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8 Tips to Get People to Open Direct Mail

Posted By Kate-Madonna Hindes, Friday, April 3, 2015

If you’re anything like me, you spend a good portion of your morning cleaning out your inbox, quickly deleting emails that you deem uninteresting or irrelevant. Those emails have about two seconds to grab my attention, to make me want to open them.

Then you come home from the office and grab your mail. Almost as rapid-fire as the morning’s “delete email” process, many mail pieces find their way into my recycling bin. Eye-catching helps. Design helps. Color helps. But it is no easy task for a piece of mail to land on my “keep and open” pile.

If you’re in the world of marketing, you want to be one of the lucky ones – one of the chosen emails that get clicked through, read and shared. One of the mail pieces that gets opened, read and saved. But how can you up your chances?  Here are some tips that will help make this happen:


1) Intrigue with Your Subject Line

There is something to be said for creating a subject line that grabs attention, since many times, that might be the only shot you’ve got to get someone to even open the email. I believe the subject line is the most important part of the entire email.  You know to whom and why you are reaching out, so be sure to think about that before selecting the type of subject line you want. Some pointers:

  • Keep it short and sweet
  • Use controversy, shock, humor, personalization, mystery, alliteration, questions, a promise of a list (I’m much more likely to open an email that says “Top 10 Best Minnesota Pizza Joints” or “Who Likes Deep-Dish Pizza?” than one that says “Minnesota Pizza Places.”)
  • Avoid spammy words such as “Buy Now” or “Free”
  • Creating a sense of urgency can work to your advantage. If today is the last day for me to register at an early bird rate, you better believe I’ll want to know that in my subject line.
  • Leave ‘em hangin’. If you really want a high open rate, feed people a taste but don’t offer up the whole menu. “The scholarship winners are…” or “You’ll never believe who is coming to the XYZ event…”


2) Know Your Audience

Do you have a quality email list? What does everyone on the list have in common? Do they share a career choice? Would they all benefit from attending a specific conference? Are they all in one part of the country? To what kind of niche are you reaching, and why? Find the commonality and use it to your advantage when writing your email. Not only will it make it feel more personal to the reader, but it will be more effective in achieving its end goal. 


3) Get to the Point

If I open an email and have to scroll more than once, forget about it. Keep your emails short and to the point. You know why you’re writing it, so let your readers know right up front. Of course, you can  (and should) add some information backing up the point, but pour all of that out after you’ve made your point. Don’t overwhelm your reader. This can be said for the content within an email as well as the regularity of blasting out the emails. If a company sends me more than three emails per week, I’m much more tempted to hit the Unsubscribe button.


4) Choose the Best Send Time

People sleep at night, so don’t send a blast email during the night. Then they wake up , buzz through their inbox while sipping their coffee, and are much more generous in their delete selection than they would be if they received that same email in the middle of their day. For business-related emails, try avoid sending on Mondays, Fridays, and weekends.




1) Make it Visual

The layout matters. The image/word relationship matters. A clean visual look that does not overwhelm or bore me? Yup. It matters. If you know who will be receiving this mail piece, use your best judgment to gear your look towards what will entice them most. A big part of marketing is knowing your market.


2) Cover Your Basics

There are some important pieces you’ll never want to forget on a mail piece – your brand, event dates, locations, and times. Assume people know nothing and start from square one. Hit them with the specifics once the important, basic stuff is out of the way.


3) Consider Your Medium

How will your message be received? A back-to-back postcard may hold less information but can pack more punch sometimes than a full catalogue. An envelope can serve as just one more figurative wall for recipients to break through to get to your message, so be sure to consider that. Obviously, items sent as a different size or on a special paper, etc. will be much more attention-grabbing, but also will be much more expensive to create.


4) Make it Personal

If done tastefully and smartly, customizing a mailing with a name or another tidbit of personal information can be very beneficial. It can make a person feel more like an individual rather than just one of the herd. And who wants to be a part of the herd? Not me.


This post was written by Nicki Brunner. Nicki is Ewald Consulting's Art Director. 

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Six Things to Remember When a Reporter Calls

Posted By Jess Myers, Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Interacting with the media can sometimes be intimidating, but it does not need to be. Following six simple tips for dealing with the media can help make the difference between a productive interview and a disaster.

1)     Be prepared. Or more accurately, don’t be unprepared.

You’re in the middle of nine things at once, when you get a call that you’re not prepared to deal with. So don’t. Ask what they want to talk about, ask for a few sample questions, and ask for their deadline. Politely tell the person on the other end that you will have to get more information and call them back. Then, vitally important, get the information, and call them back. Make yourself some notes that answer their questions, and underscore the main points you want to get across. Don’t go into the call if you’re unprepared.

