Keep Your Foot on the Gas

by JP Moery

Istock:Credit:ssuaphoto

First quarter is about over. You’re into a business rhythm. You can see a nice upturn. But, don’t get complacent … Challenge your organization to be disruptive. Resurrect your creative appetite for new programs, intensive development and improvement.

This is the time of the year where the cadence of business becomes a bit repetitive and ordinary. I’m not really interested in that for your organization.

Here are three things to drive you through the next quarter. And, remember what racing legend Mario Andretti said, “If you feel in control, you’re not driving fast enough.”

1. Find the project where there was not enough bandwidth, budget or market research to launch a year ago … and, Go!

2. Look at your long-term goals and execute the efforts tomorrow.

3. Double your revenue goals on a particular initiative (conference registration, membership recruitment, etc.) and adjust your budget accordingly. Rally your team to go to a previously unmet, and perhaps unthinkable goal. Just think what will happen if you only get halfway to the objective – that’s 25% more than you may have ever anticipated.

Start today, not tomorrow.  As the old adage says, “Tomorrow is the Devil’s favorite word.”

My #1 Business Tip

JP Moery

IStock/Credit:phototechno

My daughter, Grace was home from college recently and we were chatting about business and some of things that make you successful. It heartens me that at her age – she has an active interest. But, from our conversation, one aspect came up that is so basic – you’re going to laugh. But, I’ve seen folks miss this consistently and I want to address it.

My #1 tip – RETURN PHONE CALLS. It’s that simple. This action contributes to the cadence of business and I absolutely guarantee you, if you consistently return calls, you will have more opportunities to work with people. Consistently returning calls (in a timely fashion) enhances your reputation and you will be known as a “go-to” person. Trust me on this.

I know some good people – excellent execs who are known as people who do not return calls. And, I know it’s cost them business. I also know someone else in the business who works hard and regularly returns calls – at like 5:35 pm. Now, he knows he’s calling at a time when folks won’t be there. He’s checking the “box,” with no intention of engaging you. Intent is really important here.

Return calls. Try to do so within 24 hours. With the variety of different methods to reach back out to people –  email, instant messaging, texts – any of these will do the job for you, but I can tell you this: the #1 tip to pass along to your colleagues, fellow business, owners, to your kids: Return calls! It’s a fundamental element of business that tends to be overlooked today.

Hope this is helpful. And, if you want to get in touch, give me a call. If I miss you – I’ll call you back.

If this content resonated with you, check out Life Hacks for Success in Business

One Tweak to Make to Your Sales Cycle in 2018

JP Moery

Istock/Credit:SunnyGraph

Every year, I take a good look at my sales approach with client prospects – what’s working great and what’s not. During 2017, I was losing momentum at the proposal stage, which really shouldn’t be the case at all. Once the proposal is out, we really should be at a point of confirming scope, pricing and overcoming objections for final agreement.

However, it wasn’t the case.  I was losing momentum after sending the proposal, even having some prospects “go dark” for long periods of time.

Looking back, I was working so hard to develop the proposal and so relieved it was done – I’d do a quick review and hit “send” to the prospect just to show activity and speed.  That way of thinking was not serving me well.

Here’s the tweak: 

Step 1: Complete the proposal.

Step 2: Send a note and a calendar invitation saying, “Hey, I’m very excited about the proposal. I can’t wait to go over it with you. Here’s a calendar invitation to discuss it for 15 minutes.”

This strategy enables you to really determine, first – if they are wasting your time (hopefully, not) and serious about considering your offer; but secondly, it ensures you have a defined environment to review the scope ; answer any questions; hear any objections to cost, and understand the steps in the sales process.

This approach maintains control and is particularly important if you’re in a shoot-out with someone else because you have a defined time to address any objections or competitive issues.

And, hey if they don’t respond to your calendar invite or decide they don’t want to proceed, they don’t get the proposal. It’s the ‘scarcity ploy’ – you won’t get the information or even know how much the service costs until you set up the time to go over it with me.

