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Top Posts on The Membership Engagement Blog

2014 was a big year for The Membership Engagement Blog.  Thank YOU to all of our readers to check out our posts on association membership, leadership, tips & best practices, and updates on Greenfield Services Inc.  

Here are the top rated posts from 2014:
  1. Associations Presence on Social Media [Infographic]: This infographic was produced in January 2014, based on the 2013 results from our Pulse Report on membership marketing & engagement.  Want up to date stats?  Check out our 2014 Pulse Report.
  2. Member Recruitment Gone Wrong:  This February 2014 post was based on a piece of marketing material we received by mail, what was wrong, and what could (or, should) be done differently.  
  3. Etiquette for Tradeshow Organizers, Exhibitors, and Attendees: With the rising costs of vendors to exhibit at a tradeshow, we offered some suggestions in Feburary 2014 on what you, as a tradeshow organizer, can do to increase ROI through etiquette.
  4. Sponsors Matter!  Associations need to better engage...:  Without sponsors, many associations could not achieve what they have to do.  But are you engaging your sponsors in the right way?  In May 2014, we offered up some suggestions on what to do, and what to get rid of.
  5. Six Big Questions on How Associations Engage Their Members:  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?  We discussed this in June 2014; in preparation for our inaugural Engaging Associations Summit.
  6. #Association Concerns - And What To Do About Them:  This blog was written with our 2014 Pulse Report in mind, in September 2014.  What can you, as an association executive consider (or, implement) to help combat these issues?  We discuss it here.
  7. The Engaging #Association Summit:  THE highlight of my year....Greenfield Services took on events this year - with the Summit being our inaugural event, which was officially announced on our blog in February.  Want to learn more?  Sign up for updates!
  8. #Association Goals and Objectives [Infographic]:  In August, our infographic on goals and objectives based on our 2014 Pulse Report was released.  
  9. [Infographic] Member Relationships: In October; our infographic on member relationships was released (again, based on our 2014 Pulse Report).
  10. A-HA! #Engageassn E-Book is Here!: Finally, and to wrap up our highly successful first event, we produced and released our e-book in October 2014, based on "a-ha" moments we uncovered with association executives at the July 2014 event.  Want your own copy?  Download it here.
Thank you ALL once again for visiting our blog!

My favourite posts of 2014 for #Association Executives

There was several great posts that were published this year.  Here is a snapshot of the thought-leadership that came out this year (my Top 10):

  1. What members want: The new meaning of value - The problem with your young association members is that they’re always changing. Each generation is a little bit different; they value experiences differently.  Thanks to XYZ University for this post!
  2. Your non-members: Friends or Foes? - this post divides non-members into four categories; and suggests that non-members are very definitely our friends and a careful, measured and thoughtful approach to engaging with them will bring tangible results, perhaps not today or tomorrow, but in the future.  This was posted on the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau blog.
  3. How to Develop a New Product Pipeline For Your Association - Innovation is scary for many organizations because it is not something many are in the habit of doing. Create a practice or a habit of innovation and it becomes much much easier. This post provides 11 key steps in the process.  Written by Amanda Kaiser (Smooth The Path).
  4. Why You Need to Tell Your Association Members`Stories Before Your OwnGuilty by association. We are the company we keep. If your association is the sum of your members, you need to be telling their stories first.  Originally posted on the MemberClicks blog.
  5. Your Choice: Change or Irrelevance - This post is short and timely.  It suggests that many organizations are well on their way to irrelevance, and provides three things you can do now to avoid it.  Thanks Andy Freed for your thought leadership!
  6. Facilitation: plan, and have faith - what can we do – facilitators and clients alike – to make it more likely that a facilitated session will go well? Meredith Low provides some thoughts, tips, and best practices here.
  7. The Death of the Mall and Other Association Lessons - great analogies here on the Association Subculture blog - You don't need to obsess about entropy but you do need to challenge your ethos in the face of it.
  8. Membership Practices of Associations with High Retention Rates - this post, featured on the Abila blog, offers up 12 practices that associations who have high retention rates are currently doing.
  9. When Opinion by Committee Can Lead You Astray - how could I have a top 10 list without Jeff Hurt?  In this post (which, by the way, is one of many of his posts that I think are great) says 'When we are designing a conference or planning the next steps of an organization, we need to be aware of the challenges of relying only on the opinions of a committee. Especially if everyone on that committee has the same belief. We need to seek diverse thought that challenges our conventional thinking. And encourage honest open discussion.'
  10. ROI to R.O.M.E - What is R.O.M.E.?  Return on Member Engagement.  Only when board/staff engagement and member engagement are high do innovative solutions surface through a “we” collaboration. Moving to a “we” focused community is about inclusiveness and being open to the possibilities that might surface.  Thanks Dan Varroney for sharing!
What blogs did you see this year that changed the way you think?

