Volunteer Development

At a recent seminar I attended, Shari Pash led a discussion on volunteer development that I wanted to discuss on my blog.

If you have a diverse membership, it is important to have diverse volunteers!

Tap into their expertise, skill-set, influence, availability to commit, industry segment

Do you have the right people doing the right things?  Set-up an excel sheet to identify and track the different attributes above.

Opportunities for volunteers - do you have a brochure that describes the different opportunities?  You should create a profile for each opportunity:

  • Name of opportunity (i.e. workforce, GR, Women’s Group);
  • Purpose and goals of this opportunity - outcomes which are measurable; and
  • Number of volunteers needed - long term, or short term (two weeks, in person or virtual).

Job Descriptions - what goes into a good job description?

  1. Expectations;
  2. Summary of position;
  3. Term of service;
  4. Attendance requirements;
  5. Qualifications; and
  6. Relation to staff and budget to get you started.

Recruitment of volunteers - you want to be strategic, relevant, sustainable.

Understand the volunteers motivation to serve as a volunteer - is it recognition, giving back, believes in your chamber?

What’s the DNA of a great volunteer?  Next Generation Volunteer - they want to be asked,  make a difference.  Young professionals are digital, is your volunteerism analog or digital.  They process information quickly - they have been doing this their whole life.

In my opinion, one of the most critical aspects of onboarding new volunteers starts with a solid orientation - you need to formalize the orientation process whether it be in-person or a webinar.

How are you recognizing your volunteers?  It’s important to thank them in a way that works for you and will showcase your volunteers.

Good luck with your volunteer management!

Sunsetting Programs

As chamber staff, it is important to have a systematic way to review our program of work so we can remain relevant to our members.

I wrote a blog post in the past on Scared Cows and how you might "Kick Them to The Curb."  That post can be found HERE.

I recently read Strategic Integration by Gabriel Eckert & Bob Harris and they devoted an entire chapter to this subject, titled "Systematic Sunsetting."

They suggest and proved a great template to review your programs based on its relevance to the mission, member participation, revenue, etc.

They went on to talk about a systematic way to do this review.  The following is their suggested review timetable, directly from page 62 of the book, to evaluate your programs.

  • Year 1: Education
  • Year 2: Events
  • Year 3: Advocacy
  • Year 4: Other programs and services.
  • Then repeat the process starting at year 1 again.

Whatever you decide, it's important to have some system set-up and stick with that process.  You'll need to decide what works best for your organization.

We only have so many resources (staff and budget) and sometimes some of our programs should be sunsetted.

Good luck!

Strategic Integration: Move Beyond Strategic Planning

After reading the book Strategic Integration by Gabriel Eckert, FASAE, CAE and Bob Harris, CAE, I thought I’d say a few words on my thoughts of the book and their theory.

At the end of the day, this book is actually about implementing that strategic plan instead of just letting it sit on the shelf!

They start out by suggesting getting your strategic plan down to one page or in the case of the Florida Academy of Family Physicians to a business card to keep it simple, which will allow you to communicate it to your members and the community at large.

I’m a fan of less is more and if everyone knows the plan – board, staff, and members, that’s a good thing!

For a previous blog post on strategic planning go HERE.

Next they talked about ways to communicate the plan through storytelling, mantras and visuals and doing that through all your communications vehicles.  The key, keep it consistent throughout your communication vehicles!

Maybe an infographic or a different design template can be used to communicate your plan.  For a great resource on creating visuals by Canva go HERE.

Next came operational excellence, and the bottom line is, if you don’t have the staff and resources to implement the new plan you’re in trouble.

Word will get out and if it’s just another promise, ouch!  I hope you’re not in that camp.

The book then goes on to discuss:

Maintaining Focus – don’t try and do everything the first year and monitor your progress implementing the strategic plan through dashboards or other tools.  The key is to have a system that you can measure your results.

Absolute Alignment – getting the resources aligned with each priority.  When the say resources they mean, financial, staff and volunteers. It’s critical to clarify the different roles of the stakeholders.  The book has a great worksheet in the book to assign roles.

Iteration Innovation – segment your program of work, have clear roles, failure is a positive, learn, and improve/modify fast.

Systematic Sunsetting – create a system where you are evaluating your programs on a regular basis.  They suggest separating your program of work into possible three buckets and take one bucket each year (education, advocacy, events).  They have a great template in the back of the book in the resources section.

Strategy- Driven Culture – they break this down into three components: redefining success, continuous learning and celebrate success.  My take, be flexible and study your markets to remain relevant!

It’s a great read and they have many templates, in the resources section of the book, that is worth the price of admission.  So, if you want to purchase a copy from the American Society of Association Executives go HERE.

Viral Business Starts at Home

I attended a general session presentation by Johnny Earle, of Johnny Cupcakes, who by the way, doesn’t sell baking goods.  They sell T-shirts!

It was a fascinating talk and his remarks were delivered in a rapid fire way.  The following were my notes.

His overarching theme was “Everything is an experience!”

He talked about:

  • Failing - fail fast - think of it as experimenting;
  • Experimenting is how you grow;
  • Sell memories, stories and themes;
  • Social media giveaways are a way to connect;
  • Collaborate to grow - it gives other folks a chance to learn what you do; and
  • People like new experiences - what are you doing is this arena?

