Innovation and Jobs

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

by Tom Baer

Within days of Steve Jobs’ departure from Apple, the hard drive on my MacBook crashed, and being a back-up procrastinator, I lost a great deal of data.  If you’ve had this happen, you know it is VERY aggravating.  The kind of aggravation that should make me switch brands.  But I didn’t.

Why?  Because of Steve Jobs.  He built a brand that is so compelling and appealing that I am willing to live with some inconvenience and aggravation to remain in his world.  It turns out I am not alone.  After posting about my computer’s demise on facebook, I got plenty of replies from friends that had the same thing happen, and like me, remained loyal to Apple.

I mention this here because on the occasion of Mr. Jobs departure, rather than letting him just fade into the sunset, I think we should all learn from him.  Many people know him as the creative mind behind Apple and Pixar, two tremendously successful companies.  But he’s more than that.  After he left Apple the first time, the company floundered and almost went under.  When he bought Pixar from George Lucas, it was hardly a blip on the entertainment radar screen.

Steve Jobs saved these two companies and built them into culture-changing phenomenon.  How?  By believing in a simple philosophy: “the way out is not to slash and burn, it is to innovate.”

In today’s economy, “slash and burners” are everywhere.  Corporations are still laying off staff left and right.  Companies and associations are cutting offerings, and even worse charging for services that net them a little profit but at a huge cost in customer dissatisfaction.  If Mr. Jobs had taken the “slash and burn” route with his companies, the world may have never known  the iPod or iPhone, and never seen Toy Story or Finding Nemo.

We’re all faced with challenges in our jobs.  Think about how you handle those challenges.  Next time try the innovation route to the solution.  Yes, it may be more difficult to sell in, but you’ll put a smile on Steve Jobs face as he sits in his rocking chair.

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Segment or Not?

Submitted by Sue Castro

Ever wondered what the big deal is about customer segmentation in association meeting marketing?  You sure see it tossed around a lot. But is it really that important?  When done right, YES!

Most associations either avoid it because it’s too complicated, or they don’t know how to identify the segments. 

Identifying your member segments is as simple as analyzing your member database.  I know, that’s easier said than done.  But it provides the basis to communicate appropriately with each of your various member or attendee groups.  Does that matter?  YES!!!  Why? Because it creates a message that is more relevant and thus more likely to be read. 

Group of people

Think of the last time you purchased a book on Amazon.com..  Immediately, Amazon shot back a list of other books that were similar.  By your ordering a particular book, Amazon was able to place you in a segment and marketed to you.  It was likely pertinent to you and you most likely responded positively.  With everyone so taxed for time, it’s simply better to provide information that is relevant to people; not information we think will appeal across a broad audience! 

Segmentation demonstrates you understand your target’s needs and desires.  It also helps you craft a message that is valuable to your audiences; eliminating the need for your target to search around for the information needed.  You are giving it to them in a way that is relevant.  And saving them time. 

Think about what’s in it for your members the next time you communicate to them., They’ll be more responsive because you took the time to communicate to them in their language.  I’ve seen double-digit response rates as a result of segmentation. Try it and you’ll become a believer!

Give It To Me Straight

Submitted by Katie Callahan-Giobbi

In our work with non-profits, I frequently have the chance to talk about member value with our association customers. What value are they creating and delivering to their members? Logic tells me that “member value” is just that…what your members value. How do we know what they value? We ask them. It really is that simple. I suppose human nature makes us hesitant to ask pointed questions, perhaps because we’re afraid of what the answer might be. Maybe we think we know better? Either way, I have come to appreciate that the only right answer…is theirs.

surveyI have been amazed at the number of non-profits who haven’t surveyed their members in years. In some cases, many years. As we change our offerings, re-engineer our conferences or add new services, doesn’t it make sense to ask your membership if it’s something they value (and will pay for)? Our world is changing too quickly and our members have more online education and resources available to them than ever before. Social media is capturing their interactions and allowing for valuable connections to be made seamlessly on a daily basis. What do they really value?

 Surveying your members needs to be done properly but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Most important – ask the right questions. Questions that uncover their needs and wants as well as questions that are actionable. Most associations have member contact information at their fingertips. Of course you can outsource your survey, but you can also use an online survey tool like Survey Monkey. If so, you will need to analyze the results on your own. However you choose to go about it and assuming it is done properly, the results will likely pay for themselves in increased member retention, new revenue opportunities and more engaged members.

 Be smart. Ask. And really listen.