June 21st, 2012
Ah, summer is in the air. The air is warmer and the palm trees are looking their very best in California and it is time to think VACATION! If you were in Kansas, you might wonder Why someone would think that they could not have a glorious vacation in there own California backyard. Heck if you stretch your imagination, Laguna Beach can almost pass for the South of France and it is right there, less than one hour from Disneyland!
We all the know the saying that ”The grass always greener on the other side.” Never mind that California has miles of wonderful beaches, deserts and mountains galor. It seems like we always want what we can’t have or at least something different, it is our incentive for all our hard work. How can you keep your employees, members or donors for looking for what appears to be greener pastures? You start with an honest assessment about why you do what you do? Why are you part of your organization? Do you need to change your view point? Then take a stroll through your competitors business and/or website. Does it make you want to become a member? If the answer is a loud “NO”, congratulations! You now have information emphasizing the differences between your services and theirs.
Help make it easy for your members to find joy and satisfaction in your membership. Look for positive qualities that your organizations offers on a human level. Is each touch point something that provides a sense of community? Do network connections go beyond a handshake and have possibilities of truly becoming viable relationships that nurtures and builds each others business? When we feel good about an experience that alone will leave us satisfied with our decision to join a membership organization. We feel we are in the right place and we want to share our positive experience with others. Forget the usual Chamber of Commerce old, stale techniques. Create a membership based on feeling good, getting energized and one that provides purpose.
Here are some more ways to keep your grass as green as the grass in Ireland:
1) Take your old ideas and put them aside. Change, change, change. Keep it interesting and keep them coming back. Survey your members, research trends on the Internet and empower your members to participate in the evolution of your membership.
2) Cross pollinate with non-competitng organization. There is always a complimentary organization out there to network with providing your members a terrific networking event.
3) Fill your calendar with days to give back to charities, youth and other novice enetrepreneurs out there. Nothing feels better than when you help others. Nothing makes members more proud and gets them talking to others about their membership organization than feel good, give back moments.
4) Turn up the music and key in the fun. Everyone works hard but what keeps them together and inspired is motivational high spirited time together. Regardless what your member’s business is, members of all kinds are there for one reason and that is to build relationships.
5) Celebrate relationships by celebrating friendship anniversaries that began at you membership organization.
6) Announce business deals that were possible because of membership relationships.
7) Research, listen and visit the kid inside of you frequently and often.
8) Blog, blog and more blogs with helpful hints, success stories and motivation.
Change it up and keep them capativated. You don’t want to eat the same darn thing for dinner every day do you? Learn from our friends the retailers. They know what keeps them coming back with new and colorful changing windows is what works. Keep positive believe and share the spirit of a pioneering entrepreneur.
June 8th, 2012
Have you ever gone into your Vice President’s office to obtain approval for the latest convention type trinket? Something spongy, a character on a key chain, can opener or a source code that can be redeemed for a music download for a song that no body cares about? Yeah come on, we have all been that desperate searching for the newest and latest thing to motivate prospects, employees and members for under $10.00 a pop. I don’t know about you but the response that I received from my V.P. was “I am not approving an expense for trinkets and trash because that is just where they wind up, in the trash.”
What a dilema, you must increase sales, memberships or your team’s production and you have a small budget. The first thing I recommend is look in the mirror and identify your own motivations then round up the troops for a fun kick off meeting with balloons, music and food. It does not have to be anything fancy but it does have to be action packed.
What to do in no particulat order
- Identification of a logo/mascot or tag line for your sales or membership campaign.
- Appoint a team leader, Project Manager
- Wanting more sales or members for the sake of numbers is not enough. You must have a compelling reason for your sales or membership drive in order to generate excitement. There is more to it than just money, what are long term gains?
- Once a plan is developed communicate it enthusiastically and frequently via Fun Friday potlucks, ice cream socials, emails, newsletters and handouts at member networking events and membership drives.
- Ask others if they would buy into your sales or membership campaign and what would it take in order for them to act immediately.
