Category Archives: Association Management

Are You a Suave Sven or a Nervous Norman? 5 Tips for More Effective Public Speaking.

Nervous NormanAre you a competent, confident and effective speaker? Do you deliver your message in a way that resonates, convinces and inspires confidence in your association?

Public speaking is a fact of life for association leaders. Leaders must address member meetings, stakeholder groups, regulators and other decision-makers. Your speaking abilities have an impact on the credibility and perceived professionalism of your association.

You may be a seasoned speaker or a newbie. Either way, you can improve your effectiveness by focusing on these 5 tips.

How to prepare

  1. What does your audience want/expect? Ensure that you are delivering the information your audience is expecting. What are your key messages?
  2. Speak what you know. Ensure you know your subject matter cold.
  3. Slide deck/script first. Draft your presentation. If slides are to be used, create a high-level slide deck. If not, create a script.
  4. Practise. Find a quiet place and practice your delivery.
  5. Revise, repeat. You don’t speak the way you write. Revise your slide deck/script based on your practice runs.

What to wear

This is not fashion advice, but your attire affects your effectiveness.

  1. Shoes, socks, hemline. Be aware of where you will be standing relative to your audience. If you’re on an elevated platform, their sight line may be focused on the lower part of your body. Ensure your shoes, hose and trouser or skirt hemline are impeccable.
  2. Room to move. Ensure your clothing doesn’t ride up, cling or gape as you move. Ensure you can move comfortably as you gesture and walk on your “stage”. Practice in your chosen attire.
  3. 1-2 steps above. Ensure your attire plays to your audience. You should be dressed in a consistent manner but 1-2 steps above your audience to support your credibility as an expert. E.g. if your audience is wearing business casual, add a jacket to your ensemble.

What’s in your slide deck?

If you’re using a slide deck, it’s not a script, it’s a visual supplement to your delivery.

  1. Cues only. By all means, give yourself cues to remind you of your messaging; but never use the slide deck as a script of your delivery. You’re a speaker not a slide deck reader.
  2. Stories/examples. Make it real. Include real life stories to support your messages.
  3. Images. Ensure that every slide has an image that supports the slide message.

How to mic up

  1. Fixed or lapel? If you present best as you move around your stage or the room space, ensure that you have a lapel mic. This means you need a lapel that is firm enough to support a small mic, and a skirt or trousers with a structured waistband that can secure the support pack, and a jacket or longer top that will cover it.
  2. Podium or table? A podium creates a barrier between you and your audience. If you need to be able to refer to your notes, ask for a table.
  3. Sound check. Arrange with the AV provider to arrive at least 15 minutes before your presentation, and check your sound. By the way, even if you have as strong voice, a mic is your best bet. Your voice could be competing with a concurrent presentation next door.

Engaging your audience

  1. Who are you? Why are you here? Start your talk by engaging the people who are here for your expertise. Ask them what they want to learn from your talk and be prepared to answer their expectations in your delivery.
  2. Sharing/discussion points. Ensure that your presentation gives your audience opportunities to express their personal experience.
  3. Move in. You’ll need a lapel mic for this. Move throughout the room to connect with your audience.
  4. Toastmasters. This is an excellent and inexpensive club to learn and practice your speaking skills. Investigate the clubs in your neighbourhood.
  5. Have Fun and be yourself!
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Filed under Association, Association Management, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Leadership Support Program, Speaking

What is a High Performance Membership Organization and how do we get there?

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More than ever before, members are questioning the ROI on their membership fees.

Membership organizations must be seen to deliver value commensurate with their fees and compare favourably to alternatives. A high performing membership organization (HPO) delivers a highly efficient “back stage” and a highly valuable “front stage”.

Back stage efficiency drives down costs and improves service delivery. Front stage value drives revenue. The back stage elements are the internal systems and processes that support the outward facing activities of the organization. Like plumbing and electricity, the back stage is invisible when it is working well and painfully visible when it is not.

The front stage includes the elements that stakeholders and members see and interact with. They are highly visible and have a direct impact on the credibility and profile of the organization.

