All posts by Joanna Pineda

Joanna Pineda

About Joanna Pineda

Joanna’s business card reads CEO/Chief Troublemaker for a reason. She relishes a challenge and introduces change wherever she goes. She knows anything is possible and that clients come to Matrix to hear "Yes", not "No." Matrix is purple because of Joanna. Staff like to call her JP.

Trade Associations: Track the Rate at Which New Individuals Get Added to Member Companies

It’s customary for membership organizations to track the rate at which their membership is growing or declining. Professional societies can chart the health of their organizations by membership growth and churn (the rate at which members leave).

But what about trade associations? I think simply tracking the rate of membership growth and churn is a mistake. Even though companies are members of trade associations and it’s obviously important to track membership growth, it‘s individuals who attend meetings, buy publications, serve on committees, etc.

One metric I encourage our trade association clients to track quarterly and yearly is the rate at which new individuals are added to member (and non-member) companies. By the same token, it’s valuable to track individual churn at member companies, or the rate at which people leave member companies.

For example, one client recently reported a dramatic decline in their annual conference registrations–a decline not at all predicted by previous years’ registrations. After looking at their data, we observed that individual profiles added in MatrixMaxx and connected to member companies were down by approximately 2/3 in the current year, when compared with previous years.

Could that have been the reason behind the decline? We can’t really ever tell but if your membership churn stays constant, adding fewer individuals (even when your total company member count stays constant) means a smaller pool of people to market to.

How to Run the Report

How to run this report? In MatrixMaxx (and most other AMS systems),  you can run a search for profiles added in a specific date range, by specific member types(s). I bet you will find the data illuminating. Be sure to comment with your findings.

5 Things to Ask Your AMS Vendor

When choosing an AMS vendor or considering upgrading, there are always a lot of questions on  your mind, especially with the swiftly changing technology of the internet.

number 5 buttonHere are a few tips to help you talk to your vendor:

How do you support WWW functionality?

The ability to integrate your AMS with your website is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. What kinds of online functionality do they support and how? What kinds of challenges could you expect when integrating AMS with your site?

What is your mobile strategy?

Mobile is everywhere and a part of every person’s life. Recent studies show that 58% of American mobile phone users use a smartphone*. Mobile web usage has doubled since 2009**. More and more, your users will need to access your site and AMS functions via their mobile device. Does your vendor have a viable strategy?

How do you support third party integrations?

Integration is the name of the game. No one vendor supplies all the functionality needed from an organizations website. The crucial key is how does your AMS vendor handle integrating with other vendor products such as your website, your product fulfillment center, etc. Can they provide the data needed for single sign-on, for example? How do they handle stumbling blocks?

How do you handle upgrades? What happens to customizations?

Does your AMS vendor have regular upgrades to the product? If so, is there a schedule and how is that communicated? What happens to custom reports or other customizations when the product is upgraded? How do you report problems or questions?

How are you being (or going to be) my partner rather than just my vendor?

Partners become part of an organization’s business process and work hand-in-hand with you to improve and support your association. How does/will your vendor manage this? Are they hands off once they deliver or do they continue to be part of the ongoing relationship?

There are many more questions you could ask your vendor or prospective vendor, but these should get you started!


* Pew Internet Mobile Technology Fact Sheet, Pew Research Center
** Study: U.S. mobile Web use has doubled since 2009, CNN

Do Membership Associations Still Matter?

meeting A few years ago, the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) published a book titled Decision to Join, which explored the reasons why people join — and don’t join — membership organizations. The book remains relevant today as so many associations struggle with stagnant or declining membership. Researchers talk about millennials not being “joiners.” There’s talk about how social networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Ning, and niche networks) are supplanting associations and eroding their value.
Do membership associations still matter? I asked some of my clients if and how they think associations still matter. Here’s what we came up with.

Becoming a Member is Not the Same As ‘Liking’

Much has been said about the various online communities around the web. I am a member of an American Express community for small business owners. I “like” many non-profits on Facebook. But somehow, these interactions don’t have the same impact and heft as joining, actually becoming a member, writing a check, affiliating myself officially with an organization, maybe even getting a specific certification. Joining an organization, renewing a membership — these actions take thought, take intention, and imply commitment. So when someone says they are a member of the Human Rights Campaign, National Rifle Association, or the National Electrical Contractors Association, that’s going to carry a lot more weight than merely ‘liking’ these groups on Facebook

Strength in Numbers

Let’s face it. One person, acting alone, usually has limited impact in any situation (unless you’re the President, Bono, Bill Gates). But power and strength come from numbers. When the American Medical Association, which represents over 200,000 doctors, issues a statement, the healthcare community listens, legislators listen, the media listens, the public listens. Associations bring together people and companies with similar interests on specific issues and give them access to resources, training, and advocacy.


