The AI revolution is upon us. Everyone is talking about how AI can perform basic writing tasks, filter and summarize content, and comb through research at lightning speed. At Rottman Creative, we’re at the forefront, using it every day to turbocharge productivity. But before we lean too far into the wind of AI enthusiasm, let’s get real about the implications for your association.

The Allure and the Alarm Bells of AI

Listen, the benefits are clear: AI will continue to evolve at an unbelievable pace. But here’s the buzzkill: within five years, AI’s relentless improvement will create a massive engagement crisis for associations. We’re talking about an AI smart enough to pinpoint people’s pain points and deliver jaw-dropping value—often for free. It isn’t just about cool tech; it’s about the obliteration of traditional value models.

Here’s the million-dollar question: Why should anyone fork out membership fees when they can access a universe of AI-driven value for nothing?

Finding the “Almost”

Yes, AI is formidable, but let’s cut to the chase. It can’t give you everything. The golden nugget your association needs to grab is within that elusive “almost.” While AI dominates in content generation, data analysis, and ideation, there are realms it can’t touch—yet. Advocacy and real, soul-stirring community lie beyond its reach. Your mission? Turn these intangible assets into your association’s fortress.

But more than that, you’ve got to nail down how to communicate this value to your members—sharply, succinctly, and compellingly. It’s here that the failure or success of your association’s future hangs in the balance.

Lessons from Past Non-Disruptors

You might think, “Here we go with another tech panic.” And you know what? You’re right to a degree. Apps and social media were hailed as member engagement godsends, and yes, they had their moments, but they didn’t shift the tectonic plates. Conference apps? Usually downloaded in a panicked hurry. Social media? More emails are sent today than ever before, proving its “email-killer” moniker wrong.

AI, however, is different. It’s generative, evolving, and human-driven. So, here’s your wakeup call: “We’ve been around forever” is not a strategy. Adapt or perish.

Blueprint for Battles Ahead

First, own it. This isn’t sci-fi scare tactics. This is the here and now: AI is happening. It’s not about relinquishing control to robots; it’s about harnessing solutions. You’ve got a window to leverage this.

Next, get your value proposition tight. Research and anecdotal evidence tell us most associations flap about like a fish out of water when asked about their unique value. Nail it down. Your value proposition is your silver bullet against AI encroachment—what you provide that AI can’t usurp.

Now, let’s fix those emails. You’re drowning your audience. Emphasize relational emails over transactional drivel. We talk about this in another blog—dive in deep there.

The Strategic Moat

Prepare to construct your “strategic moat.” AI isn’t about taking over; it’s an enabler. Use AI to amplify what makes your association irreplaceable—your brand, your collective voice, your tight-knit community.

By embracing AI while doubling down on human elements that AI can’t replicate, you create a robust, defensible space around your association—a strategic moat that competitors struggle to cross. Strengthen your story, build your community, and clarify your advocacy. These are your pillars. Your move.

Let’s get tactical—time to bolster your foundation while thinking strategically:

Overhaul your user interface. Think clean, intuitive, and lightning-fast. Simplicity trumps an over-designed labyrinth.

Dive deep into understanding your members. How are they engaging with your content? What platforms and formats do they flock to? Data here is worth its weight in gold.

Reformulate your content around your ironclad value proposition. Make it scannable, digestible, and impactful. Your content should shout your unique value in every pixel.

Recognize the seismic shifts in event registration behavior. Enter The 40-Day Dash—our tailored program acknowledging the last-minute registration frenzy. Get ahead of this curve and you won’t just survive; you’ll thrive.

The Here and Now

As we stare down the barrel of 2024—a year rife with potential turmoil from a presidential election to the specter of recession—understand that it’s just a chapter, not the final word. Don’t let the year’s unique challenges paralyze your vision. Yes, expect some turbulence. Yes, your numbers might dip. But keep your sights locked on the future transformations necessary for enduring success.

Future-Proof Your Association

Prepare today for the AI-fueled tomorrow. At Rottman Creative, we’re not just reacting to AI’s disruption; we’re actively sculpting the future landscape. Ready to elevate your strategic game plan?

Let’s co-create—it’s time to define what makes you irreplaceable. Let’s get to work and carve the heck out of that “almost”.

Contact us today.

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You’re Sending Too Many Transactional Emails


Your Association’s Marketing Plan Isn’t Working as Well as You Think It Is


Human beings make most of our decisions from the emotional center of our brain. And then our pre-frontal cortex (the logic center of the brain) helps us reaffirm that our decision was the right one. 

We know this because scientists put people in scanners and watch the different parts of their brain light up.

But what does brain science have to do with your association’s event? Everything.

In this series of posts, we’ve been working through the 3 phases of event marketing. Each phase highlights a key attribute your event marketing plan needs: Emotion, facts, and urgency.

So far, we’ve covered the first phase, Inspire People. That’s the phase that targets emotion.

Today, we’re going to talk about the second phase: Reassure the Intent.

This is the phase that targets facts. This is where you need to communicate to people: You know how you felt a spark when you connected with our message? Well, here are the goods!

Reassuring the intent simply means filling out the rest of the picture for potential attendees. You’re giving people what they need to confirm that registering for your event is something they must do.

This is the phase of marketing where you craft messages that answer questions like:

  • What will I learn?
  • Who will be there?
  • Who are the speakers?
  • What are the highlights?
  • What are the big reasons I don’t want to miss out?