This approach will give you a distinct advantage in 2018.

For more advice on sales strategy and business development, schedule a complimentary 15- to 30-minute call to discuss association growth or any other pressing challenges.

Creating a Real Win-Win: Opportunities for Associations to Help Sponsors Become Thought Leaders

by JP Moery and Bob Buday

IStock/Credit:kasto80

Every association CEO’s No. 1 job is helping members be successful, whether they are companies banding together in a trade group or individuals convening in a professional society. As such, many association leaders are often asked to guard the sanctity of their members against heavy-handed sales tactics of vendors and sponsors. They keep sponsors on the sidelines at their conferences, relegate them to the advertising (not the editorial) pages of their publications, and block them out of planning those and other key association programs.

That’s understandable, and laudable when sponsor demands threaten an association’s integrity. But it’s also increasingly shortsighted and fundamentally misses a tremendous opportunity. Keeping vendor members on the sidelines is a black-and-white stance that precludes associations from fully tapping the expertise of sponsors and vendor members. If your vendors’ expertise is developed, packaged and presented in educational (not blatantly self-promotional) ways, it can be extremely helpful to your mainstream association members.

Doing that means helping association sponsors and vendors to be viewed as thought leaders –i.e., as experts in their domains who can help members solve pressing business problems.

While such expertise can be valuable to many association members, it can also provide associations with a new revenue opportunity that most haven’t tapped: providing services that turn vendors into thought leaders. Becoming a popular thought leader (as Bob’s company has found with professional services industry clients) doesn’t happen overnight. It doesn’t occur by simply telling people to write articles, speeches, books, and blog posts.

People and firms with knowledge become recognized thought leaders only after extensive efforts to codify, package and display their expertise. It happens only after they capture the impact of their expertise on customers (to prove its value), when they can explain their expertise in language the target audience can understand, and when they take it to market through speaking presentations, white papers, blog posts, research reports, books and other educational formats that don’t appear at all to be marketing.

We believe that turning vendors into thought leaders is a major opportunity for associations. Because they historically have played a crucial middleman between members and sponsors, associations have a unique chance to turn their sponsors into thought leaders. That, in and of itself, could be a sizable revenue opportunity for associations because they are well-positioned to offer such services to sponsors, for three reasons:

  1. Associations are highly trusted by their members. They act in their members’ best interests and advocate for them. Thus, when associations open their channels to sponsors that the associations have helped turn into thought leaders, those sponsors become strongly connected to associations and to their member constituencies.
  2. Associations provide the means for effective research focus groups: Sponsors can get quick feedback on their messages from a select group of association members, which allows those sponsors to make rapid and necessary refinements before going mainstream with those messages.
  3. Associations enable sponsors to present their expertise in the most effective channels for thought leadership marketing: conference and seminar presentations. Bloom Group’s 10 years of research on the effectiveness of thought leadership marketing channels consistently shows that conference presentations are the best way to generate leads and market awareness for a firm’s expertise. Close behind are editorial publications, which many associations also issue to members. What’s more, the development of live streaming and broadcast presentations provide even more channels to deliver vendor thought leadership content to members who can’t attend an association event.

IStock/Credit:monkeybusinessimages

Associations that turn their sponsors into thought leaders generate value for both members and sponsors. They give sponsors speaking slots of conferences because they know their insightful speeches will go over well. They give vendors editorial opportunities in their publications because their articles provide big insights and useful case studies.  And they permit vendors to show off their expertise in other association programs because they know members will welcome it.

However, the assistance an association provides to vendors to become thought leaders must be the starting point. Associations with programs to do this can transform sponsors’ sales pitches into valuable educational advice for association members on how to solve their business problems. Vendor conference presentations, briefings, articles and sales meetings shift from blatant sales pitches that turn off members into educational content that appeals to members who are hungry to learn from their peers.

