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)

First…

Oh, Boston, you’re my home.

Dirty Water by The Standells (video)

Dirty Water by The Standells (video)
my favorite by Mission of Burma didn’t seem appropriate right now

Back to your regularly scheduled program…

One of my favorite curated posts to read during the weekend is GigaOm’s Look Back at the Week in Tech. They describe it as “our rewind and quick take on the most important stories and some great links for your weekend reading.”

digitalNOW (#diginow13)

I’ve been too busy to dig deeply into my digitalNOW conference notes but Sheri Jacobs‘ session on membership value and segmentation inspired me to write a post for Avectra about an interesting membership model. 

Maggie McGary is exasperated with the disconnect she witnessed during social media presentations by association execs at digitalNOW. When she examined one association’s programs, she discovered that social media was helping them create value and revenue, yet the exec said just the opposite. Why the disconnect? Knee-jerk reaction syndrome? Fear? 

Digital Marketing for Business (#dmfb)

I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Digital Marketing for Business conference at the Raleigh Convention Center. Like any conference, there were a few so-so sessions, but most of the 16 sessions I attended were excellent. I was especially impressed with Gregory Ng’s opening keynote on Tuesday – The Data Driven CMO. I kept thinking the association community would really benefit from his ideas, particularly on the intersection of tech and marketing – after all, most association positions have an element of marketing in them. ASAE and digitalNOW, give him a look. 

Another session I enjoyed at #dmfb was John Lane’s Content Marketing Art of War. He led with a stat that demonstrates why content marketing is critical to the success of any organization: 60% of the B2B buying process is over before the prospect makes the first sales touch with you. Content marketing is about delivering value before the sale. It’s the hook that entices prospects (and customers) to come to you. 

Tweetstream alert

On Tuesday I also saw intriguing tweets from Andrew Hanelly who was attending Folio’s MediaMashup conference. My plan is to check out the #mediamashup tweet stream this weekend. What a geek. 

Reads of the Week

Ray van Hilst says associations “are already on the leading edge” of the content marketing trend because the key elements to successful content marketing — content, distribution and trust – are embedded in association culture and business. But, many associations are losing the content competition because of antiquated policies and processes. See if you’re one of them.

Do you know what your association’s younger members really need? Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs does. He facilitated a strategic planning session for MACPA’s New/Young Professionals Network and now knows the top seven issues facing young professionals. MACPA also “developed a list of the top activities we can do to help young professionals address these issues.” 

“Each generation imagines itself as rebellious and iconoclastic. But none before has felt as free to call bullshit on conventional wisdom, backed by a trillion pages of information on the web and with the power of the Internet to broadcast their opinions. They have thrown off the shackles of received culture—compiling their own playlists, getting news from Twitter, decorating web pages with their own art.”

That’s Jerry Adler at Wired describing the first digital generation. This fascinating article is required reading for anyone who plans to be alive the next few years.

I love the ideas that Katya Andresen shares on what to do when you’re stuck on replay and need inspiration. She says, “It’s one thing to identify best practices and build on what works – it’s quite another to get too comfortable and call it in. Whole industries have fallen into habit only to be rendered irrelevant. You have to keep fine-tuning (or sometimes revolutionizing) what you do and how you do it.” She’s writing for a non-profit audience, but her suggestions would do wonders for any of us.

Quickies

  • 27 time-saving tools & tricks to be a more productive marketer (HubSpot)
  • You too, if you’re smart and talented enough, can be a kick-ass, well-paid conference speaker like Laurie Ruettimann. She shares how she rose to the top of the HR conference circuit. (Cynical Girl)
  • Here’s the poop on the daily routines of seven top CEOs. (Guardian)
  • The cicadas are coming! The cicadas are coming! (The Atlantic)
  • Want to help feed hungry kids? Vote for my local food bank (or yours) so they can receive a huge grant from Walmart. (Facebook)

In case you missed the best video this week – Boston Bruins’ fans singing the National Anthem – I’ve got you covered. Chills and tears.

Happy Friday! 

bruins anthem

Reads of the Week was on vacation last week while I was at digitalNOW in Orlando, which means it’s a long one this week. Again.

In years past, I’ve been envious reading the digitalNOW tweets and watching the keynote webcasts. Since I’m not an association executive, I felt very fortunate to attend this year. Without a doubt, it’s the best association conference I’ve attended. If you’re an association executive, put it on your radar.

