Lunch & Learn: Content Coming Right Up!

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By Apryl Motley, CAE

Digital transformation of content promises many benefits for associations.

“This [digital] transformation has to happen,” says Debbie Bates-Schrott, founder and CEO of Bates Creative, AM&P’s corporate partner. “We’ve got to be there delivering those experiences that are critical to digital and mobile users. It’s not just about the content, but also the delivery.”

Bates-Schrott kicked off Association Media & Publishing’s first Lunch & Learn of 2017 — “Why the Digital Transformation Creates Positive Opportunities for Associations” — with this declaration. She and co-presenter, Michael Spinosa, CEO of Unleashed Technologies, made the case that the digital transformation of content and its delivery is a good thing for associations.

The transformation will be good in the sense that it will serve as the catalyst for many associations to launch new platforms that deliver content more effectively. “It’s not business as usual,” Bates-Schrott says. “Associations have to start delivering content in the appropriate manner across all platforms.”

Bates Creative and Unleashed Technologies recently partnered to assist NACS: The Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing in achieving this kind of synergy with the launch of its NACS Magazine App, which gives members and subscribers access to the both digital and print editions of the publication. The app, which can be downloaded directly to the user’s device, facilitates instant content updates across all digital channels. Bates-Schrott says its functionality is a consistent branded member experience across all print and digital channels.

Bates-Schrott will be a co-presenter with Jen Fose of an AM&P 2017 Annual Meeting session dedicated to this topic: “Ammunition Your Association Needs to Align Publication and Brand Strategy,” on Tuesday, June 27 from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m.

“Think about your members and where they get their content,” she says. “What are you doing every day to create a successful member-customer experience? This may mean modernizing the processes and architectures within your organization to get to the soul of the customer experience.”

Spinosa says the need for transformation presents challenges, particularly in regard to association websites. “Customer expectations continue to rise with every new website that is launched,” he says.

During the 2016 AM&P Annual Meeting, Unleashed Technologies asked attendees to complete surveys while visiting the company’s booth in the exhibit hall. In the area of “digital challenges AM&P members are facing,” the results were quite telling. Thirty-five percent indicated that their websites were not responsive (11 percent didn’t know), and 43 percent of respondents reported an unsatisfactory experience on their websites.

Unleashed Technologies will conduct a short, 10-question survey at this year’s annual meeting as well. Topics covered include websites, content management, digital publishing, and progressive web applications. For every survey completed during the meeting, the company will donate $10 to The Literacy Lab, which provides low-income children with individualized reading instruction to improve their literacy skills.

From Spinosa’s vantage point, addressing digital’s challenges is critical to capitalizing on the transformation of content. Doing so requires meeting members’ expectations by staying consistent throughout the association’s content channels as well as working internally to foster diversity in thinking and develop a modern business strategy. “Associations have a large landscape of content on their websites, which multiple departments are trying to influence,” he explained.

To best manage these priorities while meeting modern website requirements, Spinosa recommended identifying key performance indicators (KPIs), which address strategy, and key system attributes (KSAs), which focus on tactical matters, such as the resources needed to support the KPIs.  Here’s an example of each:

KPI: To increase membership/subscriptions annually by 10 percent

KSA: Deploy auto-renewal features for memberships

Spinosa emphasized setting obtainable, but challenging goals, and focusing on a maximum of four to six key performance indicators. Key next steps in the process include evaluating existing assets and identifying new ones based on achieving the previously established indicators.

“So many associations don’t invest in the strategy and research before launching new sites. They just want to get the site up and running,” Spinosa says. “People are not as concerned as they might be about key performance indicators: ‘What are we building for?’ Many people can’t answer this question in detail.”

You can catch up with both Spinosa and Bates-Schrott during the AMP 2017 Annual Meeting, June 26-28 in Arlington, Virginia. Just stop by the exhibit hall.

Apryl Motley, CAE is a communications consultant and freelance writer. She is a frequent contributor to Association Media & Publishing’s Signature magazine and a member of its Content Creation Committee.

If you haven’t registered for the Annual Meeting, don’t wait! Get more information, the full schedule, and register at


AM&P 2017 Annual Meeting

June 26-28, 2017

DoubleTree Crystal City, Arlington, VA

Association Media & Publishing’s Annual Meeting is the only comprehensive event serving association communications and publishing needs. This year’s meeting will attract more than 400 leaders from premiere associations across the country. Join the brightest and most influential association professionals who convene each year to get the edge on the communication trends and marketing techniques of today and tomorrow.

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