- Listen to your current members and customers, does your price match your value? You may need to change this up and refresh your services with something more suitable to this years trends.
- Do you offer incentives? If you do, don’t forget the opportunity to offer incentives for referrals, purchases of other products and for signing up early for campaign offers. You should always have multiple membership levels and perks.
- Blog, blog, blog about the newest industry develops, special offers and about customers and incentives that are accomplishing great things. If your blog has not been touched since 2009 what makes you thing you will be interesting and exciting to others?
- Help them, help you. Ask questions about how they view your business, go the extra mile and be in front of your prospect at least once a quarter in one way or another. If you are not doing so, someone else would love to be.
- Offer a perk on top of an incentive. What? Yes, a perk that will be added for participating in a membership or customer rewards program. Many of these reward programs are point based programs tracked on a software program.
- Provide a chance for people to share their experience and insights with others. This is one of the most flattering invitations of all for existing customers and members.
- Give to receive. It is the thought that counts, ALWAYS. Remember when you were dating? Your girl friend or boy friend would bring over your favorite pie, flowers or record a song that reminded them of you? At that moment, it meant the world to you and you never forgot about it.
Marketing is not selling, it is promoting!
May 31st, 2012
Have you noticed a change in the work place? If you take an informal survey, you will find that there are now seniors over 65 years of age, those over 50, people in their 30′s and college kids all working together. It is now very common to find 4 generations working on a project together in one aspect or another, each being influenced by their own generation. Each group performing at peak levels when provided with a motivating incentive.
Managers are learning that they need to change their ideas about how to manage diverse age groups of their team members. Attracting new employees and retaining them depends mostly in part to their manager’s ability to understand the behavior that drive individuals within the group. Management should never be considered a one size fits all approach. Each age group has been influenced by different economic, social trends and technologies with their own incentives for working.
Looking Back by Decade
70′s to 80′s - It was easy to recruit and retain employees. Women entered the work force more and more with an education. Employees wanted more money, quick advancement and benefits. Employees had the power over employers.
80′s to 90′s - Downsizing, rightsizing, re-engineering and the push to eliminate waste and find ways to do more with less. Employees were shocked by the trend and held on for dear life. Employee loyalty begins to fade and employees jump from job to job because it is the only way to make more money. The usual annual increase of 4% did not keep the bills paid. Some employees were lucky to receive stock options while working at start up companies. The employer now had the power.
2000′s – Complete survival as companies continued to cut back and reduce benefits. Many employees went back to school to obtain Masters Degrees but did not see a big increase in pay but did help them survive. Networking became a necessity with more competition for jobs and more foreign born people taking the helm at many corporations in the U.S. The middle class white male seems to be the minority. Employer power remains.
Although it is still an employer’s world with more bargaining power over employees, there continues to be a worldwide shortage of skilled workers. People who are technically educated and specialized in computer science, life science, supply chain, technical engineers, plumbers or welders are in high demand globally. This is creates a need for incentives to attract and retain skilled workers. It also demands more from managers. Managers must be trained in Emotional Intelligence and understand the driving behaviors of each generation.
People except positions or quit them because of their relationship with their manager. Managers are viewed as coaches, teachers, counselors and sometimes friends. Since we spend much of our lives at work, no one wants to work for a dictator or absentee boss who does not care for their employees at some level. That is why more Fortune 500 companies require from CEO’s to Managers to take Emotional Intelligence tests to learn if they are good with people and have the ability to naturally inspire others. They days of ”My way or the high way” are long gone especially, for the Gen Y generation. An education is alone is not going to cut it any more, people skills are crucial when managing people. Some can learn to be good leaders but the best leaders are natural ones.
In my opinion, mid-level managers are in the most high pressured position of them all. They must satisfy lofty corporate goals while trying to keep everyone motivated during downsizing, cuts in benefits and incentives. Managers have less time to interact with their teams assuring that their departments are motivated and remains strong so they can do more with less. Managers are often in an uncomfortable sandwich between their upper level management’s demands, employees complaining about production demands and pay. These people need to be motivated and cared for too so that your managers attract and retain skilled, loyal workers.
