31 July 2012

Your Association's Chanel Suit

Chanel suits are fashion iconography. A Chanel suit is the prototypical dream clothing acquisition: stylish, simple, elegant, and timeless. Assuming you can afford one, it will form the foundation of your entire wardrobe. It's a classic.

The same should be true of your association's brand. It is the foundation of your marketing and communications wardrobe. Everything you do, say, or produce as an organization should relate back to your brand, to a common vision of what your association is.

To get to that level of consistency, you must have a clear, memorable statement of what you stand for, and everyone, from your CEO to your mail clerk, needs to live it.

Oh, and if that vision has to do with being the "market leader" or "providing exceptional value" or "world-class" anything (or sounds like it could've been the result of the late, lamented Dilbert Automatic Mission Statement Generator), toss out the cliched business-speak, and start over, from the place of using simple words to explain what really matters to your association.

Image credit: Manolo's shoe blog

30 July 2012

Always the Last to Know: Gabi

Still hate the Facebook timeline? The Gabi iPhone app might be your answer. And everybody loves it - including Mashable. It's particularly useful if you're trying to manage large numbers of friends and/or pages you've liked. 

27 July 2012

Friday Top 5

A lot of you already know this, but I'm leaving the Children's Hospital Association to launch my own business. Today is my last day with the association, so I'm dedicating my Friday Top 5 to the past three years I've been privileged to work here. Top 5 Favorite Things about working for NACHRI/the Children's Hospital Association:
  1. The mission: the association supports the mostly non-profit hospitals that help sick kids, particularly the sickest kids with the most complex conditions, get well. That rocks.
  2. The members: did I mention that the members are children's hospitals? My interactions with the talented and dedicated individuals who work in children's hospitals, from the clinicians to the marcomm teams, to the highest administrative levels, have been almost universally positive. These are people who give their whole hearts to helping children, and it shines out of them.
  3. The people:  association people generally tend towards choosing mission over money, and that's been doubly so at this association.
  4. The opportunities: one of the nice things about working at a larger organization is that you have resources for things like, oh, professional development. I've been fortunate to enjoy all kinds of support to keep growing and learning as a professional in the past three years. That hasn't always been the case over the course of my career.
  5. The location: can you believe that, with 15 years in association management, this was my first position in Old Town Alexandria? It's been so hot this summer that I haven't been able to enjoy it as much recently, but walking the quaint streets and lovely riverfront of Alexandria for the past three years has been a real treat.
Curious about the business? It's called Spark Consulting, LLC: Explosive Growth for Associations. I'll be doing strategic membership and marketing consulting for associations that have the will and the capacity to take some risks in the service of big goals. More to follow...as soon as I have a minute between working with my new clients to get my new website set up! In the meantime, you can get me at ewengel@getmespark.com or 202.468.3478.

26 July 2012

A Recipe for Social Media ROI

Return on Investment for social media is something all our organizations continue to struggle with. The metrics are confusing - there often aren't a lot of up front costs, doing it well requires a significant time investment (and most of our organizations don't properly allocate staff costs), and it's hard to know how to place a precise dollar figure value on a member's increased sense of connection to an association. Intuitively, we know that it will make her more likely to renew, but how much more? For how much longer? How much will that save us?

The Altimeter Group has heard your cries, and produced The Social Media ROI Cookbook as a result.

Short on time? The key slides are 8 and 10-12.

Stop making excuses and start measuring, using at least one of these methods, TODAY.

25 July 2012

What I'm Reading

  • Sitting all day is not only making you fat, it's making you stupid, so go take a walk. RIGHT NOW. (at least in DC, it's really nice today, so you have no excuse)
  • Jamie Notter has shared his notes from the MIX Mashup. Yesterday's blog post was a response post, and you should definitely read his original and think about responding yourself.
  • Jeffrey Cufaude reminds us that we are all in the process of becoming.
  • How many pages do you have on your website? (Be honest!) Cecilia Sepp reminds us that websites should not be an information dumping grounds.
  • Shelly Alcorn shares association management lessons from Harley-Davidson.
  • Jeffrey Cufaude asks: sponsorships - where's the value?

