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We did not mean to stop engaging......

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at
For those who are loyal followers, or occasional readers of The Membership Engagement Blog, I AM SORRY.

I have not posted a blog in three months.  It almost seems like after the Engaging Associations Forum, we simply disappeared.  We didn't.  We were just working on our move.

A lot has changed with Greenfield Services since the end of July 2015.  We went completely virtual, because we realized that we did not need 3,000 square feet of office space.

After the Engaging Associations Forum, we remembered that having fun and making a difference is really what we want to be doing.  But after looking at our website, we realized that our website did not appropriately reflect who we are.  We changed that.

Oh, and we took some vacation too!

As a result, I am pleased to announce that WE ARE BACK, but not here - the blog has moved and will be hosted on our newly re-designed website, and this post will be the last one hosted here.

Moving forward, we hope that you will update your feeds to include the new blog location (, where we will continue to stir the pot, offer tips and best practices, and other pieces as it relates to:

  • Association Management
  • Membership Marketing
  • Membership Engagement
  • Event Marketing 
  • Engaging Meeting Design
  • Sponsorship and Exhibit Sales
...and I hope it will continue to engage, spark new ideas, and ultimately, create change.

So, thank you, and we look forward to continuing the conversation!

Meagan Rockett
Association Ambassador

A HUGE Thank You From Us To You For #EngageAssn

The refrain of Dido’s song Thank You was playing in the background… ♫♪ "Thank you for the best day of my life…" ♫♪

And it was a great couple of days in Ottawa last week as the Greenfield Services team concluded its second annual Engaging Associations Forum.

Apologies for the sentimentality of all this, but our need to express gratitude is significant.  This event brought together over 100 senior association executives, meeting professionals, speakers and partners.  They gathered at the Ottawa Marriott for a heartfelt exchange on the subject of engagement and management of non-profit organizations.  We welcomed 50% more association executives compared to last year, with true coast-to-coast coverage as we welcomed participants from BC and PEI, Alberta, Ontario and Québec.

What was also most gratifying is that almost one-third of participants who had joined us for the inaugural event in 2014 deemed it such a great conference that they returned again this year.

Event hosts Doreen Ashton Wagner and Meagan Rockett, and the entire team, wish to acknowledge the following amazing partners:
  • The Loulou Lounge Furniture Rental and chic & swell creative meetings and events team of Carole Saad, Cathy Montopoli and Rebecca Trafford, for helping us create a unique and welcoming environment where participants felt at ease to exchange and connect.
  • Robert Thompson, Alex Zubair and the technicians at AV Canada, not only for equipment and expertise, but also for their patience and support in working with a constantly changing scenario, complete with impromptu audience participation and Catchboxes being thrown around.
  • Lisanne Bourassa of Consensus Meeting Planning, for your energy and unrelenting attention to all the little details, because true engagement is ALL about the details!
  • Rachel Stephan of sensov event marketing who supported us with our website and who, in spite of a family emergency, found the time to tape a heartfelt challenge that got our audience talking during an engaging Meetings & Events session.
  •  Travel Alberta’s Jennifer Holly, and her dynamic team of partners (Banff, Calgary, Edmonton and Red Deer), who supported our vision for a second year in a row.  They know the true meaning of partnership because they allowed us to take risks and create an event like no other, dedicated to association executives.
  • Lorie Blackwell and Susan Saganski of Marriott International, along with the wonderful team at the Ottawa Marriott, from the General Manager, Sales, Banquet and Kitchen Teams.  You rolled out the figurative red carpet for us!  Your surprises were delightful, and you made us look good to all our participants.
  • Kelly MacDonald-Hill of Speakers’ Spotlight, thank you for bringing us the leadership insights of our opening keynote speaker, Jill Birch.  You both helped us realize how relational leadership is the foundation of everything we do.
  •  Lee-Anne Leckie, CMP of The International Centre in Toronto, you proved that you live your values of creativity and sustainability by agreeing to work with us so we could facilitate the conversation amongst non-profit organizational leaders.
  •  A passionate, lifelong learner herself, Brenda Howes of The Howes Group helped us connect with Dr. Susan Phillips, of the Master’s and Diploma programs in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Carleton University.  She is a connector and a trusted partner.
  • To our wonderful transportation partners, Lori Wagner of Porter Airlines and Kim Morissette of VIA Rail.  The fact that you guys collaborated with us is already amazing; but that you also work together makes this one of the best examples of “coopetition” we could ever find.
  •  ASI and Canadian representative Andrew Sherwin, thank you for demystifying the metrics of engagement and for providing extra value to our participants by giving them your book The Association CEO’s Guide to Improving Organizational Performance.
  • To Allan Isfan and Marie-Louise Doyle at MyEventApps, thank you for teaming up with us.  We appreciate your patience as we focused on face-to-face engagement at this event, and look forward to learning more about how we can increase engagement even further with our ubiquitous mobile devices.

And finally to our wonderful suppliers:

o    Louis Buschman of EventDawn for your wonderful Catchbox microphones;
o    Dean McGee of Xibita for the tradeshow booth that became our A-Ha Wall;
o    And Gary Taylor of for your super-duper magnetic name badges!

The dates for the Engaging Associations Forum 2016 will be announced later this fall!

5 Ways To Increase Sponsor Value

Companies get approached all the time to invest in various sponsorships.  Budgets do not allow them to participate in every opportunity that crosses their desk, and they have to pick and choose who they decide to partner with.  

Sponsors are constantly on the search for events that will showcase them in the best light:  providing exclusive access to participants, in unique ways, and are looking for partners who truly understand that ROI needs to be received on both sides of the relationship.