To give you a taste, here are a few digitalNOW posts and resources. I’ll share more next week.

Conference season rolls on. Now that the Avectra Users & Developers Conference, ASAE Great Ideas and digitalNOW are behind me, the only one left, for now, is Digital Marketing for Business on Monday and Tuesday at the Raleigh Convention Center. It does not at all surprise me that a conference organized by Phil Buckley is the first result when you google “digital marketing for business.” All hail the SEO master!

If you’re in the nonprofit space, I probably don’t need to tell you about the NTEN conference that started Thursday. You can attend online or follow along on #13ntc until it ends Saturday.

My sources tell me…

Each week I’m revealing one of my many sources for good reads. Denise Graveline’s regular Friday post, The Weekend Read, on her Don’t Get Caught blog is one of my favorites. One of my good reads this week is also from Denise — Tweeting About Food, and Why It’s Smarter Than You Think. She tells you why and when it’s okay to tweet about food. So there!

Let’s talk about it

Chris Bonney at Vanguard Technology shares a list of questions associations should ask about their website. Gather some colleagues, grab some lunch and go over these questions so you can “help your association shake loose from old beliefs about your association website and start thinking about it not as a part of organization, but as your organization itself.”

Now, the reads of the week

I am not a robot. But, I may be replaceable, or at least that was my fear when I read Mitch Joel’s post about a ‘Robo-reporter’ computer program that writes newspaper articles. But then he reassured me:

“The true power in this is not how computers, algorithms and robots can now replace human writers. The true power is in how computers, algorithms and robots can now free up these human writers to do the more important work that our society requires of them.”

Phew.

You can do something a robot can’t do: convince your C-suite that your organization needs to develop and implement a content strategy. And, if you have Hilary Marsh’s presentation in hand, good money says you’ll succeed.

“The algorithm will likely replace the editor and curator.” Algorithms, again! One day, I’ll wonder how I ever got along without them. Roger Wood and Evelyn Robbrecht wrote a fascinating article about Intelligent Content at paidContent. “Written and visual content will eventually be continuously reconfigured and redesigned by the moment to accommodate data gathered about what you like to read.” That’s fine and all, but I don’t want to live in a content bubble. Hopefully I’ll always have the random serendipity of Twitter.

Where I get cranky

Stop using so many damn hashtags! “When kept to a small scale, they can ably perform their service as a filter of relevant tweets” – like my beloved #assnchat. But, Daniel Victor at Nieman Journalism Lab says:

“I believe for every person who stumbles upon your tweet via hashtag, you’re likely turning off many more who are put off by hashtag overuse. We need not banish the hashtag, but let’s start putting more thought into when we’re using it.”

Wise up, tweeps! Nonprofit Tech 2.0 identifies five types of tweets you should never post. Note number 3, please. Seriously, these are all obnoxious.

Quickies

  • Cute kitten videos are all that stand between us and the cyber-apocalypse. (The Verge)
  • Study says…blogs are still more influential than Twitter. Of course they are. (The Wall)
  • Turn your Google Analytics into an infographic with Visual.ly. (SocialTimes)
  • Note to self: the next time you’re tempted to use the word awesome… (Instead of Awesome)
  • Become a masterful note-taker. (The Atlantic)
  • Make sure you’re legally using online photos. (Lifehacker)
  • Four questions to ask before you send that press release. (Ragan’s PR Daily)

Read a poem

Thank you, Jeff Cobb, for tweeting the link to this inspiring post, Five Reasons Why We Need Poetry in School. It reminded me that it’s been way too long since I sat with a poem. I’m making a date this weekend for some time on the couch with a poet. Hmm, now who should it be?

Feed your neighbors

There’s a really good reason to visit Facebook every single day, at least until the end of April. Walmart is providing $3 million in grants for hunger relief programs – that’s means 35,000,000 (yes, million) meals — for food banks across the country. You can vote once a day for your local food bank on Walmart’s Facebook page. I’ll be voting, of course, for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina.

Happy Friday!

vote for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina

Friday, already?!

Time to get it done and get to the weekend. I’ve got your leisure time reading selections all ready for you.

Curated Post of the Week

No surprise, I love curated posts. The Verge publishes The Best Writing of the Week on Sundays. It usually introduces me to well-written posts that I might have missed during the week, usually about the intersection of life and technology.

