How the AMC model leverages best practices into association benefits
By Richard Cristol
Early last year, at the request of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers several Kellen Company staffers gathered to discuss ways to eliminate the overabundance of electronic mail communications sent to members. Relying on its many years of experience with a wide variety of associations, the staff designed a Web-based marketing system to identify – and subsequently cater to – each association member’s individual interests. Recently launched, this market segmentation technology Kellen Company calls PURL (personalized URL) is expected to boost response rates and potentially help with membership drives and event marketing. The on-line information and demographics system is also cost-effective, saving money typically spent on postage, paper and other direct mail-related expenses.
“This was essentially a Generation X-style solution to an age-old association problem,” said Frank Skinner, Kellen’s manager of membership and marketing. “Thanks to the input of a diverse group of experienced staff, Kellen Company was able to create a flexible, out-of-the-box software solution that can be tailored to benefit just about any association. But at the same time, it’s for those who really understand that associations are not ‘one size fits all.’”
The inherent benefit of knowledge-sharing among AMC association executives enhances the benefits for associations as they navigate through challenging economic times. While the privacy and trust of each association is maintained, AMC association clients benefit from a dynamic-learning environment where professionals routinely share resources to maximize results from membership development to increased meeting attendance to improved media relations and everything in between
In addition to using best practices across associations, coordination between the various departments within an AMC can assure that operations aligns with public relations, certification complements government affairs, Web site development is in tune with printing, and meetings management is in lockstep with strategic revenue goals. When these areas work together, an AMC can unveil savings opportunities and avoid costly mistakes.
At Kellen Digital, a division of Kellen Company, web developers utilize core modules – or a foundation of code – that can be easily adapted for most any association. In addition, annual third-party subscription fees for everything from site analytics to webinar and e-mail marketing software are shared among many AMC association clients, But, perhaps most important, through their experience with multiple associations, AMCs understand the association environment. So whether it’s full service management or providing outsourcing services to associations the AMC does not fully manage, the learning curve is very short and the results are effective.
“We have built-in focus groups. Rather than hiring an outside market research firm, we can quickly poll dozens of executive directors about preferred Web design in half-a-day’s time,” said Josh Linard, Business Development Manager for Kellen Digital.
And in a hospitality industry badly bruised by a struggling economy, Kellen’s meeting managers have found ways to save association clients money thanks to better bargaining power with major hotel chains. This means if an association client runs into an attrition penalty situation due to a lower-than-expected meeting turnout, the AMC can cancel out any attrition fee by negotiating another client meeting at the same venue, providing the second association is willing use that venue. “Strong relationships with vendors bring deeper discounts on items from nametags and signage to flowers and audiovisual equipment,” said Phelps Hope, Vice President, Kellen Meetings.
In a struggling economy, whoever has the best information prevails. The AMC model equips associations with field-tested services by maximizing the power of knowledge.
Richard Cristol is president of Kellen Company, an Association Management Company (AMC) with offices and representation in the United States, Europe, China, the Middle East, India and Southeast Asia. He can be reached at 202-207-1103 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mr. Cristol authored this article for republishing in an April 2009 issue of Association Trends.