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What Is the “Marketing Mix?”

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Your organization just created a ground-breaking new service that has the ability to serve the needs of thousands. After months of development, it is finally ready to be released into the world. This step is crucial and can make or break your service. Marketing acts as the bridge between your service and those who do not know they need it yet. It is the job of the marketing professionals to find out who needs the service and how to get it to them.

One way to think about how to market your product or service is called the marketing mix, which refers to a series of elements surrounding a product/service that inform how you market that product. According to Harvard Business Review, the marketing mix gives executives a simple, yet consistent way to get an overview of the product, its pricing, audience, etc.

While the marketing mix can be adapted to fit the needs of the team using it, it is often referred to as 4 Ps: product, pricing, placement, and promotion, which is a time-tested method for developing a marketing plan. When you take a product or service through these 4 items, it becomes easier to get a broader view of how that product will be marketed.

  1. Product
    1. Start by getting a good idea of what your product/service is. Why did you create it? What problem does it solve? Every product or service has some sort of purpose so make sure that you make it clear what that is.
    2. Dive deeper into the specific features. For example, if it is a virtual course about how to improve emotional intelligence, explain that the course will have short video lectures, followed by a quiz and a Q&A section to encourage users to interact with the platform.
    3. Analyze who will be using it and where. Are your customers going to be busy executives or people who may have more time to devote to interacting with the product/service? Create a profile of your typical user to better understand the environment in which your product/service will be used.
    4. Describe what makes your product/service unique compared to similar ones from your competitors. What sets you apart? Why should someone use your product over theirs?
    5. Overall, this section should be used to describe the purpose and uniqueness of your product/service. This is where you show off how awesome it is.
  2. Pricing
    1. Think about how much your customers will value the product/service. Is this a necessary purchase for them or did they elect to buy it? If it is of less necessity, lower prices may be necessary to incentivize customers.
    2. How does your pricing stack up against similar products or services? Pricing it lower may drive traffic toward you, but if you offer better quality, customers may pay more for your product/service.
    3. Decide if you will offer discount pricing. Will you offer discounts to members of your organization or those who offer their email address? These discounts can be a great way to get eyes on your product/service that might not otherwise be there.
  3. Place
    1. Describe the different ways your product/service will be found. Is it sold directly through your website? Is there content that will lead back to your product/service such as blog posts, free webinars, Facebook Live sessions? You should have a clear answer as to how someone would find your product/service.
    2. Explain where this product/service will “live,” especially if it is virtual. Your product/service should have an online homepage describing its features, pricing, and other relevant details a customer should know.
    3. Where do your competitors keep similar products? Do you think you offer a similar or better method for displaying your product/service?
  4. Promotion
    1. Describe your marketing strategy.
    2. Where will this product/service be marketed? Will you use online ads, use email marketing, or give out postcards at a conference?
    3. Is there a specific timing that would work well with this product/service? For example, a book on how to be a great team member might be better received if released at the beginning of the year when many organizations are gaining new board members.
    4. What are your competitors doing? Is it working?
  5. Add in bonus categories to give an even better picture of elements will go into this product/service.
    1. Audience: give a more in-depth description of who your audience is, what they do and why they need your product/service.
    2. Terms and conditions: explain any items such as recurring payments, any certifications that can be earned via your product/service, etc.
    3. Brand: how does this product/service and its corresponding marketing align with your organization’s brand?

Example: A hypothetical leadership book called Leading for Tomorrow

  • Product: Our product is a 255-page print and electronic book, Leading for Tomorrow. We used our expertise to help inform professionals how to lead in a world of ever-changing technology and a younger workforce. We aim to serve current leaders who may need to adapt some of their leadership practices as well as emerging younger leaders. What makes this book different from other books on leadership is its timeliness and expertise. Our team of authors are all experts in the field.
  • Price: We hope our book will be seen as a must-have. We are selling it for $18.99 in hardback format for 1 year before offering it in paperback for $13.99. It will also be available for download online for $10. These price points are very similar to similar books, but we think that the book’s content will set us apart from others without having to lower our price point. However, during the book’s release, we will be offering our organization’s members a 20% off discount, and a 10% for non-members who subscribe to our emails.
  • Place: The book will be sold on our website as well as Amazon. Following the book release, the authors plan on linking the book in their email signatures. We also plan on linking the book in our blog posts.
  • Promotion: We are going to do a Facebook Live event the day of our release and update the bios of our social media accounts to link to the book. We will also send out emails to our members with their discount and those on our email list with their discount. Prior to the release, we will promote the release date of the book at various points.

