30
Jun
15

Bonus content – Event Garde e-news – July edition

Allison McClintick

Allison McClintick, CEO/leader development specialist, FlightLead Consulting

Q & A with Allison McClintick, CEO/leader development specialist, FlightLead Consulting

Q: Would you rather sky dive, bungee jump or climb to the top of the Golden Gate Bridge, and why?
A: If the goal is to put myself into cardiac arrest, I would say all three! All those choices seem equally terrifying because I am totally not OK with being in the air like that! I would rather check out all the sacred Native American sites in America or camp in Yellowstone or tour all of America’s national parks! When it comes to adventure, I am a “feet on the ground” girl!

Q: It’s almost 4th of July! Which type of firework best represents your life?
A: I am split on this one. A very real part of me would be best represented by an M-80 – you know the ones that just go off and sound like a bomb? I can be very aggressive, loud and startling! The other part of me would love to be represented by a colorful sparkler – long-lasting, non-threatening and fun to hold and run around with!

Q: If you could live your life as an animal, what would you be, and why?
A: I would be very curious to live out my life as a dolphin. These animals are wicked smart and I feel there is a whole world of mystery and magic down there that we don’t know about. Their language is so complex – scientists say they may have even more evolved intuition and emotional intelligence than humans. That would be incredible! And because I feel like two totally different people in my life, I would not hate being on a wild horse in the 1800s Wild West. How amazing would that be?

Q: Again… it’s almost a holiday, so what’s your favorite picnic food?
A: The only reason why I don’t eat certain picnic foods is because they are usually awful for you. But everyone knows that calories don’t count on a holiday, so bring it!

Q: If I were writing a book about your life, what would the title be, and why?
A: Oh, this is easy. “Rebel With a Cause.” I am a serious pain in the neck. I have never done things the way people expect; I have always fought against conformity in its many manifestations; and I feel pretty comfortable with what I was put here to do. I don’t intentionally set out to be a rebel, but it has always worked out that way! Only took me 39 years to figure out how to make it work out for me!

23
Jun
15

Us vs. them

member_engagement_retentionWe hear it all the time: We live in a “me” society. Most of us, at some point, have asked, “What’s in this for me?

Associations aren’t any different. Think about it: How many associations want to boost revenue by hoping their members buy more? How many times have we wished we could just get more volunteers?

In other words, we ask, “How can we get our members to do what we want them to do?”

Newsflash: It’s not about us. It’s about them.

“Unfortunately, while we’ve been busily building and marketing the programs, products and services we think our audiences might like, the world has changed,” write Elizabeth Weaver Engel, CEO & chief strategist, Spark Consulting LLC, and Anna Caraveli, managing partner, The Demand Networks LLC, in their new whitepaper. “In 2015, customers are looking for more than a transaction; they’re looking for custom solutions that can be constructed only through authentic relationships of the type, duration and intensity they—not you—want.

Focusing on member engagement, Engel and Caraveli provide some guidance for associations to transform their thinking: Instead of defining engagement as what they value, associations should be asking how they can help their members accomplish their goals.

Here are some “what-ifs” for associations to consider:

  • What if, instead of membership and product sales, our goal was to enable members to achieve the outcomes that matter most to them?
  • What if, instead of looking inward to try to build the perfect product, we looked outward to our audiences, interacting with them to understand their needs and experiences?
  • What if, instead of viewing members as passive consumers of our benefits and programs, we worked with them as co-developers of the value our associations provide?
  • What if, we gave up control and encouraged our audiences to define the terms of their own involvement with us

And yes, sometimes this means competition.

Elizabeth Engel, CEO and chief strategist for Spark Consulting, LLC.

Elizabeth Engel, CEO and chief strategist for Spark Consulting, LLC.

The key is to figure out how your association, better than other organizations, can truly engage members and potential members. Thanks to 24-7 access to information, simply being experts in a field won’t cut it anymore. Your members can find information anytime, anywhere, with a click of mouse.

So how do associations compete? They should use their networks to build engaging communities and to listen to their members’ collective voice to learn what really matters, the whitepaper suggests. Associations should ask: What do our members really want to succeed? What are the needs and issues we can help address?

