In the past year, there has been a lot of discussion around change management as many organizations have been forced into significant change as a result of the pandemic. While many had to quickly transform their organizations, it is important to reflect on how to thoughtfully introduce change into your organization.
In this post, we will walk through how to construct a change management plan. According to Project Manager, thinking through this process as the 4 Ws (who, what, when, why) can help guide you through your change plan.
Assign roles in the process (who). Make sure your team and employees understand the part they play in this change. Your process will be much more streamlined and effective if people are not wondering who does what.
Identify your goals/benefits of your change (what). Smart Sheet explains that in addition to informing your team of their place in the change, they need to know what they are working toward. Make your goals clear and easy to understand.
Set a timeline (when). Determine when you want your changes to be made and work backward. How much time will each step take? How long do you think it will take your organization to adapt? These are important questions to consider when laying out your timeline for your change plan.
Identify your reason for needing change (why). According to Smart Sheet, while this may seem obvious, it is best to never assume that everyone in your organization knows why this change is needed. Make it very clear why you are planning this change.
Using the 4 Ws will help you be thoughtful when creating a change management plan. Even the things that seem obvious—such as goals and team roles—need to be reevaluated in order to move forward with confidence and clarity.
After an unprecedented year like 2020, many organizations began looking at themselves and their industries in new, creative ways. Navigating change can be challenging for leaders and employees alike, so how do we move through this process post-2020? As Harvard Business Review put it, “traditional change management — often characterized by heavy process, lengthy timelines, and clunky rollouts — won’t cut it right now.”
Put simply, change management is all about being a thoughtful, organized leader. There are endless approaches online for the best change management process, but let’s start this blog series by breaking down the core elements of what change management encompasses.
Goals:Forbes explains that you need a clearly defined goal anytime you are approaching change. Whether you are taking a traditional or a more contemporary approach, you need an end goal that you are striving to achieve. Put in the effort up front to clearly define your goal and work backward from there. This will help you determine your steps and approach to change.
Communication:Mind Tools claims communication as one of their four key principles to good change management. This includes communication to your team and your employees. Be sure to explain why this change is happening and be clear about what you expect as a leader. Open yourself up to comments and thoughts from your team and employees so that everyone feels heard and in the know when it comes to big transitions.
Prepare for resistance: You will inevitably face some challenges as you are navigating change. Whether it’s employee resistance or logistical challenges, you will need to prepare. If it is employees who are resisting, make sure to hear them out and reassure them that they will be okay. If you are facing logistical challenges, communicate frequently with your team to solve the issue.
No organizational change process is the same, but preparing yourself based on others who have successfully navigated change will help you in your process, too.
Harvard Law’s Forum on Corporate Governance’sarticle, The Long-term Habits of a Highly Effective Corporate Board, gives some excellent insight into what it takes to ensure the long-term success of a board. The article was written by Ariel Fromer Babcock, director at FCLTGlobal. Here are some takeaways:
A focus on strategy Boards that have demonstrated long-term success spend almost twice as much time discussing strategy. This includes refining the business model, company values and evaluating risks. John Vaske, head, Americas, at Singapore’s Temasek, explained, “Boards have to be really immersed in strategy; it can’t be at a superficial level. Directors that are long-term have the time and inclination to dig into those strategy-related questions—that’s where value-creation happens.”
Careful consideration of meeting materials The article states that about half of board members believe the agenda prevents the board from properly discussing strategy. The Harvard Business Review suggests limiting the number of items on the agenda to six at most and to only focus on items that will prompt productive conversation. This will prevent the board from getting bogged down with unnecessary discussion topics.
Members are prepared Assigning reading outside board meetings can also significantly reduce unnecessary discussion. The article gives the example of Netflix’s board. They use an online live memo that has a forum for questions in advance of their board meetings. Maximizing time in board meetings can lead to long-term success.
There is finality after discussing items appropriately It is key to let some things be settled. Re-opening items for discussion can be tempting, but letting some things be final can open up a significant amount of time for new items that will allow the board to move forward. The article suggests that one great way to do this is via the meeting minutes. Using language such as “the board decided…” over “the board discussed…” can demonstrate this finality.
