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Why Certifications Matter

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, May 21, 2019
By Rebecca Brandt, CAE, Account Executive, Executive Director, Inc. 

Coincidentally, the pencil I grabbed to draft my outline for this article conveniently reads, “Create your future. Earn your CAE.” The fact that I grabbed a pencil for this clearly indicates a preference to old-school ways. Despite them, I remain eager to stay on top of industry trends and best practices. Maintaining my CAE is one way of accomplishing this goal. 

I am fortunate to work for an AMC that heavily supports its employees to pursue professional certifications. The comradery and pride among staff who are working towards the goal of a certification (CAE, CMP or another) is palatable. Cultivating this sense of togetherness is one reason to encourage your team members to pursue professional certifications. 

Pursuing a certification is an excellent opportunity to encourage mentorship within your AMC. The learning process that takes place prior to a certification exam is an experience that cannot be matched by taking a course. It is a great equalizer, allowing junior staff to have an opportunity to mentor veteran staff as well. And staff that have recently taken the exam are able to share their knowledge of the process and content. It is common knowledge that one of the best ways to learn material is to teach it. Individuals that may not work closely together within your AMC structure are brought together by working to achieve a common goal and those individuals become future sounding boards. 

Of course, having staff that are certified in their specialties will serve as a value-added or recruitment tool for new clients. The broad knowledge and deep understanding that is needed to obtain certification enhances your overall product and service offerings. Having a team that has pursued the highest level of knowledge in their position demonstrates a commitment to excellence, professionalism and continued learning. When considering different AMCs, a potential client can use professional certifications as a metric, especially if the client’s industry takes particular value in them, too. 

Supporting staff in their pursuit of professional development goals is a key factor in employee retention. Employees across generations have demonstrated interest in continuing to advance their education and it is especially important for Millennials and Gen X employees. Creating a professional development plan for your team members produces security, purpose, and provides them with a goal. Reminding your employees to be aware that the certification journey is just as important as the destination enables customization for these plans that can be accomplished on a timeline set by both the employee and AMC. Racing through the certification process will not afford the same outcome as taking time to deliberately select the appropriate programs to prepare someone for the exam. It’s critical to ensure the information is retained and used practically. Supporting certification is an investment at the beginning of the process, but the support for continuing education to maintain certifications must to continue to really enable the employee, team, and clients to benefit. 

I studied for the CAE as a brand new Executive Director and it was an excellent guide to the position. Not the designation itself, but the learning process. Of course, now having the CAE provides me a level of confidence in my knowledge and experience. I am grateful for the CAEs I have within our team that I can turn to for discussion on industry best practices when my client faces a challenge. So, as my pencil says, through earning and maintaining my CAE I am continually creating the future I desire within association management. Supporting your employees’ goals of earning a professional certification will similarly guide the future of your AMC.

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10 Easy Ways to Promote Your Call for Papers

Posted By Administration, Thursday, May 16, 2019
Are you looking for creative ways to attract the best speakers and content contributors to your event? If so, you’re not alone! Many struggle with this same challenge.

One sure fire way to improve the quality of speakers at your next conference is to create a larger pool of applicants. Take a look at this infographic by OmniPress to learn 10 easy ways to promote your call for papers.  

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Top Ways to Skyrocket Revenue in 2019 and Beyond

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 15, 2019

As leaders, you are responsible for brainstorming ideas on how to meet and exceed new revenue goals. How much are you expected to increase revenue in 2019? 5, 10 or 15 percent? Luckily, you are not alone and we are here to help!

Community Brands partners with over 13,000 associations and nonprofits to help meet and exceed their revenue goals each year. We understand the pain points of needing to generate incremental revenue and, in turn, have created various ways to help you do just that.

In our webinar recording you’ll uncover:

  • The top 5 ways to generate non-dues revenue
  • The pitfalls to avoid when executing these strategies
  • How to increase membership while meeting modern expectations

Community Brands’ solutions help member-based organizations drive growth, engagement, professional development, fundraising and revenue. We are committed to helping you fulfill your mission with modern technology that meet both your members’ and constituents’ expectations. Watch the webinar today!

