30 June 2009

Arlington Rap

EVERYONE has already seen this, but it gets funnier every time you watch it.




29 June 2009

Your Meetings Suck

But they don't have to.

(I don't mean your Annual Meeting, of course. If that sucks, you have MUCH bigger problems, particularly given current economic conditions. I mean those 2 hour snooze fests where 50% of your staff sits around the table in your conference room trying desperately to look interested, while one person blathers on and the other 50% thank The Powers That Be that they were spared attendance.)

A few of my favorite tips to help your meetings ROCK!
  • No informational meetings. I mean it! If you don't have questions to ask that require discussion to answer, send a memo. Send an email. Send a tweet. Send a gorilla-gram. But DO NOT send a meeting invitation!
  • Participants. Have the right people - and ONLY the right people - in the room. Do you have more than one representative per department involved? Unless there's something truly unique about their individual perspectives, don't invite both of them. Don't invite people just to cover your ass, or so their feelings won't be hurt. Their feelings will be MORE hurt by spending 30+ hours a week in meetings they didn't need to attend in the first place.
  • Agenda. Have one. Even if it's a regularly scheduled meeting. Especially if it's a regularly scheduled meeting, which tend to quickly devolve into informational meetings. In fact, if it's a regularly scheduled meeting and you have no agenda, cancel it. And if your agenda has more than about 3 items per hour of scheduled meeting, you need to cut back, because you will NOT get through everything. And think twice before scheduling a meeting that's more than 2 hours. People can't concentrate for that long.
  • Questions. Remember the no informational meetings rule? You should walk into any meeting with a list of questions you need the group you've gathered to discuss and, perhaps, answer. After all, if you're just conveying information, you sent a memo, right? And if you just need one person's thoughts, you went to that person and talked to her directly, right?
  • Listening. Who should do the majority of the talking? If you say, "Me Me Me! It's all about me!", review the above point. You're there to ask questions and facilitate discussion. That means less talking, more listening. And make sure you've asked someone you trust to take notes, because it's really hard to facilitate a discussion AND take good notes at the same time.
  • Action Items. Gathering a bunch of people in a room for an hour or two is expensive - salaries+benefits, snacks, opportunity costs. You better make damn sure that when you leave, everyone knows what her marching orders are and when they're supposed to be fulfilled. Sending a follow up email to all the meeting participants with "this is what we all agreed we'd do, this is who agreed to do each thing, and this is when we agreed it would be done by" earns you a gold star.
  • Good Human Treats. If all else fails, provide food and beverages (preferably caffeinated).
Got any favorite tips to convene like a rockstar? Share 'em in the comments.


26 June 2009

Friday Top 5

This is *such* a great time of the year for fresh produce. My top 5 favorite things to find at the farmer's market:
  1. Sour cherries
  2. Fresh figs
  3. Heirloom tomatoes
  4. Local peaches
  5. Squash blossoms
The DC Metro area is positively swarming with farmer's markets, so get your locavore on!


25 June 2009

The Wisdom of Engineers, Part 1

My dad's an engineer. My brother's an engineer. My spouse is an engineer. I'm surrounded by super-smart DISC profile "C" types.

Ever in a situation you really don't know how to fix/resolve? Apply one of my very favorite principles from the engineering world:

"What is the simplest thing that could possibly work?"

Follow the link above to enjoy a very fun, very geeky dissection of this idea. But for me, it all comes down to:

  • You get done sooner
  • Your work is easier to communicate
  • You feel less stress

(shout out to Kent Beck for the list, excerpted above)