Marketing goes beyond sending out a tweet or a mass email. It requires a complete understanding of the product or service at hand. Utilizing the marketing mix will make marketing simpler, more thorough and more streamlined.

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Long Term Habits Of An Effective Board

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Harvard Law’s Forum on Corporate Governance’s article, The Long-term Habits of a Highly Effective Corporate Board, gives some excellent insight into what it takes to ensure the long-term success of a board. The article was written by Ariel Fromer Babcock, director at FCLTGlobal. Here are some takeaways:

    Whiteboard with markers
  1. A focus on strategy
    Boards that have demonstrated long-term success spend almost twice as much time discussing strategy. This includes refining the business model, company values and evaluating risks. John Vaske, head, Americas, at Singapore’s Temasek, explained, “Boards have to be really immersed in strategy; it can’t be at a superficial level. Directors that are long-term have the time and inclination to dig into those strategy-related questions—that’s where value-creation happens.”
  2. Careful consideration of meeting materials
    The article states that about half of board members believe the agenda prevents the board from properly discussing strategy. The Harvard Business Review suggests limiting the number of items on the agenda to six at most and to only focus on items that will prompt productive conversation. This will prevent the board from getting bogged down with unnecessary discussion topics.
  3. Members are prepared
    Assigning reading outside board meetings can also significantly reduce unnecessary discussion. The article gives the example of Netflix’s board. They use an online live memo that has a forum for questions in advance of their board meetings. Maximizing time in board meetings can lead to long-term success.
  4. There is finality after discussing items appropriately
    It is key to let some things be settled. Re-opening items for discussion can be tempting, but letting some things be final can open up a significant amount of time for new items that will allow the board to move forward. The article suggests that one great way to do this is via the meeting minutes. Using language such as “the board decided…” over “the board discussed…” can demonstrate this finality.
  5. There is strategy outside board meetings
    Great board members should not stop after the board meeting is over. Members who spend some time researching competitors, talking with others in the industry or considering other ideas to discuss at board meetings are concerned for the long-term welfare of the organization.
  6. Diversity is encouraged
    Having a broad range of perspectives is crucial to the long-term wellness of the organization. This goes beyond racial diversity to include differing genders, ages and levels of experience. FCLTGlobal’s research showed that diversity is associated with lower financial risk.

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A Breakdown of Short- and Long-Term Marketing Strategies

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Monday, April 20, 2020

marketing stragety book and laptop computerConstructing a marketing strategy is a crucial practice for any organization. It is important to keep a timeline in mind when creating your strategy, as some activities will help you achieve short-term goals and others will help you achieve long-term goals. The distinction is important for project organization and task delegation.

Short-term marketing strategies: They are used to temporarily increase sales or awareness. These plans are generally set for less than a year. If you have a new product or service, the activities surrounding its promotion would be in the short term. That would be a temporary boost. Short-term plans also include smaller details surrounding the promotion of those goods and services such as how social media is used, any outreach to media or email promotion.

  • Consider events that would warrant short-term marketing. Do you have a conference? Online professional development? A new e-book? Think about how you are going to get the word out about it.
  • Marketing automation tools can help with scheduling emails (and so many other tasks) in the short term while providing analytics to inform a longer-term strategy. Best-selling author Neil Patel offers a guide to help streamline marketing functions.
  • Social media is great for short-term marketing. It is free and relatively easy to reach people.

Long-term marketing strategies: These comprehensive plans are used to increase sales or awareness over a longer period of time. These strategies should be aimed toward organizational goals. Long-term marketing strategies include things such as branding, building a public relations team and maintaining a social media presence. Generally, anything that stretches over a year would count as long-term. While it’s possible for one person to create and implement a long-term marketing strategy, a team approach provides more varied talent and perspectives.

  • Search engine optimization is a powerful tool to have as part of your long-term marketing strategy. It can help you determine keywords to include on your website and give insight into what your competitors are doing.
  • Generating quality content on a regular basis is another building block in a long-term strategy. Blogs, e-books, printed or online magazines, podcasts and recorded webinars can all be used to show thought leadership and expertise. The Content Marketing Institute has excellent resources to help with ideation and implementation.
  • Qualitative research is another tool to consider in building a long-term strategy. This kind of research helps you discover more in-depth insights like the strengths and weaknesses of your organization or how your organization is seen. QRCA (Qualitative Research Consultants Association) has wonderful resources to teach you about and help you conduct qualitative research.

