ICE 2016: Adding Another Chapter to the Story

 

It’s that time of year again… time to head to the annual Institute for Credentialing Excellence (ICE) conference! This is one of the conferences I look forward to most each year.

I always tell new employees at Omnipress that if they think order fulfillment is just putting stuff in boxes and shipping it, they are working at the wrong company. What we are really doing in our warehouse is sending someone the materials they need to learn a skill. Delivering the workbook that will help them perform their job more accurately. These printed materials allow industry professionals to study for a test or certification, proving they have gained the knowledge to practice their skills safely and ethically.

So when I think of ICE, I think about all the learners that have gone on to pass a certification exam after receiving the materials that were once on the shelves of our warehouse. When you tell the story that way, it’s easy to see that you are shipping more than ink and paper.

Learning From the Past

This will be my fifth year attending the ICE conference. Each year I’ve learned a little more about the impact our online and print materials have on the success of the attendees’ certification programs. I love knowing that having a well-formatted workbook will help a learner prepare for an exam. Or, that when we take over order fulfillment from continuing education staff, they will have more time to develop student-benefiting course content.

For example, one customer of ours that is a regular ICE attendee, is the National Retail Federation Foundation (NRFF). Before we started working with NRFF, their course materials were causing confusion between students and instructors. We worked with them to create a single workbook that enabled better communication in the classroom. What was really interesting to hear, though, is how this new workbook format gave NRFF the confidence to increase their program’s marketing and grow the certification program.

I could spend all day reminiscing about similar stories that help me understand the true impact of what we do here at Omnipress. But instead, I’ll finish up a few more office to-dos before I get ready to leave for the conference. Because waiting at that ICE Conference are dozens of more stories just waiting to be told.

The Countdown to #ASAE16 Continues!

As we’ve mentioned before, this year will mark Omnipress’ tenth trip to ASAE’s Annual Meeting. We love having the opportunity to talk with association planners about the high-stakes challenges that arise during The Life of a Conference:

  • How will you handle the inevitable last-minute submissions?
  • Will you be able to get your materials printed before time runs out?
  • Who will upload and organize all your conference content online?

Omnipress has always been a resource for finding a solution to these kinds of questions, and at ASAE this year, we are ready to share our newest offering to help you source and produce high-quality conference content!

If you will be at ASAE this year, don’t miss the big reveal! Be sure to request an appointment for a one-on-one conversation on how this new offering will help your conference.

Working with hundreds of associations over the years has given us a unique perspective on what it takes to create a great conference. We’ve been working hard to turn that experience into something that helps conference planners collect and manage conference content, and we’re excited to unveil the results with our friends at ASAE this year!

PS: If you are not attending ASAE this year, this blog is the next best place to learn about what’s new! Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing the big news along with plenty of details to get you up to speed on what we’ve been working on. Stay tuned…

3 Days in 3 Minutes: What We Learned at The Great Ideas Conference® 2016

As a company that was founded to serve associations, we get a tremendous amount of value from attending ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference® each year. We’re there to listen, to learn and to find inspiration for tomorrow’s solutions. And this year did not disappoint.

With over 50 sessions spread across three days, there was a tremendous amount of ground covered—diverse topics providing lessons on leadership, growth, engagement and innovation. What’s interesting, however, is how well each and every session connected to one another, intertwined with three reverberating themes:

  1. Take what’s working and make the most of it
  2. Change what isn’t working
  3. Lead the change, don’t respond to it

TAKE WHAT’S WORKING AND MAKE THE MOST OF IT
You may already have everything you need for success. You just need to change how it’s packaged and delivered. Here’s an example of what this looks like specifically within the context of your educational content.

Many associations are already rich in educational content, but need help gaining visibility for that content to maintain your association’s place not just as a subject-matter authority, but as the source of truth for your industry. Some may think the solution is to create more content or more education programs when in fact your organization just needs to do a better job using what you already have.

Sounds easy, but the silo’d nature of associations actually makes this task extremely difficult.

What this can look like in practice:

  • Develop and execute an association-wide content strategy so that your educational content can be collected from your subject matter experts once, and leveraged across multiple departments, delivered in multiple formats, in a coordinated fashion. This type of content strategy can increase visibility for your association, raise your profile and help reinforce learning beyond a particular program
  • Develop learning programs that deliver the same content in multiple formats, based on how today (and tomorrow’s) members want to learn, such as micro-learning, social learning and binge-learning.
  • Structure your educational programs to facilitate engagement, conversation and collaboration to increase their value to your members. Change the role of your members from attendees to participants. Use your programs to facilitate the solving of problems and exploration of solutions, rather than as a delivery method for more content.

CHANGE WHAT ISN’T WORKING
Change is hard. Actually, change is very, very hard. But, with an informed plan, a thoughtful approach and an open mind, positive change can happen, faster than you might think.

