Monthly Archives: November 2016

Update on Dare to Dream Polio Documentary Project

att00001

It’s been some time since I updated you on the progress of the Dare to Dream polio documentary.  It is a story that takes place from 1978 to 1988, and sets the stage for what we think of as Rotary’s Polio Plus campaign.  We are now well into our shooting schedule and have had the opportunity, and the privilege, of interviewing Past RI Presidents, Clem Renouf and Cliff Dochterman, who were instrumental in forming the first 3H Committee that laid the foundation for Rotary’s polio eradication efforts, and Dr. John Sever, who was deeply involved in helping Rotary choose polio eradication as a priority project and remains a leader in our polio eradication efforts today.

I call these men our living “Founding Fathers” of Rotary International’s polio story.  That they can still tell the story first-hand is a gift for all of us since many of our great leaders from that period of Rotary history have now passed away.  And believe me, they are GREAT story-tellers!  We interviewed each of them for about two hours and they gave us a first hand glimpse into the first steps of what is one of the most important, and historic, public health partnerships ever created.

Here is just a quick teaser of 95 year-old Past RI President, Clem Renouf,  interviewed at his home in Australia.  You can see the gleam in his eyes as he talks about overcoming challenges.

Here’s a short clip of Dr. John Sever,  talking about how we need to continually remind ourselves that polio is a terrible disease.

And finally, here’s a clip of one of Rotary’s great all-time story-tellers, 90 year-old Past RI President, and original 3H member, Cliff Dochterman.  We filmed Cliff at his home in California.  My DG class had the opportunity to see Cliff give his famous “DG is like conducting an orchestra” speech at the International Assembly in San Diego.  His interview for Dare to Dream was awesome.

Now that we have our “stars” on film, our next step is to “fill in” the details of the story.  It turns out the story isn’t just about Rotary.  It’s also about public health policy and the history of how an NGO could partner with governments and public health organizations to change how health care is delivered around the world.  What’s great for us is that Rotary’s actual history with polio eradication is full of drama, suspense, and yes….humor (if you think being tossed out of your own seminar about social mobilization and oral polio vaccine in Geneva is hilarious.)  As we continue the research for the documentary, we continue to grow more enthusiastic that we have a great yarn to spin.

If all goes as planned, the production will feature Rotary’s two foremost historians on the subject of polio eradication, Sarah Gibbard Cook, author of Rotary and the Gift of a Polio Free World, and David Forward, author of Doing Good in the World, the Inspiring Story of the Rotary Foundation’s First One Hundred Years.  We also will be interviewing Dr. Stephen Cocci, Senior Advisor, Global Immunization Division of the CDC, and Dr. Bruce Aylward, former Director of the WHO. Finally, we have some formidable past and current Rotary leaders scheduled to be interviewed, including Past RI Director and Polio Plus Chair, Bob Scott, and current Chair of Rotary’s Polio Plus Committee, Mike McGovern.

What’s left?  Well….we are still trying to raise the money we need to honor the financial commitments we’ve made to the folks who are actually producing Dare to Dream.  PLEASE go to www.DaretoDreamfilm.com and click in the upper right corner to make a donation. Oddly, we have several large donors to the project, but comparably few Rotarians who made a small, tax deductible donation.  I know a lot of Rotarians who’ve told me they want to support this documentary.  Why not go to the website and make a small contribution today?

And while your at it, why not go to www.Rotary.org and make a small contribution to Polio Plus?

We are going to distribute this film to Rotarians worldwide.  I hope you will consider a small donation so we can tell this amazing Rotary story.

How to Properly Follow-Up Your Membership Events

follow-up

I often find myself pondering the many ways in which Rotarians seem to ignore the most basic and fundamental rules followed by virtually all successful businesses.  I can’t tell you why this occurs on such a routine basis, I only know that it does.  Today’s rant is about one of most persistent failures of sales and marketing common sense that I see over and over again in my Rotary travels.  It has to do with following up a membership event.