Why aren't we all treated the same?

This Fall has been a pretty busy time for conferences for me this year.  In five weeks, I attended three multi-day conferences across Ontario & Quebec, and had the following experience(s):

Conference #1:

This particular conference I attended as a business development opportunity.  While I know well in advance, and based on past experiences, that attending this I will be treated differently right from the outset, the following became very noticeable for me this year:

  • I was driving to this out of town conference, and during one of my stops, I called the hotel to inquire about parking.  The hotel asked me if I was coming in with a particular group, and when I mentioned the conference, they told me that it was complimentary valet parking.  FANTASTIC, right?  Nope.  Upon check out, I had to fight with the hotel to remove the $70 charge to my hotel room.  Why?  Because while I was attending the conference, I was not the right kind of attendee.  They removed it, but it took some effort on my end.  Perhaps they should have educated their team about the different attendee types for these kind of inquiries.
Conference #2:

In this situation, I was hired to be temporary staff of an association who was holding a conference in Toronto.  My role was to cover their social media networks for the weeks leading up to and for the duration of the conference.  This particular conference would be considered a hotel/convention centre's typical "bread and butter":
  •  Upon check in at the hotel, they had not added my room to the master account.  It took three days to rectify this between the front desk, the association and the Sales Manager.  Not that I minded charging this to my credit card, but they were provided the list of rooms to be charged to the master account weeks in advance - and when you check in, are tired, and have a hundred things to do to prepare, do you really want to be dealing with something that should be SO simple?  
  • While customer service at the hotel was "OK" in many other areas, nothing really stood out. There were no extras, and no thank you's.
Conference #3:

My final conference was fantastic; well staffed hotel, exceptional customer service, sponsored events that didn't include any restrictions for the "wrong" attendee:
  • There was a wide-variety of food & beverage options; essentially entirely complimentary to each participant;
  • There were no issues at check in or check out;
  • Hotel staff were consistently friendly & helpful;
  • You were made to feel that you belonged, no matter who you were.
My question to the industry is:  While I understand that you are trying to put your best foot forward to increase future business, why would you set restrictions in so many cases on what you do and for who?  

Example #1 is a very similar conference to example #3.  And yet, I was treated with a significantly different mindset.

And, under example #2, if this business was won based on someone attending a conference similar to #1 & #3; would it not make more sense to continue the same level of customer service that the planner experienced in the first place?

What are your thoughts on conference equality? 

Image courtesy of nongpimmy at

Top Picks for Membership Engagement Tips

Membership Engagement is a hot topic - and it isn't going away very soon...

In a recent infographic I published, based on survey results from the 2014 Pulse Report (our membership marketing & engagement study in Canada), we reported that 47.4% of respondents would increase budgets in membership engagement next year, if they had only one area that could be increased.

I think we know by now the concept of membership engagement; but association executives are struggling with how to engage members, and what they should track to determine if their efforts are successful.

Here are four blogs/articles that I have come across that offer tips, theories and suggestions that are well worth the read:

  1. Engaging Next Generations (featured on the CSAE Ottawa-Gatineau blog):  the article reports on a lunch & learn session that was help for chapter members, and association executives in the Ottawa area.  It featured a panel of three association executives, who discussed the changed that they have made, whether they worked or not; in an effort to engage the next generation of member.
  2. Weak Member Engagement?  Look at Your Staff (featured on AssociationsNow):  This article is a quick summary of another blog post, but the title caught my eye, as I was preparing for a presentation recently that spoke to engaged employees make engaged members.  
  3. Engaging Members in an Era of Profound Change (featured on CSAE):  written by an association executive, this post talks about social change and how it impacts associations, along with some research and recommendations.
  4. 10 Elements of a Winning Member Engagement Strategy (featured on Socious):  this particular post talks about why member engagement is so important, and the 10 elements they believe create an effective strategy, from goals to problems to staffing.
Need more ideas?  Keep an eye out for our member engagement posts, and mark your calendars - as we will be addressing these issues and more during our Engaging Associations Forum, taking place July 23-24, 2015!

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!