2)     Know who you are speaking to.

If you get a call from the lifestyle writer for your local community newspaper, odds are they’re probably looking to write a nice, positive story, and it’s something in which you will want to participate. If you get a call from an investigative reporter at Dateline NBC and they have questions about policy, it’s probably something different and you should be more cautious.


In addition to knowing who you’re speaking to, anticipate their questions, and have thought-out, helpful answers ready.


3)     Everything is on the record.

When you’re talking to a reporter, you’re never “just chatting.” Everything you say, from the minute you say hello, to the minute you hang up, can and will be used. Saying, “this is off the record” means very little to most reporters. In fact, most will say “then don’t tell me” if it’s off the record.


4)     Don’t bluff.

Reporters can smell bluffing a mile away. If you don’t know the answer to a question, it’s OK to say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have that information. Let me get it for you or find someone who can answer that.” In fact, it’s much better to say that than to try to fake your way through an answer.

If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification. Trying to bluff your way through an answer is going to leave the reporter unsatisfied, at best, and can be disastrous.

5)     If you’re asked about a problem, talk about a solution.

The mark of a great politician for years has been the ability to take a question about a problem and provide an answer about an opportunity. So for example, if a reporter calls and asks about a safety issue, talk about all of the strict measures in place to help prevent safety problems. If the reporter asks about an issue with a web site, and appropriate answer would be to cite all of the measures in place to find and fix web site problems. They ask about a problem, you talk about a solution.

6)     Don’t argue or debate.

The old adage on dealing with reporters has been, don’t get into a fight with folks who buy ink by the barrel. Always remember, they will have the last word. At worst, say “we clearly see things differently, but let me look into that further.” And again, look into it further, and call them back.


If you have questions or concerns before the interview, speaking with a media relations professional can help. Even if it’s just for a few minutes before you conduct an interview, a professional can help develop talking points, relax and focus you, and remove some of the intimidation. Ewald Consulting’s media relations department is on call to help with these kinds of situations. Call or email anytime we can be of service.

Tags:  ewald consulting  media  public relations 

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The Biggest Thing I’ve Learned in Marketing

Posted By Sai Yang, Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, March 10, 2015
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I’ve been working with Ewald Consulting for almost three months as a Digital Marketing Specialist. I’ve learned many lessons about marketing and content development. I feel very blessed with what I’ve already experienced and know there’s even more to come.

I’ve recently started writing down a lessoned learned each day. Sometimes they’re really small (like, sleep more) and sometimes they’re larger.

One important lesson I’m learning is:

keep it simple

I’m sure you’ve heard of the saying, “less is more.” When putting together content for social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you’ll want to make it simple. Consider what your audience needs and consider your purpose with every post.

I started noticing that there was more engagements and interactions, once I began putting fresh content on our social media. For example, if someone wrote a blog post for our website, I shared it on social media. I learned to add new, relevant content for social media- simply because it increased our engagement. And, believe it or not- simple was best. People enjoyed our posts about the team and internal workings of Ewald Consultant most!  

Remember:  When developing content for social media choose your words wisely. When you start to write a lot on a single post, you can lose your audience’s attention. Therefore, you’ll want to put the most important caption at the beginning and make it simple by giving less. I know, that’s one thing I learned!

Tags:  ewald consulting  keep it simple  lessons  marketing  sai yang 

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Testifying at the Capitol: March Ewald Webinar

Posted By Valerie Dosland, Wednesday, March 4, 2015
Updated: Monday, March 2, 2015

As our 2015 Legislative session is in full swing, do you have a solid plan in place when you testify at the Capitol? Our own Valerie Dosland, Director of Government Affairs, touches on key points to help prepare you to give the best testimonial before Congress.

» Listen to the webinar here


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An affinity for success or failure?

Posted By David Ewald, CAE and Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Thursday, February 26, 2015
Untitled Document

Three quick tests to gauge the strength of your affinity program

Non-dues revenue has steadily become more essential as associations aim to balance their budgets through diversified income streams. Membership dues are no longer the leading revenue source for many associations. The search for new sources of non-dues revenue often includes consideration of potential affinity programs.

Done well, an affinity program can be a way to reinforce the association’s value proposition to individual and corporate members. Done poorly, it can become a catch-all discount program that dilutes the message to members and distracts staff and volunteer energy away from work that is central to the association’s mission without adding substantial value. Perhaps your association is considering an affinity program of its own. If so, here are a few quick steps may to get you started.