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24 June 2009

What I'm Reading

  • 5 Tips for Brand Marketing on Twitter. Short, sweet, useful, to the point. YAY!
  • And, of course, for every good post on Twitter/social media, there's always a new "everybody panic" post.
  • Speaking of branding, Seth Godin reminds us to stop circling the big domino.
  • Coverage of the terrible accident on Metro's Red Line Monday night. My thoughts are with all the victims and their families.
  • The FTC is cracking down on bloggers who get free stuff in return for favorable reviews and Technosailor has an interesting opinion piece. Not that this has ever been an issue for me (tiny subscriber base), but it seems REALLY sketchy to me.
  • Reading a lot of email replies to a call for volunteers to populate the membership topics in Associapedia. I predict great things by the Annual Meeting in August.
  • Gen X has ideals? Great post at the Hourglass Blog. I haven't weighed in yet because, although I have ideals, I'm not sure I'm ready to attribute them to my entire generation - y'all might not like it!
  • Frank Fortin reminds us not to be penny wise and relationship foolish.
  • Summer issue of NACHRI's Children's Hospitals Today. The issue's not quite online yet, so I can't give you the link, unfortunately, but there's some interesting stuff in there that's helping me get up to speed with my new industry.
  • Making a third stab at The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Does it ever get better? I've never managed to get more than about 50 pages in. Should I stick with it, or just throw in the towel on *ever* reading this book?

23 June 2009

ASAE AM 2009

OK, first let me warn you that this is a little self serving, but....

Are you planning to come to the ASAE Annual Meeting in Toronto in August? Or are you even planning to follow it on Twitter (#ASAE09)?

Then there are 3 sessions you should know about:
  1. What *was* an unssesion and is now a formal session on new business models Sunday afternoon, August 16, at 3:15 pm, Counterintuitive Paths to Success: Upending the Status Quo. Jason Della Rocca will talk about an article he has coming out in the August issue of Associations Now on this topic that details some of his unorthodox experiences at IGDA. Maddie Grant will facilitate. Then a bunch of us are going to facilitate table discussions/exercises. Weigh in on the session and what you think we should do at the tables through the ASAE online community.
  2. Tuesday morning, August 18, at 9 am, Kathy Wilson and I will be talking about Membership Marketing on a Shoestring Budget. She'll relate tales and lessons from her experiences as a small staff association exec, and I'll do the same about my time at APSA and CoSN. If you have particular questions or issues you'd like us to address, once again, join the group on the ASAE online community and let us know what you think!
  3. Tuesday afternoon, August 18, at 12:45 pm (yes, the last damn session), Frances Reimers will moderate a discussion panel consisting of Bob Wolfe, Kevin Whorton and me as we discuss Practice What You Preach: World Class Engagement Strategies. We'll be focusing on our experiences as volunteers and managing volunteers. The awesomely smart Peggy Hoffman has given us some things to think about in preparing for the session, and we'll definitely be asking for official backchannel reps, so even if you can't be there, prep your questions and get ready to tweet!
And of course, if you have thoughts, ideas, questions, suggestions, etc. about any of the above, feel free to post 'em in the comments or hit me back at ewengel at yahoo dot com.


22 June 2009

How do you unplug?

Why do we feel like we have to be "on" all the time? OK, sometimes you genuinely have too much work to do in 40ish hours a week. That was the case for me at one of my previous associations. Small organizations ALWAYS have WAY more hats than heads, and I was so invested in our awesome mission that I kept adding and adding and adding until it burned me out. Sometimes you're working with people in vastly different time zones. I've taken conference calls at times that are pretty wacky from a US East Coast perspective to accommodate clients across the country...or the world. Sometimes, it's part of your known job requirements - you're an obstetrician delivering babies or a network geek running downtimes, and odd hours are part of the package you accepted when you chose that profession.

But what about the rest of us? The woman taking a call during an intimate dinner for two at Citronelle? The guy sending text messages during Radio Golf? The roomful of bloggers tweeting madly throughout Blog Potomac but not actually talking to each other?

As Shashi Bellamkonda pointed out at Blog Potomac last week, virtual connecting can be addictive. It feels like you're making friends and genuinely interacting with people, and, if we're all honest with ourselves, there's a certain degree of ego involved, too: "I'm so important that my organization will crumble if I'm unavailable for 10 minutes" and/or "I'm so interesting that that socnets will skreech to a halt without a constant stream of my pithy observations."