Rotarians are pretty good at planning events, and membership events are no exception.  I’m often asked to speak at these events, which take the form of “new member meetings,” “open happy hours,” or a “new member social.”  You know what I mean.  Members bring guests to a “safe” environment where they will be introduced to Rotary on very positive terms.  They will hear from Rotary speakers about our unique value proposition, they will enjoy some fellowship and good cheer, and they will learn about a club’s commitment to community service.  We do a pretty good job at these events, at least in my opinion.  There are a lot of positive vibes by the end of the evening. Whey then, do Rotarians often feel so betrayed when so few attendees actually join their club after the event?

Don’t believe me?  Here is a quick video of Shelley Yore, a recent attendee at a Rotary Club of Columbia Patuxent membership event.  Could anyone sound more positive about Rotary than Shelley?  Do you think she will actually join the club?  

The answer almost always lies in the details of what happens, or more accurately, doesn’t happen, after the event.  Because when asked about the  follow-up to a membership event, too often the answer is very casual.  Let’s just say, we could do a lot better.  Lets walk through the basics of what to do, and what not to do, after your next membership event so that you can improve the number of attendees that eventually join your club.  Remember, the goal isn’t to have a wonderful event.  The goal is to increase membership!

1.  Get the contact information for every attendee.  It is not hard to get this information from people who are typically eating and drinking on your nickel.  A simple spreadsheet of names and email addresses is the very basic minimum.  Just put a sign-up sheet by the door when they enter the event venue AND have someone there to make sure they sign in. (NOTE:  Have the person asking guests to sign in give out the free drink tickets.)  If you don’t have the contact information of your guests by the end of your membership event, then you’ve simply wasted your time.  I repeat.  If you don’t have the contact information for every guest who attends then you will only close the lowest hanging fruit of prospects who attend.

2.  Enter the guest information into a simple database.  Nowadays virtually everyone has access to simple and inexpensive contact management software.  If you are serious about SYSTEMATICALLY adding members to your club, at a minimum add the prospect’s classification information and the potential sponsoring member’s information to the data base.  Lacking a database, at least add a few columns to your spreadsheet and add the information there.

3.  Figure out what you are offering your prospective new member(s) as a follow up to your event.  Are you asking them to join you at the next club social – which is preplanned and has a date already reserved?  Do you want them to visit your website?  OK.  Do you want them to visit the club this week?  Next week?  When?  How about joining you at your next service event?  Again – the event should already be planned with a date already set.  This offer constitutes your first “close” with the prospect.  Make it clear to everyone in the club that this (whatever “it” is) is the action step you are going to to use to quantify the success of your event.  NOTE:  Closing for membership is OK at your membership event, but some would worry you were being a little pushy.  Just keep this in mind, at SOME POINT you are going to close your prospect to join the club.  I wouldn’t recommend more than two action steps before closing.  If you don’t ask, then don’t expect them to join.

32144398-ask-for-the-sale-words-on-two-red-dice-to-illustrate-taking-a-chance-to-press-a-customer-to-close-a-stock-photo

4.  Follow up with your guests IMMEDIATELY after your event with a thank you message.  IMMEDIATELY after the event.  Not two weeks, four weeks, two months, or six months.  IMMEDIATELY.  A simple email thanking them for coming to your event and expressing how much you enjoyed meeting them and introducing them to your club is fine.  Pitch your next step, whatever it is.  Consider hand writing the note on Rotary stationary.  Aren’t you impressed when someone takes the time to do that in a note to you?

5.  Keep track of every prospect.  Make certain that the Rotarians who invited guests are held personally accountable for the follow up and get the results into your spreadsheet or database.  If you have ten guests come to a membership event, and only one or two take the next step in your closing process, then your membership committee (you have one…right?)  must IMMEDIATELY discuss what it is about your Rotary product that isn’t selling.  When guests seem to have a great time at an introductory event, but then fail to close as a solid prospective new member, something might be wrong.  I would guess a solid closing ratio is something like 50% of guests moving to the next step of your process.

6.  Make sure you keep track of those guests at an event that CAN’T come to your follow up event.  People have all kinds of valid excuses for not being able to pursue Rotary at this time.  Put them on a separate mailing list and continue to send them the club’s newsletter, interesting RI blogs, or interesting community news.  You can steal fantastic articles of interest from the Rotarian magazine.  Make sure this group is invited to EVERY membership event you hold thereafter, until they tell you to take them off of your mailing list.  Every once in awhile have their prospective sponsor give them a call just to check in.  If nothing else, invite them to your fundraiser, to buy raffle tickets, or whatever else you are pitching to raise money for your projects.

