Thursday, April 28, 2011

Marketing Your Small Business

By Molly A. Lopez, CAE, President/Owner

Are you asking yourself the right questions?

I recently attended a valuable session at the NAWBO Central Iowa 2011 Women Mean Business Summit. The session topic was, “Innovative Marketing Solutions,” and in addition to her comments Sharon Soder, the presenter, distributed a brief resource piece called, “Questions for Marketing Your Small Business!” For more information, Sharon Soder can be reached at This piece offered several good considerations and reminders and is worth sharing.

Questions for Marketing Your Small Business:
- Developing a Solid Marketing Foundation – Who Are You?
- Does your company have an easy to understand corporate identity?
- What is your USP (unique selling point)?
- What are your company’s top 10 selling and most profitable services?
- Does your company have written marketing goals, objectives and strategies?
- Does your company measure its marketing return on investment?

Finding the Right Target Audience – Who is Your Target Market?
- Who is buying your products right now and why?
- Do you need a target audience and why are they so important?
- Do you know how to find the customers with the highest propensity to buy your company’s products and services?
- Could direct marketing via postal mail increase your retails traffic?
- Is e-mail marketing an effective medium for reaching your customers?
- Is broadcast radio/TV advertising too expensive?

Perform a Marketing Competitive Analysis – Who is Your Competition?
- What Internet marketing strategies are they using to market their web site?
- What media strategy are they using in their print/broadcast advertising campaigns?
- What competitive positioning statements are they using in their product marketing literature?
- What incentives or seminars are they offering in their direct mail campaigns?

Building a Web Site – Making it Relative to your Business.
- Do your Web site descriptions contain effective “call to action” messages that will convince customers to click through to your site?
- Are your Web site titles, content and keywords engineered correctly to optimize your site for maximized free Internet marketing?
- Does your Web site collect business lead information from prospective customers?
- If applicable, does your site sell products worldwide via an electronic shopping cart?
- Does your Web site push information to customers automatically using electronic newsletters, e-mail blasts and promotional offers?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

AML - Feeding the Spirit of our Community!

By Molly Lopez, CAE – President/Owner

April 26, 2011: The staff team at Association Management, Ltd. (AML) selected the Ronald McDonald House of Central Iowa as the location for a volunteer opportunity to prepare a home baked meal for the twelve families staying at the House. The Ronald McDonald House is a place for families to stay whose children are being treated at area hospitals. Visit

According to Darcy Watson, CAE, AML’s staff team volunteer coordinator, “The group had a great time team building and felt really good about giving back to a fantastic cause. We had fun making chicken chalupas and decorating cookies and we hope the families enjoy our meal.” The team selected the Ronald McDonald House from several charitable options on

AML manages the business of associations! Since 1976, Association Management, Ltd. (AML) has provided leadership and professional management services through experienced staff, best practices and shared resources. AML partners with international, national, regional and state association clients. AML is an AMC Institute internationally accredited association management company (one of only 50+ accredited companies worldwide). Visit

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Things to Consider When Building an Association Management Company (AMC)

By Molly Lopez, CAE – President/Owner

The ASAE Building an Association Management Company program was held last month at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, CT.

I remember the first time I attended this program in 1999, when I bought my association management company. Attending this year as a seasoned program volunteer, I still continue to learn from experienced and new professionals in our industry. That is the great thing about the AMC community; we share great ideas and lessons learned.

The audience was made up of 29 individuals who are thinking about starting an association management company and not sure where to begin, and those who have recently launched an AMC but are struggling to grow or revive their business. It was refreshing to meet the attendees. Their energy was contagious!

An information-packed agenda included practical information on industry standards and best practices, management skills, legal and insurance safeguards, facilities and staff selection and much more. An overview of the program is outlined below:

Getting Started:
Developing a business plan
Which organizational structure is right for your firm, business models
Models for structuring management fees, service charges, client expenses

Effective Operations:
Key operational services
Record keeping
Financial management, accounting, internal controls and reporting
Tax law
Policy and operations manuals
Client/AMC relationships, scope of service, different models, engagement strategies

Key Legal Issues:
Insurance coverage
Confidentiality, disclosure and other professional ethics
Client contracts

Establishing Your Brand:
Developing and executing a marketing plan
Brand management and appealing to target audiences
Diversifying market share and establishing your AMC’s niche
Utilizing social media to promote your AMC

Capturing Business:
Developing request for proposal leads
The RFP process
Preparing proposals and making presentations

Growth Strategies & Resources:
Transitions and growth
Funding of staff professional development and certifications

For further information about the program, or if you want me to connect you with key speakers assigned to each content area, please don’t hesitate to email me at

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New Talent – A Company’s Ongoing Talent Search Plan

By Molly Lopez, CAE, President/Owner

I had the opportunity to participate in a panel presentation at the AMC Institute 2011 Annual Meeting, alongside representatives from mid-size and large association management companies (AMCs). The topic of our presentation was, “Bringing New Talent into the AMC Fold.” The audience was made up of 200+ fellow AMC owners and suppliers who provide leadership, guidance, expertise and services to trade and professional associations around the world.

