January 26, 2021

Ed Rigsbee | Business of Meetings Podcast

Today, we have the pleasure of speaking to another icon in our industry, Ed Rigsbee, of Rigsbee Research. Ed has spent his entire career helping associations and societies to recruit and maintain their members and increase their revenue. He has written five books: one of them on soccer, one on member recruitment, and three of them on strategic alliances, and he has also written more than 2,500 articles.

In this episode, Ed shares his story and talks to us about providing value and the amazing community he started, called The Cigar Peg.

It is very important right now for associations to provide value, so we’re sure that you will enjoy our conversation with Ed.

Ed Rigsbee bio:

Ed Rigsbee, (CSP) Certified Speaking Professional, (CAE) Certified Association Executive, is the ROI Guy. He is obsessed with helping individuals and organizations to both receive and give more return on investment (ROI) in everything that they do. He regularly serves two sectors of the economy—helping corporations to develop and maintain strategic alliances—and helping trade associations and professional societies to grow their membership. Ed is the originator of the “Member ROI Valuation Process” and “Member ROI-Centric Organization Transition.”

Ed’s background

Ed used to work at Yosemite National Park as a retail manager. In the winter, he was made manager of the ski shop, but he got fired for being obnoxious just a week before the end of the season.

Throughout the season, Ed’s sunglasses supplier had been trying to get Ed to work for him. He contacted Ed once again, just before he left the park, asking him to interview in Southern California. Ed went along to the interview. Afterward, he got handed a company car and a credit card. He took to selling sunglasses like a duck to water and started selling sunglasses to ski shops.

Product clinics

Ed noticed that the ski reps used to do product clinics, which he found fascinating. So, he bought a spectrometer and started giving product clinics at ski shops. That boosted his sales, which prompted both the company he was working for and some retail customers to ask him to train their salespeople.

Professional speaking

At a sales meeting in 1984, Ed met the NSA president. He was impressed with her, and that sparked his interest in finding out what professional speaking was.

A few years later, he joined the National Speakers Association and started doing paid talks.

Time to leave

In 1990, the owner of the sunglasses organization took Ed out for lunch. He told Ed that it was time for him to leave the organization.

Ed Rigsbee started his business

Ed Rigsbee decided to start a business of his own. He started off by going after associations in the retail world, and his business kept on growing.

His first book

In 1994, he wrote his first book, The Art of Partnering. That took him down the path of doing alliance work, and he did that for the next fifteen years.

Selling speaking services

Throughout his career, Ed resonated with selling speaking services to associations.

A roundtable workshop

Ed got hired to be the keynote speaker for the California Alarm Association. He was asked by the president of the company to do an industry roundtable workshop. The board members at the workshop wanted to discuss the value of the association.

Qualitative research

Before he knew what qualitative research was, Ed was doing qualitative research because of that workshop. He followed that up by writing his first article for that company, on member ROI.

How Ed Rigsbee helps associations grow their memberships

Around 2015, Ed Rigsbee started getting less aggressive around the strategic alliance work he was doing. Today, he focuses mostly on helping associations grow their memberships by teaching them how to prove the return on investment they deliver in actual dollar numbers.

ROI Member Recruitment Brochure

Ed started helping his association clients to produce a simple, three-fold ROI Member Recruitment Brochure. It makes it easy to show why a business decision is a good one.

The feature of association membership

Unless it is a closed meeting, anyone can go to an association meeting. The feature of association membership is the differential or discount that the member gets.

The cost of virtual meetings has gone down

The cost of virtual meetings has gone down because they require no physical space. The attendance at many meetings has been boosted a lot recently, so currently, many associations are making double the profit they were making before from meetings.

Virtual regional meetings

Many associations are talking about putting on virtual regional meetings for lower-level employees. They are planning in-person meetings for the CEO and top-level employees because those employees will afford to pay higher fees to go to the meeting.

Five years from now

Ed predicts that in-person meetings will slowly start getting more populated, and five years from now, things will be back to where they were before.

The challenge with sponsors

If you’re going to put a representative from a company on at an event, you should say that the event is a sponsored one. If a sponsor speaks at an event, they should talk about the category topic and not their brand. Smart associations are giving mandatory presenter training to their sponsors.

The future of communities

Ed believes that associations need to do a better job with their communities. The chapters in cities need to create satellite communities to ensure that they also reach their members in the outlying areas.

The Cigar Peg Community

The Cigar Peg Community is a community of professional speakers that got started in 1999. It raises money for charities. It used to be a professional emphasis group, and then it got changed to a professional expert group.

Connect with Ed

On Website

Connect with Eric: On LinkedIn | On Facebook | On Instagram | Website

If you’d rather watch the video of this interview, subscribe on YouTube

About the author 

Eric Rozenberg

For two decades, Eric Rozenberg has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and produced conferences in more than 50 countries across diverse industries. His focus is creating meetings that are not only breathtakingly memorable but which bring corporate strategies to life and amplify team motivation/performance.

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