target audience and sustain revenues.

The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) represents association meeting professionals who were hit hard by the economic downturn, and have long fought an uphill battle to demonstrate strategic value in the organizations that employ them. PCMA Chief Operating Officer Sherrif Karamat, a 20-year veteran of the meeting and convention industry, oversees all the organization’s revenue streams. So he has a keen interest in PCMA’s financial sustainability, and a clear view of what it takes to keep associations strong and successful.

“Fifteen years ago, associations deployed information to their members and served as the ‘fountain of knowledge,” Karamat said in a recent online interview. “Today, people don't necessarily need an association, because through social media, multiple individuals are connecting, sharing knowledge, and bypassing the central conduit—the association.

If associations fail to engage with stakeholders online, he warned, “your value will be diminished, and so will your brand.

Before Karamat’s presentation, Meagan Rockett will unveil results of Greenfield Services’ 2014 Pulse Report, a must-read annual review of association issues and priorities. This year’s Pulse Report asked six big questions about member engagement:

  1. What are your organization’s top three challenges when it comes to member engagement?
  2. Are you currently working toward a plan for engaging younger members, or do you already have one in place?
  3. How frequently do you follow members and other stakeholders on key social media platforms?
  4. What percentage of your members participate on your public social networks?
  5. What is the level of your members’ engagement with different association products and services?
  6. Are you looking at emerging membership models to customize the experience and attract new members?

Click here for more information on the Engaging Associations Summit, July 24-25, 2014 at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.