Tue, January 06 2009
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Here are some of the things I did today in addition to working all day, doing carpool and writing sixth grade school applications:
I removed gum from my older daughter’s hair (mayonnaise works). She has “no idea” how this happened.
I listened to my five year old read her first book start to finish. Wow.
I found out a $100 gift card I sent my dad never arrived so I tried to call customer service at the company but they’re not open.
I worried about my bank account post-holiday.
All of this unfolded to the musical accompaniment of an iDog playing Rihanna.
So what’s my point here?
This is daily life. Doing an Internet search for gum removal, smearing Hellman’s on a child’s hair, handling the daily inconveniences, watching a child cross a massive developmental milestone, listening to your preteen’s music selections, thinking about what’s important and (unfortunately) about what’s not important.
Your audience is living daily life.
They are NOT sitting in an empty white room with no stimulation whatsoever awaiting your message.
I know this sounds obvious but maybe it isn’t.
Look at whatever you were about to say to your audience. Would it have gotten through to me while I was doing any of the above? Does it break through all the exciting and distracting and incredible things unfolding around the average person?
Or would it only work if I was seated alone in a blank space awaiting your message with bated breath?
If the answer to the second question is yes, start over.
Remember: people have lives. Make them want you as part of that life. Work hard to do that. You have to. Because dried up gum, sadly, is more pressing than the direct mail sitting on my table.
Wed, December 31 2008
Filed under: Personal •
Happy New Year and thanks for reading the blog this year. Life is short, and if you’re taking precious time from your schedule to check the blog from time to time, I hope it’s been helpful to you. Let me know if there’s anything you’d like to see or know that’s not getting coverage here. I am always happy to hear from REAL readers. (Many of the comments I get are NOT from real readers—it’s amazing how many Viagra-peddlers and real estate agents like to comment about nonprofit marketing with helpful links to their products and services!).
This has been an incredibly eventful year in politics and our economy - both of which will affect our work fundamentally in the year ahead. On a personal note, it’s also been an eventful year - I got engaged to be married, my older daughter hit the double digits in age, and I took on a new role at Network for Good (COO) that has been an exciting change. I have a feeling 2009 is going to be pretty interesting as a result of all of this.
Whatever happens, we’ll be in it together. I look forward to finding my way through the excitement ahead right there with you. I’ve definitely learned more from all of you than I could ever reciprocate. Thanks for sharing your stories, your wisdom and your experiences. They hold lessons that I’ll be applying ever day in the New Year.
Wed, December 31 2008
Filed under: Social Media •
As I’ve said in this space before, there are two secrets to campaigning like Obama—a one-two punch of audience connection and infrastructure to serve the audience.
1. Audience appeal: directly appealing to the personal concerns of your audience
2. Infrastructure: putting the human and technological engines behind your audience via community-based organizations and via online engagement.
There are quite a few examples of organizations working to build off this approach - and keep the country engaged going forward.
Change.org is pursuing this approach on its revamped site here.
The Case Foundation is also taking this approach with a new campaign called “Change Begins With Me,” which calls for citizens across the nation to visit the Case Foundation’s website and make a personal pledge to “be the change” in 2009. By finishing the sentence, “Change begins with me–” individuals can share their commitments to change their neighborhood, community or the world in 2009. According to Case, one lucky citizen (and guest) will be randomly selected to attend the Inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama and related Inaugural festivities here in DC. And, in the spirit of giving and active civic engagement, this person will also participate in the Washington, DC Martin Luther King Day of Service.
So now you can campaign like Obama - and enter a lottery to see him sworn in.
I’ll now share how to NOT campaign like Obama and completely bungle all things social media.
Read the horrific superlist of social media blunders of the year here.
Fri, December 19 2008
Filed under: Fundraising essentials •
Here is my new Fundraising Success column. Thanks to Emma for the tips.
I have a really good piece of advice for you. Send a fundraising e-mail the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Dec. 30 and 31 are the biggest online days of the year, in my experience. All those generous procrastinators are just getting their acts together, so your timing is perfect if you send a last-minute reminder at year’s end.
But make it a GOOD e-mail. How do you know the difference? We have a great new e-mail partner at Network for Good called Emma, and that company’s experts have agreed to share 10 big e-mail no-nos, based on their time in the trenches with electronic communications.
So before you hit SEND on that all-important, last-minute e-mail in December, remember to AVOID these sins:
1. Using generic subject lines.
You know your latest e-mail campaign is the December newsletter. And you know it’s great. But it’s up to you to tell your constituents just why December is so darn special. Consider using your subject line to tease your favorite article or whatever you decide is the most enticing part of your newsletter. Also, try including your brand in the subject line. It’ll let people instantly recognize your e-mail at a glance and can help with inbox sorting down the road.
2. Getting freaky with Comic Sans.
Fonts and colors and formatting, oh my. Keep your campaigns easy on the eyes with simple, intentional style choices. Avoid switching fonts every few lines, and choose your colors with an eye for readability. After all, a well-formatted campaign will catch your readers’ attention and make it easy to keep reading. And isn’t that the whole idea?
