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October 26, 2007

McKinley's Blog Watchdog is Unchained

It's time for yet another installment of the Blog Watchdog, a monthly column I write for McKinley Marketing. Sign up for their newsletter to get this column and articles written by their expert consultants. As usual, I have the irresistible urge to make full disclosure that I am a paid freelance writer for McKinley.

In last month's Blog Watchdog, we discussed potential business uses of social networking sites, linking to the blog of Lee Aase, a communications professional at the Mayo Clinic who has some of the best Facebook for business tips around. One of the objections I most often hear from association professionals is "how do measure our return on investment in a social networking strategy?" This objection is not easily overcome. It's quite difficult to draw a straight line from a social media strategy to tangible results, not to mention dollars and cents. The online nonprofit tech community NetSquared recently leveraged the wisdom of their crowd to begin answering the question, "What is the Return on Investment of the Social Web for Nonprofits?"

We witnessed a firestorm about the value of marketing in the association blogosphere over the past month. Myriad responses from across the association industry were posted in response to an entry on Acronym by Scott Briscoe: "Tipping points, evangelists, sneezers, mavens, etc." In it, Briscoe assails what he sees as the fatal flaw of traditional marketing. You know what he means... The "50-gazillion dollar flashy 500-page annual meeting brochure" that consumes precious human and capital resources which might otherwise be used to substantially upgrade the annual meeting experience, thereby producing a more remarkable experience that is infinitely more likely to be evangelized in member-to-member word of mouth. This is one conversation you can't afford to miss.

A remarkable product certainly makes marketing easier. Mickie Rops at the
We Have Always Done it That Way blog provides a real life scenario on how reallocating design, print, and mailing expenses into product development can show tangible results. For example, "an association has been offering a certificate of training program for the past six years. It spends very little on promotion - a listing on its website, occasional e-blasts, and a simple printed flier included in select mailings. Yet, almost all programs have sold out - many with a long waiting list. How? They spent their time wisely and generously on program concept and design. The program meets a real need, and exceeds participant expectations... Evaluations data show that over 95% of participants would recommend it to a colleague…and they do."

Re-engineering products, services, and even the association membership offering itself may be the best hope for marketing to consumers of the future. A-List blogger
Guy Kawasaki recently moderated a panel comprised of students and young adults to gain insight into their daily reading, computing, working, communicating and socializing routines. The panel reveals some stunning information, including a pervasive fascination with social networking, an equally pervasive disdain for advertising, and text messaging habits that would bankrupt some parents. Check out the video for an enlightening peek into the minds of tomorrow's association members.

To continue the discussion on any of these topics, post your comments.

If you have feedback or a tip for me, email bkmcae-at-gmail-dot-com.

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