Whether you’re looking to reinvigorate your board, reinvent your membership or chapter model, remove internal obstacles or even change your own leadership style, it’s going to be difficult. Because our brains are programmed to resist change. Creating a path to change takes patience, persistence and flexibility. And more importantly, it requires us to be prepared to drop the proverbial ball at least a few times, learn from those mistakes, and adjust accordingly. Because any change, even by the most brilliant and talented person, requires practice before mastery.

What this can look like in practice:

  • Take time to identify the true cause and effect to make sure you’re trying to solve the right problem. Do your homework! Talk to your members, use your existing data, assess the industry landscape to make sure you understand what needs to change, and why. This makes it so much easier to formulate the “how”.
  • Create a people-centric, rather than task-centric change management plan to help your people understand, embrace and engage in the change before the specific tasks or processes are introduced. Answer the “why” before you talk about the “how.”
  • Break your change plan down into manageable steps, and focus on one thing at a time.

LEAD THE CHANGE, DON’T RESPOND TO IT
One of the few guarantees in life is that change is inevitable. And change is the most disruptive when it comes from the outside-in.

The world is not still. Social, economic and political climates ebb and flow. Technologies evolve. Demographics shift. Disasters happen. Every day, outside influences have the potential to re-shape your industry, and therefore re-shape the role of associations within that industry. If you’re finding yourself in a position where you need to react to the change, you’re too late. Chances are, your association has already become sluggish, and will have to play a fairly aggressive game of catch-up. This is not the most efficient way to operate. Associations will fare much better, remain more nimble and more relevant if they take steps today to build a “culture of foresight.”

What this can look like in practice:

  • Scan your environment on an ongoing basis. Consult with internal (your members) and external resources to identify changes and trends across all categories—social, technological, economic, environmental, political and demographic. Make it common practice to discuss the relevance and impact of these trends with your internal teams and with your members at regular intervals.
  • Look where everyone else is looking, then turn and look in the opposite direction to see what no one else is seeing, and whether there is real, measurable opportunity in that space, and what it would take to get there.
  • Purposefully pair unexpected combinations to “connect the dots” in a new way—to reinvent (a new product, service or delivery model) and redefine (the value you provide to members or what you do better than the competition).

So there you have it. Three days of incredible sessions distilled into three minutes, covering three key themes. We’d love to hear your thoughts! Do you have anything to add? Are there other insightful topics you’d like to discuss? Let’s continue the conversation by sharing your comments here.

ASAE Annual 2015: Takeaways & Random Thoughts

Earlier this month, association professionals of all stripes met in Detroit for ASAE’s Annual Meeting. There was so much to see and do (I’m told) that it was nearly overwhelming.

Chief among the activities were educational sessions, including keynotes by Josh Linkner and Sherry Turkle. The expo hall was buzzing with activity from vendors, including Omnipress. We sent three team members: Steve Manicor (VP of Business Development), Bob Hamm (Senior Account Manager), and Holly Meyers (Account Manager).

In discussing ASAE 2015 with the trio and doing my own reading from association news sources, including Associations Now and MeetingsNet, I’ve collected a few takeaways and random thoughts from ASAE 2015 that might be worth a second look.

  • The time for innovation is now. At the opening general session, Josh Linkner spoke about pushing boundaries and asking “why,” multiple times, to break out of your comfort zone. Innovation requires us to be both introspective and exploratory. What part of your association’s conference content process could use a little shaking up?
  • The auto industry—and associations—continue to evolve. Did you get a load of that Volt? How about the Tesla? Pretty incredible driving machines, born out of innovation and further improved by pushing boundaries. How do you plan to push boundaries with your conference content? Which formats have staying power? Which will help your association push into 2016 and beyond? Is there room in your budget for multiple formats? Could there be?
  • Your perspective may require sharpening. Think like a rookie! If you didn’t have a framework for the way your association has always done things, in terms of your conference content, where would you start? Does that look different than the content delivery you have in place now? Try on a fresh perspective to make innovation easier.
  • The theme of ASAE 2015 drives you to reconsider your mindset. (Pun intended. I’m so sorry.) Ready Set GO reminds you to keep moving forward and think of your association as an entity on the move. Where do you want your association to go? How might you get there? Do you think doing the same thing you’ve been doing for the past 10 years will work?
  • The impulse to check your smartphone might bring you out of the conversation. But it might not. Is empathy in decline, as Sherry Turkle suggested in ASAE 2015’s closing general session? Have we forgotten how to listen and how to focus as we got swept up in the digital revolution? Perhaps. But some people use technology as a means of connecting with others—at least as a starting point—and, I believe, all communication is a valid means of conveying ideas and information. That said, many people (myself most certainly included) could stand to put away the device and have a real conversation more often.

What did you take away from ASAE 2015? Add your thoughts in the comments!