Associations that don’t do this are leaving big money on the table: preventing sponsors from becoming thought leaders to their members. We fully understand the reluctance of association CEOs and their teams. But we also believe that there are effective ways to satisfy both side’s goals – your members’ interests in learning, not being pitched, and your sponsors’ need to communicate their value to your members. One goal doesn’t necessarily have to be in opposition to the other.

Let’s examine the opportunities for associations that can turn sponsors into thought leaders – opportunities for your members, your sponsors, and your association.

The Historical Member-Sponsor Divide

The best member-driven associations have historically resisted pressures from companies that sell products and services to their members even if those companies are paying big fees as vendor sponsors. JP knows from his experience in leadership positions at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Trucking Associations, and from his work at The Moery Company. Perhaps afraid of appearing weak, many association leaders have created hard-and-fast rules about how vendor members can play:

IStock/Credit:monkeybusinessimages

  • Confining them to the exhibit hall booths
  • Barring them from serving on the conference committee
  • Preventing them from taking key speaking roles at high-profile, and even very targeted, conferences
  • Keeping them out of association publications other than to advertise
  • Or even worse, limiting their participation as a member altogether

The most frequent request by vendors of association leaders is getting speaking roles at conferences. This is frequently rejected by associations, which seem shackled by their perception of vendor presentations as pure sales pitches. Indeed, association leaders who cave into such demands can begin a slippery downward slope with vendor members calling the shots and dictating an association’s programming. If you don’t help vendors turn their pitches into thoughtful content, you will become the forum everyone wants to avoid. Sponsors will come to the podium and make presentations that are totally tone deaf to the objectives and cues of the meeting.  JP has seen them … hell, he’s been forced to put them on the agenda!

But it doesn’t have to be this way. You shouldn’t allow vendors to pitch their offerings in conference presentations. That reflects poor event planning. However, if an association can work with vendors on their presentations and make them highly educational about some problem of members and a better way to solve it, those presentations are likely to be met favorably by members.

Think of it another way: Associations are willing to pay premiums – tens of thousands of dollars – to name-brand speakers who don’t have a clue about an association’s industry and the way it works – just to avoid having the companies that are closest to them (which include vendors) participate. That doesn’t make sense.

Why Vendor Pressures are Unlikely to Recede

If you believe that globalization, Internet competitors, and institutional investor pressures will only increase in the years ahead, then you should also assume that vendor sponsors will place increasing demands on associations to get in front of their members.

That only makes sense. Sponsors recognize the importance of associations, especially in B2B sectors, as a key channel to sell their products and services.

Many B2B companies – both product and service firms – recognize the need to sell not only their offerings but also to communicate the expertise they’ve collected about their offerings: i.e., the customer problems their offerings address. There’s no better evidence of this trend than how B2B companies have embraced of “The Challenger Sale” concept. The concept came out of research from the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), now part of research powerhouse Gartner. The first book in their series was a bestseller. CEB studied hundreds of B2B salespeople through the eyes of their sales managers and compared the most effective salespeople to the average performers. The key trait of the best salespeople was their ability to challenge the customer’s view of his problem – to redefine the problem, and then offer their firm’s unique solution to it.

The Challenger Sale concept calls for B2B salespeople to be considered industry thought leaders by customers, not as salespeople who focus on product features and benefits. In this light, it’s no surprise that many association sponsors want to be viewed by members as thought leaders at association events and in association publications. We believe this helps explain why so many association leaders are getting pressured by sponsors to play bigger roles in their programs.

But we also believe the best way for association leaders to deal with it is not to oppose it, but to actually welcome it – they can create a win-win-win for their members, the sponsors, and the association.

JP once spoke with one of the world’s largest and best-known companies. The only association programs this company supports are those in which its people are permitted to deliver thought leadership content to high-ranking executives. That is their only game. If associations don’t grasp that idea, the potential sponsorship revenue will walk.

The result of placing such restrictions on vendors? They will run their own meetings or events in your venue, gathering and hosting at the hotel bar. Don’t be mistaken: They will fill the void you are creating by not providing a solution to their business objectives. Far better to help vendors become thought leaders through your help and your programs.