We find that these are the questions associations usually want to start their marketing with. They want to lead with facts. Throw all the bullet points and all the checklists at people right away. It can be difficult, in Phase 1, to stay higher level, to find the deeper reason, the emotional hook.

But now, in Phase 2, you’re released! Let the facts shine! If you’ve done your job in the first phase and found the inspiration to hook attendees, this phase can feel a bit easier.

But don’t let that fool you. 

We came across a study that another marketing agency did, that found that only 13% of associations surveyed said they had a compelling value proposition.


Coming up with a sterling value proposition and knowing how to communicate it has always been a challenge for associations. It’s like answering an existential question: It’s hard to do and you’re so close to it that you often can’t see if you’ve truly answered it.

Reassuring the intent is an uphill climb if you don’t know the value proposition for your event. So before you start listing bullet points, do some work around crafting it. (If you’re struggling, we can help.)

We helped a long-time client market their annual event, Staffing World.

In our last post, we talked about how we found the inspirational thread by analyzing the audience and focusing on “people people.”

For phase 2, it’s time to focus on the facts.

Reassuring the intent is about hitting people in the logic center of their brain. It’s when concepts like “reputation” and “expertise” matter. That’s why we created messaging around the fact that this event is the biggest gathering of its kind in the industry. It’s THE place to be for staffing professionals who want to connect, learn, and grow.

We designed various print and digital pieces to highlight specific educational sessions, formal and informal networking events, and the best-in-class expo hall. We also talked in-depth about the high-caliber individuals who would attend, creating a sense of FOMO so that potential attendees could see themselves among this crowd.

Remember, people read 30% or less on the web, and slightly more in print. Design and messaging matter just as much now as they did in the inspiration phase.

Your marketing can’t become a Wikipedia page, dry and factual. You’re still jockeying for people’s time, and you have to give them a reason to listen to you

Reach out if you’d like to talk about how your association can best reassure the intent. Or if you’re still chewing on how to find the inspiration, we’re happy to talk you through as well.

Rottman Creative can help you cut through the busyness with new marketing formats and technologies. Let’s chat.

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Navigating the Event Marketing Landscape in 2024: A Strategic 3-Phase Approach for Success


Number One First and Always: Inspire People!


Event Outlook for Associations


This is the second of a four-part series about how to market your association’s events in 2024.

If you’re following along in our series of posts about event marketing in 2024, you know a few things.

For example, you know that companies are planning to spend less money this year on personal development, training, and education for employees. 

You know that event attendance is predicted to be down, as are accruals and overall renewal revenue.

Basically, you know that it’s do or die time. Make a new plan time. Don’t look back time.

The way to be successful this year is to embrace the 3 phases of event marketing

Each phase highlights a key attribute your event marketing plan needs: Emotion, facts, and urgency.

Today, we’re going to talk about the first phase, Inspire People. This is the phase that targets emotion.

When you connect with something you really want, such as a career or personal goal, you’re connecting with it for emotional reasons. You want the thing because you want to feel a certain way—like delighted, proud, or contented. 

The thing matters. But it’s the feeling that truly drives it.

Inspiring people means understanding how they want to feel, and connecting with them at that level. In other words, you need to understand what moves your members and what feelings they are chasing. 

Associations often make the mistake of leading with the facts. Facts are very important, and we’ll talk about their role in phase 2. But if you skip the inspiration phase, you miss your chance to reach people at the gut level. 

And that matters, because so many of our decisions are actually made from the gut. We think logic is driving our choices. But logic merely confirms what we already feel.

Finding the inspiration is a process of discovery. It means looking closely at who your audience is. Not necessarily their demographics. But rather, what motivates them.

Are they type A go-getters who always need a challenge? Are they career veterans who are thinking about legacy? Your people are likely motivated by more than one thing. But you need to dig until you find the central idea that will move them, the central spark of inspiration.

Once you find that, you need to turn it into remarkable pieces of content that hit your audience in their feeling center. 

We’ll get to the tactics of how many emails, when to send direct mail, and which social media platforms to use. But first, you must know what feeling you’re trying to create, and what big idea you’re channeling. This will help you develop actionable messages, and to choose the style of design that is most likely to grab your target audience.

We were tasked with helping a longtime client, the American Staffing Association, market their annual Staffing World conference. While ASA has been hosting this event for more than 50 years, today’s uncertainty was causing a drop in registrations. Six weeks before Staffing World, they still hadn’t hit their numbers.

ASA’s target audience are “people people.” They are staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions professionals who put individuals to work in meaningful roles. As a result, they improve lives, businesses, and the U.S. economy. But they also deal with some pretty tough challenges, ranging from economic uncertainty to budget cuts and layoffs.

We combined this audience analysis with industry trends and proven formats to craft emotionally charged messaging and creative. The goal was to inspire people to come together for the good and the ugly. To seize opportunities and collaborate on challenges.

From there, we engaged the audience with targeted social media campaigns complemented by brief, thoughtful emails with easy calls to action.

Six weeks later, Staffing World had more attendees than ever in ASA history.

It’s well worth the investment to spend time digging into what will inspire people to come to your event.

Even more helpful is to get an outside perspective. Someone who can look at your event and your attendees with fresh eyes. Reach out if you’d like to chat about how to find the inspiration for your event!

Rottman Creative can help you cut through the busyness with new marketing formats and technologies. Let’s chat.

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Navigating the Event Marketing Landscape in 2024: A Strategic 3-Phase Approach for Success


Event Outlook for Associations


Non-Members Don’t Trust You. Here’s How to Fix That.