“Adopting the outside-in approach to engagement means your sole goal is to create value for members,” Engel and Caraveli said. “Everything else (program categories, mix of benefits, organizational structure) can be questioned, transformed or even eliminated as long as doing so solves your audiences’ problems and creates value that engages them.”

Some tips:

  • Ask people to contribute. Don’t just create products, events and resources you think people want. Instead, engage your members’ skill sets. Ask them to help create value.
  • Work toward providing your members’ goals – not your own. Get rid of the things that aren’t working and instead focus on those that are. The most engaged members are those who feel you truly care about their personal and professional development.
  • Include everyone, from every department, in your engagement strategy. It shouldn’t just be the job of the membership department. This means breaking down internal silos. It’s important for everyone to work as a team, rather than people looking out for themselves. Sometimes this means getting rid of the fat.
  • Act – don’t just talk. If you ask for members’ feedback, truly mean it. Be willing to make suggested changes. Remember: It’s not about sales; it’s about your members’ success.

It’s not easy, and it may require an entire shift of focus. Simply put: Associations may have to dump the old and bring in the new.

Anna Caraveli

Anna Caraveli, managing partner, The Demand Networks, LLC

But it’s worth it.

“Properly understood, engagement is nothing more or less than the development of real relationships with our members and other audiences,” Engel and Careveli wrote. “Authentic relationships take time to develop, involve increasing commitment on both sides, require us continually to be learning more about each other and are focused on helping each other achieve important goals. Through the process of developing genuine relationships, associations become necessary partners in helping our audiences achieve their most important goals, and we achieve our goals—to be financially healthy, vital, growing, mission-driven organizations—as a result.”

16
Jun
15

Is it time for an event sponsorships makeover?

Tara Ericson

Tara Ericson, group vice president at Naylor Association Solutions

This month’s guest blog post is by Tara Ericson, group vice president for Naylor Association Solutions, where she oversees group publishers and specialized industry market teams. It was originally published on Association Adviser.

Do you have a three-tiered (platinum, gold, silver) event sponsorship offering? Have you offered the same sponsorship opportunities year after year? Is your sponsorship revenue stagnant or declining?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, your exhibit and event sponsorship offerings may need a facelift.

Experts say 85 percent of a trade show’s revenue comes from selling exhibit space. The other 15 percent comes from sponsorship and advertising. According to Velvet Chainsaw, however, associations are shifting more effort into capitalizing on trade show sponsorships and advertising in response to vendors’ desires to reach potential customers in more meaningful, creative ways. Furthermore, vendors are relying on associations to come up with those creative ways to reach attendees before making a sponsorship investment.

If you’re already responsible for multiple parts of planning and executing an event, your sponsorships are likely on auto drive, and a total reinvention probably seems daunting. But don’t let the idea of reinventing sponsorships intimidate you. Here are five tips for growing your event sponsorship revenue.

Customization is in demand.

Based on the 2014 Association Benchmarking Report, only 42.8 percent (of association executives surveyed) said they were trying to customize their advertising/sponsorship programs to a company’s specific needs, and only 10.1 percent fully customize each sponsorship opportunity.

We encourage you to take a more sponsor-centric approach when developing your event sponsorship offerings. Building flexibility into your event sponsorship campaign allows the sponsor to tailor its messaging and branding more effectively toward your attendees.

Divide your sponsor prospects into different buckets to segment those prospects who are most likely to participate in a customized event sponsorship package. Use a consultative sales strategy in which you try to match your association’s event objectives and education track with your sponsor’s objectives and branding.

A good example of a customized of sponsorship might look like this: An event sponsor purchases a sponsorship package that includes a full-page ad in the association’s magazine, adjacent to an article related to its industry segment, that runs prior to the trade show. The ad directs readers to the sponsor’s booth. At the event, the sponsorship package includes signage at a specific education session that reaches the sponsor’s targeted attendees, permission to distribute a leave-behind, such as a key for each attendee, at the education sessions that will unlock a prize at the sponsor’s booth, and an online banner in the event’s daily e-newsletter.