There is strategy outside board meetings Great board members should not stop after the board meeting is over. Members who spend some time researching competitors, talking with others in the industry or considering other ideas to discuss at board meetings are concerned for the long-term welfare of the organization.
Diversity is encouraged Having a broad range of perspectives is crucial to the long-term wellness of the organization. This goes beyond racial diversity to include differing genders, ages and levels of experience. FCLTGlobal’s research showed that diversity is associated with lower financial risk.
Constructing a marketing strategy is a crucial practice for any organization. It is important to keep a timeline in mind when creating your strategy, as some activities will help you achieve short-term goals and others will help you achieve long-term goals. The distinction is important for project organization and task delegation.
Short-term marketing strategies: They are used to temporarily increase sales or awareness. These plans are generally set for less than a year. If you have a new product or service, the activities surrounding its promotion would be in the short term. That would be a temporary boost. Short-term plans also include smaller details surrounding the promotion of those goods and services such as how social media is used, any outreach to media or email promotion.
Consider events that would warrant short-term marketing. Do you have a conference? Online professional development? A new e-book? Think about how you are going to get the word out about it.
Marketing automation tools can help with scheduling emails (and so many other tasks) in the short term while providing analytics to inform a longer-term strategy. Best-selling author Neil Patel offers a guide to help streamline marketing functions.
Social media is great for short-term marketing. It is free and relatively easy to reach people.
Long-term marketing strategies: These comprehensive plans are used to increase sales or awareness over a longer period of time. These strategies should be aimed toward organizational goals. Long-term marketing strategies include things such as branding, building a public relations team and maintaining a social media presence. Generally, anything that stretches over a year would count as long-term. While it’s possible for one person to create and implement a long-term marketing strategy, a team approach provides more varied talent and perspectives.
Search engine optimization is a powerful tool to have as part of your long-term marketing strategy. It can help you determine keywords to include on your website and give insight into what your competitors are doing.
Generating quality content on a regular basis is another building block in a long-term strategy. Blogs, e-books, printed or online magazines, podcasts and recorded webinars can all be used to show thought leadership and expertise. The Content Marketing Institute has excellent resources to help with ideation and implementation.
Qualitative research is another tool to consider in building a long-term strategy. This kind of research helps you discover more in-depth insights like the strengths and weaknesses of your organization or how your organization is seen. QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) has wonderful resources to teach you about and help you conduct qualitative research.
It is important to have a balance between both short- and long-term marketing strategies. Short-term strategies are great for individual projects and smaller goals while long-term strategies ensure that the organization as a whole is working toward larger goals.
As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing retail stores and restaurants close, artists postpone concerts, and large events such as festivals cancelling. What should you do about a conference you may have scheduled for next month, or even three months from now? Vicki Thein, Director of Events at Ewald Consulting, has a few thoughts on what to consider before cancelling your conference:
1. What does the venue contract say? Carefully review the terms of your contract with the venue. Check to see if force majeure applies and what it covers. If it does not apply, determine the costs of cancelling and if those funds could be applied toward a future event. Additionally, closely monitor the conditions of the venue location and try to get a sense of how many attendees may cancel in order to help you state your case to the venue if needed.
2. What do your vendor contracts say? Like venue contracts, review contracts with your vendors. See if force majeure applies, the costs if it does not and if they could give you credit in the event of a cancellation. The flexibility on cancellations with vendors will vary, so be sure to look at each contract closely.
3. Is there cancellation insurance? If you have cancellation insurance, get in contact with your insurance agent as soon as you can as they are very likely becoming overloaded with similar requests.
4. Are you able to distribute the content virtually? Are there opportunities for your conference material to be put into a virtual conference, podcasts, or other forms of content? Brainstorm what this might look like and if you think it could be successful.
5. Financial considerations Can your organization afford to go without a conference this year? This will be a major factor in your decision. Considering alternative conference options like the ones mentioned above could provide potential sources of revenue.
When building or assessing your board, it helps to understand what to look for in board members. Board members with the following traits help keep meetings on task and more engaging.
They possess the right context Forbes states that there are four key areas of knowledge: industry, business model, stage of growth and a specific field of function (sales, marketing, etc.). Board members who have knowledge in each of these areas can offer better insight.