How to Motivate the Generations?
Those in their 40′s and 50′s want incentives that provide perks for the entire family to enjoy. This includes discounts to restaurants, movies and supplemental health benefits. Some in this age group are faced caring for their parents and college aged children with insurance expenses at the top of their list. They also want more time in casual clothes, fun Fridays, relaxed summer schedule and growth opportunities.
For those 18 to 35 years of age they are looking for all that the 40 and 50 year olds are looking for but want lots of additional training, real opportunities within 1 to 2 years, a relaxed environment meaning the use of their lap top and cell phone. They want a manager who does not just give them lip service but walks the talk. They want a manager who cares about them, their families, their friends and sincerely listens to their ideas. This generation is also looking to help the world. They want to donate to charities of their choice through the pay checks, work in the community and virtual opportunities to work from home or the beach.
Key Retention Points:
- Improve middle management’s skills
- Provide benefits and incentives that entire family can enjoy
- Training, training, training
- Lots of pats on the back and rewards
- Life and financial planning
- Immediately work with managers that are a problem
- An open work environment
- Engagement opportunities
- Access to talent coups
- Camaraderie events to build stronger and friendly teams
What has not changed in the work place, “Treat others as you wish to be treated”.
May 21st, 2012
Every work day you hear the alarm, give it a good smack then hope for a minute that it was all a bad dream. When the alarm buzzes for the second time, a thought crosses your mind to sleep in and forget about your responsibilities but what happens right after is called an incentive. The incentive is MONEY. That is right, the thing that makes the world go around. Money to feed our kids, pay the rent, go on vacation, pay for college and hopefully, money to retire one day.
How can you express gratitude or motivate others without spending any money?
- Plan a non-meeting with music and snacks, a social hour to demonstrate appreciate and team build
- Fun Friday themes (Hawaiian shirt day, crazy sock, sports) is a great incentive and keeps Fridays from being a sick day
- Greet people every day with a warm smile
- Thank people for a job well done in person nameing the service or item produced so they know you really did notice
- Host a brown bag lunch outside for meetngs and have fun motivating simple ice breaking games
- The grand incentive of being a manager for a day including any perks that a manager might experience on a given day
- Bring a comfort item to work day (teddy bear, toy or music)
- Provide a longer lunch or break for the day
- Arrange cross training or shadowing with an manager or upper management executive
- Do you hobnob with interesting or important people? Bring them to work for a meet and greet
- Theme potlucks with sister departments
- The most eye catching incentive or all, give everyone an hour off on a given Friday to start the weekend off early
The incentive industry is dedicated to creating motivating incentives to enrich relationships with customers, employees, donors and members. The true spirit of partnership is reflected in every alliance we forge, with the ultimate goal of creating rewarding experiences that will be remembered and shared with others.
May 11th, 2012
Your members should feel appreciated and part of your organization at more times than just enrollment. Don’t rely on flyers and websites to engage your members, they need the human touch. A phone call and a hand shake should be part of your goals and schedule at least once or twice a year, if not more often. The power of touch, eye contact and a smile will take you further than any regularly planned chamber event. Schedule time to make phone calls or drop in on a member just to say hello. Depending upon how you were raised and social experiences, your level of appreciation will ignite regained interest and engagement.
Immediately engage new members inviting them to attend committee meetings and functions to build their enthusiasm and reduce second thoughts that may cross their mind after they pay for their membership. Your membship associates and Chamber of Commerce staff should consider themselves as Marketing Managers motitivating members by helping members develop a good healthy prospective about the value of their individual businesses and marketing opportunties from within the membership.
Your members all want something different from their membership. Some want networking events while other may want to advertise.
The usual membership has the same types of members:
- The social butterfly that particpates in just about every event mostly for the chance to mingle and have fun.