It is important that any affinity program meet three tests:

  1. Exclusivity of Access. The program must provide a real benefit to members that is not easily available to them through other means or off the street through "hard bargaining."
  2. Benefit to the Association. The program must include a significant benefit to the Association from the providing entity. This benefit must be more than "you will get more members because of this affinity program." In other words, there should be a financial incentive or free in-kind service to the association in exchange for endorsing or adopting the program. It should also align to the association’s mission.
  3. Provider Marketing. There must be willingness and intention by the providing entity to actively market the program.

In addition to these three tests, affinity programs are most likely to be successful if they address an industry-specific need of the members. The American Society of Association Executives and Center for Association Leadership has published a variety of articles that discuss affinity programs and affirm this point. It is important to prioritize what you are going after for the member. Bear in mind that those you approach about an affinity program must see something in it for themselves as well.

How to begin

  1. Prioritize a list of up to 10 different programs that could best meet the criteria discussed above.
  2. Survey members regarding their preferences and collect data from them regarding the potential market size so that can be leveraged when approaching potential providers. Also, review your current data on your members to develop a profile of your membership. Don’t underestimate the value that your members bring to the table if there’s a good match between the affinity program and your membership. If there’s real interest, the program will succeed and add real value to the member value proposition. It must be win-win for both the member and the affinity program and a real partnership where both parties are vested in the success of the program.
  3. Selectively approach vendors to implement a few programs at a time so the association can gauge interest and success. These results can be leveraged if the association decides to approach additional vendors in the future.

It is essential to keep in mind that implementing these activities can be very time-consuming — so they really must accomplish something that makes it worthwhile for both the Association and the member. If it adds real value, it will be worth the effort to put time and resources to the activity. In addition, it must be integrated in the marketing plan for the association as we need to remind our members of the value of their membership throughout the year as well as expand the membership base by providing a compelling value proposition.

Tags:  affinity  affinity program  david ewald  ewald consulting  failure  kathie pugaczewski  success 

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Understanding Social Reach: Why Small Organizations and Associations Suffer on Facebook

Posted By Kate-Madonna Hindes, Friday, February 13, 2015
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There’s one truth to digital media: Reach, is an ever-evolving puzzle. In 2013, Facebook claimed that graphics were out performing text content. We saw a dramatic increase in graphically-enhanced posts which helped de-clutter long, text posts. However, Facebook changed their algorithm again in late 2013 and smaller brands took notice, mainly because it was their reach that was being hurt most.

At Ewald Consulting, we’ve noticed that organic reach, (reach that was shared from individuals, not bots or advertisements) was dramatically slowing. For smaller organizations and associations, this can hit harder, especially as overall organic content is calculated at being shown to less than 3% of a group or organization’s fans. This truth has created skepticism and caused many brands to dismiss Facebook as a communication and marketing platform. Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm and reach is causing brands to disengage from the platform both mentally and physically. When we view something as unworthy of our understanding or time, it creates resentment. As marketers, we need to stop resenting Facebook and start understanding Facebook for what it is: A tool.

While it may seem to some that social media and digital marketing are fickle, complicated worlds, they rarely are. Facebook recently released a report that stated that video content is shared more frequently than other posts. In fact, we’ve seen this underlining trend perform well across multiple platforms.  It’s not the video marketing that’s capturing eyes: It’s the fact that the video shared is worth watching.

"Facebook is a place where if your friends are discussing something, they're sharing something or commenting on something, a video can dramatically outperform YouTube, and that's never really happened before," said Brian Shin, CEO of Visible Measures.

I was recently quoted in Adweek discussing how important it is to remember that Facebook is an advertising platform, first and foremost. Whether you’re a non-profit or association organization, when we neglect to interact the way the platform demands, we are punished. Take advertising for example,

“The problem is when a non-profit refuses to pay for advertisements, or rely solely on Facebook for social messaging. Many non-profits forget about the value of conversation on Twitter and the impressions that Pinterest and Instagram allow. We knew organic reach was dwindling in 2013, social is a single facet of the diamond, and a marketing plan can’t shine without everything coming together.”

How can you get the most out of your Facebook investment? Marry great content with shareable graphics and video. Don’t hesitate to spend $20-30 to boost a post to a targeted audience. In putting on our association management hat, I often suggest to our clients to utilize Facebook’s targeting to help gain exposure for those that are on the fence about joining the organization.  While a single article may not help convert them to association members, targeted quality content with a call-to-action that is of value, will. Facebook is a tool, and should be treated like a tool. If we’re only using Facebook because it’s a free platform, our marketing will underwhelm and underperform. I often stress to organizations, that it’s an attitude change. We aren’t on there because it’s trendy. We’re on there, creating content that is shareable because we’ve invested in the platform and it’s a necessary facet to complete the marketing funnel.

