For best member management, take time to reward attendees

An important aspect of association member management is coming up with ways to keep members engaged with your organization and excited about its prospects. Obviously, this requires proper planning to ensure that the association is working toward its mission, but extra perks never hurt.

For example, a recent article on Associations Now recommended that association executives offer personalized perks to meeting attendees as part of an effort to make them feel more positive about the organization.

The author, Samantha Whitehorn, cited the private sector example of Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which now offers a new rewards program to its best customers. To determine what to offer, the hotel tracked member preferences and made an effort to personalize each reward.

Whitehorn adds that associations could benefit from this kind of personalization as well.

"Imagine if your association's staff could use a CRM to input notes about meeting attendee behavior on the spot," she writes. "For instance, say a staffer notices Attendee X always picks up a Diet Coke before walking into an education session. Perhaps after the session gets out, another staffer can be waiting for her at the exit to hand her a can before she moves to the next one. Or, if she completes her post-event survey, you send her a reward for a six pack."

Ultimately, the idea is that these perks and friendly gestures will lead to better member retention, which is an important goal for any association. In turn, happy members are more likely to spread the word about your organization to their friends and relatives.

Big data tools can help association management hire better

For any business, hiring skilled employees can be a challenge. It is difficult to predict with any accuracy how even the most skilled-looking candidates will turn out, and yet the stakes are high, as is the cost of employee turnover. Associations face these issues as well. They generally have little in the way of extra money, so association management must make sure that they make the right call as often as possible.

Writing for Association News, contributor Steven Hacker argues that associations should make use of new "big data" tools, which are now more accessible than ever thanks to advancements in technology. 

After all, associations can already use big data to analyze their member marketing techniques. For example, when dealing with social media outreach on a large scale, simply tracking information through spreadsheets is not enough—there is too much data.

The same idea applies when considering new candidates. There is now so much more information that we can glean from an applicant to determine whether he or she will be a good fit for the organization. As Hacker notes, there are algorithms that recruiters can offer to determine if an applicant has the skills necessary for a particular position. These algorithms often come in the form of simple video games, and can be customized based on what an association is looking for.

"These kinds of video games are valid tools," Hacker writes. "Neuroscientists, industrial behaviorists and technology engineers have all worked together to create games specifically for HR applications." Given that association employees often end up playing many different roles within an organization, this is one potential way to measure different competencies at once.

Association executives can promote themselves with targeted campaigns

A sharp-eyed association executive must be constantly on the lookout for ways to promote their organization's brand. This is especially true if they have an idea that can offer publicity without costing a significant amount of money—which many associations, especially small ones, do not have access to.

Consider a recent promotion that the American Heart Association (AHA) is carrying out.

According to an article on Associations Now, the AHA is asking CEOs from various major companies to join a push to lead healthier lifestyles and, in turn, encourage their employees to join them. The program is known as the AHA CEO Roundtable.

"With the AHA CEO Roundtable, we're starting a movement to transform the culture of the workplace to meaningfully engage employees to take simple steps that can dramatically reduce their risk of heart-related death and illness," AHA CEO Nancy Brown said in a statement. "Together with some of the country's most influential CEOs, we are working to tackle this issue head-on, share best practices, and identify cutting-edge, new programs to help get America heart-healthy."

The problem, as noted by a recent Nielsen survey, is that while the majority of employees report that they are in good health, a significant number end up being diagnosed with chronic conditions. The AHA believes that CEOs can lead by example and encourage employees to adopt healthier lifestyles and be more honest about managing their own health.

Of course, the AHA is a large association with many resources, but small organizations could use this same strategy to promote themselves and a cause that they believe in.