Keep it fresh.

Associations that host events always need to look for and offer the next new thing in sponsorships to keep their event fresh for vendors. Combine innovative ideas with unique sponsorship opportunities to create new sponsorship revenue streams.

  • Main Lobby DJ Sponsorship: Music creates great ambiance, especially if it’s happy and upbeat. This approach allows the sponsor to have signage on the DJ table and to insert its own audio commercial every 10 minutes.
  • Cocktail Ice Luge Sponsorship: Sculpted ice structure with the association logo and sponsor logo. This provides great exposure in a fun and entertaining environment.
  • Product Developers Reception: An invitation-only gathering held during the larger show, at which guests hand-picked by the sponsor for their interest in the sponsor’s products can view a prototype and speak with the sponsor about its offerings.

Go REALLY BIG.

Have two or three high profile, exclusive sponsorship opportunities for vendors willing to invest a large sum to reach your members. Too often associations shy away from asking for the big dollars for fear of upsetting their membership or a lack of confidence that they will sell. But if you don’t offer it, you will never know if you are leaving money on the table.

The key to successfully selling these event sponsorships is to keep them big, loud and exclusive, which can be fun for you and for the vendor.

These loud sponsorship opportunities should come with the honor of having the sponsors’ brand in every single part of your event. Make a huge splash with marquee sponsorships so your vendor is portrayed as the king of the event, and no one is left to wonder who the premier sponsor was.

RT_SPONSORSHIPBut don’t forget the little guys!

While going big with your top sponsors, don’t forget to create some low-budget options for new companies entering the marketplace or for companies of any size that haven’t been doing business with you.

Associations should work with sponsors to find a price point that is mutually agreeable when introducing new event sponsorship offerings or when working with a first-time sponsor. However, if you offer a discounted rate, always note the original price on the invoice and reflect the savings so your sponsor will anticipate having to pay the full price upon renewal.

Give sponsors what they really want

Your greatest asset is your membership, and your sponsors are willing to pay for time with members. Sponsors appreciate the branding opportunities that signage and swag offer, but being able to talk directly with their target market is the most coveted benefit your custom sponsorships can offer. Meeting with vendors at events saves members some legwork and often creates awareness of solutions they didn’t know exist. Incorporate access to your members into your sponsorship packages through appointment-based sessions, promotional emails, print and digital media, VIP cocktail parties and speaking opportunities.

09
Jun
15

Time to breathe…and think long-term

Strategy-Small1Meeting professionals are some of the busiest people I know.

But thanks to periods of economic stability, for the first time in a decade, these always-on-go folks will have time to take a breath and think strategically, according to Meeting Professionals International’s Meetings Outlook, 2015 Spring Edition. It was developed in partnership with Visit Denver.

This year has been, and will continue to be, defined by intelligent growth for the meetings and events industry, the report found.

For starters, 60 percent of survey respondents predict an increase in live events, while 56 percent predict an increase in virtual events. Part of the reason: Young professionals are realizing the value of face-to-face networking.

Other key findings:

  • 74 percent of those surveyed predict better business conditions.
  • Industry professionals plan to use mobile apps more strategically this year, including location-based technology for session check-ins and networking.
  • Budgets are still a concern, so organizations plan to host more local meetings, compress meetings into shorter times and increase use of technology.

“It takes opportunity, resources and the desire to be able to think strategically to consider how to improve relationships and to be smarter with how folks use the tools in their toolbox,” said Bill Voegeli (MPI Georgia Chapter), president of Association Insights — the company that conducts the Meetings Outlook research. “Now is one of those rare times.”

While this is good news, opportunities also bring challenges. For instance, it’s a sellers’ market, so meeting professionals will need to contend with shorter lead times. As such, pop-up meetings are becoming more common. And sometimes, when attendance is low, venues tack on charges.

shaking-handsIn addition, with the increase in live events comes the need to build face-to-face communication skills (much tougher than communicating behind a screen).

