Some Especially Great Ideas From Great Ideas 2014

Sometimes, the best lessons come from seeing how other organizations do things. From thinking differently about workspace to expanding reach via pop culture, the 2014 Great Ideas Conference brought out plenty of concepts worth taking to your staff and board---even if you weren't in Florida this week.

Couldn’t make it to Orlando this week? It’s OK—we’ve got you covered.

Over the past few days, we’ve touched on some highlights from the 2014 ASAE Great Ideas Conference in articles and through our live coverage, but we wanted to give a little extra love to some ideas we found really fascinating. Check them out—hopefully you’ll feel inspired.

Buy, Don’t Rent

You may read up on companies that have heavily stylized open offices, but the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (ASSH) is living the dream.

About a year and a half ago, the group moved into a new building in Chicago’s West Loop—a space it owns, and a renovation that gave it an opportunity to focus on great architecture. Seriously, take a look.

The best part? The cost is far lower for the association than renting would be, despite the added spark, and ASSH is even making a small profit from renting out some of the extra space in the building. (The architecture firm that helped design it liked it so much that it moved in.)

It wasn’t an easy decision, nor a painless one—a number of staff members left the association due to factors involving location and a shifting culture—but as CEO Mark C. Anderson, FASAE, CAE, noted on Monday, the culture changes had some major benefits: They allowed the group to take on more ambitious projects.

Check out the video here to get an idea of what they did to the space.

Think Local, Reach Millennials

Graphic design is an important part of our culture—one that has big impact on millennials—but that doesn’t mean that AIGA, the association representing the graphic design industry, doesn’t think about its strategy to attract younger members.

AIGA, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, has put a lot of effort into reaching different types of members. A key part of its strategy? It goes local, focusing on events put on by its local chapters while de-emphasizing the national organization.

“We have to meet people where they are and go to where they are,” AIGA Executive Director Richard Grefé said in his presentation on Tuesday.

To get an idea of what that entails, check out the AIGA events page—there’s probably something going on in your neck of the woods.

Latch Onto Pop Culture

Smart marketing pros know that “newsjacking” is a great way to expand an association’s reach. But figuring out how to make it work for you isn’t always easy, so  real-world examples are valuable. That’s why efforts by the Association for Death Education and Counseling (ADEC) to expand knowledge of its mission via the Showtime series “Time of Death” are particularly fascinating.

The idea, presented by the Sherwood Group’s Greg Schultz during Monday’s Marketing 3.0 session, included the association writing up a series of blog posts to promote “Time of Death” and explaining how the issues raised by the show were relevant to the group’s mission. They even got some media coverage from The Huffington Post.

“ADEC members know this territory well, but for most people, judging by advance press [for the show], it’s an unfamiliar, anxiety-producing corner of our existence. We should welcome the exploration and spread the word,” Heidi Parker, CT, wrote on the association’s website.

The rest of the session—which included a panel of association management companies moderated by SCD Group’s Steve Drake—was full of fascinating, diverse marketing approaches. Be sure to check the handout [PDF] to get a full taste.

A Few Great Slides

Throughout the conference, a number of slides got called out for being particularly brilliant, insightful, or amusing. A few of our favorites over the past few days:

If you were at Great Ideas, what were your favorite takeaways ? Let us know your take in the comments below.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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