The question more and more for association leaders is not whether they can help sponsors turn into thought leaders, but how – and how to profit from it. In the following section, we’ll discuss how to do so.

Turning Vendors into Thought Leaders

From Bloom Group’s work over the last 20 years in turning B2B companies into recognized thought leaders (especially professional services firms such as consultancies, IT services, accounting, architecture and law firms), we see five foundational elements for associations that want to do the same for their vendor members.

  1. Help vendors create a thought leadership strategy to determine where to focus content development and marketing resources. Such a strategy will identify which problems of association members a vendor wants its thought leadership marketing campaigns to focus on over the next 12 to 18 months – i.e., which topics (which are big problems of association members) it wants to “own” and shed light on. For example, a manufacturer of construction equipment and an association of construction equipment users might decide there are two topics for that manufacturer to cover in its thought leadership campaigns: construction site safety and theft. Thought leadership campaigns are far more effective when they drill deep on an issue and shed new light on it, and when the presentations, articles, blog posts, research reports and other content formats all focus on the same issue(s). That helps association members gain deeper knowledge from the vendor than if that vendor covered 12 topics superficially in a year.
  1. Set quality standards so that vendor presentations, articles, research studies, blog posts and other content are useful and insightful for members. Bloom Group’s research has found that the most successful practitioners of thought leadership create content that excels at eight criteria: novelty, relevance, depth, evidence, coherence, practicality, rigor and clarity. The exceptional insights their content offers (articles, research studies, conference presentations, books and other thought leadership formats) are a big reason why they generate leads and revenue from thought leadership that far exceeds the investment in content and marketing.
  1. Help vendors codify, develop and capture their thought leadership content in speeches, articles and other writings and presentations through a structured process. Bloom Group has found that the core skills to do this – idea development and writing – don’t exist at the quality levels that they need to be in most B2B companies outside of the largest consulting firms (e.g., McKinsey, Bain, and Boston Consulting Group). (And even those firms tap outsiders for those skills). Exceptional thought leadership content development skills are rare today. Associations that want to play in the game of turning sponsors into thought leaders must tap into those with the skills (or hire them outright). Additionally, since association members love hearing about best practices from their peers, vendors need to help their best customers capture their best practices in using their products. The most believable conference presentations are best-practice case studies by a vendor’s happiest customers.
  1. Determine the optimal marketing mix of thought leadership content for the vendor to use in the association’s programs (and outside of the association’s programs if a vendor asks for that advice) – and, then help execute it. For example, thought leaders are better off publishing articles, blog posts and using other “one-directional” communications before they do public presentations on that content. The reason is that audiences prefer to read new ideas for the first time, rather than hear or see them “on stage.” Articles that resonate can then generate more conference attendees who want to hear and see the authors do presentations. All to say, a thought leadership campaign must be carefully orchestrated, with certain activities (e.g., blog posts, self-published articles, articles published in leading publications, social media) happening first, second and third — long before the audience hears the conference presentation versions of them. Associations that can help their vendors execute these campaigns (i.e., ghostwrite their blog posts, articles and conference presentations, design and execute research studies with members, etc.) will provide additional high value to the vendors that can’t manage these activities with excellence.
  1. Require vendors who ask to be turned into thought leaders to become association members, not just advertisers. Helping a sponsor turn its people into thought leaders is a major effort. It requires a close partnership between an association and its vendor members, and a major investment by the vendor in the association that offers to work with it in this manner. It’s a long-term play for vendors – and, for association leaders – who want a win-win-win for all three parties. That’s membership value at its core, and a benefit many vendors have never been offered. In this increasingly competitive market, we believe it’s a tremendous advantage to offer.

These five elements are the underpinnings of highly effective thought leadership programs run by associations. There are other services that associations could offer if they want to play an even bigger role in the success of vendors’ thought leadership programs. For example, one of them is helping get a vendor’s salespeople well-versed in the thought leadership content of their company’s authors and presenters and trained on how to engage association members with that content.

