An Executive Director's point of view


December 14, 2014: Hiding the price

Category: Business practices
Posted by: David M Patt
I just received a promotional mailing for an association event. It did not include the price.

Why do associations and businesses think they can trick people into attending events by not stating the price upfront?

They assume the promotional pitch will work, and the recipient will pay whatever it costs to attend.

Well, that just is not true.

If I find that the price is higher than I want to pay, I won't attend, no matter how much value I think the event offers. And if I have to click through additional pages to find out that price, I'll have a negative opinion of the event's producer for trying to trick me into registering.

Don't hide the price of your event, product, or organization. It won't help.

December 10, 2014: Change your habits

Posted by: David M Patt
A local, professional association complains that young professionals don't join the organization and those that do don't participate in leadership activities.

But the group holds is Board of Directors meetings during work hours and eschews evening events.

Young members can't always take time away from work during the day, and they often like "happy hours" and other after work activities.

They may not pay to attend fund-raisers and educational conferences, but they love to network and are very willing to pop for a beer.

If you want to attract young professionals, you have to conduct business in ways that attract them.

November 26, 2014: The right to fail

Posted by: David M Patt
One of the greatest challenges for association professionals is persuading organizations to do things they way we (association folk) think are best.

But our attitudes are often viewed by organizations as an assault on their culture, or at the very least as demonstrating a lack of understanding of their associations, professions, or industries.

Leaders and members of associations often conduct organizational business in the same manner in which they perform their own jobs. And they think that is perfectly correct.

Are they accustomed to making decisions or following other people's orders? Are they used to delegating tasks or doing things themselves? Are they employed in large bureaucracies or in small agencies or businesses.

Do they create their own work environments or do they rigidly follow rules that were set by others? Do they normally work individually or in groups? Do they like to talk about "the big picture" or focus on operational details?

Do they feel comfortable reacting to already vetted ideas or would they rather construct proposals from scratch - at Board meetings?

We (association folk) may often think they are disorganized, misguided, dysfunctional, or just plain wrong. But they frequently think we are the odd ones, even when their way of doing things does not yield positive results.

It's important to remember that associations belong to them, not to us. They have the right to bumble through things without accepting our guidance or advice. And they have the right to fail.

November 17, 2014: Whatever works

Posted by: David M Patt
It doesn't matter if you take notes on a legal pad, a laptop, or a tablet. And it doesn't matter how you get your news - as long as you receive what you need, when you need it.

Use whatever tools or habits will enable you to succeed at what you want to succeed at. Whether it is "new" or "old" does not matter.

Just do whatever works.

November 13, 2014: Men who don't think

Category: Culture
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's an account of an episode in which a man donned apparel that was inappropriate for a professional gathering (or any gathering, really).

November 10, 2014: What to do with passion

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
Here's what the Dilbert creator has to say about that.

And here's what I've said about it in the past.

November 07, 2014: The age myth

Posted by: David M Patt
"Age is not as much of a factor as previously thought when it comes to preferences in the workplace," declares a study by commercial real estate services and investment firm CBRE Group, Inc.

Read more.

November 05, 2014: Engagement or satisfaction?

Category: Membership
Posted by: David M Patt
We know that members who are involved in association activities - e.g. attending conferences, serving on committees, contacting legislators, etc. - are often more likely to renew their membership than are those who aren't.

But we should not assume that members who are not "engaged" in these ways are less interested in the organization and its work.

Many "non-engaged" members are very satisfied with the group. And they may even consider themselves "engaged," even though they don't fall into the categories designated as such by association mavens.

So, find out what members want and then determine if the association is providing it to them.

Member engagement and member satisfaction are not the same thing.

November 03, 2014: Acceptable mistakes?

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
An association professional recently posted a short listserv comment that contained five strangely spelled words.

They were neither typos nor misspellings. They appeared to be the result of fingers galloping indiscriminately over keys, randomly inserting letters where they didn't belong.

The person obviously did not proofread what she had written.

Then she did it again. Two days later, she posted another comment that displayed the same careless errors.

I wonder if she realized (or cared) how stupid this made her appear?

October 30, 2014: Application fees and late fees

Category: Membership
Posted by: David M Patt
They aren't always justified.

Why should a person pay an extra fee to join an organization? What costs are incurred by the association? What did the member receive for that extra payment?

Why should a member pay a penalty for late renewal? Does the association spend more money to process a late renewal than it does for a timely renewal?

Does it really matter if a person claimed to be a member during the lapsed period? What would they gain? If the association cuts off benefits immediately, then the member did not benefit in any way during the non-paid time.

Is the purpose of a late fee merely to punish members and try to force them to renew on time?

Late fees for re-certification usually make sense. People use their credentials all of the time, so they should not be able to enjoy the benefits of doing so when they haven't paid.

But that situation is not that common in the case of membership. It seems like charging application fees and late fees are just a way for associations to squeeze more money out of members.
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