Our Advocacy is Spreading!

I am occasionally asked to speak to other business groups on a variety of topics. Its a great thing to do to spread the word about AIBA and I love connecting with other organizations. Recently I was asked to speak to two different groups on advocacy. I spoke at the Greater Austin Restaurant Association and to the Austin Founder Lions Club last week. Interesting that they both picked the topic of advocacy.

What I learned from these two groups is that businesses aren’t happy with our current city leaders and are interested in being more active. This is a good thing and I both encouraged them to become more active. After almost 15 years in City Hall advocacy for local business, I’m pleased to help lead the way for others. My talks are candid and direct and I hope lead to a greater level of activism.

Speaking of activism, the Austin Founder Lions Club is hosting the Ninth Annual Sporting Clay shoot-Out that benefits the Austin Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and are looking for teams to participate. If you’re interested in a shooting competition with NFL legends, this is for you. Fore more information and to register or sponsor, see the form online.

New Email Invoices

We’re getting settled in our new member management system, Wild Apricot, and learning it’s wonderful and wacky ways. You may have noticed that we’ve gone to email invoices. Our new system allows you to login and renew your membership and update your information. It’s so easy!

New members are given a password when they join but renewing members need to choose “Forgot Password” and set a password to login.

We know this is a change and we all get so many email but be sure to watch your inbox for items from AIBA. Thanks!

Nominate Your Favorite Local Business for an Armadillo Award

We are excited to announce the 6th Annual Armadillo Awards on April 25! We hope you will join us at the Armadillo Awards Party but first take a moment to nominate your favorite local businesses in seven categories. 

Nominate local businesses in one or all seven categories now through February 28.

Voting is March 18-April 5 when you’ll vote for your favorite local businesses from all the nominations—we usually see more than 1,000 nominations! Each year we receive more than 30,000 votes so make sure yours are counted!Five finalists in each category will be honored at the Armadillo Awards Party on April 25. 

Attend the Armadillo Awards Party on April 25. It’s the Indie Biz party of the year held at the Historic Scottish Rite Theater.  Be there! RSVP Now.

Great New Options for 2019!

While we’re closing out a year of great changes at AIBA—new website, new branding, new member management system, more social media, more education, more shop local campaigns (whew!)—we’re excited about the many new opportunities to get increased value from your AIBA membership in 2019.

We’ve lined up an amazing event calendar including 5 Breakfasts, 4 Happy Hours, 3 Luncheons, 2 Cruises, 1 Resource Academy and 1 Awards Party! Watch your newsletters, check your emails and visit ibuyaustin.com for dates and details on upcoming events.

We completed a membership survey last month and we’ve taken to heart your responses and ideas. After a thorough review, the big takeaways are that our members are happy with AIBA and we’re on the right track, but you’d like to have the opportunity for more engagement with your fellow your businesses and more promotions for B2B members. The survey results also highlighted that we need to improve how we share information since several companies asked for services we currently provide. You spoke and we listened!

Great new value opportunities for 2019:
1. Private Member-Only Facebook Group—Look for this to launch in January as a great place to communicate with each other. It will be for members only (so watch for your renewal invoice to keep your membership current and maintain access to the group). The Members-Only group will include notices from members (buy, sell, need, offer, etc.), discussions on timely topics, events and more. Look for an invitation to join the group in early January.

2. 2 for 2 Member Showcase—Beginning in February. We are creating a space to showcase two member businesses at each event except happy hours. Each business will have two minutes to present to the group while AIBA broadcasts a Facebook Live Video of both presentations. Presentation slots are available on a first come, first served basis and are limited to once a year per member. Watch our calendar for event dates.

3. Happy Hour Featured Member—Beginning in February. As a companion offering to our 2 for 2 Member Showcase, this opportunity provides both featured members a table at one happy hour per year and is also on a first come, first served basis. This gives each participating member the opportunity to display items or information on their services and engage the attendees in conversation about your offerings.

4. AIBA Member Orientation—Beginning in February. Whether you are a new member or a long-term member who wants to know more about AIBA’s programs and benefits, this is for you. We’ll cover all the ways you can engage, connect and market your business. Orientations will be held before every happy hour. As requested in the membership survey, we are moving our happy hours to 6-8pm. Orientation will be 5:30-6, leading right into the happy hour.

5. Member-2-Member Introductions—Beginning in January. Many members have requested an introduction to another member. We’re happy to provide that service for you! When you find a member you’d like to meet, just let us know and we’ll provide a personal introduction for you.

