[Associations Today] What Keeps Your Members Up at Night?

Published: Wed, 01/30/13

January 30, 2013

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Road to RelevanceYou can be one of the first to read the follow up to Race for Relevance. ASAE is now taking pre-orders for Road to Relevance: 5 Strategies for Competitive Associations which will be released in March.

The competitive landscape is tougher than ever for associations. Road to Relevance identifies five practical strategies--ranging from capitalizing on strengths to purposefully abandoning under-performing programs and services--for successfully competing now and in the future. It provides real insight into how to adapt the strategies to your organization's circumstances so that you can execute. Case studies, adaptable examples, and provocative questions are included throughout the book to help you work through these strategies from adoption to implementation.

There is a 10% pre-publication discount for orders placed by March 1, 2013. Just enter promotion code "R2RPREPUB" during checkout.

Order your copy now at www.asaecenter.org/Road.

Latest Podcast

In this month's podcast, Shelly Alcorn, Principal, Alcorn Management Consulting, encourages associations to join the workforce conversation and sees it as an opportunity to create relevance for both members and future members. [Listening Time: 8 minutes]

Click to Listen

Featured Article

Finding Relevance in What Keeps Our Members Up at Night
By Quinn Dufurrena, DDS, JD
Executive Director, Colorado Dental Association

According to Race for Relevance, associations nationwide "are challenged with clearly identifying how to help members be more successful..." At the Colorado Dental Association (CDA), this message spoke to us...because we were living it. In the fall of 2011, the CDA was determined to figure out what our members truly wanted and how to successfully address that demand.

IdeaIn a focus group type setting, we asked members of varying ages from across the state the simple, yet imperative question: "What keeps you up at night?" We wanted to know what aspects of their everyday stole their precious REM cycles.

There were many answers to this question, but the underlying meaning was unanimous. Our members were struggling with the business side of dentistry. Today, it takes more than a good dentist to run a successful dental practice; in fact, it takes an individual with business know-how and the ability to professionally educate and communicate with patients. Employment law isn't a course taught in dental school - in fact dental students really aren't exposed to any kind of "Small Business 101" type course. Knowing this, it isn't surprising that dentists reach out to the CDA daily asking questions like: "How long am I required to keep my patient's records?" "Do I have to provide benefits to my employees?" "How do you write an employee handbook and do I really need one?" The list goes on - in fact we brainstormed nearly 400 questions that dental practices ask us.

It was clear that we needed to provide our members with a business resource, but not just any resource. This resource needed to be relevant, timely, entertaining and easily accessible. It was a tall order. Our members are extremely busy, yet greatly motivated, if not desperate, to incorporate time-saving tools. Taking all of this into consideration, the CDA developed a business plan and implemented a three-part Web-based dental resource: InfoProABC. The program had both a business and clinical component providing short videos and resources that answered their most pressing dental practice questions.

After several months of collecting data, we found that it actually wasn't the clinical tools that our members were using, but the business resources. Our InfoProABC program was more robust than it needed to be. Our members wanted simple, easy and useful, so we went back to our original concept and reworked the program into an educational business e-mail series called the Association Business Brief.

This improved membership benefit is a proactive e-mail campaign we provide to CDA members absolutely free. It gives members useful business information in the form of an entertaining but short video. It also gives members access to a robust video library so they can get answers to many business related questions at their convenience. This business resource addresses commonly asked questions in the areas of practice management, risk management, employment law, regulatory compliance and 3rd party payors. Each video offers concise information in one to three minutes, making learning convenient on a computer, phone or tablet. In addition, we supply useful links to regulatory websites and forms, as well as printed articles. These e-mails are sent twice a month, and future business topics and questions are always solicited.

During our three-month test market campaign, we had an average e-mail open rate of 32% and an average video watch rate of 18%. Based on electronic surveys to members following the campaign, 82% stated that the Association Business Brief "provided added value to their membership" and 87% stated that they would "like to continue receiving the Association Business Brief e-mails."

The CDA finally cracked the code: it isn't the number of member benefits that an association provides, but rather the perceived value of the benefits by members that counts. Figuring out what kept our members up at night gave the CDA the knowledge to invent this invaluable resource that can "help members be more successful."

In The News

More than nine out of 10 association executives said they were spending more on their websites than on mobile. Yet according to the Mobile Marketing Association of Asia, out of the 6 billion people on the planet, 4.8 billion have a mobile device and only 4.2 billion own a toothbrush! Mobile is NOW and your association needs a plan for it. Read more about it at Associations Now: http://tinyurl.com/awutnrs.

Conversations Starters

QuestionsRadical change starts with questions. Questions lead to conversations. And conversations unearth possibilities for your organization. Here are a few conversation starters to consider when exploring the possibilities of collaborating with other organizations:

  • What do we have to offer collaborative partners?
  • What, specifically, are we looking for in collaborative partners?
  • What are the characteristics of an outstanding collaboration?
  • What collaborations have we had in the past that have worked well and what can we learn from that?
  • What collaborations have we had in the past that have not worked well and what can we learn from that?
  • What process should we use in the future for deciding who to collaborate with?

About Mary

Mary Byers helps associations gain clarity and focus through leadership conference training and facilitating strategic planning retreats, assisting task forces and work groups, and helping association staff and volunteers talk through tough issues.

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