Elevating Engagement: Let virtual programs enhance your member experience

It’s no secret that associations must adapt and innovate to maintain member engagement and satisfaction. One effective way to achieve this is by offering webinars and lunch and learns as part of their membership benefits. These learning opportunities not only provide valuable knowledge but also foster a sense of community and camaraderie among members.

Investing in virtual events are not only an effective bridge between your “big conferences,” they are also an important tool to warm-up your membership ahead of them!

Convenient Learning Opportunities

Webinars and lunch and learns provide members with convenient access to educational content, without the need for extensive travel or time off from work. These sessions can be easily attended from the comfort of one’s home or office, allowing members to participate without disrupting their daily schedules. By offering these flexible learning opportunities, associations can cater to the needs of busy professionals who may not have the time or resources to attend in-person events.

Cost-Effective Education

Organizing webinars and lunch and learns can be a cost-effective way for associations to provide professional development and educational resources to their members. By leveraging technology and virtual platforms, like Zoom, associations can deliver high-quality content at a fraction of the cost of traditional conferences or workshops. This cost-saving approach allows associations to offer more frequent educational events, enhancing the overall value of membership.

Increased Networking Opportunities

Webinars and lunch and learns offer a unique opportunity for members to network and collaborate with peers in their industry. Through interactive sessions, live Q&A segments, and online discussion forums, attendees can connect with others who share similar interests and challenges. These connections can lead to new business relationships, partnerships, and career opportunities, ultimately adding value to the membership experience.

Some of the technology is truly amazing. I host a monthly networking event myself for my membership community using a platorm called RunTheWorld. We start each event with a short seminar and then the platform matches individual attendees for private on-on-one networking sessions.

Over the last two years I’ve made loads of connections and even made a few friends! Just imagine how this could impact your organization.

Expertise Sharing and Thought Leadership

By hosting webinars and lunch and learns, associations can showcase the internal expertise of members, vendors and thought leaders from around the country. By inviting industry experts and professionals to speak, associations can provide members with access to cutting-edge information and insights. This, in turn, elevates the association’s reputation and enhances the perceived value of membership.

Customizable Content for Diverse Interests

Webinars and lunch and learns can be tailored to address the specific interests and needs of the association’s membership base. By offering a diverse range of topics and formats, associations can cater to various learning preferences and professional backgrounds. This customization ensures that the educational content is relevant and appealing to a wide range of members, increasing overall engagement and satisfaction.

Ongoing Access to Learning Resources

Recorded webinars and lunch and learns can be archived and made available to members for on-demand viewing. This not only allows members who were unable to attend the live event to benefit from the content but also provides an ongoing learning resource for all members. By building a library of educational content, associations can continue to add value to the membership experience long after the event has taken place.

Reducing the membership churn is the goal of every association. You can’t simply rely on one or two live events to keep your members engaged. They expect more and you need to deliver. Scheduling regular virtual events is the simplest way to deliver exception value that won’t break the bank.

If you’re interested in a webinar on engagement for your members – I can help! Just send me a quick note and we’ll create a virtual event everyone will be excited to attend.

How Associations Can Boost Member Engagement: 6 Strategies to Consider

Engaging members is critical to the success of an association. Members who are involved, active, and invested in the organization are more likely to renew their membership, attend events, and support the association’s goals. As such, it is important to consider strategies that can help increase member engagement.

Here are six strategies that associations can use to boost member engagement:

Offer Value

The first step to engaging members is to provide them with services, resources, and benefits that they find valuable. Ensure that your offerings are relevant and up-to-date, and provide a range of options to cater to different segments of the membership base. Ask members what they need and make adjustments to your offerings to meet their expectations.

One of the biggest mistakes any organization can make is taking it’s members for granted. You are there for your members. They do not owe you loyalty. So you need to constantly offer value in order to keep them. 

Communicate Regularly

Communication is key to maintaining a connection with members. Regular updates, newsletters, and social media posts that keep members informed of the association’s activities, accomplishments, and opportunities help build trust and demonstrate that the association is actively working to meet its members’ needs.