Associations that can regularly and reliably turn sponsors into thought leaders will not only generate substantial value for their members (vendors that become more effective at solving their problems), but for their sponsors as well (being seen by members as leading experts in their domains).

These associations will generate new income from making this happen. What’s more, they’ll create a competitive advantage for themselves over other associations – one that will grow especially important during economic times in which members and sponsors are focusing their investments on fewer associations.

JP Moery is Founder and President of The Moery Company, a consulting firm focused on helping associations grow membership, sponsorship and other revenue resources. The firm is headquartered in Alexandria, Va.

 

 

Bob Buday is a Founder and Partner of Bloom Group LLC, a Boston-based thought leadership marketing consultancy.

 

 

 

 

 

The Dangers of December

JP Moery

IStock/Credit:dikobraziy

December really is like August for me – both are months in which business traditionally tends to slow down, but I view them as opportunities to do some of your best work. However, the December “danger” is not executing or making poor business decisions, which may cripple your business for the next year.

December pipeline deals can close faster with end-of-year budget money available; and, that’s great. But the challenge stems from a desire to meet our business goals and manage the client’s urgency to buy. And, very often, the details aren’t vetted.

That all-important attention to detail, which takes tie and frustrates us the other 11 months of the year – seemingly fades in December. But, take my advice:

  • Be clear on project expectations and timeline.
  • Nail down billing cycle details.
  • Conduct due diligence to learn if the partnership is truly a fit.  Trustworthy? Credible? Good partner?
  • Ensure the end-result of the project provides a solution to your client’s problem.
  • In December, work hard, remain vigilant on the specifics and finish strong.

Enjoy the holidays!

For more content on business in December – check out Tips for Success in December

I’m Ready to Be on Your Team

by JP Moery

Throughout the association space, senior-level professionals face mounting pressure to grow their organization’s bottom line. Yet, many don’t have a trusted resource for candid, confidential advice on how to move the needle.

In response to this growing need, I’m very pleased to announce the launch of my 1:1 Association Consulting Program, designed for business development, membership, sponsorship, and marketing leaders to improve performance and achieve better results.

1:1 is an exclusive program featuring weekly, monthly, and annual engagement opportunities focused on providing consultation, relevant communications, and advice in the areas specific to your unique challenges.

Here are the details –  JP Moery’s 1:1 Association Consulting Program. And, then let’s get to work. – JP

Fired-Up Friday & Your Quest for Success

IStock:Credit:lzf

Three things to remember regarding your quest for success:

  1. Fear robs your potential.  It keeps you from asking for the deal, getting the information needed to deliver, meeting the person who can make a difference in life or you just don’t even try.  Kick fear in the teeth!

Whenever you feel fear…do exactly what you are afraid of.  You will reap the benefits!

  1. The street of results is paved with ridiculous amounts of action.  Every time I have reached an unprecedented success, it is because of breaking previous records of activity.

Every Friday your competition is late to the office, reading the paper or knocking off early.  Buck the conventional, make today your most productive.

  1. Ask this question right now.  “What is the most important thing I can do right now to accelerate success in my life?” Do it… Now.

Heck, now I’m even fired up!

5 Things I Wish I’d Done Differently in My Career

by JP Moery

IStock/Credit: Francescoch

Looking back at my career path, I find myself reflecting on the decisions I made or actions I didn’t take along the way. This blog has been an excellent exercise in self-reflection as every experience I’ve had has led me to where I am at this moment – both professionally and in my personal life. Perhaps, you can relate.

#1) I wish I’d started my own business sooner. There is nothing like the challenge of it – the energy, the motivation of building up your own organization.  Hiring people and giving them an opportunity to prosper.  I also thrive on controlling a bit of my own destiny. If the notion of starting your own business is strong and you’ve got that fire in your belly – let me tell you: go for it. Do it. Because you may be looking over your shoulder regretting you didn’t take the leap.