It is important to have a balance between both short- and long-term marketing strategies. Short-term strategies are great for individual projects and smaller goals while long-term strategies ensure that the organization as a whole is working toward larger goals.


Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

Tags:  association management  marketing & communication  strategy  tools 

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Essential Items in a Marketing Plan

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, April 9, 2020

Marketing plan graphicMarian Burk Wood, author of The Marketing Plan Handbook, defines marketing plans as “comprehensive documents that summarize marketplace knowledge and the strategies and steps to be taken in achieving the objectives set by marketing managers for a particular period.”
According to the Content Marketing Institute, it is important to remember that marketing plans are not editorial calendars or a to-do list full of marketing-related tasks. It should outline a clear strategy to achieve a goal.

Here are some key elements to consider adding to your association’s marketing plan (or reviewing with fresh eyes if your plan has been in place for a while):

  1. Your target customer
    According to Forbes, you should think through and research who your typical customers are. Come up with personas for your typical customers and even give them names. Think of these customers when you are making decisions. It is crucial to understand who would use your product or service in order to market to them. Consider current, lapsed and prospective members as you develop your segments.
  2. Positioning
    According to Inc., you should research your organization’s position in the market. This will help you get a feel for how customers view you compared to your competitors. Consider not just other associations that may vie for your members/customers, but for-profit companies that may provide educational offerings that compete with yours. When you pinpoint your current position in the market, set a goal for where you would like to be positioned in the future.
  3. A unique selling proposition
    Forbes also explains that a marketing plan should include a statement about why your organization is different from other similar ones. For example, Jimmy John’s uses their slogan “Freaky Fast” to show that they deliver faster than any of their competitors.
  4. Competitor analysis
    Take the time to research your competitors. Inc. explains that you should have a solid understanding of their market, pricing and how their services are different than yours. Including this in your plan will help you determine how you stand out and help you find ways to market those strengths.
  5. Marketing strategy
    Inc. suggests adding in the resources you have for marketing. Does this include comprehensive social media? Websites? Webinars? Conferences? Emails? How will these resources be utilized? And how often? Consider these items when creating your marketing plan.
  6. Conversion strategy
    Forbes explains that you should include how you take interested people and turn them into customers. Do you offer any free content to draw customers in? Do you advertise to people in a certain industry or profession? Lay out how you draw people into your organization.
  7. Budget
    Think through what you can spend on marketing and how the money will be spent. Inc. says this is a crucial element as you will be able to see your return on investment after the plan has been implemented.

The Content Marketing Institute stresses the importance of taking the time to create this plan:
“Many marketers and firms will claim they have the marketing plans in their head, or within the tribal knowledge of the organization. This is simply not good enough. Many firms will have several disparate pieces of a marketing plan spread throughout the organization (i.e., with the sales department, product managers, marketing department, executive leadership team, strategic business planners). But in order for marketing to be successful, your organization must create and own a proper marketing plan, first and foremost.”

Tags:  marketing  strategy 

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Five Things to Consider Before Cancelling Your Conference

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Friday, March 20, 2020
As a result of COVID-19, we are seeing retail stores and restaurants close, artists postpone concerts, and large events such as festivals cancelling. What should you do about a conference you may have scheduled for next month, or even three months from now? Vicki Thein, Director of Events at Ewald Consulting, has a few thoughts on what to consider before cancelling your conference:

 

1.     What does the venue contract say?
Carefully review the terms of your contract with the venue. Check to see if force majeure applies and what it covers. If it does not apply, determine the costs of cancelling and if those funds could be applied toward a future event. Additionally, closely monitor the conditions of the venue location and try to get a sense of how many attendees may cancel in order to help you state your case to the venue if needed.

2.     What do your vendor contracts say?
Like venue contracts, review contracts with your vendors. See if force majeure applies, the costs if it does not and if they could give you credit in the event of a cancellation. The flexibility on cancellations with vendors will vary, so be sure to look at each contract closely.

3.     Is there cancellation insurance?
If you have cancellation insurance, get in contact with your insurance agent as soon as you can as they are very likely becoming overloaded with similar requests.

4.     Are you able to distribute the content virtually?
Are there opportunities for your conference material to be put into a virtual conference, podcasts, or other forms of content? Brainstorm what this might look like and if you think it could be successful.

5.     Financial considerations
Can your organization afford to go without a conference this year? This will be a major factor in your decision. Considering alternative conference options like the ones mentioned above could provide potential sources of revenue.