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What Should You Look For in an AMC?

Posted By Administration, Friday, May 10, 2019

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Cyber Scams and Phishing on the Rise?

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The emails we are receiving offering lists for sale for some of the events we are attending are arriving in our inbox at an unprecedented rate. Just last week we received nearly two dozen emails offering to sell us lists, including our own member list. These are scam emails, usually selling fake lists, with a goal of getting money from you. Here is a great article about the “Eight Reasons Why You Should Never Buy an Email List”. 

AMCI reached out to Hugh Webster, Partner, Webster, Chamberlain & Bean, LLC, to see what we could do as an organization to try to put a stop to the person offering our member list for sale. The long and short of it is, sadly, not much. Hugh did issue a cease and desist on behalf of the Institute and AMCI did report the email to the US Department of Homeland Security Cyber and Infrastructure Division. He also mentioned that more often than not, the scammer is from outside of the US and is not concerned about complying with US laws. Frequently they will simply change their email address and continue their illicit practice.

What can you do? First, don’t engage with these emails. Delete them and move on with your day. Second, if your organization is targeted, you have every right to report it to the authorities. Here are some useful links to make reporting easier.

Finally, rest assured that your data within the AMCI database is safe. We take your privacy very seriously and we do not ever sell our members’ information.

We appreciate Hugh’s contributions to this article and diligence on behalf of AMCI and our members. Also, a huge thanks to the members who brought this to our attention. 

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Overcome 3 Content Marketing Roadblocks for Associations

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 9, 2019

by  | AssociationsContent Strategy

A lot has been written about the benefits of content marketing for associations lately. But even if you understand how effective it is, that doesn’t mean you know how to launch a strategy. You might think you need a background in marketing or experience with online advertising before you begin. This isn’t the case. Content marketing doesn’t need to be difficult, especially for associations with existing content. There are, however, some preconceived roadblocks that prevent associations from getting started.

Here are three preconceived roadblocks that can prevent an association from starting an effective content marketing program.

Roadblock #1: Online marketing requires a lot of technical knowledge.
Reality: Online tools make it easier than ever to promote content online

Using the web to market your association can be overwhelming if you’ve never done it before. In practice, though, content marketing can start simply. If you know how to use social media tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, then you already know how to use some of the most powerful tools for promoting your content. If these were the only two tools you used to promote your materials, you’d still be able to reach a large percentage of your audience.

When you are ready to expand beyond your existing social media sites, there are free tools to help you. Content Management Systems like WordPress make it almost as easy to publish a blog post as it is to write a Word doc. Other tools are available to help you manage multiple social media accounts. And there are dozens of options for creating eye-catching images to give your online presence a professional look.

Roadblock #2: It’s complicated to put content on the web

Reality: Using a single site to store your content makes hosting materials easy

Technology has helped here, too. Just like it’s easier than ever to create blog posts and graphics, there are new options that de-mystify hosting content. New tools exist that make it possible to create an online library without having to customize your existing website. A “digital content library” is built specifically for PDFs, PowerPoint presentations and images. It also includes simple options for sharing materials on social media and allows your content to appear in search results...read more

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Making Meetings Harassment Free

Posted By Administration, Friday, April 5, 2019

In the era of “Me Too”, association managers and meeting planners have increased responsibility in ensuring that they have developed -- and are enforcing -- a code of conduct for behavior of the attendees at their meetings. Meetings must be an enjoyable experience for all attendees, free of any kind of harassment. 

While there is no current case law of an association being sued for misconduct of an attendee at their meeting, I understand from a recent conversation with a lawyer colleague that it is just a matter of time before such a case will arise. That means each association has a responsibility to develop a code of expected conduct at society events and then ask each attendee to attest to the code as they are registering for the event. 

One PMG client took an early stand. In 2016, with the help of PMG and legal advice, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) developed a code of conduct that defines harassment and explains its zero-tolerance policy (a copy of the code can be found here). In addition to harassment sexual in nature, the code also prohibits any bullying behavior that can occur in academic research meetings. The policy also clearly outlines a process for reporting a complaint and a description of how a complaint is then to be handled internally.

