A Few Worthy Takeaways From MMCC 2015

Didn't make it to the 2015 Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference in Washington, DC, this week? Don't worry—we were there, and we have a couple of smart tidbits that you can take home.

Speaker and slam poet Sekou Andrews had a fascinating way of waking people up on Tuesday morning at the Closing General Session of the 2015 ASAE Marketing, Membership & Communications Conference: He spoke passionately and in an apparently impromptu fashion, twisting together words about why you should look beyond your limits as an association.

Among all those twists and turns, he pointed out that he didn’t exactly have an easy time building a successful speaking business from the ground up: “I built my business off the art form you learned to hate in high school!”

His goal was to get the association professionals in the room thinking about how they  could push their membership and marketing strategies further—and he did, based on the tweets coming out of the session:

But he was far from the only person to get people thinking this week. Read on for a few other insights from speakers at the event.

Don’t Hunt for Lightning in a Bottle. Build a Foundation.

Lance Slaughter will be the first person to tell you that the ALS Association didn’t invent the Ice Bucket Challenge—though it was certainly a “disproportionate beneficiary” of its success, raising more than $100 million in a 30-day period. But rather than trying to re-create that success, ALSA’s chief chapter relations and development officer said the association is staying focused on the fundamentals, even if those fundamentals have shifted.

In his presentation on the topic Monday, Slaughter noted that one reason the organic campaign resonated so well is that ALSA had built a foundation that those in the ALS community could leverage. “The best thing that we can do on their behalf is give them a platform to speak loudly,” he said.

While ALSA may not see the same outsize results the next time around—and there will be a next time, as the Ice Bucket Challenge will be back this August—the platform the organization built helps keep the fundamentals strong.

Drive Word-of-Mouth Like Uber Does

Earlier this year, TechCrunch contributor Tom Goodwin created a mini-meme in describing the rise of Uber and other companies like it:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate.”

In Uber’s case, that might have something to do with strong word-of-mouth, according to presenters Ray van Hilst, Reina Munsch, and Tracey Beeker. They noted that Uber is particularly effective at turning positive buzz into action—in 2011, one out of every seven of its customers in Chicago found out about the service from another customer. Not bad, right?

Text and Visuals Are Better Together

Images are good, and so are articles, but combining the two can make your content a lot more powerful. As Steve MacKley of Beaconfire RedEngine noted in his session on infographics, people are 323 percent more likely to understand a list of instructions if text and visuals are provided together.

And infographics supply some nice secondary benefits, including inbound links from those sharing them with others. (By the way, one last tip: MacKley notes that your best bet for sharing infographics is probably Facebook, where they’re a great fit.)

MMCC Closing General Session speaker Sekou Andrews. (Maria Bryk, photography, graphics and illustration)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

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

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