They understand how to communicate This one may seem obvious but having the ability to communicate with others is an essential trait in a board member. This is not just having the courage to speak up when needed, but also the ability to thoughtfully listen to others and respectfully respond.
They have a positive outlook Jay Love, the co-founder of Bloomerang, a non-profit software company, stated that the heart of the board often is not the most knowledgeable. He believes having a positive spirit is contagious and will help move your organization forward.
They have a deep passion for the organization According to Love, passion is more important than knowledge. A board member who is constantly rooting for the organization and pondering how it can be better is far more valuable than the person who knows everything about the organization but can’t commit wholeheartedly. There is no use in recruiting a great player if they do not want to be on your team.
They want to learn more A great board member is aware that they do not know everything. For them, working with others is an opportunity to grow and they are eager to take advantage of trainings and professional development opportunities.
The issue, as anyone who has served on a board or managed a board can tell you, is that most board meetings are boring and ineffective. They tend to focus on reporting instead of using their time to discuss important matters and to make effective decisions. The International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) is no different, with five different sections and several committees that all want to ensure their work toward ongoing objectives is shared with the other board members. As a result, this reporting took approximately three-quarters of each meeting—leaving little time to work together to solve issues or to further develop their strategic plans.
The leadership and staff spent a great deal of time discussing how to more effectively use staff and volunteer time before, during and after board meetings; so in June 2018, they began utilizing a standard report template that each board member would upload onto their Higher Logic folder/file system. A file system had been built within their Board of Directors folder system with a folder for each board meeting and within those, folders for an agenda, board reports, financials as well as additional items. Each month, a reminder email would be sent to the board 5-7 days prior to the meeting that included the directions on how to upload the file. This process has worked extremely well and has saved staff many hours working to obtain, compile and deliver board reports. This process was well received and has had very positive feedback
With the standard report process in place, the leadership decided to take things a step further and proceeded to re-organize their board agenda. In June 2019, they eliminated reporting items and requested from board members agenda items that would drive discussions. They worked with staff to build a new agenda template and new processes which included requiring board members to read through all of the uploaded reports prior to each meeting to be prepared.
The first step that was implemented involved staff working with the board to establish a roll-out timeline to coincide with one of IARP’s three in-person board meetings where a full explanation of the reasoning could be shared, and a complete review of the materials and processes would be communicated. The reason for the in-person explanation and directive was to ensure that each board member understood the purpose and the new process, which would then lead to greater participation.
The second step included developing thorough explanations and directions for the new process and tools. Many board members were unsure about their ability to work within the new system—but with consistent messaging and patient assistance, we have been able to ease them into the new process. We have worked closely with our volunteers for the first few months to coach them how to think differently and to establish timelines and consistent directives.
The final process included a reminder email sent by staff 5-7 days prior to each board meeting. The reminder included directions on how to upload their reports as well as a request for discussion/decision agenda items no less than 3 days prior to the board meeting so the agenda could be uploaded with plenty of time for review.
As a result of implementing this new agenda, the IARP board meetings now consist of meaningful dialogue and effective decision making. We have received very positive feedback as the board has been able to focus more time on strategic plans, future objectives and necessary discussions/decisions. They have seen less wasted time and consequently feel more involved and capable of leading others.
To manage ongoing effectiveness, the board will assess the process annually and will correct course as necessary.
You keep hearing the phrase “content hub”, in articles and maybe even from your marketing communications team, but what is the hullabaloo about, isn’t it just a library? The answer is yes, and no. First things first. What exactly is a content hub?
According to Neil Patel, co-founder of Neil Patel Digital, “A content hub is a destination where website visitors can find branded, curated, social media, user generated, or any type of content related to a topic.”
Content Hubs are a great way to manage all your phenomenal content in a user-friendly manner. A well-designed content hub can neatly and aesthetically display your cumulative pieces in one location. They help you avoid the headache of multi-located content such as training videos only on YouTube, blogs on your WordPress site, and articles residing only in your journal or newsletter. Through content hubs, all these rich pieces that represent your brand become accessible in a single place!
How is this different from a website? A website contains all the information a user may need to know about your brand and organization, including specific calls to action. A content hub is a resource area of a website, a one-stop shop to finding articles and media regarding a specific topic or by topic area. It’s also more encompassing than a blog, because there are multiple authors and different media formats, including articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, and videos.