As many organizations have small, collegial memberships, we recognize the importance of ensuring that neither volunteers of the organization (usually peers) or direct staff manage these complaint reports. At PMG, senior staff within the leadership manages the process of receiving the report and staff or another independent third-party firm (like a law firm or human resources firm) takes responsibility for investigating the complaint and compiling a report to the committee tasked with adjudicating the reports. This process alleviates volunteers of the organization from becoming closely involved with complaints that may come from or be about a colleague. The PMG staff or other third party does its best to keep the identification of the individuals involved confidential. 

One other important aspect of a code of conduct is outlining the levels of repercussions from any founded complaint. It is important to note that just as an organization should not accept reports of misconduct of members or attendees from outside of a society-sponsored event, any punishment from violations of the code of conduct should also be kept confidential within the organization and must relate directly to the organizations’ activities. 

After having the code of conduct in place now for just over two years, the ACNP has dealt with six complaints to date. Several of those stemmed from incidents at meetings prior to the incorporation of the code. Each complaint has been expeditiously reviewed and if deemed a violation to the code, investigated. The Executive Committee of ACNP has reviewed the findings of all investigated cases and has chosen to deal with any sort of repercussions privately rather than getting the Ethics Committee or full Council involved. 

While dealing with these sorts of cases is never pleasant, having a clearly defined code that each attendee has attested to uphold, along with specific steps for dealing with complaints, has shown attendees and members’ expectations for a collegial, harassment-free meeting. *Parthenon Management Group, Inc., a full-service association management company, began in 2008 with two clients and has grown to manage 16 full-service national and international professional association clients. With a staff of 40, PMG’s focus is on medical research associations. The mission of Parthenon Management Group is simple – Help our clients achieve their mission.

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Omnipress Releases 2019 Training Trends Report

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, April 2, 2019

We are excited to announce the release of the 3rd annual Training Trends Report. The report compiles data from an online survey of 100 training and education professionals to understand how education is currently being delivered to learners, and what changes lie ahead. Thank you to those who participated in the survey several months ago! Like our companion State of the Conference Industry Report, the goal of this report is to shed light on common trends and help spark a strategic conversation within your organization. Download the report, and feel free to share with your peers.

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Insights on Strategic Priorities, Growth Outlook and Technology usage

Posted By Administration, Monday, April 1, 2019

Associations with small staffs still face big challenges. They must attract and engage new members and plan for their organizations’ futures. But, what are their top priorities? Are they expecting growth? How are they preparing for the future?

hese are just some of the questions Community Brands set out to answer in a recent survey of professionals from associations with small staffs (10 or fewer). These associations are referred to as “small associations” throughout this report.

The survey was conducted between January and February 2019, and responses came in from more than 350 association professionals.

Of the respondents:
Most are in a leadership position at their association
About 70 percent of their associations have annual revenue of $1 million or less
Most of the associations represented have 5,000 or fewer members
About half of the associations’ revenue comes from membership dues

In this benchmark report, uncover:
The inner workings of small associations
Insights on the strategic priorities, growth outlook and technology usage of small associations
How your organization compares with other small associations
Tips on how to use data from the report to more effectively meet your strategic priorities and grow your organization

Click here to download the report.

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Improving the Member Experience with Data Analytics

Posted By Administration, Monday, March 25, 2019
By Brian Sugarman, Senior Marketing Manager, Association Analytics 

A recent Aberdeen Group report, entitled “Getting Ahead in Customer Analytics: Which Technologies Do You Need to Succeed,” outlined how many organizations struggle because data is captured and stored in disparate, disconnected systems. The problem is that the association tech stack includes numerous tools designed to meet the needs of members that collect data including AMS, websites, email marketing platforms, learning management systems, etc. and these resources are rapidly expanding. On top of these tools, networking and social media services that collect data such as Linkedin, Facebook and Twitter are also being used to connect with members.

