Firm finds The Association 100 is “game-changing” when attending industry conference

When Colleen Gallagher and Meghan Henning took over The Association 100 newsletter and published their first issue in April 2022, they found the “ROI is incredible” as they immediately landed a new client.

Colleen and Meghan co-founded OnWrd & UpWrd Communications firm in Washington, D.C. just a year earlier, serving industry association and corporate travel clients. The two each had experience in association management and Colleen had even been editor of The Association 100 when she worked with Curley Company, which launched the digital newsletter and website in 2019. As they planned their 2022 calendar, Colleen and Meghan circled the annual August ASAE conference in Nashville.

“We went to the place where associations go, the ASAE conference, where everyone in the association world wants to learn more about best practices – and we had a few goals,” Colleen said in our video interview this month. “We wanted to raise awareness of The Association 100. Secondly, we wanted to keep our fingers on the pulse of the association world. I spent so many years working in it, but I’ve been on the agency side for a few years now and I just don’t want to lose that inside knowledge so we wanted to be talking with people onsite. And the third was to get our firm out there and to find new leads for new prospects and see what people needed and how we could position ourselves to be helpful to them.”

“Game-changing”

“It was game-changing, Chris,” Colleen said. “We had a 10-by-10 booth and we used the opportunity to interview over 16 people that work in the association world and asked them, ‘what are you doing that’s exciting, what’s new, what are the latest trends and how are you dealing with that?’. We got a couple of months of content from people who were onsite at the conference.

“We had really great conversations and we made a good impression, with knowing the association space and association world and also having this vehicle where we were constantly in touch with the latest trends. We also had people who came right out and told us what their communication needs were and where they might need help in the future. So we walked away with a bucket full of leads and potential people we could work with in the future and that was really exciting.”

At previous conferences, “Going there as Onwrd & Upwrd, I would just be another vendor trying to sell them something and it would be so hard to get those meetings and get in front of those people – and instead I went there as The Association 100, and I got to say ‘Let me offer you this amazing chance for exposure to 30,000 association professionals across the country where you’re going to get to talk about what you know best. Also, now you know about this newsletter, if you didn’t already, and you can subscribe and twice a month get these top high-level trends of what’s going on and what you should be thinking about to do better at your job.’”

“The perfect vehicle”

The transition of The Association 100 from Curley Company to their new firm “really worked out great,” Colleen said. “I loved my time at Curley and the fantastic people there, so when Jennifer reached out I was really excited. I had the opportunity to work on it as the editor there and I knew what it was and what it could be and I saw them really have success with it. So for OnWrd & UpWrd, we really have two niches of clients – we work with associations and we work with corporate travel companies. Knowing our background and knowing associations inside and out, this is the perfect vehicle to showcase our expertise and to meet new people. It was a no-brainer. Jennifer called me and I called my co-founder and it was within 30 seconds, we said, ‘Yea let’s do this!’

“We’ve added a couple of elements. We are doing a podcast in most issues, which lets us do a longer form. We really enjoy those conversations and getting in front of someone or featuring a hot topic in the association world.”

“The ROI is incredible”

“The ROI is incredible. The first week we published, timing was on our side, and someone reached out and said they were looking for a new firm and hired us so it really helped us and continues to pay off for us in terms of ROI.”

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