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John Foley, Jr Posts

6 Surprising Ways that Automated Marketing Can Benefit Your Association

There are a number of benefits to marketing automation that many organizations utilize. Marketing automation allows constant messaging across the multiple channels of an organization. In fact, “91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is very important to the overall success of their marketing across channels.” However, there are many benefits to utilizing a marketing automation software that not every organization is aware of. Here are a few benefits of marketing automation you may not know:

Marketing and Sales Work Together

At the end of the day, the result of a successful marketing campaign is highlighted by sales. In this instance, automation and sales go hand in hand for a number of reasons. One, marketing automation speeds up the sales process. Everyone knows that automating your campaigns will save immense time and effort on the marketing side. However, what a lot of organizations don’t realize is that it can save time for the sales department as well. These marketing efforts provide the right content to the right people at the right time. With constant communication leads are being pushed through the sales funnel and can result in a quicker return on investment.

gears_marketingLead Management

Lead management through marketing efforts is made effectively possible with marketing automation. You can nurture and develop leads by providing the right content. Sales and marketing steps can be taken based on the actions already made by the recipient. This software allows you to understand what they want or need. You can successfully lead them in the direction best fit to gain the most information that will help them and you. You gain a better understanding of your leads as a whole and help develop relationships as you accurately track them through the sales funnel.

Lead Scoring

Lead scoring is simple. The higher the “score” the more likely a sale will happen. The lower the score means that more marketing efforts and communication is most likely needed. This is another example of how sales and marketing work closely together. Throughout a campaign you have the ability of seeing this information and figuring out what the next step needs to be.

Prepare For The Future

With the right software, your organization can see the reports of which marketing efforts lead to sales and which ones did not. If there were certain content pieces that drove high engagement, it would be smart to do those again. But, if certain campaigns or content pieces did not lead to sales or high engagement, it might be best to change for the future. You can alter your actions to gain better results next time.

No Experts Needed

Do you need an expert to do your grocery shopping? Well, marketing automation is the same way! With the right software, marketing automation can be easily utilized by anyone. Setting up campaigns and tracking leads through an automated process does not take an expert.

Any Sized Organization Can Succeed

Marketing automation can work well with any-sized organization. With a small or medium-sized association, automated efforts allow you to increase your reach and saves time and effort. For a larger organization, it keeps things organized and makes sure leads don’t get lost along the way. Like previously mentioned, it does not take a marketing or sales expert, so for any sized association, you can start campaigns with the employees you have. Whether you have a contact list of 50 people or 500,000, marketing automation can help reach them all!

As a whole, marketing automation platforms are great tool for any business, association or organization. “Nearly 70% of businesses are using a marketing automation platform (MAP) or currently implementing one.” This means your competitors are most likely doing so – so you should be too. Start creating your emails, social posts, landing pages, and all other personalized content today!

*Statistics from Email Monday.

If you haven’t already, it’s time to jump on the bandwagon and try out a marketing automation tool. Tweet us, @MarketWithMAX, and we’ll give you a code for a free trial of MAX, an affordable and user-friendly cloud-based marketing automation solution.

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Get Off Your @$$ and Get Social: How to Get Your Association Involved