Too often the only communication that comes through is when an association is trying to promote something. But you need to build a relationship with your members. If you want them to open your email, it’s better if they aren’t always expecting a CTMM (Call For More Money).

Encourage Participation

Members are more likely to be engaged if they feel like they have a voice in the organization’s decision-making process. Encourage participation in committees, events, and surveys to gather feedback and ideas. Make sure to consider and act on members’ suggestions and feedback to show them that their input is valued.

This can be as simple as hosting an open “office hours” with a member of the executive once a month. Give your members a voice and let them know it’s being heard. 

Build a Community

Creating a sense of community and belonging is crucial to member engagement. Offer opportunities for members to network, collaborate, and build relationships with each other, such as forums, social events, and mentorship programs. This helps members feel connected to each other and to the association, which can increase their sense of belonging and loyalty.

Technology has made this simpler than ever to accomplish. I am not only a speaker – I run a community of professional speakers. And using some very simple tools for networking (Zoom, Run the World) we get together every week to network and mastermind. We’ve even become friends!

Recognize and Reward

Recognizing and rewarding members for their contributions and achievements is a powerful motivator for engagement. Offer awards, certificates, or other forms of recognition to members who have made significant contributions to the association. This helps to create a culture of appreciation and respect, which can encourage members to stay engaged and involved.

I’m often shocked by how few organizations provide members with a digital badge and instructions on how to add them to their websites. Just letting your members leverage your credibility with their own customers is a reward in itself!

Continuously Improve

Continuously seeking feedback and improving the association’s offerings and services is critical to retaining and attracting new members. Regularly evaluate the association’s performance, assess member satisfaction, and make improvements based on the results. This shows members that the association is committed to meeting their needs and creating a better experience for them.

By implementing these strategies, associations can build a loyal and engaged membership base that supports the organization’s goals and helps drive its success. By doing so, the association can maintain its relevance and impact over time; reducing membership churn and attracting new members on a regular basis.

Insight, Engagement & Reputation: Why great is always better than cheap when hiring speakers

Hiring a great speaker for an association event can have a significant impact on the success of the event and the association as a whole. A great speaker can inspire, motivate, and educate attendees, providing valuable insights and practical takeaways that can enhance their personal and professional development.

How does this help the association? Well for one thing – your event won’t suck. And if you develop a reputation for excellence in your programs members will be more likely to invest in future events.

More importantly they are likely to STAY members. And as purse strings tighten across industries member retention is going to be critical going forward.

Engaging and Inspiring Attendees

When associations invest in great speakers who engage and inspire attendees, they create a memorable experience that resonates long after the event is over. How many times have you found yourself comparing great conferences you’ve attended with those that fell flat? Is it the food you remember? The quality of the sheets in the hotel? NO! You talk about the programing.

A speaker who is passionate, dynamic, and relatable captures the attention of the audience – your members –  delivering a presentation that is both informative and entertaining. When your members leave every session you want them to be engaged because engaged attendees are more likely to participate fully in the event and take action on the insights and ideas presented by the speaker.

Providing Valuable Insights and Knowledge

Great speakers provide valuable insights and knowledge to attendees, sharing their expertise and experience in a way that is relevant and useful. By providing practical takeaways and actionable strategies, a great speaker helps attendees improve their skills, enhance their knowledge, and advance their careers. This leads to increased satisfaction among association members and a stronger reputation for the association.

This is why it is so important to vet your speakers and watch the video samples they send. Anyone can pull together a fantastic sizzle reel. But your members deserve the steak. Find actual footage of them delivering programs on Youtube or other mediums.

One of the resources you should certainly consider is the Association & Society Speakers Community showcase videos. Here you’ll find speakers delivering portions of their real content – not flashy “best ofs.” Watch mine here. 

Enhancing Reputation and Branding

Hiring a great speaker enhances the reputation and branding of the association. If you are relying on industry speakers who will do the job for free – well you get what you pay for.