8 Elements of the High Performance Organization

There are 8 elements to the High Performance Membership OrganizationTM1:

  1. Governance
  2. Planning
  3. Resource Management
  4. Human Resource Management
  5. Revenue diversification
  6. Member Value Proposition
  7. Sponsor Value Proposition
  8. Stakeholder relations and issues management

These 8 elements comprise the front stage and back stage elements that tie back to the Sustainability Model TM for membership organizations.

So how do we get there?

BACK STAGE

Governance

If you’re an HPO in this area your directors and management are clear on their accountability for the following:

  1. They are to serve the needs of the membership as a whole; not constituent interests
  2. There is a process to evaluate the board’s governance performance
  3. Directors and the CEO are crystal clear on the distinction between operations and governance and that the CEO is delegated all operations decisions within policy parameters
  4. There are policies to govern actions and decisions; including specific guidelines for the CEO

Planning

The HPO has a multi-year strategic plan, and an annual business plan and budget. All directors are engaged in creating and monitoring the strategic plan and review an approval of the business plan and budget.

Resource Management

The HPO uses all resources, including staff and volunteer time, effectively and efficiently; maximizing the value to members.

Human Resource Management

In this back stage element, the HPO uses HR best practices. Every employee has a current employment contract, there is a documented process for onboarding new staff and there are annual, meaningful performance reviews; including one for the CEO, by the board.

Revenue Diversification

This element manages business risk for the HPO. Revenue should not be too heavily dependent on any single source of income (e.g. member fees). Where this risk is an issue, there is a documented plan to increase diversification.

FRONT STAGE

Member Value Proposition

This is the ground-zero element of the HPO’s front stage. The HPO has defined and documented a compelling, clearly articulated member value proposition (MVP). All staff, directors and other key volunteers can state this in their sleep. They can answer “What’s in it for me?” to current and prospective members, and they do; consistently and with a unified voice.

The HPO also has a sales and marketing plan for member retention and recruitment, with the necessary supporting collateral.

Sponsor Value Proposition

This is critical for an organization that wants or needs to attract sponsors. The HPO has defined and documented a compelling, clearly articulated value proposition for sponsors (SVP). All staff and directors tasked with recruiting sponsors are fluent with the SVP. The SVP delivers a compelling case for ROI for the sponsor.

The HPO also has a sales and marketing plan for sponsorship, with the necessary supporting collateral. This includes a professional and appealing sponsorship prospectus.

Stakeholder Relations

Every membership organization has stakeholders that share similar goals and/or with whom the organization wishes to have influence. Your association may advocate to government on behalf of your members an/or may work closely with other organizations to enhance member value.

If your stakeholders see value in a partnership with your association, you will have influence and support for your objectives. The trick is to look at it from their perspective. What can you do to help them achieve their objectives? How do their objectives align with yours?

If you’d like some help from Zzeem in your journey to the HPO, find out more here.

View a 2-part webinar series on this topic: Part 1 and Part 2.

1The High Performance Membership Organization, Sustainability Model and HPO are trademarks of Zzeem, Inc. These may not be used without attribution to Zzeem. www.zzeem.com

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition, Sponsor Value Proposition

Outsourcing – Legal and contractual issues; What should you consider?

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Outsourcing is a great way to engage highly specialized expertise at a lower price than engaging a full-time staffer. Membership associations have a number of outsourcing opportunities. These fit into 3 broad categories:

  1. Full service or hybrid services from an association management company (AMC): The full-service model outsources everything. The board of directors engages the AMC to deliver all back-stage and front-stage tasks, and the AMC provides an Executive Director who reports to the board. The hybrid model has one or more full-time employees (e.g. Executive Director) and the balance of the association management tasks are delegated to an AMC. The AMC reports to the Executive Director.
  2. Events: The association delegates the management of one or more events to an external service provider. This may or may not be an AMC.
  3. Contract Services: The association delegates stand-alone tasks such as:
  • Bookkeeping, audit/review
  • IT (managing hardware, software and technical support for in-house staff)
  • Webmaster (taking care of website updates)
  • Government Relations/Advocacy

This post focuses on what you should consider in terms of legal and contractual considerations. These are relevant regardless of the type of outsourcing.