What could you do to better engage your potential sponsors?  Here are a few suggestions:  

  1. Engage your members:  And then, advise your sponsors.  Get to know your members, how they want to be communicated with by your sponsors, and then share the information in advance.  Your sponsors will be better prepared to remain relevant.  In turn, they will obtain the respect of your membership base, and become more effective in their communication practices.
  2. Tell your sponsors about the unique marketing opportunity:  Whether your potential sponsors are looking to partner with you for B2B or B2C purposes, demonstrate that you know your membership base (and their business) – via research, or testimonials. Sponsors want the details - are they an influencer/decision-maker, how they want to be communicated with, and what their buying cycles look like.  Just offering visibility or industry recognition no longer justifies spend. 
  3. Become a Partner:  Do not just ask for a cheque.  That is not a partnership.  Associations with successful partnerships provide access to their members.  Sponsors are able to directly communicate with them (which is why your research is key).  By becoming a partner with the companies you are looking to have sponsor/exhibit, you should focus on their success.  This can easily be done by offering value – help them track their ROI with tracking tools, reporting and member feedback.
  4. Become your sponsor’s voice:  Your members will listen to you.  Whether you are sending an e-newsletter, or through social media, you are in the unique position to be leveraging your sponsor’s ability to solve problems – whether through a product offering, time-enhancing solution, or through research that they have done that will benefit your membership.  Associations should be offering to share content through their various channels.
  5. Help them build relationships:  Being present is very important to sponsors.  And it goes well beyond the conference.  Add value to your marketing plan by offering to introduce the sponsor to your chapters, join a committee, or attend local events.  

Working to engage and develop personal, meaningful relationships is time consuming...what else are you doing to increase value?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at 

5 Ways to Engage Members

Many association executives pose the question “How do I engage my members in a meaningful way?”  The following are five ways that are relatively inexpensive and not overly time-consuming to start implementing now:

  • Maintain a blog:  Every association should have a blog that addresses key issues, provides opinions, and offers expert advice for their industry.  Your communications department likely works diligently to put together a newsletter monthly that is distributed to your membership.  But only those on the distribution list have the opportunity to read it, and the majority is likely not reading every installment.  What if you took your content created for the newsletter and re-purposed it for your blog?
  • Show off the stars:  Start a member of the month (or, week) program.  Advise your community about what they have done to earn the spot (through their volunteerism or research for the industry for example).  Have a spot on your website home page that showcases the member; and link it back to your blog for a full article.  Get your members involved once the program is up and running by starting an nomination process.
  • Educate them:  On their time.  In many cases, the professional development programming is solely focused around a big conference.  Keeping programming for your conference is OK, but many of your members will not be able to attend.  Having regular webinars to help increase the chances of your members gaining their required credits, or just news regarding your industry, is a great way to keep them informed.

    It can also be a new potential source of revenue for the organization – making them available on demand for purchase by your community can drive revenue to your organizations bottom line.
  • Push the envelope:  After inviting your community to join you online in either a public social media platform or private online community, start posting questions to get people talking.  It is a great way to get your network talking to each other, sharing ideas, opinions and articles of relevance.
  • Use video:  Everyone likes watching videos, and you could incorporate this into your engagement strategy for many aspects within your organization.  Your conference delegates, exhibitors and sponsors could be on video talking about your events and why they are a wonderful way to network and educate, your Executive Director could have a monthly vlog that is only available in the members-only section of your website (or, on a private online community).  
Need help with your engagement program?  From consulting on strategy, devising a plan to implementation, we can help!  For more information please contact Meagan Rockett, Director of Client Solutions at 613-288-4517, or

#PlanHybrid Sponsorship & Marketing Refresh FREE Webinar July 30

Do you wonder each year how to make your event dollar stretch just a little further? For many events, sponsorship is the lifeblood that allows the event to happen.  But the sponsorship landscape is changing dramatically and it’s no longer sufficient to have the usual “metals level” (gold-silver-bronze) sponsorship program.  Learn from our experts how they created rock star sponsorship programs for their clients and how you can do the same for your organization.

At the end of the session, attendees will be able to:

  • How to attract potential sponsors when there are 2 audiences.
  • Understand how sponsorship can grow your event.
  • Design a sponsorship program that appeals to the new realities of the marketplace
  • Gain new sponsorship ideas.
  • Learn how to better recognize sponsors in this digital era.

Interested in attending?  Register here.

Webinar Speakers:

Justin Gonzales, Marketing Communications Manager, DoubleDutch

Justin Gonzalez manages marketing communications for DoubleDutch, the leading provider of mobile event apps. At DoubleDutch Justin creates disruptive communications strategies that drive business results by leveraging the power of marketing technologies. Utilizing social media, advertising, content and automation tools, he is passionate about creating engaging digital experiences that connect consumers to brands in ways that build strong relationships and loyalty.

Doreen Ashton Wagner, Greenfield Services Inc.

Doreen is the Chief Strategist and Co-Founder of Greenfield Services Inc., an association management and business development firm dedicated to the needs of membership-based organizations and the meetings industry.

Located in Alexandria, ON – half-way between Ottawa and Montreal – the company’s clients include the Association of Power Producers of Ontario, the Canadian Society of Professional Event Planners, the Hotel Association of Canada, and the Co-Operative Housing Federation of Canada.  Greenfield helps meeting and event professionals with Event Marketing, Exhibit & Sponsor Sales, and Engagement Programs.

In addition, Doreen and her team produce unique research and events exclusively for association executives.  For three consecutive years their Pulse Report benchmarked the membership marketing and engagement practices of Canadian Associations.  In July the company will be hosting its second annual Engaging Associations Forum, a thought-leadership conference designed to elevate the education level and facilitate conversations between association peers.

Fully bilingual, Doreen graduated Cum Laude from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She has been President of two Chapters of Meeting Professionals International, in Toronto and Ottawa.  In 2013 Doreen was inducted into the M&IT Hall of Fame as Industry Innovator.  Before creating Greenfield Services Inc. 17 years ago, she was Vice President of Marketing for The Sutton Place Grande Hotels Group, and held varied sales positions with Inter-Continental Hotels, Four Seasons, Park Plaza, and the Château Laurier Hotel.