Because this information is transferrable to any business looking to grow and keep their talent pipeline full, several individuals asked me to post my handout from that session for access through Association Management, Ltd.’s blog and Facebook page.

Click here to read more.

Please follow our company twitter at and become a Facebook fan at

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

That’s My Story, And I’m Sticking To It!

By Molly Lopez, CAE, President/Owner

I attended a MAGICAL session at the AMC Institute on “Building a Business Through Storytelling,” by Disney Institute Facilitator Sharon Pleggenkuhle.

I would highly recommend looking into this speaker for a convention or event. You can visit for more information.

Below are a few take-aways from that session that will help EVERYONE in business today to tell their story:

1. Storytell your culture (history, traditions, organizational identity).

2. Storytell your business practices (year in review, continuous improvement, quality service).

3. Stories should have a clear beginning, middle and end.

4. Stories should move listeners through: set up, action, outcome and lesson/point of story.

5. Dynamic tension (energy) makes storytelling engaging. Develop this through conflict, suspense, expectancy, competition, and marketplace.

6. Use of characters projects values, builds trust, incites passion and belief, shows knowledge, creates fairness.

7. Tone impacts and influences. Tones are sincere, candid/transparent, pleasant, not condescending.

8. Mood sets the desired outcome of the story. Inspirational (hope), motivational (act), and transformational (change).

9. Techniques:
- Make sure pace of speech is comfortable and facial expressions are inviting.
- Make eye contact with listeners.
- Listeners have no frame of reference, make them comfortable with important details of the story.

10. Dos & Don’ts:
- Ordinary down-to-earth language speaks to people.
- Choose length wisely.
- Be careful not to claim someone else’s story as your own.
- Do use inclusive language.
- D0 practice.
- Don’t begin a story with “I want to tell you a story.”
- Don’t say “this is a really funny story.”
- Don’t muddle a story with statistics.
- D0 focus on actions.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Leaders Collaborate at the ASAE Leadership Retreat

by Molly Lopez, CAE, President/Owner

Forgive me for the delayed blog post. Time flies when you are having fun!

As Vice Chair of the AMC Section Council, I had the privilege of representing the Council at the ASAE Leadership Retreat, held in New Orleans, LA, November 16 – 17, 2010. Over 110 ASAE volunteer and staff leaders representing 20 Committees and 11 Section Councils were in attendance.

Day one of the retreat allowed for an opportunity for collaboration between volunteers and staff surrounding ASAE volunteer structures, processes and satisfaction. Collaboration also took place regarding reinventing the ASAE Annual Meeting & Exposition. Strategic priorities were identified as an outcome of that day.

Day two of the retreat offered an interactive and dynamic dialogue between leaders of ASAE Committees and Section Councils to educate one another about their goals and purpose and to connect one another for potential relationship building and future collaboration.

Summaries of the Retreat and Volunteer Leaders meeting are available in ASAE’s Member2Member discussion forum at and

Friday, February 4, 2011

What I Learned at the ASAE Technology Conference
by Darcy Watson, IT Director

Everything I needed to know, I learned in Kindergarten ...
EXCEPT for what I learned at this year's ASAE Technology Conference and Expo!

Year after year, I’m amazed at the top-notch job the American Society of Association Executives does in presenting their annual Tech Conference. It’s the perfect blend of training on new technologies, best practices for Associations using those technologies and the use of those cutting-edge technologies to produce and facilitate the meeting. It’s a learning experience on so many different levels for the thousands of IT association professionals from across the country who participate. We take time out of our busy professional and personal lives to attend, in order to gain knowledge, perspective and insight into the technology issues facing our associations and nonprofits.

This year’s conference focused on the changing role of IT, mobility, technology strategy, business intelligence, web analytics, data security, systems solutions, cloud computing, web 3.0, and other technological advances that will enhance the way our associations do business.

Using electronic audience polling devices at the Town Hall meeting we learned in real-time that the current technology issues facing our associations are strategic social media, mobile apps, and digital publishing. We also had small group discussions to learn about each other’s association technology priority matrix.

During the General Session, we learned how mobile technologies are changing the face of associations. We know iPhones, iPads, Droids, Blackberries and other mobile technology tools are changing the lives of all Americans. At the conference, we learned how they can also help associations change the way they operate and communicate with stakeholders.

We also met with over a hundred exhibitors featuring hands-on demos and technology solutions. We chose from more than 70 high-level, practical education sessions to participate in. We competed in an electronic scavenger hunt by following clues, completing tasks and tweeting pictures of our finds. We contributed photos to the meeting’s Flickr photo pool from our cell phones. We used Foursquare to participate in the Trade Show Booth Crawl. We visited the Tech Hub to follow the social media excitement around the event. And we used the official conference mobile app to navigate the show floor with interactive maps, search the exhibitor directory, schedule and track our sessions and download whitepapers, demos and session handouts on our iPhones.

I’m here to say that the time spent is well worth the experience I took away and the information I was able to bring back for our clients.

Question: Is a wordle worth a 1,000 tweets?

This wordle highlights the most commonly used terms via tweets about the Tech Conference.