Reads of the Week

While we’re on the topic of content curation, over at Top Rank, Brian Larson recommends using content curation to grow your company (or association) beyond being a me-me-me brand. Why? He points to the results of a study conducted by Jay Baer: “Brands that posted curated content linking to 3rd party sites experienced a 33% increase in clicks vs. those with original content linking back to their own site.” Follow his steps to diagnose and cure your me-me-me syndrome.

Gina Dietrich has business owner’s disease. You know it. You help clients with their problems and challenges, while neglecting the same issues with your own business. She says, “I’m calling baloney on myself.” Take a look at her website checklist. I bet a lot of these items could use fixing on your website. And mine. But first, I really should graduate from this baby blog to a big girl blog, but not until I get to the “Later” section of my to-do list.

“As we move towards a quantified society, one shaped by data, we start to dismiss things that are unquantified. Empathy, emotion and storytelling — these are as much a part of business as they are of life.” Om Malik says companies aren’t using their data in the most powerful way – to shape the user’s or customer’s experience. I’m glad I clicked on this. Normally, a post about data wouldn’t appeal to me, but there’s a lot to think about in this one.

Sarah Lacy, the founder of Pando Daily, takes a look at the media landscape now that the last major newspaper hold-outs are going over to the paywall side and the big digital players say the only way to survive is to produce “shit quality” content. She says, “I refuse to accept a reality where users can’t expect and demand quality.” She’s hopeful about the future, as am I. People are too creative and innovative to not make it work.

Someone who’s making it work in his own unique way is Shane Smith, publisher of Vice. Yes, the same Vice that sent Dennis Rodman to North Korea. “I wanted to build the next CNN, the next ESPN. And I also realized that, given the digital revolution, that is not only within my grasp, but I am a frontrunner to get there.” Tim Adams at The Observer has the scoop on this growing media brand that Rupert Murdoch described on Twitter as: “Wild, interesting effort to interest millennials who don’t read or watch established media. Global success.”

Speaking of millennials, another publication that’s getting their attention is Mental Floss. One of Mental Floss’ co-founders, William Pearson, spoke recently at a publishing summit about the brand’s growth. Saya Weissman of Digiday was there to capture four reasons Mental Floss attracts and retains a millennial audience. If you publish content, these four take-aways are for you.

Must investors be on Twitter?” asks Felix Salmon at Reuters. You could ask that same question about a lot of professions. He says, “If you’re an investor who wants to avoid being blindsided by something huge you were utterly unaware of, Twitter is a great tool for minimizing that risk.” It’s a fascinating read about the impact social media is making on an information-dependent industry.

Lightning Round

  • NBC News correspondent, Richard Engel, writes about his kidnapping. (Vanity Fair)

Happy Friday!

best read this week about the French and wine

Photo by Quinn Dombrowski (CC license)

 

 

Google Reader is where I go first thing in the morning for my professional reads about associations, marketing, digital media, technology, etc., and at the end of the day for my personal reads about food, culture, etc. I have hundreds of RSS subscriptions in dozens of Reader folders. Yes, I find a lot to read on Twitter, but its randomness, although appreciated, is no substitute for Reader. I rely on Reader to catch up on anything I missed from my favorite blogs and sites.

When I heard the news yesterday about Reader’s demise – is “murder” too strong a word? – I tweeted this:

“I wouldn’t be who I am today if not for Google Reader. Dramatic but true. Reading changes lives.”

My fellow Reader addicts, we have a few months to find a replacement. So far, Feedly is in the lead for me. What’s looking good for you? Ernie Smith at Associations Now plans to write about post-Reader life on Tuesday. In the meantime, you can start your hunt for a Reader replacement with these posts:

Wednesday night, I returned from ASAE’s Great Ideas conference and hiking in the beautiful mountains of Colorado. I hope to have time this weekend to review the tweetstream of my favorite hashtag of the week, no surprise, #ideas13.

The SXSW tweetstream is too vast to explore, so here’s an alternative: the official audio recordings.

Katie Bascuas at Associations Now writes about the four friends every content marketer needs. When I first read this, I thought, what about me!? But, no worries. In his comment, my friend Scott Oser suggested adding a fifth type: writer/subject matter expert.

If you don’t have the budget to hire a market research consultant, Katya Andresen provides advice on how to do a little research on your own. Just be sure not to rely solely on anecdotes – data is your friend. Also, although it’s tempting to talk to your board or other volunteer leaders about their needs, remember, they may not represent the views of many of your members or constituents.

