Engaging and Promoting in a Digital Ecosystem

I recently attended a conference session (title of this blog) by Shama Hyder and Eric Kuhn.

Social Media - new definition - people are now the media!

The reach of any event can go viral - the old event that had 10,000 now is reaching millions - think the United airlines story - everyone around the world knows what happened.

In today's age you have the opportunity to get your message out and many will say the Millennials are the ones to get that message out.

By 2020 they will make up the majority of the workforce.

3 Trends in Social Media

  1. Identity-Based Ecosystem - showcase their own identity;
  2. Content Curation and Community - collaboration, community; and
  3. Video Device Agnostic (web + people = TV).

Eric Kuhn - from Hollywood to Silicon Valley.  Where we came from?

3.7 billion global Internet users who are on facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, email, Kickstarter, Tumblr, Podcast, Tinder.

Fight for future - Uber owns no cars, Alibaba has no stock, airbnb owns no properties, wiki-links sells no encyclopedias.

SoMoLo - social, mobile, local - Uber and Lyft - content is important.

Best Practices

  • Have a purpose, a point of view on social media;
  • Go viral - inform, inspire and insight to action (why you should share); and
  • Talk with the audience not at the audience or down to the audience.

How social media now effects every organization?

  • Content is currency;
  • Live your brand;
  • Design matters (what it looks like); and
  • Have purpose and value with your product, programs.

Until next time!

The Marketing Basics

I recently attended a session headed by executives from 360 Live Media at an association membership and marketing conference.

There session was fast paced and very informative.

They started with Simon Simek's question - Start with why?

They went on to talk about the 5 things every marketer should know:

  1. The 6 R's our metrics for success:  reach, retention, relevance, reputation, revenue, roi (relationships)
  2. 9 P's of marketing - purpose, place, people, promotion, performance, packaging, product, positioning, price
  3. Segmentation - demographic, geographic, firmographic, economic, behavioral, attitudinal
  4. Know your competition - not only chambers but also Prime and other groups asking your members for membership dues dollars (think economic development, CVB, etc.)
  5. PR squared - what consumers want, precision and relevance as well as power and reciprocity

In addition, they gave a list of 45 little things you should try in your marketing practices.

  • Words matter (#1 word free - exclusivity)
  • Bad words matter (Alert)
  • Triggered emails work
  • Speed matters (auto responders - don't go past 3 hours)
  • Thank you page traffic
  • Landing page fields (don't go over 45 seconds to fill it out or you'll lose 42%)
  • Must field responses
  • Landing page navigation bar (remove the navigation bar)
  • Mobile landing pages
  • Invitation emails (you're invited)
  • Submit button (click here, go, download are others words you could use)
  • Non-offer links
  • All links to offer page (with no navigation bar)
  • Logo clicks
  • Question emails
  • Suspense emails (and the winner is...)
  • Single day offers
  • Engagement matters
  • Inactive recipients hurt you
  • Last call emails
  • Pre-Headers are Important
  • Offer in The Pre-Header
  • Test Emoji's (it's working on increasing open rates)
  • Minutes email (grow your business in 15 minutes)
  • Just for emails (CEO's, HR professionals, etc.)
  • Sense of Urgency (time is running out, date in the subject line)
  • After offer expires (more people open after expired than who open before)
  • Horizontal vs vertical
  • Pre-population
  • Free is king (filtering is now done by your ISP, junk mail)
  • Free vs complimentary
  • Multi-touch is only option (same offer - within a two week period or less)
  • Seed yourself
  • Sending time (could be up to 12 hours for large lists)
  • Tomorrow (not the day of the week)
  • Details matter (no last name in emails)
  • Personalization
  • Letter format
  • Primary Image (same for email and landing page)
  • Clocks Work (countdown clock on offer)
  • Flash Sale Offers
  • The 10% Test (not the A/B split test)
  • End of the QTR (don't send in the last 3 days)
  • 3 Second Rule (page needs to load in less then 3 seconds)
  • You Have a Giant Finger (you need space between links)

Their final comment - Test Everything!

For more information about 360 Live Media go HERE.

Rebranding Your Organization

I recently attended an educational session on rebranding your organization and wrote this post on from my notes.

Expectations vs Reality!

Change is hard and most people don't like it.  Who should you involve in getting from A to B?

Do you use an outside group to help in the transition?  Most will tell you this is key!  Get outside expertise to get the ball rolling.

First step is to acknowledge that you need to change:

  • Buy-in first from the CEO and then rally the troops - staff and volunteers
  • Everyone needs to be on the same page
  • Remember, rebranding is not about changing your logo

Brand = Reputation

Define what you want with this rebrand?  Create and align all your program of work that you want to do (hint, get rid of the sacred cows)

Three phases of the launch: 1) Preparation; 2) Internal launch; and 3) external launch.

Plan on at least 12 months, set your strategy and then tell the story - where we were, where we are, where we're going.

  • Culture vs behavior:  Create a culture that will change the behavior.
  • Make the change matter - tell them why we're changing.
  • Stand your ground when the naysayers show up.