Omnipress thanks everyone who took the time to stop by our booth for conversation and information.

Didn’t get a chance to drop by? That’s okay! We’ll share our new white papers here on the blog as well. Enjoy!

19-Point Conference Content Inspection
8-Point Training & Publications Content Inspection

 

5 Signs That Your Conference Content’s Check-Engine Light Is On

Last week on the blog, you learned how to tell if your content engine needs a tune-up. In other words, it would be a good idea to take a look under the hood. It’s not urgent, though. You should do it, but your content engine will still run if you don’t get around to it right away.

When your check engine light is on, however, you’ve reached critical mass. Action must be taken. There are several reasons why those lights on your dash illuminated, from the innocuous to more problematic causes. It could be something simple, like a loose gas cap, or something more serious, such as a catalytic converter that needs to be replaced. Regardless of what the ultimate cause is, you shouldn’t ignore it.

When it comes to your conference, there are a few surefire signs that your content engine needs immediate attention.

  1. You overhear conversations about content outputs at your conference. Two colleagues lament the loss of the printed program, for instance, or voice complaints about the new app. Like it or not, people are more honest in conversation with each other than they are in surveys with you.
  2. You find yourself trying to convince the board (again) to budget for additional formats to deliver conference content. Does your association’s board need to be reminded that content is the engine of the annual meeting? A shift in priorities may be in order. That shock of recognition you’re feeling? That’s the light on your dashboard.
  3. You have noticed that your attendee demographics are shifting. Do you cater to more millennials and fewer baby boomers than you did in the past? According to a survey we conducted, millennials prefer to learn from printed materials. Have you welcomed more international attendees in recent years? They may find printed materials cumbersome; their capacity for additional carry-on space may be limited. Perhaps online conference materials are the best choice for them.
  4. You have learned that attendees have a strong preference for one type of output (say, online conference materials) … except for those who show an equally strong preference for a different one (say, print). As the famous quote goes, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” (John Lyndgate) Trying to win with everyone is a losing proposition, so just do the best you can to offer multiple outputs to your attendees—printed materials, online conference materials, USBs/CDs, and a conference app.
  5. You know fellow association professionals (say, the ones you’ll meet up with next week at ASAE) who have had success with offering multiple outputs. We have found that in the association world, it helps to know how other groups like yours are handling their content. Hearing success stories from colleagues (or reading case studies) may have you wondering if you should make a change.

When signs like these point towards potential danger, it’s best to take care of things right away. Conference content is too important to take for granted, or continue on autopilot because it’s easier than making a change. Attendee satisfaction does depend, in part, on whether content comes in the format they prefer—and everyone is different. The best solution is to invest in your conference by providing as many different ways to consume the content as you can.

The Omnipress team will embody the automotive theme we’ve been using in recent blog posts at ASAE Annual 2015 in Detroit. Stop by booth 515 to learn more and pick up a USB that includes our newest white paper, Your 19-Point Conference Content Inspection. We hope to see you soon!

Conference Content: The Engine That Drives Your Association’s Annual Meeting

When it comes to your association’s conference, it can be helpful to think of content as the engine of your annual meeting.

It’s true that all other aspects of your conference are also important—ordering tasty and healthy food and beverage, brokering agreements with sponsors, working with exhibitors, booking hotel blocks, handling speaker requests, and so much more.

But without content? Your annual meeting just doesn’t run without it. Much like the engine of car, your association’s conference content is the critical component that brings it all together and, simply put, makes it go.

Your content engine is far too important to leave untended, therefore, and it needs a good tune-up every so often. When was the last time you gave more thought (much less budget!) to your conference content than you did to food and beverage?

Yet the quality of the content—and the method(s) of delivery you used to get it in the hands of your attendees—is what will really determine whether members will attend next year.

When professionals return to the office after a conference, what do their colleagues ask? What did you learn? Did you catch Dr. Smith’s session? How was it? Can I take a look at your notes? Do you think our boss will let me go next year? The conversation is centered on content. Eventually networking events, venue, and that great breakfast spread will come up, but first and foremost is content.

How are you planning to deliver content for your next annual meeting? Printed programs and/or proceedings? Online? Through a conference app? On a USB or CD? A combination of the above, or all of these methods? How will your session speakers be selected? Have you chosen an abstract management system to keep that process streamlined and under control?

If your answer to any of those questions is I haven’t figured that out yet, but you can describe the opening reception hors d’oeuvres in detail, you may want to think about getting your content engine in for a check-up, ASAP.

Stop by booth 515 at ASAE Annual to consult the Omnipress “pit crew” on your content engine. We’d love to help you look into ways you can get your conference content in good shape and keep it that way for years to come. See you in Motor City!

Visit Omnipress at ASAE Tech!