- The achiever who wants every to know that they have succeeded, wanting public recognition and rewards from your membership.
- The member that does not know where to start to drum up business.
- The mover and shaker that will make a difference to your organization.
With so many types of members, how do you keep them all active and interested?
- Communicate, communicate, communicate using attractive newsletters, Constant Contact, online training and SMS Texting to reach those who are super mobile.
- Provide entrrepreneurial services such as Telemedicine for those that may be under or uninsured.
- Let them know you love them with incentives peppered throughout the year or along with contests each month.
- Member discounts to travel and items that will thrill the entire family.
- Have a monthly “Spot Light on Members” conference calls focusing on members sharing their successes for the month. This is a wonderful way to inspire others and promote connections on a real life level.
- Schedule technology training for those who want to use SEO Marketing but find it way too mysterious.
- Hold open houses at your organization or virtually noting changes in your operations, introducing new employees and their specialities.
- Keep the party going with day time and evening themed networking events providing a chance for everyone to participate.
- Host a progressive party with exciting incentives beginning at one business and ending at another nearby business.
- Hold a virtual conference providing a chance for a large conference experience without the expense of travel and an unwanted expense on your membership. This will be interesting and exciting as members create their very own avitar and network virtually.
- Create at least one night a year that is just for fun, no networking just a chance to invite a friend and let their hair down.
- Keep a camera on hand and sharing new photos frequently motivating others to attend future events.
- Utlize YouTube to sport light your members helping them to marke on the Internet.
- Collaborate with other non-competite organizations to promote a certain industry or service.
Members join for themselves and renew their membership because of you!
May 2nd, 2012
Behaviors that are genetically transmitted from generation to generation are know as instincts. Psychologists William James and William McDougall argued that people have instincts that foster survival and social behavior.
- Formed by Psychologist Clark Hull in the 1930’s.
- According to the Drive-Reduction Theory, people and animals experience a drive arising as a need from an unpleasant tension.
- They learn to do whatever they can to reduce that tension by reducing the drive. Like eating to reduce hunger.
- The body looks to achieve a state of equilibrium , or balance. The tendency to maintain this state in the body is called homeostasis.
- Homeostasis works like a thermostat in a home. Going through various stages of heating and cooling in order to maintain a set temperature.
The humanistic theory suggests that people are also motivated by the conscious desire for personal growth and artistic fulfillment.
Abraham Maslow concluded that people are willing to tolerate pain, hunger, and other tensions to achieve their artistic or political goals.
Maslow believed that striving to do, or be, something meaningful in life is essential to the human well being, just like food.
Many artists, actors, musicians, and writers commit to their goals even if they are unable to make a living by perusing their passions.
People strive to fulfill their capacity for self actualization. Self actualization refers to the need to become what one believe s he or she is capable of being.
The Value of Understanding Sociocultural Theory
The Sociocultural theory is the theory that focuses on the roles of ethnicity, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status in personality formation, behavior, and mental processes. The foods that people eat, they way they eat them, and different ways of greeting are all derived from culture. For example coffee vs. tea, or hamburgers vs. tacos. J.K. Rowling began writing Harry Potter while she was on welfare. She incorporated some of the darker elements of her own life, like the loss of her mother and her battle with depression, into the series. Now she is worth an estimated $850 million dollars.
The Secret to Becoming Motivated is…
- The secret to motivation is doing what you want to achieve, but everyone already does this.
- You already have the motivation to do what you think is important, so you do it.
- Everyone has different motivations based on what they think is important.
- Whether it is someone’s education, sports, art, music, or fashion, we all do whatever we think is important to us. Therefore, we are all motivated.
What is your motivation? What motivates you is not what may motivate another. Surveying your clients, employees and members every year is crucial because motivation triggers do change from year to year.
May 1st, 2012
Chambers of Commerce every where are learning the hard way that ribbon cutting is just not cutting it. With more networking organizations springing up on the internet and within communities, the competition has learned that benefits and member incentives are a requirement to retaining members.