24 July 2012

Process Killed the Association Star

Jamie Notter recently recapped his notes from the MIX Mashup, an invitation-only conference on the future of work, or, to quote their website:
"What will it take to make our organizations highly adaptable, endlessly inventive, truly inspiring, and genuinely accountable?"
That's a critical question for all of us to address. Jamie also asked the blogging community to think about the points raised at the conference and to write response posts. This is one.

One of his notes from a panel on "innovation all the time" was:
Genius isn’t hidden. It’s afraid of your processes.
 Associations do this all the time. In far too many cases, our default answer is "no." Why? Say it with me: "Because it's against policy." Our default mode is "slow." Why? Because everything has to run through 3000 internal groups and committees, then it goes to a member committee that only meets twice a year, then it goes to the board, which also only meets twice a year, and before you know it, 18 months have elapsed and the original opportunity? It vanished.

New staff and new volunteers start working with our organizations. They're full of ideas, energy and excitement. This is her new job! She's ready to kick some ass, build on what her predecessor did, and take your association to the next level! This is his new volunteer assignment! He's honored to have been chosen, and he's now even more deeply invested in your association than he was when he decided to offer his name up as a volunteer, because he made the cut!

And then our reified processes kick in, and the cavalcade of "no" begins.
  • We tried that five years ago, and it didn't work.
  • We can't make that change, because we always do it this other way.
  • Our members won't like it.
  • Our senior team won't like it.
  • Our board won't like it.
  • The committee won't support it.
  • It's a risk we're unwilling to take.
  • We're not comfortable trying it a different way.
  • I don't have that skill (and I don't want to learn it).
  • What if something goes wrong? What if it's not perfect? What if it FAILS!?!?
And, inevitably, that new staff member gets beaten down. Maybe she stays, and she starts keeping her ideas to herself, and maybe she walks out the door and takes them with her. That new volunteer gets discouraged. He becomes the "show pony" committee member, when what he wanted to do was be the "work horse." He becomes disillusioned, cynical and disengaged. If you're lucky, he keeps that to himself. If you're not? Hello, membership decline.

We need to shift our mindset from a default "no" to a default "yes," even if it has to be a qualified yes.

How do we get there? I don't have the complete answer, but I do have some suggestions:
  • ALWAYS let people spend some time researching their ideas to see if they're viable.
  • Create a budget of time AND money, even if it has to be small, to try new things.
  • Quit being so afraid of criticism. If you're not pissing someone off, you're coasting.
  • Quit being so afraid of debate and disagreement. You'll never get to the great idea if people can't challenge the good enough idea.
  • Build REAL relationships with members and volunteers. The only way you get leeway to try stuff that might not work is by earning it.
  • Remember that the whole environment has changed, and what happened five years ago is not a predictor of what might happen tomorrow, with THIS team and THESE members in THIS situation.
  • Dump your 400 page policies and procedures manual. Follow Adobe's example of a "fairly open philosophy" (not just about social media but about all your policies and procedures) governed by "guardrails" that keep your staff and organization legally protected while giving them as much freedom within those guardrails as possible.
  • Celebrate failure. Everyone says that, right? How do you do it? Offer a valuable prize (an extra week of vacation?) to the person or team that blew it, and then learned something major and valuable they shared with the rest of your staff.
 What do you think? How do we get to "yes" in our organizations?

23 July 2012

Always the Last to Know: Lost Type

Tired of Arial, Garamond, and Times New Roman? Employer threatening to fire you if you use Comic Sans one more time? You need some new fonts, son, and Lost Type can hook you up. It's a pay-what-you-can co-op of font designers, and 100% of what you pay goes directly to them.

20 July 2012

Friday Top 5

I am known as a pretty organized person. I don't misplace things, or miss deadlines, or run out of clean socks, or forget to feed my cat.My desk is usually pretty clean (no jokes about empty desktop = empty mind from the peanut gallery!), and I can always lay my hands on items or information I need quickly.