Many of the speakers you’ll attract are used to giving sales presentations. And they may struggle to pivot from that format – even if they don’t mean to.

Worse, they have no idea how to present to a large audience or use technology appropriately. I still groan when I think of powerpoints jammed with text.

A well-known and respected speaker lends credibility and prestige to your events, making them more attractive to potential attendees and sponsors. A successful event can also help boost the reputation of the association, positioning it as a leader in its industry or niche. For this alone – a great speaker is always more of an investment than an expense.

Increasing Attendance and Membership

When your organization has a reputation for bringing in great speakers, who deliver fantastic programs, it makes it easier for you to sell future events.

When I was first starting out I had a speaker say to me “There are two types of speakers in the world. Celebrities and the rest of us.”

It was funny. But it was also true. A few years back The National Speakers Association brought in celebrity speakers like George Takai and Steve Forbes to speak at their annual convention. That’s right – an association made up of professional speakers brought in non-speakers to keynote it’s annual convention.

Members grumbled. But they showed up. Celebrity matters.

The truth is a speaker who is well-known draws a larger audience than a subject matter expert. But the price tag can be eye-popping.

Associations should therefore look for the subject matter expert, who also has stage presence and knows how to win the audience. This may not be as flashy as having Mr. Sulu from Star Trek, but for your membership, leaving with a positive return on THEIR investment is critical if they are going to return for you next event.

Delivering those returns will lead to higher member retention and even growth. That’s because a memorable presentation,  from a great speaker encourages attendees to return for future events and recommend the association to their colleagues and peers.

Providing a Positive Return on Investment

Finally you need to remember that hiring a great speaker is an investment and not an expense. Relying on cheap or free speakers may make your event memorable – but probably not in the way you want it to be memorable.

Investing in great speakers leads to great events. And great events can increase membership retention, acquisation and even non-dues revenue.

Bringing in great speakers enhances the reputation and branding of associations, and provides long-term value to attendees, helping them improve their skills and advance their careers.

And in the end your sucess is 100% tied to the success of your members.

The Impact of AI on Marketing: A Look Ahead

The Importance of Associations for Professional Speakers

Professional speaking is a competitive field, and one way for speakers to distinguish themselves and build credibility is by joining associations related to their industry. These associations can provide numerous benefits to speakers, including access to educational resources, networking opportunities, and opportunities for professional development.

One of the primary benefits of joining an association is access to educational resources. Many associations offer webinars, workshops, and conferences that provide speakers with the opportunity to learn about new trends and techniques in their field. This can help speakers stay up-to-date on the latest research and best practices, which can make them more effective and engaging when speaking to their audiences.

Networking is another important benefit of joining an association. Professional speaking can be a solitary profession, and joining an association can provide speakers with the opportunity to connect with others in their industry. This can lead to opportunities to collaborate on projects, share resources and ideas, and learn from the experiences of others.

In addition to educational resources and networking opportunities, associations can also provide speakers with opportunities for professional development. Many associations offer certification programs that can help speakers demonstrate their expertise and differentiate themselves from their peers. Some associations also offer leadership development programs that can help speakers hone their skills and take their careers to the next level.

Overall, associations are an important resource for professional speakers. By joining an association, speakers can access educational resources, connect with others in their industry, and pursue opportunities for professional development. These benefits can help speakers build their skills and credibility, and ultimately, succeed in their careers.

7 Strategies for Successful Content Creation: A Guide for Business Owners and Managers

As a business owner or manager, you know the importance of creating high-quality content for your website, social media, and other marketing efforts. But coming up with fresh ideas and producing consistent content can be a challenge, especially if you have a small team or limited resources. Here are seven tips to help your staff create engaging content that will captivate your audience:

  1. Clearly define your target audience. Before your team starts brainstorming ideas, it’s important to have a clear understanding of who you are trying to reach. This will help ensure that the content resonates with your audience and meets their needs.
  2. Set specific goals and objectives. Determine what you want to achieve with your content, whether it’s increasing brand awareness, generating leads, or driving sales. This will help your team focus their efforts and create content that aligns with your business goals.
  3. Encourage collaboration and creativity. The best content often comes from diverse perspectives and fresh ideas. Encourage your team to share their thoughts and ideas, and consider incorporating different writing styles and formats to keep things interesting.
  4. Offer resources and support. Provide your team with the tools and resources they need to succeed, such as access to research materials, editorial guidelines, and marketing software. Consider hiring a content marketing specialist or giving your team access to training or workshops to help them improve their skills.
  5. Give feedback and support. Encourage a culture of continuous learning and improvement by providing constructive feedback on their work and offering support when they need it. This will help your team feel valued and motivated to produce their best work.
  6. Keep it consistent. Consistency is key to building trust and credibility with your audience. Make sure your team follows your brand guidelines and tone of voice, and consider implementing a content calendar to help them stay on track.
  7. Stay up to date on industry trends. Encourage your team to stay current on industry news and trends so they can incorporate relevant information into their content. This will help ensure that your content remains fresh and engaging.

By following these tips, you can help your team create compelling content that resonates with your audience and supports your business goals.

Marketing Your Speaking Business in 2023: Tips and Strategies for Success

Marketing a speaking business in 2023 will require a combination of traditional and digital strategies that take into account the evolving needs of audiences and the increasing use of technology. Here are some tips on how to market a speaking business in 2023:

  1. Leverage social media: Social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook are powerful tools for promoting your speaking business. By sharing your expertise, connecting with potential clients, and promoting your speaking engagements, you can reach a wider audience and establish your brand as a thought leader.
  2. Utilize email marketing: Email marketing can be an effective way to promote your speaking business, particularly if you have a list of past clients or potential leads. By sending newsletters, updates, and promotional emails, you can keep your business top-of-mind and nurture relationships with potential clients.
  3. Attend industry events and conferences: Attending industry events and conferences is a great way to connect with potential clients and promote your speaking business. By networking with event planners and other industry professionals, you can showcase your expertise and promote your speaking services.
  4. Build partnerships: Partnering with other businesses or organizations can be a powerful way to market your speaking business. By collaborating on events or promoting each other’s services, you can reach new audiences and gain exposure for your business.
  5. Utilize content marketing: Content marketing involves creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience. By sharing your knowledge and insights through blog posts, articles, and videos, you can demonstrate your expertise and attract potential clients.
  6. Utilize virtual and hybrid events: Virtual and hybrid events are expected to continue to be popular in 2023, and they can be a great way to market your speaking business. By offering virtual or hybrid speaking engagements, you can reach a wider audience and showcase your expertise to a global audience.
  7. Utilize paid advertising: Paid advertising, such as Google AdWords, can be a useful tool for promoting your speaking business. By targeting specific keywords and demographics, you can reach potential clients and drive traffic to your website.

Overall, marketing your speaking business in 2023 will require a combination of traditional and digital strategies that leverage the power of social media, email marketing, industry events, partnerships, content marketing, virtual and hybrid events, and paid advertising. By utilizing these strategies, you can effectively promote your speaking business and attract new clients.

Welcome to the the “Great Reinvention”

There is a lot of talk  about the “great resignation”

If you’ve been living under a rock (and the data plan on your phone is terrible), you may not have heard about it. 

But for millions of people – both employers and employees – it’s serious business. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 4 million Americans left their jobs in July 2021. 

That’s a lot of people voluntarily leaving jobs they probably haven’t loved for a long time. 

Someone once told me that people quit their jobs long before they ever stop collecting a paycheck. 

Trapped in jobs we hate

The lifecycle of an employee is too often driven by fear. 

You get a job and get comfortable. You get a mortgage, a car loan, start a family….boom you’re trapped in a job you don’t care about because you need it to pay bills. 

Along the way you spend less time in the house, less time with your family and more time in that car commuting to and from work.