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Engaging Millennials in Associations

Posted By Sai Yang, Wednesday, February 11, 2015
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As a Millennial, going into the workforce can be quite a challenge when I feel that I’m constantly being judged because of my generation. Millennials tend to get bad reputations, mostly from Gen-Xer’s and Baby Boomers. I grew up in a rapidly developing technology society; having access to information from any place, at any time, from any device. I find myself constantly multitasking; whether that is responding to emails, doing an intense homework assignment, and or juggling two jobs to name a few. Just because I don’t desire a typical 9-to-5 work day, this doesn’t mean I want to work less. As Millennials, our priorities are different now. Within a few years if not already, companies will find their association aging. Millennials will be everywhere and it can be tricky to work with them if you don’t know how to engage with them. Here are a few ways I liked to be engaged.

  • Learning and Development: It is important that I have ongoing and learning professional development. I am a team player. I enjoy working with others. To obtain growth, it is best that I work and learn from other employees in order to improve my work ethic.
  • Constant Feedback: Millennials are very familiar with social media such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc. and the idea of constantly updating our status. We love feedbacks. We are looking to our management team and colleagues to be our mentors. I benefit greatly from receiving these feedbacks about the work I do. Millennials expect openness and transparency.
  • Responsibility: At any given chance, I want to be able to have ownership of my work. I want my work to mean something to me. The best way to engage Millennials is by having them be involved in the workplace. We have a very care-free attitude but we get the work done! 

Tags:  engaging millennials  sai yang  social media 

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How To Build A Press Kit

Posted By Jess Myers, Wednesday, February 4, 2015
Updated: Monday, February 2, 2015
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When you want the media to know all about your organization, and all about your current issues of interest, there are two basic ways to go about it.

You can answer the phone when they call, and spend 15 minutes telling them all the ins and outs of who you are and what you’re about. Those opportunities are great, if rare. More often than not, media relations are a proactive, not reactive, business.

The second approach is to prepare a press kit, so when the media wants to know about you and what your group advocates, you’ve got all of the information prepared in a convenient package for them. Press kits are a staple of the media relations word, and can be tailored to meet whatever project you’re advocating, or which segment of the media you’re reaching.

The classic press kit is a paper folder filled with several types of information that you hand out, or mail, to members of the media upon request. The more modern press kit has entered the electronic realm, with most press kit materials deliverable via email, and the capabilities expanding to include audio and video.

Whether you go paper or electronic, press kits should contain some of the same basic elements:

  • Press release – This is the heart of any press kit. It provides the newest news, regarding whatever is hot right now for your organization. It could be an announcement of an award winner or a promotion, a reaction to a hot issue in your realm, the preview of an annual conference, etc. It should be the first thing people see when they open your press kit.
  • Background – Have information about your organization. Who you are, how long you’ve been around, your mission, your membership numbers, etc. This can be in bullet point “quick facts” format or as a narrative.
  • Bios – Key members of your organization, if relevant, should have bio sheets in a press kit. A simple one- to three-paragraph description of who they are and why they’re an important part of your mission. Include head shots in reproducible form if their photos are needed or likely to be used by the press.
  • Statistics – It’s hard to describe a pie chart over the phone, but in a press kit, it’s a perfect place to include any charts, graphs or other visuals that illustrate your core points.
  • Photos – Anything visual is good, as it catches the eye and it works to tell your story.
  • Business cards – Absolutely vital to include ways that people can make contact after the fact. Many folders come with a built-in place to hold business cards. If not, in a physical press kit, staple a card to the top page, so it’s visible when people open the folder.

It’s good to keep a few basic press kits on hand as handouts when meeting with the media, as a basic backgrounder on your organization and your issue. It’s also wise to make .pdf files of your handouts, so they can be easily emailed, if you’re not physically meeting with members of the media.

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The Association “Data”ing Game

Posted By Kathie Pugaczewski, CAE, CMP, Vice President, Communication & Technology Department, Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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With access to technology tools that in the recent past were limited to Fortune 500 company budgets, associations now have the ability to effectively and strategically play the “data”ing game. Our challenge now is limited to human resources coupled with unlimited technology choices. To be impactful and sustainable, we need to create relevance and meaning from the proliferation of information.  And while it’s tempting to go wide and try several strategies, we need to take a deeper dive in fewer areas to start the “data”ing game and commit to a few strategies long enough to create lasting results.

