Posts Tagged ‘association’

BMA Boston Board at Fenway Park; Winter 2007

BMA Boston Board at Fenway Park; Winter 2007

There must be a better model for running a marketing association.  I’ve been a member of multiple “M.A.’s” (BMA, DMA, AMA, etc) and I think my expectations are pretty simple.  Mostly I am looking for two things: (1) education and (2) networking.  While I do have a straightforward mission, i do have additional expectations.  I want the group(s) (or associations or communities) to understand my needs and wants as a marketer without letting the officer’s personal interests get in the way.  I don’t want to go to an event where I learn about a dated topic (like “the value of printing”) or, even worse, a session where I am forced to sit through a product pitch. I want to network with peers who I can learn from, not a group of vendors trying to sell me stuff every time I meet them. I expect a balance of “meet-ups” and educational events. I want the dialogs that start at physical events to continue long after the hand shake  and I expect social media to play a role in helping to facilitate that ongoing conversation. I want the leadership of the association to listen to my needs and wants and use them as the basis for developing programming. In general, I expect a positive customer experience. Is that too much to ask?

I say this because I have been actively involved in marketing associations for roughly the last 12 years.  In fact, I ran the Boston Chapter of the Business Marketing Association for about 3 years. During that time, the chapter saw its largest growth both in terms of revenue and membership, won three awards, hosted the most successful and profitable physical events in the group’s history and launched a webinar series that was syndicated nationally throughout regional chapters and attracted attendees from as far away as Japan, Europe and Australia.  We succeeded in repositioning the group’s perception in the market from a traditional stodgy association run by vendors to a group on the cutting edge of marketing.

I left the organization in January of this year because I was watching the association fall victim to the same mistakes it had made previous to my tenure.   The topics were tired, the events seemed stale and the speakers didn’t sound engaging.  I’d really like to see the group expand on it’s momentum and embrace new speakers/topics to help stay on the cutting edge.  Without getting into details, the final straw for me was an email stating rather bluntly “I don’t care about us executing on Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, or any other social network” and inferring that new types of marketing would not have a place in the chapter moving forward. In a time where many marketers are looking for more education on social media and are turning to their marketing associations to help figure it out, the group opted not to focus any effort or energy in educating their members on the benefits of this approach.  Given my passion for the space and my belief in social media, I decided it was best to part ways.

I am sharing my background with you, not to toot my own horn or throw anyone under the bus, but to help make a point.   Since I left the BMA I have looked long and hard at many of the other marketing associations out there and have come to the conclusion that none fulfill my needs. My view is tainted but it seems like most groups are operated by a select group of individuals that appear to have their own interests in mind – whether it is finding a job, selling a product or service or something else.  Sorry if my view offends anyone.  I do understand that my observations are a generalization – I’m sure there are individuals and chapters that have other interests at heart but I haven’t run across them in the recent past.

Granted, my experience in the last six months has likely made me cynical towards associations but I am looking for your opinion.  Are marketing associations, in general, going the way of the dinosaur? Do you belong to any and if so, which are the best? If you were running the show, what would you do differently?   What do you expect from the groups you are a member of?