My Top 5 Tips for Keeping Your Ish Organized:
  1. Paper files are for suckers. Everything should be electronic, not least of which because desktop search has improved so dramatically. You'll find it MUCH faster on your computer than you ever could in a file cabinet.
  2. But keeping things electronically doesn't give you an excuse to be a slob there, either. Select a convention for organizing directories and naming your files and STICK TO IT. And don't keep the 9000 drafts you went through. Once you have the final, delete the drafts. You think you'll need them later. You won't.
  3. You're still going to have SOME paper. Have an inbox. ONE inbox. Once a week, go through it and immediately: file, recycle, reading pile. Reading pile is not for single sheets of paper - it's for things like magazines and newsletters. File or recycle everything else.
  4. Email: turn off your new message alert. Check email a few times a day and immediately: answer, file, create a task in your task list. No "I'll deal with this later." It IS later, right now. That's why you're only answering email a few times a day. Bonus? A decent amount of the situations will have resolved themselves because you didn't jump the second the email came in, because your alerts were turned off.
  5. Turn off pretty much all the alerts on your smart phone, too. All it's going to do is distract you. What do you REALLY need to know about right when it comes in? It's probably not much more than text messages and calls, particularly if you're only checking your email a few times a day. Turn everything else off.
Bonus tip: do the filing and straightening up late on Friday afternoon. It helps you mentally wrap up your week and sets the stage to get off to a good start Monday morning. And it helps prevent you from doing that thing we all hate: handing off some giant project or file to the next person in the chain via email at 4:57 pm. "HA! Off my To Do list!" Yeah, but it just landed like a thud on someone else's. Be a mensch. Send it Monday at 10 am.

19 July 2012

Be a Super Genuis

Another belated book review - or, to be more precise, a timely review of a book it took me way too long to read.

I just finished Andy Sernovitz's Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking. If you're familiar with Sernovitz, either from Damn, I Wish I'd Thought of That or his WOM newsletter, the book is not going to be revolutionary. It will be more like sitting down with an old friend, where you've heard at least some of his stories, but they still make you laugh every time.

WOMM is written in an extremely practical, friendly style, just like everything Sernovitz produces. It's simply laid out: the first part deals with the concepts behind WOM, and the second part breaks down the key elements. All are accompanied by short anecdotes illustrating the points.

Some of the key points that particularly struck me include:

In an era of social networking and nearly ubiquitous connectivity, customer service may be your MOST important marketing tactic. Treating people well, even to the point of going WAY above any beyond (the famous Ritz-Carlton $2000 rule) is going to serve your organization far better than pretty much any other action you can take to promote yourself and what you do.

WOM is simple but not easy. Being interesting and trustworthy and making people happy are simple to understand, but not easy to do, particularly in organizations where lower-level staff lack decision making authority (you know who you are). When you can do these things, though, people's natural inclination to share things they like to help other people (and hopefully be seen as smart, connected and important in the process) kick in, to your benefit.

I think the key chapter is "Six Big Ideas" (chapter 2).
  1. Consumers are in control
  2. Marketing is what you DO
  3. The Internet is forever
  4. Honesty is the key
  5. So is customer satisfaction
  6. WOM generates more revenue (not least of which because it doesn't generate much in the way of costs)
Sernotivz then runs through the five key elements of WOM (talkers, what they're going to talk about, the tools you can use to help them spread the word, getting involved in the conversation yourself, and how to track all this) in detail, complete with worksheets to help you plan your WOM campaign.
 I'm pretty sure you'll walk away from this quick, engaging read with at least ONE concrete thing you're going to try or change immediately (if you're really pressed for time, skip right to page 197, pick any of the ideas there, and go).

And, finally, the MOST important advice of all:

Be nice.

18 July 2012

What I'm Reading

17 July 2012

Why Are We Still Doing Annual Performance Reviews?

Ah the dread performance review. You know the drill. You fill out some far too lengthy form where you're trying to be "balanced" (whether you're evaluating yourself to meet with your boss or evaluating your staff so you can meet with them), so there's some bad and more good. You weigh people against goals that were set 12 months previously, and try to come up with goals that will be in some way useful or to the point 12 months hence. Then you have a fraught, stilted meeting, everyone signs off, and you file the paperwork, sigh with relief, and go back to your normal job.


