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5 Reasons to Refine Your Community Engagement Strategy

So why do we innovate?

I believe we innovate because it’s part of our design and in some ways, why we were created.  Now, I don’t know where you land on the origin of man, but I believe there is an undeniable divine imprint on all of us.  And that divine imprint is from a Creator who has instilled the same characteristics in each of us.  That’s my reason for believing we should all create and innovate.  What’s yours?  We all need our reasons for why we exist and why we engage as we do.  

 

1. We innovate to make things better

There is nothing around us that couldn’t use to be bettered in some way.  Regardless if you see yourself as a creative or innovative person, we all believe and see that things have this mandate to get better as time moves along… health, healthcare, technology, mechanics, transportation, and so much more.  Innovation helps make things better and creates an intentional process and/or time to seek to make things better.

 

2. We innovate to try new things

Many times innovations fail… that’s okay.  It’s the trial and effort that count the most.  Innovation is a means to try new things, test them, adjust, and retest.  Have you seen any of the stories of SpaceX and how they built rockets?  While Boeing was spending multiple times the expense of SpaceX to run computer simulations, SpaceX was testing real rockets over and over… with many failures.  In the end, SpaceX created the rocket faster, spent less money, and sent people to space.  Innovation is all about trying new things.

 

3. We innovate because it’s a burn within us

There’s a burn within almost all of us to innovate, try new things, or at least, consume new things.  Yes, there’s that whole bell curve of product consumption, but for the most part, most people have a burn within them for “the new”.  That burn is just part of who we are and part of what sets humans apart… the sleepless nights spent thinking about what could be.  This is true of products, experiences, programs, and much more.

 

4. We innovate because things become stale

Let’s face it… things get old.  They always do.  It’s like gravity… as soon as something is created, it’s getting old.  I heard something say one time about technology if you wait to launch until it’s perfect you’ve launched too late.  It’s true… and we need to be focused well on how and when to cycle out the old and bring in the new.  Now, a caveat here, is that make sure that the foundational principles remain the same… it’s the methodologies that change.  Read more about this principle here.

 

5. We innovate because it allows us to work together

Innovation is a collective/collaborative process that allows us to work together to build better solutions.  Innovation brings us together and allows us giftings to sing in harmony with each other to see a solution created that no individual could create on their own.  It’s a magical way to see a group bond together around a common goal and challenge.  

 

There are countless reasons why we innovate.  What are your reasons?
 

Cause Machine Solutions

Innovation is in our DNA at Cause Machine.  We are continually refining our platform and working to design innovative solutions for you and your community engagement.  Schedule a demo today!


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Client Needs vs. Your Great Resource... a Scoping Exercise

So this is one of the most fun exercises I’ve enjoyed walking groups through over the years as it reveals a lot about what we’re encouraging people to do and where we are guiding them.  This process helps to identify what core needs your constituents have and how you meet those needs… but it also will challenge you in what you bring to the table to them and may result in you having to step up your game.

The best way to think about this is to see five zone areas - I’ll explain the order in a moment and what each zone means.  

Zone 4        Zone 2        Zone 1        Zone 3        Zone 4

 

 

The exercise begins by plotting out two core areas… what do you have to bring to offer to your constituents and what do they need.  Often we focus on what we have to offer without thinking about what people actually want or need.  This exercise helps you separate those two thoughts so we can learn best how to then bring them back together.  

Once you’ve brainstormed out these two lists, then start to plot them in the various zones to see where they land.  HINT: what you’re looking for is how much of a constituent need is what you have to offer.  Use this key to help guide you:

Zone 4: All constituent need and nothing you have to offer OR all your resources and nothing of need/want for your constituent.  These are the most difficult things to promote and convince people they need or for you to create. 

Zone 2: These are the areas where you’re stretched yourself to meet a constituent’s need but it’s certainly stretched you to think outside the box and beyond what you currently had in your arsenal of resources.  

Zone 1: This is the most natural intersection of what you have to offer and what people need.  This was probably your first great success point and the simplest place for explaining your value proposition.  

Zone 3: This is where you want to lead people BUT it’s not where you can guide them to early in your relationship with them… it’s going to take time and most likely, it’s going to come from creating great resources that keep matching the needs of your constituents.  

More often than not, there are many items in the Zone 3 column and very few in the Zone 2 column.  That’s normal and to be expected.  We all have things we believe our constituents need… but they don’t quite see they have the need quite yet.  

 

Core Principle

Building trust and guiding constituents to a greater success always come by first meeting them where they are and then guiding them into resources they may not have known they need.  This is how you build trust and what helps built long-lasting value.  

 

Your Task

Spent time working on how you could be creating resources that meet constituents where they are - it’s going to take some work and time but it’s worth it.  

 

Cause Machine Solutions

Meeting constituents where they are is a challenge and a discipline.  It takes time to map this out and understand their basic needs.  Cause Machine helps provide the environments to deliver these Zone 1,2,3,&4 resources, experiences, connections, and content to help create your strong value proposition.  The asset creation is on you but Cause Machine will help you deliver that in meaningful ways and help you meet your constituents where they are.   Schedule a demo today!