How social is your association? Your association thrives on the involvement of both its members and the goodwill of others in your trade area and local community. What does that mean for your association? It means it’s time for your association to get social and build good relationships both online and offline. Here are ten ideas to get you started.
  1. Get involved in community events. From the local fête to a beach clean-up, look for chances to get your association involved with events happening in your local community. As well as getting your name known, you’ll get to know people in your locality, and establish your association as caring about its community.
  2. Host an icebreaker or fun day. Of course your AGM is important (see next point), but “come along to our AGM” won’t draw in non-members. Hosting a more laid back event is a proactive way to reach out to your local community. As well as potential members, you’ll be making connections with those who might not be interested in joining your organization, but who could be allies.
  3. Make your AGM or conference more social. An AGM or conference is a good way to get your members together for networking and discussion – but you have to make it appealing. From the way you market it to the general tone of the day, make sure your event is positive and worth the time and money to attend. Don’t forget the importance of social media and a mobile-friendly approach to your event.
  4. Involve your staff. If you want a more social association, start with your staff. Whether paid or voluntary, make sure your staff gets a chance to have their voices heard, and are offered plenty of motivation to get involved in your activities.
  5. Run a contest or giveaway. From a Facebook giveaway to a local prize draw, a contest can be an engaging way to get people involved with what you are doing. Rather than just asking for a name or a Facebook like, encourage involvement with a contest that needs some input from entrants.
  6. Sponsor something. Could your association sponsor something in your local community? From a local sporting event to your community theatre, sponsorship not only gets your name seen and known, it also establishes your association as community-minded and generous.
  7. Get talking. Being a good conversationalist should be part of your association’s social action plan. Talk to your members and others in your local community or trade area regularly. You can reach out with questionnaires, join or start a conversation on social media, or simply ask someone at a community event what matters to them.
  8. Encourage involvement. If you want to inspire your members to get more social, provide them with opportunities and make sure they know about them. Write up some interesting copy with eye-catching graphics to let them know what is going on, and how and why they should get involved. Keeping in touch is the key to encouraging your members to be more social, with you, with each other, with others in their sector, and with their local community.
  9. Make the most of social media. Social media is your opportunity to start and join in with conversations worldwide. Make the most of social media with regularly updated profiles that offer something interesting to your followers. Reach out to your members, prospects, and others in your industry with questions, information, and a friendly, approachable attitude.
  10. Get your voice heard. From local consultations to national topics of importance to your area of expertise, reach out beyond your own borders. Get your association involved with topics that are relevant to your association, and to the local community you operate in.

Keeping your association social is key to keeping its membership active and interested in being part of what you do, so don’t wait – get out there, and get social!

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Strategic Planning for Your Association

When was the last time you took a good, hard look at your association’s business plan? Now that we’re halfway through the year (can you believe it?!), it’s time to see what you have accomplished so far. By looking at what your plans were for this year and evaluating results up to this point, you can see what has worked and what hasn’t, helping you to make key decisions and adjustments for the second half of the year. In reality, best practices for marketing and overall association management are constantly changing. By looking ahead and developing a strategy, you will be able to make necessary adjustments in a time-conscience manner. Below are some practices to consider as you begin strategizing for the second half of the year.

Take a Goal-Oriented Approach

When planning for the future of your association, it’s incredibly important to take a goal-oriented approach. With tools and trends constantly changing, the first step is making an assessment of your current strategy. Researching new technology, the outside market, and competitors will help you surpass competition. Once research is completed, you can begin positioning your association and setting goals for the upcoming months. Come up with the direction that you want your association to take. Think about where you really need to improve. Whether it’s increasing membership levels or delivering more value-added benefits, make sure that you have a main focus.

Create a Strategic Business Plan

Once goals are set, it’s imperative to create a detailed strategic business plan. In doing so, you’ll be able to form a step-by-step guide targeted at achieving results. Begin by taking what you have already completed for research, and compile specific tactics aimed at your goals. The elements within your strategic plan should all be driven by underlying elements, including:

  • Financial plan, allowing you to project what your expenses will be in pro-forma statements.
  • Marketing plan, which should identify key communication, promotional, and lead generating tactics for your association.
  • Membership goals and strategies, indicating projected new members, along with methods for improving numbers.
  • Timeline & summary of key events, which will give you a high level outline of what the upcoming months will look like.
  • Roles and responsibilities, providing the necessary insights into what resources are required in order to achieve the desired results.
  • Measurement techniques. Remember you need to measure, monitor, and continually improve your efforts based on analysis.

Focus on Your Members

Not only is it important to make sure everything is running smoothly internally, it’s also essential to make sure members remain satisfied. Keeping your existing members happy is what truly matters for your association. They must come first and remain a top priority for your association every step of the way during the strategic planning process. By creating a satisfaction survey and sending it out to members, you will be able to see clear insights and feedback. This will not only help improve relationships, but it will also help you gain new members for the second half of 2016 and beyond. Showing members that you value their opinion is one key recommendation in an effort to maintain and grow.

