Friday, May 29, 2009

So You Want to Market...

This photo is from martinstabe's photostream on Flickr.

As writer of this blog and because of my past and present experience, I have the privilege of talking to a lot of people about how to market their products and services. And lately it seems I'm doing a lot of coaching for start ups. (Lucky me!)

Here are my words of wisdom.

I like to divide the discipline of marketing up in to 2 big buckets. See above.

1 ) The first bucket is content - what you're going to say.
2) The second bucket is the tools you can use. This bucket includes both promotional tools, like email, direct mail, advertising, PR, etc. and community building tools, like some blogs (mine is not a good example), Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc.
Both of these buckets must be viewed and approached through the lens of a customer (see the guy with book) or in the case of communal tools - a member. But this is a WHOLE other subject for another day.
Today I want to talk a little about bucket 1 - content - because this is the beast that is often overlooked and may make or break your marketing efforts. Why? Because regardless of the tools you use to connect with others, if you have nothing to say you will never succeed.
(Note: I'm using customer and member here as universal code for "the people you want to reach." So customer can mean different things to you.)

Content comes in two distinct forms.
Promotional content like radio commercials, advertisements in the Yellow Page or an e-newsletter often have the tenor of a "pitch," i.e. I am the seller and you are the reader and my job is to tell you about me in the hopes that you will act on this information.
Communal content, on the other hand, is about having a conversation and has much more of an educational tone. Types of content that fall into this category are whitepapers, webinars, teleseminars, blog posts and Twitter feeds.

A caveat: This is a false dichotomy. Some ads spark questions and conversation and there are many Facebook profiles that look like they were created by a traditional car salesman! However, the point is that you need a mix of both types and if you have to choose - choose to create communal content.

Here's how you do it.

1) You've got to have some expertise and passion in your subject area. This is a no-brainer but is so often overlooked! If you don't know or care much about what you sell, it will be hard to stay motivated to share information about these topics. Worse, you'll be spreading misinformation.

2) You've got to have time to think, connect and converse! This is a huge issue for anyone who develops content on a regular basis (trust me) and you would be very wise to include these capacities (both time and personnel) in your marketing plan.

3) You've got to have the right media for the job. (See bucket 2 above.) Different media require and attract different content. For example, you can't showcase your editorial and educational content via an ad. Too expensive. Instead you'd be better off using a blog. And you can't pitch via your Twitter feed. NO ONE WILL LISTEN! This is better left to a print ad.
In summary, marketing is about both content and tools. You need both to do the job right. However, all content is not all created equal. To build content that adds value, showcases your good thinking and enables you to be part of the communities your cherish you need the time, talent and passion to feed the beast.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Who do you watch?

I talk to a lot of people every week. It's my job. It's also my passion.

I love meeting new people. I like hearing what other folks are reading, thinking and learning, etc. So at some point in every conversation with a new contact, I make a point to ask this question, "who do you watch?"

Who do you watch is code for:
  • Who do you admire?
  • Who inspires you?
  • Who would you LOVE to work for?
  • In short, in your view, what people and organizations kick ass!
This simple question has helped me expand my network exponentially. I highly recommend it. It's enabled me to reach new folks and learn about organizations that were not on my radar. It's also validated my intuition that some rock stars are on everyone's list.

In case you're interested. Here is a list of folks that I watch.

1. HubSpot Inbound Marketing Blog - I can't say enough about good things about these guys & gals and I pimp them out so often you'd think I was on the payroll! Mike Volpe and his team are SO generous with their thinking (They give away tons of free whitepapers, webinars, etc.). In addition to developing new services to help small businesses (including nonprofits) market, they just launched Inbound Marketing University to help us all get better at attracting vs. pitching business.

2. Andy Sernovitz's Damn I Wish I Thought of That - Anyone clever enough to choose this name for a blog makes my A list. While I don't know Andy personally, I sure feel like I do and of course this is why he's so interesting. In addition, to making you feel like he's your friend, Andy makes excellent use of specific case studies to show vs. tell us how organizations and corporations are using social media to achieve their goals. Helpful.

