A Feast of Knowledge—Solutions Day, Part Two



It was a treat to visit with so many of you at .orgCommunity’s Solutions Day. The event, which was held on November 2 at the American Society of Anesthesiologists, was another sort of feast. Thought leaders from across the community brought their expertise to the table.

In Last week’s post, I highlighted our headliners. In this message, I’m sharing the Quick Takes or 20-Minute Snapshots of Success. These mini-presentations are great examples of how association and corporate leaders can partner to solve the toughest challenges.

Not long ago, those companies we now call partners weren’t viewed in such a friendly light. Associations feared corporate influence and were wary about establishing relationships that seemed too cozy. Those qualms have largely vanished.

Today, leaders and volunteers realize that collaboration is powerful. When nonprofits and industry cooperate, both groups win. Solutions Day provided multiple examples of those benefits.

Life After Liftoff. Featuring: Jonathan Adams – IT Director, Water Quality Association  Carole Herzog – Senior Project Manager, Impexium and Patrick Dorsey, SVP Marketing, Impexium

After you launch the AMS take a breath, then focus on your people. They will be using a new system, and navigating that change involves managing emotions. These are best practices that Carole and Patrick outlined for a smooth transition.

  • Evaluate where change is needed and where it may not be important. Take cues from behavior to understand how different groups are reacting.
  • Plan metrics for success. Have a roadmap.
  • Create feedback loops to check in with teams at benchmarks along the way.
  • Keep it fun. When goals are achieved, celebrate.
  • If a team is experiencing difficulty, be quick to provide the right assistance.
  • Keep the communication flowing among members, external leaders, chapters, and all other stakeholders. You can’t over-communicate.

Be patient. It can require a full year before new technology becomes part of the fabric of your organization. Keep teams engaged and focused on metrics. Whether it’s revenue, member impact, staff efficiency, or data capture, every organization has different priorities. Clear goals prevent backslides and keep the focus on the future.

Ramp up Non-Dues Revenue. Featuring: Christine Diedrich – Director, Multimedia and Publishing, Society of Petroleum Engineers and Dan Stevens – President, WorkerBee.TV

Does $500,000 in non-dues revenue sound like a pipe dream? The Society of Petroleum Engineers made it happen by changing the business model. Pre-COVID 70 percent of the organization’s non-dues revenue came from over 80 in-person events.

You can guess why a change was critical. SPE decided that live-stream and on-demand content offered a solution. The goal was to develop multimedia programming as a new financial resource and to engage a wider audience. Simplified content creation and delivery were additional objectives.

To begin, SPE updated their AMS and other tech tools. They identified the right media partner in Workerbee.TV. Together the two groups developed a unique content platform with a solid brand identity. Clever titles, like Energy Stream, were used to enhance audience appeal. “We wanted to make it easy for everyone to engage with our content,” Christine advised.

The platform is a vehicle for advertising and sponsorship. Tech Talks, the most popular sponsored offering, is now making the transition from online to live. Seven slots are already sold for the Annual Conference where the events will be held on a stage outside the exhibit hall.

“We saw a 355 percent increase in revenue from our inaugural year with 1,500 average views per episode throughout last year,” Christine said. “There are approximately 40,000 users from almost 200 countries engaging in this content. We succeeded in beating our in-person results. One of the most important benefits is that now we are reaching the younger, or under 45-member demographic. That audience is our future.”

Create a Network Members Trust. Featuring: Jake Adler – CTO, American Society for Surgery of the Hand and Collier Faubion – Senior Sales Engineer, Nimble AMS

In a recent Community Brands survey, 80 percent of association professionals viewed maintaining their members’ trust as a top priority, and one out of five people think if you want your organization to grow, the first thing you must do is win members’ trust.

Effective technology solutions play an important role in fostering that goodwill. Everyone must be able to depend on their tech tools to provide correct information and data.

In the medical profession that confidence is essential. Using Nimble AMS, Jake and his team have created applications that make members’ lives easier with the assurance that the software provides a stable platform. Among the new services is an app for physicians that includes extensive information on medical coding.

Jake noted that having a software provider they can trust has made a difference in the organization’s ability to market this innovation and other impactful products. “Nimble did a lot of fishing for us while they were teaching us how to fish,” Jake recalled. “Through that education, we learned to maintain the system, update it, and build new solutions on top of it, turning ourselves into a mini software company.”

Increase Educational ROI. Featuring: Erica Kruse – Director of Education, American Society of Neuroradiology and Jennifer Martin, PCM, CDMP – Product Marketing Manager, Community Brands

With just 14 staffers, ASNR manages a robust annual meeting. The organization processes 250 oral presentations, 600 posters, and 1000 plus abstract submissions. The meeting includes 500 to 600 speakers and moderators.

“Most of us remember the days when managing these activities meant chasing people down, keeping multiple lists, and checking the boxes,” Erica notes. “We no longer do any of that. Now, AI Evolution, our Attendee Interactive platform, manages everything. The system checks for duplicates and scheduling errors. It is the only way we could keep track of such a big schedule with such a small staff.”

The platform includes four modules that work together to make life easier. Erica was able to bring continuing education activities that were formerly outsourced in-house. It also relieved volunteers of responsibilities they had limited time to complete. AI is even supporting diversity by ensuring that a representative cross-section of the membership are presenting.

