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The New Sheriff in Town – An Update

Anti-Spam Label
Originally raised as a topic for discussion on the Membership Engagement Blog (under the blog headings The New Sheriff in Town: Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3), we have kept a close eye on any updated information.

Borden Ladner Gervais (BLG) released early January a downloadable resource with updates on the key changes to commercial electronic messages (or, CEMs) released relating to CASL.  The following is the updated changes, according to the resource available:
  1. Family & Personal Relationships are exempt.  CEMs sent between people with either personal or family relationships are now considered exempt from CASL.  
  2. NEW Exemptions:
    • CEMs that have been sent within an organization (sent by employees, representatives and contractors) OR to an organization with a business relationship (as long as the content of the message is related to the recipient’s role, job function or duties).
    • CEMs that are sent in response to a specific request or complaint, or that have otherwise been requested or “solicited”.
    • CEMs that relate to foreign business activities that are received when the message’s recipient is visiting Canada at the time.
    • CEMs required by law (such as bank statement, or product recalls).
  3. Referral Marketing:  You no longer have to obtain consent for the first message sent to someone who has been referred to you by a third party, providing the third party has a pre-existing relationship.  The criteria that must be followed to ensure that exemption applies is to ascertain that this first CEM advises somewhere is the text of the message the full name of the person who made the referral.
  4. Computer Programs:  Consent is assumed for programs installed by service providers to prevent security risks, or to advise of network updates, etc.

What did not change are the regulations dealing with third party consent.  CEMs sent by someone on behalf of a third party whose identity is “unknown” in the message are not acceptable.  The party (or, the sender) who obtained consent on behalf of the third party is responsible for ensuring the message’s recipient can unsubscribe from messages and quickly and that the recipient is able to contact the sender easily to ensure that it happens; should the feel it necessary.

For the full article, please click here.


Greenfield Services to attend CSAE Tête-à-Tête

Ottawa Tete-a-Tete
On Thursday, January 31st, 2013 leaders of Associations, Not-For-Profits, Professional Meeting Planners as well as Government Producers will be heading to the Ottawa Convention Centre to attend 2013’s installment of CSAE’s Tête-à-Tête – and Greenfield Services Inc is thrilled to be joining them!

As a platinum sponsor of the event, Doreen Ashton Wagner (Chief Strategist & Managing Director) & Meagan Rockett (Director, Client Solutions) are looking forward to re-connecting with old friends, and establishing new relationships.

Every year Tête-à-Tête continues to grow, and with Jamie Clark being the breakfast keynote speaker, 2013 is shaping up to be the best year yet!  For more information on the event, or to register, please click here.  Feel free to stop by our booth (#405), or contact us by email to pre-book an appointment.  We look forward to seeing you all at the show!

Five Ways to Waste Money on Strategic Planning

Align your strategic plan
Meredith Low provided this guest post.  She is a management consultant, focusing on helping organizations and companies understand how, when, and where to grow in the context of fast-changing environments. Her work with associations includes leading strategic and tactical planning, performing assessments to position conferences and meetings for growth and durability, and assessing the needs of members and other stakeholders. 

If strategic planning is part of your to-do list for 2013, are you finding it hard to get enthusiastic about it? If so, you’re not alone.

Associations often struggle to get full value from strategic planning, and that can make it a frustrating experience. Here are five common ways that resources (cash, time, and goodwill) are frequently wasted on strategic planning – and how to avoid doing the same:

  1. Pretend the elephant in the room doesn't exist. Is there an issue in your organization that everyone would prefer to pretend isn't really happening? Maybe your structure is an anachronistic mess – or you’re out of touch with your members’ needs – or there are strategic threats to your industry itself – or you rely on a source of funds that’s drying up.

    Some concerns feel so enormous that both staff and Board members are used to pushing them aside in order to get through the day. And then when strategic planning time rolls around, nobody has the energy to tackle it. But if not now, when?

    Any plan you come up with will be a work of fiction if you ignore significant concerns.
  2. Don’t do any research. Without research, you are making decisions blind. This doesn't have to be a terrifically expensive proposition, especially if you have some kind of member needs assessment capability in place (if not, now is a great time to get a regular program started). Hopefully you also have a methodology of assessing the overall environment, including both non-members and other external groups.

