Questions? 413-686-9199

Idea Hub

Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Organized Takeaways

Defining what takeaways you want from a conference or similar event ahead of time can be a great help. By doing so, you can set goals focus in on the topics most relevant to you and get more out of your investment.

    Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Podcasts

    Listening to podcasts during your commute, while walking, or anytime you find the time can have many benefits. Find topics that interest you and learn something new.

      3 Reasons Why Members Quit (And What to Do About It)

      A robust, engaged membership means a thriving association. But if members are jumping ship, your association might be in trouble. For any association, retaining members is just as important as recruiting new ones. Here are three of the top reasons why members leave and how you can encourage them to stay.

        Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Quality Control

        Having a quality control plan in place is important for any business looking to deliver products that exceed the expectations of their customers.

          Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Website

          A good website should enhance the user experience and be a positive reflection of the company’s brand. A few small but valuable tweaks can make quite the difference. 

            Craft a Vision that Inspires Members

            Leaders in the association world have to inspire members, staff, and stakeholders to act. Whether that’s promoting a profession or supporting a cause, this work helps the organization move forward. One of the most effective ways to energize, inspire, and activate members is to share a vision statement for your association. A vision statement is … Read More

              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Code of the Old West

              When making decisions, a leader should consider all of the possible consequences – especially the potential, unintended ones.

                Does Your Association Need a New Management Model?

                If your association is struggling, you might be thinking about changing the program offering or dues structure. But what if the issue goes deeper, to the very way you run and operate the organization? There are four main models of association management, from volunteer-run all the way to full-service management from an association management companyIf … Read More

                  Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Conflict of Interest

                  An effective way to eliminate any conflicts of interest is to have transparency. One way to do this is by having board members, or other decision makers, sign disclosures that highlight any potential conflicts. 

                    Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Work ON Your Business

                    Do you know the difference between working IN your business and working ON your business?

                      Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Leaving a Voicemail

                      When leaving a voicemail, try including your number at the beginning and end of your message.

                        Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Create a Personal Brand

                        What’s unique about you? Start with the traits that make you stand and build your personal brand from there.

                          Offer an Unforgettable Conference Experience—6 Practical Tips

                          With today’s tech, associations can easily host meetings online. Yet face-to-face conferences continue to be popular. Why? It’s about the experience. A conference can transport attendees to new locations and offer extraordinary activities and opportunities. If you want to host a successful conference, focus on the attendee’s experience. Here are six practical ways to makeWith … Read More

                            Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: The Value of a Small Notepad

                            Business cards are great but you should also invest in a branded notepad. The extra space to write, in combination with your company’s contact info, can be valuable in the right situations.

                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Lose a Client? Try this.

                              Lose a client? Sometimes what you need to get them back is a bag of nuts .

                                5 Simple Steps to Improve Your Board’s Decision Making

                                Association boards of directors face many tough decisions. After all, the direction of the organization rests in their hands. To make things more complicated, board members have to collaborate to make decisions. That can be a challenge in itself! If you serve on a board that struggles with decision-making, try this five-step process. A structured … Read More

                                  Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: It’s Good to Have Humor

                                  If you can’t be smart, be funny! A good joke can help lighten the mood and raise everyone’s spirits. Here’s one: What’s brown and sticky? A stick.

                                    How to Boost Conference Attendance—Three Easy Ways

                                    If you run an association, you understand the importance of conferences. Not only do they connect your members, they’re often an important source of revenue. So, if conference attendance is lagging, your association might be in trouble. Let’s fix that. Here are three simple ways to boost attendance at your next conference.

                                      Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Give Clients Permission to Say “No”

                                      Recruiting new members for an association is important but not always easy. Being painfully polite and pleasantly persistent can help make the process smoother.

                                        Celebrating 30 Years of Growth, Being a Great Place to Work

                                        2018 marks TMG’s 30th anniversary, and we are so proud of our accomplishments and growth over the years! Our region’s business journal, BusinessWest, recently wrote an excellent story about our milestone.  Check it out below!

                                          Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Boost Employee Morale this Summer

                                          Summer Fridays can be a win-win for both employees and employers. Try it out this summer.