Ewald Consulting is also working on content hub strategies and launches with our nonprofit clients using different technology platforms. We will be expanding our content hubs across our clients to better share resources, thought-leader articles, blog posts, enews, webinars, video, discussion forums and more.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what a content hub is, let’s talk about the benefits of having one.
You work hard on the content that represents your brand. We have learned in past blog posts that carefully curated and tailored content communicates to your target audience that you are a thought leader in your industry. A content hub strengthens your brand, identity, and your authority in the field. By focusing on topics, your site becomes more relevant in search engines.
Building Connections and Engagement
It’s a community! When you have multiple authors and a multi-media hub it generates a following from audience members who prefer social posts, or podcasts, or people who like to comment on blog posts. A content hub can reach all of these audience members. Content Hubs promote engagement. Instead of an article living in a newsletter that’s read and forgotten, users can directly interact with the piece. A content hub is ideal for reading, commenting, sharing, tweeting, buying and so on.
By now you know that your website analytics are a treasure trove of information that can break down how people are coming to and interacting with your website. Content hubs can help you further understand your audience’s interest! By tracking the performance of different pieces on your hub, you can discover which topics interest your audience, what’s driving traffic to your site, and preferred content types, then use this information to further tailor your content to meet the demand!
Take it from us, content hubs done well are complicated and need to be mapped out carefully within the right technology platform, site architecture and taxonomy. Without a clear plan from the start, things can go awry quickly. So now that you know what content hubs are and how they can help you elevate your organization, here are some quick ways you can get started:
Define your goals: Be clear about how you want to utilize the hub and how you will measure the use of the platforms.
Define your audience: Examine your analytics and your target audience profiles. Create a hub that will fit the styles of communication preferred by your audience.
Assess your content and your access to new content: What content do you have now that should migrate to the platform and what can be left behind? Determine a schedule and responsibilities for the creation and posting of new content.
Create a strategy to organize your content: Make sure that you organize the content in a manner that is understandable, the best way to do this is usually done by topic and/or by the type of media.
Determine which platform suits your needs: Maybe it’s your current website, maybe it’s a sub-domain, whatever it is use the above evaluations to help you determine the best fit for you.
Design and Launch: Create your design layout and go for it!
Maintain it! Determine how you will continue to add new content on a weekly basis at a minimum to keep the site fresh and vibrant. Don’t forget to track your analytics to fine tune your content to your audience’s needs.
Content hubs can give your organization a strategic advantage with your customers and stakeholders and a new way to drive engagement, community and conversation.
Analytics can be confusing, but they don’t have to be. As we learned in our previous post, “How associations can use analytics to boost membership,” web analytics are vital to associations when it comes to retention and recruitment. Once you are utilizing your analytics to help retain and grow your membership, the next step is to determine if your association’s site is performing well.
According to Neil Patel, measuring the success of your webpage’s analytics will vary due to several factors including your business type, industry, and audience. To get this data, you need to consistently monitor your analytics to set your sites baseline averages and then work from there.
We conducted our own case study on association websites to help us measure association analytics. We pulled analytics from a sample of 42 associations from July 2017to August 2018 to gain insights into what the baselines were and gain perspective on trends. Here is what we discovered:
Users vs. New Users We discovered that, most web visitors are new to the website and have lower engagement than returning visitors. It is important to keep in mind that a new visitor is counted as someone who accesses your site from a new browser or device. Visitors will also be counted new again if they clear their cache and cookies. While determining if a visitor really is “new” is not completely accurate, this data indicated that associations needed to focus on being more welcoming to non-members on the site instead of only advertising to members or people familiar with the association.
Sessions & Pageviews The case study showed that most web visitors will only visit once or twice, but they engage in multiple pages per single session. Considering most web visitors are new, the session to visitor ratio was not surprising and roughly correlated with a ratio of 1:1. Pageviews, however, demonstrated that the average visitor engaged with the site since they are visiting multiple pages per session. This was a great data point and an indicator of drive on the websites.