The thing about being "on" all the time is that it can seriously interfere both with our actual face-to-face relationships (and our ability to form and nuture them) and with our ability to really *think* about stuff. We're not multitasking mavens - we're just distracted...all the time.

So, as I tweeted during Shashi's presentation:
  • Do you unplug?
  • How do you know where/when is appropriate to be plugged in/unplugged?
  • How and when?
One person - @lalamax - responded: Take a real lunch - no phone, no computer.

My general unplugging guidelines include:
  • Unplug when face to face with someone - no taking calls of more than a "can I call you back?" duration or tweeting or texting under the table at dinner.
  • Unplug on vacation - the only reason I want to turn on my computer is to make a restaurant reservation or find out when Rebirth's gig at the Maple Leaf starts.
  • Unplug on weekends - if at all possible, I want to get out & play and spend face time with people I love.
  • Unplug late/early - I still like to start the day with a cup of coffee and the actual, physical Washington Post and end the day with a good book or an even better spouse.
What about you?




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19 June 2009

Friday Top 5

Top 5 GREAT things to do in DC in the summer:
  1. Artomatic - awesome unjuried annual art free-for-all. Usually runs early June through early July, usually in an unfinished space, visual as well as performance art, music, dance, etc. Totally uneven (see the "unjuried" comment above), but totally awesome. Also totally free. Also, they sell beer.
  2. Jazz in the Sculpture Garden - at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden every Friday from mid-May through mid-September. You can pack your own picnic, you can pack your own booze, you can buy food and drink from the cafe if you don't feel like the schlep, but the music's totally free. And the lineup is great.
  3. Nats tickets. The Nats are a bad team. REALLY bad. Possibly epicly bad. Which is not good for Nats fans. But I can get cheap day of game tickets any time the Phillies are in town. Which is good for me.
  4. CapFringe. Two weeks of unjuried fringe theater in DC in July. The tickets aren't free, but they're usually around $15. Again, the quality can be pretty uneven, but every year I've seen at least one thing that totally blew me away. Insider tip: go see whatever Studio's Second Stage and Woolly put on.
  5. Summer Restaurant Week. The site still has the winter dates up, but it's usually in August when Congress is on recess and things are SLOW in DC. Restaurant week is a great opportunity to check out new restaurants at relatively low risk - $20.09 for a 3 course lunch, $35.09 for a 3 course dinner. My advice? Pick restaurants that are offering their full regular menu or at least most of it, watch the upcharges and beverage costs, and you can eat well at bargain rates for a week. It can be tough to get reservations if you don't jump right when they open, but many of the participating restaurants extend the specials beyond the official week.
Notice any commonalities in the above list? Yep, everything is discounted, cheap, or free. So the economy is no excuse. Get off your couch and go have some fun this summer!


18 June 2009

Not Turkey AGAIN!

When I was 5 years old, I went to a small elementary school that, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, provided a full turkey meal with all the trimmings for the students. That year, we had the traditional Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family at my aunt & uncle's place on the day. Friday, we ate turkey leftovers. Saturday, my dad's brother flew into town from Kentucky, just in time for the start of deer season. So we had another full Thanksgiving meal with Dad's side of the family Saturday night. Sunday, when we got home from church, I asked my mom what we were having for dinner. She responded, "Turkey," and I promptly burst into tears. She made me a peanut butter sandwich instead, and it was the best sandwich of my life.

So what does this have to do with social media and/or associations?

I went to the social media idea swap at ASAE earlier this week. And I'm really tired of turkey and still waiting for my PB&J.

Why is it always so damn basic? I feel like a broken record. I'm even getting tired of my own socmed schtick. Which means y'all must be about ready to kill yourselves.

This was promoted as a "you're doing it - now what?" session, aka not remedial social media (for the 9,000th time). And yet, sure enough, there were people there who didn't know the difference between Facebook and Twitter. Don't get me wrong. I'm not knocking them - everyone has to start somewhere. But where are the forums for those of us who don't need or want to go through, "This is a blog. This is a wiki. Has anyone ever heard of Twitter?" one more time? Although I think "mostly muffins" might be my new favorite phrase.

