How to Grow A Profitable Association – real examples from California & Houston

I was lucky enough to be the panel leader for SchipulCon’s “How to Grow A Profitable Association” presentation, with Tony Brock of (Schipul client) ThinkLA and April Guzik of AIGA Houston. These two organizations have been able to grow memberships and sell-out events despite a rocky economy. It was amazing to be able to pick the brains of these two leaders for some tips on what has made their organizations thrive!

ThinkLA is the Los Angeles ad club and interactive marketing association all in one – as many of the groups in the Los Angeles area found that they were appealing to the same members and competing for the same event dollars, they decided to join forces and combine to form ThinkLA. Today it’s one of the most respected associations in California. One of my big questions for Tony was what he attributed ThinkLA’s event success to – what was the magic that could lead to sold-out events again and again? The two big tips from Tony were “Consistency is key” and “Right-size your venue”. When you start out with a new event for your group, listen to the feedback you get from members. Do they like the event? If so, keep it going. Make it consistent for them, so they always have something they know they can look forward to, and refer friends to. Right-sizing the venue was my favorite tip, and one that seems a bit counterintuitive at first. We all hope that we’ll get a huge crowd for an event – but that doesn’t mean you book a venue for that huge crowd. Unless you’re sure you can fill the space, don’t pick a giant venue. It makes the crowd look small and less exciting. On the other hand, if you have a venue that’s smaller, you may sell out tickets. That’s not a bad thing!! Selling out is actually great because it means that people will be sure to buy tickets early for the next event. By right-sizing your venue, you can create the premium experience you want your members to have.

Not surprising for someone having such an awesome name, April Guzik was really interesting to hear from regarding member involvement. It’s easy to say you’re going to be consistent with events, but harder to do so sometimes – board members get busy, life happens, and things can get pushed back. One thing April has done successfully at AIGA Houston is to welcome anyone who wants to take part in the organization – member or not. She values the help that is offered, and will gladly take help from enthusiastic community members. Both Tony and April pointed to the importance of viewing your association goals and missions to benefit the community at large, not just those who are paying dues. Especially as the economy forces many companies to cut back on corporate memberships, associations who continue to welcome these non-members will only thrive. And to thank those who have continued to support the organization through membership, having member-only events or benefits is a great way to say “thanks”.

If you’re on the board of an association or non-profit organization, I would strongly encourage you to check out out video from the SchipulCon presentation. Tony and April both have a lot of great experience with associations; in places as diverse and complex as California and Texas. They shared a lot of great tips that board leaders can take away and put in to place.

How to grow a profitable association (and be a bad ass member) from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

Drupal and WordPress at SchipulCon: One Stage, One Open Source Love

Open Source Discussion with the Founders of Drupal and WordPress from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co.

“People being told what to do and working for money are never going to match people working for passion and a community.”
~Matt Mullenweg

“With every cell in my body, I believe that Open Source is the way forward.  Especially when it comes to websites, but also beyond just websites.”
~Dries Buytaert

We were beyond honored to host Drupal founder Dries Buytaert and WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg at our SchipulCon 2011 event.

Guided by David Stagg, the open source conversation survived epic microphone turmoil  years of open source competitiveness to showcase the true brilliance and passion of these open source leaders.

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg share the SchipulCon stage

Around Designers vs Developers Flocking to WordPress and Drupal (Respectively)

Matt:  “I learned a ton about code and programming and back end systems… mainly because I had sort of a vision of something that I wanted a user to realize…. and so we made certain design choices from a technical view that to me are more intuitive.

There were two big pressures early in WordPress’ life:  1) everyone wanted us to adopt a templating system because everyone at the time had one  and 2) they wanted us to go a strict object oriented model.  So you could extend everything WordPress does through classes essentially.

We took an action oriented plug-in approach… which is perhaps not as correct from a programmer’s point of view, but easier for beginner users.”

Dries:  “When I started Drupal, I was in college to get a computer science degree – almost an engineer.  So I wasn’t too concerned about user experience – more obsessed with the architecture and the right APIs and all of these things.

When I finally released Drupal as open source, it really attracted an audience of developers.  The initial community was a developer community and began to expand to more and more developers.  That emphasis on architecture was reinforced.   [We’re] trying to change that and it’s slowly starting to work – it’s very much historical.”

>>> Cool side notes:  Matt has been a Drupal member for 8 years and one week.  His interests on his profile include typography and simplicity (the only person to include this in their profile).  Years back,  Matt gave a credit to Drupal and reminded Dries that he had some code in WordPress very early on — time for Matt to contribute to Drupal!

Wordpress and Drupal at SchipulCon

What Do you Wish you had Done that the Other Did?

Dries:  Matt did a lot of things right, he started his company sooner, is a tremendous asset to get more people involved and his focus on design and usability is key – a very important thing to do very early on.  In a way, Drupal is paying the penalty for not doing this early on.

Matt:  When I look at the Drupal community, the thing that I like is that the software runs the community itself.  The bug tracker is Drupal, the forum, the issues – everything is Drupal.  Also the 3rd party developer community – even though WP has more websites, we have fewer of the large consulting firms.  Drupal has a lot more large development firms building these giant websites, that’s not as common with WordPress.

How Do you Benefit from the Other Existing?

Dries:  If WordPress wins, Drupal wins.  Because that means Open Source is winning.

Matt:  Competition is good.  Anytime any firm or product does something amazing, the bar has been raised.

Want more SchipulCon brain candy and memories?

Dries Buytaert and Matt Mullenweg jumping like mad

We’ve got some great SchipulCon speaker videos going live in the next couple of weeks, just be sure to keep an eye on our SchipulCon video gallery! Matt and Dries chat photo album has lots of great photos of these great guys and be sure to find yourself in all of our albums from the event.

