Your Road to Yes! How the Best Leaders Create a Culture of Trust & Belonging

Justin Patton, President and CEO, Justin Patton, LLC, is one of my favorite presenters and this blog post are based on my notes from his session at the recent ACCE Annual Meeting in Indianapolis.

He started by asking the question “What is Trust?”  The unwavering belief that you are going to have my back.

Trust is money.  Not time is money!  Trust is your biggest competitive advantage.

When you have trust you have:

  • Candor
  • Security
  • Productivity
  • Engagement
  • Loyalty
  • Opportunity

Trust is what keeps people coming back!

Trust is about:

  • Transparency – do you take people with you along the journey?
  • Emotions - I feel, Thoughts - I believe, Decisions - the reason I/we
  • Tact – do we create a safe space for people to open up?
  • Togetherness – do you take people feel less alone in the world?

The toxic five that ruins a culture:

  • Disrespectful
  • Non-inclusive
  • Unethical
  • Cutthroat
  • Abusive

Emotional Bank Account

  • Put empathy before information
  • The best leaders communicate to build trust!
  • “Trust is built in the doing.  One yes at a time!”

For me, trust is about telling the truth and doing what you said you were going to do.  To me, it’s that simple!

For more information on Justin Patton go HERE and for a copy of his book Your Road to Yes! go HERE.

Getting Started with Chamber Foundations

Are you thinking about starting a Foundation?

The following blog is based on my notes from a recent seminar I attended at the ACCE Annual Meeting in Indianapolis, IN.

The presenters were Megan Lucas, Lynchburg Regional Business Alliance, Joe Venhuizen, Envision Greater Fond du Lac and Adrian Cain, Charleston Metro Chamber, and they were great.

I hope this helps you decide on whether to start a Foundation at your organization or reengage what you already have.

They started by saying 65% of chambers today have Foundations.  Some are dormant and some are re-thinking their role with the chamber structure.

They talked about how you can run your educational programming through your Foundation and not the parent.

It’s a great tool to have when a community initiative comes up and your Foundation will give you the capacity to fulfill that role.  Think of it as a different revenue stream for your chamber even though those dollars can come from existing members.

When creating a Foundation, it must be education, charitable or scientific focused.

Think workforce development.  It is important that your Foundation stay true or focused to your mission.  You can’t just create a Foundation to solve issues outside your program of work.  However, all your current educational program of work can be run through the Foundation since it is already mission focused.

Just a reminder, you have to say no to that funder who wants you to do something that is not part of your chambers mission.

When asking for money for your Foundation you need to be very focused and they recommended you give a very specific reason for why they should give you money for a very specific project.

For a great article on navigating the rules of a Foundation by a lawyer go HERE.

Keys to a Successful Membership Marketing Campaign

This blog post is from a recent session I attended at the ACCE Annual Meeting, in Indianapolis, this year based on the title of the post.

The following are my notes from Michael Johnson, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications, Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce, and his presentation, discussion, and it is in rapid form. 

What is a brand?

He said it is a collection of promises.  Others will tell you it’s your reputation.  When you think about it, they basically mean the same thing.

Promises vs perceptions – the audience makes the decision if the promise meets the experience/perception.  This is what the brand is all about for companies.

Promise vs what we deliver?   What our audience needs and wants.  Where they intersect is the member value proposition.

What promises are you making?  The following is based on research he did with his members and what they valued.

  • Networking (in person) is number one
  • Promotion and recognition
  • Educational programming
  • Economic development and advocacy

He went on to talk about what is your market perception with different audiences.

Prospecting audiences – small businesses, mid-cap, start-ups.  What do they want from us – ask them, it’s important to know before you start your next campaign.

Motivation and participation styles – engagement vs investing in the chamber, get something through the chamber vs getting something from the chamber.

What segments are important to you and how will you slice up those audiences for membership?  This is a great place to remind yourself of what types of members you want.  Remember the 80/20 rule?  I suggest you want to recruit folks who will fit the 20-part of the rule, they are the ones making a difference in your organizations.

The following two statements I found very interesting and something to remember in your membership campaigns.  The statements can be used by your sales team when recruiting new members or bringing back lapsed members.

