Thursday, April 27, 2006

Marketing & Membership Symposium - You're Invited!

Join us for the 2006 Marketing & Membership Symposium, an exclusive learning and networking opportunity for association, marketing and membership professionals. This two-day conference is designed for experienced professionals looking to explore marketing, membership and sales topics with their colleagues. Stretch your thinking by examining new strategies and practical applications that will help market products and services, enhance member recruitment and retention and drive business success.

To be held Monday-Tuesday, June 26-27, 2006 at the Marriott Bethesda North Hotel & Conference Center. Nonmember attendance rate includes a one-year ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership membership.

And, I especially invite you to attend our panel presentation:

Creating Passion is an Inside Job—
The Why & How of Building a Great Staff Culture for Your Organization’s Success

Associations constantly search for new ways to increase passion and loyalty among their stakeholders. This interactive and engaging session explores the vital connection between passionate staff and stakeholders. The session will provide you a sustainable process for maximizing your staff's talents toward organizational success. The panelists will offer their experience, ideas, and examples of their programs to implement in your association. Learn how to harness your most valuable "human" resource's knowledge and experience and put it to work!

Our panel includes Yours Truly (yes, ME!) and....

Matt Baehr, PHR
Director of Membership
InfoComm International
703-273-7200 x 3080

Christopher D. Bailey
Director of Membership
the Alchemy of Soulful Work blog:
Phone 703-431-0948

Some great and very timely topics will be:

BUZZMARKETING: What’s Word of Mouth Have to Do with an IMC (Integrated Marketing Communication)?

LOST: Your Search and Rescue Guide to Membership Retention Loyalty Programs

MAVERICK MARKETING: How to Stand Out from the Herd, Get Better Results and Wrangle More Members Your Way

How Sucessful is Your Organization’s Membership Eco-System?

ASAE & The Center for Association Leadership's Town Hall Meeting

GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES: So What? Attracting and creating Value across Generations: What Works Today?

LEADERSHIP LAB: Giving Gen-X a Seat at the Table

STUDENTS: The Next Generation of Leaders

THE NEW MEMBER VALUE EQUATION: Creating and Delivering Value for Association Products and Services


THE "UN-SESSION": How to Invest in the Attention Economy


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The B-to-B Lead Drain and Truth-Based Selling

WHAT COMES TO MIND when you hear the term account qualification? You may think of qualified leads, or some way of weeding through potential customers so you don't spend time where you're not likely to get sales.

Most salespeople feel the point of qualification is to use time wisely. Here's what one sales coach suggests:

It's really easy to waste our time in front of customers who aren't going to buy…remember, if it's not real, or we can't win it, or it's not worth it — you're wasting your time — find something else that is!

The message this coach delivers is that time is money. Your efficiency matters, and customers are infinite and undifferentiated, so if one doesn't fit, drop him or her quickly and find another more likely candidate. The implied message to customers is: My time is important, and you are not. You are important to me only in terms of how fast I can sell you and how many dollars I can get in the sale. I want to figure that out as quickly as possible to minimize my potentially unproductive time.

Consider applying this approach to some other aspect of human relationships. Suppose teachers looked at students this way? What's the reputation of those who consider dating solely a screening mechanism, rather than an exploration and learning opportunity? What would you think of parents who screened their interactions with their kids to determine what was in it for them?

The approach is built around a transactional, seller-centric model. You judge that you won't run into this person or this company again, so the only thing that needs to be done is to evaluate, as quickly as possible, whether or not you're going to profit from the contact.

It's the equivalent of a military "scorched-earth" policy. If there's nothing good for me, leave them behind. Pay them no mind, they're irrelevant. I'm busy and the monthly quota still needs filling.

Trust-based selling is different. Of course, if you're selling widgets, you don't want to be talking to potential buyers of window shades. But usually buyers and sellers get put together for some sensible reason. There may or may not be a sale coming out of it but some common interest brought them together.

These situations are not potential wastes of time — they're the best marketing opportunities you have. A lead you disqualified isn't just an empty hole where you invested some time. A disqualified lead is a human being you talked to or met or who sought you out — someone who has now formed an impression of you.

A lead you disqualified is a person who knows something about your business, who has enough of a relevant issue to believe you might be of help, who operates close enough to your customer base to warrant conversation. Such an individual is very likely to walk with or near the clientele that interests you. A positive impression can result in second- or third-level referrals. People put far more weight on personal testimonials than they do on unsupported images.

Never get rid of someone the minute you find out he or she's not qualified. Never leave unsolicited e-mail inquiries unanswered. Instead, invest some small amount of time to give those people the benefit of your knowledge and wisdom. Help point them toward solving their problem or issue. If your product or service isn't right for them, they don't expect you to continue to give charity. But they will be mightily impressed if you care enough to give a bit of your expertise to help them knowing it isn't going to result in a sale.

Isn't such an encounter a free opportunity for personalized publicity? Isn't it a chance to send someone into the market who understands your business and the clientele you seek, together with a testimonial that you behaved well toward the person — when you didn't have to?
Investing over time in those kinds of leads generates a reasonable rate of return. You can't tell which unqualified lead will result in a legitimate prospect, nor when; but if you live your selling life according to the principle of doing good when the opportunity presents itself, those leads will pay back several times the minor investment you made.

All that's required is to stop seeing leads as opportunities to be disqualified, and to consider them chances to help clients, with a payback stream less distinctly linked to clients than in qualified lead cases. The only difference lies in how fast you get paid and from whom.

This kind of thinking allows you to operate less from tactics and more from values. If you conduct business like this, you'll become known for it — in a positive way.