The Contract

You should always have a contract with your service provider(s); regardless of whether it is a company or an individual. Your contract should include these provisions:

  • Clearly defined and measurable deliverables
  • Price (fixed annual price or hourly rate)
  • Process for engaging in non-contractual “extras” and out-of-pocket expenses (e.g. travel)
  • Service level agreement (SLA). This describes considerations such as response time and turnaround time for the deliverables.
  • Intellectual Property (IP). This clarifies who owns what. You own the IP that your association brings to the partnership and your service provider needs to make clear what of their IP you may use but not own, and terms under which you may or may not continue to use the supplier’s IP after the contract concludes.
  • Exit terms. What are the terms under which either party may terminate the contract? This should include a notice period even if the contract has a fixed end date.
  • The contract should include a provision that each party has the appropriate level of insurance (e.g. general liability, errors and omissions)
  • If your service provider is delivering services that require compliance on member privacy, anti-spam, labour and/or other legislation, spell this out in the contract.

Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)

If you’re engaging an individual, it may be appropriate to treat them as an “employee” for CRA purposes and make the standard payroll deductions from their compensation. This is to ensure that your association does not become liable for taxes they are responsible for remitting to the CRA. As a rule of thumb, if their major source of revenue is from your association, then treat them as an employee. Keep in mind, this partnership may mean that your association has the same obligation of notice for termination as if they were an employee.

Consider your options, choose what’s right for your association and protect yourself by taking a professional approach to your partnerships. For a more comprehensive view of your outsourcing opportunities watch our webinar on outsourcing here.

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Outsourcing, Sponsorship

To Join or Not to Join – Why Is That a Question? Insight from a Millennial.

Millennials

Written by Anne Mazile – Manager, Marketing

As a young professional in today’s workforce, I always enjoy hearing about my colleagues’ experiences. Whether they’ve been in the workforce for 25 months or 25 years, hearing others talk about their past adventures is always fascinating. Changes in technology, work-life balance and work culture are just a few of the important shifts in offices around the world.

Attitudes about membership associations have also changed. In the past, joining an association was a no brainer. At times, joining an association was the only way to get access to valuable resources and networking opportunities. These days, connecting electronically is often cheaper than the traditional face to face conversation. Also, finding industry information has never been easier. All you need is an electronic device with an internet connection to access the latest news.

Why should young professionals join associations? Simply put, why not?

  • Information Resource. Membership associations are still a great resource for information. Associations are a great starting point to get industry perspective and insights. The content provided by associations are curated to cater to you and your industry. Researching information online might be more accessible today but time is everything. Let the association do the legwork for you!
  • Professional Development. Associations also offer numerous opportunities to perfect your skills. Young professionals can gain new skills that can help them excel in current and future jobs.
  • Networking Opportunities. Make connections and grow your network! Networking opportunities are still a big part of many associations’ member value. Mentorship programs are also a great benefit.

Tips for joining an association:

  • Ask for financial assistance. Associations are a great resource. But, financially, they may not be accessible to everyone. Paying for a membership out of pocket can be an hindrance to joining an association. Ask your employer if they would consider paying for your membership for your professional development. In the end, they’ll also benefit from your engagement.
  • Pick the membership that works for you. Many times, associations offer varying levels of membership. Make sure to pick the category that fits you best. You want to get the best value for your membership.
  • Get involved. Paying for a membership is one thing. Using the resources is another. Researching and evaluating the available opportunities may be a big undertaking at first but, over time, the tools you use may offset the cost of your membership.

Joining an association may be considered to be old hat by some but I would encourage others to look into associations that cater not only to their professional life but personal as well. Find resources that aid your professional and personal life outside of your bubble! Ideas that work for one group may work for yours. I always want to learn new life hacks and time management tips! The old adage that there’s an association for everything still rings true today. Find the hat that fits – it’s out there!