Honestly, the most useful thing, and again, this is not meant as a knock on anyone in the room or ASAE, was hearing about the 2 day social media workshop ASAE has planned for November. Think it will go beyond the basics? I sure hope so...


17 June 2009

Doing My Civic Duty

Off to my biennial stint at DC jury duty today, so no posting/tweeting/emailing (at least until/unless they release me).


16 June 2009

Blog Potomac Recap

Thanks to McLovin's bad luck, I was able to score a last minute ticket to Blog Potomac Friday. Which was a good thing, since organizer Geoff Livingston is getting out of the game of doing this after Blog Potomac 3, which will take place in October. So unless someone else picks up the mantle, c'est finis.

Secondly, to get a much more complete sense of what happened on Friday than this recap will provide, go to Twitter and search #blogpotomac. As the topic trended, we definitely saw some Twitter spam, but attendees were tweeting enough that there's still good stuff to be found.

The format of all the talks was the same: 10 minutes to speak, ABSOLUTELY NO POWERPOINT (yay!), and then 30-ish minutes of questions. (In retrospect, I think I would've preferred 20 minutes of presenting and 20 minutes of questions, since people didn't have 30 minutes worth of questions for most of the speakers, but nobody asked me.)

Anyway, the day kicked off with an awesome talk from Shel Holtz about the barriers to adoption of blogging and social media in general. The biggest one we in the association world hear, of course, is legal liability. I quote: “2-3 years later, none of what the lawyers warned us about has happened.” That's right, Shel supported what I've anecdotally been finding to be the case: no one's ever gotten sued for this stuff. That's not to say that it will never happen, of course, only that the panic is overblown.

Additional barriers Shel mentioned included:
  • Loss of control - our organizations trust us to have conversations in other venues and make the right decisions about what to say – why would the Internet make us forget the rules?
  • Ownership of content - while Shel pointed out that skills don't necessarily equal strategy - just because you know how to do something doesn't mean you know why - everyone needs to be empowered to have conversations with the audiences they touch.
  • ROI - Shel recommended that we drop the idea of ROI for Sphere of Influence (SOI), although he admits it's cool idea that hasn’t caught on yet, and he did acknowledge that you need to be fluent in CEO-speak (market share, growth, attracting best talent) in order to sell the idea.
  • Resource Commitment - Shel said we need to be able to demonstrate how socmed is saving time and money in other, more traditional communications areas if we hope to sell it.
As a final piece of advice, Shel mentioned that saying, “One of our competitors would do a really good job of this” tends to persuade upper management to at least try new things.

Shel was followed by two much weaker presentations. Digitalsista (aka Shireen Mitchell) ostensibly talked about political blogging, but really she told stories about her work on the Obama campaign. Not that they weren't fun, but I'm not sure how useful/fresh they were. Most of us have already gleaned all the lessons that might apply to our organizations from the 2008 presidential campaigns.

Then Scott Monty gave us 10 minutes of rememdial social media and Ford commercials. Perhaps Ford should devote more energy to building cars that don't suck and less to being the top social media brand in the world? The best part of his presentation was when he ran through their social media policy...way too fast to capture, and without providing a URL. It sounded pretty good - practical, straightforward, non-business speak - but I can't seem to find it online. If you happen to know the URL, hit me back at ewengel at yahoo dot com.

Liz Strauss was very Zen on the business aspects of branding & socmed, but she did offer a few pithy statements:
To grow your organization, give your customers more things they want to buy and more opportunities to buy them.

The ROI of relationships hasn’t changed – we just have new tools to maintain them now.

You have to know who you are and what you do all the way down, and you need to understand what the other person needs & help them get there. When that happens, you're no longer selling, you're just talking about what you do.