Next week, Omnipress will exhibit at ASAE’s Technology Conference & Expo. The event, which will take place December 15-17, is held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. Steve Manicor, Vice President of Business Development, and Sean Lawler, Product Director – Digital Services, will represent Omnipress.

We invite you to stop by booth 200 next week to speak with Steve and Sean. (For the schedule, including expo hours, click here.) In addition to be great conversations and free white papers, the Omnipress team will be providing fun giveaways, like all-in-one tools and portable phone chargers.

Come to booth 200 with questions about your association content delivery, whether you’re interested in digital or analog products. You can talk to Steve and Sean about:

  • Online abstract collection & speaker management: It all starts with collection. With our system, it’s easy to submit, review, and manage submissions. Moving forward to content outputs is streamlined when you begin with collection.
  • Online event services: Offer attendees the opportunity to connect with your event content where they already spend so much of their time—online.
  • Mobile event apps: The vast majority of your attendees carry smartphones or tablets. Make sure your association has some of the valuable real estate available, in the palms of your attendees’ hands.
  • Scientific posters: Omnipress can collect and print your posters, as well as provide online access to attendees and members.
  • Conference printing: Kick it old-school with a printed program. Surveys have shown that attendees of all ages appreciate reading educational materials in print.
  • CDs/USBs: Physical digital media helps associations—and attendees—bridge the gap between print and online resources. Besides, who doesn’t like a useful giveaway?
  • Anything else event content delivery that’s been on your mind!

Keep an eye on our Twitter feed for posts during ASAE Tech, a.k.a. #tech14. We hope to see you there!

The New Omnipress: Debuting at ASAE 2014

If you read last week’s blog posts, you have a good idea how Omnipress is different than it used to be. Need a refresher? We’re happy to provide one.

More products and services, especially digital ones, are available. The new website might as well leave glitter on your monitor, it’s so new and sparkly. The Omnipress team can help you find the content delivery that’s the best fit for your situation.

What hasn’t changed? Print products look sharp and are delivered to the right place, on time, and customer service is our top priority.

Next month, Omnipress will send a team of four to ASAE 2014 Annual Meeting & Exposition. The team will be on hand to give away fabulous prizes, answer your questions, and talk content delivery options. They’ll even take your picture. (More on that closer to the show!)

When CEO Tracy Gundert, Vice President of Business Development Steve Manicor, and Account Managers Holly Meyers and Tony Veroeven head to Nashville, they’ll bring more than prizes, smiles, and answers. They’ll be bringing the new Omnipress to ASAE 2014!

All-in-one convenience is what sets Omnipress apart. Our services are catered to busy association professionals. When event planners and training directors learn that working with Omnipress means fewer vendors to juggle and phone calls to make, their ears perk up. Did yours just do the same?

If you’ll be attending ASAE 2014, you are cordially invited to make plans to stop by booth #203 to visit Tracy, Steve, Holly, and Tony to see the new Omnipress in action. But why wait? Reach out to an account manager now and start the conversation today!

Omnipress Exhibits, Meetings, & Presentations: AMCI, Experient EnVision, BLI/NABE CSE

Omnipress is coming to a conference near you, and we’d love to see you there! Our agenda for the near future:

CESSE Mid-Winter CEO Meeting – Chandler, Arizona – February 23-26, 2014

Senior Account Manager Bob Hamm will attend the CESSE (Council of Engineering and Scientific Society Executives) Mid-Winter CEO Meeting 2014. Stop by and see him if you’ll be there, too.

2014 AMC Institute Annual Meeting – Tempe, Arizona – February 26-28, 2014

CEO Tracy Gundert and Account Manager Rob Bossingham will be available at AMCI (Association Management Companies Institute) to discuss how Omnipress’ suite of services can meet the needs of AMCs.

ASAE Great Ideas – Orlando, FL – March 9-11, 2014

Tracy Gundert and Vice President of Business Development Steve Manicor will be in attendance at Great Ideas. Keep an eye out for them and don’t be afraid to start a conversation! They look forward to speaking with you.

EnVision 2014 – Las Vegas, Nevada – March 12-14, 2014

Rob Bossingham hits the road again in mid-March to present at EnVision, a networking event with one-on-one meetings and short presentations from vendor partners like Omnipress. Check the schedule for Rob’s presentation.

2014 ABA Bar Leadership Institute – Chicago, IL – March 12-14, 2014

Account Manager Holly Meyers hopes to see you at BLI in Chicago, and possibly also at the NABE CSE (National Association of Bar Executives, Chief Staff Executives), which will precede BLI (March 11-12). Holly will be on hand to answer your questions about providing educational content to NABE and BLI members.

There are many opportunities to see Omnipress on the road in the next few months, but if you’re not planning to attend any of these events and would like to see your account manager in person, contact us to see if a customer visit or an executive briefing in your neck of the woods might work out this spring or summer. In any case, we hope to see you soon!