3. Andy Goodman doesn't write a blog (maybe he's the smartest of all) but he does give it up regularly here (for a reasonable fee). He's been sharing his great thinking for years regarding how to improve nonprofit communications and is hands down the best advisor on how to create great PowerPoint presentations.

4. Free Range Studios - I don't know the folks at FRS (yet) but I LOVE their work. Check out their website, it oozes personality. They are the creative geniuses behind The Story of Stuff.

5. Care2 - I watch Care2 carefully because they are sort of a competitor. But I also watch them because they are really smart folks who are helping nonprofits take email marketing to the next level. Both Allyson Kapin (the editor of their blog) and Heather Holdridge (their political sales gal) are smart cookies. Both have done a lot of thinking and writing about the ROI of email marketing vs. social media. (In case you're wondering, email marketing wins.)

So that's my list of people to watch. And you? Who do you pay attention to?

*Thanks to Allison Fine for suggesting that it's more important to watch people than organizations in the Connected Age. "There are so many smart people out on the Web these days, I don't watch organizations anymore. I watch people."

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

It's Tough Out Here These Days

This photo is from Ronn ashore's photo stream.

People are losing their jobs, institutions are crumbling, wars continue...

I think it's fair to say that we are all experiencing a strong dose of anxiety.

You know anxiety, don't you? That vague, unpleasant, sometimes persistent emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some (usually ill-defined) misfortune.

I know I'm having my fair share of it. Everything seems to be in flux - economically, politically and socially and as Lucy Bernholz says "it's not a recession, it's a restructuring."

What's a human being to do?

I learned an interesting fact the other day. It's important to complain! Apparently the amygdala - the control center in our brains for emotions - is somewhat soothed by kvetching. You can learn more here. On the other hand, it's also important to get to work. However, I don't mean "work" in the usual sense of going to the office but good work, meaningful work, work that makes the world better.

The form of this type of work doesn't matter - you can volunteer at a school, read to an older person, write a poem or take your child for a long walk. You can read a beautiful book and share it with your neighbor. This type of work is all about CONNECTING to others and (in turn) to the deepest parts of OURSELVES and it's one of the best defenses against going mad!

I hope you'll take time out today to connect with someone else. To slow down, to say "hello," to ask a genuine question. It's tough out here these days and we need to turn to each other for healing, kindness and support.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Email is Still a Killer App

NTEN and M+R Strategic Services released the eNonprofit Benchmark Survey today and confirmed what many of us already knew - when it comes to raising money, staying in touch and doing advocacy online email is still a killer app!

You should check out the full survey which can be downloaded for FREE! It's chock full of good stats which you can use as a benchmark for your own online program. For example, if you are wondering how your open and click thru rates stack up, this study will provide a clear point of comparison. You'll also hear how specific nonprofits are integrating text and video into their online campaigns via a few interesting case studies.

Here are some findings which jumped out at me.
  • Online fundraising is up 26% but average donations are down.

  • 3% of all online gifts came from what you could call major donors - folks who gave $250 or more - but these donors account for nearly 40% of all money raised.

  • Small donations ($50 or less), while they make up a smaller percentation of total revenue (20%) grew by 10%. What this means for you. Keep an eye on both taking care of your major donors and bringing more small-dollar donors onto your online file.

  • Email lists continue to "churn" at about a 20% annually. In other words, 20% of email addresses go bad each year. This means that you've got to keep an eye on building your subscriber list. For 10 tips on how to build your email list, go here.



Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Distributed Marketing the Key to Your Fundraising Success

Check out my new column in the May edition of Fundraising Success magazine.
  • Are you pushing your content out via the Web?
  • Are you helping your stakeholders help you by giving them interesting content to spread?
  • Are you taking advantage of YouTube and Facebook and other heavily trafficked sites and using these platforms to share information about your cause?
If not, why not?