6. Monthly Deals—Beginning in July. Each month we will promote up to 10 Dillo Deals of the Month from AIBA members. These offers should be high-value and compelling, something that contains a special offer (an exceptional special offer that is sure to get people in your door). We’ll handle the promotions, you handle all the new customers.

We can’t wait to get started! Until then, thank you for being a member of AIBA and have a most wonderful local holiday. See you in 2019!

Lookie Lookie! Your new AIBA website is finally here

We are so excited to present the new, bigger, better, more engaging, exciting website. This new dynamic site promotes our members and AIBA so much better. 

• Latest From Your Locals, the popular promotion of members’ events and announcements is now on the front page. But that’s just the first glance. Latest From Your Locals is now displayed in a bolder and friendlier format. Make sure you’re included by sending us any events, sales or announcements you have. We are putting all of these on the AIBA Facebook page as well.

• AIBA Member Listings are more engaging and highlight each business better. The new search function allows site visitors easier, faster access to your listing! Behind this beautiful new face is also a new member management system. This new system will allow members to login to renew, change your listing or edit your information (see next bullet point). 

• New Member Login is a big part of the new member management system and is easy to use. You can find the login button in the top right navigation bar and in the footer of every page. Members will soon begin receiving invoices from this new system called Wild Apricot (We would rather have Wild Armadillos but the Apricots are pretty amazing). The invoices will look different but contain a link to login and renew. For existing members, the first time you login you will want to follow the “forgot my password” link to set a password for your account. In an effort to save trees and reduce our footprint, we will no longer be sending out paper invoices so be sure to watch your email. We’re still learning the system ourselves but it is a robust and flexible choice.

• IndieAustin is now highlighted at the bottom of the page with all the feature articles visible. 

• AIBA Events are now handled through our new system. The screens might look a little different but the RSVP process is the same. 

• The IBIZ District pages are embedded within the AIBA website and showcase our new Premiere IBIZ Merchants.

Visit. Check it out. Explore. Discover. It’s new and still a work in progress so let us know if you get lost somewhere or discover a broken link. 

I’d like to thank Julie Niehoff, Distance Learning Media, for creating this amazing system. She flowed right along with our angst, our excitement and our frustration at learning all new systems. Special kudos to our small but mighty team who put in several weeks of twelve hour days to get this launched on time. 

AIBA Membership Survey Results

A big thank you to our members who took the time to take the membership survey. Your comments, insights and opinions will guide us in the coming year.

We’re pleased to see that the vast majority of you think we’re doing a terrific job. That makes us feel great about the work that we do. Knowing we’re on the right track is important but it doesn’t make us better. Knowing where we fall short or what new ideas you want to see realized makes us a better organization. To everyone that offered constructive criticism or new ideas, thank you. After all, we’re here for you. When AIBA works for you, an apparently it does, it works for all of us.

You can read the entire survey including comments here: AIBA 2018 MEMBERSHIP SURVEY-SUMMARY. We’ve removed only the names and contact information to protect the privacy of members. Here are a few highlights:

98% would recommend membership in AIBA to other businesses. This is the strongest endorsement we could receive. Yes, please do recommend us and help us grow!

97% felt that our local business advocacy is important to absolutely essential.

75% of our members have engaged another member for their business needs. We not only talk the talk, we walk the walk!

68% of members said that our events are important to crucial.

36%, the single largest group, prefer to attend an event once a month. We often have two events each month to ensure that there’s something for everyone.

69% of our members have made valuable connections through an AIBA event. If you’ve never made it to one of our events, here’s the proof that you need to!

When asked about new plans, 70% want a members-only Facebook Group and 81% want a weekly deals promotion. We listened and will launch the Facebook group in January and the weekly deals promotion in the spring.

Of the various marketing methods that we use to market your business, IndieAustin and social media ranked at the top.

There were no surprises when asked about the obstacles facing your businesses. The top two were property tax increases and lease increases. These were closely followed by City of Austin regulations and finding employees.

61% said AIBA has benefited their business through the community of members. This was closely followed by 56% through our marketing and 54% through our advocacy.

We’re growing! 64% added staff this year and 59% intend to within the next 12 months.

73% said their revenue had grown in the last 12 months and 80% are anticipating growth in the next 12 months.

And we have winners of the drawing for three prizes. The Vortex Theater won a year membership in AIBA, End of an Ear won the membership upgrade and Slow North won the $50 Gift Card to Moonshine. Congratulations to all.