Naylor’s Annual Association Communications Benchmarking Study is an industry resource that provides information about membership communication trends, best practices and resource investments for associations across North America.
Naylor uses this study for a variety of purposes, with the primary goal of generating leads for their Communications Gap Analysis service. (Most associations that commit to a gap analysis will later contract with Naylor for services that address weaknesses revealed by the study).
My first year of involvement with the Association Communications Benchmarking Study was in 2014. The study was lead by Naylor’s marketing manager, Dana Plotke, who I reported to directly, and by the Association Advisor Editor in Chief, Hank Berkowitz.
The study started as a survey, conducted through SurveyMonkey, which contained approximately 45 multiple-choice and a few open-ended questions.
We partnered with several state Society of Association Executives (SAE) whose members are association executives from over 100 different industries. The SAE directors provided us with their mailing lists and I composed and sent out emails on their behalf (after gaining approval for the email copy). Participants were promised a $5 Starbucks gift card in exchange for participation.
The results of the survey were compiled into a 100+ page report by Hank Berkowitz. I then edited the report, submitted a creative brief to our designers for layout, and passed the first draft to the VP of Content, Jill Andreu, for additional editing and content changes.
Jill and I co-authored the “Recommendations” section of the report which contained 12 actionable recommendations written for association leaders.
Here’s an example of the first two:
To make it easier for busy association directors to digest the information from our report, I directed the creation of an infographic based on the report recommendations.
Word Cloud Art Created from Open Response Answers
There were 5 open-ended questions which allowed participants to type their answers into a comment box. We thought it would be interesting to use word cloud software to see which answers appeared most often. I used Tagul.com to accomplish this. These were placed in the “Index” section at the back of the report.
Here are examples of two of the free-response word clouds from the report:
The Benchmarking Presentation is used by Naylor’s business development directors and executive leadership when presenting workshops and sessions at association meetings and conferences. The primary goal of the presentation is to provide thought-leading content about the state of association communications and to open up discussions that build awareness of Naylor’s services.
I wrote the 2014 Benchmarking Presentation based on discoveries made through the benchmarking report, collaborating with Dana Plotke for guidance on style and direction. Naylor’s previous messaging had been about “Cutting through the Clutter” and overcoming “Communications Overload.” Dana wanted to focus more on disruptive technologies and what that meant for the professional association who had little experience competing against more agile for-profit start-ups and publishers.
The graphics for the presentation were a combination of images that I created with Canva.com and images that I ordered from our in-house graphic design team (some of which were images that were updated from a previous sales presentation).
We started the presentation with the current state of technology: the multiple daily touch-points from social media, email, video, etc. and a brief history of how we got there. It then transitioned into the latest findings from the benchmarking study about how the media landscape had changed in the past few years.
I had the idea to end it with an updated version of Naylor’s solution to the pain points that most associations face. In the existing sales presentation the Naylor solution was presented as a four-step process: GAP Analysis, Integration, Measurement, and Commitment to Continual Improvement. It was already an iterative process, which was good, but I reduced it to three steps: Assess, Integrate, Measure and turned it into an acronym to make it more memorable: the “AIM” Methodology.
The graphic design team took direction from my creative brief and brought the idea to life with a simple, clear image.
Naylor has since promoted this methodology in numerous forms of content including: as a webinar, an eBook, in articles, as a service description on Naylor.com and even as a dedicated menu category on the Association Adviser website.
I wrote an article to promote the benchmarking study which provided five of the 12 recommendations with the goal of having readers download the full benchmarking report to learn the other recommendations.
One of the article recommendations made it into a “listicle” on the The Association Executive Blog from the Ottawa-Gatineau Chapter of the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE): http://ogcsae.blogspot.ca/2015/04/3-communications-best-practices-from-3.html
I wrote a press release in support of our campaign efforts to attract attention about the report. Read it here: http://www.naylor.com/2014/11/20/2014-benchmarking-report/.
I created a few web graphics to promote the study on LinkedIn. They received a fair amount of likes and interaction, but I did not keep the stats and no longer have access to the account.
The 2015 Association Communications Benchmarking Study
I gave birth to my beautiful daughter on December 22, 2014. After taking maternity leave I continued working for Naylor but no longer worked full-time, instead I worked 25 hours/week from home.
At that time my primary role shifted to trade show coordination, although I still retained some of the responsibilities of my previous role. I was able to help launch the 2015 Association Communications Benchmarking Study by coordinating with potential SAEs, gaining their participation, and acquiring their member mailing lists in order to send out the survey invitation.
Email Copy and Coordination through HubSpot
I tracked survey participation by creating custom links for each SAE in SurveyMonkey. I then used those links in the CTA buttons on each custom email that I created in HubSpot. Emails were only sent to members after obtaining approval of the email copy from the executive director of each participating SAE.
I was tasked with creating an infographic to promote the 2015 Association Communications Benchmarking Report.
After deciding how to present the information, what types of images to use and crafting the copy, I wrote a creative brief and submitted it to our graphic design team.
Below is the first part of the first draft (click to see the full image).
It was decided that there were too many topics covered in this single infographic and that it should be broken up into three separate infographics, so that each would be more targeted and concise.
After submitting creative briefs for the first two infographics (in our three-part series) I was able to see drafts and begin to work on revisions. I had also begun the creative brief for the third infographic. I left Naylor before these infographics were complete, so I’ve included links to the drafts I created followed by links to the completed versions on the Naylor website (click the images to follow the links to the full infographics).
You can access these infographics on the Resources page at Naylor.com.