Be on the same side of the table as your customer. Make their time more valuable, more fun, more meaningful and you’ll be irresistible.

"How social can you be if you're not talking to people within your own company?"

Organizations have a culture, individuals adopt a culture. The danger in organizations entering social media is that companies will influence individuals far more than the reverse.
Lunch was provided by the event's awesome charity partner, DC Central Kitchen. Got an event to cater? Give them a call, and help the homeless learn job and life skills that can get them off the streets in the process. Tony Bourdain visited DCCK as part of his No Reservations trip to DC. Check out the video:



After lunch, Aaron Brazell (aka Technosailor) and Amber Naslund (aka Ambercadabra) had a debate on the concept of personal branding. (Aaron actually wrote a follow up blog post as well.)

I think this Aaron quote best sums up my feeling about personal branding:
“I don’t care about your personal brand.”
The debate ended up being pretty circular. I don't necessarily buy the concept of personal branding. I think it's about reputation, and I think reputation is about a lot more than ego-driven branding building. I'm not even sure people can build brands about themselves in any sort of realistic way. The whole concept is too constructed. Hmmm - this would probably make a good stand alone blog post.

Two more fun quotes from this session though:
Companies that believe they can control their brand are delusional – your brand is controlled by customers.

Social media can make people look more social than they necessarily are in real life.
And they asked what was supposed to be the "killer" question: would you go on partial commission based on how your brand could deliver new business? I think that's kind of ridiculous. Would *anyone* do that based only on "brand"? I hope not. Based on skills? At least in my case, sure - I've actually done it in the past, relatively successfully.

However, the afternoon was saved by Shashi Bellamkonda, Network Solutions socmed swami. I have to point out that I was seriously crushing on Shashi, because I love a geek who can make me laugh. He was supposed to talk about Network Solutions' successes in socmed, but he mostly told great stories punctuated by some very swami-like pieces of wisdom. To wit:
The function of the legal department is to define the risks. The business needs dictate whether you take a given risk or not.

Consultants can help answer skeptics. (After which I tweeted: Every consultant here owes Shashi $1.)

Policy setting is not hard - just follow your regular employee communication guidelines.

What's important is that you join the conversation. You won’t agree with everything that’s said, but once you're participating, you have the opportunity to get your position out there.

Every tool that makes it easier to connect with another human being will be the tool that wins.

Unplug. The tools make communication/virtual connecting very easy, and because Americans are relatively isolated, virtual connecting can be addictive. We need to make choices about where our focus is.

This prompted to me to tweet: do you (how do you) unplug? how do you know where/when is appropriate to be plugged in/unplugged? Which I think might also be another good stand alone post.

The final session of the day was a 3 person panel: Rohit Bhargarva, Kaitlyn Wilkens, and Doug Meacham engaging in "social media karaoke" (no actual singing was done). Maybe I was just burned out at that point, or maybe Shashi was just too tough an act to follow, but I thought the "words of wisdom" offered were not so much. "Be creative and original." Um, thanks.

Upon reflection, it was a worthwhile way to spend the day, not least of which because I got some quality face time with the babes from SocialFish and with Techchix. But another $100 and a full day in October? Probably not. Where's the grad level social media work taking place? Hell, where's the 201 class? Don't know, and while it was fun to bask in the glow of the rock stars for the day, this wasn't it. I have high hopes for Buzz 2009.



15 June 2009

Go (new) CAEs!

It's your birthday....
We're gonna party like it's your birthday...

The May exam takers have gotten their results, and I'm hearing plenty of good reports.

ASAE hasn't posted the official list yet, and the YAPstars are uncharacteristically quiet. So feel free to post your crows of triumph here, new CAEs!

I know of two in particular (Kathy Lamb and Mike Skiados, I'm looking at you) who have good news to report....

Edited Wednesday, June 17 to add: Julia Ashley, that slick lady, also sat for the exam and kept it quiet and, of course, passed. Congratulations!