Budgets are increasing, but with a planned uptick in live events, resources won’t go as far. At the same time, food and beverage costs have increased, so organizations will need to come up with creative budget solutions (i.e. purchasing their own AV equipment, rather than renting from a venue.) The key: During budget planning, think long-term and out of the box.

It’s an exciting time for meeting professionals, and to help foster success, MPI lists some tips in its report:

  • Offer attendees more engagement while gathering more data through your apps to help inform future meeting design.
  • Crowdsource: Publicly display social media posts from attendees, such as comments and photos.
  • Make your eRFPs pop with clear details, and consider working with CVBs to streamline the process.

“All of this is opening a new era for meetings, as attendee behavior data is going to explode — and it will help in shaping meeting design in multiple areas,” said Christian Savelli, senior director of business intelligence and research for MPI.

What do you think? Does your organization have a strategic plan? Are you doing things differently? Let us know.

03
Jun
15

Is your organization mobile app ready?

Whether or not your association currently utilizes a mobile app for its annual meeting or as part of a larger, annual engagement strategy, the question remains: Just how ready is your organization to deploy a mobile app?

Recently, I had the opportunity to utilize my mobile app prowess – as a former education director and current learning strategist – to partner with mobile engagement company Results at Hand to develop a simple, 16-question Mobile App Readiness Assessment.

Today, you are invited to take part in this brief assessment at no cost to you. With only 16 questions to answer, you’ll receive a unique score and relevant resources tailored to your results immediately upon completion. Assessment topics include intended audience, preferred features, adoption rationale and more.

The results from this assessment will be used to draw conclusions about the current state of mobile practices within the association community, and will offer thoughtful insights and actionable recommendations that may be used by organizations like yours in future benchmarking and strategic planning efforts.

1367683_origThere is no compensation for responding to this assessment; however, all respondents who complete it are eligible for a complimentary copy of the final report resulting from this research. If you choose to participate, please answer all questions as honestly and as completely as possible. Participation is strictly voluntary and you may discontinue participation at any time. Completion of the assessment will indicate your willingness to participate in this study.

Thank you, in advance, for taking part in this valuable research. Should you have questions or require additional information, please contact me.

To begin, click this link. As you complete the assessment, please select the one response—unless otherwise indicated—that best describes your answer to each question. All reported data will be shared in aggregate form only. No individual data will be released.

Thank you again for your participation. We look forward to sharing the results with you later this year. In the meantime, if you’re craving more mobile resources, check out these 17 Stats for the Mobile Skeptic or these 2015 Strategic Mobile Trends for Associations and Event Leaders.

28
May
15

Bonus Content – Event Garde e-news – June edition

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q & A with Amanda Toy, associate director of sales, Greater Lansing Convention & Visitors Bureau

Q: It’s a beautiful summer day in Michigan. What would we most likely find you doing? 
A: I hear it is supposed to be nice, mild weather this summer: my favorite! You will either find me taking adventurous walks with the kiddos at one of Greater Lansing’s awesome parks or enjoying a cool summer drink on the back deck with my hubby.

Q: Would you rather swim in a pool, lake or ocean…and why? 
A: If I can see my toes, I vote for the lake!  There is nothing that shouts “Pure Michigan” like wading around in one of our GREAT lakes.

Q: What’s your favorite summer vacation spot?
A: Kayaking is the best (usually with a kiddo riding along).  So relaxing!

Q: If you could be a summer cocktail, what would your name be and what would you taste like?
A: “Summer Chill!”  Mint, gin, sprite, raspberries and blueberries.

Q: What’s your favorite summer smell? Summer taste? Summer feel?
A: Smelling the lilacs in spring reminds me of the green, warm summer right around the corner. BBQ chicken with fresh fruit is a summer must. I’m not one who likes to be hot, so a cool breeze on an early morning walk is the best feeling of summer!




meet aaron

Association learning strategist & meetings coach. Founder & president of Event Garde. Passionate about cooking, running, blogging, old homes, unclehood & pet parenting (thanks to Lillie the pup).

meet kristen

Writer, editor, public relations professional. Digital content manager. Proud mom of three. Total word geek. Spartan for life.

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