"But HR makes us fill out the stupid form!"

You're right. They do.

Who says that form has to be the alpha and omega of working with your staff to help them develop as professionals?

First of all, unless something good or bad happened in the last week, there should be NOTHING on that HR mandated form that comes as a surprise.

Correct problems when they come up. Coach in the moment. Don't wait. You may have misunderstood the situation, and even if you were right, and your staff member did screw up, you've wasted how much time that that person could've been doing things better?

But who says you only get to offer praise once a year? Set goals once a year? Revise goals and expectations once a year? Consider professional development once a year?

That's just dumb.

Things change. People change. Situations change. Have you ever looked a goal you set a year ago and wondered what in the hell you were thinking? And now you're bound to the damn thing, whether you will or not? Why? Amend the form. Tell your boss and HR what you're doing and why.

But most importantly, review performance every day - yours, your boss's, your staff members', everyone. Praise, coach, re-evaluate where your organization is going and how you all can best contribute to getting there. Every day.

And yeah, you'll still have to fill out and file the stupid form. But it won't hurt nearly as much, and it won't be the be-all, end-all of making your organization better.

16 July 2012

Always the Last to Know: KDP

Also Known As: Kindle Direct Publishing. It allows independent authors to easily self-publish in the Kindle format and get paid for their books. Sweet! (And remember, you don't have to have a Kindle to read Kindle format books. Amazon makes apps for iPhone and Android.)

13 July 2012

Friday Top 5

It's mid-July, so you know what that means? Fringe Fest! For the seventh year running, DC is hosting the amazing Capital Fringe Festival, July 12-29. Top 5 Best Things About Fringe:
  1. Fringe Fest is cheap. Shows cost $17, or less if you buy one of the passes. Get a pass.Trust me.
  2. Fringe Fest is unjuried. That means if you have an idea and the application fee, you have a show. Which means you're supporting upcoming artists who may not have the connections to, say, get on stage at the Kennedy Center or Shakespeare Theater. Well, not yet anyway.
  3. Fringe Fest includes more than just plays. There's dance, monologue, performance art, live music, musical theater, opera, burlesque, conceptual art, plus more typical comedies and dramas. Something for everyone!
  4. Fringe Fest is all the time. Well, not ALL the time, but there are day shows, evening shows, early shows, late shows, weeknight shows, weekday shows, weekend shows. It accommodates any schedule you have or need.
  5. Fringe Fest is fun! Sure, some of the shows will be a little less, um, polished than others. But you never know if you're going to walk out of a show saying "that was AWESOME!" or "WTF!?!?" or, if you're really lucky, both.
Shows I recommend checking out this year include DC Trash, BFF, and Beertown.

I know I keep pushing this every year, but I'm going to keep bugging you until you go, so why not just cave now?

12 July 2012

We Are STILL Doing It That Way

Or, to quote Marshall Goldsmith: "What Got You Here Won't Get You There."

I've been thinking a lot about the long-term prospects of associations recently. Will we survive the changes - technologically driven, generationally driven, ecologically driven, socio-economically driven, etc. - occurring in our global society? If so, how?

Thus it seemed like a good time to take a second look at We Have Always Done It That Way For those of you who aren't familiar with it, a group of "Five Independent Thinkers" (whose names you probably recognize) got together in 2007 to address the pressing need for change in associations.

The Thinkers address a total of 101 issues that need to change in the ways we:
  • Think
  • Lead
  • Manage
  • Execute
  • Work Together
  • Involve Others 
Five years later, what has changed?

I would hope, for one, that you're no longer storing information like social security and credit card numbers in your association management software. I think most associations are now involved in social media at least to some degree, even if not very effectively.

But I still see a world where strategic planning and strategic thinking are conflated, where we operate in silos fighting over turf and resources, where we do a poor job of reaching out to new audiences (including the elusive "younger members"), where it still takes us too long to make decisions, and once those decisions are made, too long to act, where we never kill hoary old programs (no matter how useless they've become), where new ideas (because that's what "innovation" is) get routinely shot down, where we're still doing form-based annual reviews, where we're unable to have honest exchanges.