Mahoganey Leigh Jones, CMP, DES

Mahoganey Jones is a Certified Meeting Professional and Digital Event Strategist with proven success in planning meetings and events that boost revenues and increase brand awareness. She founded Event Specialists in 2004 to help associations, government departments, and private companies to become strategic in the production of their meetings and events. From program development and accreditation to the logistics and execution, Mahoganey is able to efficiently manage all aspects of various size events. Through research and creativity, she successfully began producing hybrid events in 2012 to meet the demands of her clients. Mahoganey currently sits on the PCMA Canada East     Chapter's Education Committee and the Canadian Innovation Conference powered by PCMA's Planning Committee.

#Engageassn is around the corner - register NOW!

For the second consecutive year, the Engaging Associations Forum will create an environment where association executives have the opportunity for a true dialogue on the issues that keeps them up at night, foster learning and the exchange of ideas for the next generation of association, the association of the future.

Why?  Because things need to change.

If you have not yet registered, take a look at the program outline.  It will be an event not to be missed!

Technology: How are you keeping up with the technological advancements that impact your association?  Have you joined the #mobilesocial revolution? Or do you find that you’re barely able to keep pace?  Join former association exec and self-described geek Jim Spellos as he reviews what’s new and way cool in technology – from websites to critical augmented reality tools.

Sponsorship: Association business models are shifting and some see membership dues as an obsolete practice.  Where does this leave sponsorship?  Beyond the traditional "metal levels" what do sponsors want before they open their wallets? Hear directly from sponsors such as Porter Airlines’ Lori Wagner, Travel Alberta’s Jenn Holly and Sponsorship Consultant Ted Wagstaff; ask questions and see how your sponsorship program measures up!

Ubers of Associations: In less than three years, Uber – the car-hailing start-up – went from 0 to 160,000+ drivers and a valuation of $41 billion. Regardless of whether we view it a threat or an opportunity, this company is a disruptor. So what are the Ubers of the association world? It’s a question that Dr. Susan Phillips of Carleton University has asked in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K. Get ready for a lively discussion!

Meetings & Events: Associations view meetings and events as prime opportunities to engage members, sponsors and other stakeholders. How can an association build anticipation and grow their event attendance all while harnessing the power of face-to-face engagement once onsite in order to enhance and prolong the event experience year-round? Rachel Stephan of sensov / event marketing shares proven engagement techniques from her work with national meetings like CIM Convention and international congresses such as the World Congress of Biomaterials and World Congress of Food Science and Technology.

The Association of the Future: The world is changing so quickly, who can predict the future anymore?  Success in the future may be less about prediction and more about sharing and capitalizing on information now to be clear on what the future may hold. Mark Thompson of McKinley Solutions leads us through an innovative group exercise: edgecrafting, where the power of what we know now collectively can help us prepare individually for the future.

Join us July 23-24 at the Ottawa Marriott!

Do You Want to Be An Engaging #Association Executive?

For the second consecutive year, the Engaging Associations Forum will create an environment where association executives have the opportunity for a true dialogue on the issues that keeps them up at night, foster learning and the exchange of ideas for the next generation of association, the association of the future.

Why?  Because things need to change.

If you have not yet registered, take a look at the program outline.  It will be an event not to be missed!

Sustainable Leadership: Is a leader a position, or is a leader a person? Much of the thinking today about leadership is often about what needs to happen and who needs to make it happen. What we now know, however, is that a fundamental shift is required to think about how the work gets done. Presented by Jill Birch, this interactive and experiential keynote session will show rather than just tell leaders about new ways to think about their leadership.

Storytelling: The Professional Golfers' Association of Canada has implemented a unique program to leverage the unique skills of volunteers, board members and even staff, overcoming challenges and maximizing the association's success. Gary Bernard, CEO, PGA of Canada and Mark Thompson of McKinley Solutions share their experience.

Marketing & Communications: The corporate world is all-abuzz about branding and “living up to a brand.” But what are we talking about, really? How does this apply to member-based, not-for-profit organizations and engagement? Speech-Language and Audiology Canada CEO Joanne Charlebois leads the conversation with her experience – the risks and rewards – of re-branding an established association.

Strategy & Change: A “Fireside Chat” between strategy consultant Meredith Low and two association executives who have successfully navigated significant organizational change, each in their own way: Alison Dantas, Canadian Chiropractic Association and Mary Ann Rangam, Ontario Professional Planners Institute.

Want more info?  Check out the full program and other details here.  Or, just join us!  Register today, there are only a few spots left for the Engaging Associations Forum, July 23-24, 2015 at the Ottawa Marriott!

Qualities of a Board Member

Back in 2012, The NonProfit Times published an article on the 7 Important Qualities of Board Members, as follows:

Integrity: Demonstrating a zero tolerance for unethical behavior, both for themselves and their colleagues.

Independence: Having no unique business, financial or personal relationships — or hoped-for-relationships — that create even the perception of a conflict of interest.

Mature Confidence: Speaking out and actively participating in board and committee deliberations.

Corporate Manners: Recognizing the difference between productively participating in discussions and counter-productively dominating deliberations through the volume or length of comments. Must be able to work with other members to create workable compromises.

A Sense of Context: Making relevant, informed comments focused on the specific aspect of the issue being considered. Must be able to stay on topic.

Courage: Willingness to do the right thing/make the right decision even if it is difficult or unpopular (i.e., no fence sitting).

Commitment: Understanding that being an effective board member requires the time, the heart, and the standards to make the enterprise successful.

Do you agree with these?  Are any missing?  

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Keeping Employees Engaged via @CBInspired

I came across this image through LinkedIn.  After some research, I discovered that it was tweeted on June 12 by CB Inspired, and I think it captured it well:

Great snapshot @CBInspired! I think that it very simply captures what employers need to do to keep employees engaged.  NONE of them are hard to do.

