Visuality's blog on associations and online

Association Decision Making: MacGyver or MacGruber?

Is your association decision making more MacGyver or MacGruber? Too many times in the nearly 20 years of working with associations, advocacy groups, and other member-based associations, I have seen MacGruber-ish tendencies derail an organization’s agenda, near-term goals, and best-laid plans. Hand-writing over budget. Squabbling over message. Letting the proverbial perfect get in the way of the simply good enough. While the clock was ticking, they were frozen by indecisiveness and indecision…and the bomb exploded. There are some simple tips to help your association overcome its MacGruber tendencies and be the MacGyver your members deserve.

Where’s Waldo… At ASAE 2015?

My kids have no idea who Waldo is. But I sure remember him. I also remember the headache I’d get after five minutes of searching for his little red-and-white scarf and cap in a sea of tiny faces. Oftentimes, I’d give up, leaving poor Waldo lost on the page. Connecting with your members can sometimes feel like a game of Where’s Waldo. But what if I told you there were now online tools that were the equivalent of putting a big red circle around Waldo? Let’s explore that concept a bit with a question: Where are you right now and what are you doing? If you answered “In Detroit, attending a major associations conference,” you should probably look to see if there’s a gigantic red circle around you. Well, there probably isn’t (and if there is we didn’t put it there), but in the online world, that circle definitely exists. How were we able to pull this off? The ability to “draw” these circles around specific groups online comes from the melding of big data and online ad platforms. We can now do real-time, location-based online ads, and we’re already seeing very meaningful advances in how finely and how sharply we can target ads. This ability may be the exact reason you’re reading this blog entry right now. Want to have ads show up in just iOS 8 device apps within 5 miles of a specific location? How about only on Android-based Web browsers within a specific zip code? Increasingly, the answer to these and many more questions about time and location targeting is “Yes, we can do that.”...

Evaluating Your Association’s Branding Efforts

When we first started working with associations on branding and developing branded material and media, we came up with an approach that many found (and still find) useful. It has helped our clients organize their thinking around the evaluation of their current branding efforts. It’s by no means a comprehensive approach to branding (that’d be a much longer and more detailed article), but it certainly is a good starting point . So, let me introduce you to Visuality’s C’s of branding: clarity, consistency, and commitment. I’ll break them down so that you get a better idea of how each applies to your organization’s branding endeavors… Clarity: Take a look at some of the branded material that your association puts out on a regular basis. Does your brand shine through? If you’re not sure how to evaluate that, think about brands like Harley Davidson, United Way of America, Apple and others. They are all very good examples of businesses and organizations that focus on providing great brand clarity on every piece of material or media. Consistency: All of your material should have a uniform look and feel to it. Are you using consistent brand language, graphics, etc.? Do you see the same typefaces on print material that you have on your Web properties? Is your logo/mark being used in accordance with your usage and standard guidelines? Commitment: This is more of an internal question aimed at leadership and others in charge of the branding process. Do you have a clear plan for your brand? Do you evaluate your brand and all related material on a regular basis? Without a solid...

Membership Lessons from The Martian

The Martian is a major motion picture being released in October, 2015. It stars Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, among other great actors in a stellar ensemble cast. Before that, The Martian became a New York Times best-selling novel for first-time author Andy Weir. And before that, The Martian was a self-published e-book on Amazon, listed at $0.99 because that is the lowest price Amazon allows authors to charge for their work. The funny thing is, at the same time the e-book was available on Amazon, it was also available FOR FREE on Andy Weir’s personal Web site. Free vs not free… you would think the free version would have been downloaded in bucketfuls, with the Amazon version languishing in obscurity. That’s not what happened. In actuality, the Amazon version of The Martian ended up being paid for and downloaded at a rate ten times higher than the free version of the same e-book. Why? Simple, actually: people just found it easier to get to the Amazon book. A simple search of “The Martian” and a couple of clicks led to Amazon, who in turn made it very easy to pay for and get the e-book. The value of ease of access and ease of acquisition swamped out the $0.99 cost of the e-book. This most likely would have been the case had the e-book been $1.99, or even $2.99. As I thought about this story, the lessons for membership-based organizations were not lost on me. Members, like anyone else, value their time and guard it jealously. In particular, members interact with online properties – from news organizations, shopping sites, and your...