You've based your decisions on data (survey work with your members).  Tell the story that they were involved with from the beginning.

Three types of groups you'll encounter:

  1. They love it (small)
  2. I don't know how I feel (most will come around)
  3. They hate it and have already made up their mind (not that many but can be loud).  And by the way, some may find their way out!  That's ok.  Focus on the new, not the old.

Measure and do better as you go through this process.

  • Who moved my cheese book - let them move their own cheese!
  • Use the Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 report to help with the discussion on what you want to be.  I'm a fan of the "fund the mission" not events.  I've said it before about getting out of the ribbon cutting business, get into the advocacy business.

You'll find that you'll have more time to focus on moving your chamber forward instead of chasing the next event.

Think about your monthly Board Meeting!  Wouldn't you like to get those down to a quarterly basis?  That way you can focus on getting real stuff done vs writing the minutes and then turning right around to create the next months Board agenda.

It's a never-ending cycle!

In addition, how many times do we complain that we can't get our board members to attend the monthly meeting?

Maybe you'll get better attendance if you move it to a quarterly basis!

Content Strategies for Associations

Let's all recognize that content went online from print.  The days of magazines and newsletters has been dropping for years.

So what should you do?

You need to create a content curation strategy.

That's how inbound/content marketing was born.  Think SEO.

Marketing technology is the next level of the inbound/content marketing model.  You need to track what's going on out there so you can get these folks in your membership prospect funnel.

Outbound marketing, your traditional ways of reaching out to your prospective members and members, is still important as you upgrade your new marketing strategy.

They key is to do both!

Refer to the Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 report that talks about how you need to find out what your members really need to know.

So as you curate content, you are playing the role as the filter.  The arbiter is the role you can dominate because you are the facilitators in your communities.  Remember, your members don't have time to wade through all the information.

You can also interpret the content and deliver it to your members.  Remember, we're in the business of solving problems for our members.

The information you curate should be balanced and varied.  It should not only be coming from you or your chamber but from other folks and chambers from around the country.

5 types of curation:

  • Aggregation - common, not useful, you're just giving them a list, top 10
  • Distillation - context and interpretation of the content (think infographics)
  • Elevation - trend spotting, you need the knowledge to spot the trends and tell the story and bring context to the information.  This topic is important.  Think reports and speeches.
  • Mashup - putting two or more pieces of content together to create something new that could be useful for your members.
  • Chronology - the idea that you create content that has a timeline.  Think the 50 or 100 year anniversary and you create a piece of content around successful programs, maybe based on a decade at a glance.

Three ways you can curate:

  • Algorithmic - Google (this is where gaming SEO comes in to play)
  • Social - Reddit (crowdsourcing - since it's based on voting it too can be gamed)
  • Expert - a person or small group (Master in media is a great source).  Experts can be on your staff, your members, vendors or others in your community.  Don't be afraid to use their expertise.  This responds to the balanced and objective views of content.

Concluding thoughts:

You want to be positioned as the thought leader/expert/deliverer of timely and accurate information.  You need to play the role of filtering through all the stuff that's out there and distill it down to bite size chucks that will help your members succeed in growing their businesses.

Understanding Typical Member Retention Rates

What are your current retention rates?  Do you know?

If not, that's the first thing you need to do to understand your membership and where your money comes from on an annual basis.

Let's review the basics, 90% retention, 80% retention, 70% retention can make a huge difference in your recruiting strategy.

If you're at the 90% retention level, great, consider yourself lucky, because most chambers are nowhere near those numbers.

You've heard the old saying, engagement increases retention.  Yes, and maybe no!

The bottom line is you want to recruit members who believe in what you do (your mission) and they're called "Altruistics."  They will support you no matter the issues of the day that your Chamber may be dealing with at any given time.

For more information on different types of members please visit YTheyJoin.com or HERE.

An "Altruistic" by definition, believes in what you do and will not change their mind in supporting your chamber over any contentious issue that may arise from time to time.

They believe that you want a strong economic environment for not only the business community but also the general public and that's why they will support you, even if they don't believe in any one specific issue that they may disagree with you on.

Those are the members we want!

Why chase members that you have to please every day vs the "Altruistic" that will be with you every day, week, month and year because they believe in you and the greater cause?

Find the "Altruistics" in your community and recruit them today.  They will support your efforts in building the future of your organization and your community.

For a previous blog post on membership equations go HERE.

Good luck! 

Tips for Creating Programs with a Strategic Purpose

When you're creating a program or event, are you thinking about how it relates to your strategic plan?

Or are you just worried about whether it's promoted properly?

Or are you hitting your numbers for the amount of attendees you budgeted for?

At the end of the day, that's the wrong way to look at this process.

Instead, think about whether this program or event directly relates to your strategic plan/mission and does it make money?  For more information on a blog post I did about program-based budgeting go HERE or about making money go HERE.

The reality is that only 15% - 20% of your members actually attend your events.

