Thursday, January 2, 2014

Caroline Fuchs is my guest blogger today. She says that it’s simple, just ask your members.

Happy New Year!

I asked a very good friend of mine, Caroline H. Fuchs, CAE, who is the Senior Director of Marketing for the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, to present just a few tidbits of "things" she learned in 2013. 

I think that you'll find her observations interesting and useful as we charge into 2014.

It’s been said before in this blog, but it is so true—sometimes all you have to do is ask. The simple act of asking members or constituents what they think and what motivates them accomplishes so much. A survey engages individuals who read and respond, it demonstrates the association’s interest in how members feel about a topic, and it provides valuable information for future decision-making.

The Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) conducted a quick survey through its email system to better understand why members did not attend the annual conference. We were extremely pleased with the level of engagement and the value of the information.

With hopes of adding value to your next survey, I’d like to share some of the results and lessons learned.

Incentives work—an 11% response rate was achieved with the help of a free annual conference registration prize drawing. The prize winner was ecstatic about attending in 2014.

Interest confirmed—the survey validated the appeal of the conference. In addition to the overwhelmingly positive comments, we found that conference content was perceived as “robust and topical.”

Dollars talk—the highest deterrent to attendance was cost. Correspondingly, we learned that the ability to obtain the funding from employers (the primary funder) was difficult, with 62% stating that it was not a budgeted item and 57% unable to obtain approval to participate.

Data can lie—we learned that the 2013 location was influential in the decision by some members NOT to attend. Surprisingly, this contradicted attendee data that supported the location when dates were set five years ago. The lesson here? Keep asking questions.

Make changes—as a result of the survey, APIC enhanced the registration options, including a group discount. We also started promotion early, using postcards and emails to remind members to budget for the next conference. And the 2014 website will prominently feature attendance justification materials.

But perhaps the most mission-confirming information came from an open-ended question about “other programs and conferences you attended this year” where we heard that APIC events were, by far, the most frequently attended educational events. Wow. Talk about feeling like we make a difference.

So, ask your members. It’s simple.