5 Tips for Better Membership Retention

Professional and Trade Associations across all industries are showing growing concerns over member
retention rates. Our clients are reporting that they are seeing rapidly declining memberships, while
others are seeing a slow decline, and want to combat it while they can. The following are some
retention tips to help you get started:

  1. Gather their communication preferences, and use them! It's important to ask member HOW they prefer to be communicated with. Get a sense of how they consume information and where they spend their time. Whether it is by email, on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or another social media network, or through other means, doing this enables you to gain valuable intelligence on what systems you need to have in place to engage your members. It is also just as important to use them; play in their sandbox, don't ask them to play in yours.
  2. Mix Media. When gathering communication preferences, it is imperative to ask for all possible formats, not just the ones you have in place now. That way, you are able to devise a communications strategy that makes sense. Some messages can be sent by email, some by text, some a simple reminder on social media platforms. Mixing media will increase your chances of your message being read, and not discarded.
  3. Start Early. In our 2014 Pulse Report, we found that over 50% of organizations are depending on a 60-day renewal marketing period to retain their membership base, with over 40% relying on only up to three touchpoints. Sales and marketing research shows that it can take up to 11 "touches" to cut through the clutter, and most people give up well before that! This is why we always encourage Professional and Trade Associations to communicate membership value throughout the year – and not just before renewal time!
  4. Don't Be Afraid to Pick Up the Phone! Greenfield’s Pulse Report also shows that less than 25% of organizations are picking up the phone during a retention campaign to have a conversation with members. While making calls can be time consuming, it can also produce the best results. Having a conversation with your members (at any time) builds the relationship they were hoping for when they joined. You will gain valuable insights on how they feel about the direction of the association, in addition to their intentions of renewing.
  5. Everyone matters. There are various opinions out there about who to focus the majority of your efforts on. Some believe that focusing on first-year members is the best place to spend your marketing dollars. While it may be true that first-year members are more likely to drop off if they are not satisfied with your operations, it is just as important to focus on longer-term members. They have seen your ups and downs, are likely at different career stages, and are more likely to have in-depth opinions on how you can better serve all members, instead of just the newbies.
What are some of the other best practices you have come across?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

9 Marketing Remedies for Event Registration Success

Over the years, our Greenfield team has "rescued" numerous programs because event registrations
were not coming in as expected. Here is our prescription for a successful event marketing campaign:

  1. Get permission first: It is important to obtain and track permissions for your stakeholders -your prospects. Members are OK; they have opted in to your communications through their renewals. However, your prospective list is a different story: with CASL in play, it is important to build a list that won't get you in trouble later.
  2. Maintain your database: With CASL, if there is a complaint, the burden will be on you to provide that permission was obtained. Don't risk the fine! Keep your database clean.
  3. Make it about ME: Who cares if your event has a record-breaking number of exhibitors, sponsors or break-out sessions? If your communication isn't articulating WIIFM (what's-in-it-for me) for the potential attendee, they likely won't register.
  4. Twitterize your message: Don't send long emails telling me ALL there is to know about your event. Since your message is most likely to be viewed on a mobile device, keep your message short and to the point. If there's more to the story, give links where the recipient can go for more.
  5. Make it shareable: An increasing number of business event attendees are active on social media. Make it easy for attendees to share your event with peers by using ShareThis or other social media sharing platforms. That way they can tweet, post to Facebook or LinkedIn, or whatever social medium they prefer.
  6. Tell them who else will be there: Not just speakers or sponsors/exhibitors; people want to know about their peers. So upon a registration, gain permission to publicize the fact that an attendee will be there. Those who agree will have their name posted on your event website. It's a simple way to create FOMO (fear-of-missing-out).
  7. Show them: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then video is worth a million. Use this powerful tool to show clips of speakers, testimonials from attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors. Score double points by showcasing a video of someone with similar attributes to your prospect.
  8. Vary your channels: Unless recipients have white-listed your email address, anytime you are using email deployment software, there is a 30-40% chance that your message will be caught in spam filters. Your audience may be interested but may never see your message! Pay special attention to where your prospects hang out on LinkedIn. Get the influential people in your industry to tweet about your event. Or even send something by mail - something that will pique curiosity, and will drive traffic to your website.
  9. Don't be so business like: Learn from what gets shared online; people enjoy funny or touching stories. Your promotion will rise above the clutter if you show emotion humour, or an edge. Don't be so serious!
For meeting, conference and event planners, covering each tactic can be a daunting task.  But a well-rounded event marketing plan will drive attendance & engagement.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

The Howes Group partners with #Engageassn as Innovator

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as an Innovator partner is The Howes Group, who were recently told they were nominated & a finalist for the upcoming 3rd Annual Plannie Awards (for Savvy Sourcing).

Brenda Howes has always believed in collaboration, innovation and entrepreneurs, so partnering with her and her team for the Engaging Associations Forum was perfect.  Not only does she have over two decades experience working with organizations of all sizes, but as an innovator herself, she brings us Susan Phillips, a Professor with Carleton University to present this year.  We are very grateful for her partnership this year!” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

With just 7 weeks left to the Forum, we invite you to have a look at the final program, and to join us.
For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

Should You Hire an In-House Employee or Outsource?

It's a question that plagues many professional and trade associations today.  Budgets are tightening, and more things need to get done then ever before.

Then comes the question:  Should you hire more people to work in your office, or could you put together some tasks that can be taken care of by someone you can partner with to help you?

Not every job needs to be handled in your office.  In many cases, outsourcing can help you achieve your goals faster, and more effectively.

But before you decide to look outside your office for help, you need to ask yourself:

What would they do?  

In our experience, we have helped multiple organizations with one-off programs (like promoting attendance at an event); but we are seeing more and more that organizations are looking to outsource an entire department - like membership, or marketing.  Have a look at what must be handled onsite, and what could be done elsewhere.

How much can you spend?

