Fri, April 17 2009

Trying to figure out Twitter?

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Social Media •

Is it a Holy Grail or Fail Whale? Are you wondering, is it Ashton or bust?  Join a free training call with John Haydon of CorporateDollar.org at April 28, 1 p.m. EDT—Details and registration here. 

What will be covered:

Know how to explain Twitter to your grandmother
Master the 4 post types - when and how to use them
Understand the pros and cons of Twitter vs. email and direct mail
Learn Twitter campaign management basics
And, we will include a live Q&A session to get all of your pending Twitter questions answered

Can’t make the call?  Read John’s Twitter Guide here!

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Thu, April 16 2009

What to Do When Web 2.0 Delivers Brand Indigestion

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Social Media •

If you haven’t heard, two employees of Dominos caused the company a lot of heartburn this week with their gross-out YouTube video that included a worker putting cheese up his nose and then on a sandwich. The whole tale is here and here (register for AdAge-good reading). It had hundreds of thousands of views before Dominos reacted - with a good message in the right venue (on YouTube, where this started), though the president’s “delivery” was a little stiff and his camera eye contact was poor.

So what if this kind of web 2.0 debacle happens to you? What if people do something online that hurts your organization? What if they say mean things? Here’s what I recommend.

1. BE LISTENING FOR IT: Be sure you have Google Alerts set up to monitor what people are saying about your organization online. Keep tabs on Twitter (via Tweetbeep, for example) and YouTube.

2. WHEN YOU FIND SOMETHING DREADED, ASSESS WHO IS SAYING IT AND WHO IS LISTENING. Is this one crazy person with no audience? You may want to wait and watch. Or is it someone who talks to people in your audience? Even one noisy person can be a problem if they have or can rapidly build a following with people who matter to you. Or if the traditional media picks up on their diatribe. I generally err on the side of judging someone worth responding to rather than ignoring them.

3. ACT FAST ON THE SPOT WHERE IT STARTED: If you need to respond, do it now, IN THE VENUE where the situation started. Slow reactions are bad reactions. Things move at light speed on web 2.0 and you don’t want something to spiral out of control before you get in a response. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers or every piece of needed information - just be TRANSPARENT about it. “I’m really concerned with this and looking into it” is better than radio silence. “I’m concerned our staff said that to you and am finding out what happened so I can give you the response you deserve” is better than nothing. Dominos was right to respond to the video on YouTube - and to put spokespeople out there where ever it’s getting airtime. By responding to a Tweet on Twitter, you ensure rapid communication as well as achieve the potential to keep the controversy within the community in question. (Hence achieving a tempest in a twitterpot.)

4. BE HONEST, TRANSPARENT, FRIENDLY AND NONDEFENSIVE: This is key. If there is misinformation out there, correct it in a helpful, non-combative way. My organization’s own crisis communications plan (hope you have one, too) sets out the following principles if we’ve made a mistake:

-Be sincerely and profusely apologetic if we’ve done wrong.
-Take responsibility.
-Err on the side of open, frequent communication.
-Be absolutely honest.
-Ensure what we way is accurate - if we’re not sure, say we’re not sure.
-Do all we can to fix problems and mitigate harm.
-Say what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

That last one is important.

5. REMEMBER IT IS A CONVERSATION: This isn’t a monologue by the critic or by you nor (hopefully) is it a war—it’s a conversation. When you respond, be open to reactions and answer questions. You can’t post one response and call it a day, you need to keep tabs on the situation and participate in the ongoing conversation.

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Thu, April 16 2009

Five “Don’ts” of Nonprofit Website Design

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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I wanted to share this great set of tips from my colleague Rebecca Ruby Higman here at Network for Good (pictured).  Enjoy!

RR_headshot

Your nonprofit’s website can be a powerful, strategic tool. Unlike the days of brochure-like static pages, home pages now have the potential to win over potential supporters and reaffirm the folks who already know you.

When you boil it down, websites do not just sit on a server-they are action-oriented. They persuade and (hopefully) convert. And for the latter-in terms of raising money online-your website has the most potential with two groups of donors: new donors and impulse givers.

When these newbies visit your website, what do they see? What’s their experience with your navigation and donation processes. According to recent research, nonprofits could be leaving as much as 10 percent of their online revenue on the table simply due to two website usability issues: content and design.