7.  Figure out the path from initial membership event, to next step closing event (whatever it is) to asking the prospective member to join the club.  Who will do the ask?  When will they do it?  Should it be just one person or should the membership chair join the sponsoring member?  Should the ask be done over breakfast or lunch?  After the meeting?

Believe me.  There isn’t one successful sales professional on this planet who doesn’t regard every single qualified prospect as a very valuable asset.  Sales pros live and breathe to close these prospects.  Nothing is more important to them.  Getting prospects to show up at an event is a MARKETING issue.  But closing prospects after an event is a SALES issue.

When you can say –  before you hold your membership event –  who is going to attend, how you are going to track who they are, what you are going to ask them to do, when you are going to ask them to do it, how you are going to ask them, what percentage you expect to say yes, and who is responsible for the asking, THEN you are ready to pull the trigger on your membership event.  Follow these rules and your close ratio is going to skyrocket!

a-goal-without-a-plan

OH..and if you follow all of the rules and prospective members are taking a close look at your Rotary club but still aren’t joining, then it’s time for you to take a hard look at your Rotary club.  Maybe you have a little work to do to make your club’s value proposition more interesting to prospective new members.

10 Steps to a New Rotary Club with 100 Members in Just Four Months

23297694-motivated-successful-business-team-of-diverse-young-professionals-giving-a-thumbs-up-to-show-their-a-stock-photo

Rotary’s leadership has clearly asked us (begged us?) to be creative in structuring the Rotary experience so it will be relevant to a new generation of Rotarians.  Since creativity isn’t necessarily one of our organization’s strongest points, I thought I would pass along a few ideas about this subject.  NOTE:  I want to give a special shout-out to Rotarian Clarissa Harris and the District 7620 Young Professional team.  Many of the ideas below are theirs, although I am admittedly going to take things to another level.  It’s OK.  They think I’m a lunatic anyway.  Since they have already completed steps One through Seven below, I KNOW you can do it too.

Step One:  Agree that this new, vibrant club is to populated by members of all ages, sexes, religions, etc., etc.  However, we are going to build the club from the bottom up to be attractive to young professionals.   Agree that your target market of young professionals is age 25 – 40, time constrained, obsessed with their careers, don’t have a lot of discretionary money, possibly new parents, possibly new home owners, highly educated, interested in community service, globally oriented.

Step Two:  Go to the local four-year university and meet with the alumni director.  Offer to do a joint project where they offer their alumni a chance to be involved with a great networking event that features the university as co-host, held on campus, with a service project to improve the neighboring community, in exchange for Rotary picking up any cost for the event (other than space), co-promoting, organizing, and managing the event. HINT: Canvas local Rotary clubs near the college or university to find Rotarians with contacts at the school.  This is pretty easy.  Even if you don’t have an “in,” alumni staff are typically young(ish) and looking for these kind of events.  Another HINT:  The key is the mailing list.  If you can’t do this with an alumni association, find another group with an interesting list to partner with.

Step Three:  Find three or four sponsors that want to promote their business as being community-oriented, focused on young people and community service, where the sponsor gets to be a speaker about service-issues on an education panel about careers and service.  Figure each sponsor is asked for $1,000 to $2,500 so you have a budget of $5,000 to $10,000 for the event.  Once the local college or university is on board, finding sponsors will be relatively easy.   “In-kind” donations will also be available if you put together a good event plan.

 

aaeaaqaaaaaaaanzaaaajgeznzfmmtc2ltu2mtetndkxys05zjnmltq0nmm3zgm4nmywna

Step Four:  Create an agenda for your event that includes a panel discussion about why community service will help your career.  Have the speakers focus on that subject, both as community servants themselves, and potentially as employers (if your sponsor is a business owner.)  Have the University President, or perhaps the Alumni Director, be a speaker.  The panel discussion is a great way to invite questions from the audience.  YP’s want to be engaged while learning.  Then, after box lunches purchased at a big discount with sponsor money, create a service event that allows young folks to get busy with a hands-on project.  Finally, the day ends with drinks at the bar….er….paid for again by sponsor money.

