Monday, August 29, 2011

Linda Chreno reports on ASAE Annual Conference session: What We're Learning from What We're Reading

Linda Chreno is well respected in the association world. With 20+ years of membership marketing and association management experience, and a voracious hunger for new technology and utilizing it to deliver superior association products and member experiences, she delivers a unique perspective of 'early adoptor' and 'experienced professional.' Therefore, I am pleased to call her a friend, compadre...and now CONTRIBUTOR to this blog.

She attended the recent (and very fun) ASAE Annual Conference in St. Louis, MO, where she spoke on web marketing for smaller associations. As we all did, she also attended a great session presented by Mark Anderson, Kristin Clark, Joan Eisenstodt and Jeffrey Cufaude. Here is her take on that important session:

"I attended a session at ASAE in St. Louis entitled: Readers Anonymous: What We're Learning from What We're Reading. The session was where Mark Anderson, FASAE, CAE, Kristin Clark, CAE, Joan Eisenstodt, and Jeffrey Cufaude MAI shared highlights of what they were learning from what they were reading. The session was remarkable and very insightful. Loved when they shared that they are reading many books at one time and they can learn from any book that they read!

As membership marketing professionals, we need to be alert for ideas that we can incorporate into our marketing and/or membership plans – from whatever the source including books that we are reading, Facebook posts, Twitter comments, and our own participation in other organizations.

For instance, in ASAE, diversity is a huge issue and focus point. The DELP program offers a group of diverse individuals the opportunity to deeply delve into the association management community through education, networking, and recognition. Does your association offer a similar program? For Rotary International, there are clubs in areas with a diverse potential membership base. At a recent District Rotary Membership program, attendees were provided with ways to attract and engage members from diverse cultures and then to embrace them within the club. One factor that was extremely insightful for me was that the clubs were not expected to “change” the members but expand the club to include them. This might mean understanding the differences in the cultures – what a great educational opportunity for everyone!

I just started reading CRUCIAL CONVERSATIONS: Tools for talking when the stakes are high. "Step out of the content of the conversation" is one of the suggestions - for seeing body language, the location of the conversation, etc. Too often we listen for what we want to hear and then speak on that instead of actually hearing the words and their meaning. Is that what we do with our members?

Another example might be the recent NETFLIX pricing re-structure. Although a for-profit company, their customers are similar to members – paying a fee for a benefit. When Netflix changed the pricing, there was a very vocal response to the change. Can associations learn from this – how should it have been communicated to customers, how should customers reactions been considered, etc. Associations often change a program or a benefit –and they change because of a small number of members’ opinion, a Board decision, or a staff decision – without verifying that the membership or community as a whole wanted the change. And even is the change is required, are members allowed the opportunity to voice their concerns before implementation – or does it happen after the fact?

As association professionals, we need to be alert for new ideas, new concepts, and new opportunities from a variety of sources. Don’t be afraid of considering incorporating something from outside the association world into your association planning – you might be very pleased by the results."

If you attended the session, or attended another session that you feel strongly that others should learn about, please comment or let Linda or Erik know. We'd enjoy hearing your opinion and maybe even giving you the opportunity to post it on this blog.

If you'd like to reach out to Linda, here is her contact information:

Linda Chreno, CAE, IOM
Direct: 510.352.8197 - CA
Direct 703.706.0339 - VA
Twitter: lindachreno

Experts in Membership Marketing is written by Erik D. Schonher, Vice President, Marketing General Incorporated. You can reach Erik by calling (703) 706-0358,, FB & LinkedIn.

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