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When a fantasy sports draft is sacked: Taking the game virtual

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In June 2020, the Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association (FSGA) was ready to bring the magic of in-person fantasy football drafts and the excitement of live sports gaming to their Summer Conference in Dallas, Texas. As in past years, all the big names in fantasy sports and content production would be there, including ESPN, FanDuel, DraftKings, Realtime Fantasy Sports, and Yahoo, plus many smaller companies and start-ups trying to make a name for themselves in fantasy sports and gaming.

At least that was the plan. But this was 2020, and no one was meeting in-person.

Fortunately for FSGA, some of its members are broadcasters, on-air personalities, and social media stars, with working knowledge of technology and content creation. The pivot to a virtual event became a great way for these companies to use their inherent abilities and show off what they could do.

When done in-person, the expert fantasy league drafts are public-facing, annual events in which champion players on four leagues select their fantasy football teams while the public tunes in, live, over the Sirius XM network. It takes place well before the usual drafts and gives listeners a sneak peek at what top fantasy players are thinking about the season to come.

FSGA in-person events had not yet combined sports gaming and the season-long play of fantasy sports. Since all normality was out the window, the members decided to try a new innovation. Here’s how it would work: Bets were placed on potential sports outcomes that were tracked in real time throughout the season. There were thousands of bets, but no real money exchanges hands (although, there was a cash prize).

For the virtual fantasy football and sports gaming event, Sirius XM Fantasy Alarm and Realtime Sports brought their knowledge of broadcasting and handled much of the production. Fantasy Alarm contributed their online talent and streaming capabilities and provided visual elements to the broadcast. Realtime Fantasy Sports managed the draft technology. Meanwhile, the FSGA staff brainstormed logistics, created an event microsite, and pushed out promotions.

“It wasn’t easy,” said Tony Veroeven, AMPED Membership, Sales and Marketing Manager, “but it sure helped to have passionate members on our team who knew what the audience wanted. Their expertise shortened the putt so we could focus on content and promotion.”

The end-result:

  • A full week of broadcasts on Sirius XM, Fantasy Alarm, FSGA’s YouTube channel and other streaming platforms
  • Sirius XM boosted its contextual programming around the broadcast
  • Social media engagement numbers soared
  • The virtual event gave the public more access to player expertise and strategy than ever before
  • It was a chance to showcase the inherent abilities of the member companies – both to the public and to each other.
  • There was enough interest in the virtual format that an additional league had to be added to accommodate more players

Plans are being finalized now for the FSGA Experts Fantasy Baseball League Draft which takes place February 22-25, 2021. From the successful results of the summer football draft, you can bet many of the same companies and players will be there. And thanks to the virtual broadcast, the fans will be too.

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2020 year-end client infographs 

NIBA 2020 Infograph WITF 2020 infograph
WSAE 2020 Infograph LC 30th Anniversary Infograph

 

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Future-Focused: How AMPED Met Virtual Meetings Head-On

pivot

The word of the year for successful associations? Pivot.

For AMPED and our association clients who rely on annual conferences and trade shows to deliver education and grow membership, 2020 was a chance to explore virtual meeting options, try something new without fear of failure, and, yes, pivot.

It started in March, when the pandemic stay-at-home orders hit just weeks before the annual conference of one of our newest association clients. Staff immediately moved the meeting online and partnered with a virtual platform company to deliver four days of education with both live and prerecorded content. The result was a successful event whose net income was 28 times higher than was budgeted for the original in-person meeting!

With the tremendous success and knowledge gained from that first conference, and signs of a worsening pandemic, staff and client leaders made the decision to move all scheduled events online.

AMPED isn’t a stranger to change and innovative thinking. Nor do we rely on one-size-fits-all solutions. This was an important change for our clients and one that required customized solutions for each.

Throughout 2020, AMPED explored dozens of virtual platforms, mindful of the goals and priorities of each client and their meetings. By year’s-end, we had executed dozens of major conferences online for audiences of up to 9,000 attendees, gaining experience on at least nine different platforms, with costs ranging from $2,000 to $175,000.

Without a doubt, the virtual aspect of association meetings will remain vital through 2021 and beyond, whether as a key component or hybrid. And our clients will be ready for it.

AMPED is proud of our innovative culture! It encouraged us to “pivot” and seamlessly deliver virtual meeting experiences to our association clients using solutions customized for them.