 


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The Principle - Method Concept

I’m not sure if you’re a church-goer or not, but that doesn’t matter.  I think all of us can picture a church with a choir singing and those people in the choir wearing choir robes.  And I think most of us think “wow, choir robes are so outdated”.  But here’s the point… at some point choir robes were a great idea, new, innovative, and people got excited about them.  I think if we unpack that story more we would go back in time to find there was some good reason for churches introducing choir robes and whatever that reason might have been… I’d put good money we probably still agree with the heart behind it… just not how it’s currently expressed.  

That’s the difference between the Principle - Method concept and the desperate need for leaders to help guide us to the principle over the method.  Let me try and better define this.

Principle - the reason, purpose, and vision for what could be.

Method - the tangible, strategy, and an executable way to bring a principle to life.

And here’s the key thing to know about the Principle - Method concept… principles never change while methods constantly change.  My challenge to you is to fall in love with the principles of what you more than your methods.  You will become a dinosaur if you fall in love with your methods.  They grow old and extinct.  

Think about the principle of needing to move/travel and all the methods - horse and buggy, train, car, plane, etc.

Think about the history of war - bow and arrow, gun, planes, drones, etc.

Think about communicating with each other - the pony express, telegrams, rotary dial phones, smartphones, etc.

Alright, why am I spending so much time making this point?  Methods are like gravity… they have this vortex-like a black hole.  Once methods are launched, we want to fight to keep them alive.  There’s often identity found in a method.  Creating new methods is difficult.  I’ll say it like this… methods are simpler while leading to principle takes a lot of work.  That’s why I challenge leaders to drive back to the principles that drive their methods.  Constantly evaluate if your methods are the best methods to activate your principles.  

Great leaders help guide their teams to re-invent and fall in love with the principles that drive things.  May I encourage you to do the same!

 

Cause Machine Solutions

The Cause Machine platform provides an environment to explore various methods of engagement with your constituents.  It’s your role to refine your principles for engagement.  Once you have, Cause Machine offers the means to deliver on the methods you narrow down engagement.  Schedule a demo today!


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How to get more people to attend your events

So, you have an event coming up. Getting the most people you can to your event matters. My guess is, if you’re having an event, you have a lot to share with people. Events are a gateway to other great things you offer as well.

That said, an event can create energy around your brand and your mission. It can also provide an opportunity for your followers to connect and network.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years of hosting events, that have helped me be sure I’m checking off all of the boxes I need so I get the most people I can to attend an event. 

How to get more people to attend your events

#1 Make a Promise. 

Events can often seem like dating someone. Quickly, you start making a promise about what someone gets from your event. However, it’s important to point out the benefits attendees will get when they sign up, when they attend the event, and even after the event.  

It’s vital to show how you’re going to deliver on whatever you promise. When you do this, it helps people feel like you’ve made a solid commitment to them—just as they have—or will—to you when they register. 

#2 Clarify what attendees will get from the event. 

This step is vital. Whether you're an author or leader of a community, a clever event title and great speakers may not get you the registrants as you might think. This step is all about what problem you’re solving with the attendees. If you clearly spell out what people get from your event, your followers or visitors will register because they trust you. 

Here are just a few examples of what attendees might expect to learn or how they may be helped from attending your event: 

  • Guided connections with experts

  • Refreshment in their career

  • Best practices and expert learnings

  • Connections with others like them. Your attendee doesn’t need to feel alone

  • Matched connections to exhibitors

  • Preparation and followup resources

  • Access to content after the event

You don’t have to feel like you need to offer every single one of these, but it's definitely worth thinking through what attendees will get from your event. Reiterate your promises throughout your marketing leading up to the event. Refer to these promises during your actual event. Then, ask or survey attendees about these promises after the event—to be sure they received what they thought they would receive. 

#3 Ask others to promote the event.

Hosting and marketing an event is a great opportunity to engage your partners, exhibitors, speakers, and alumni to help promote the event. You just have to ask! Think about how you can make a promotion part of being a partner. Will you provide a set or kit of marketing messages for use on web, blog, email, and social media for your partners? 

Consider making it easy to promote the event by creating resources to help people promote your event. Think of how your partners will be best at sharing. Will it be through PDFs, images, and so on? What platforms or channels are your people most familiar with? The last thing, you might consider partnering with some of the best groups who stand to bring new registrants and offer them a percentage for each attendee they bring. You can do this easily and track it by using a discount code at checkout. This could be the incentive some of your best partners need to move the need for promotion and registration.

#4 Leverage alumni and followers. 

This group is a bit different than the folks in #4. This group of people may be helpful, but they aren’t necessarily the folks who you’ll want to invest time in creating affiliate codes and such. However, don’t forget this group in your promotion of the next event. How well you activate this group may create a buzz and registrations that bring your event from dull to a success. 