Knowning who your members are is paramount. One creative group blends networking and golf together providing a different and fun way to network because their members are in the demographic that attract people who enjoy golf and are over 30 years old. A simple way to know your members better is to ask them. Use fun surveys and provide an incentive to get them motivated to complete it. Change things up at your networking meeting, pick different themes and locations then survey members immediately after the event. If an enthusiast member is asked to help plan a function others will see that you are interested in what members are looking for in a membership.
As a membership organization, it is also important to provide many opportunties for your members to offer their services to other members. Your members also want to learn up-to-date information about the their industry and have the ability to utilize plug and play techniques and new services. Your staff should always be looking at ways to answer their “What’s in it for me question” at all times and not just at renewal. Like any relationship, it is the continual little reminders that makes us remember why we love you. On your website, create a Fun Friday Corner to bring members back to your site with engaging activities and lots of chances to be recognized online for all to see.
Many members stay with an organization because of what it offers to share with family and friends. Kind of like bragging rights that their special membership provides terrific benefits for them. The same people that they share perks with are the same ones that will support your membership at renewal time because they get to enjoy them too.
Here is a sample survey to find out what benefits your members are looking for from your organization
- Would you like your membershp to provide continuing education training to fulfill license requirements?
- What type of software training would help your business?
- Would you be interested in providing training to other members?
- What would you like to see in our Fun Fridays Corner?
- What theme would you like to see at our next networking meeting? Do you have a suggestion on location?
- Would you like to collaborate with another non-competitve membership to do some networking? If so, who?
- Would you like to use member purchasing power to purchase vacations or to attend conferences?
- Do you have health insurance?
- Are you interested in basic medical insurance, dental, vision or chiropractice at a low cost?
- What discounts would you enjoy?
- What discounts and fun would your friends and family enjoy from your membership?
- What would make you feel that you are maximizing your ROI?
The key to retaining your members lies in your hands, be proactive and keep things interesting with incentives!
March 26th, 2012
No matter what the industry there is a need to network and educate one’s self to be successful. You may belong to a membership based organization or know people who do because of the incentive of doing more business by reaching more people. Dues are tax deductible under IRS laws (minus quantifiable value of incentives) so why not? Often belonging to an organization is also attractive to customers because it demonstrates continued interest in your industry and that you are gaining knowledge from others with diverse expertise.
While many take advantage of the tax deduction, the biggest motivation to join and renew memberships is because of the benefits of being a member. Industry membership programs alone are not enough to sustain interest in an organization. Entrepreneurs, contractors and others look to membership organizations for dental, vision, life insurance and discounts.
While each organization have the usual expenses such as; staff salaries and benefits, office leases and marketing. Their only way to cover expenses over time is to increase dues, a risk for most memberships because it threatens member retention. So, how can a membership based organization cover increasing expenses, perserve memberships and attract more members? Add more services! Yes, add more benefits and incentives. We all ask “What’s in it for me”, if the answer comes back with a membership and networking, act quickly because you are going to loose members.
Strategic Concepts’ newly tailored insurance and incentive benefits are now being combined offering the following attractive reasons to get your members to renew their membership:
- Flexible Limited Benefits
- Prescription Drugs
- Emergency Room
- Life Insurance
- Discount Gift Cards
Members are looking for value more and more. Even those who never attend a meetings and only participate during educational conference calls or just go on online seek to find value with each interaction. If your organization is not blogging every week or providing interesting white papers to read, you are missing a wonderful touch point with your member. Keep your website alive with activity adding eye catching travel and up-to-date industry news.
Members are engaged and are provided with benefits and incentives they will remain committed and invite others. If invovled, approximately 80% of members renew for the next two or three years. After three years, many people renew less automatically, so a special incentives are needed for that extra motivation.
January 4th, 2012
There is no better gift than sharing of one’s self with others. When we do so, we are spending time giving and investing in the relationship. We all need each other in this world and there is nothing more fulfilling than sharing yourself with others. Each hour we spend with someone else is an opportunity for enrichment. No social media connection comes close to looking into someone’s eyes, feeling their hand in yours when you shake it and sharing good conversation.