Additional Resources:

·      Event Industry Council - https://www.eventscouncil.org/
·      Meeting Professionals International - https://www.mpi.org/
·      AMC Institute - https://amci.memberclicks.net/

 

Tags:  association conferences  association events  association management  COVID-19 

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What Traits Define a Good Board Member?

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, March 11, 2020
Updated: Monday, March 9, 2020

Board membersWhen building or assessing your board, it helps to understand what to look for in board members. Board members with the following traits help keep meetings on task and more engaging.

  1. They possess the right context
    Forbes states that there are four key areas of knowledge: industry, business model, stage of growth and a specific field of function (sales, marketing, etc.). Board members who have knowledge in each of these areas can offer better insight.
  2. They understand how to communicate
    This one may seem obvious but having the ability to communicate with others is an essential trait in a board member. This is not just having the courage to speak up when needed, but also the ability to thoughtfully listen to others and respectfully respond.
  3. They have a positive outlook
    Jay Love, the co-founder of Bloomerang, a non-profit software company, stated that the heart of the board often is not the most knowledgeable. He believes having a positive spirit is contagious and will help move your organization forward.
  4. They have a deep passion for the organization
    According to Love, passion is more important than knowledge. A board member who is constantly rooting for the organization and pondering how it can be better is far more valuable than the person who knows everything about the organization but can’t commit wholeheartedly. There is no use in recruiting a great player if they do not want to be on your team.
  5. They want to learn more
    A great board member is aware that they do not know everything. For them, working with others is an opportunity to grow and they are eager to take advantage of trainings and professional development opportunities.

Tags:  board member  board of directors  dynamic non-profit boards  good governance  habits of effective boards 

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Hot Legal Topics for Associations

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Heidi Christianson, shareholder and firm president at Nilan Johnson Lewis, recently gave a presentation for Ewald Consulting staff on the top legal issues pertaining to non-profit associations that her law firm handled during 2019. Here is a short recap.

Certification
Many associations provide certification programs and/or certificate courses, offering specialized education for members and others. Heidi reported that there has been an increased focus recently on international standards, especially ISO. It is helpful if associations can demonstrate separation between the testing and educational aspects of a certification program. In marketing education programs, the association should not imply that people will perform better on a certification exam by taking courses offered by the association. It is also helpful for an association to have a process for any complaints about the certification program.

Member Demand for Special Meeting
Generally, if at least 50 members or 10 percent of the total membership of an association request a special meeting, the association must call a meeting of the members, even if the members request successive meetings. Obviously, holding member meetings requires the commitment of significant cost and time on behalf of staff and the board of directors. Heidi recommends that when member concerns arise, associations set up listening sessions with members rather than trying to shut them down or writing them off as disgruntled. Many times, special member meeting involve perceived conflicts of interest or appearances of unfair benefit within the association. Listening sessions and transparent communication with members can sometimes head off larger-scale member demands. Association staff and leaders should be aware of bylaws provisions regarding special meetings.

Antitrust Concerns
It sometimes happens that one or more association members demand that another member (a competitor) not be allowed to exhibit, sponsor and/or advertise with the organization. Heidi stresses that all members (and non-members) should be treated fairly. Unless a member company has violated a law or regulation (and the association has some type of hard evidence that the law or regulation has been violated), the association should allow that entity the ability to advertise, exhibit or sponsor. It’s OK to charge more for non-members, within reason. Denying a member company the ability to advertise with an association probably would not rise to the level of impeding the ability to do business. Association boards should be cognizant of antitrust issues, and thoughtful about when an association’s decisions may impact a member’s ability to compete in the market.

Please note that the information provided here does not constitute legal advice; please consult with your own legal counsel on your specific situation.

Tags:  association legal issues  association management  non-profit legal issues 

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2020 Technology Trends

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, December 26, 2019
Updated: Wednesday, December 18, 2019

As we wrap up 2019 and begin planning for 2020, here are some technology trends for 2020, according to Gartner analyst and VP Rita Sallam:

  1. Augmented analytics – enables more people to gain insights from data;
  2. Augmented data management – by 2022, data management manual tasks will be reduced 45% with machine learning and automated-service-level management;
  3. NLP (natural language processing)/conversational analytics – by 2020, 50% of analytical queries will be automatically generated by search, NLP or voice;
  4. Graph – the application of graph processing and graph databases will grow 100% annually through 2022, enabling more complex and adaptive data science;
  5. Commercial AI/ML will dominate – there will be more commercial platforms rather than open source to manage artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques;
  6. Data storytelling and visualization – creating meaning from numbers to take action, by understanding the story that data are telling us.

