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Which Sacred Cow is Next for Your Business Association?

Posted by Curt Moss on Mar 6, 2012 7:41:00 PM

What sacred cows can your business association do without?You've heard of the book "Sacred Cows Make the Best Burgers," right?  What things are you doing today that seem a "must do" that you can stop doing to help you serve your members more effectively?   Or, what changes can you make that will help your organization adapt and thrive

Social media – and technology in general - has made it easier than ever for business associations, chambers of commerce and membership organizations to reach more of your audience more often AND when and where they wanted to be contacted.

Not that long ago, just about every association and chamber of commerce mailed a printed newsletter to their members each month.  Some associations sent multiple mailings to their member each month. When I worked at the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, we had a dedicated server just to send broadcast faxes to our members. (Seems almost silly now, doesn't it?)

Largely, business associations have killed off the once-sacred cows of sending faxes and creating multiple mailings each month.  Why?  Expense is certainly one reason, but effectiveness and timeliness are more to blame. 

Websites and email became the spur-of-the-moment communications tool.  They could reach a much greater audience at a fraction of the cost of mailings. They could also contain much more current information - and they were more effective.

Membership database sofware has migrated to web-based software as a service, too.  At one time, it seemed like you simply had to run your assocation management software on a server in your office.  As your need to access your data from anywhere increased - and thereby serve your members more effectively - more and more associations have moved to online membership software.  Once again, it was more effective to have an online membership database.

The first wave of social media use included 4 main ways that business associations engaged their audience.  Just three years ago 75% of marketers said they used the social media quartet of:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Blogs

While those technology platforms are still in great use today, some associations are phasing out their blogging efforts or other communications to focus on newer communications tools such as:

  • Google+
  • Pinterest
  • Tumblr
  • Texting/SMS
  • Mobile Apps

I've even heard that some membership organizations are replacing email with text messaging and Facebook or Twiter updates.  Membership database software is evolving to replace or integrate with third party communications tools, helping assocations be more efficient and more effective when reaching their audience.

But, we can't simply keep adding more things to do.   If we add new services, programs or benefits, something else needs to go away.  What items could you remove to help you focus on other higher-benefit programs?

  • Events - Could you deliver more value with online webinars and electronic resource guides?
  • Email - Can you better communicate with updates to your website combined with text messaging and Facebook or Twitter updates?
  • Printed newsletters - Many associations have already stopped printed newsletters.  Can you deilver more relevant and more timely information in other ways?
  • Printed recources in general - Can you create electronic documents that can be updated and delivered to members with little additional expense?
  • Physical offices - Almost three years ago, the Goleta CA Chamber of Commerce went "virtual" with their office and have never looked back.

What sacred cows is your association removing this year?

Topics: Membership Marketing & Technology


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