Amy Robinson, Senior Vice President & Chief Marketing Officer at the Direct Selling Association (DSA), says “(i)n an age where information comes from multiple sources and it’s sometimes difficult to determine who is actually credible, trade associations are a critical part of the information chain.” Mary Kay, acting alone and trumpeting the benefits of direct selling on the US economy doesn’t have the same credibility as DSA or the Direct Selling Education Foundation commissioning a study on the impact of direct selling on the economy and sharing this information with the media and policymakers.

Someone Like Me

Mike Boa, Director of Communications and Marketing at the Casualty Actuarial Society (CAS) says, “Our members take their careers seriously. So do we. From the actuarial profession’s most respected and valued credential to resources that support their careers in a growing industry, CAS provides everything our members need to thrive.” So at the CAS, casualty actuaries have a professional home where they can learn and succeed. Lots of sites and communities on the web can probably claim to be focused on actuaries, but again, few have the credibility and focused resources just for casualty actuaries.

There’s no question that associations are operating in a challenging environment. With budgets shrinking, lots of competitor organizations and websites popping up, and millennials’ famous reluctance to join, associations must do a better of communicating their relevance. This blog will be focused on the challenges that associations face, what organizations are doing to succeed, and how technology can give associations the critical edge they need to attract and retain members.

One Taxonomy To Rule Them All: Connecting Content and People to Content

stack-of-books-in-a-computer A shared taxonomy (across your sites, your AMS, your meetings, etc.) is the key to better content and a better user experience. In this series of blog posts, we’ll define taxonomy, tell you why it’s important and show you how to develop and implement one.

The final steps in taxonomy is to implement on your site(s). You can group content, as well as personalize content based on user profiles for a more enriching and complete experience.

Connecting Content to Content

  • Consider taxonomy as navigation
    • Taxonomy topics can easily guide your navigation structure. Many sites now use Industry Topics as a main navigation and within that section, the pages are divided out by specific industry topics. For example: FMI Industry Topics, NECA Contractor Resources
  • Build dynamic landing pages
    • Dynamic landing pages, or mashup pages are great for combining different types of content under one umbrella.  For example, NECA’s Business and Market Development landing page displays content from Articles, Publications, Events and more, all under that topic.
  • On page views, show related content
  • When someone is looking at a specific page, use the right rail to show related content. The Association of Small Foundations does this in their topic pages, for example: Boards and Governance. The right rail shows related resources.
  • On e-commerce pages, recommend products/services
    • Like with or other e-commerce sites, make sure your store products are categorized, and then it’s easy to display related products and/or services. This is the “If you like…then you try…” idea. Let your users know there’s other information that may be of interest.


Connecting People to Content

  • Create recommendations based on taxonomy
    • Use the user profile as a way to find out what your member/user’s interests are. Are they an estimator or perhaps a safety officer? Does your AMS have an interests list in the profile? If so, use it and encourage members to fill it out. Use this data to display recommended reads, products or services once a member is logged in.
  • Personalize elements based on taxonomy
    • You can also personalize the user’s entire experience. If they are primarily interested in certain labor relations topics and not at all in others, serve up primary and related topics for them.




One Taxonomy To Rule Them All: How to Integrate your CMS & AMS

A shared taxonomy (across your sites, your AMS, your meetings, etc.) is the key to better content and user experience. In this series of blog posts, we’ll define taxonomy, tell you why it’s important and show you how to develop and implement one.

interlocking colored circlesHow to integrate your CMS and AMS

You’ve developed a great taxonomy and now need to integrate it across your content and your AMS. How do you do that?

Prepping Your Content: Content prep is key. Work with your in-house staff and/or your web vendor to help you figure out the easiest way to categorize all your content.

  • Within your CMS
    • Implement categories – does your CMS already have a system in place? If so, use it. If content already has categories, map the old categories to the new set and work with your CMS/web vendor to migrate the information. Often, this can be done with a data script. If you don’t have a categorization scheme already, start now. Pick the top 20% of your existing content and categorize it.
      • Top 20% may be new or old content or a mix. Sometimes, older content can be extremely valuable to a particular topic.
    • Train staff on how to categorize
      • With every new piece of content that gets entered, each content item needs to be categorized to match the new taxonomy scheme. Hold training sessions for all staffers who enter content and emphasize its importance.
  • Within your AMS
    • Implement categories into all content modules – as with the CMS, whatever content modules exist with your AMS should be categorized using the new taxonomy scheme. Work with your AMS vendor to establish these categories.
  • Train staff on how to categorize
    • As with the CMS, the membership & meetings staff (and anyone else who uses the AMS regularly) will need training on the new taxonomy. Hold training sessions and demonstrate how the AMS categorization works with the CMS categorization to provide an enriched user experience on your site.

Connecting People to Content