12 June 2009

Friday Top 5

Top 5 Things I'm Looking Forward to @BlogPotomac:
  1. Hearing about the latest blogging trends from a lineup of rockstars.
  2. Getting to meet other local (non-association?) bloggers.
  3. 3 pm? Beer & blogging!
  4. Social karaoke. I'm a little scared, but hoping for the best.
  5. Spending the day with the babes from SocialFish, always a good time.

@BlogPotomac

I'm at Blog Potomac today, so I'll live blog if I can and, if not, post a big ole recap later.

If you'll be there, too, look for me. If you don't already know me, I'm the redhead. (Yes, even if there are multiple redheads there, you should still be able to spot me.)


11 June 2009

Always the Last to Know - CoTweet

OK, it's still in "private" beta, which means you need to ask if you can join the test (and, according to reports, you may not necessarily be approved), but CoTweet provides a really slick way for more than one person to manage more than one Twitter account. Like, say, if you need to manage your personal account(s) and one or more organizational accounts - and maybe responsibility for those organizational accounts are shared, too.


10 June 2009

What I'm Reading

Back on the RSS hobbyhorse this week....
  • Content is king? Interaction is king (shout out to Mads and Maggie for the link).
  • Summertime (social media) blues? Maggie's got 'em, and is hilarious about it as usual.
  • There's been a lot of chatter about Twitter - because that's so unusual - due to the release of the Harvard study showing that, among other things, 10% of tweeters contribute 90% of the tweets (Pareto Principle, anyone?) John Hayden talks to the top 1% of that 10% about how they use Twitter (shout out to @JeffHurt for the link).
  • Making a BIG splash in my new world of health care, there was a fascinating piece in the New Yorker about the reasons health care costs so much in the US, and what that might mean for reform efforts.
  • Speaking of health care, Amber Benson of imc2 asks: Is Social Media Right for Your Healthcare Brand? She's focused primarily on use of social media for pharma companies, but the way she thinks about and categorizes audiences is unique and has much broader application.
  • Speaking of brands, in talking about authenticity Mads informs us that brand perfection is dead, which is both scary and liberating.
  • Josh Gordon thinks we're on the cusp of a major change in business use of social media, from communications dissemination tool to engine of customer engagement. Get on the bus, yo!
  • All the info about Blog Potomac, because I get to go now! (Thanks McLovin!)

09 June 2009

Walking into the Middle of the Conversation

One of the main difficulties in starting a new job is getting up to speed with what's already going on. In some ways, you'd think 2+ years of consulting would mean I was exceptionally well prepared for this. But starting a consulting gig is a little different. Consulting engagements are usually narrowly defined projects that the consultant's already familiar with from the proposal process. The consultant always gets an in-house minder (aka the organization's Project Manager) to negotiate admin and, more importantly, internal political issues. And of course, many times the first stage of a consulting engagement is to review the precise critical documents and interview the key stakeholders than have bearing on your engagement. And someone else, who already has all the institutional background, has done the sorting and ordering for you.

I had forgotten that coming on as staff is not the same.

Don't get me wrong, NACHRI has a good orientation process - a few days of heavy HR/paperwork, getting whatever you need to make your office comfortable, solid IT introduction (plus an extensive MOSS IT site), 1 hour orientation meetings with each department to meet the players and learn what they do, a get-acquainted appointment with the CEO, an appointment with their ergonomics expert to set up your workstation properly, etc. And most of the key players in my department have aleady taken me out for get-to-know-you lunches (and a free lunch is ALWAYS appreciated).

But I'm still feeling a little behind the curve.

Part of what's causing that is that this is the first time NACHRI has tried to centralize marketing. That means I'll be working with nearly everyone on staff (and 90 people is a lot of people to try to get to know) and there's a lot of pent up demand for help (which means that there are a lot of projects already underway where I'm trying to offer ideas and assistance while figuring out exactly what the project is).