#2) I wish I’d learned more about money. For a big part of my career, my sole money strategy was this: to make more of it. But, that was it. I knew zero about investing, cash flow, asset allocation – really, how the money systems work. And, it took me way too long to start digging in on it. This is a problem for many people, probably because we think money is too complicated.  And, there are those folks who want us to think that the complexity is too daunting because they gain from our confusion, fear and lack of knowledge. So, yes. I wish I’d learned more about money sooner.

#3) I was also late recognizing that organizations are limited by leaders.  Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to work for great leaders and poor ones.  Yes, it’s totally possible to learn just as much from the poor leader.  Through these experiences, I learned organizations are most often limited by its leadership.  It’s the root of success or failure.  I recognize that leadership can actually be “the” problem if a business is failing. But, here’s the good part – leadership is also part of the solution. I wish I’d recognized that sooner: recognized that leaders of organizations are the driving force for success. As a business owner, I wish I’d studied facets of leadership earlier.

#4) I regret not recognizing sooner the importance of giving and receiving candid feedback. Regretting the notion I should have spoken up earlier or listened more. How many times in your life have you walked out of a meeting or an interaction and said, “Man, I wish I would have said …” It happens to all of us, right? I wish I would have been more candid earlier in my career – even today. I’d like to be more open to candid feedback than I am now. Less defensiveness on my part. I recognize how constructive it can be. The bottom line is: if someone is willing to go out on a limb and offer you his thoughts; there’s probably an issue.

#5) And, finally – I wish I’d had the self-awareness earlier on that I can’t compartmentalize work and my personal life. They are intertwined. They always have been. Believe me, the way you behave when no one is looking in your personal life affects the way you are going to lead your company or organization. And if you don’t believe that, then you are fooling yourself. It would have benefited me greatly to have learned earlier that compartmentalizing your work and personal isn’t possible. So, bring everything you have at work and at home.  Friends, family and colleagues will all know whether you are or not.

 If you’d like to receive more content focused on leadership, association growth, sales and more – JPMOERY-Select.

Moery, Leeman and Burke to Present at MMCC

"A Mission-Driven Model: Realigning Your Membership to Your Strategy”

Moery President JP Moery will present with co-content leaders Moery Chief Analyst Patty Leeman and Nancy Burke, Vice President Membership, Direct Selling Association on “A Mission-Driven Model: Realigning Your Membership to Your Strategy” at ASAE’s upcoming Marketing, Membership, and Communications Conference: Wednesday, May 3rd.

Featured will a case study of one of our great clients, in-depth discussion of data, and understanding of what you should be doing today!  Check out additional MMCC programming and events.

It’s Business, Not Personal.

by JP Moery

I take every part of business very personally.  In fact, I totally believe it’s a differentiator for us.

It’s my name under the “Big Red M.” My friends and people I love are hired to be a part of us.  Their families are supported by the business.  Our ability to support the community, sponsor ball clubs, and buy from other family businesses is fueled by our personal passion and presence.   Every ounce of energy, focus, and brainpower spent is to make you successful.

We’re not saving lives with our consulting firm.  I recognize that.  But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t put everything into our business relationships – including our whole selves. Heart, mind, body and soul.

So, I really worry when people say, “It’s just business.” Or, “Sorry you take this personally.”  Or, “Sorry that this upsets you.”

These are the folks who are misguided in my view.  The “it’s just business” perspective enables companies and the people within them to treat people poorly, do the wrong thing intentionally, or just be a poor partner.  Basically, they are saying if it was personal, they wouldn’t do it.  Is that the way we should work together?

In a way, Mitt Romney was right.  “Businesses are people.”  And, that is the best way to conduct business.

So, do I take it personally?  You bet your fanny.  And, I believe wholeheartedly it makes us much, much better.

If you found this content helpful, check out JP’s blog, How to Navigate the World TodayGet Your Mind Right For Success