I don't think it's just associations. But I see it here because this is where I am and have been for 15 years.

How do we pick up our heads out of plodding along doing the same old thing and making the same old mistakes every day? How do we get to the place where we're agile enough to respond to, and even anticipate, the changes in our professional/industry environments and the larger world in such a way that our audiences (which don't have to be narrowly confined to "members") literally can't make it without us, not because we have some sort of Svengali-like golden handcuffs but because we're so in tune with what they need to be successful and we provide it so quickly and well, our associations are vital partners in those audiences' success?

I don't have the answers. But I'm at least willing to engage in the conversation. Join me?

11 July 2012

What I'm Reading

  • 10 Skills for the future workforce.
  • Want to reward your readers? How about a cookie?
  • Do you do press releases? (you know you do) PRSA can help you write better boilerplate (although I’d probably avoid the alliteration thing).
  • Secret to success? Long view, simplicity, speed. That's it.
  • Dealing with the pain of innovation.
  • Tips for using personas from John Haydon.
  • Brand logos: the good, the bad, and the WTF is up with Animal Planet?
  • Shelly Alcorn provides the board member code of conduct we wish we could write.
  • Same shit, different form: the "new" 990.
  • Stop trying to be everything to everyone.
  • I'm on a Barbara Ehrenreich kick lately, having just finished Complaints and Disorders and now moving on to Global Women. Ehrenreich is a provocateur, no doubt, and I love the fact that she ALWAYS makes me think.

10 July 2012

Sections Instead of Breakouts

A few ASAE calls for proposals have hit recently, and it's gotten me thinking about conference sessions.

On the one hand, associations want to recognize the expertise and knowledge our members hold and give them a platform to shine and a chance to share that knowledge and expertise with their peers.

On the other hand, we all gripe about conferences we attend where all the speakers are volunteers. Some of the speakers aren't very good, and a lot of the content is shallow or too basic, people seem ill-prepared, the slides are bad, etc.

I'm calling myself out here, too - I've been the griper, and the under-prepared speaker that's being griped about.

Preparing all these proposals got me thinking about learning experiences in my own life. Which got me thinking about grad school, where I taught political theory to freshmen. 

What if we dumped breakout presentations in favor of university-style sections?

What would that look like?

You'd start with a fairly traditional presentation by a recognized PAID expert in a given topic. Everyone who was attending would be required to do prep work, familiarizing themselves with a common canon (books, articles, blog posts, videos, podcasts, whatever), allowing them to operate from a shared base of knowledge (that would NOT be restricted to the book s/he just wrote that the presenter is shilling). Which means your PAID expert could actually speak at a high level and have some chance of being understood.

After the "lecture," the larger group would split into discussion sections, which would be led by expert VOLUNTEER MEMBER facilitators, with knowledge of both the topic at hand and how to keep a discussion moving, whose job would be to ask interesting questions and keep the conversation flowing at a high level. And since all the attendees would enjoy that shared base of knowledge from doing the prep work and from the high level presentation, they'd actually enjoy substantive conversations about important topics, as opposed to devolving into the "this is how we do it at my association" (dare I say it?) drivel that usually results from the table exercises at our conferences.

What would that learning experience look like?

09 July 2012

Always the Last to Know: Kickstarter

Kickstarter, which was identified this spring as one of Technology Review's top 10 emerging technologies, allows people to crowdfund anything from a book to an album to a computer game to hardware.

Kickstarter is not exactly new, so why did the TR team pick it now? Because, although the projects funded are usually fairly low cost, several projects have recently been funded in excess of $1M. Now that's the power of small acts. 

06 July 2012

Friday Top 5

Has it been dead at your office this week, too? With the aftermath of the derecho storm extending into this week and the Independence Day holiday falling mid-week, many of my colleagues took the entire week off, or at least the last two days. As a result, it's been really quiet around here.

Top 5 Benefits of being (almost) the only one in the office:
  1. Caught up on the stack of reading that's been sitting on my desk for (mumble mumble) months.
  2. Got my filing done.
  3. Cleaned up some electronic files.
  4. Had some time to chat with the few people other than me who are here.
  5. Got my slides and handouts done for my presentation at the Bridge Conference next month and did some additional work and planning for my session at ASAE12.
When you get a little unexpected downtime at work, what do you do to make it productive?