3. Sending e-mail to people who didn’t ask for it.
While it’s important to make sure your e-mail looks great, a successful campaign really starts with a solid, permission-based list. Only e-mail people who have asked to receive your updates or are directly affiliated with your organization. If it’s a rented list, purchased list or list of people who’ve never heard of you, avoid it.
4. Using an invalid ‘reply to’ address.
Since permission-based e-mail marketing is all about staying in touch with your members and customers, giving your recipients a way to continue the conversation is a must. Otherwise, you’ll miss the follow-up questions from your subscribers, not to mention those rare (but important!) unsubscribe requests from people who choose to reply to you instead of using a built-in opt-out link.
If the “from” address you currently use doesn’t exist, consider asking your e-mail administrator to create it, or change it to an address that does exist and is monitored by someone who can manage the replies.
5. Ignoring those results.
After all the work of the big send-off, don’t forget the fun of watching the results roll in. They’ll tell you a lot about what your audience is interested in. Did you have an overwhelming clickthrough response last month when you linked to your blog? Consider adding more links like that in this issue. Did 62 people click to learn more about your newest program? Sounds like follow-up phone calls might be in order. Make sure you learn from the way people respond, and apply those lessons toward even greater success next time.
6. Sending one big image.
I know it’s tempting to take that gorgeous flier your designer created for print, save it as a JPG and plug it into your e-mail campaign. But sending one big image is risky. Servers are more likely to filter e-mails with large images, and recipients may move on to other things before your image fully loads. And some e-mail programs, like Gmail and Outlook, block images by default, meaning a percentage of your recipients might see the original e-mail you designed as a big, broken image. Yikes.
7. Forgetting to test.
By taking a few minutes to send a test to yourself and a few colleagues, you can have peace of mind that your links work, your copy is typo-free and everything looks just the way you thought it would — all before you send it to the big list.
8. Writing — and sending — a novel.
Don’t send a really flippin’ long e-mail. When you send a campaign that goes on and on (and on), a typical subscriber — with a typically short attention span — probably won’t sift through lots of text to find the content that interests him. Instead, he might delete your e-mail at a glance.
9. Sending too often or not enough).
Finding your ideal frequency depends on a few factors, like what your organization does and who you send to. Just keep in mind that sending too frequently may annoy your readers and increase your opt-out rate, but long lapses of silence may cause some readers to just plain forget about you. Aim for regular contact that keeps your brand in front of your readers, and make sure each send-off has a purpose.
10. Not personalizing.
Sometimes being one in a million isn’t such a good thing, and you certainly don’t want your readers to feel like they’re just one e-mail address in a giant list. Use your e-mail campaign to connect personally with your readers, but don’t just stop with a personal, first-name greeting (although that’s a great place to start). Look for other ways to extend a personal touch, whether it’s through sending targeted messages based on your readers’ ZIP codes or interests, or keeping a friendly, personal tone as you write your content.
Sat, December 13 2008
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Thanks to my friends at Spitfire, if you need help planning your next big campaign, you’re in luck. Spitfire Strategies and the Communications Leadership Institute (the people who brought you the Smart Chart and Discovering the Activation Point) have just unveiled their newest tool: The Just Enough Planning Guide. It’s a free online resource that for the first time gives nonprofits and foundations a process for planning successful campaigns. Whether your organization is planning to pass a law, win popular support for an issue or organize a boycott, the guide gives groups a clear sense of where they are going, the best way to get there and what to expect along the way. Visit justenoughplanning.org to download a free copy.
Here are steps it covers:
1. Confirm That a Campaign Is Possible. This is the time to step back and assess the viability of a campaign. Are the stars aligned for this effort to be successful?
2. Set a Clear, Measurable Goal That Is Achievable. Your plan needs to be focused on achieving a very specific goal. Your goal is your raison d’Ãªtre. Are you trying to make something happen or stop something from happening? There is a difference.
3. Chart Your Course. Much like a road trip, there are likely many ways to get to your goal. You will use your knowledge of the field and the external environment to determine the best steps to your goal.
4. Anticipate Conditions. Visualize all possible scenarios – the good, the bad and the ugly – so your plan includes strategies for leveraging opportunities and mitigating challenges, including identifying your opposition.
5. Know How to Make Headway. What will propel you down your path? What major campaign activities can help you get from point A to point B?
6. Prioritize Your Target Audiences. Now that you have a strategy, stay focused by prioritizing who you need to engage to win, and when.
7. Put a Public Face on Your Campaign. Give the effort a name and a personality that is memorable and easily understood. You want people to recognize what you are about and not have to guess.
8. Operationalize Your Campaign. Based on the activities you think will help you make headway, determine which campaign tactics you will need: from intellectual knowledge to government relations to public mobilization to communications to coalition building to fundraising.
9. Stay on Track. Build evaluation mechanisms into your plan that will tell you when you are making progress and when you need to stop and make a mid-course correction. Meet regularly with your team to discuss your progress.