Thanks again for being such a special part of SchipulCon!

Thank you for a wonderful SchipulCon 2011!

Last week’s SchipulCon event went above and beyond our wildest dreams, expectations and Red Bull-infused late night planning.

To all of our 200+ attendees, speakers, sponsors and friends – YOU took SchipulCon to new levels and we couldn’t be more appreciative.  The training, knowledge sharing, hallway conversations and impromptu playtimes and collaborations made last week one of the most special in recent memory.

The SchipulCon fun and learning doesn’t stop here

Videos are coming!  We’re busy editing our keynote and breakout session videos, to make sure you don’t miss a single second of great Web insight, business trends and actionable awesomeness from our SchipulCon speakers.

Peek at our growing photo albums!  Re-live the fun, training geekiness and new connections made in our SchipulCon photo albums.  We’ll be adding more throughout the week – don’t forget to upload your own photos to Facebook, Flickr and beyond so we can share in your SchipulCon viewpoint too!  Use that #SchipulCon tag so we can find your awesomeness with greater ease.

Slide decks on Slideshare popping up  –  You’ll find more and more great slides as the week progresses, but enjoy some of the brain candy now!

Thanks for being a part of one heck of an exciting conference – we can’t wait to share more great content from SchipulCon and talk to you soon!

Matt Mullenweg + Dries Buytaert on the SchipulCon stage!!

With SchipulCon starting in only one day, we have our most exciting announcement yet!!  Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) will be sharing the Friday luncheon stage with Dries Buytaert (founder of Drupal) – for the first time ever!

Their discussion, moderated by Schipulite David Stagg, will cover the two enormous open source communities’ growth, development and future direction.

Learn how both geek-preneurs have cultivated their very unique development and user communities, as well as what the future holds for open source in general.  THIS is not a discussion to be missed.

Join us for an amazing look at two of the brightest minds in technology today!   With Drupal, WordPress, Facebook, NASA and so many other great speaker organizations stepping up to share their brain candy – you’ll grow your brain as never before at SchipulCon.

Fun faces, great brains at SchipulCon panel discussions

While SchipulCon 2011 has lots of great solo presentations and keynotes (I mean, SERIOUSLY!!  we’ve got Dries from Drupal and Steven from NASA on our stage!!), there’s nothing like being inspired by a group of brilliant people to get you motivated.

Check out our SchipulCon panel presentations and get ready for a melding of the minds:

Creating Art, Creating Success, Making it Work

This lively and exciting panel discussion features several of the greatest artistic minds around!  Your panelists, led by brilliant marketer and community builder Grace Rodriguez, will dive into some of their creative  endeavors  and how they utilize their creative skills as successful leaders and business people.

Being creative isn’t just for artists; it can mean the difference between successfully solving problems at the office, finding innovative ways to grow your business and discovering ‘The Next Big Thing’ – regardless of what industry you work in or your professional background.  Don’t miss out on this wonderful presentation, featuring:

Growing an Offline Community with Online Marketing Magic

Ever wondered how successful product brands used online technology to grow their community, event buzz and product sales in the real world?  You’ll be punch drunk happy sitting in on this panel presentation, led by Schipulite Derek Key, with Saint Arnold’s Brewing Company and Tito’s Vodka folks.

Learn how to rally your tribe, no matter what you’re selling, through smart communication, cool promotions and meaningful brand advocacy opportunities.  Also enjoy listening to some of the greatest marketing brains around:

Other great group presentations that you simply cannot miss!

SchipulCon fun + surprises – October 6th + 7th are coming fast!

SchipulCon 2011 Quadracopter Promo of Awesome! from Schipul – The Web Marketing Co. on Vimeo.

We’ve been talking about some of our amazing speakers, awesome keynotes and other business-savvy takeaways at SchipulCon 2011, but let’s not forget the FUN we’ll have too!

The SchipulCon crew believes that learning goes best with fun activities, extra cool brain candy and neat people to share it with.  Check out some of the neat stuff we have in store for you:

  • Be inspired by world changers Karen Walrond  and Camp For All’s Kurt Podeszwa
  • Hands on video training / lighting experience with a fun workshop
  • Video basics session with Brian Potter and Brad Parler
  • How-to photography session with rock star Giovanni Gallucci
  • Get an intro for non-geeks on Arduino programming
  • Meet some robot wielding super heroes!
  • Learn how to fly RC helicopters
  • Get those hips moving with hoop dancing lessons
  • Participate in our Robot Drawing Contest for cool prizes (yes, you read that right)
Our SchipulCon tickets are still on sale – including Day Passes if you cannot make the entire conference.  We’re holding our fun SchipulCon Conference Party at The Yard House on Thursday evening from 5:30 – 7:30pm.  You’ll need a SchipulCon ticket to join us, but believe us – it’ll be a blast no matter when we get to connect!

Better than a spaceship – NASA is coming to SchipulCon

SchipulCon and NASA

With our focus on exciting technology and cross-industry connections (okay… and laser beams and space ships – we dig those too), we are honored and excited to announce our Day 2 keynote speaker Steven Gonzalez of NASA (and currently an ‘Executive on Loan at the Houston Technology Center‘).

He will be taking us to the stars and back as he discussed the motivations of some of the world’s most innovative technologists in the aerospace world and fills us in on the future of the space industry and the awesome tech that comes with it!  How excited are we!?!?

You can check out more of our tremendous speakers and lovely schedule – lots of great minds discussing design, business and tech to help you advance your business and personal development in all the best ways.  Join us on October 6th and 7th – use this discount code for $25 off your registration:  tothestars

Photo thanks to Flickr user blueforce4116