In many cases, outsourcing can help your budget.  Partnering with a firm who's sole focus is to work on membership, or your communications, as examples, are not tied up with the day-to-day interruptions, and can focus on their job - to showcase your organization in the best light; and ultimately earn you additional revenues.

Who will manage the process?

With the right firm, they will manage it themselves.  They will report to you as little or as often as you like, so that you can focus your time on the big picture.

Are there risks?

Yes, of course!  But there are risks to both sides of the equation - and you have to measure which is the least risky for your organization.  At times, yes hiring a full-time employee is the least risky way to go.

But times are changing - with more the workforce being virtual, isn't it time you had a look for alternative options?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Do You Have What it Takes to be an Effective Executive Director?

I recently came across this article from Business News Daily; which was a write up from research conducted by The Creative Group.

They say that the five key traits that people should work on to "climb the ladder" are as follows:

Vision: Having a sharp understanding of where your business is going is essential. To be a great leader, you need to have a clear vision of the future and be able to inspire others toward your, and the company's, goals.

Focus: To be an effective manager you need to be able to focus on the end goals. It's critical that you know when to sacrifice short-term wins to pursue bigger-picture objectives.

Creativity: You can't be afraid of changing how things are run. Some of the most successful leaders have the ability to change up established business practices and develop a culture of smart risk-taking. Your desire to advance the company should outweigh your fear of failure.

Flexibility: Good managers are agile and can pivot at a moment's notice to take advantage of opportunities as they arise

Resilience: There are times things aren't going to go your way and you fail on a project or task. The best bosses can bounce back from those defeats and turn a setback into a positive.

What does this mean to the not-for-profit world?

That Executive Directors need to be able to multi-task, keep positive, and pretty much be all things to all people.  Do you have what it takes?  Is there anything missing from this list?

Image courtesy of hywards at

VIA Rail Partners with #Engageassn as Thought-Leader

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as a Thought-Leader partner is Via Rail Canada, offering national passenger rail transportation service that meets the needs of travellers in Canada.

We were very fortunate to sercure the partnership with Via Rail Canada for the 2015 Engaging Associations Forum.  They have both partnered with us to show their commitment to the industry, but are also offering a special discount to participants located outside of Ottawa to travel to and from the Forum” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

For the week of the Forum, those wishing to travel by train will receive 15% off the best available fare in Economy, Business, Sleeper, or Sleeper Touring class.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

Customer Service Tips for Associations

A Customer Service Driven Organization: Building a customer (or, member) service driven organization has many components that rely on one another.  It is critical that the organization truly embraces efforts from the most senior staff to the receptionist.  The organization will need to challenge all staff to go above and beyond any past service levels that may have been experienced.

With this, the expectation cannot be to have this change overnight, or to come naturally to all. But ultimately, there should be a deep and ongoing sense of satisfaction once programs are in place that you have development an ongoing customer (member) relationship.

Association Concerns:  Association executives are well aware of the emerging need for member-driven management and customized service. From the 2014 Pulse Report, it was reported that almost half expressed strong concern about their organizations’ inability to properly track or measure member engagement.

Start by developing a customer service mission statement.  The association (and, subsequently, the staff) should clearly convey the organization’s specific objectives as they relate to customer service.  This goes beyond the mission & vision:  It should directly relate to a “promise” you make to your members, stakeholders and community at large.  It should be dedicated to building an organizational perspective of what “WOWing” the customer is truly about.  It should also be communicated with both customers and employees on a regular basis.

Personal touch IS important!  For the last three years of research, email was still the most popular communication method, used by 77.7% of organizations. Phone support & contact is gaining traction again after several years of going by the wayside, and it is important to recognize that your current (or, perhaps your future) team is not prepared for the personal touch.  It is more important now than ever to have policies and procedures in place that affect the customer service approach, and that training around these procedures are given the appropriate time and importance.

Do you know what your membership lifecycle looks like?  A functional walk-through is a step-by-step view of the lifecycle of a customer/member as it relates to doing business with your organization.  This includes the entire process from the initial website review, to the first time they showed up to an event as a non-member, to the day that they joined, to becoming a life-time member.  The key is to identify stages in which specific people or departments engage and/or interact with the customer.  This helps organizations identify key points where they can create worthwhile methods of interaction.  TOO FEW organizations will ever take the time to look at the customer in such a manner/

Association executives’ assessment of their most serious engagement challenges suggested that they’re well aware of the emerging need for member-driven management and customized service. Consistent with the 2012 and 2013 results, the 2014 respondents expressed strong concern about difficulties meeting members’ specific needs and a lack of member-driven research. And a new issue—the inability to properly track or measure member engagement—was the most serious of all, with 43.5% of Pulse Report participants identifying it as a top concern.  Ensure your system can track conversations, so that the next staff member (or, future staff member) is aware of the members activity and engagement.  In addition, your policies and procedures should account for expectations of notes to file.

Engage:  Have your team set goals – maybe start with something like “learn three new things about members this week”.  Engagement represents going above and beyond any effort that has been made up to this point.

What else could you be doing?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

#Association Trends, Improvements & Concerns

This article was originally featured in the CSAE Trillium Chapter newsletter.

In July 2014, Greenfield Services released its most recent instalment of the Pulse Report, a research report dedicated to identifying trends in membership marketing & engagement practices in Canada.

This year, 178 association managers, leaders and executives across the country participated in our third annual review of Canada’s association sector.

The report produced several results, of which the following is a quick snapshot of what Canadian associations identified as trends, improvements and concerns:


  • Membership growth, higher visibility in the association’s industry or field, and increased member participation remained consistent as top three priorities in 2013 & 2014.

    Membership growth has consistently remained over 60% when asking for the top three priorities (62.4% in 2013; 61.2% in 2014); while higher visibility in industry or field pushed over 50% in 2014; and increased member participation remained relatively consistent (48.6% in 2013; 47.8% in 2014).
  • For the third consecutive year, Pulse Report participants identified traditional, outbound functions like public awareness, event promotion to members, and member news dissemination as their organizations’ top uses of social media.  Their survey responses suggested their organizations are still making only limited use of social media tools that could help them transform their programs and deepen their member relationships.