For this group of followers, be sure you ask them to share several posts on social media. Be direct. Give them the exact post and link if at all possible. People are busy, and to be honest, your event three months from now isn’t the priority for this group! : ) Ask them to share with their friends—via email and text where fitting. Ask these things several times if you have lots of room in the calendar before your next event. You might consider offering a free ticket if they can recruit five (5) attendees. Now, this assumes you’ve done well at staying in touch with these folks between events. Remember that word of mouth is most likely your greatest marketing tool—especially for events. And, you might net out more followers to your website after the event ends.

#5 Be the guide and connect relational dots.

People are looking for a guide. It’s up to you to help attendees do some relational dot-connecting. Also, events can be intimidating. Show how you're going to make the event feel more personal. Will you have time for folks to connect and get to know each other before the event? During the event? After the event? 

You can create relational dots in several ways. One big way is offering times of connection where you share stories of how your event has set others up for success. Also, for your speakers, event staff, keynote speakers, and breakout session speakers—be sure attendees get their stories in front of them. Try and think beyond the bio. Why did you ask this particular person to speak? Mention that in marketing emails leading up to the event. This will serve you well in that—you’ll gain more registrants for folks who wish to connect—and—you’ll help the speakers be able to know their why. 

These are just a few of the best ways I’ve found to help me feel confident, knowing I’ve done all I can to make an event and get the most attendees possible. If you do these things, you can rest easy knowing your event will be a success. 

 

5 ways to monetize your communityNeed more help taking your community digital?

You want to have a dynamic and multi-dimensional community that thrives. In order to do that, you need a strategy of both online and offline engagement. This guide will help you think through your approach to engaging a virtual community. Download the free eBook: How to Take Your Community Digital.

 

About the author: Will Rogers is the Founder and CEO of CauseMachine. Will’s career has been spent leading organizations and helping to mobilize communities to a shared vision. He has served in various leadership roles to build community engagement and movements teaching him valuable hands-on skills and experience. Will has developed business and community engagement strategies for dozens of organizations in nearly 50 countries. He and his wife have two sons and now live in Kentucky after two decades in Colorado.


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3 Membership Site Tools to Inspire Your Approach

So you’ve built a thriving community around a bold cause or brilliant product. Great work! But you’re not done yet.

As your project scales up, one of the most powerful tools you can implement is a membership site, turning “users” into members, driving engagement to your cause… and even monetizing your work.

With the creator economy growing, all sorts of businesses use membership sites – which is really just website that features some sort of “gate,” beyond which only members can pass. 

Artists and influencers, nonprofit organizations, social clubs, associations, even retail businesses use these since they all need to present content that only members have access to. That could be special sales and exclusive products, digital classes, or even just a newsletter, and these memberships don’t even have to be paid – they could just involve opting in. But the point is this: Being a member comes with special privileges… and added consumer value.

From your perspective, this added value is the key. It can lead to more revenue for your business, repeat visitors to your site, longer session times, and greater sales numbers – and plus, you could even add a revenue stream if the memberships are paid. But like anything, there are different methods to building a great membership site for your community, and different strengths to each approach. 

 

3 popular membership site approaches:

 

1. WPQuickStart

membership site

WPQuickStart for Membership Sites is a plug-in service designed especially for WordPress – the website builder used by almost half of all websites worldwide. If you already have a website, and it’s running on WordPress, this offers a way to add membership functionality.

Key Features 

  • Fast and easy set-up
  • Multi-level subscription packages
  • Built-in tools for payment, marketing, and analytics
  • WordPress Security



2. CMS Hub from Hubspot

membership site

On the other hand, creating a membership site using CMS Hub from Hubspot can help you create a customized experience. More than a plug-in that works with your WordPress website, this standalone content management system is fully hosted by Hubspot (and fully integrated with its marketing, sales, and service tools). The possibilities are endless. You can create multiple membership tiers, with unique perks included in each. But the downside is higher cost – and the fact that one-of-a-kind creations take time and expertise. 

Key Features 

  • Hubspot hosting and systems integration
  • Full design flexibility
  • No plug-ins necessary
  • Personalize membership experience

 

 

3. WildApricot

membership sites

Creating a connected membership site usually comes down to whether or not the platform can truly meet your needs. Another solution that has membership capability is WildApricot. WildApricot has a variety of ways to build and run your community. One is a built-in member database that allows you to manage how members interact with one another, share exclusive member-only content and more. You can create multiple tiers of membership and encourage users to join up with membership applications. WildApricot is a solid option for launching a membership site.

Key Features 

  • Member database
  • Event management
  • Mobile app
  • Online store

 

Transitioning from casual users into highly-engaged members is crucial to growth and monetization, and so is using the right platform to do it. Ideally, you’d keep everything from website building to e-learning and membership controls in one place (with a little marketing prowess and analytics thrown in), so you don’t have to piece your digital footprint together. 

 

Cause Machine Solutions

One of the most significant pieces of what sets Cause Machine apart from other technology platforms is where we start… with a community engagement strategy.  We begin all of our work on the foundation of engaging a community well and then begin mapping out the technology to help support that strategy.  We’re certain that you’ll find some great resources and powerful tools in Cause Machine to better engage your community as well. Learn how it can work for you here


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