Friday, March 22, 2013

Unfinished Business AMA 2013-2014

With apologies to Robert Frost, it doesn’t look like I will be able to deliver on the “Promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep.” In spite of a successful year as VP Programming and President Elect I am not going to be President for a third term for the St. Louis Chapter. The politics of the top job and a contrived nominating “governance” committee resulted in me being voted “off the island.”  I’m disappointed – mostly because I made a lot of plans involving a lot of other people. Here are a few highlights.

Web Site – My friend Annie Mertzluft McBride of Annie M Creative agreed to serve on the board and take leadership and responsibility for the website. Stealth Creative agreed to upgrade and redesign the website. (This agreement was somewhat informal but it was with Mindy J the agency owner. Bob Mogley has been instrumental in allowing the dialogue to happen.) Bob was willing to work as VP sponsorship (especially when it was to work with not to replace Jeff Snell of iDream Solutions). A digital strategist at Stealth was identified to be point person on the AMA site. (Naturally they understand the project to be pro-bono).

Viral Video – Walt Jaschek, Dave Cox, Wes Morgan, Larry Eberle, Annie McBride, Bob Mogley collaborated on a viral video that invites a social media conversation. The :60 video Think Like a Marketer will be ready for use in April. Note that Dave, Wes, Annie and Bob are members of AMA (pretty much because of me).

AMAZING  St. Louis – a theme for the coming chapter year was developed. Leveraging the success of Remarkable, a mnemonic device shows that the chapter in St. Louis is AMAzing. It is cool but it won’t get the play is should without someone promoting the rally theme to be amazing. 

Programs - Programming for the coming year was designed to come out of the gate with content and substance. Following the program strategy of always being 90 days ahead (allowing for people to plan, promote and build on momentum) the first quarter programs have been established. July golf outing at CCGC, August meeting with Biz Library’s Chris Osborn, September meeting with Gabe Lozano of LockerDome (a compelling start up and powerful marketing success story).  Note: LockerDome was engaged during discussions about conference and agency crawl. LockerDome is looking forward to more involvement with AMA beginning with the July golf event.

Collegiate Outreach – at the Conference and subsequent “agency crawl” Wes engaged in dialogues with Jim Marchbank and Perry Drake about promoting AMA on college campuses. Sadly, there are only six active AMA collegiate chapters in Missouri. Jim is an adjunct at Fontbonne University. (Christine Chamberlin and Wes Morgan have been guest speakers in his MBA classes). Perry is a new professor at UMSL charged with bringing digital marketing to the curriculum.  Perry believes the marketing club at UMSL could be a way to establish an official chapter there. Wes put Perry in touch with the AMA collegiate representative at IH. AMA asks for at least 10 students and an advisor to establish a chapter.  If successful, for our chapter that means 11 new members at a minimum. Wes has been a guest/speaker at St. Louis University, Washington University, Fontbonne University and UMSL. Wes has been invited by AIGA annual portfolio review multiple years (including this year at Maryville University). 

Lumivid – a video production facility in Chesterfield Valley was impressed by the agency crawl and hopes to become more involved in the chapter. Kim has already submitted an application. Wes was invited to tour their facility and did so.

Membership – Looking forward to a big year, Wes Morgan actively recruited Doug Walters of Stoltz Printing, Dave Cox of Sandbox Creative, Annie McBride of Annie M Creative, Melanie Kechevas of 2e Creative, Bob Mogley of Stealth Creative and others. The chapter goal for 2013-14 should be to hit 400. This is not a pure numbers game. It is about engagement. Get people involved and they will join. Sandbox Creative is willing to update the membership directory - a member benefit . Remember the leaky bucket. For the sake of argument we have 250 professional members and 100 students. Retention is 50% (or less). That means we need 125 new members to stay in one place plus 50 to get to 400. That means we need 175 new members or 14-15 a month. (If we can improve retention it is be more like 12 a month. If we can establish 3-4 student chapters we get a bump of 50+ It is do-able. And worth doing.)

