Blogging and Twitter Seminars

Friends of this blog, Maddie Grant and Lindy Dreyer, have put together several seminars on social networking that they are making available. They look really good. You can contact them directly to find out more at: Social Fish.

Here are a couple of the upcoming topics that are available.

Introduction to Personal Blogging (101 level)

  • How to listen like a blogger before you ever write your first post
  • Blog set-up basics, from configuring a free blogging platform to optimizing RSS feeds and social bookmarking tools
  • Secrets behind great blog writing
  • Getting comments and building community
  • Personal branding through your blog

Introduction to Association Blogging (101 level)

  • Secrets behind great blog writing
  • Different types of posts that can add spice to association blogs
  • Technology tricks, from optimizing RSS feeds and using social bookmarking tools to syndicating your blog content all over the web
  • Getting comments and building community
  • How to be authentic and good alternatives to ghostwriting
  • Developing voice and personality in single or multi-author association blogs

Getting Started on Twitter (101 level)

Learn how to sign up, how to follow the most relevant people, what is Twitter etiquette, how to use Twitter Search, and some of the different applications to choose from for viewing your Twitter stream online or on the go.

By the way, I am on Twitter now. You can connect to me at with this link.

Economic Growth: Comparison of Non-Profits to the National GDP

How are non-profit organizations growing compared to the overall economy?

Based on data from 2002 through 2006 (the last industry specific data available) it looks like non-profits are falling behind the rest of the economy. To make this comparison, I looked at the overall GDP against the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) 813 which includes religious organizations; grant making and giving and social advocacy organizations; civic, social, professional and similar organizations.

During this period the overall GDP grew by 32% while the gross output by industry for 813 grew by 28%.

However, as in any statistical analysis there is another interesting slice of the numbers. When comparing just the civic, social, and professional organizations, which would include most professional societies, these groups experienced an output growth of 35% during this timeframe compared to the 32% GDP growth.

The data that I have access to will not take the industry comparisons all the way down to NAICS 813920 for Professional Organizations level. But this is something that each of us can look at for our own organizations. How did your organization fare during this timeframe?

Membership as Economical Unemployment Insurance

Positioning your membership offer is as important as ever. And when it is done properly, I am seeing membership marketing response rates continue at a good pace this fall.

Here is an example of a smart way to position the benefits of a professional membership. I received this promotion in the mail the other day. The letter focused on the practical economic benefits of membership in this organization. One point was that membership was cheap unemployment insurance. Here is a quote from the letter:

“When I talk with younger colleagues, I have frequently described the value of STC membership as being a form of layoff insurance. Think about it: if you've accumulated a lot of additional skills and knowledge, you're more likely to weather layoffs because you will be more valuable to your employer. And even if you do get laid off, you'll probably be able to get another job quicker than your compatriots. Here's a little secret: STC members get a 14-day advance look at all the new job postings on the online Career Center. (It's an exclusive membership benefit.) That's a two-week head start on your competition.”[1]

The lesson here is that people still make purchases during tough economic times. But their priorities and motivations change. Be sure that your marketing differentiates your organization as a solution.

[1] Society for Technical Communication, Membership Letter, October 1, 2008.

Making Your Marketing Memorable

Psychologists tell us that three of the parameters to help people retain information are Frequency, Intensity, and Duration.

So how can you apply these rules to make your marketing more memorable? Let’s take a look at each of them in turn.

Frequency: Marketing is remembered when multiple impressions are received. No we do not want to overwhelm members and prospects with repeated communications. However, in some key membership areas, I find that frequency is often lacking. For example, most organizations do not send out sufficient membership renewal notices. Surveys still show that many members have not renewed because they “forgot”. Here is another area. In an effort to limit email some organizations have moved to a single “combined” promotional email communication each month. But if email was achieving a 5% click through rate with a frequency of twice a week, it is unlikely that a 40% click through on a once a month communication will be achieved.

Intensity: In marketing, intensity relates to how effectively the promotion taps into a prospect’s emotions. A remarkably high number of buying decisions are made based on emotions and justified with reason. I wrote about using emotional drivers in a recent post. To enhance the intensity of your marketing first understand the wants and needs of your audience, then use stories and appeals to emotions -- like avoiding discomfort or embarrassment or gaining personal prestige or influence – to lock your message into the memory of your prospects.

Duration: In challenging economic times, one of the first budgets to be cut may be marketing. But research shows that organizations who keep marketing going over the long haul – taking advantage of duration -- build recognition and market share.

Here is one piece of research that I came across. An article from the journal Strategy and Leadership reported on a study of over 4,000 companies “the research showed that cutting marketing during a recession leads to reduced profitability in recovery, while increasing it leads to a 300% faster market share gain during better times.”[1] Keep this in mind as you look at your budgets.

How is your marketing doing in the areas of frequency, intensity, and duration? Feel free to share your insights.


Supply and Demand Applied to Membership Marketing

With gas prices up and down, we are hearing a lot these days about supply and demand. So I was thinking, how does supply and demand play out with membership marketing?

Here are three observations.

  1. Demand for membership renewals is fairly inelastic. Meaning a percentage increase in dues rates generally does not translate into an equal or greater percentage drop in renewals rates.
  2. Demand for membership acquisition is more elastic. Meaning a percentage dues discount usually translates into more members.
  3. Membership supply is very elastic. Meaning it is easy to increase the number of member benefits (i.e. magazines) to meet increased demand.

What implications does this have for your 2009 planning?

  1. You may have room to increase dues rates on renewing members.
  2. You may want to try a dues discount to encourage new members to join.
  3. You can quickly and easily meet an increase in demand for more memberships, so push growth.

Let me know if you agree with these observations.

ASAE Social Networking Group for Membership Marketing

If you are a member of ASAE and the Center for Association Leadership, you are eligible to participate in their social networking site. This is a place where you can post questions, engage in conversations, and connect to other like minded professionals.

Today, I set up a group on the site for Membership Marketing. If you would like to give it a try, I am including instructions here on how to register.

  1. Go to the ASAE home page.

  2. Select People and Groups

  3. Select Directories

  4. Select Member Directories and login or create a login

  5. Select Groups

  6. Under Quick Search, key in “Membership Marketing”

  7. Select “Membership Marketing” and join the group

Here is the initial discussion question that I have posted for the group:

How is the current economic slowdown impacting your membership? Are fewer members joining and renewing? Or are people flocking to your association for safety and help in finding jobs, customers, and information? Please share your experiences.

Please feel free to give the site a try.