We all know that our clients are important to our business and we should always make a point to invest time with each of them. Some of us will drop everything when Mrs. Big Client calls however the reality is that Mr. Middle of the Road Client calls it is just as important. We have all envyed the incentive of the VIP treatment being offered to high rollers in Las Vegas with fancy roped off areas and servers all conveniently around. Your mid range clients are more plentiful and pay the bills each month. They are the type of clients that would be be thrilled to receive an incentive for an order and when they do, they will tell the world about it. So often just an email is received or nothing at all for doing business with most companies. A simple exchange of money for services.
Small incentives are money in your investment bank for you in good times and not so good times. We should never forget to thank our customers no matter what the economy. Appreciation is an act of kindness and respect, something that has dramatically faded during the past decade.
When we are appreciated it is powerful. For example, I was warmly greeted by a lovely French Canadian Receptionist who presented me with a small menu and asked me if I wanted something from it as I waited for a representative. I was so surprised that I had to ask her to repeat what she asked me. As I looked at the menu, I noticed there were various soft drinks, teas, coffees, waters and small snacks listed on it. I could not help but feel special and that I was embarking on a relationship where I was truly going to be appreciated before the relationship had even begun. I decided to order a flavored tea and sat back in a big leather chair looking around the room admiring the unique artwork and furniture. That day I could have waited an hour for the representative to come in, I was welcome, taken care of and comfortable.
Only 1 1/2 months after my first appointment, I received a small gift of chocolate fortune cookies in a decorative box with a Christmas Card, another pleasant surprise. Even if I am approached by a competitor offering a lower price for the same services, I am not going anywhere. I am not this company’s biggest client nor their oldest client, I am just a client doing business with them and they apparently appreciate it. Good old fashion respect and service.
An incentive is more than motivating, it is something that builds relationships and helps you build your referral business. I will refer this business each and every time I have the opportunity to do so.
January 3rd, 2012
If you are not a believer in networking in the social media world, you best jump into the pool of belief now. Six degrees of separation has been reduced to 1 ot 2 degrees thanks to social media. Yes, we all sacrifice a bit of privacy but the valuable incentive is that we are meeting other people’s people to help us grow our business or to land a job.
Making a connection is not what it is all about, it is a good start. How do you go from “Hey, want to connect” to “Hey, can you help me find a job or help me get an appointment with Bob in Marketing for a sales presentation?” One must treat the 1 or 2 degree person as a preferred client. The relationship you have with that first level contact will definitely determine the connection opportunities that may be offered to you. As we all know, a warm introduction is at the top of the list of every salesman’s wish list.
Tips to Enrich Your Relationship with Your 1st. or 2nd. Degree People
1) Make a live connection by picking up the phone to call to your contacts at least once a month to chat about their kids, current events, a new movie, schedule coffee or lunch together.
2) Share beneficial articles via email when you come across one that may be beneficial to your contact.
3) Sincerely ask your warm contact if you can do something for them to help them with their business. When someone comes to the door and offers to help you, chances are you will be more open to take the time to listen to what they have to say.
4) Offer information about training that you found to be helpful.
5) Make introductions happen between your other friends, your 1st and 2nd degree connections.
6) Be your friend’s promotional agent, let them know you are supportive and are truly interested in their career. Talk about your friend’s business with others when they are present so they know that you really are trying to help them.
7) Provide your connections with an incentive. When a valuable lead or connection has been offered to you, immediately thank them with a small gift card.
8) Motivate your friends by sending thank you cards for their little acts of kindness. Thank goodness good Karma also goes around, not just the bad stuff.
9) Ask your friends what motivates them and what incentives that they may use to reward others who help them out.
10) Keep your promises, do what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
We all have good intentions and feel that nice little warm feeling when we help others be successful. Our incentive should be to enrich the lives of others.