For more insights and trends from Gartner: https://www.informationweek.com/big-data/ai-machine-learning/10-data-and-analytics-trends-for-2020/d/d-id/1336310

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Improve Board Performance Through Role Clarity

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Wednesday, December 18, 2019

For a board to work effectively, it must be clear about the role of the board collectively and the roles of the individuals who comprise the board. According to the 2017 BoardSource Leading with Intent study, many boards receive average grades on understanding their roles and responsibilities. 37% of CEOs and 25% of chairs give their boards a “C” grade or below in this area. Further, boards with higher grades of “A” or “B” perform much better across many areas of board work:

Survey Results: Clarity of Board Roles

These data demonstrate a correlation between a board’s understanding of its roles and responsibilities and board performance.

To strengthen your board performance through better role clarity, consider:

  • Accurate job descriptions for officers and other board members. Assure these are read and understood by each individual and understood within the context of other members’ job descriptions;
  • Ongoing board education about the organization’s bylaws, policies and procedures. These are required reading, plain and simple, and should provide good guidance on how the organization works in addition to providing good context for how individuals work;
  • Solid understanding of the governance and staffing org chart: Who reports to whom, who is accountable for what, etc.;
  • Ongoing board education about the organization’s products and services. Individuals should not limit themselves to a good understanding of their own accountabilities but need to understand others’ as well to have functional context for their own roles;
  • Understanding of the organization’s business model. Know how the organization makes its money, spends its money and to what desired ends.

The preceding is not an exhaustive list. But before you get into deeper conversations about your board’s performance, make sure you are considering some of these fundamentals. Many organizations find these items to be low-hanging fruit when it comes to boosting board performance.

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Transition from Traditional Board Meeting Agendas

Posted By Ewald Consulting, Thursday, December 5, 2019

people sitting around table in a board roomThe issue, as anyone who has served on a board or managed a board can tell you, is that most board meetings are boring and ineffective.  They tend to focus on reporting instead of using their time to discuss important matters and to make effective decisions. The International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals (IARP) is no different, with five different sections and several committees that all want to ensure their work toward ongoing objectives is shared with the other board members.  As a result, this reporting took approximately three-quarters of each meeting—leaving little time to work together to solve issues or to further develop their strategic plans.

The leadership and staff spent a great deal of time discussing how to more effectively use staff and volunteer time before, during and after board meetings; so in June 2018, they began utilizing a standard report template that each board member would upload onto their Higher Logic folder/file system.  A file system had been built within their Board of Directors folder system with a folder for each board meeting and within those, folders for an agenda, board reports, financials as well as additional items.  Each month, a reminder email would be sent to the board 5-7 days prior to the meeting that included the directions on how to upload the file.  This process has worked extremely well and has saved staff many hours working to obtain, compile and deliver board reports. This process was well received and has had very positive feedback

With the standard report process in place, the leadership decided to take things a step further and proceeded to re-organize their board agenda.  In June 2019, they eliminated reporting items and requested from board members agenda items that would drive discussions.  They worked with staff to build a new agenda template and new processes which included requiring board members to read through all of the uploaded reports prior to each meeting to be prepared. 

The first step that was implemented involved staff working with the board to establish a roll-out timeline to coincide with one of IARP’s three in-person board meetings where a full explanation of the reasoning could be shared, and a complete review of the materials and processes would be communicated.  The reason for the in-person explanation and directive was to ensure that each board member understood the purpose and the new process, which would then lead to greater participation.

The second step included developing thorough explanations and directions for the new process and tools.  Many board members were unsure about their ability to work within the new system—but with consistent messaging and patient assistance, we have been able to ease them into the new process.  We have worked closely with our volunteers for the first few months to coach them how to think differently and to establish timelines and consistent directives.

The final process included a reminder email sent by staff 5-7 days prior to each board meeting.  The reminder included directions on how to upload their reports as well as a request for discussion/decision agenda items no less than 3 days prior to the board meeting so the agenda could be uploaded with plenty of time for review. 

As a result of implementing this new agenda, the IARP board meetings now consist of meaningful dialogue and effective decision making.  We have received very positive feedback as the board has been able to focus more time on strategic plans, future objectives and necessary discussions/decisions.  They have seen less wasted time and consequently feel more involved and capable of leading others.

To manage ongoing effectiveness, the board will assess the process annually and will correct course as necessary.

Tags:  association management  board  Case Study  meetings 

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