This was my first year at ASAE Annual but it certainly won’t be my last. I got to meet and make so many association friends as well as gain a lot of valuable information. I recall overhearing one association professional talk about how ASAE Annual is like going to church or temple – you already know what you need to be doing but conference is a nice reminder. As a total newbie I was starting from scratch and taking lots of notes, jumping from different sessions, etc. I wanted to share with you some of the things I overheard in the sessions that really stood out to me that I couldn’t live tweet fast enough. In the comments, let me know your favorite quotes or tweets from ASAE Annual Conference & Expo 2013!
New and Young Association Professionals Roundtable:
The first session I attended was the roundtable discussion with the new and young association professionals. The session attendees were full of energy and the discussion was one of the best I’ve ever been involved in. Young association professionals had a lot to say, especially when the asked, “what advice would you give your CEO if you could?” Here were a few of their responses:
“We have a technical skill set, and can make a process better [with technology]. Take advantage as millennials.”
“ASAE gets me out of the trenches and lets me look at everything from a five thousand-foot level.”
The Art of Membership:
This session with Sheri Jacobs discussed the principles of membership that can help associations thrive. I loved that the session incorporated a lot of marketing ideas, because at the end of the day, engaging current and potential members is rooted in marketing.
“Importance of “FREE.” Price has a huge impact on buying decisions made today… For example, think about the concept of Free Shipping versus 20 cent shipping.” (Amazon recently did a little A/B test on their shipping rates to see how buyers would respond to free vs. cheap shipping. Once Amazon implemented the free shipping offer, sales went up in every country except one – France. France was the “B” test market and charged €0.20. Once Amazon instituted their free shipping policy in every market, France also saw a dramatic increase in sales.) The point? What can your association offer “free,” that can add value to your membership and increase sales of complimentary products?
“Members often join as a result of hearing a peer talk about their experience. Do you travel without checking out TripAdvisor first? Those aren’t even expert reviews!”
“Kodak is a perfect example of a company that didn’t pay attention to outside competition. Instead of thinking ‘What else takes photos?’ they should have been thinking ‘What else captures the moment?’ Consider who else offers the solutions you sell? Not just the products!”
Flip That Association: Going from Data Zero to Data Hero:
Data is often the most difficult topic for an association to approach and this session tackled the good, the bad, and the ugly of data. The focus was looking at data from all angles and utilizing data to make decisions within your organization. However, the presenters made a point to warn attendees about the dangers of data. The takeaway? Before making decisions based on data gathered, look to see if you can connect the dots. Look at the big picture.
“Need data transparency – talk about the elephant in the room, that is, ‘data results’.”
“Data collector or data connector?”
“Find patterns with data. Simple example, you see that your retention rates are decreasing once you started making the transition from print magazine sales to digital magazine sales. Conclusion: Your members preferred the print edition.”
“Use data to know your audience, and as a result, retention and ROI.”
“Hire a third-party Data Researcher to eliminate the possibility of bias.”
Conversation that Matters: Relationships that Work at the Board Level:
Coming from the nonprofit sector I loved hearing this discussion about some of the issues association professionals face with their Board. I know that often the relationship between the staff and the Board is a difficult one, and often a power struggle. I found the conversation to be a great reminder on why we have a Board.
“Being on the Board should be viewed as a learning and growing opportunity, not a position.”
“The CEO should simply be a mentor to the Board President.”
“Small staff associations need to have a committee model for support.”
“Committees draft the RFP and select the options, but the CEO and staff are responsible for selection and follow through.”
Organizational Culture Based on a Twitter Hashtag:
Walking into this session (a bit late), I made the terrible assumption that it was just about online communities; I wasn’t too far off though. Robert Barnes from Fitness Australia talked about how he created a team culture within his organization with the hashtag #TeamCool. He spoke on why culture surpasses strategy (hint: it helped change their performance management process and engage in more experimenting).
“The key to good team culture is being highly self aware.”
“Culture first, job second.”
“PSP – Personal Success Plan: Help employees; give them the opportunity to conquer personal goals, not just organizations goals.”
“Clarity on culture is often what is missing, not lack of culture.”
“Not just the vibe, but the result of the vibe – it’s sustainable even after the visionary leaders leave. Culture is still there.”
“Act and then learn. Proceed until apprehended.”
If you missed this year’s American Society for Association Executives’ Annual Conference, or have never attended, I would strongly encourage you to attend a future conference. As a first time attendee, I feel like I gained more perspective in 4 days than I have in my previous 4 years working in the association and nonprofit world! If you attended, I’d love to hear what stood out most to you – from the sessions to the association marketplace to the networking events – what was your takeaway?
A relative newbie to the eLearning scene, Sarah is no stranger to the association and non-profit world. Before joining the “dark side,” Sarah served as a marketing and communications specialist at various organizations including the American Lung Association and the Association of Corporate Contribution Professionals. Today, Sarah serves as Digitec’s Digital Marketing Coordinator or “SM Queen” for short. In her new role, Sarah enjoys blogging, tweeting and sharing membership engagement tips for association professionals. Sarah earned certificates in non-profit and volunteer management as well as a B.A. in media and communications from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL.
Spirit animal: Lion
Comfort object: Sunglasses
Personal vice: #longhashtags ;)
Useless talent: Can fall asleep in seconds
Unreasonable paranoia: Tsunamis
Wishes more people cared about: Recycling and the environment