He went on to say, what makes you unique?  You want to stand out from all the other chambers in the neighboring towns, his insights:

  • Testimonials sell - it creates trust;
  • Events foster real relationships;
  • Good design is inviting;
  • It’s all about human to human;
  • Write notes on your business cards; and
  • Customer loyalty - you must be loyal to them.

He ended with your brand is your story!  For a past blog post on What's Your Brand go HERE.

Using Design Thinking to Solve Problems

I recently attended a session sponsored by Associations Catalyzing Entrepreneurship (ACE) on problem-solving using the design thinking method.

The session led by Garth Jordan, senior vice president, corporate strategy at the Healthcare Financial Management Association and Arianna RehakCEO and co-founder of Matchbox Virtual Media.

Many say that design thinking is a powerful process for problem-solving, and has tremendous potential for associations.

It’s human centered, learn by doing, team based approaches to maintain organizational speed and flexibility.  Have a core group of people go and ask additional staff questions to get a since of what is going on in your organization.

You need to get information from the end user, the member. Ask them what they want.  Solve their problems making them a hero in their office.

It's all about the member.  You need to get your staff to think that way.  Everything we do is helping our members grow their business.

They discussed the different stages of design thinking:

First

Understand - research, gain insight, empathy, define.  Less people x more time in understanding = lots of insights.  Find the powerful themes to be able to ask the right questions.

Second

Create - brainstorm for ideas, ideate.  Asking the right questions to the right people is key.

Third

Deliver - prototype, test.  Learn and grow from feedback.  Think fail forward.

And finally, when these different stages come together - feasibility (technology), desirability (user), viability (business), where they intersect, that is innovation!

For resources on design thinking go to:

Email Marketing Techniques that Drive Results

I attended a seminar recently on the title of this blog that was led by Jay Schwedelson, Worldata, on email marketing.

The following are my notes based on his presentation and you may be surprised by some of his suggestions which is based on recent research in the email marketing sector.

Email Marketing - how much is too much?

  • 92% who unsubscribe haven’t opened that email in a year.
  • Delivery to the inbox is the key - engagement from a previously sent email!
  • Studies say open rates go up if you’re sending at least 5x a month.
  • Don’t send emails about your keynotes or registration info.

You Must Be Relevant

  • FOMO is the key to email marketing.  Fear of missing out!
  • Offers that expire have a 62% overall respond rate for BtoC and 55% for BtoB.
  • An offer must have urgency to it!
  • Subject lines.  Go to subject line dot com.

Top Words to Use

  • Free, limited, exclusive, tomorrow, today, last chance.
  • Free is the number one word for the subject line for emails.
  • 38% open rates increase if you use the word urgent.

Quick Tips

  • Half sentence subject lines...
  • “The most valuable...” - People will open to learn what it’s about.
  • “Our keynote is...”
  • Title casing - capitalize each word in your subject line...
  • Use brackets or parentheses boost open rates by 31%
  • Inbox rate is key, not deliverability rate.  The difference is showing up in spam filters.
  • Subject lines that start with a number “5” has a 21% increase in open rates.  Think listicles.
  • Pre-headers - the words after the subject line will increase your open rates by 24%.
  • Single offer emails work.  One email, one offer.  Don’t send an email with multiple offers.
  • Use light box to get emails - it’s a pop up on your website.

He went on to talk about auto opens and auto clicks being done by companies and associations to protect their networks.  Think of it as a different version of your current spam filter.

Tools and Free Stuff

  • If you're looking for a great resource on evaluating your email "subject lines" go HERE.
  • For a great resource on when to send emails based on days and times go HERE.

Good luck with your email marketing campaigns!

Make Your “Wow” Message Repeatable!

Bill Graham, Graham Corporate Communications, offered the following comments and suggestions at a recent seminar he led at a membership and marketing conference that I attended.

He also happens to be a faculty member at the Institute for Organization Management program.

His opening statement - communications is not speaking, writing, debating, meeting - those are activities. Communication is a result - did I get an idea in your head?

Communication is not a two way street.  It’s one way!

"Wow" messages have/are:

  • New information: What’s new?
  • Emotionally connected: Who cares?
  • Actionable: What now?

Memorable messages - what are your six words that you use to make a memorable message?

Repeatable messages:

  • If they remember what you said, they may join.
  • If they repeat what you said; they are recruiting for you.

Memorable vs Repeatable - memorable is good, repeatable is better...think buy vs market for you, join/recruit.

Elements of a repeatable message:

  • Sensory - help them, see, hear, taste, touch or smell
  • Profound - memorable, desirable
  • Engaging - tease, awaken, surprise
  • Emotional - make them care
  • Data-driven - use verifiably human info
  • Story-based: testimonials, examples

How to create a story in 5 Steps

  1. Set up the high-stakes situation
  2. Know what the main character wants
  3. Make your audience care
  4. Have a life-changing “wow” moment
  5. Explain value: How does it help?

At the end of the day, are your people remembering your messages and better yet, are they repeating your message?

Good luck in creating your memorable and repeatable messages!