The problem today is not a lack of data, but rather the expanding volume of data and ensuring you have the skillset and resources to manage it all. Many organizations still find it hard to use data to inform decision-making and to drive strategy. They’ve made good investments in the data and the technology, but it’s difficult to see the true business impact when data lives siloed across various functions in the organization. 

In response, many organizations have started to invest in robust data analytics platforms to help connect data from different source systems and create a 360-degree view of members. 

By using data analytics platforms, organizations can improve the member experience and make informed, more confident decisions that improve business efficiency and operations. Let’s explore some of the ways associations today are using data analytics to grow revenue, reduce costs, and improve member experience. 

Personalizing Content Based on Member Segments 
It’s no secret that when content is personalized and relevant, we’re more likely to engage. A top leader in marketing automation, Hubspot, concluded, based on their considerable data, that personalized calls-to-action perform 202% better than all others. Corporations are cashing in on this, with companies like Amazon recommending the next purchase based on expressed interests from customers. But it’s not just corporations that can benefit from this, associations can capitalize on this approach, too. 

So how can you get started? The first step is to integrate data into a central repository, so you are looking at a complete and consistent view of your members. Once you have integrated data, you can see the full picture of member behavior, allowing you to perform deeper analysis and segmentation. 

Let’s say you decide to segment members by geographical region and discover that members on the east coast have completely different interests than members on the west coast. Or maybe you look at members by job type, to better understand what topics Managers are searching for compared to Executives. This type of segmentation will depend on the data you collect from your members and what is relevant for your association. The outcome of this type of analysis is that you can drill down into member segments, allowing you to better personalize marketing content and outreach to those segments. 

Social platforms and online communities are examples of where you might find this type of member engagement data. By performing deeper analysis, you can learn more about what your members like or dislike and use that information to create a better experience for them. This can drive more revenue, improve retention and lower costs by improving your marketing effectiveness. Instead of blasting the same message to all members, you can deliver the right message, to the right member, at the right time. 

Improving the Event Experience
When planning and looking to increase the value in events, it is important to draw on what worked and what was less successful in the past. In order to successfully do this, more association professionals are looking to perform deeper analysis on the member experience at events. If you can identify ways to improve the event for members, while spending less money, the result is a much higher profit margin for your association. Here’s a few key ways associations are using data to improve events:
  1. Reduce Waste, Increase Conversions
    Marketing effectiveness is dramatically improved when using data to influence strategy. One example of this is employing predictive analytics to examine which member segments are most likely to register for your event. This enables you to target your marketing resources to your best prospects and avoid expending effort on those that are unlikely to attend the event. For example, using predictive analytics associations can segment members that have a very high percentage to attend this year (based on historical data) and therefore, might need to see different advertisements than those who are on the fence about coming to an event. Likewise, if a member is in a segment that has a very low percentage of attending, you should allocate marketing spend on segments with a higher conversion opportunity. Associations want to find the segments in the middle, those who have the highest likelihood of being influenced by advertising to come to the event. This strategy has helped associations to reduce their marketing spend, while increasing event registrations.

  2. Improve content relevancy
    How do we know which content is most relevant to our members? The best way is to look at the data and see which topics are most relevant to each of our member segments. Associations are using things like sentiment analysis from channels like Twitter to better understand which event sessions or topics are well-received by their members. They’re using this data to then improve on the member experience by providing more targeted and relevant information.

  3. Improve the registration experience
    Is your organization performing deep analysis of the event registration process? Another way to grow more revenue for your event is to analyze data on the registration experience to better understand where members are frustrated in the process. Associations have found that by analyzing this information they can make changes to the registration process to reduce friction and increase participation.
What’s next? 
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to analyzing data and you’d be surprised what insights and value you’ll discover when you dig a bit deeper. Think about how you can utilize organized and complete data to lower operational costs, drive revenue, improve the member experience and engagement and then begin to explore what systems are best for your organizational needs. 

Not sure how to get started? Association Analytics has created a free assessment -- the Data Analytics Maturity Model -- that can help you benchmark your organization and provide actionable next steps and recommendations. We’re here to help – we work with leading organizations and can help you get started on your data analytics journey.

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