These efficiencies make it possible to focus attention on activities that make the meeting exciting like identifying great speakers, developing a unique agenda, and communicating that enthusiasm to the audience.

Get Your Website Some Glam. Featuring: Christine Nogel – Chief Operations and Business Development Officer, The Arthroscopy Association of North America and Jake Toohey – Director, Association Practice, Adage Technologies

Don’t be a prisoner to a frumpy website. You can update your online image without depleting staff and financial resources.

“A typical web development project requires six to 12 months. But sometimes you don’t have the luxury to complete all the steps. We’re talking about getting up and running quickly by taking a minimum viable product approach,” Jake advised.

This project began in mid-February with a deadline of May 1. Christine credits AANA’s recent rebranding with making the online update easier. A robust brand guidelines document enabled the team to navigate decision-making and a variety of issues quickly.

Managing expectations for the outcome was another key success factor. Christine needed the group to understand that the website would be a work in progress. Development would occur in phases and the site would evolve and change with user experience.

“Sometimes people can’t articulate what they are looking for,” Christine noted. “I asked stakeholders to show examples of sites they liked and to explain which features they enjoyed most. That feedback made it possible for me to communicate our requirements to Jake and his team.”

The software the group selected is highly customizable. But to save time, they opted to use themes instead of developing templates and content blocks themselves.

The frank conversations that Christine had with her CEO and volunteers about outcomes paid off. When the site launched, stakeholders agreed that it more than met their expectations. The moral of this story is that clear guidelines, flexibility, and communication make for a smooth process. And don’t forget content and mapping. Christine’s team started site planning and writing new pages on day one.

Find the Customer’s Voice. Eric O’Connor – Chief Growth Officer, American Association of Nurse Anesthesiology and Greg Pollack – SVP Sales, Association Analytics

AANA knew that member experience is the foundation for every initiative. Data provides clues to understanding behavior and discovering what your constituents want and need. Unfortunately, AANA’s important evidence was hidden in the tabs on an Excel spreadsheet.

“We had 26 sheets,” Eric recalled. “One for each year of our existence.” To provide meaningful member interactions and aid in strategic decisions, that data needed to come out of its messy closet and get cleaned and organized.

Analytic tools made a significant impact on AANA’s member retention and renewal initiatives. The association was able to:

  • Segment messaging to appeal to various audiences.
  • Discover that student members needed extra TLC.
  • Use a creative campaign to reactivate $30,000 in renewals.
  • Build new emotional connections and raise market share from 71 percent to 81 percent.
  • Target member groups to deliver the greatest ROI.
  • Move beyond surveys and focus groups to track actual behavior.

Using data analytics gave AANA a new set of eyes. It also helped them to make a bigger shift. They moved beyond transactional relationships to develop the emotional ties that keep members connected to their brand.

Revolutionize Renewals. Featuring: Artesha Moore – President & CEO, Association Forum (Artesia was unable to attend) and Rebecca Vierhaus – Client Services Manager, NetForum, Community Brands

The challenge of renewals is as old as associations. Getting members to come back is an issue that every group addresses. Sorting through membership categories, chasing late payers, and delivering the invoice to the person who actually pays the bills has probably triggered more than one migraine.

NetForum’s Express Pay brings simplicity and order to the task. The company calls Express Pay an add-on, which means it is not part of their base product, nor is it a customization. The association’s data remains housed in the AMS.

Express Pay creates a landing page that can be sent via email or with a QR code. Clicking the pay option either produces an invoice or a search page. Companies with multiple members have the option to select which invoices they want to pay.

There is no need to log in, and anyone can access the information and make a payment. The add-on includes all of the cybersecurity that is inherent in the NetForum systems while providing a frictionless customer experience.

Payers are in familiar surroundings because the site is designed to reflect brand identity. Best of all, the process can be automated so that rolling invoices are continuously delivered. If you wonder about your members’ payment patterns, hook up with an analytics platform and gain new insights on the early birds and procrastinators.

Watching invoices disappear while resources grow is a lot more fun than taking Tylenol.

Go From Good to GREAT—Web and Mobile Engagement Strategies. Featuring: Jodi Talley – Senior Director, Marketing and Communications, Turnaround Management Association and Laura Graham – Senior Solutions Consultant, Results Direct

Jodi began her job at the Turnaround Management Association just as COVID locked the country down. Although they were short-staffed and working remotely, she understood that a website redesign was a priority that could not be postponed. After extensive conversations with stakeholders across their network, a list of problems was identified.

The biggest issue was that the site didn’t reflect the company’s culture. TMA members are a gregarious bunch. They love to network and learn from each other. That dynamic community wasn’t evident in their online branding. In addition, visitors to the site couldn’t easily find the information they needed.

Results Direct delivered a platform that put people front and center, brought consistency to the design, and simplified navigation using terminology that members understand. “Our project manager, Caroline, really kept the team on task,” Jodi observed. “She updated us weekly about what we had accomplished and what was still needed. Our small team could provide subject matter expertise, but we needed her to oversee all the details.”

With support from Results Direct, Jodi’s team was also able to launch a new conference app. The software integrates with their website and makes changes to agendas seamless while giving users a sleek, friendly interface.

Wishing You Abundance

Solutions Day was a banquet of knowledge. I hope that your holiday is equally rich in the good things our profession makes it possible to enjoy and that you’ll return to work renewed, refreshed, and prepared to continue lending your expertise to this community.


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