A chamber membership can help you and your employees to:

  • Make business connections
  • Grow professionally
  • Stay informed

A chamber membership can help your company to:

  • Be recognized
  • Build reputation
  • Be heard by policymakers

The above two sets of bullets are where you should build your elevator speech from.  Keep it tight!

Now it’s time to develop your messaging.  Put another way, what are the pain points for your members and communicate how you will alleviate that pain.

Once you’ve created your messaging, it’s now time to make a schedule to market it to potential new members, and bring back your lapsed members through digital resources.  Also, don’t forget your bi-annual mail campaigns either.

He went on to talk about onboarding emails with your new members.  The key here is to set-up a workflow of emails and stick to it.

He showcased a five-email campaign over a five-month period, each email with a different message.  You’ll have to decide what works best for you and what you want to highlight in each email?  Maybe that’s three emails over the first three months of a new member onboarding process.

He ended with asking the question, “What is Mission Critical?”  What are the five most important things your new members should do?  This should be the focus of your onboarding email campaign mentioned in the previous paragraph.

Good luck with tweaking your messaging and your next membership campaign.

Building a Fit-For-Purpose Association Board in the Turbulent Twenties

As part of the Association Insights series, in Old Town, this webinar discussed the title of this blog post.

The following are my notes from Jeff De Cagna's, Executive Advisor, Foresight First, LLC presentation.

He started with the comment of “we must do something different with our organizations and boards.  Association boards must become more!”


He asked a series of questions:

  • What will our successors say about us?
  • What will the next generation of leaders think of the work you did as a board and organization?
  • Why is it critical to build a fit-for-purpose board?

He talked about how this decade is going to get worse and the four forces we face:

  • The impact of AI/automation technologies on human beings;
  • The worsening climate crisis;
  • The surge in human inequality; and
  • The rise of ideological extremism.

He discussed what is normal.  And his answer, “nothing is normal.”  He states this as the most acute short-term threat organizations face.  He made the following statement, “boards must adapt to operating in the discontinuous next.”

He went on to talk about boards being risk adverse.  Where are we headed?  Boards need to think towards the future and don’t debate current events.  That’s tough to do!

What are the foundational beliefs of a fit-for-purpose association board?

  • Focus on where you are going and not where you have been;
  • Think about your successors and stand up for the future;
  • Let go of historical expectations;
  • Get away from orthodoxy assumptions; and
  • Embrace the responsibility of stewardship with other organizations on collaboration.

How can your organizations board become fit-for-purpose?  Being a board vs. becoming a board?  Think long-term and our boards must be more and not just checking the boxes of being a board (i.e. 990 review, annual budget review, etc.).

He suggested asking your board the following three questions:

  1. What positive-sum transformation can your board pursue?
  2. What sacrifices will your board make to benefit our successors?
  3. How will the directors and officers help each other to become a fit-for-purpose board?

He ended with circling back to “what will our successors say about us?” and a quote from Barbara Jordan, “For all of its uncertainty, we cannot flee the future.”

For more information on Jeff De Cagna and his work go to his website HERE.

Think you Can’t Make Money With Social Media? Think Again.

Jason Ebey, IOM, YGM Total Resource Campaign
gave a great presentation on the title of this blog post!

His opening statement - "You came looking for money!"

We are membership-based organizations.
What is your target audience?  Members or nonmembers.  It’s about connecting either of those groups that can provide value to your members.

How businesses got out their message in the past, they went to different platforms but we’re going to focus on Facebook today.  He suggested our demographic is on Facebook and number two YouTube.  Shotgun vs focused approach is the theme.

It’s all about the reach.  How do you reach your members?

Start by cleaning your Facebook page.  Don’t lose your identify by putting too much junk on your page.  It’s about getting your members or prospective members to engage on your page.

Now it’s time to put value on your page.  Talk about your program of work:

Ribbon Cuttings – picture (free), live, interview (charge for both of those options).  Monetize what you can.  Transaction or it’s part of a top tier of your membership.

Flashback Friday – a year later highlight that ribbon cutting with pics from the event.  Nice touch when they are getting ready to renew.  Also, you could find a sponsor for your Flashback Friday.