Data tells a story.  It connects the dots and provides context and creates meaning so we can make better decisions to meet and anticipate the needs of our members. It appeals to the whole brain – right and left - with both qualitative and quantitative components to complete the picture.

Amazon, iTunes and google all use data attributes to drive sales, customer engagement and loyalty. They know our preferences and sell more to us by utilizing the data we give them with our transactions. We can do the same with our members on a different scale.

Our primary data source that we can start with is our member database. We keep “score” every month with our excel dashboard of joins, renews, total members as well as member retention. But are we doing anything meaningful to change the outcome of the game? When we use members’ specialties and interests to drive involvement, create community, identify trends, develop new offerings, we are aggregating the data and giving it back to our members in ways that are relevant to them on a personal level.

Our website stats show us who is visiting our website, how long they are staying and when they leave. A strong ongoing content development plan that builds resources will give our members a reason to return again and again.

Our accounting software can identify trends in membership, professional development and conference revenue as well as identify low net revenue offerings that may not be driving value for the members that we should consider cutting so we can focus on what’s most valuable to the members.
On our email stats are we breaking through the online noise with a compelling message? Is it too often or not enough? Is it visual enough? Is our social media enhancing our communication strategy? Are we facilitating conversations and offering compelling content that engages members into an ongoing conversation and community?

When we go deeper, beyond the act of merely collecting data, we can see patterns and make predictions to serve our members better as well as engage them in the work of the association.

According to ASAE’s Decision to Volunteer, the top five inhibitors to volunteering include:

  1. Lack of information about opportunities to volunteer –create an association job board
  2. Conflict with other volunteering activity – diversify volunteer base with short term commitment opportunities
  3. Never asked to volunteer – number one reason people don’t join as well – ask, people want to give
  4. Lack of information about virtual volunteering  - social media, emailing members, defined projects
  5. Lake of information about short-term assignments – committee structure not working, create action teams

The top five drivers to Volunteering

  1. It’s important to help others – it’s not all about what we can do for them but rather what they can do for us
  2. Do something for profession/cause important to me – mission needs to be compelling – are we inspiring?
  3. Feel compassion for others – altruistic motivation
  4. Gain new perspectives – learn from peers, mentorship and career growth
  5. Explore my own strengths – personal development, something they may not be getting from their job

Associations must get into the “data”ing game to retain and gain members, engage volunteers, create content for our websites, target professional development offerings, increase sponsorships, exhibitor and advertising sales and give data back to the members in a form that they can use in their own professions. A few moves, and let the games and success begin!

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Posted By Monte Abeler, Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Updated: Tuesday, January 20, 2015
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You’ve probably heard the famous phrase, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”  Undoubtedly, there is a lot of evidence proving the validity of that phrase.  Kodak would be one example, as the photography giant was completely overrun by digital photography. However, a plan doesn’t magically transform into success all by itself. That would be like trying to create water with hydrogen alone. You need the oxygen! It would be like a farmer having seed and a plan for what to do with it, but never actually sitting down in the tractor and making the effort to plant; there’s a component missing. You probably know where I’m going with this.  Yes, we truly need both direction and action.  So what is, “Dir-Action,” exactly? It’s an epic combination of direction and action, giving you an opportunity for success. 

Take some time to ponder the following questions:

  1. Do I (we) have a clear direction?

    If your answer is NO, I would recommend holding a strategic planning session.  You can find countless advice and opinions on the best way to conduct strategic planning, and there a lot of successful ways to do it. When it’s all said and done, just make sure you know the mission, understand the direction, and are clear on the goals set to move forward. If your answer is YES, continue on to question two. 

  2. Are you taking intentional action on your direction?

    If your answer is NO, I would encourage you to pinpoint the reason why action isn’t happening. Common causes include vagueness in regard to who is responsible for certain tasks, a lack of accountability to complete assigned responsibilities, apathetic volunteers, volunteer work overload, and the absence of a timeline. Once you have the reason pinpointed you should be able to reestablish forward progress.  Smartsheets, Basecamp, and ProWorkFlow are three resources you may wish to consider to help with project management and deadline completion. If your answer is YES, then congratulations are in order.

Tags:  clear direction  ewald consulting  kate madonna hindes  success  take action 

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MANAGEMENT | View all Management articles
A Successful Year Starts with a Solid Budget by Bill Monn
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MARKETING | View all Marketing articles
9 Marketing Ideas for Your Organization by Kathie Pugaczewski
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MEMBERSHIP | View all Membership articles
A Holistic Approach to Membership Recruitment by Darrin Hubbard
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VOLUNTEERISM | View all Volunteerism articles
Three Ways to Stronger Volunteer Engagement by Paul Hanscom
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