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Governance, High Performance Organization, Leadership, Member Education, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition, Volunteer Engagement

Boost Attendance at Your Signature Event – 6 Proven Tips

Increase-AttendanceIt can be a challenge to get attendees out to your signature event. They’re busy and they have many competing demands for their time and money. Here are 6 proven tips to boost attendance and excitement for your event. In our work with our clients we have used all of these and we can vouch for their effectiveness.

Offer an Early Bird Rate: This is a tried and true method to incentivize registrants to sign up early for your conference. A discount for early sign up is particularly effective when registrants will be paying for the event themselves. For those whose employers will pick up the tab, it gives the employer an incentive to grant budget approval well in advance of the event.

Open Registration Early: Open your online registration 3-6 months before the event. If it is a conference, start closer to six months out to make the early bird rate meaningful and to sell it out early.

Boost Your Conversion Rate: When you’re hosting a trade show, the most important consideration is to get qualified buyers to the show, to support your exhibitors. A typical tactic is to ensure that there is a meaningful walk-in price that can be covered with a discount code. The discount code incentivizes registrants to sign-up, but the challenge is getting registrants who have no financial skin in the game to actually attend the show.

In order to manage this, ensure that you have marketing plan that focuses specifically on pre-registrants to get them to the show.  Remind them that they have registered, and focus on new products that will be featured by your exhibitors, on-floor activities and social events.

Use Discount Codes Effectively: At a trade show, your exhibitors want attendees and their contact lists may be more comprehensive than yours; particularly given the CASL restrictions. Give each exhibitor a unique code that they can offer to their contacts. This allows you to leverage their marketing resources to support your registration. Consider offering a prize for the exhibitor that brings in the most attendees.

For a conference, also consider using a time-stamped discount code offered at renewal time. The code is available to members who renew before a given date and purchase conference registration at the same time. This tactic has the additional advantage of encouraging members to renew in a timely manner.

Vary Your Subject Lines: You already know that a compelling subject line is key to getting the attention of your prospective attendees. You will send multiple emails to promote your event. Don’t make the mistake of using the same subject line on each outreach. Use each message to focus on an interesting and exciting aspect of the event. This could be high profile speakers, leading edge topics, event activities and social/networking opportunities.

Cap Supplier Attendance: Your supplier members attend your event to interact with the core members who buy their products and services. Your core members want to interact with other core members. Be careful not to have suppliers dominate attendance. This diminishes the value of your event for both the suppliers and core members. Set a goal for supplier attendance and let them know there is a cap. This lets registrants know you’re looking out for their interests, and encourages suppliers to sign up early.

Using these tactics effectively requires careful advance planning and ongoing monitoring and tweaking to measure the effectiveness of each tactic. Get your marketing plan and collateral in place a year in advance of your event and use your experience from the previous year to boost your results.

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Filed under Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows

What’s the Recipe for Your Member Value Proposition (MVP)? 3 Tips for your Success.

meal-salad-steakYou know that you’re offering great value to your members but are your directors and staff clear on what it is? Are they all on the same page, singing the same tune? Or do they get flustered when they are asked to explain your association’s value to a non-member?

Your MVP is the bedrock of your association and it deserves special attention.

  1. Is your MVP clearly articulated and compelling? Your MVP is not a list of member services. It is a statement of highly relevant value expressed from the perspective of the member. It answers the WIIFM question.
  2. Can your directors and staff all state the MVP in their own words and give real-life examples?

Your MVP is a meal. It’s a combination of comfort (carbohydrates), critical resources (protein) and freshness (vegetables). Here’s the recipe.

Carbohydrates (Comfort): This element of member value is about belonging. Your members feel part of the bigger picture. They share common issues and needs and they connect with other members who “get it.” They recognize we’re all in this together. That sense of belonging = COMFORT.

Protein (Critical resources): This element of member value is about the resources that members receive. It may be stakeholder relations, up-to-the-minute information, or connections that increase business. This is the “meat” of your MVP. Engaged members use your resources for the benefit of their career and/or their business.