    At a minimum, however, you will have to take a systematic approach to the research that goes into a strategic planning process; which stakeholders (members; others), which trends, which issues do you need to have a handle on, and don’t have the knowledge already accessible? Invest there. Otherwise you will make decisions that aren't grounded in reality – or you may feel unable to make certain decisions at all.
  3. Ignore tradeoffs. From a good strategic planning process, the Board and staff should have clarity both on what is going to happen in the next 5 or so years – and, likewise, what is not. It should feel like a true choice. If you don’t have these conversations explicitly at the Board level, you risk staff making tradeoffs at the operational level that may not be aligned with the strategic vision the Board set out. Be clear about what you do - and don’t - expect to achieve. Outline the tactical level of the plan, more explicit than the strategies, but not as granular as the annual operational plan. Don’t pretend it’s not going to involve tradeoffs on a daily basis – make sure they’re made wisely.
  4. Don’t tell anyone what happened. If you've gone out and consulted with your stakeholders, they will be curious what you did with their input. Tell them, and keep doing so throughout the life of the plan, including reporting results.
  5. Just stick to business as usual afterwards. Why did you do a plan if you aren't changing anything as a result? Here are some of the things that should be altered after every strategic plan:
    • Board reports – They should be framed by the strategic plan. Anything else should be an afterthought, because it’s either business as usual, or it’s not a priority. 
    • Staff meeting and Board agendas – If you don’t make time for your strategic priorities at both levels, they are guaranteed to fail. 
    • Staff and Board workplans. 
    • Metrics – You should be measuring achievement of your strategic priorities, which means they should affect how you measure employee performance as well. Metrics are an integral part of any strategic plan. 
    • Communications - the language, and sometimes the form, should be driven by the strategic priorities set by the organization, both internally and externally. 
Done right, strategic planning can and should result in an association that is different – more focused, more grounded in the needs of its members and the realities of its environment, and better able to set priorities and achieve results. However, the process has to be thorough, purposeful, and a little bit brave to maximize value for the association and its members.


You’re Using Social Media. Have Your Members Noticed?

Thinking about a ton of stuff
Everyone’s doing it. It’s hard to find a Canadian association that doesn't have some kind of presence on social media.

But there’s a big difference between using the tools and having an impact, and it may not be long before some organizations start approaching new media with a very old question:

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear, did it make a sound?

The problem isn't hard to diagnose. Over the last few years, social media has emerged as the next big thing, and everyone has been under pressure to leap onboard. New technologies and platforms are rising and falling far too fast to keep track, so it’s hardly surprising that there’s been no time to ask the two most important questions:

  • Why are we going online?
  • How can we adapt this fantastic new platform to serve our organization’s unique agenda?

The disconnect came through loud and clear in Greenfield Services’ 2012 Pulse Report. The survey results confirmed that all but about 3% of associations have some degree of interest in social media—79.3% are already active on social platforms, and another 18% will be getting online in the next year. A large proportion of respondents saw social media as a valuable tool for building general and public awareness and boosting member engagement.

But it’ll take some time to get from here to there. Less than 5% of organizations treat social media management as a full-time role for a dedicated staff member. Most of the rest rely on “accidental” or “occasional” managers who are still finding their way on social media while they juggle competing job priorities. Just under 10% of respondents said their social media management had been assigned to members or staff-volunteer committees.

So this should be no surprise: The majority of associations reported that no more than one in 10 of their members participate in their social media sites.

When an organization uses social media wisely and well, the experience can transform its relationship with members. In contrast to the transactional dealings that flow out of a traditional marketing model, social platforms are an opportunity to:

  • Listen to your members
  • Respond with the information and resources they need
  • Build a wider community where your members can participate and support each other’s professional or organizational growth
  • Deliver greater value than they ever hoped to receive from their association, and
  • Position your organization as a thought leader.

In the end, everyone wins. Members are delighted with the great benefits they've received. The association builds a higher profile and a more robust member retention program. And the profession, trade, or industry sector is better and stronger as a result.

But only if your social media program is built on a deliberate strategy that ties every blog, tweet, and LinkedIn post back to your organization’s broader objectives and branding. From the 2012 Pulse Report, associations clearly know they have to do something about their social presence. The bigger challenge is to turn those great intentions into lasting impact and results.