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Within the association community, there is always buzz around something. For the past several years, the buzz was “big data.” More recently, the buzz has turned to engagement, specifically measuring member engagement. In fact, in my latest annual one-question survey, engagement was the most commonly identified issue from respondents. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Of course, if you’re already on my announcements list, you would have received notice of this new article right in your email box. Not signed up yet? Click here to sign up.

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This article, co-authored by Scott Oser and myself, outlines some highlights from our sessions at the recent ASAE Membership & Marketing Conference.

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This blog post is LONG and fascinating. It’s written by the CEO of an AMS company explaining why associations should not build their own AMS product.

Sure, he’s got a vested interest in associations buying off-the-shelf software, but he has an interesting perspective because prior to running his own AMS company, he was actually hired by an association to build a custom solution for them.

His experience underscores what I’ve told my clients for years: Associations should not be in the business of designing their own database.

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Amazon.com is easily my favorite place to shop online. Everything about the experience there is top-notch. Of course, any of us who shop on Amazon have had the same or similar experiences. That includes your members, too. And therein lies the rub for all associations. Click here to read the rest of the article.

Of course, if you’re already on my announcements list, you would have received notice of this new article right in your email box. Not signed up yet? Click here to sign up.

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On September 4, I’ll be the featured speaker at the Loudoun County Idea Swap hosted by ASAE and held at the National Recreation and Park Association in Ashburn, VA. Click here to get all the details here and register. It’s free!

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Tate & Tryon is hosting a FREE seminar on data management, designed especially for C-suite executives, this Wednesday, July 30, from 9am-11am, in Washington, DC. I’ll be speaking on the panel.

Click here for details and registration.

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I was once working with a client during implementation of a new association management system. At one point we got into a lengthy discussion of how to use the database to automate, as much as possible, the collection of application information from a certain type of member.

After discussing how we could use the software to do what the client needed to do, and getting a sense of how much work (meaning $) this would require to make it work correctly, it dawned on me to ask the most important question: “How many transactions are we talking about?” The answer: roughly 75.

A quick look at the math suggested a solution to this problem was going to wind up costing about $250 per application.

So before you go too far down the road discussing how your database can help address a problem, make sure the problem is big enough to merit the discussion at all. Start by asking, “How many people/customers/transactions/staff does this affect?” If the number is small, it will likely be just as easy to process data manually as it will be to program the database to do it automatically.

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In my almost-ten-years as an association professional, I worked for three different associations whose membership was based on organizations rather than individuals (commonly referred to as “trade” associations). One of the biggest challenges that trade associations have is that very often, membership in the association hangs on the relationship with one individual at the member-company. (At my associations, we referred to these people as the prime contact, or PC.)

The relationship between the PC and the association was critical, because the PC was the one making the decision every year on whether or not to renew. And what every membership manager at a trade fears is the PC leaving the member-company and having no one else to work with at that member-company. This is where a good AMS can help.

A good AMS package will allow a membership manager to track several key things that will help here. For example:

  1. You can track multiple secondary contacts, including those contacts designated by the member-company as secondary contacts, as well as secondary contacts identified through other transactions (e.g., event registration, product sales, etc.).
  2. You can track the activities of all contacts at a given member-company, including non-transactional activities such as volunteer activity.
  3. You can track titles of all contacts at a given member-company.

With these few pieces of information, if a PC leaves a member-company, you’ll at least have a good starting point for finding a new PC, or at least a champion within the member-company. For example, if a non-PC had served on one of your committees in the past, that would be a good person to contact if the PC has left the member-company. Or contact individuals who have attended several of your educational events. These types of people already see the value of your organization, and could become a new PC or at least become a strong influencer on whoever the member-company designates as the new PC.

A good AMS can let you create ties to your member-companies that run deeper than just the relationship you have with your PC. Make sure you’re leveraging all of that data!

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