05 July 2012

Book Review: The Back of the Napkin

Yes, I know this book was published in 2008, and it's been sitting on my "to read" pile almost that long.

Fortunately, the Association Chat book club got me to bump it to the top of the pile, and I finally read it last month.

The book's subtitle is: solving problems and selling ideas with pictures, and teaching you to do that is author Dan Roam's ostensible goal. 

Short version: it's a great concept, but I'm not quite sure how to implement it.

Longer take:

According to Roam, there are three types of people: black pen types (who LOVE to draw ideas), yellow pen types (who are quick to jump in to edit and add), and red pen types ("I can't draw"). Confession: I am definitely a red pen type. 

On the other hand, I also LOVE visual representations of information. I love infographics. I'm always the one urging colleagues to use fewer words and more pictures to share information with senior leadership. I think every organization's board status report should be a series of 5-10 key metrics that are tracked over time and shared in graphs or charts. I'm the person who infamously talked a panel  for the 2009 ASAE Annual Meeting into doing a presentation with NO words on the slides (that didn't go over all that well).

So what I'm saying is that, while I am a red pen, I'm also someone eager to be persuaded that representing problems visually can help us solve them and to learn how to do it.

I'm just not sure that this book can get most of us there.

It's not that Roam doesn't provide plenty of information and explanation. He spends almost 150 pages explaining six key ways of seeing and five key ways of showing, then placing all that into a grid (page 141 if you have the book handy) that can tell you, based on the type of framework you need and a short series of either/or questions, which type of picture you're going to need to explain what's going on and spot a solution.

The second half of the book uses a single case study to work readers through the ways of seeing and showing, the framework, and the questions to get to, in chapter 15, a not-immediately-obvious solution and description of how one would present that solution to a team of executives.

But I still don't feel like I would be able to apply the techniques he describes successfully the next time I'm faced with what looks like an intractable problem at the office.

Maybe I just need more practice. I have, in my last two positions and since hearing Roam speak at ASAE's Great Ideas Conference a few years ago, insisted on having a white board in my workspace. I even use it sometimes. And once in a while, it doesn't even feel forced.

The book does, however, make a GREAT case for hiring Roam to help your organization solve big, hairy problems, assuming you can afford him. And maybe that's really the point.

04 July 2012

Happy Birthday, America!

Independence Day seems like a great time to refresh one's memory on our founding documents.

For your reading pleasure, the first ten amendments to the US Constitution, aka The Bill of Rights:

Amendment I  

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Amendment II 

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Amendment III 

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

 Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V 

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI 

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment VII 

In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

Amendment VIII 

 Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

Amendment IX 

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X 

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

(thanks to archives.gov for the transcription)

03 July 2012

The Mom Test

You're putting together a marketing campaign.

You have clarity on your audience and goals. You can clearly describe who you're trying to reach, what outcomes you seek, and how you're planning to measure success.

You have a call to action. You can answer "what do you want me to DO?" concisely. You know what you want people to do AFTER that, too.

You're ready to roll, right? Time to send those emails, mail those postcards with the PURLs, place all those ads with the QR Codes, and send everyone to your gorgeous landing page or microsite!

Hold on there, killer.

Has your site passed the "Mom Test"?

Hand your mom - or your grandpa, or your Luddite cousin - your credit card. Send that person to your microsite. Watch what happens. Does she understand what you want her to do? Can he complete your desired transaction? Does she get frustrated and bail? How long does it take him? Does she break the process in the process of trying to complete the process?

Only once your campaign passes the Mom Test, from start to finish, are you ready to roll.

02 July 2012

Always the Last to Know: The PT Pen

So if you've been reading The Back of the Napkin for the association chat book club, you're probably all jazzed about the concept if expressing ideas with hand-drawn pictures.

But how do you do that on a boring old laptop?

Enter the PT Pen, a USB device that turns any laptop into a full touch screen tablet.