Sunday, November 22, 2009

Adding expiration dates to association coupons

In response to my blog post on expiration dates, David Patt posted this comment:

"Add discount coupons to your list. Always print an expiration date on them. Members (or former members) may want to use them years after they were expected to be out of circulation."

That is an excellent reminder! Here are a few thoughts on association coupons:

1. Discount coupons: If you provide coupons for discounts at bookstore, for membership dues, or for events be sure to be extremely specific - including the expiration date and if it's transferable to others. Be very specific with drink coupons too - either in your printed materials or on the tickets themselves.

2. Raffle tickets and other fundraising events: If you need to raise a certain amount of money for a fundraising activity to be viable, be sure to include a statement that indicates what would trigger it not happening, and how contributed funds will be returned. Also consider the potential for a staff or electronic error. If an entry is not properly received and accounted for by your e-commerce system and/or staff be sure to include that you can only return their contribution (and not compensate for a lost opportunity).

3. Association Prizes: If you give a prize, such as entry to a convention or "free dues", be sure it's very specific as to the year, along with its value. If it's an event, what is specifically covered in the prize and the exact location. And if it's transferable. And if there's any potential for cash value instead. So there's no confusion later. For example, if someone wins "free dues" and already doesn't have to pay dues, what happens?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Check your expiration dates

It's not just food that has expiration dates. Check out these association expiration dates, so you don't learn them the hard way ....

1. Conference call dial-in numbers: Found out my "use anytime" dial in and passcodes expired when I didn't use for 6 months. Learned it when dialing in 2 minutes before everyone else. If you use the same conference call numbers all the time, find out if something makes it expire.

2. Batteries on smoke/carbon monoxide detectors: Change them as often as you'd change the ones at home.

3. Vendor contracts: Especially if you inherit contracts you didn't execute, might want to check all of them to see what makes them expire - a date, a change of ownership, an action .... (or what makes a price increase).

4. Lease agreements: If your copier or other equipment has a date where you have to notify to either purchase or a new term start - find out what that is. Your option to buy or cancel contracts might expire at a date you don't expect (i.e., well before the end of the term).

5. Certificates of Deposits: Financial institutions will alert you of maturity of a CD; along with the terms you presently have. If you allow it to roll-over it may not do it anywhere near the rate you initially had - and also may not renew at the highest rate they offer. You may have to ask to get a higher renewal interest rate. Be sure to check the maturity dates so you aren't renewed well below an interest rate amount you'd want.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Buying your way into a community (aka, tweets for sale)

Just about everything in the meeting biz is open for sponsorship. But should Tweets be for sale?

I've been reading about "sponsored tweets" - where someone on Twitter will "sell" their willingness to talk about your product to their own community - that is, to their own blog and/or Twitter readers/followers. May just be for personal financial profit (or to get what they "talk about" free) - or may be part of a sponsorship package like getting paid to put a company's name on a sign. Trouble is, does the reader know it's a paid advertisement or endorsement? SHOULD the reader (also known as "the community") know?

The FTC has said yes - that anyone getting something free to tweet or blog about; or anyone getting paid to tweet about them should disclose it.

Some in the blogging community don't like that idea. I don't understand the problem with disclosing when you're getting paid to talk about a product - traditional media discloses with the word "advertisement". At meetings, we use the words "sponsored by" along with corporate or individual names - which tells everyone in attendance that they paid to fund something in particular.

Couldn't tweets just add the letters ADV to any sponsored tweet so the community of readers/followers knows that the person mentioning it got paid to do that advertisement? Paid tweets, or tweets based on getting free products, should not be confused with a genuine unpaid personal endorsement.

It's all about transparency, authenticity and ethics. If you get paid to "talk" about something, disclose that payment or freebie to your readers/community.