Thu, November 08 2007
Filed under: Social Media •
In my book, I talk a lot about open-minded moments. What’s an open-minded moment? It’s a time, place or state of mind when people are most likely to hear your message, find it relevant and act upon it. April is an open-minded month for TurboTax marketers, for example. Miller cleverly realized 5 pm is an open-minded moment for potential beer drinkers, so they branded happy hour as Miller Time. “Welcome to Miller Time,” the beer maker said to the cattle ranchers, the stock brokers, the welders, the paper pushers.
Guess what? It’s now Miller Time for the fundraisers among us. This is our open-minded time of year, because up to half of all charitable giving for most nonprofits is going to happen in the coming weeks. People are feeling the spirit of the season AND the need to get that tax deduction in 2007. This is the open-minded moment when it’s easiest to convert someone to a gift. It’s when we should spend the most time, effort and money getting our message out, because it’s far easier to ask when people want to give than when they’re not even thinking about giving.
AND WE HAVE A WHOLE NEW WAY TO DO IT this year - via social media.
I’ve been asked via Britt and NetSquared, how does the “social web” that’s exploded in the past year figure into your giving season? How can nonprofits use web 2.0 to reach and inspire donors?
My answer is this: it all comes back to that Miller Time factor. Not only is now the right time of year to be asking, social media gives us the right PLACE to be asking—especially if we get someone else to carry our message. Getting our message into the mouths of supporters talking to their friends and family on the social networks, blogs, etc. where they congregate is creating an open-minded moment within an open-minded moment: We give when people we know ask us to, and we’re most likely to give in December. I just finished a whole White Paper on this topic with my colleague Stacie Mann, and here are three suggestions from that paper:
1. You need to do all your normal outreach (mail, email, etc.) in the coming weeks and then do a final big burst of fundraising online the very last week of the year. The heaviest giving days online are December 30 and 31. I say this because while social media outreach is important, it cannot and should not replace other fundraising.
2. Ask your most ardent supporters to spread the word about you in their social networks. Make it easy for your supporters to integrate your cause into MySpace, Change.org and Facebook because people are more likely to act this time of year.
3. Create a section of your website that cultivates these activists, invites them to create campaigns on your behalf, and explains how to spread the word.
4. Identify the bloggers who are talking about your issues and research their posts. Send them customized emails about their writing and explain why your organization’s campaign is relevant or compelling to them - and their readers.
5. Keep listening for unexpected open-minded moments online. Set up a Google alert for your issue or organization so that if people start talking about you, you can immediately reply with a way for them to take action, wherever they are online.
Wed, November 07 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
I taught a class at Georgetown yesterday afternoon for a group of students of the marketing guru Alan Andreasen (no relation, except in terms of our love of marketing). I spoke about nonprofit marketing, Network for Good’s business model and social media. And I found myself saying the same thing I always say, over and over: focus on the audience, listen to the audience, then engage the audience in conversation. Our work is not to drop pamphlets or preach or pontificate. Our job is to connect.
While I was visiting, Alan gave me his new book and an old article, from August 1989. It’s called “Communicating by Listening” and it is timely as ever. Listening before speaking has been the key to success long before the advent of consumer control or social media.
He says good marketers listen to what an audience wants, because you can’t make customers do what you want - you can only get them to do what they think is in their best interests. Good PR people get that too, he notes - they listen to reporters and understand their needs and wants before pitching them a story, because the story has to suit the reporter and their interests.
As a former reporter, amen to that.
How can you tell when you’ve drifted too far from listening? He gives you five red flags. I like them. Hang them up on a wall and try not to make these mistakes - number one especially. We all tend to do that because we love our cause. REMEMBER:
1. You’re in trouble if you see your product (or your cause) as inherently desireable. It’s not.
2. You’re in trouble if you see lack of success as the target audience’s fault. It’s your fault.
3. You are in very dangerous territory if you give customer research very low priority. You’ll fail if you don’t know your audience. Think you can’t afford to listen? I have two answers for that. First, you can’t afford not to. Second, read this.
