post-show exhibitor emails

Yesterday, one of my friends started a conversation on Facebook about all the post-show emails sent by ASAE Annual exhibitors. We’re not receiving nearly the deluge of emails that go out before the show, but, once again, many of these emails are missing the mark.

Segment your list. You scanned badges. You know the names of the attendees who visited your booth during the show. Right? So why are you telling someone who didn’t come to your booth:

“Thanks so much for stopping by our booth at ASAE in Detroit. We enjoyed visiting with you.”

How do you think an email like that goes over with an association exec who didn’t visit your booth? I’ll tell you: not well. It’s a sloppy and lazy example of the “spray and pray” tactic.

Next time, segment your list. Send a “thank you” email to the attendees who really did stop by your booth and send a “sorry we didn’t get to meet” email to those who didn’t.

Offer value, not another sales pitch. Only two post-show exhibitor emails offered anything of value.

  • One was titled, “How Associations Can Grow Membership and Generate More Revenue,” and linked to a blog post about one of their key take-aways from the conference.
  • The other was titled, “Association Challenges Uncovered at ASAE,” and linked to three posts about those challenges.

As I wrote in my post about pre-show exhibitor emails, you have been given access to an association exec’s inbox—don’t blow it. Use this opportunity to be a resource. Don’t take advantage of that privilege by using it only as one more chance to sell.

Stop relying on drawings. I understand you want to attract people to your booth, but how qualified are those leads who only visited because they want to win an Apple watch? And you’re still pushing that damn watch!

I really wonder how many association execs with decision-making authority notice who’s giving away prizes. They’re not going to the expo floor to enter drawings. They’re going to the expo floor to learn about the latest in online learning technology or mobile apps.

Become an ally. The association executive crowd can sometimes be prickly about vendor outreach—if you’ve seen some of the discussions in ASAE’s Collaborate community, then you know what I mean. I wrote a post about a phrase that might sound familiar to Collaborate regulars: “No Vendors, Please.”

Why do so many association execs have this attitude? Because too many vendors don’t understand how to develop relationships with association execs. And, relationships are the foundation for sales.

Lead with value. Take a consultative approach. Be a source of information and education. Get to know your prospects—their challenges, problems, frustrations, and aspirations. Help them solve problems. Be a positive, valuable member of the association community.

If you’re going to send out blast emails, do it wisely. Sad to say, you will stand out if your emails deliver value to association executives because so few take that approach.

I hope any vendors out there take my suggestions in good spirit because I share them in goodwill. I’m on your side.

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Bark)

association execs don't want promotional emails from exhibitors

Every year, when I register for the ASAE Annual Meeting, I check the box to receive emails from exhibitors. As a writer/marketer, I like seeing how vendors in my community use email marketing. Some of them do it well, but some, oh boy, they really blow it.

The list ASAE provides to exhibitors includes association execs and staff as well as consultant members like myself. Ideally, an exhibitor would scrub and segment this list because it includes people with a variety of job titles and needs. For example, a meeting planner has no interest in a learning management system.

The association professionals on this list also represent a wide spectrum of associations with different types of membership, programs, financial resources, and history with the exhibitor. Someone who works for a home builders association has no interest in an abstract collection tool. Or, a person who just got a demo of your system shouldn’t receive a generic email explaining what you do.

Deliver value in return for your inbox privilege.

These attendees have given exhibitors permission to enter their inbox—quite a privilege. Next time you talk to an association exec, ask her how many emails she gets a day. What percentage does she leave unread or does she delete? You have a terrific opportunity to be of service and stand out from the pack.

Don’t waste this opportunity by sending out a promotion that’s only about who you are, what you sell, and what booth you’re in. That’s forgettable information. Nobody cares except people in the later stages of the selection process. And, they already plan to visit exhibitors who sell what they need.

Instead, use this opportunity to be helpful. Assuming you know your target audience(s), share something of value. Share educational content that helps execs improve a process, solve a problem, or learn more about a challenge.

For example, if you sell email marketing systems, provide a tip for getting more emails opened. Then, link to a blog post that explains more. Sign off with a reminder that you’re exhibiting in booth X at the show and would love to share more tips.

Remind attendees why they’ve received your email so they don’t mark you as spam. Say something like, “You’ve received our tips because you opted in during ASAE Annual Meeting registration to receive emails from exhibitors.”