Lessons learned and tips for delivering a successful virtual meeting

  • Set goals and priorities for the event and keep them top of mind when comparing platform vendors.
  • Be future-focused. Can you use the platform later for ongoing or hybrid meetings?
  • Allow enough lead time to secure vendors given the heightened demand for these services.
  • Know that pricing can be tied to service levels. For example, less expensive products tend to put more onus on staff to execute.
  • When budgeting, know your registration numbers. They may be higher in a virtual setting when barriers such as time and travel costs are removed.
  • Most platforms have similar features. Consider factors such as the look and feel of the platform, budget, and support availability.
  • Support is very important. You don’t want your customer/client staff left to build or execute the meeting because the platform team is spread too thin.
  • Look for vendors that provide reliable customer service and tech support the day of the event.
  • Consider your staff resources. Can people be “reskilled” to take on new roles?
  • Recognize the needs of your speakers. Are they comfortable with technology? Who will train and prepare them? Staff or vendor?
  • Know whether you plan to pre-record all or some of the event and understand the pros, cons, and risks of doing so.
  • Plan ahead if you want to make content available post-meeting. Will you be able to archive sessions for on-demand access? Also, know whether your organization requires LIVE training for CE credits.
  • Don’t rule out the DYI model. Zoom, for instance, is familiar to most. Plus, it has added security features, such as waiting rooms and passwords.
  • Most members are more tech savvy than we give them credit for.
  • Be creative! Try new things and don’t be afraid of the technology.
  • Engage sponsors with unique offerings like video showcases or hosted breakouts.
  • Review the post-meeting metrics: individual session attendance, how long participants viewed each session or were on the virtual platform in general, polling metrics, exhibitor/attendee engagement, etc.
  • Got swag? Consider sending gift boxes to your attendees to set the mood and enhance engagement.

Published in AMC Institute's Member Matters newsletter.

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Strategic Planning: Creative and Awesome Solutions for When You Can't Meet Face-to-Face

AMPED has distinguished itself as a leader in hosting and executing strategic planning sessions for associations and nonprofits. Depending on the needs of the client, a typical session may last two days, back-to-back and require that leaders and staff travel to meet face-to-face.

So what happens when conditions are such that you can’t do back-to-back and face-to-face? The results can be surprisingly awesome!

With the help of AMPED, the United Motorcoach Association (UMA) held its strategic planning session in June 2020, amid the uncertainties of the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel was impossible, so it was quickly determined that a video conference was the way to go.

Using Zoom, UMA leaders and AMPED met for two days, one week apart – a structure that proved to benefit the session as a whole.

Thanks to some extensive pre-meeting preparation by AMPED, the participants kept to the agenda and knocked out the whole of the strategic session in less time than expected. “After day one in UMA’s virtual session, we got as much accomplished as we normally do in-person,” said Emily Petersen, AMPED Chief of Staff and a contributor to the UMA strategic planning process. For instance, she pointed to 15-minute breaks that can easily grow to 30 minutes when in-person. In this virtual setting, the video was turned off and then back on after the break, indicating the session was ready to continue.

With the 2-day agenda nearly accomplished on the first day, there was ample time for discussion on day two. Plus, where participants in a typical strategic session would only have overnight to reflect on the results of the day, holding the two sessions a week apart provided more time to digest ideas, concluding in clearer strategy development on day two.

As noted, preparation was key. In order to build an agenda with a clear focus for the strategic session, AMPED collected data using a variety of methods:

  • Interviewed UMA staff to learn what’s working well and what isn’t
  • Gathered financial data to better understand operating ratios
  • Developed a survey to members and nonmembers asking then to look beyond the pandemic to what they see as most impacting the industry
  • Held live interviews with a dozen members to determine the strengths of the organization and areas for improvement
  • Benchmarked UMA against other related organizations

Results from the interviews and survey pointed to common themes that helped steer the planning process. In a typical strategic planning session, that process would involve the utilization of flipcharts and Post-it notes - not something easily reproduced in a virtual meeting.

The advantage of virtual, however, is that multiple AMPED staff could attend without the extra travel costs.  More staff meant more expertise and more hands on-deck. When the association leaders separated into three Zoom breakout rooms, an AMPED staff member was there to facilitate and add notes in a prepared Google doc. Petersen monitored the doc and could see instantly the results of each group’s discussion and identify the most common themes. As soon as the breakouts ended, she was ready with organized notes to move the exercise forward — a task that would have taken far more time to complete in-person.

“We were so happy with the outcome of the strategic session for UMA,” said Petersen. “Given the circumstances, we pulled it off with creative solutions that we might not otherwise have tried. And many that we’ll continue to utilize in our strategic planning going forward.”

The end-result of the two-session virtual meeting was broad engagement, a clear strategy to move the association forward, and a happy client.

How can AMPED help your association discover new strategies for growth and success? Find us at www.manageassociations.com.

Published in AMC Institute's Member Matters newsletter.

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Client Growth: A Retrospective

AMPED is proud to contribute to and share in the growth of our client partners. Here's a snapshot of growth one of our clients enjoyed over a 10-years with AMPED.

 

Client Case Study Infograph 2018

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