Vegetables (Freshness): This element of member value is about mixing it up and keeping your events and programs new, changing and exciting. Be brave and change at least one thing each year. If you keep serving the same meal your members will get bored. Take a chance on something new!

There are three key elements to defining, using and delivering on your MVP.

  1. Take the time and effort to develop a compelling MVP.
  2. Train, train and retrain your directors and staff so they can confidently state the MVP in their own words and give real-life examples of how the association has helped individual members. Encourage your directors to add a personal note that describes how the association helps them specifically.
  3. Keep your MVP delivery fresh and interesting. Don’t get stuck in a rut

Want some help with your MVP? Find out more.

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Filed under Association Management, Event Planning, Governance, High Performance Organization, Member Education, Member Engagement, Member Value Proposition

Sponsors – It’s a Partnership. How Much is it Worth?

handshake sponsorThe answer is, “somewhere between zero and a lot”. If your industry or profession is an important market for a prospective partner and the potential upside of future sales is substantial, then a partnership with your association could be very valuable.

There are only two reasons why a sponsor wants to partner with your association.

  1. Because aligning their brand with yours increases their visibility or perceived value
  2. Because your members make or influence the buying decisions for their products or services

I was talking to a large software company last week about a partnership with one of our client associations. They were brutally upfront about our value in the second category. They have a 70% penetration rate in our industry so the likelihood of selling meaningful new volume to our members is very low. However, their marketing director noted, “We see value in an association with your association”.

How Do You Assess Value?

So let’s talk about the first reason why a sponsor would partner with you. Do you have a winning value proposition for your prospective partners to align their brand with yours?

  • It depends on 2 elements: does your association’s brand offer something that they need, and is your brand well-known in the sector they want to influence?

If your brand offers credibility, professionalism and community engagement, that could be very appealing to a prospective sponsor. However, your brand must be widely recognized in your sector for this to be of value. If you have a strong brand and high visibility you have the potential for a very strong SVP.

And what about the second reason? Do you have a winning value proposition for your prospective partners to sell their products or services to your members?

  • It depends on 3 elements: number of members, current penetration rate, and the value of a single sale.

If your prospective partner has a keen interest in increasing penetration in your industry or profession, a low penetration rate and a high price point per unit, you have the potential for a very strong sponsor value proposition (SVP). That is assuming that their product or service is a good fit for your members. Even if your membership is not huge, a partnership with your association could be very productive.

How Do You Pitch Your Association’s Value to a Sponsor?

Even if you have an awesome SVP, you still must make a successful pitch to your prospective partner. You have a lot of competition. There’s a line-up of associations in front of you; asking for the same thing.

First, make sure you’re talking to the right people. Second, make sure your sponsor value proposition (SVP) aligns with their objectives.

So who do you need to talk to?

For sponsor dollars, the marketing director usually controls the budget. He/she must be convinced that your offering is better value than the alternatives. The marketing director’s decision will be influenced by the opinion of the business development/sales director that has accountability for sales in your sector.

The sales director is your gateway to the marketing budget. If they’re not convinced that your offering will drive sales, you’re going nowhere fast. Your success with them depends on you helping them to hit their objectives.

What are their objectives and how can you help?

First, you need to ask. To pitch your offering successfully, you need to understand what they’re trying to achieve and position your sponsor offering to help them accomplish their goals. But don’t try to force a square peg into a round hole. If there isn’t a fit, then be honest and move on. If you see a fit, then show them a customized package and explain how it fits with their objectives.

How do you know if you got it right?

Ask. After each activation, get their views on how well it worked and find out how you can help them fine tune it.

In summary, remember 2 things.

  1. Ask, and Listen. Talk to them to find out what their marketing objectives are and figure out how you can work with them to accomplish their objectives.
  2. Then, Deliver. Customize a partner package that will meet their needs, then deliver on what you promised. When the SVP delivery is complete, ask for their feedback.

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Filed under Association, Association Management, Association Management Issues, Event Planning, Sponsor Value Proposition, Sponsorship, Successful Conferences, Tradeshows