Update Your Competitive Value Proposition

Lastly, developing an updated competitive value proposition will help set your association apart from others. Research what competitors are offering, and really try to get a grasp on why potential members may veer towards joining a different organization. By performing this due diligence, you will be able to update your messaging to state why your association provides more value. Ensure that your strategy encompasses methods for proving value to members, whether it be case studies, testimonials, or other methods of showing member satisfaction.

Now, keep these tips in mind and think about this: Is your association ready for the second half of this year? It might be tempting to say “yes, last year the second half of the year was successful, so I’ll continue on this path for the rest of 2016.” In reality, however, this is a dangerous mindset. Not adapting to the evolving marketing and overall business model landscape is a sure-fire way to see a decline in membership levels. Ultimately, updating your strategic plan is the best way to ensure a healthy and productive future.

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6 Tips for Becoming a Great Leader

In every organization, there is an order of management that helps maintain the entire operation to work effortlessly. There are certain actions that need to be taken, as well as things to avoid, in order to become a great leader for your association. Often times, managers get stuck in the mindset of repeatedly allocating all tasks to their employees to get done individually, rather than working with their team to produce actual results. An excellent leader carries superior guidance skills in order to steer their team and organization to success. Consider these tips moving forward to help you become a great leader.

  1. Motivate Your Team. Motivating your employees is a great way to start guiding your team. Do not take for granted that your workers are just there for financial reasons. Your principles are what drives your employees to stay within the organization instead of resigning or quitting. When you guide your workers respectfully, then in return they will give you their greatest effort. Refrain from punishing your entire department for what one employee is guilty of doing. If you notice one of your employees being late then confront that employee individually. Prior to terminating an employee, examine whether he be better off in another department. He may thrive there.
  2. Show Concern. Showing concern for your team’s well-being is always appreciated. Ask your employees how they feel about their job on a constant basis and take their concerns seriously. Take note on what you could be doing to make their jobs better. Inspire them to be straightforward with you. Then, take force based on what has been addressed from your workers. Suggest benefits that your employees can make use of. If your workers are having family issues, then be more understandable that they might need additional time to prepare their children for school in the morning or picking them up after school hours in the afternoon. Maintain a positive mindset towards your team. Keep in mind that you cannot be successful without your employees – so it’s your job to keep them happy.
  3. Reward Your Employees. An effective leader is excellent at taking notice to his employees’ strengths and makes sure to commend them for their efforts often. A wise leader is aware that making their employees happy equals productivity. Go out of your way to encourage your workers in public and private settings. Mention and acknowledge your team’s achievements. As a result, your workers are more probable to believe that you do appreciate their work performance.
  4. Set Goals. Setting goals for your association is key. You do not want to be the type of individual who is known to constantly have radically idealistic goals that are never reached. Instead, you want to become known as the type of person who sets consistent goals that wind up being exceeded. Never be the type of person who is not willing to go beyond your expectations. You will be taken as someone who lacks the desire to make a success.
  5. Give Expectations. You should make your employees aware of what is expected. Having actual goals enables your employees and keeps them concentrated on their tasks. You should definitely outline what is expected, enforce deadlines, and show how you will carry out the outcome. Provide your employees with a rapid response that is focused on their task. This technique could help your association excel. Practice having your employees meeting together in small groups or individually so you could provide detail on their work.
  6. Maintain Standards. Maintain the topmost standards. You want to avoid being a manager who is continually shouting or harshly criticizing when errors are made. Instead, become a leader for your department and act as someone who wants to be followed. Try to be tougher on yourself than you are on your workers. Your employees may notice your ambition and your standards that you have for yourself and may try to mimic you because they admire you.

As a leader, you are not supposed to handle everything on your own. Your requirement as a leader is to educate your team on how to perform excellent work. Start out by giving your employees tasks that can be corrected if they have made mistakes. Then, continuously give them tasks with higher responsibility as you come to full awareness of their strengths and flaws.