Holiday Event – Kelly Hoskins at Wehrenberg Theaters was happy to be host for our holiday viewing of SKYFALL 007 and would be happy to do it again in the coming year. The 2014 Marketing Conference – The St. Louis Art Museum is reserved for 2/21/2014 as they will have a brand new wing and completely renovated facility that seats 400. The venue rental is only $500. The conference theme is tentatively “Creativity” and could feature the popular AICP show of award winning commercials recognized by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers. The contact has been made with Chicago leader of AICP. Planned well, this will be a great event as it would likely coincide with AAF AdClub ADDY activity. The creativity conference in a new venue, with director’s cuts of great TV spots and potential speakers on the topic of leveraging creativity for Marketing could be a blockbuster hit. (But AMA needs to be thinking in advance, creating a look/feel, engaging AdClub and others.) Note: This event has been well attended in the past (at least twice) when hosted by AdClub. The Museum venue works well for them. In NYC they have an enduring partnership with the Museum of Modern Art. Note: The CEO of AICP (Matt Miller) was on the Today Show just after the super bowl last year as an expert  on the TV spots. Wes Morgan was the first one to bring Matt to St. Louis. (Wes first saw their annual AICP show in Miami before moving to St. Louis.)

New Board Members – Wes has had conversations with several of the individuals who have surfaced in the process of nominations. Bob Mastis (Bob knows of Wes from his experience at Commercial Letter and Rogers Townsend), Pier Alsup (Pier knows Wes and Ken from Conference meetings), Bud Menzel (Bud has played in AMA golf event is looking forward to further involvement in that event this coming year).

Preparation – Wes felt compelled (at his own expense) to represent the AMA at the Midwest Retreat in Chicago in January. 12 chapters participated. Wes also spent time with AMA CEO Dennis Dunlap at that event. Wes participated in CEO conference call with chapter leaders to discuss the need to attract Millenials to the association. Membership retention and acquisition is top-of-mind at IH. St. Louis has done some notable things (for a chapter of our size). 

Engagement – Some examples of the reach Wes has had. Last Spring  he brought back the Ad panel with Tom Townsend of Rogers Townsend, Tim Leon of Geile Leon, Angie Lawing of Mercury Labs, Joe Leahy of Hughes Leahy Karlovic (HLK), Dan Curran of 4orce (Now Manifest Digital) and Stacy Goldman of Cannonball and John Nickle of Switch (Mark Denk engaged this one of seven  – all others were scheduled and rescheduled by Wes). The board decided to move program around and Wes has to scramble to contact all and ask them again for a new date, with moderator Charlie Claggett.  Pat McGauley, Anheuser Busch VP of Innovation (starting with an ambitious effort to get the departing AB President Dave Peacock.  Proof of the value of aiming high when the fall back is still pretty darn good;  Jim Woodcock, Sports Business Practice leader from Fleishman-Hillard (a huge get…even though Jim didn’t get high marks for his casual and off the cuff presentation style); Panelists for April AMA/PRSA joint meeting at UMSL at Grand Center - Denise Bentele of Common Ground PR, Jim Steward of DICOM media planning and placement, Jill Gainer of HLK (who recruited all the panelists? Yep, Wes.) Brand Against the Machine Conference – Mark Quinn, VP of Marketing Leggett & Platt; Brian Hall (Mark Denk, I think recruited this local speaker from  CVC); John Morgan - author/keynoter (suggested by our MC of who Wes engaged – Bill Ellis); panelists: Emily Eldridge, Denise Bentele, Jim Stone (the only panelist Wes did not recruit), Donna Heckler. Remarkable Leadership Conference – author/keynoter Kevin Eikenberry (Wes suggested the conference theme and keynoter and contacted Kevin as well); Elliot Robia of Pixel Farm (Chapter leader contacted Christine but Wes followed up and engaged this enthusiastic speaker); Company tours (crawl)-LockerDome (introduced to us at lunch with my contact at Group 360), Manifest Digital, Stealth Creative, Drive (Connie engaged Drive, Wes identified and contacted the other three).