    The proportion of survey respondents with active social media programs actually declined between 2013 and 2014, from 88% to 82.8%.  There was a corresponding increase in organizations that expected to delay the introduction of social media programs, from 4.8% to 10.5%.  The results also show that Facebook and Twitter are the most commonly-used social media platforms, followed at some distance by LinkedIn groups.


  • Event attendance has grown steadily as an association priority over the three years of Pulse Report research.  This statistic has risen from 36.7% in 2012, to 39.9% in 2013, to 43.8% in 2014.  
  • Associations are consistently devoting more attention to renewing members they’ve already identified and acquired.

    That level of attention may be paying off.  Associations’ retention rates among first-time members showed steady improvement between 2013 and 2014, with small increases of participants who reported rates above 70%.  The results for lifetime retention rates showed a significant jump as well.


  • No more than 56% of associations have marketing plans in place to reach potential new members and offset the impending surge of lapsed members, as the workforce retires.

    This stat shows that we are OK with working on keeping who we have, but are not focusing on gaining new members.  Among those who had something to say about new member recruitment, more than three-quarters (76.8%) said that new members were likely to hear about their organizations through word of mouth.  This is good – but not good enough to keep your association viable.
  • Associations are scrambling to recruit and serve new generations of members, and to find the areas of interest where they can engage more effectively.

The data indicates that organizations were considerably less likely in 2014 than they were in 2013 to consider new membership models, and are still looking to find the right mix of programs and services to satisfy existing and future members.

What has changed in 2015?  Are you implementing a new strategic plan, or about to launch a new initiative to satisfy members?  Will you look at your recruitment & retention plans to determine if there are any gaps, and if there are, what will you fill them with?

To download the Pulse Report, please click here.

@MyEventApps Supports #Engageassn as a Thought-Leader

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as a Thought-Leader partner is MyEventApps, founded by Allan Isfan and Bill Love.  Their mission is to make it easy for event based organizations to go mobile because they know it will help them prosper, and that makes them happy.

Our partnership with MyEventApps this year is great news.  They are locally based, affordable and provide an easy solution that everyone can use.  We look forward to using MyEventApps as the official app for the Engaging Associations Forum, and demonstrating its ease of use with our participants this year.” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

10 Tips for Creating a Rock Star Social Media Plan

Social media can be a daunting process, especially if you do not know where to start. But for your conference or event, it can be an extremely powerful tool to maximize engagement from your attendees before, during and after the event. Here are a few tips to get you started:

Appoint a Leader – Every successful plan needs someone to spearhead the program. Do not
just assign the task – find the right person. Plan on conducting an “interview” with the person
you have in mind. They must have knowledge on how the social media sites work (or at least
be capable of ramping up quickly).

Find an expert to help you – When you are looking to get things started, finding the right
person (or company) can really help when it comes to developing the right profile, planning
which messages should be delivered on what sites, etc. Determine what messages you want
delivered to the general public (including your membership) – which could be delivered through
various channels (such as Facebook or Twitter), and which messages are for members-only
(where create a “Members Only” group on LinkedIn, for example), and plan your marketing

Be timely – the purpose of social media is to disseminate information as it is released. If you
are going to post something, make sure it is relevant to what is happening now.

Use your Influence – as an association, you should be considered a leader in your respective
industry. Aim to be the “one-stop shop” for information and position your presence that way on
social media sites.

Keep Working It – this is a task that cannot be managed properly for about 10 minutes a day.
Ideally a few hours a day should be dedicated to maintaining your presence on social media
sites, so as not to be lost in the shuffle.

Need more?  Click here to download the full document.

#Association Social Media Tips

Need some tips to assist your team to raise your social media presence?

Twitter Tips:

  • Tweet as your group or brand. And the tone of your tweets should showcase your brand personality – i.e. avoid using “I” or “Me”; instead, use plural verbiage such as “Our” or “We”.
  • Using graphics for your profile image and background? Customize it. Keep it close to your brand (such as, if your association represents doctors, try finding stock images of a doctor treating a patient, or of a stethoscope, etc).
  • Get out there. Ask a question, start a discussion using an already established hashtag (or, create one of your own), make a Twitter-only special offer. The point is to get involved.

LinkedIn Tips: Have you created a Company Page yet? If not, start one and use it!

  • Be sure to populate with your logo, locations, products, services etc. in the various areas that are applicable to you.
  • Update your status regularly. Update your followers with news, info on new products to benefit your members, new services or certifications offered, welcoming new members, reminding members of renewal timeframes, job openings, conference info, etc.

Facebook Tips:

  • When is the best time to post? You will likely receive the most engagement from your Facebook posts between the hours of 8:00 PM and 7:00 AM (when people are not at work or in workmode). Try scheduling most of your posts during that timeframe to determine if it is the right timeframe for you.
  • When are the best days to post? It can be different for every organization. However, I have found that engagement is highest on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Want more?  Click here to download the full tips sheet.

Advanced Solutions International (@advsol) joins #Engageassn as Thought-Leader

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as a Thought-Leader partner is Advanced Solutions International (ASI), the makers of iMIS Engagement Management System, the leading membership and fundraising software.  

When it was confirmed that ASI would partner with the Engaging Associations Forum this year, we were thrilled.  It is the second time that ASI has come forward to show their support for the association industry with us here at Greenfield Services, the first being the partnership on the 2014 Pulse Report.  This venture just goes to show that ASI really believes that innovation and education are leading factors in association education today.” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

Effective Membership Surveys for Every #Association

Member feedback is important, and every organization should find innovative ways to obtain it.
One of the simplest (and most used) formats is conducting a member survey. Here are a few tips to creating an effective survey for your membership:

Be clear about your purpose:

  • Start the process by clearly defining what you want to achieve and what you are trying to learn. If you cannot define the objective, your members will not understand its purpose.
  • Be as specific as possible. If you are looking for feedback regarding a specific program, or product offering, do not ask questions that relate to anything else.
  • Determine how this will affect your organization. Start at the end – when you have the results, what will this change within your organization?
  • Consult the right people. If you are in Marketing and Communications, and the results of the survey affects what your Conference Department is doing, ensure that they have a say in what questions should be asked.