This is an excerpt from “Trust-Based Selling: Using Customer Focus and Collaboration to Build Long-Term Relationships” by consultant Charles H. Green. It will be published this month by McGraw-Hill. Available on Amazon.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Are Print Catalogs Extinct?

The following is from an article by Kate Muldoon in DIRECT Magazine:

Excerpts from THOSE OF US IN CATALOG LAND SEEM TO BE IN A TIME WARP that causes us to think that print catalogs can look and work just like they always have. But we also don't hesitate to turn our sights to the future and predict that, with or without print catalogs, the Internet will be the road to sales galore.

Well…yes and no. It's true that electronic marketing can be a very good thing. Some catalogers report that, by far, most of their new customers come from constantly tested and refined search engine marketing programs. The downside is that often, customers acquired online don't spend as much. One possible reason is that we aren't adapting our print catalog strategies well enough so fresh customers can learn how and why they should keep buying.

Electronic marketing certainly seems to be the be-all and the end-all. In its 2005 Multichannel Retail Annual Trend Report, Abacus notes that Web site sales will surpass catalog purchases within the next 19 months. The Financial Times reports some analysts claiming that push e-mail has the potential to address a global market of 400 million users. With more and more companies such as Panera Bread, and cities like Orlando, FL and Philadelphia offering or planning to offer Wi-Fi for free Web access, the number of those able to go online will only grow.

Then there are the newer electronic sales avenues — bluecasting, for one — that have the potential for grabbing such audiences as commuters passing an area where video ads are beamed from billboards into their Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones. Sounds farfetched, but Direct Newsline reported in August that a firm in the United Kingdom pulled nearly 15% response using this sales method. As Apple has made available a video-ready iPod to its already 16 million-plus users, who knows if this won't be another way to reach new customers. And don't forget podcasting. It could be an interesting opportunity for catalogers with excellent editorial content on their Web site (like L.L. Bean) to create subscriptions for audio versions of that useful information.

All good reasons why it would not be insane to think print catalogs are indeed dead.

Nevertheless, here's why print catalogs should get stronger than ever:

Catalogs are free

A new mindset is dawning. Why pay if you can get it free? The Internet — which easily leads us to free audio and video downloads, podcasts, and information and services of all kinds — has helped convince Americans that getting things gratis is not only possible, but actually is becoming a requirement. Beyond the Web there are free newspapers, video (just set the timer to record what you like), product reviews, samples, etc. Catalogs, which can offer credible information on how to dress or decorate, what to give for gifts, solutions for the office and more, are like free magazines that provide a quick and simple way to obtain those very same items.

Consumerism is growing worldwide
An increase in advertising is one sign that a country is ready to buy more goods. Based on recent numbers in the Financial Times, agencies are betting that consumerism will grow in emerging countries. (“Worldwide [advertising] spending will rise to $406 billion this year from $386 billion last year.”) The countries being targeted are Brazil, Russia, India, China, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia. Many catalogers already have had some experience in Japan and Europe, and to some extent can use that knowledge to tap into new markets.

Granted, the ability to reach consumers in these areas naturally varies. Just two positive examples: (1) Brazil has had a thriving direct marketing business for years; (2) India's Department of Posts is attempting to meet customers' needs by considering adding e-post, by which consumers can access low-cost Internet service or have e-mail messages delivered to their door.

Catalogs make it easy to dream
The Internet is grand for finding something you want when you know what you want. But browsing by calling up electronic page after electronic page doesn't feel the same as comfortably sitting back and flipping the pages of a paper catalog and dreaming about what you might want in your life — and then having the choice of buying those things almost any way you like.

Catalogs are portable
OK, many new types of electronic communication are portable too. But really, what kind of detail can you see on those little screens? Yes, they'll get bigger, but never as big as those luscious printed catalogs you can pop in a bag, briefcase or pocket.

But we do have to rethink what our catalogs need to look like and offer. To encourage online customers to order more frequently, we may choose to adopt some of the strategies used by companies that mainly employ catalogs as traffic generators. Retailers have long known how to create and produce breathtaking catalogs whose main purpose is to drive you to their stores. As electronic marketing continues to grow, we should be seriously considering adding Internet-aimed, traffic-generating catalogs to our mix. As vendors often pay or offset the expenses for these traffic generators, there's little reason not to test the concept.

What does a traffic-generation catalog look like? More often than not it's printed on the glorious high-quality, high-weight paper you'd love to use but never have been able to afford. It has far fewer pages than a catalog and sometimes promotes a special event. Its intent is to create enough pleasure and excitement through mood-enhancing photography and tantalizing copy to get consumers to make the move to the Web or store — and buy!

KATIE MULDOON ( is president of DM/catalog consulting firm Muldoon & Baer Inc. , Palm Beach Gardens, FL.

Katie Muldoon's book, Catalog Marketing, is considered the industry bible.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Welcome to Wikipedia

Welcome to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit. Wikipedia is among the Top 20 most-visited websites in the world. The website is run by a staff of only three people. So, obviously, the "volunteer" force that edits this most awesome of online encyclopedias is phenomenal, absolutely phenomenal.

Thinking of Wikipedia (and learning from the Wiki way), here's some food for thought about volunteers:

Make it easy for individuals to contribute.
Always welcome newcomers; they're the future.
Promote equality and a feeling of openness and inclusiveness.
Provide simple, minimal guidelines and policies.
Foster and support social interactions.
Support the community and the vision, not individual agendas and personalities.
Offer a meaningful purpose, meaningful relationships, meaningful contributions and a meaningful story.

Just my 2 cents for today! Enjoy!

Friendship Industries has even made it intoWikipedia!