But since the first lockdowns started at the beginning of the pandemic, a lot of us got to spend more time working remotely from home, with our families…and it was pretty good. 

I’ve been working from home since 2005. And I can tell you that it took about two weeks before I decided that I never wanted to commute to an office ever again. 

How many of the millions of people who were forced into remote work by the pandemic ended up with the same knot in their stomach when talk of a return to the office started last summer?

I know a lot of people can’t wait to get back to the office. But even if a small percentage of folks are now dreading it, that’s a big problem for businesses. 

And to be quite frank, I’m not sure what can be done.

Real life/work balance…now with whiter whites

Once you’ve adapted to a life where laundry and Zoom meetings can happen at the same time – it’s kinda great. 

But the “Great Resignation” is only the precursor to what comes next. And that’s the “Great Reinvention.”

In the short term a lot of people are going to try the entrepreneurial route, starting their own businesses based on what they were doing before. And that’s great. But honestly, it’s a tough road and definitely not for everyone.

Many times over the years I’ve found myself dreaming about how nice it would be to clock into a job and 9am and leave at 5pm without a care in  the world – knowing that my bank account would be magically replenished every two weeks. 

Eventually most people will drift back into the labor market. But their priorities will have changed. 

Some will want more meaning from their jobs. Others will look for less meaning – seeing their job as simply the vehicle to pay for what they really want from life (even if that pay is less). 

This is the great reinvention. And it’s going to impact businesses of all sizes. 

Welcome to the new world of work

How should companies respond? 

First they need to understand that the employment landscape has changed and so have employee expectations. For the first time a lot of employees have tasted freedom from brutal commutes, toxic office cultures and more. And guess what – freedom is priceless. 

Trying to force people back to 2019 work schedules isn’t going to be successful. 

Organizations need to embrace the “Great Reinvention” and adapt to their employees’ needs if they want to attract and retain the best talent going forward.

Those organizations that continue to commoditize their workforce will be left struggling to explain why nobody wants to work for them. 

Are you stuck in the subscription service money trap?

As someone who works with entrepreneurs I see the same mistakes coming up again and again. At this point I could easily go down the rabbit hole of hating on GoDaddy. But I’ll just say don’t use them if you can find literally ANY other host. 

But even that ties directly into what I’m going to discuss today. Which is how easy it is to get snowed by great marketing into paying too much for services. 

Over the years my business has spent $1000s of dollars on subscription services that I rarely used and yet paid for month after month for years at a time. 

But because each one didn’t cost a lot, most of these didn’t register. But of course anyone who has cut cable only to find themselves with Netflix, Hulu, Disney+ and a half dozen other streaming services will tell you  – these things add up. And they add up fast. 

The truth is there are a lot of free and cheap options out there that can help you cut down your monthly business expenditures. 

Stock Photos

For years I was paying over $40 a month for a subscription to Dreamstime. I use images primarily for presentation slides and blog posts. 

I like to stay on the right side of the copyright police and so should you. So if you are in the habit of grabbing random images off of Google…stop.

Last year I was working with a client to help him create a webinar. And as I was watching it for the first time the headshot of another speaker – a speaker I knew personally – showed up in his presentation. When I asked this client where he found it, he said that he had just typed “handsome businessman” into Google. 

So where can you find a “handsome businessman” without paying a small fortune every month? Well there are a couple of places out there. But the one I use the most is Unsplash.com. 

It has millions of images – including the one I used on this post! And more importantly it’s free. But do the photographer a solid and make sure to attribute the image correctly. 

Don’t be afraid to go “off-brand”

One of the big reasons you are paying too much for subscription services is because so are most other people. Folks sign up for GoDaddy – even though it’s terrible and expensive – because GoDaddy is great with marketing. 

The same goes for many of the other services you are probably using. 

One of the places I constantly check for innovative “off brand” or discounted technology is Appsumo.com.

Just recently I was able to replace a $25 a month Hootsuite subscription with a lifetime license to a tool called Social Champ for $49. And I actually prefer the tools and user experience of Social Champ to Hootsuite. 

