Money & Business

To Create Meaningful Change, You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel

By / Sep 23, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

When the opportunity exists to improve a product or service for your members, be sure you go about it the right way. One young professional shares her story of adding value to a publication members already knew and loved.

Many say that progress is impossible without change. It makes sense. If you never change, are you really improving? When one of our member publications needed a revamp, I was eager to help our association make a little progress.

Our members are candy makers who both manufacture and sell their confections in a retail setting. Therefore, as an association, we are expected to provide information on a variety of topics, from the process of making candy to merchandising a retail store to best practices in human resources.

When I started as the marketing manager, Kettle Talk—our quarterly publication—had some articles, some event promotion, and some other miscellaneous information. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it to liven it up. By updating the design and reorganizing the content, I knew we could turn this product into a more valuable member benefit.

Of course, a project of this size takes a team. After making the pitch to my executive director, I worked with her as well as our member services manager and marketing committee chair to tackle the project.

The collaboration resulted in a redesigned publication for our members. We now have a table of contents with color-coded categories that include “Confections,” “Merchandising,” and “Owning a Business,” plus a member-highlight column and classified ads. One board member said the first redesigned issue was the best one she’d ever seen because it had such great content.

Throughout the redesign process, I learned a few things that apply to all young professionals and the association community as a whole when we make changes in the name of progress for our members:

  1. It’s not always necessary to start from scratch. Sometimes we think we need to come up with a completely new idea and create something out of nothing. However, it’s OK to use the bones of existing materials or programs. By using something our members were familiar with, I didn’t have to educate them on a new offering. They already knew what Kettle Talk was, but redesigning it and improving the content offerings raised their expectations of what they could find in its pages.
  2. Organizing content can make a world of difference. You can have a lot of great information, but if it’s not organized, it’s not doing anyone any good. By breaking our content into three different sections, we made it easier for members to find relevant articles. Organized content means less time wasted searching for “that one article” and more time making chocolates and candies for us candy lovers of the world to enjoy. (I did mention I work for an association of candy makers, right?)
  3. It’s important to take a moment to reflect. As YPs in the association world, we’re given many opportunities to revamp or re-create materials, programs, and more. It’s a great idea to take a moment after the project is complete to breathe and enjoy the finished product. See what you learned from the process and be sure to tell yourself “Well done!” when you hit the nail on the head.

One last thing to remember: If you’re making changes in the name of progress, be sure you’re really moving forward. Ask yourself if the changes you are making will truly improve value for your members. If the answer is “no” or “maybe,” then take a moment to regroup. If the answer is a resounding “yes,” by all means, proceed with progress.

Denise Alvarez

Denise Alvarez is the marketing manager of Retail Confectioners International. More »

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