As stated in the Horizon Initiative: Chambers 2025 report you need to base your recruiting on the mission and not your organizations events.

Bottom line, let's get out of the special event business and get into the advocacy business.  I know, I take hits all the time when I mention this concept at different venues across the country, but at the end of the day, you need to be the advocate for your members not the special events coordinator.

Consider getting out of the ribbon cutting business, the golf tournaments or the fireworks shows!

For more information on the Horizons Initiative: Chambers 2025 report by the Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives (ACCE) go HERE.

Good luck in changing the focus of your chamber from one of events to one of being the leader in the community through advocacy and community development programs.

Until next time!

Give a Great Speech: Think EATS

Did I capture your attention?

When thinking about giving a speech, you really need to think about the fundamentals of giving a good/great speech!

I recently attended a seminar with Jeff Porro, a specialist in communications, and his talk was spot on!  For more information on Jeff go HERE.

He laid out his thoughts on giving a great speech using the EATS theory!


  • Event - research the group and the specific event.  Understand what the group expects to get out of your presentation.
  • Audience - who's attending and what is the demographic?  Millenneals, X, Y, or is it the Boomers?  Or is it all of the above?
  • Theme - what's the theme of the event?  What is their expectation?  At the end of the day, it's what they want is what you need to deliver.  Figure out what that is and knock it out of the park!
  • Speaker - that's you!  Obviously, you're experienced or they wouldn't have invited you to address the group.  Relax, create your story for this group and deliver the goods!

Now let's get to the speech.  Make your speech personal (tell a story about yourself at the beginning of your speech).

Use stories not statistics.  He said he gets a lot of push back here - but stories about statistics, is the way to go.  People remember stories, not statistics.

Repeat yourself REPEATEDLY - rule of three is another tip I gained at Jeff's presentation.  Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and finish with what you've told them.

He also talked about how conflict can be a good thing in a speech.  Most people are not comfortable with this concept, but once you've mastered it, he says it's the way to go!

He ended his presentation with a couple of odds and ends: don't tell a joke to start - tell a story about yourself instead.  And end your speech with the facts and the story that you began with.

For more information on giving great speeches go to Jeff Porro's website HERE or for a great article titled 8 Tips on Giving a presentation Like a Pro from Entrepreneur Magazine go HERE.

Sponsorships: Make it a Win Win For Both Parties

Sponsorships have been a great source of income over the year, but are we spending the right amount of time and energy to make sure they are working for both the sponsor and the chamber?

I like to use the word "partner" instead.  It just makes a statement that we’re in it together.

And that's the way it should be.  They need to see value, if they get it, they’ll be there for the long haul and that means you have to spend less time on the next deal.

Do you have exclusive deals?

In other words, limit the about of “partners” you will have and focus on those opportunities in your program of work.

I’m a fan of less is more, that's an example of fewer “partners,” but paying more for that opportunity, which is a win win for both entities involved.

What are some of the things you could be doing together:

  • Joint marketing letter/email showcasing their product/program;
  • Logo placement throughout the year on your social media platforms and website;
  • A chance to introduce a speaker/s at your monthly programs; and
  • Allow them to write a blog post (you have editing rights) etc.

Again, what’s key is your future sponsorship deals is to think of them as “partners."

Something to think about!

3 Things to Consider When Creating a Grassroots Network

When it comes to creating a grassroots network, it’s important to keep your members involved, while having fun and know that they are making a difference for your organization.

How do you do that?

I’d suggest the following three things:

  • Communication
  • Activation
  • Share your work/results


It’s imperative that you communicate on a regular basis with your grassroots army even when you may not have an issue that is hot.


Make sure you have an easy way to activate those grassroots participants that will go to bat on any specific issue.  Remember, you should be able to segment by issue so you’re getting the right message to the right people and that will show in their response to your call to action in a timely manner.

Share your work/results

Keep everyone apprised of the work that your grassroots army is doing on behalf of your membership and community at large.  Give them credit in your social media outlets, document that fly-in program with pictures and stories.  And celebrate the successes you’ve made.

In the advocacy business there are three elements to an effective program.  You can find that previous blog post HERE.

Create a Job Description for the Volunteer to Set Expectations

Creating a job description is one of the easiest things you can do that will have a lasting impact for your chamber.

If you’re like me, you hate uncertainty, well if your volunteers don’t have any expectations of what is expected of them, their in the same boat you are.

What should be in that job description?

Explain to any potential volunteer what their responsibility is as a board member.  Legally, in a nutshell, we all know it’s:

  • Duty of Care - competence to make good decisions on behalf of the organization;
  • Duty of Loyalty - act in the best interest of the organization and not their self-interest; and
  • Duty of Obedience - follow the mission.

In addition, the three things I always want to make clear in any volunteer job description are the following:

  • You want their intellect;
  • You want their passion; and
  • You want their financial support (money).

Other things that could be spelled out in the job description could include, but not limited to:

  • Attendance requirements;
  • Recruitment responsibilities; and
  • Advocacy participation.

That's a recipe for success for all involved!