With Appsumo the offers are changing all the time, so it’s good to check back often. But warning – it can be as addictive as any online shopping. So stay focused on what you will actually use vs. what looks really cool. 

Another monthly subscription I was able to ditch was Mailchimp. Again I was paying over $50 a month to occasionally send out emails. However, lifetime access to Sendfox was $99.

Does it have all the bells and whistles of Mailchimp? Nope. But was I using all that functionality? Nope. 

Let’s add all this up

Now it’s time to do some fancy math. How much money will I save this year alone from just switching these services?

12 months Dreamstime subscription @ $49 = $588

12 months of Unsplash FREE

 

12 months of Mailchimp @ $51.99 = $623.88

Lifetime access to SendFox $99

 

12 months of Hootsuite @ $25 = $300

Lifetime access to Social Champ $49

 

No need to grab a calculator. I was able to eliminate $1511.88 worth of subscriptions for less than $150.

What are you paying too much for? And what can be replaced by finding an off brand equivalent? 

It’s time to turn your list into a real community

Are you still sending out a monthly newsletter? How’s your open rate?

According to Smart Insights, across All Industries the average open rates for emails is about 16.97% with a click rate of just below 11%.

But chances are you aren’t even getting those kinds of numbers. And the reason is pretty simple.

Most of the stuff we all send out is crap. 

Coming up with content is tough. So most people only use their email list to send out promotions. And even when they do send out content, it’s basically a re-write of the same article they’ve been writing for years. 

Frankly, it’s a miracle that anyone opens emails!

So let’s shift your thinking about engagement a bit. What if you stopped seeing your list as simply a group of prospects and started treating it like a community?

How do you think that would impact your engagement opportunities and elevate your stature?

That’s the shift that I’ve made and I want to explain how it can work for you.

Back in January I started co-hosting a monthly Global Networking Event for Speakers with Ed Rigsbee. 

As an origin story, it’s not exactly Spiderman. 

In November, I was invited to a virtual networking event that included 1 on 1 networking between attendees. The experience was excellent and I was able to meet and connect with other professionals from across the planet for short conversations. 

The best analogy I can think of is speed dating. Short, private virtual video conversations on a timer. Just enough time for introductions and finding out a bit about each other’s businesses. 

When I spoke to Ed about it, we decided to give it a shot for professional speakers. Soon we’d settled on a platform and started sending out invitations to our lists. 

The results were amazing. Nobody else seemed to be doing this. So we had people signing up from everywhere. It was also incredibly simple to set up and manage. 

The technology for these events is affordable and accessible to everyone. Check it out here. 

Over the first part of this year, we’ve honed the format a bit. Ed and I talk for a few minutes and welcome folks in – before letting them loose for some networking. 

The goal is to create a community out of what was once just a list. And it’s working!

I’ve connected with speaking professionals  – many of whom I’ve known for years – in a deeper, more personal way. I’ve found out about their businesses and they’ve learned something about mine. 

It’s certainly a lot more engaging than sending out another bland email trying to get people to buy my book (which you can grab right here if you want it!)

Here are some of the things I’ve learned that you should really consider:

  • If you have a list that is feeling a bit tapped out, virtual networking events are a great way to warm it up
  • Make it a regular event. Let folks know when to expect your events (ours are the last Friday of the month)
  • Charge a nominal fee. We started charging $4.99 to cover costs. When we charged $0 more people signed up – but fewer showed up. If folks have a bit of skin in the game, they’re more likely to attend. 
  • Be a gracious host – but don’t hog the spotlight. Ed and I let folks get to the networking quickly. We may include 10 minutes of content. But that’s it. 
  • 2 hours is the sweet spot. Our statistics show that most people stick around until the 90 minute mark. So we leave it open for an additional 30 minutes after that.

So what’s stopping you from doing the same thing with your list? Wouldn’t you feel better knowing that you are inviting people to something they actually want to do?

If you need help figuring it out, just book a free 30 minute call and I’ll explain everything.