Step Five:  Market the event through the alumni association.  Use their mailing list to create an edgy ad that reads something like this:

LOOKING FOR TIME CONSTRAINED, CAREER-ORIENTED, COMMUNITY-SERVICE MINDED, YOUNG PROFESSIONALS, WHO WANT TO GROW THEIR PROFESSIONAL NETWORK WITHOUT WASTING MONEY ON EXPENSIVE LEADS GROUPS.  (Find an image on Google or elsewhere that show a harried looking young professional in need of help.)

Join us for a spirited discussion about how to build networks, find mentors, and serve your community at the same time.  And help to clean up the “XYZ Park”, and have a few drinks on us, while your at it.  Followed by link to web site landing page.

OR – just let the Alumni Association come up with the ad.

Step Six:  Figure on having 50 – 150 responses to your mail if the mailing list has 2,000 or more contacts.  Ask the DG to distribute this ad to local clubs to distribute to their networks.  Have your local young professional committee put the ad on social media. Figure 6 or 7 out of 10 people who RSVP’d will actually show up at your event.

young-professionals-sized

Step Seven:  Have a great event.  Make sure to have excellent handouts about Rotary and make sure to get the contact information of the guests who post for the event.  Let them know you will be following up.

Step Eight:  IMMEDIATELY follow up after the event with all attendees and with the other prospects who didn’t attend.  Have your committee preschedule a second service project within eight weeks of the first project.  Also schedule a purely social “networking event” within four weeks of the first event held on campus.  Announce these upcoming events at the first event.  At subsequent networking events, meet at any local bar or restaurant that has parking to accommodate a large crowd of YP’s who are used to sharing business cards while having a few cocktails.  BE SURE to ask everyone on the list to share these event announcements on their social networks.

Step Nine:  After three months you will have shared the experience of at least two service projects and one networking event.  Now its back to a venue for another (your second) networking event, AND a pitch to join Rotary.  Here are a few key structural points for the new club.

A.  The new club does NOT have meetings.  The new club has networking events.  Specifically, you meet twice a month for networking events.  No bell.  No pledge.  At some point the members have to figure out how to have a short business meeting take place in a bar setting.  They will figure it out.  Committee work will be done elsewhere.

B.  The new club does as many service projects as the members want to do.  They are unlimited in terms of how often they do these projects and how they can help the local and international community.  “Hands on” service is clearly understood to be different from “fundraising events.”  Contributions to the Rotary Foundation are funded by fundraising events and members are not expected to fund TRF out of their pocket unless they can afford it.  Of course, older members are expected to be leaders in this regard and step up to higher personal levels of giving.

C.  Members pay RI dues and District dues.  Other than that, maybe they chip in $40 a year to send the club president to training and that kind of stuff.  Figure the total annual cost of membership to be about $200 per year. This is probably $300 – $600 LESS than YPs are already paying for unproductive networking groups that their business coach told them to join.

D.  Make sure to have the proper membership paperwork available at the meeting and of course, online.   Follow up IMMEDIATELY with everyone on the list – PERSONALLY – to ask them to join.

Step Ten:  Make sure everyone knows that the objective is to expand the club’s network to include older members who will be able to help mentor YPs and help them build business and non-business networks in the community.  Twice a month the networking crowd should be getting OLDER.   Members should also be encouraged to visit other local clubs to build their Rotary networks.  Will older professionals want to join this networking group and do community service alongside energetic, idealistic, committed, and enthusiastic younger professionals who want to learn about life and business from them?  You bet they will!!!

groupseniors_

I suspect YPs will grasp the basics of this plan better than I do, because I stole many of the ideas from them in the first place and they know the networking technology like the back of their hand.  Remember, Rotary benefits include 1) business development, 2) community service, and 3) fellowship.  YP’s are probably most attracted to numbers 1 and 2.   Older folks are more attracted to numbers 2 & 3.  Target the benefits you offer to the demographic you are targeting.

And there you go.  10 steps to 100 new Rotarians in four months from your first event. They think of Rotary as networking events and community service.  Maybe you will screw this up and it will take six months instead of just four.  You can do it!