Member Spotlights – what a great way to highlight a member by telling their story.  Members will pay you to tell their story on Facebook.  Think about delivering real content on the business and how they are interacting with the community.  Don’t over play this on your page.  Maybe sell one a month or one a week.

Holiday Campaigns – shop local with a coupon.  He talked about a company that can embed your logo within a QR code.  Remember QR codes, Covid brought that dead industry back!  Everyone is using QR codes again to highlight a sponsor and their company.

He went on to talk about Facebook pages vs groups for your organization.  The groups are  market segmentation of your total membership (think of it as folks who rally around an issue like workforce, healthcare, etc.).  And think of it that way!  It’s all about engagement and he stated that Facebook groups have a higher level of engagement than pages.

He ended with suggesting you keep a balance on your Facebook page.  Don’t go all sponsorship, but do focus on how you can monetize Facebook.  Do make sure you have quality content on your platform, page/s or group/s.  He quoted the President and CEO of the Robins Chamber that said, "this has also increased their engagement, recruitment and retention."

Make sure you pick the right platform for your organization and more importantly that you can support with your organizations resources.

For more information on Jason Ebey go HERE.

To Inspire and Empower Curiosity – Disruptors Get Curious Not Furious

This post is based on a general session I attended at a recent membership and marketing conference in DC.

Mike Maddock, the author of Free the Idea Monkeymade some interesting comments based on his book.

In a nutshell, the:

  • Idea Monkey - is the person who can come up with hundreds of concepts before lunch; and the
  • Ringleader - is the person who manages the idea monkey’s.

He went on to state they are rarely the same person.  A number of idea monkey’s and ringleaders are profiled in the book.  I’m sure these names sound familiar.

  • Walt and Roy Disney
  • Orville and Wilbur Wright
  • Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak
  • Paul Allen and Bill Gates

He challenged the audience to identify the idea monkey’s on your staff?

He then went on to pose some interesting questions and statements for the audience to consider:

  • Who’s your soul mate at work?  Get outside the jar.
  • Insights first, ideas second and most importantly keep looking for treasure!
  • Can I see opportunity?
  • Am I and innovator or inventor?
  • You can’t read the label when you are sitting in the jar – expertise trap!
  • What business are we in?
  • What business could we be in?
  • Insight, Idea and Experience – where the three meet is where you need to be.
  • Invention or innovation?
  • Ringleaders need to drive the train – empathy.

For more information on Mike Maddock go HERE.

More Than a Membership: Create Belonging Through Sound Brand Strategy

This post is based on a recent seminar I attended a couple of months ago in Washington, DC.

The following are my notes based on the conversation led by Jennie Winton of Mission Minded.

What is your Brand?  Your logo (visual identity) is not your brand nor are the programs you produce are your brand.  Your brand is your reputation.  It’s what people think about you when they see your name.

Benefits of a Strong Brand – it creates a relationship with your key stakeholders.  It also minimizes competitive threats.  In other words, they think of you first instead of your competition.

She went on to talk about how it can defend you against negative news.  A strong brand will make it easier for your sales team to bring on new members and retain the ones you have.  A strong brand is built on benefits not features (we generally talk about our “features” not the “benefits,” something that might solve their problems.

I’ve talked about that in a past post that can be found HERE.

Here are Jennie's 6 Steps to Rebranding:

1. Assess the brand you have now – survey your members and non-members to find out what your known for or not known for.  Look for patterns.

2. Identify your audience – those that are most likely to join.  That’s another way of saying you can’t be all things to all people.  Who are our core members that allow us to fulfill our mission?

3. Examine the competition – I’ve said this before, look to the next town or community and that chamber is your competition.  What makes you different?  Create a brand that differentiates you from the competition.

4. Find the open opportunity – how are you different?  What are we offering to our members that they can’t get elsewhere?  Do they feel good by joining your organization?

5. Distill that difference into its purest essence, your brand positioning – think Volvo/Safety, Apple/Innovation, Nike/Celebrate Athletes and Athletics.

6. Intentionally begin to send signals that reinforce the band you want to have – what we do, how we sound, how we look, and how we act.

She ended with “Brand is everyone’s responsibility.”

For more information on branding from One Marketing Limited go HERE.

A great resource on How To Craft Your Belief Message can be found HERE by Mission Minded.