So I end up in a lot of meetings where I'm still trying to match names to faces to departments to responsibilities to projects to "what exactly are we trying to promote here, and to whom?" I'm trying to come up with useful suggestions and ideas we can implement right now and good plans for the future, often on the fly. And this is all happening while I'm trying to sort out real and apparent authority, aka "who REALLY needs to weigh in on this, and who REALLY has final say?"

And master a whole new range of acronyms in the process.
So, association peeps, what are your favorite strategies for learning a new place quickly?



08 June 2009

Always the Last to Know: Google Wave

This is long, but it's worth watching:



Shout out to BMart for the link.


05 June 2009

Friday Top 5


The 5th Annual Duke Ellington Jazz Fest starts in DC this weekend. This year's theme is Vivre La Nouvelle Orleans (literal music to my ears). My top 5 picks:
  1. Celebrating a Jazz Master: Ellis Marsalis - Monday, June 15 at the Kennedy Center. Unfortunately, someone was too slow getting tickets and the show sold out. If you or anyone you know has tickets you're looking to sell, PLEASE contact me at ewengel at yahoo dot com.
  2. New Orleans on the National Mall - Sunday, June 14. Lineup includes Buckwheat Zydeco, Donald Harrison, Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, Nicholas Peyton, and Ms. Irma Thomas.
  3. New Orleans on the National Mall - Saturday, June 13. Saturday's lineup includes Rebirth, Bob French, Terence Blanchard, and Little Freddie King.
  4. Afro Blue at the National Gallery or Art - Friday, June 5. Keep your fingers crossed that, as they're predicting, this insufferable rain actually stops, since this one's outside.
  5. The Revivalists at the Millennium Stage - Monday, June 8.
Other than Ellis Marsalis, ALL these concerts are FREE. Get out and hear some live music, y'all!



04 June 2009

Data, Data, Who's Got the Data?

We all want to make better decisions, right? And the best way to do that is to base them on data, right? And the first piece of data everyone always wants is ROI, right?

Let's not get into "why" at the moment, but what if money's not your primary consideration? What do you track to determine whether a marketing initiative has been successful?

That's the question I'm currently considering as NACHRI sets up a centralized marketing function (aka, me) for the first time.

It occurs to me that the first question to ask in figuring out what to track is: what are the goals for this particular activity? So, for instance, for a meeting, generally speaking, you want to see more exhibitors. For membership, generally speaking, you want more members. But there's a potential problem (or, I should say, at least one potential problem): most exhibit halls have hard limits, otherwise known as the walls. Some fields have a finite amount of players, and once you have them all, then what?

Social networking provides another layer of complication: money is almost definitely not the right thing to track there. We all like to talk a big game about Return on Engagement, but (other than Andy Steggles), how many of us are actually measuring ROE?

So association pros, what data points do you track to measure the the success - or failure - of your marketing efforts?

(Notice I wrote this whole thing without using "metrics" once? Go me!)


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03 June 2009

What I'm Reading

Man, is it Wednesday already?

Aside from finishing up the crowdsourced issue of Associations Now (seeing as I'm taking over the sponsorship program here, I was particularly interested in the non-dues revenue piece), I've been reading a really interesting book NACHRI's using to drive a branding initiative that's currently underway: The Hero and The Outlaw by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson. The authors apply Jungian research on archetypes to marketing strategy. It's a fairly shallow take on Jung, but that makes it about a mile deeper than most business books. Aside from trying to figure out into which archetype my friends fit, it is providing me with some insight into what we're trying to achieve in the way our members view us.

Other than that, I'm shamefully behind on my RSS feeds and blog reading, but I do have the dual excuse of getting settled in at a new job and a weekend trip up to Massachusetts for my nephew's high school graduation.

So, since I'm unlikely to be able to get to everything in my feeds and may have to declare RSS bankruptcy and start over, what should I definitely not miss in what YOU'VE been reading lately?


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01 June 2009

What's the Buzz?


You'll find out if you join me at Social Media for Associations on July 9.






Check out the lineup:
Among others.

Register now to secure your spot at the WOM Slam the preceding evening.


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