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The Impact of Social Media in the Workforce

A decade ago, social media was predicted to be a passing craze that allowed teenagers to share what they had for breakfast. Today, it’s one of the most important factors employers consider when deciding to offer a candidate a position. No matter what size your association, it’s impossible to deny the massive impact social networks have had on today’s labor force.  Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are changing the way employers communicate with and evaluate their employees.

social_connectionIn a study conducted by CareerBuilder.com, 2,303 hiring managers and human resource professionals were surveyed, and 37% said to have used social networks to screen potential candidates. Compare that number to only 14% of employers who consider a cover letter to be important when evaluating someone for a position. By conducting a quick social network scan, associations can evaluate a candidate’s communication skills, interests, social activity, and past employment history.  In the same study, 65% of employers said they use social media to see if the job seeker presents himself or herself professionally, and a whopping 34% claim they have found content that has caused them not to hire a candidate.

As social media networks have grown and become an even bigger influence throughout the corporate environment, some organizations have attempted to take drastic measures on the issue. Over the past couple of years, certain organizations have gone as far as requesting applicants’ and employees’ usernames and passwords to their personal social sites, such as individual Facebook accounts. Since this occurrence has been deemed a huge violation of privacy throughout the country, several states have passed legislation preventing employers from demanding access or passwords to personal social media accounts.

For job seekers, social media has become more than just a way to connect with others. It is now a way to portray themselves professionally to appeal to potential employers. However, using social media as an evaluation tool is a two way street.  Job seekers use company Facebook profiles and Twitter accounts as a way to assess the legitimacy of an organization. Many young employees who belong to the millennial generation use social networks as a way to gauge how connected an association is within their industry.  Smaller social networks such as Indeed, Vault, and Glassdoor.com allow users to rate and review organizations based on their employment experience.

Social media is not only affecting the job search process, it’s also starting to change the way we work. According to “Social Media in the Workplace Global Study,” 90% of companies now use social media for business purposes. What exactly those purposes are varies from organization to organization. For some it means creating profiles to establish a digital community with their members or customers. By doing this, associations are able to connect personally with their members and prospects. Other organizations see social networks (Twitter in particular) as a way to conduct customer service. By interacting with their members in real time they are able to provide more attentive customer service than ever before.

marketing_lightbulbZappos, a company recognized for their impressive Twitter customer service, has a reputation for going the extra mile by offering tips for customers and issuing refunds for defective items. By offering customer service via social networks, organizations are able to display their attentive service to their followers, a strategy that improves PR and builds member and customer loyalty. In addition, to keep staff aligned with the brand and principles, Zappos insists that all employees embrace the social culture as well. If, after starting their job, someone decides that they cannot align themselves with the culture, Zappos will pay them to leave their job. Amazon has followed suit and enacted a similar policy.

Larger organizations of all industries are beginning to spend significant resources on hiring “social media experts” that will work within their marketing department to use social networks to shape their organization. What was once designated to interns or entry level employees is now being taken on by high level marketing associates.  But while many associations encourage the use of social media during work hours, an increasing number of organizations are beginning to establish social media policies that prohibit the use of certain (and in some cases all) social networks. According to “Social Media in the Workplace Global Study,” 57% of organizations prevent their employees from accessing one or more social media sites.  This has sparked a management debate of policy that is leaving many organizations unsure of the correct strategy to implement. While many managers see social media blocks as a way to ensure productivity, data from the University of Melbourne suggests that employees with access to social networks are actually more productive than employees in organizations that block access.

Many employees see the activity of checking social media as a way to reward themselves in between tasks and admit that even when working under social media restrictions, they still find ways to circumvent them. Shel Holtz, co-author of Tactical Transparency, argues that social media policies arepeople_talking useless due to the fact that employees typically own tablet devices and mobile phones and are able to avoid the blocks.

So what can HR/Management do to make sure employees are able to use social media productively instead of wasting time? Shel argues that instead of blocking social media sites, organizations can take measures to encourage appropriate use of websites such as Facebook and Twitter during the work hour. Shel encourages organizations to offer social media trainings so employees understand the right way to utilize these sites. She even encourages organizations to provide grammar and spelling training to ensure that their employees are portraying their organization properly in the digital realm. This allows employees to establish digital relationships with other professionals in the industry and improves the overall connection of the organization.

With so many people on social media, it’s no wonder social media is starting to change the work force.  The idea of digital privacy for both associations and employees has disappeared for better or for worse.  With new social media websites that allow users to share their personality and experiences popping up every day, it is a safe assumption to say social media will continue to play an even larger role in the work force in the future.

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