Give members a reason to respond:

  • As much as possible, personalize your survey invitations. Marketing automation solutions allow you to customize a message, including the member’s name, company name, customized survey links, and any other information that you have on file. Include it; they will feel you are writing directly to them.
  • Include the reason(s) why you are asking for participation. What will the responses change within your organization? What has made you feel that this survey is warranted?
  • If you can, offer them an incentive to respond. Surveys deployed with an incentive tend to be more successful than others. It can be small, like sending a five dollar gift card for Starbucks to respondents, or offering a small discount on a product of interest to your industry, like benchmarking studies, whitepapers, etc.

Test, Test, Test:

  • Never deploy a survey without testing.Send a test to yourself to ensure that it represents your organizations brand, from a visual and messaging standpoint. Also, take the survey yourself to ensure that any answers that are considered “required” are programmed as such. This will also allow you to determine that any skip logic programmed functions properly.
  • Send a test to other staff members internally. They will likely find things overlooked, and you can tweak the questions and skip logic based on their feedback. It may also bring to light a question that needs to be added.
  • Consider testing the survey with select members with whom you have a good rapport, such as volunteers on a Communications Committee. Members will usually look at things differently than staff. The more you test, the more likely you are to avoid mishaps.
Need more tips?  Click here to download the entire list!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

AFP Ottawa (@AFPottawa) Supports #Engageassn

We are thrilled to announce that the Association of Fundraising Professionals - Ottawa Chapter (AFP Ottawa) has joined forces with Greenfield Services as an industry supporter of the the second annual Engaging Associations Forum, July 23 & 24, 2015 at the Ottawa Marriott.

The event, hosted by Greenfield Services Inc. is geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

AFP Ottawa has been at the forefront of fundraising education for the non-profit industry.  We are happy to join forces with them this year to bring another aspect of education to their members; focusing outside of the fundraising perspective that AFP Ottawa is famous for.  With this partnership, we aim to provide another angle of thought-leadership to their members.  With the Engaging Associations Forum, we will be discussing leadership, marketing & communications, meetings and events, technology and leadership.  We look forward to seeing how we can join forces to educate the industry.” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

What Does Your #Association Website Say About You?

Members are proud to be affiliated with their associations. It’s a badge of honour that some literally “wear” by featuring association logos on their websites, business cards and other marketing material.

Doesn’t it only make sense then, that your association looks its best? We suggest starting with a website that’s pressed and primped. Populate it with words that engage your members and reflect your organization’s unique “voice.” And make it seamless to navigate with easy-to-use tabs; your members don’t want to waste time trying to find your latest white paper. Include “call to action” buttons like newsletter signup forms.

A performing website will yield benefits for your membership recruitment and retention efforts, as well as help drive your sponsorship and exhibitor sales. A poorly functioning website can do just the opposite. It can be a warning sign screaming “This association doesn’t have what you need.” How can you tell which situation you are in? Here are a few warning signs:
  1. You are still living with someone else’s idea: In many cases, the website was a predecessor’s idea; it contains dated views or methods of bringing in traffic, and now you are paying the price! If your website has not been reviewed and revised in the last 12-18 months, it is your first warning sign.
  2. Proper Branding: Often organizations focus first on revising the look and feel of “other” marketing materials: business cards, document templates, and print newsletter layouts. However, does it still match the look and feel of your website? Consistent branding is key; and if there is a disconnect, it is another indication that a re-design or facelift is required. At every touch point, people should know immediately that the information was produced by your organization.
  3. Are You Searchable? When was the last time you conducted general research online to determine where your organization is listed in search results? If you search keywords that a potential member may be using to find more information, and you do not appear on the first page of the search results, you are in need of an SEO (Search Engine Optimization) overhaul. SEO rules and functionality can and have changed overnight, and it is important that your organization stays on top of these changes to ensure that you stay competitive online. 
What are other warning signs?  Download our resource, "9 Warning Signs That It’s Time You Update Your Website" to find out.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

Heading to Canada Meet Week in Toronto? Visit us at the Ignite Business Event Expo!

Heading to Toronto next week for Canada Meet Week?  Have you registered to attend the Ignite Business Event Expo?  Plan on stopping by booth 206 to say "Hello" - we will be there!

Now at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre; the Ignite Business Event Expo is committed to ensure that attendees have a unique experience by providing the following:


At iBE Expo 2015 they have done away with the bowling aisle format and instead create an upscale boutique environment where you will feel inspired!


iBE Expo is designed to encourage meaningful business conversations in an intimate environment where you don’t feel rushed to get to your next appointment!


Their pop-in Good to Know Theatre features complimentary 30-minute sessions on a wide variety of topics you can apply to your job the minute you leave the show. It’s simple, all you have to do is show up. All sessions are applicable for CMP credit.

We hope to see you there!

Are you attending #Leadercast? Be a Leader Worth Following...

"The world is missing out. We could all be learning more. Living out our purpose. Leading and being led by people who inspire and enlighten us, give us strength and allow us to grow. Leadercast was built on a belief that the world needs better leaders—leaders worth following."

This excerpt was found on the Leadercast website, which is an event taking place May 8, 2015, in Atlanta (but broadcast throughout the world).  This year, Greenfield Services is PROUD to be a Bronze sponsor of the Leadercast Ottawa event!

What is Leadercast?

They are the producers of the Leadercast event, who bring participants speakers and content that will help us change the way we operate.  They do not believe that Leadership is only found in the "C-suite", rather it is any individual who want to become intentional about raising their standard of leadership.

