Monday, June 27, 2011

Bad Idea Jeans for Associations

"Bad Idea Jeans" - photo from
So much has been made of finding good ideas for associations lately. I like focusing on the positive and opening up to allow for recognition of ways to grow. However, with everything there should be a balance.

Years ago, there was a Saturday Night Live skit called "Bad Idea Jeans" that burned itself into my brain. To this day, whenever someone says something that hits me as a particularly unwise idea, I say "that's bad idea jeans" and most people then stare at me blankly and move on to the next thought. [Feel free to check out the skit and share in my reference for future conversations.]

Here is my list of "Bad Idea Jeans" for associations - what's on your list?

1. Creating new programs without proper preparation

This is like Real Housewife Michaele Salahi striking out with a singing career without taking singing lessons.  If your association has never offered programs like online education or hybrid meetings before, recognize that there is a learning curve and it is wise to have a plan before announcing to the world that you are revolutionizing the industry. Talk to people who have done what you are trying to do well and ask them what their process is to learn from the pros fast.

2. Creating a social media plan without considering customer service

Customer service is mission critical for every organization, especially associations. If you are already thinking about your social media presence, you can't forget how your current members are being treated when they go to your website or call your organization on the phone. We always remember when we've received poor customer service and now we have a way to vent about it to everyone we know online.

MacGyver Lego 
3. Not providing enough resources to help a new program to succeed

If your organization has made a decision to create a new program, you must back it up with an appropriate level of resources. Saying you want to create a new podcast for the association, but without providing any funding for equipment or time will not necessarily mean the podcast won't be successful, but it won't make success any easier.

Your staff may not be keen to play association MacGyvers in order to make a new project a hit. Furthermore, if those people assigned to an underfunded project manage to make it work in spite of lack of resources, it will look bad for management that no one provided them with what most people would view as necessary tools. You don't want martyrs in your staff.

Ultimately, ideas can be golden, but sometimes they are just "bad idea jeans"-- please share what your own organization's bad idea jeans have been and when and how you realized it!


  1. Love this Kiki!

    Here's Bad Jeans Idea #4
    Similar to number 1, embarking on a new service without finding out if there's a market for it! I see so many associations decide on new services based on what other associations are doing. They forget they are serving their members, their customers. If customers don't want or need it, they won't buy it!

  2. Absolutely, Jeff. I've seen and been a part of that "build it and they will come" mentality more times than I care to count. We've had several "bad idea jeans" initiatives but unfortunately some people have enough influence to get something moving without proper vetting or demand analysis. One truly bad aspect of that is that blame for the failure is spread around with a lot of it shed onto marketing. Hurts the whole organization.

    And, Kiki, I remember the bad idea jeans skit and would totally get the joke if it were made in my presence.

    Fortunately, with regard to #3, I haven't had to move forward on a project without adequate resources, but maybe that's just the thrifty nature of my "run it like it's my own business" attitude.

  3. Awesome stuff, Kiki! Here's another one...

    Since XYZ Corp is a Platinum Sponsor, we better give them 5 - 7 minutes to address the whole audience. Hopefully, they'll show a video about how great they are and ramble on about all their cool features.

  4. Thanks Jeff, Jim, and Dave for your comments! I love your suggestions! Seriously, my "bad ideas jeans" list could have been much, much longer...but I didn't want to take away too much of the fun.

    Maybe another "bad ideas jeans" is doing a promoted tweet for tweetchats that are communities. I haven't seen this with #assnchat too much, but some other tweetchats have been hit hard and heavy with them.

  5. Thinking that the only volunteers you need to focus on are those already at the top. Likewise thinking a volunteer management is covered if you have a huge leadership manual and annually thank the "board and volunteer leaders" for their work.

  6. thank you very much for all these tips on associations is a very difficult to handle in which it takes a lot of experience really appreciate your point of view ... all the Best!!


Thanks for your comments!