                                            Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Antitrust Obligations

                                            For an association to be successful, it’s important to follow anti-trust guidelines. If a topic is inappropriate to discuss at a board meeting, then it’s equally inappropriate to discuss at the bar.

                                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Plant a Tree

                                              To celebrate Earth Week, one of our clients encourages 5th and 6th graders to plant trees while teaching them about the tremendous benefits they give us. Everyone should plant to tree and make our planet better.

                                                Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Always Say “Good Morning”

                                                Small things can have a meaningful impact on people and company culture. One of the easiest and worthwhile habits is saying “Good Morning” every morning.

                                                  Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: The “Feel, Felt, Found” Sales Technique

                                                  When selling to a client or prospective member, there may be objections over the cost of their investment. By using the “Feel, Felt, Found” technique, you can empathize, explain the ROI, and reach a mutual understanding.

                                                    Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Assessing Core Values

                                                    Employee productivity is just one half of their contribution to company culture. The other half is how well they buy into your core values.

                                                      Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Getting Guests to Mix and Mingle

                                                      Simple games and activities can be used to help guests start talking and break the ice.

                                                        Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: A Smile CAN be Heard

                                                        Speaking with a smile can raise the spirits of your customers, your team, and yourself. A smile can even be heard through the phone!

                                                          Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Setting Up for a Successful Photo Shoot

                                                          The right lights and camera angles makes the difference.

                                                            Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Great Tip for Air Travel

                                                            It’s so convenient to charge your devices during an airplane trip, but sometimes the plugs wiggle around and you don’t get a good charge. Fortunately, Ben has come up with a clever solution!

                                                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Stop Doing

                                                              Ben Markens explains the benefits of using a “Stop Doing” list.

                                                                Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Planning

                                                                “Pile up enough tomorrows and you’ll look back to find all you have is a bunch of empty yesterdays.” Ben Markens speaks to the importance of strategic planning with our teams.

                                                                  Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Valentine’s Day Tip

                                                                  It’s Valentine’s Day! Make sure to put a personal touch on showing your loved ones that you care.

                                                                    Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Rehiring a Former Employee

                                                                    Ben Markens shares his opinions on rehiring former employees.

                                                                      Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Customer Satisfaction

                                                                      Everything we do for our clients helps them to do something in return.  Sometimes conflict can arise. Ben Markens shares how to work with customers who are not satisfied.

                                                                        Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Planning Ahead

                                                                        Business planning is like driving. You have to sit back and look down the road to avoid hazards. Ben Markens shares his thoughts on planning ahead.

                                                                          What you Need to Know Before Hiring an AMC and How to Prepare your Organization

                                                                          It can be tough to think about opening your doors to an association management company (AMC) for your organization. But when played right, association management companies are a valuable asset to provide solutions and increase revenue. This is particularly helpful if your company is experiencing growth and could use an extra lift to its internalIt can be … Read More

                                                                            Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Engaging Employees

                                                                            “Our organizations are nothing without the folks who work there.” Ben Markens shares how we use Gallup Q12 to make sure that employees are satisfied in their workplace.

                                                                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: First Time Attendees

                                                                              Attending a conference for the first time can be daunting for even the most social person. Ben Markens shares 3 things that his group does to make the experience more comfortable for first time attendees.

                                                                                Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Accreditation

                                                                                In 2014 our firm became accredited to the Association Management Company Institute. “It was definitely worth our time.” – Ben Markens

                                                                                  Social Media: Engage!

                                                                                  Does Your Association Need Social Media?  We’ll cut to the chase: the answer is yes! Some of our clients are initially resistant to starting a social media program for their association. Some think their demographic isn’t on social media. Others say that they’ve been fine without social media, so why change? But the truth is,Does … Read More

                                                                                    Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Holidays

                                                                                    Many people take time off at the end of the year. Ben Markens has some food for thought as you reflect on the holidays and the state of your associations and business.

                                                                                      Find Your Banana Moment

                                                                                      By Laura Spencer Has a unique perspective or enlightening idea ever inspired you to change the way you do things? That kind of insight is as important in business as it is in broader life. Some people refer to those perspective-shifting experiences as “aha moments,” but for me they’re “banana moments.” I know, I know—itBy Laura … Read More

                                                                                        Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: The Rocket Book

                                                                                        Ben Markens loves technology, and he found a notebook that allows him to connect his hand written notes to his synced file storage. And it’s reusable.