While not everyone can get to Atlanta to see it happen live, it will be broadcast from various locations across the globe.  If you are in Ottawa, I highly recommend that you check out the Ottawa event, hosted by our friends at the OTUS Group.  Info and tickets can be found here.

Not in Ottawa?  That's OK, you can still look for a broadcast even in your area by searching on the Leadercast website.

There is a big movement to create change, and this is one event you won't want to miss!

Manage Your #Association Database

Maintaining a database can be a challenge. And if ensuring that data is entered consistently and that
no duplicates are created wasn't enough, data becomes obsolete at a rate of 30% or more per year.

Factors like economic activity and an industry’s rate of innovation will affect the rate of change - for
instance, a list of judges may remain current longer than a list of entrepreneurs.

Acquiring new data - new prospects, members, or sponsors - is costly, so it makes sense to maintain
your database:

  1. Have a documented data layout and make sure all users know the rules. If your database allows organizations’ names to be abbreviated, what is the usual format? Will you follow Canada Post address formats (“St” rather than “Street” or “St.”) and possibly save money on mail distribution?
  2. Make ONE person responsible. If one person is responsible, and empowered to enforce the rules, the job will get done.
  3. Act immediately to correct obsolete data. Immediately pull and update records with undeliverable email or street addresses.
  4. Plan to conduct annual audits. This applies more to non-member data like prospective members, exhibitors, or sponsors. Plan to audit at least 10% of your data (or a minimum 100 records). If more than 15% are out of date, plan a clean-up exercise.
  5. Have clients, members or stakeholders update their own information. During your membership renewal process, ask people to review their data online to minimize your costs. But don’t assume the information is 100% correct. Review it before it goes back into your CRM, especially if you have established formats.
Want more tips?  We have 11!  Click here to download the full document.

Image courtesy of Mister GC at

Jill Birch to Open the Engaging Associations Forum on Sustainable Leadership

We are thrilled to announce that Jill Birch, CEO of the Canadian Art Foundation will be joining us to kick-off the Engaging Associations Forum this July 23-24, 2015!

Jill Birch is the CEO of the Canadian Art Foundation and the Publisher of Canadian Art magazine. She is the former vice president of fundraising and alumni at OCAD University; former President of the OCAD University Foundation; and the former principal and national capability lead at Knightsbridge, where she ensured that organizational talent development goals and leadership capabilities were realized. She was also the vice president of business development at Sheridan College, and is the former associate director of In-Company Development, International Training and Partnerships with the Schulich School of Business at York University.

Birch has worked with organizations in the digital, high-tech, health, advertising, financial services, energy, public, manufacturing and telecommunications sectors and has spoken to groups across Canada and around the world. She is currently a PhD candidate with Griffith University in Australia, where she is researching relational leadership processes. She is also a Certified Association Executive.

A Leadership and Organizational Change Expert, Birch will be kicking off the Forum discussing New Thinking on the Old Challenge of Sustainable Leadership:

Is a leader a position, or is a leader a person? Jill Birch answers this question - and many more - on building leadership capacity to drive the competitive advantage. 

Join us at the Engaging Associations Forum to listen, learn and engage Jill on her vast expertise in the association and not-for-profit sector.  

Speakers' Spotlight is an integral part of the reason we are able to welcome Jill Birch to the Forum this summer.  While they represent a wide variety of motivational speakers who present energetic talks that will inspire you and your staff to take action, be it in your personal lives, your workplace, or both, we felt we needed someone who had history in this industry, and worked closely with them to find the right fit for the event.

And, it was much easier than we thought.  They worked closely with us to ensure that our needs and goals were met, in order to deliver the best value to participants.  Speakers' Spotlight is committed to serving the diverse needs of the corporations, organizations, companies, non-profit and government groups that contact us when seeking conference speakers, and we work hard to find the conference speakers that will best meet and exceed your needs.  For your next conference, we highly recommend that you take a look at how they can help you!

Porter Airlines Partners with #Engageassn as an Innovator

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as an Innovator partner is Porter Airlines,  who recently celebrated their 8th anniversary in operation.

When we received confirmation that Porter Airlines was joining forces with us this year for the Engaging Associations Forum, it marked a very exciting time for us.  It shows that the Forum has really become a driving force for education and innovation for association executives.  Porter not only has agreed to partner with us, but they are offering a special discount to participants located outside of Ottawa to travel to and from the Forum under a specially discounted rate.  AND, they have provided an incentive to those who register before June 15th, 2015.” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

Porter Airlines is proud to offer a 15% discount on available base fares (with the exception of the lowest class fare during a public seat sale) for travel to and from 2015 Engaging Associations Forum. The discounted fares are available for booking from March 3, 2015 to July 27, 2015.  Please visit the Engaging Associations Forum website for further details.

In addition, Porter Airlines will provide (2) tickets anywhere Porter flies as an incentive for delegates to register for the Forum by June 15, 2015. The draw for the tickets will take place during the Forum.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.

The International Centre Partners with #Engageassn as Thought-Leader

On July 23-24, 2015, Greenfield Services will host the second annual Engaging Associations Forum at the Ottawa Marriott, geared towards association executives who want to create change in the industry.  The event will provide the opportunity for a true exchange of ideas for a new generation of association to succeed, grow and prosper.

Joining us as a Thought-Leader partner is The International Centre, one of the only privately owned trade and consumer show and conference facilities in Canada.

We were thrilled to hear that The International Centre wanted to come on board by partnering with us this year.  Their commitment and contribution to change in the association and not-for-profit industry truly allows us to bring our event to the next level.  The Engaging Associations Forum has garnered some great feedback, and we look forward to pushing the envelope again this year.  And we could not do it without thought-leaders like The International Centre.” says Meagan Rockett, Greenfield’s Director of Client Solutions.

For more information about the Engaging Associations Forum, please contact:

Meagan Rockett
Director, Client Solutions
Greenfield Services Inc.