What You Can Learn from the Chicago Bulls

By Tom Baer

In case you’re not a sports fan, I’ll fill you in on the sad story of this year’s Chicago Bulls.  After playing well for the entire regular season, led by last year’s MVP Derrick Rose, the Bulls ended up with the best record in the league, earning them home court advantage throughout the playoffs.  As the number one seed, their first playoff opponent was the Philadelphia 76ers, who were seeded eighth  in the Eastern Conference, and most NBA experts picked the Bulls to sweep the seven game series.

But with a little over a minute left in the very first game, with the Bulls leading by 12 points, Rose jumped awkwardly into the air to make a pass, came down even more awkwardly, and was lost to the team for the rest of the playoffs (and well beyond, I might add) with a torn ligament in his knee.

Without their MVP, even though many experts felt the Bulls would still win the series, they went on to lose, four games to two.  OK, that’s sports – everyone, even die-hard Chicago fans are ready to move on.

But before you do you should think about what this might tell you about your business.  Whether you’re part of a corporation, an association, a DMO, an agency, or any business, you could lose your Derrick Rose at any moment.  To injury, an accident, an illness, or maybe your company’s MVP gets an offer he or she just can’t refuse.  Are you prepared to replace them, or will your organization’s performance drop significantly as the Bulls’ did?  And disaster can strike in many ways other than losing a key player.  Anything from a legal issue, to losing a key alliance partner or client, to a terrorist attack, to the weather can have a tremendous effect on your business.  Yet most companies don’t even think about these things.  They assume it will never happen to them, or if it does, they will deal with it then.

What should you do?  Simple, plan ahead.  Think about what things can go wrong in your business.  Really wrong.  Then determine what you would need to do if the worst happened.  Write a plan and keep it on file.  You may even need to go as far as purchasing some equipment or arranging contingencies with outside resources.

Most companies plan for future positives – what additional services they will provide, what employees they will add, how they can get more space and incorporate new technologies.  Only the smart ones put together disaster plans.  Maybe because they’re not fun to do.  But they are necessary.  Just ask the Bulls

Time to Get Email Smart

By Tom Baer

Computer with hand sticking outMost associations who market their annual meetings use email as the primary method of reaching out to potential attendees. This is logical, since email is generally much more affordable than other media, and offers a higher ROI than most. But if you are one of these associations, it’s time to ask yourself if that ROI is as good as it could be.
A recent article by Chad White, Research Director at email marketing solutions provider Responsys, suggests email marketers can be divided into two groups: the “Haves” and the “Have-Nots.” What do the “Haves” have? The knowledge, experience, and marketing sense to use the many tools that are available to email marketers to refine their efforts. The “Have-Nots” ignore these helpful tools and send out basic broadcast emails.
White finds that the gap in effectiveness of the two types of emailers is quickly widening. And the annual Email Marketing Industry Census put out by Econsultancy agrees, showing that marketers who use more sophisticated email programs are 32% more likely to see “excellent” or “good” results for their efforts than those who send out broadcast messages.
What are these magic “tools” that can boost your email effectiveness? Techniques like segmentation, personalization, dynamic content, and trigger-based emails. Smart marketers also test subject lines, body copy, images and other elements to learn what their target will respond to best.
Associations often fall into the trap of assuming that emails they send will be effective simply because their email list consists of members who have typically opted-in for communications. But opt-ins still have spam filters, and even if your email gets to their inbox, they are BUSY, so the subject line and the email itself both need to be truly compelling to make sure your message gets through.
Think about how many emails you get each day. How many do you trash without even opening? It’s a safe bet that the marketing-based ones that you read have used some more sophisticated tools to make it past your screen. It’s time your emails did the same.

Learn from a Teenager

Teenager multitaskingby Tom Baer

OK, everyone in the workforce, no matter what the industry, knows the value of experience.  As you grow in your career you continue to learn, and that experience makes you a more valuable employee.  It’s why as we grow older we move into more senior positions.

But there’s at least one skill where teenagers outperform seasoned veterans hands down: multitasking.   

At an MIP Junior panel discussion this past October, Donna Friedman Meir, Chief Innovation Officer at InsightKids, highlighted that teenagers spend an average of 218 minutes a day watching television, 169 minutes online, 128 minutes using mobile phones and 57 minutes playing games. 113 minutes are spent on books, magazines and other forms of media, for a total of 8 hours and 19 minutes of media consumption a day.  And that doesn’t even include non-media tasks they are performing, such as eating, driving, shopping, hanging out with friends, going to classes and maybe even doing a little homework.  How do they have time to do all this?  Simple, they do the majority of these things at the same time.

