An Executive Director's point of view


April 25, 2017: Flash or content?

Category: Publications
Posted by: David M Patt
Know your audience preferences when designing publications, and be sure to strike the proper balance between flash and content.

Don't be seduced by flash. Your publication may end up like a cocktail table book or magazine that looks pretty but is agonizingly difficult to read.

Here are some problems to avoid:

1. Copy that is a hodgepodge of short blurbs and images, as if it had all been dropped on the page and printed without first being organized.

2. Long titles and intros printed in all capital letters, which makes it more difficult to read.

3. Little or no distinction between editorial and advertising, so one may be mistaken for the other.

4. Paragraphs on the same page - and in the same article - in different colors and fonts. It looks like a mess.

5. Columns that are too wide.

6. Or, columns that are much too narrow.

7. Photos and images standing out more than articles.

8. And printing them over text, so the text cannot be read.

9. Little boxes of text scattered across photos and pictures - seemingly unconnected to anything.

Visuals should enhance the appearance, not dominate it.

If you actually want people to read the content, don't go overboard on the flash.

April 20, 2017: Board pre-orientation

Category: Governance
Posted by: David M Patt
Let members know what Board service entails before they declare their candidacies.

You can conduct a Board of Directors pre-orientation for all members as part of the "Call for Nominations," so they can become familiar with the duties and responsibilities of Board service before deciding whether or not to vie for a Board position.

Waiting until they've been elected may be too late.

April 19, 2017: Marketing forever

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
Marketing is not something you do once, or every so often, or only when you have a big event coming up.

It's something you do all the time. And you budget for it.

Your market changes daily. Lots of potential members and customers didn't receive the direct mail piece, the eblast, or the Tweet that you sent about the annual conference, open house, or legislative fly-in.

They missed the "big announcement" about your plans.

So, market all the time. And always stay in touch with your audiences.

April 17, 2017: Respect introverts

Category: Stuff, other
Posted by: David M Patt
You can do that by leaving them alone.

Don't call attention to them.

Don't ask them to talk in meetings, or to comment, or to share their opinions. They'll decide for themselves if they want to do any of those things.

Don't call on them in class.

Don't ask for volunteers and then pick people (like them) who didn't volunteer.

Don't demand they speak in front of groups - unless that is really, really necessary.

And if you believe it is, find ways they can do that without forcing them into situations that will trigger their anxieties and fears.

Sometimes, written correspondence, email, and social media will be satisfactory alternatives.

But if that is not enough, and your organization needs them to be more personally outgoing, help them to develop that ability, but in ways that are comfortable for them.

Don't force them to do things the way you do. That just won't work.

April 14, 2017: Job boards

Category: Employment
Posted by: David M Patt
List positions on your association job board in a logical order.

Do not list them in the order you received them from employers. That has no relevance to anybody.

You can list positions alphabetically by state, by category, or by another variable that allows viewers to read only the portion that interests them.

Present the information in a way that makes it most useful to the reader.

People should not have to read everything on the list to find what they want.

April 13, 2017: Take care of exhibitors

Category: Exhibits
Posted by: David M Patt
When a company purchases an expo booth or table top at an organization event, don't just grab its money and run.

The company made an investment, not a gift. Make sure it receives a return on that investment.

Ensure that your members and supporters visit those booths and tables.

Don't ask them to visit. Don't please with them to visit.

Compel them to visit.

Here are a few ways to do that:

1. Place registration at the far end of the exhibit hall, so people will have to walk past the booths and tables to sign up for your event and to pick up their materials;

2. Conduct a game that requires attendees to visit various booths and tables (but don't charge exhibitors extra for that). Award a prize to winners;

3. Offer free lunch, dessert, or coffee in the room where booths and tables are located;

4. Schedule a time with no educational sessions, workshops, or other activities so attendees will have no other place to go besides the exhibit hall;

5. Place booths and tables in a room or hallway where attendees will have to walk. Don't banish exhibitors to the far reaches of a building where nobody will bother to visit them.

If you don't care about the exhibitors, then don't ask them for money. They are paying for access to your audience, so ensure they gain that access.

April 10, 2017: Webinar tips

Category: Technology
Posted by: David M Patt

April 04, 2017: Bad marketing

Category: Marketing
Posted by: David M Patt
Today I received the worst robocall ever.

It's election day in my town, and three candidates are competing for two spots on the Park District Board.

The caller spoke with a strained voice, sounding as if the mere act of speaking was painful. He urged me to vote for two of the candidates. At the end of the call, a child screamed, "Vote for my mommy!"

It was the most unprofessional communication I've ever received in a political campaign.

When speaking, writing, filming, drawing, or doing anything else to communicate with others, put yourself in your recipients' shoes and determine how they will react to your dispatch. Then craft the most positive message possible.

Whoever concocted today's call does not appear to have done that.

April 03, 2017: Redesigning web sites

Category: Web sites
Posted by: David M Patt
It's more than just adding or deleting copy.

It's changing your entire appearance.

Consider these things before you begin:

1. Will a fresh, new look be more appealing to newer groups of people?

2. Are you worried about existing members or viewers thinking items they've liked will be gone or that they'll have to spend too much time searching a newly designed site to find them?

3. Do you think your old look is stale and a new one will invigorate current and past users?

4. Do you want people to revisit the entire site, hoping they'll find something new they like that they haven't used before?

Don't redesign your web site because you are bored with it. Your current users may not feel the same way. In fact, they may favor the familiar look.

Do redesign it because you think doing so will benefit your organization.

Whatever you decide, obtain feedback from newer and older users and from outsiders who don't have a stake in what you do but can offer useful suggestions.

And don't be hasty. Think through all the possible changes and implement those you think will help.

The fate of your organization is probably not dependent on the look of your web site. And an immediate redesign is not likely to have an immediate impact.

March 30, 2017: Securing sponsors

Category: Sponsorship
Posted by: David M Patt
Dump the pre-packaged sponsorship bundles.

Get rid of the gold, silver, and bronze sponsorship levels.

Don't try to sell companies sponsorship entitlements that you think will benefit them.

Ask them what they think will benefit them and customize proposals to provide that.

Here's what you need to know.
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