Association folks, are you reading Jeffrey Cufaude’s Cultivating Engagement series? Here’s yesterday’s post: Let’s Talk About Connections. I’ve lost track of the number of good ideas he’s suggested in this series. Each post would make an interesting and productive topic for a brown bag lunch.

If your company or organization is just getting started with a blog, or even if you’ve had one for a while, check out this eight-point blog analysis by Daniel Burstein at Marketing Sherpa. You’re bound to find something you can improve.

In his New York Times Bit column, Nick Bilton writes about the development of a new digital etiquette as we adopt new tools and adapt to information overload. He says, “Many social norms just don’t make sense to people drowning in digital communication.” Careful, it’s a fine line between trying not to waste someone’s time and appearing rude or ungrateful.

It’s getting harder and harder to turn off the laptop or iPad at night. Google recently announced the launch of Art Talks: “a series of talks, hosted on Google Hangout, with museum directors, curators, historians, and educators. It’s an online series that aims to educate art lovers on famous masterpieces and share the insights of some of the art world’s greatest minds.” Even though I love this news, I’m still mad at Google.

Use your social media powers for good! Find out if a local charity needs social media ambassadors to help share their stories and news. I’ve been helping my local food bank in this way. It’s an easy way to contribute without getting off the couch.  

Happy Friday!

Photo by Striatic (Flickr)

Hmm, is she relaxing or volunteering?
Photo by Striatic (Flickr CC license)

I’m not the only one who likes being a content curator. Elizabeth Engel is always an excellent source for interesting reads. Check out her weekly What I’m Reading series.

If your job involves engaging members, customers, constituents, donors or volunteers, you must read this post by Jeffery Cufaude, Cultivating Engagement: What was the Catalyst? He says, “If we want to cultivate relationships that invest people in our community, cause, or organization, we must remain curious about them: how might what I’m learning about you now alter my next interaction with you?” Grab your team, make them read this, and figure out how you’re going to start doing this next week.

Andy Freed captures why I like reading all kinds of things and making odd connections. He was heading to TEDActive (the live Palm Springs simulcast) where he anticipated learning about association management from a dolphin researcher. And why not?

When’s the last time you picked up a phone and called a member you don’t know? I know. I never did it either, except when we were desperately promoting our trade show in the midst of the housing implosion. Eric Lanke has some ideas about the real reasons we don’t pick up the phone.

Barry Feldman wants you to take a hard look at your website after reading his post, 11 Reasons Why Prospects Don’t Convert Into Customers. He gives you the eleven reasons, good advice and a quick checklist at the Convince & Convert blog.

I just LOVE this post about a dying restaurant by Ken Mueller. I can feel for them because for eight years I was the general manager of an independently-owned (and very successful) restaurant, long before the days of social media. But we’ve all seen this story – lots of attention, but a little too late. Let’s all pledge to honor Ken’s words:

“I will continue to support small, independently owned family businesses whenever I can. I will also go out of my way to let them know I appreciate and support them. I will reward them for their humanity by spending my money with them, in hopes that they will be sustainable and profitable.”

Are you texting and using LOL like an old fart? Luckily for me I got tired of LOL long ago. And it’s a good thing because it no longer means what you think it does, if you’re of a certain age. Not my age. And if you’re one to lament the decline of the English language because of texting, fear not. “Anyone who says that text language is chaotic isn’t paying enough attention to the system of rules that users have developed to move real-time conversation into written form,” says Anne Curzan in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

At ProBlogger, Thomas Ford explains what you need to know about using free images from the web. His post will help you understand copyright rules, rights and different types of Creative Commons licenses.

Here’s one to bookmark and hope you never have to use. Tia Fisher at Social Media Today shows you what to do if your Twitter account has been hacked.

Steal this idea from Association Media & Publishing: sponsored small group dinner discussions.

Steal this idea too for your next trade show:

vendor twitter game tweet

The only infographic I looked at this week, thanks to Stowe Boyd.

This is conference week for me. I spent Sunday through Tuesday at the Avectra Users & Developers Conference where I wrote a few blog posts:

I got back Wednesday afternoon and today I’m heading to Colorado Springs for the ASAE Great Ideas Conference. Be sure to check out the hashtag #ideas13 if you want to follow along.

Pretty soon we’ll all be Dr. Doolittles. Vince Cerf “envisions an interspecies Internet” where we’ll communicate with animals and aliens.

Happy Friday!

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

“…talk with the animals, grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals”
Photo by Curt Smith (Flickr)

 

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