Avg. Session Duration & Avg. Time on Page Throughout the study, we found that web visitors who stayed on the site have terrific time durations of engagement. For average durations and times on page, we recommend aiming for least 1 minute, 30 seconds per session and 30 seconds per single page. These time stamps created a nice baseline that indicated some sort of interaction occurred.
Bounce Rate A hard truth was confirmed by the study, associations tend to have higher bounce rates. In the Brafton 2017 Content Marketing Benchmark Report, they calculated the average bounce rate across sites to be 58.18%. In their data sample, they found that B2B had higher bounces than B2C. Our study calculated that the sample websites were averaging a bounce rate of 55.12% –very similar to the findings of Brafton.
So why do association sites have higher bounces? In general, these sites are loaded with multiple calls to action (CTAs) meaning they require the web visitor to have a strong actionable item (e.g. Read our Blog, Register Here, Join Today). Not many associations are selling products outside their events and membership, unlike most B2C websites, so visitors will either decide to engage with what that they see or leave if it’s not what they’re looking for in the current moment, thus creating a bounce.
What does this all mean? Don’t let all of the options and metrics overwhelm you so nothing is measured. Start with a few analytics, understand the implications and expand into deeper data after starting with key metrics.
One of the first places a potential member will look for information is on the website, so it is critical the website layout & content is reviewed and updated on a consistent basis.
Remember less is more! You don’t have to take away the feeling of exclusivity of your members. There are ways to make both groups feel catered to, including consistently refreshing your content to be relevant and simplifying the user experience. A confusing website will discourage people from exploring the site and can turn off potential and existing members if the messaging is not clear. We encourage you to utilize the baseline data from our case study to analyze your association’s website performance and discover where you can make improvements for your visitors.
If the image above is overwhelming, you are not alone. It is no secret that in the last few years there has been an explosion of marketing technology available. It is estimated in 2011, around 150 tools existed for marketing; in 2019, according to Chief Marketing Tech more than 7,040 marketing technology solutions on the market.
With such a large number of resources available it would be impossible for an organization to test them all, especially considering the multiple facets of marketing. Looking at the first image, you can see that there are generally agreed to be six areas of marketing technology: advertising and promotion, content and experience, social and relationships, commerce and sales, data, and management, all feeding into each other. If you have a strong data tool, you can then create better content and advertising for your target audience. If you have good content, you can build a social presence and create meaningful brand/client relationships online to inspire brand loyalty. No piece of marketing stands alone, but some need more attention than others to get you started, especially when it comes to content marketing. A content marketing strategy can establish your brand as a key resource and authority in the field, inspiring brand loyalty and driving membership. The cornerstone of this strategy of course is strong, relevant content that catches the reader from the start and draws them in. For many, the task of creating the content is daunting and overwhelming.
To help, we have curated some of the top content tools to help you get started. With these tools you can research hot trending topics and even make sure your headlines are optimized to drive traffic, shares and search results!
Quora Quora is a question-and-answer website where the public will ask and answer questions. Users can collaborate by suggesting edits to answers. It is touted as “a place to share knowledge and better understand the world.” For content creators it is a great starting point to see what questions are being asked about a topic or keyword. For example, a quick search for “content marketing” on the platform returns hundreds of results including “what are some common beginner mistakes in content marketing” that could drive your next blog post, white paper or podcast.
HubSpot Blog Topic Generator Similar to Quora, marketing and sales behemoth HubSpot has a blog topic generating tool. With a quick search of a noun, for example “analytics”, you can get a week’s worth of blog ideas.
Answer the Public This search query data visualization tool is a little tongue-in-cheek with a repeating image of a man waiting for you to type right on its home page. Even with this humor, Answer the Public can be immensely helpful in finding the questions you want to answer with your content. Simply type in a keyword or topic in the search field and sit back as it crawls search results for the top questions asked related to your search. The results are then categorized into 5 areas: questions, prepositions, comparisons, alphabeticals and related.
CoSchedule Headline Analyzer Once you have written and edited your piece, it is a good idea to run your headline through a headline analyzing tool like CoSchedule has created. You have spent the time to make sure your content is perfect — now make sure it has the perfect headline with a balance of keywords, power words and characters while measuring the sentiment of the headline.
Many content marketing tools are available to associations today; these four only scratch the surface of what you can find online. Take them as a starting point on your content marketing journey and go create!