4. You are in trouble if you think marketing is the same thing as communications. If you do, you’ll think that information alone will prompt action. It won’t.
5. You should never treat all customers alike. One strategy for everyone is not enough.
Thanks Alan for reminding us to listen and showing us how. We can’t succeed without it.
Wed, November 07 2007
Filed under: Cause-related marketing •
I don’t put a lot of stock in focus group research - so often we ask the wrong questions (like, “what would get you to support our issue?”) and so often we get the wrong answers (what people think they should say). I’ve always been intrigued by ethnographic research, where you actually watch and witness consumers in their element, making decisions. A tax preparation software company once told me how they sent researchers to hang out for hours in people’s houses, watching them prepare their taxes amid the chaos of their daily lives - searching for lost receipts, sitting at the computer with a cat in their lap, getting confused by certain steps. They learned an awful lot, which doubtlessly led to a better product.
I want to call your attention to some fantastic ethnographic research about just how consumers react to “green” products and claims, courtesy of my friends at BBMG and partners Global Strategy Group and Bagatto. You can watch consumers literally think out loud on this page, and it’s fascinating.
What you’ll see are a group of very sophisticated consumers, which should come as no surprise if you’re a savvy marketer. Consumers know full well that corporations are jumping on the green, healthy, politically correct bandwagon in droves and with varying degrees of true commitment. They will scrutinize corporate claims and actions. If you’re a company that claims to be “good,” you’d better follow through fully.
I think the same goes for charities—saying something is true is not enough. You have to show it. Prove your need and impact by regularly reporting on what donor money did and put a human face to your results… or else.
Authenticity, transparency and tangible results are absolutely essential for all organizations today.
BBMG’s Conscious Consumer report found all this, and more:
Most consumers (9 in 10) self-identify as “conscious consumers.”
They value health and safety, honesty, convenience, relationships and doing good.
Health and Safety. Conscious consumers seek natural, organic and unmodified products that meet their essential health and nutrition needs. They avoid chemicals or pesticides that can harm their health or the planet. They are looking for standards and safeguards to ensure the quality of the products they consume.
Honesty. Conscious consumers insist that companies reliably and accurately detail product features and benefits. They will reward companies that are honest about processes and practices, authentic about products and accountable for their impact on the environment and larger society. Making unsubstantiated green claims or over promising benefits risks breeding cynicism and distrust.
Convenience. Faced with increasing constraints on their time and household budgets, conscious consumers are practical about purchasing decisions, balancing price with needs and desires and demanding quality. These consumers want to do what’s easy, what’s essential for getting by and make decisions that fit their lifestyles and budget.
Relationships. Who made it? Where does it come from? Am I getting back what I put into it? These consumers want more meaningful relationships with the brands in their lives. They seek out opportunities to support the local economy when given the chance, want to know the source of the products they buy and desire more personal interactions when doing business.
Doing Good. Finally, conscious consumers are concerned about the world and want to do their part to make it a better place. From seeking out environmentally friendly products to rewarding companies’ fair trade and labor practices, they are making purchasing choices that can help others. These consumers want to make a difference, and they want brands to do the same.
And, of course, personal is paramount (as always):
The most pressing issues by far are those that most directly affect consumers – safe drinking water (90%), clean air (86%) and cures for diseases like cancer, AIDS and Alzheimer’s (84%). By comparison, only 63% of those surveyed described the more abstract issue of global warming as an important issue.
Finally, people are willing to do be “conscious consumers” in these areas, BUT they need us to make it easy for them. Remember how I’m always babbling about making it easy as possible for people to take action? Well, this research backs that up:
Consumers willingly engage in “easy” behaviors, such as recycling cans, bottles and newspapers (55% always) and using energy efficient appliances (46% always), but they often fail to adopt a plethora of more “demanding” behaviors like using public transportation, carpooling or purchasing carbon offsets.