Be a good community citizen.

Stick to your agreement with ASAE. I’m guessing you have permission to send one email (maybe more, I don’t know the details) to this group. Comply with that agreement. Just because someone gave you their email address (or business card) doesn’t mean you have their permission to add them to your email marketing list—that’s spammy behavior.

If you want to add someone to your email marketing list, send them one targeted email with educational content that helps them solve a problem or improve a process. Near the bottom of the email, ask them to opt-in to your list. You could say, “If you would like more tips for [the topic of your valuable content], please subscribe to our bimonthly newsletter.” If they don’t opt-in, remove them from your list.

If you’re not in the email business, learn more about sending emails that will get noticed, opened, and acted upon. Visit the sites of your colleagues who blog about email marketing, for example, Informz, High Road, and Real Magnet. Look for posts on subject lines, formatting, and calls-to-action.

You’ve been given access to an association exec’s inbox. That is a big deal. Now, you have the opportunity to show them what kind of partner you would be. Will you be focused on her needs and help her solve problems, or will you be self-absorbed?

(Creative Commons licensed photo by Bark)

editing your life and stuff

While organizing my notes for my book on small home living, I kept running up against a word that bothered me—downsizing.

I have pages of notes about downsizing. 13 pages—and I haven’t even explored the topic as much as I would like. It’s an important chapter because if you’re moving from a large home into a smaller one, you can’t take all your stuff with you. Or, if your home is crammed full of stuff, “cozy” can quickly become “cluttered.”

But, the word “downsizing” is so demotivating. The word conjures up, for me anyways, feelings of loss. Reluctant relinquishment. Forced decisions.

I tried on “rightsizing” to see if that would be any better, but it reminded me of “rightsizing a workforce”—a euphemism for laying people off. A poor substitute, although at least the intent was getting better. It’s not about having less stuff, but the right stuff.

Now that’s a goal I can get behind. It resonates with a book I’m reading, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. He writes, “Think of this book doing for your life and career what a professional organizer can do for your closet.” But, the essentialist mindset he writes about also applies to that closet and the home it’s in.

Essentialism is about living by design, not default. Look around the room you’re in right now, how much is really there “by design, not default?” The stuff of life accumulates around us. I know, I’ve moved stuff across the country twice. Yes, both times I donated carloads full of clothing, books and kitchen stuff. And this last time I donated a truckload of furniture too. But still, I have a lot of stuff.

It’s time to edit.

I’m a writer. Editing makes writing stronger. Editing clears away the lazy words used as crutches. When you edit, you have to let go of words, phrases and ideas your ego is attached to knowing they aren’t serving the goals of the piece. Editing eliminates redundancy and clutter. Editing provides clarity.

Editing is about making purposeful choices and changes that will improve your life. Edit your stuff, your schedule, your news stream, your to-do list, heck, edit your friends. Keep what enhances your life, let go of anything that doesn’t.