                                                                                          Meet Susan Martins, Controller & Office Manager

                                                                                          Susan Martins joined The Markens Group in October of 2008. Her role as Controller and Office Manager, she manages the accounting, event planning, training, and office for TMG. 1. How long have you been working in your field? 32 years 2. What are you most passionate about professionally? Personally? Professionally: getting the job done rightSusan … Read More

                                                                                            It’s the Most Generous Time of the Year

                                                                                            Many holiday stories center around charity. They call for those with greater means to take in the poor from the cold, feed the hungry, and share prosperity during the long winter months. Just think of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, where Ebenezer Scrooge ultimately changes his miserly ways and opens his heart and pocketbook toMany … Read More

                                                                                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Ways to Engage

                                                                                              “I’m always interested in new ways or continuing ways to engage the folks who work at The Markens Group.” Ben Markens talks about engagement opportunities he practices with The Markens Group team.

                                                                                                Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Bad News First

                                                                                                “Tell me the bad news first, because the good news will never hurt me.” Ben Markens advises to address problems immediately and non-defensively. Happy customers are willing to wait.

                                                                                                  Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Facilitation

                                                                                                  Brainstorming is about quantity and creativity. Ben Markens shares some tips on being an effective facilitator.

                                                                                                    The Markens Group Certified by Great Place to Work®.

                                                                                                    The Markens Group has been certified as a great workplace by the independent analysts at Great Place to Work®. We earned this credential based on ratings from anonymous employee surveys. “It’s my personal philosophy, backed by research from Heskett and others, that employee satisfaction directly correlates to business success,” said Ben Markens, our president andThe … Read More

                                                                                                      Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Getting More Out of Q & A

                                                                                                      At your meetings, do you have problems getting people to participate during the Q&A portion? Here’s a tip that we often use.

                                                                                                        Don’t Rough Up the Mic: Tips for Awesome Presentations

                                                                                                        By Laura Spencer, Member Services Coordinator Speaking at association conferences can be daunting—especially for those of us who don’t do it every day. Beyond preparing the material, there are a number of audio, visual, and logistical considerations that can truly make or break a presentation.

                                                                                                          Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Gobble Gobble

                                                                                                          As Thanksgiving approaches we think about how thankful we are for our customers and members. Ben Markens talks about the personal touch we put on sending our appreciation to them.

                                                                                                            Meet Kate Smith, Member Services Coordinator

                                                                                                            Kate Smith joined The Markens Group in May of 2017. Her Roll as Member Services Coordinator is to support all client activities, database management & collaborate with staff on different projects. 1. How long have you been working in your field? I’ve been in association management for 3 years, with a background in operations management.Kate … Read More

                                                                                                              Ben’s Video Tip of the Week: Competitor’s Website

                                                                                                              “The first place people go to learn about our organization is our website.” Ben Markens shares tips on making sure your website makes the best first impression.

                                                                                                                What’s That Smell?

                                                                                                                The opportunity to network with peers is one of the biggest values of association conferences, yet it can be incredibly difficult to start the conversation if you don’t know anyone. Even the most extroverted folks still struggle to break in. Fortunately, there are many ways to start and sustain meaningful conversations. Of course, there areThe … Read More

                                                                                                                  Getting the Most From Association Conferences: an Attendee’s Perspective

                                                                                                                  By Stephen Brand, Executive Director of Global Learning and Development at Bay Path University During the past Spring, I attended six conferences back-to-back. What an experience! Those months were both exhilarating and exhausting—but extremely valuable. That’s because I went to each event with a plan. You’ve really got to think ahead, especially considering that theBy … Read More

                                                                                                                    Personal Relationships Drive Membership Growth

                                                                                                                    By Jim Sotiropoulos, TMG Association Executive An association’s success, or lack thereof, can be largely measured by how effectively it grows and retains its membership. Those associations that fail either to attract new members or to provide value to existing members will ultimately cease to exist. Therefore, most association managers are in a perpetual struggleBy Jim … Read More

