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ASAE 2014 Convention Highlights

Posted by Katherine Mandusic Finley, Ph.D., CAE, CFRE, CMP on Sep 10, 2014 10:00:00 AM


When I attend the ASAE annual meeting, I always assume I will garner a few new ideas that will ultimately result in either cost savings or revenue that will cover my expenses for the meeting. This year, I wasn’t disappointed and in fact attended several sessions that hopefully will result in more efficient association operations and more effective leadership.

Unfortunately, ASAE offers so many sessions so it is difficult to attend all of them. I highlighted a few of the sessions that were particularly interesting including:

  • “Give and Take” presented by Adam Grant
  • “Seven Steps to Develop Your Association’s Value Proposition” presented by Melynn Sight
  • “The True Cost of Free” presented by Rafi Mohammed
  • “Nimble Decision Making: Help Board Leaders Make Better, Timelier Decisions” presented by Elaine La Chappelle and Bill Shepherd of the Ontario Real Estate Association
  • “Five Important Trends in Membership” presented by Sheri Jacobs

In the opening session of the conference, Adam Grant from the Wharton School of Business talked about the three styles of interaction in the workplace – Takers, Givers and Matchers. Takers are the “free riders” who take credit for projects but leave it to others to get the job done; Givers help others in the workplace without any strings attached; and Matchers balance giving and taking in the workplace. Although Givers sometimes use a lot of their time to help others in the workplace, overall they are the best performers. Grant gave us tips on how leaders and managers can use the knowledge he has gained through his research on Givers and Takers to build more effective teams and work relationships. You can learn more in Grant’s new book, “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” (Penguin Books, 2013).

One of the most important statements an association can produce is a value proposition. Yet, according to Melynn Sight, this is one document in which most associations miss the mark. Instead, they produce a lengthy statement on what benefits and services they provide but substitute the name of the association and most of these statements could belong to any association providing benefits to its members. As Sight aptly points out, the value proposition is not the association’s mission or vision statement or its brand. The value proposition is the customer or member’s rationale for buying the product or joining an association. It demonstrates what your organization has that members cannot get anywhere else. A value proposition has to: 1) resonate with members; 2) clearly differentiate your association from others; and 3) substantiate your claims. Or put another way, the value proposition has to have appeal, be exclusive and demonstrate that you are a credible source. Sight outlined a seven-step process for developing a value proposition that includes: 1) identifying the various member segments; 2) understanding the member’s worries and needs; 3) showing how your organization or association will answer their biggest needs; 4) creating a draft of the value proposition; 5) taking another look at the proposition and reviewing it carefully; 6) verifying the value claims in the proposition (i.e., can you deliver on the claims); and 7) launching the value proposition and execute your plans. More information is available on Sight’s website at membervalue.org.

One of the “Game Changer” sessions I attended at ASAE was “The True Cost of Free” presented by Rafi Mohammed, a pricing strategy consultant and author of "The 1% Windfall” (Harper Collins, 2010). In his talk, as well as in his book, Mohammed reviewed an easy-to-implement strategy to help association executives set prices for services and products. He noted it is important to invest time in reworking pricing. Pricing is a powerful tool: a slight change in how an association thinks about pricing can result in a surplus. He also explained that implementing value-based pricing is a victory and the key to better pricing is to offer choices to members. For more information, visit Mohammed’s website at pricingforprofit.com.

We would all like our boards to make decisions more quickly. In the ASAE session, “Nimble Decision Making,” two association professionals from the Ontario (Canada) Real Estate Association presented their award-winning board training program. Many association board members have no experience on boards and oftentimes are bogged down with discussions not based in fact, get involved with internal or industry “politics,” lack the skills necessary to be a good board member and/or are risk-averse. To be effective, directors need to train together but it is difficult to arrange training outside a board meeting and they need to keep the skills necessary for good governance on the top of their mind during board meetings. Therefore, the Ontario Real Estate Association developed a series of three 45-minute tutorials that are presented to all board members prior to each board meeting. The three tutorials are called “Informed Decision Making” (or understanding emerging trends), “Eliminating Barriers” (examining all behaviors at the board table that get in the way of good decision making) and “Implementing Decisions” (communicating and monitoring results). Although these tutorials are not available for sale, you can contact Elaine La Chappelle and Bill Shepherd at the Ontario Real Estate Association for more information on how you can obtain this information.

Sheri Jacobs, CAE recently published a new book, “The Art of Membership: How to Attract, Retain and Cement Member Loyalty” (Wiley, 2014) based on ASAE research. Fortunately, I was able to attend one of her sessions at the ASAE Annual Meeting and would strongly recommend association executives and membership directors purchase this book. During her session, Jacobs discussed these five important membership trends: 1) the social influence of others (what others do and think); 2) the new engagement model; 3) membership based on benefits and not demographics; 4) gamification (or making things fun by using game theory); and 5) flexibility. A brief hour session allowed Jacobs to only cover these five trends, but her book is filled with much information useful to all associations.

Did you attend the ASAE 2014 Convention? Share your favorite and most memorable convention highlights.

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Topics: Conferences, Association, Learning, Associations

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