With the economy forcing many companies to cut back workforces, time management has now become an essential skill in the workplace. Think about your workload.  Is it more demanding than is was a few years back? Chances are the answer is yes.  If so, how do you deal with it?  My suggestion, learn to multitask. You may think you already do this…but do you do it well?  The key is organization and prioritization.  You have to know which tasks demand your full attention, and which are less demanding ones or ones with down time that allow you to deal with others at the same time.

Think of learning to multitask well as job survival, because there are millions of teenagers who are experts at it who will be in the workforce soon.

To grieve is human, to post-it is, too.

by Max Suzenaar

Steve Jobs Post-it MemorialTributes honoring the passing of visionary Steve Jobs have organically popped up throughout the country – like this makeshift Post-it® memorial at an Apple Store. As the founder of revolutionary technological innovations such as Iphones, Ipods, and Ipads, it seem ironic that even in today’s uber-digital culture, it is the penned word that speaks the loudest volume and projects personal human emotion. Proof positive that even the coolest in “I” technology is nothing without the sensibility of the human behind the “I”.

You’ve Come a Long Way……….Baby!

By Max Suzenaar

Can You Guess What year was this photo taken?

Newborn photo

The First Camera Phone Picture

This photo “is credited as the first-ever picture taken and transmitted from a phone, made by technology entrepreneur Phillipe Kahn of his newborn baby daughter Sophie on June 11, 1997, in Santa Cruz, California and sent instantly to 2,000 relations, friends, and associates around the globe. Kahn was a proud papa in more ways than he realized:  not only did the camera phone (and otherwise transmitted digital photography) became an underpinning of the modern phenomenon known as social networking, it became a crucial communication and political tool.”*

It’s hard to believe that it was only 1997! Social Media has taken the business world by storm – ironic in that it is SOCIAL media, not BUSINESS media. Yet, its tentacles have not only crept into corporate America, they have connected the entire world at lightning speed leaving every association and corporation scrambling in its wake feverishly looking for any opportunity to ride the wave.

So how does Social Media pertain to your meetings? Your membership? Yes, Social Media is a necessary channel for your marketing mix – and its future is exciting (albeit difficult to harness with predictability). The bottom line? Social Media does not singularly drive attendance. It can influence and help create a buzz for specific segments of your audience. But with rare exception, it does not drive a call to action to register for your meeting. Yet it is essential to integrate a Social Media Plan into your communications strategy. Learn more about how to link Social Media into your meeting from your friends at MYB.

*Source: “LIFE 100 Photographs That Changed the World” Published by LifeBooks an imprint of Time Home Entertainment, Inc. Copyright 2011

NEW THINK for Fall

by Karen Hamilton

Fall leavesNow that the Labor Day weekend has come and gone I’ve heard a number of friends and industry colleagues bemoan the seemingly shorter days that are ahead and the inevitable end to the carefree Summer routine. While there is undeniably a change in the air, there is something refreshing and invigorating about Fall. I recall that “Back to School” time seemed to signal a time for a fresh start – whether it was a new pair of gym shoes, a new teacher, meeting new friends, signing up for a new activity or trying out for a sport. It was also a natural time to set new goals, start that next chapter and decide “who you were going to be” and what you were going to do in the “year” ahead.

While I no longer have to worry about trying to remember a new locker combination, I still use this time of year to look ahead and refresh goals and reassess project status and progress. Client needs continue to evolve, the dynamic world around us impacts business decisions, and what better opportunity to take a step back and challenge yourself to embrace “NEW THINK” in this “new” year as you refine your goals. What do your stakeholders really need? What value are you providing and how do you deliver that value. Too often we focus on the conference or event and forget that there are 365 days in the year where stakeholders need, want and expect value. A NEW THINK approach will help you uncover these opportunities.

At MYB we believe “NEW THINK” creates bigger possibilities and we hope our mindset resonates with you as you approach upcoming projects.

So take out your No. 2 Ticonderoga and Composition Book, (or iPads or netbooks, as the case may be), and share with us how you’ll get to the head of the class this year.

PS – And don’t forget to take time to make one more trip to the ice cream truck!