                                                                                                                      Happy Employees Move your Mission

                                                                                                                      By Ben Markens, TMG president Whether you’re a trade association, a mission-based nonprofit, or a for-profit, we are all in the business of providing service to others. Outside the walls of the organization, virtual or otherwise, the customer has been and always will be king. But turning our focus inside, there’s another stakeholder group weBy Ben … Read More

                                                                                                                        Harnessing Data: Benchmarking in your Association

                                                                                                                        By Brian Chaisson, TMG Director of Industry Benchmarking Members typically join associations to network, learn industry best practices, or identify trends coming down the pipeline. However, a lesser-known but equally valuable reason is benchmarking – the study of comparative data in the industry. Industry benchmarking programs collect and compile member data to produce aggregated results, therebyBy Brian … Read More

                                                                                                                          Know Your Members, Retain Your Members

                                                                                                                          Members are key to the success of any association. Without their support, associations simply can’t accomplish their goals. Though attracting new members is certainly important, engaging and retaining existing members is just as crucial, if not more so. In my years leading TMG’s member services team, I’ve found that a personal touch truly goes aMembers … Read More

                                                                                                                            Networking – A Real Value of Membership

                                                                                                                              At a recent association meeting, I met a first-time attendee whose goal was to bring one really good idea back to his company. Towards the end of the conference, after he had connected with other members, he told me he had five great ideas to bring back! This is the true value of networking, … Read More

                                                                                                                              Thank Your Volunteers this Holiday Season

                                                                                                                              As you make your gift list this holiday season, don’t forget to spread some cheer to your association’s Board members and volunteers. Even the simplest token of gratitude will make them feel appreciated—and encourage them to continue their service into the new year.

                                                                                                                                Keep Tech Hiccups from Turning Into Showstopping Snafus With 3 Easy Tips

                                                                                                                                At one point or another, we’ve all lived through an unexpected technical snag that threatened to derail a conference: the sound system blows out, a screen suddenly goes blank, or a speaker’s mic mysteriously goes silent. Frustrating as it may be, the lesson here is that technology is fallible. Although there may be little youAt one … Read More

                                                                                                                                  Effective Association Board Development: The 4th “W”

                                                                                                                                  If you’re in association management, you’ve likely heard of the “Three Ws” of an effective Board. According to this popular view, your Board should include a balanced mix of wisdom (knowledge and expertise in the industry or field), wealth (access to capital resources), and work ethic (dedication and consistent ability to complete tasks). While theseIf … Read More

                                                                                                                                    Association Insights from Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak

                                                                                                                                    Although we are all fans of Apple products here at The Markens Group, none of us is more passionate about the brand than President Ben Markens himself. So given the opportunity to sponsor Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak to speak on May 1, we jumped on it. Although “Woz” didn’t disappoint with his candid and sometimesAlthough … Read More

                                                                                                                                      Harness Sponsor Expertise To Generate Member ROI

                                                                                                                                      With the growing importance of non-dues revenue to an organization’s bottom line, association managers must work harder than ever before to maximize sponsorship dollars. Yet keeping sponsors satisfied can be a tall task when generating member value is a top priority. The solution? Harness your sponsors’ expertise by inviting them to provide valuable, noncommercial programmingWith the … Read More

                                                                                                                                        Drive Results by Recognizing your Employees

                                                                                                                                        Although your employees likely come from a wide range of professional and personal backgrounds, perform varying duties, and have differing levels of authority, they all want to be recognized for the contributions they make to your organization. As a manager or executive, you should make an effort to recognize employees for their good work, notAlthough … Read More

                                                                                                                                          Don’t Lose Market Share to Your Competitors

                                                                                                                                          When and at what frequency do your customers seek out your products or services, and when do they seek out the same products or services from your competitors? While it’s okay to have less than 100% of a customer’s business, you can better your organization, and increase your customer share by identifying the reasons whyWhen and … Read More

                                                                                                                                            How to Make an Uncomfortable Call

                                                                                                                                            Here’s a tip that’s sure to take you out of your comfort zone: call up a former customer—one who moved on despite your quality work—and ask them what you did wrong.