Start gently. Later today, I’ll begin my editing with something easy—a file box full of “important” papers that hasn’t been opened in five years. Where will your editing begin?

~~~

(Creative Commons licensed photo by LadyDragonflyCC. This post includes an Amazon affiliate link. I receive a small commission when you purchase the recommended product.)

You’re proud of your work. You do it well. And, you do it your way.

Then, one day, someone walks into your office, or into your space, and says, “From now on, we want you to do it this way because…”

Because whatever blah blah blah, you weren’t really listening for a few seconds because what the hell?!?! You’re bristling inside. You’re trying to keep your face under control as you refocus on the conversation.

Control. Ah, that’s the rub, isn’t it? You just lost control. Now you have to do it his or her way. There’s no question about it, they’re the boss.

Confession time.

Ugh, I hate losing control. There, I said it. Thankfully, one of the things I love about working for myself is I’m usually in control of my work, my income, my direction. So when I do lose a bit of control, it’s not such a big deal anymore because I have plenty of control in other areas of my life. Now, I can look at the situation in a more rational way unlike the old days when it would really work me up into a quiet tizzy.

I noticed this change in my reactions recently when a client gave me a list of topics to write about. In the past, I had come up with topics based on what I knew about their audience. I must admit, my first reaction to this list was mixed. I was relieved to see they had this list, but I was also a bit vexed because they weren’t my ideas. Oh my, someone still has control issues.

And I thought I was so evolved.

So I turned it around. This is the new reality. Now I have the opportunity to use my creativity to do something with these topics–some of which are a bit, let’s say, dry. I’ll embrace the restrictions and create something despite them. Or because of them. It’s time to exercise that muscle.

Like the chefs on Chopped who must create a dish using the items in their basket, I’ll take the ingredients handed to me and make them shine. My loss of control has now become my creativity exercise.

<After writing this I was thinking about the chefs on Chopped. Some of them look in the basket and start griping about the ingredients. But some of them just get to work. I wonder which ones go home first?>

Where do you feel restricted? What don’t you control that really gets to you? Rethink your normal reaction. Consider it a creativity exercise—embrace the restrictions, embrace that loss of control, get over yourself and your ego, and produce something that makes you proud despite the loss of control and because of it.

Can you imagine this approach working for you?

Embrace the loss of control as a creativity exercise, like the Chopped chefs do

If you’re looking for me, check out my food blog, Grabbing the Gusto. I write several times a week over there.

You can also find me online writing on the blogs of some of the best technology vendors in the association market, but I’m doing that undercover in collaboration with some of the best brains in the industry. I’m also helping them with case studies, white papers, tip sheets and articles.

And now for my exciting news: I just signed a contract with a publisher to write a book about strategies for living in small spaces. This opportunity fell into my lap, or, more accurately, into my inbox. After mulling it over for weeks (okay, maybe months) and seeking advice from author and publisher friends, I decided to go for it. Must live up to my motto and grab the gusto.

And for no particular reason except I really love it, I’m sharing this photo I took last weekend of the pier on Ocean Isle Beach at sunset. I love the way it makes me feel and I hope it makes you feel that way too.

Ocean Isle Beach pier at sunset | Deirdre Reid

Ocean Isle Beach pier at sunset | Deirdre Reid

I have a question for association, membership and marketing execs: How often do you pick up the phone at the front desk or in the call center?

nina simon tweet re working at the front desk

Nina Simon is the Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History and blogs at Museum 2.0. Her “guilty pleasure” is a smart idea. She also told me she spends about ten hours a month in the galleries with visitors. That’s like a free focus group!

Imagine how those visitors feel when she talks with them. The museum is no longer an intimidating institution – although I’m sure her museum has never been considered that during her watch – her friendly face is the face of the museum.

Those of you who work in a small associations, you’re excused from this exercise since you probably answer the main line as much as anyone else in the office. But if you work in an association that has a dedicated call center or member service team, you probably only receive calls that are direct-dialed or forwarded to you. That’s a shame because you’re missing out on a convenient, cheap way to understand what’s on the mind of your members and other stakeholders.

If you don’t have the time, budget, or inclination to spend a day in the life of your member, then spend 30 minutes every few weeks in your call center. The experience will give you an opportunity to listen, ask questions, and even lay the foundation for further conversation with members you probably don’t know.

You will also set a positive example for your staff by spending time getting to know members. Let them see you on the frontline making the effort to learn about member needs and concerns. Your example could convince them to build similar activities into their week, like calling new members to welcome them to the association and learn more about their expectations, needs, and aspirations. Or, calling “old” members to find out what’s on their mind.

This simple 30-minute task is one you can put into your schedule right now. And it’s a small step that can nudge your organization’s culture into a new direction.

phone calls with members

Before Google makes an acquisition, the target company must first pass co-founder Larry Page’s toothbrush test:

Is the company’s product or service used regularly to make people’s lives better?

How does your organization live up to that test?  Do your clients or members depend on something you provide to do their jobs? Does that product/service improve their professional or personal lives? Does it help them reach their goals?

If not, it’s way past time to research your market, talk to people and find out how you can meet their needs in a way that no other organization can.

If you do offer a “golden toothbrush,” can your clients or members get that same product elsewhere? If they can, what makes your offering so different or special? Why would they have a relationship with you?

Does your marketing copy brag about this product? Do you show how it can improve their lives? Do you provide proof – a testimonial or case study?

Attention, loyalty and dollars go to those who deserve it and prove it, day after day.

For more on Google’s toothbrush test, read Google has one essential test when it thinks about buying a company by Max Nisen at Quartz. 

membership B2B product service value toothbrush test

Photo by William Warby/Flickr CC license

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