Friday, May 8, 2009

Blogger Outreach. Tread Lightly.

It's official. I'm a publisher and here's how I know.

I'm getting a lot of requests (several per week) to publish others' ideas, studies, services, etc. via my blog. Strange thing is, I'm both honored and annoyed. Here's why.

On the one hand, being asked to publish other folks' work means that "I've arrived," i.e. my blog now has enough visitors (thanks to you dear reader) to make it a worthwhile promotional vehicle.

On the other hand, it's crystal clear to me that most of the folks who write me aren't interested in me. They're just interested in me writing up their stuff.

Here's an example of one such request sans identifying markers.
Hi Jocelyn,

In light of Obama's decision to include $70 million in funding for neglected tropical diseases in his Global Health Budget, I thought you might be interested in speaking with X, Managing Director of Y. Here is what X had to say today,

“We applaud the President’s decision to include funding for neglected tropical diseases in his Global Health Budget. The return on investment for the American people will be enormous.

“For Americans who question the need to spend this money abroad when there are so many pressing needs at home, we only need to look as far the global impact of the H1N1 outbreak to understand how the rest of the world’s health impacts us.

“Cost-effective investment in life-saving medicine for the world’s most vulnerable populations will not only improve health but strengthen our relationships with countries in strategic parts of the globe.”

Feel free to share this statement with your readers. If you'd prefer to speak with X, I'd be happy to put you in touch with her to further discuss the impact of this funding.

Just let me know how I can best be of assistance.

Hmmm. What's wrong with this picture?

1) I don't know anything about Global Health. (Hint: That's why I don't write about it.) The goal of this blog has always been to share my thoughts (and hopefully yours ) regarding new ways to market in the Connected Age.

2) I don't know X and X doesn't know me so from a relationship point of view I have no incentive to publish this post.

3) X isn't reaching out to me, her publicist is. The problem here is that the onus is on me to do the work to connect with the publicist (who I don't know either) who will then put me in touch with X. But I'm not a newspaper with a research staff. I'm an n of 1. This is why it's so important for me to know and trust my "sources."

Blogger outreach isn't a bad idea. In fact, it may make a lot of sense for you to incorporate it into your PR strategy. BUT (and it's a big BUT) public relations on- or offline is still about RELATIONSHIPS. And blogs are more personal than MSM (mainstream media) so unless you're pitching the Huffington Post you must approach blogger outreach in a personal way.

I'm honored that people view Marketing for Nonprofits as a good platform for spreading their news and I'm happy when people forward interesting and relevant information to me. But I'm still a person first and I'm much more likely to publish your stuff after I get to know you.

So send me a PERSONAL email. Read, share and critique what I write. Comment. Seriously, thoughtful comments are worth their weight in gold. (I'll be indebted to you forever. :)) In short, make a genuine connection with me BEFORE you ask me to promote your stuff.



Friday, May 1, 2009

And the Nonprofit Social Network Survey Says...

This photo is by hfabulous.
  • Interested in learning more about how other nonprofits are using social networking sites like Facebook, MySpace and Ning?
  • Want to know how much money and time charitable orgs are spending in cyberspace?
  • Interested in learning how nonprofits are organized internally to manage social media?
Check out this new report by NTEN, Common Knowledge and ThePort.

You have to register to get the FREE download but here are the highlights.
  • 74% of nonprofits have a presence on Facebook with an average of 5,391 members.
  • 26% of nonprofits have a presence on MySpace with an average of 1,905 members.
  • 81% of nonprofits have at least 1/4 FTE staff member dedicated to maintaining their social networking site(s).
  • Social networking is NOT about raising money (at least yet). Instead, according to the survey, # of members and amount of user-generated content are better metrics for success.
The key takeaway for me is that you've got to be clear about what you want to do with social networking BEFORE you dive in. And you've got to be realistic about the limitations and strengths of the medium for organizational advancement.