Wes Morgan – 16 years as a member (12+ as a board member), 33 newsletters, two conferences, 12 golf outings, An incremental Creativity Conference in 2003 that earned $2000 for the chapter, 2 terms as president (board members who worked with Wes during those terms include - John Lewington, Susan Davis, Steve Condor, Dan Dively and Lauren Kolbe – all of whom became president of the chapter).  This year, after a successful year as VP Programming and President Elect the rug is pulled out from under him. Wes is widely known as a chapter leader in St. Louis and at IH. He has been a speaker/break out leader/round table leader at Leadership Summit. He was a speaker at national attitude and usage research conference in 2000. His “leaky bucket” analogy is still used in discussions about membership. The concept was adapted from agency new business development philosophy of which Dennis Dunlap is familiar - (Dennis is a former CEO of Leo Burnett Advertising). Of course, in retrospect he has had a long and respectable run of which “no-body can deny.”   

Wes is a member of Business Marketing Association (BMA) since 1990, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) since 1995, AAF AdClub (having recruited over 70 ADDY award judges over the past 15 years in St. Louis alone). Wes is principal of Morgan Studio/East and has served in chief marketing officer roles and contributed to a long list of well known (and some lesser known) brands.
Just for the Record: Jeff Snell went from hero to “sponsorship is broken” only because he was unable to defend himself. (He’s not a guy who likes meetings. Can you blame him?) Joel Post was easy to work with – he was glad to pass the baton on the website…but our chapter (through two presidencies) just couldn’t quite orchestrate that move – so Joel looks like the bad guy. Where’s the justice? He did a lot of work for nothin’! 

Chapter Excellence Award – In spite of best intentions to complete the Chapter Excellence Award entry last year the chapter leadership gave up on it. It does take team effort to complete info on finances, membership, programs and reflect on goals. (The President-Elect was poised to complete this task.  It is due in August and is an important record – not to mention a way to share our success with other chapters and maybe even get some recognition nationally.) Wes completed two CEA entries as past president. It isn’t that hard. One year we were even recognized for our collegiate efforts.

Annual Conference – the conference used to be huge (200+ at a minimum) and attract students from 8 states. Even though we always try to reinforce the professional audience, it makes sense to engage students. Positioning the conference as “for professionals and students” is a reminder not to lecture this audience. (It is the last thing they want/need. More lectures.) This year we had students from just a handful schools: Illinois Wesleyan, UMSL, Maryville, Fontbonne, SLU, Webster (And it isn’t just about the weather – we should have Mizzou, Lindenwood, SIUE, SIUC, McKendree, WashU, SEMO, MO State, Truman, Wm Jewell, MO Southern, Quincy etc. etc. It’s about targeting and timing our mail and early communications so student leaders and faculty can plan for the trip. By the way a little effort would surely uncover a reasonable venue on one of our local campuses. We need to focus on the details early. It takes planning, leadership and teamwork. (It should not fall on a singular heroic/yet flawed efforts of a few.) 

Roundtables – Wes was part of the early planning of this program. Dan Diveley and Lon Zimmerman have taken this program and run with it. (But the current board has forgotten that the idea was to use the white papers as proof of thought leadership. And a great way to mine marketing leaders without subjecting them to a feeding frenzy at more public luncheon programs. ) Our white papers are now posted on IH MarketingPower web site – a win for our chapter.

Corporate Outreach – A lot of board Bravado but little real action on reaching out to leading companies. It isn’t hard to identify prospects and find opportunities to get them involved. Dan McGrath’s best program was a company spotlight at Brown Shoe (actually Famous Footwear retail case study/presentation) which  was largely due to Melissa Keim’s efforts/connection with HR department). Group memberships are a good deal for companies wanting to show support and offer professional development for employees. It takes some doing and a lot of follow up: Rawlings, Enterprise Rent a Car, LockerDome, Group 360, BJC, Mercy, SSM, CitiMortgage, Express Scripts, Boeing, Emerson, Panera, Graybar, InBevAB, Edward Jones. (Fifteen companies with group memberships of 4-6 or more = 60+ new members). This group effort along with the student chapter effort can get us more than halfway to our goal of 400 members. 

Doesn’t it make sense to learn from our experiences? Doesn’t it make sense to create routines and selectively reach for bigger/better?  I would hope our shared vision would look something like this: 400 members, 1000+ program attendees, 300+ at a blockbuster conference, meaningful new member welcoming and networking opportunities. Be the best professional association in St. Louis by offering things no-one else can or will.

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