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Marriott International (@MarriottIntl) a Top Engager with #Engageassn

Alexandria, ON, January 22, 2015 – Greenfield Services is pleased to announce its partnership with Marriott International - for the second year in a row - as a Top Engager with the Engaging Associations Forum.

The Forum, taking place July 23-24, 2015 in Ottawa, ON, is the second annual event hosted by Greenfield Services Inc.  Our aim is to elevate the conversation that association executives are having, so their organizations succeed, grow and prosper.

For the second year, we aim to:
  • Provide attendees the opportunity to learn and share experiences beyond the typical presentation formats;
  • Foster peer-to-peer conversations and the exchange leading to real-life, tested solutions;  
  • Create a forum that lives beyond the event itself, where participants will be able to continue sharing ideas and results of their new-found engagement activities.
In the coming weeks, we will have the website updated, and will be launching the program as it is finalized.  Registration should be open in February 2015.

Stay tuned to the blog for further details, or our event website.

If you have questions regarding the Engaging Associations Forum, please do not hesitate to contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.
613-288-4517
meagan@greenfield-services.ca

Using Member Research to Map Out What We Need to be Doing

“No. No. No. We define the goals of the research before we pick the method!” she said. This was probably the hundredth time this research agency account executive heard, “I would like to conduct a survey” from someone like me. What I really meant was “I would like to conduct customer research” but I had mistakenly substituted the word survey instead. This is a mistake most of us make. Survey is a substitute for member research both in our language but also in implementation and this presents a problem for associations.

Each method of member research is specialized to answer certain kind of questions. Surveys are good at one kind of question, our data another, mining online communities another, and so on. Most often we turn to our data and surveys to get answers about our members but those methods, too often, are not designed to answer the kind of questions we are asking.

If we divide up all the member research methodologies they tend to fall into two groups. On group measures what we are doing and the other helps us map out what we need to be doing.

Measuring What We Are Doing

The typically quantitative methods: surveys, data and some feedback tell us how the association is doing. Or more precisely, member research like this tells us about what the association is already doing. If you want to know which of your benefits most members like the most these kinds of methods are designed to do just that. Here are some more questions that surveys and data can answer for you:

  • Who are our members?
  • What benefits do members use the most?
  • How would members rank the topics that we cover in order of preference?\
  • Who are our most engaged members?
  • Where do members spend the most time on our site?
  • Members who attend the conference also __________.

This kind of information can help us refine our offerings. For example we note, members who attend the conference also tend to buy our benchmarking survey report. Perhaps we should test introducing more of the report findings at the conference? Or we find that members rank Topic E very high and it is not a topic we cover often so we add more articles in our media calendar.

The what-we-are-doing-type member research is valuable but let’s not stop there. There is a whole new level of member insights to uncover with the what-we-need-to-be-doing-type member research.

Map Out What We Need To Be Doing

At some point in our data sleuthing we may find that we have more questions than answers. Each time we uncover a new fact, like two years ago benefit A was top of members’ preference but now benefit D is top, we wonder why? We may notice that surveys and data are raising tons of new questions but not answering them. There are answers to those questions and a different methodology can help us.

Member phone interviews, focus groups, mining online communities and observation can give us the data we need to start mapping out what we need to be doing. To figure out what we need to be doing we ask questions like these:

  • Why did members join our association?
  • Why are engaged members engaged? 
  • What problems do our members worry about and why?
  • What are our members’ goals and why?
  • How do members articulate the value of the association?
  • What do new members expect from their membership?
  • What pain points exist for members working with this association?
  • How are competitors meeting their needs?

These questions are answered by the more qualitative methodologies. Unlike their closed-ended-answer cousins data and surveys, these methods are more detailed, give context and will tell us stories. These stories are the building blocks for us to figure out what we need to be doing in the future.

Data and member surveys can get you started on your fact-finding mission. At some point you may find yourself asking “why?” more often than not. When you start asking “why?” why did members make this decision, why aren’t they satisfied or why is this group of members engaged, it is time to start exploring how qualitative member research can get you the answers you need.

Are you curious about member insights based association marketing, innovation or strategy? Find more articles like these from Amanda Kaiser, qualitative member researcher, at www.SmoothThePath.net or on Twitter at @SmoothThePath

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What Are Your Goals for Your #Association in 2015?

The 2014 Pulse Report determined that:

  • Membership growth, higher visibility in the association's industry or field, and increased member participation remained consistent as respondents' top three functional priorities in 2013 and 2014.  
  • Compared to 2013, the 2014 respondents attached somewhat more importance to advocacy, event attendance, and higher visibility in the field, and somewhat less to revenue growth.  Event attendance has grown steadily as an association priority over the three years of Pulse Report Research, from 36.7% in 2012, to 39.9% in 2013, to 43.8% in 2014.
  • The "Other" category revealed the deeper texture of individual associations' criteria for success including member participation and satisfaction, membership or industry growth, effective service delivery and public protection, interest in certification, effective service delivery or business plan execution, and policy influence.  One respondent parodied the tactical approach that holds some organizations back from more sustained success, claiming that his or her association measured performance based on "feelings.  You know, if we FEEL that we're successful then that's good enough, right? RIGHT?"
Finally, for the third year in a row, the 2014 Pulse Report identified a key disconnect between association's objectives and their strategies for achieving them.  While membership growth consistently scores above 60% as a key success factor for respondent's organizations, the proportion that prioritized efforts to renew existing members actually declined marginally from 2012 and 2013 to 2014.  As we reported in 2013, "this reinforces a picture of organizations that are scrambling to acquire new markets, without devoting the time and resources that would help them build a satisfied, sustainable membership base."

Does this still look like the same picture for 2015?  What are your goals this year, and how do they differ from last year?

Image courtesy of tiramisustudio at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Greenfield Services to attend #CSAE Tête-à-Tête (#TeteaTete)


Ottawa Tete-a-Tete
On Thursday, January 29, 2015 leaders of Associations, Not-For-Profits, Professional Meeting Planners as well as Government Producers will be heading to the Ottawa Convention Centre to attend 2014’s installment of CSAE’s Tête-à-Tête – and Greenfield Services Inc is thrilled to be joining them!

Every year Tête-à-Tête continues to grow, and we can expect huge attendance for the 25th Anniversary!  The Chapter has set it up for success - offering two FANTASTIC keynote speakers (David Usher as the morning keynote; and Ron Tite as the lunch keynote).  Last year; over 500 people registered for the event - will you be celebrating the anniversary with us this year?  

The Chapter put out a great article about the humble beginnings - read more here

For more information on the event, or to register, please click here.  Feel free to stop by our booth (#231), or contact us by email to pre-book an appointment.  We will be offering a complimentary registration draw for our Engaging Associations Forum later this year to those who come by.  We look forward to seeing you all at the show!

Save the Date! #Engageassn is coming back...

On the heels of a successful Engaging Associations in July 2014, we are pleased to announce that the Engaging Associations Forum will return for a second year - so mark your calendars to attend July 23-24, 2015.

What's new this year?

  • In 2015, we will continue to focus on how to create an engaging association, with a heavy focus on topics to create the association, membership models, and strategies for the future.
  • We will have a great line-up of speakers, who are ready to help you create change.
  • The sessions will be MORE interactive than in 2014, and we want you to be a part of it!
Stay tuned here on the blog for updates on sessions and locations, or check out our website. The dates are set; it will be in Ottawa, ON, and the location will be announced soon!

For more information on the 2014 event, please click here to access our e-book, and update your preferences to stay in the loop about the event!

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?