The year is 2020, and the way we do association and business management, communications, membership and member engagement, certification, project management and events had done a digital-180. In January this would have sounded like a scene from a futuristic blockbuster, but as we approach the end of the year we can see just how far we’ve come from this time last year and all we have been able to accomplish.
Associations are forever changed, and every MM department has been able to act quickly, adjust plans and reconsider how to reach their KPIs in light of the new normal that faced us all. While these quick adjustments came with their own individual challenges, they also forced us into a new, virtual world that presented the opportunity to expand our key learnings and best practices.
Below is a roundup of best practices that all of our teams has added to their list since the pandemic hit:
COMMUNICATIONS & MEMBER ENGAGEMENT
Be Mindful of Volume: Virtual communications are at an all-time high, and inbox real estate is slim. Your audience will appreciate only receiving the most important and relevant information over a reasonable timeline.
Explore New Communication Methods: There are so many different ways to connect your members and increase network communication. Don’t hesitate to explore different virtual session and formats that align with your goals and objectives, and don’t only rely on what you use to do in the past.
Keep it Simple: Online and at-home distractions have an impact on the amount of content our audience can consume at one time. If you fail to keep your communications clear and concise, you risk losing your audience before your key messages are communicated.
ASSOCIATION MANAGEMENT AND OPERATIONS
Lead through the Crisis: Its’s easy to get caught up in the crisis, but stay above the challenges to and focus on strategy
Risk Mitigation: Risk mitigation strategies need to be strong and adaptable, and ready for action
Keep the Connection: There is increased value in connection, collaboration and the unity of a network. Partnerships and joint efforts will lead to a strong future.
Adjust your Event Length: In an online platform, less is more. Sessions need to be shortened, formats need to be changed and we need to allow for more breaks to prevent ‘virtual fatigue’.
Plan (even further) Ahead: Don’t let the virtual format fool you – you’ll need the same amount of time if not more to execute a virtual event. Online venue research, managing speakers, communicating with attendees in a more-crowded online space and managing registration are all still event logistics, with the added task of platform education.
Content is King: Great content is always necessary for a successful event, but in an online platform its’s even more crucial to find fun ways to engage with attendees through the session content and format.
Keep the Integrity: Organizations should pilot the virtual program to ensure that the new digital process is in alignment with the stated purpose of the credential, while ensuring validity, reliability, and fairness of the examination is kept intact.
Think Outside the Region: Digital credentialing has also allowed for more opportunity. Those looking to earn credentials from outside the country are now able to do so, and those in more low-income areas can access the certification without the burden of travel cost.
Consider Technical Capabilities: Not all applicants will have the same level of technical knowledge. Consider this in planning and ensure there is communication to support varying needs.
Increase Communication: In a digital world, it’s more important to keep the communication active and consistent surrounding finances.
Realistic Budgets: It’s been a really tough year to track finances against the budget prepared in Jan/Feb 2020 or even compared to last year numbers. Contingency plans and strategies that reflect a realistic outlook for the remainder of the year were prepared to finish 2020. In 2021, budgets should include scenario planning or options to ensure associations have sufficient cash flow to cover their operating expenses.
Tech: We are working on making all our clients 100% virtual. As a result, we need to have strong financial controls in place to ensure we are not exposed to any risk or fraud.