Don’t forget - keep that call to action simple and easy. You can build to bigger actions later. Start with baby steps now. But don’t treat the consumer like a baby. They are clearly smarter than that.
Thanks BBMG for reminding us of that valuable lesson.
Fri, November 02 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Katya’s note: This is Part Two of a post by Robert Dickman (left) and Richard Maxwell (right), master storytellers and authors of a new book called The Elements of Persuasion. You can read Part One here.
Each of the five elements of a story (discussed yesterday here) offers unique problems in a not for profit story. For example – by definition not for profit volunteers are passionately connected to their cause. Passion is like fire. It is the energy that drives the story, but if it is too intense it drive listeners away. Passion needs to be carefully modulated to work its magic.
The choice of a Hero is often difficult for not for profits. In our commitment to make a difference we naturally see our clients as the heroes of their story (and in one sense they are) but they may not be the best point of view from which to tell it which is what we mean by the story element Hero. For example: It is hard to identify directly with suffering. A good not for profit story knows that and makes adjustments. Instead of focusing solely on the victim of abuse, the story might be told from the point of view of a mentor (maybe a former victim) who came to the victims aid. If you are looking for volunteers or funds that is who you want your listeners to identify with.
The struggle with the Antagonist provides the emotional hook of most stories (think of the look on a starving kitten’s face and tell me you don’t want to give to the Animal Shelter) but Antagonist need to be kept at a size where we know we will win the struggle. Being overwhelmed with the problem is a big turn off (as well as a major cause of volunteer burn out) so framing your story a doable step at a time is crucial.
A good story always gives us a few facts (not many) that make us Aware of the world in a new way. When I find out I can feed a child for only few dollars a month, or that changing a few light bulbs will be my part in taking the equivalent of millions of cars off the road to fight global warming I get inspired and want to pass the message along. Word of mouth works. Getting others to tell you story for you is the best use of your time.
Finally, don’t be shy. What you do changes the world. It does. So let us have closure in your story. Let us see how you are transforming things for the better. It is the end of every good story, and leaves us ready to here your next one.
Thu, November 01 2007
Filed under: Marketing essentials •
Katya’s note: Pictured here are Robert Dickman (left) and Richard Maxwell (right), the authors of a new book called The Elements of Persuasion. This book, which helps you use storytelling to do all of your work better, is a favorite of mine. I liked it so much that I cited it heavily in Network for Good’s recent Nonprofit 911 Call on Storytelling, which you can listen to for free here. I invited the The Elements of Persuasion co-authors to do a guest post here at my blog talking about how their book can help nonprofits, and they not only agreed, they’ve done TWO guest posts. Very nice! So enjoy this first segment today - the second will run tomorrow. They are also bloggers, so be sure to check out their regular musings here.
As important as having the right story is to any organization, it is even more important in the not for profit arena. There are lots of reasons for this. Turning people on to your issue requires a great elevator pitch that doesn’t seem like one because you never know when you will run into a good volunteer or a donor ready to give. A good story helps people see that your issue is their issue too. And word of mouth is both the cheapest way to get your message out and the most persuasive form of fund raising. The right story, well told can make all the difference.
In our book The Elements of Persuasion we define a story as “a fact wrapped in an emotion that compels us to take an action that transforms our world.” A good story needs to be both emotional and truthful to work.
To be a great story it needs to use what we have identified as the Five Story Elements. Every successful story has all five – the PASSION with which the story is told, a HERO who provides the listener with a point of view to enter the story and see it as their own, an ANTAGONIST or problem that the Hero must overcome, a moment of AWARENESS that allows the Hero to prevail, and the TRANSFORMATION that results in the world. To find out more about these elements operate, you can read the first chapter here. It’s free.
Tomorrow: How you, the nonprofit, can use each of these five elements.