Read on for the five content and design flubs to avoid when you aim to convert browsers into donors:

A lack of call-to-action. The number one thing to avoid when asking for donations on your website is to forget to make the ask! (Yes, this is also on our list of “website do’s,” but it’s important enough to mention at least twice.) If you don’t ask for donations, website visitors might think you don’t need them. Yes, it’s almost laughable to us in the nonprofit world, but Web-savvy surfers assume that if something’s missing, it’s intentional.


Jargon breath. (No, this has nothing to do with the take-out you had for dinner last night.) “Jargon breath” refers to a tendency by communicators-particularly in the nonprofit sector-who rely on a particular vernacular of terms to try to educate others about their mission and programs (“services,” “accessible,” “at risk,” etc.). But, as Tom Ahern, an authority on effective donor communications,  so lovingly points out, “jargon just conjures confusion and blank mental screens.” Go over your website copy with a fine-toothed comb, and perhaps a friend who doesn’t work at your nonprofit, and flesh out what your organization really does. Show people and explain in real terms. (Learn more below “Related Articles” when you scroll down.)


Unintuitive navigation. This fix could be as simple as changing the text on your navigation’s buttons. Is your donate text hidden behind an “about us” button? Are you asking people to “join” you, but your home page doesn’t indicate that you’re a membership organization? It may be time to break out the “Grandma-intern-or-significant-other” test: Sit someone down in front of your website and watch them navigate around your site. Try to quiz them to find certain areas and probe them for feedback. Whether the person’s a Web designer or a teen who spends an hour on Facebook every day, you’ll be sure to glean some important info.


Inconsistency with the mother ship. Of the 1.5 million nonprofits in the U.S., most are small, one-location shops with small budgets (but big hearts). However, if your nonprofit is part of a national or international network, you’ll want to avoid completely flying off the brand handle when you’re working on your local website. You may have great design resources and a quirky new take on your organization, but you want to make sure site visitors (i.e. potential supporters) easily make the connection between your site and the national one they may be familiar with already.


Confusing, third-party donation processing. Make it as easy as possible for supporters to donate to your cause. They’re trusting your organization with their hard-earned cash, as well as your website with their credit card. According to Network for Good’s own research, branded donation pages like Custom DonateNow bring in a higher average donations ($125) and improve the donor experience. (Improvement refers to shortening time to complete the transaction, lessening the number of clicks and giving the feeling that a supporters has not left the nonprofit’s website.)

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Thu, April 09 2009

I’m so smart, you should definitely read this post

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

This is my April Fundraising Success column.

How are you feeling about that headline?  What if I went on to say, “And I wrote a really good book about nonprofit marketing that you should definitely buy. It’s a work of staggering genius.”

More than likely, you’d feel more than a little skeptical. You might wonder, “Who the heck is this show-off?” You might even turn the page of this magazine, muttering under your breath, “What a shameless self promoter!”

Here’s my point: telling everyone you’re great isn’t so great.  That presents an interesting problem for fundraisers.  Our job is to convince people that we’re a great cause, but the way to do that isn’t as simple as telling people that we’re a great cause.

One of my all-time favorite social psychologists, Robert Cialdini of Influence fame, has put a lot of study into how to solve this conundrum.  One scientifically proven solution is to get someone else – preferably a true believer, but even a paid representative - to do the promotion for you.  He describes how well this works in his new book, Yes!

Cialdini describes a research experiment in which participants were asked to imagine themselves in the role of a senior editor for a book publisher.  They were told they were to review excerpts from a negotiation for a sizable book advance for a successful author.  One group of people read excerpts written by the author’s agent.  The other group read identical comments made by the author himself. 

So what happened?  If you guessed the former group rated better, you win.  A third party endorsement is very, very valuable.

Cialdini shares another neat trick his colleagues applied to a real estate firm.  The receptionist originally answered the phone and directed callers with phrases like, “Oh, you need to speak to Judy, she does rentals.”  She was recommended to change this to, “Oh, rentals, you need to speak to Judy, who has over 15 years’ experience renting properties in this neighborhood.”  I’d definitely feel better with the latter experience.

So what does this mean to you?  It means that your supporters, volunteers, program participants, neighbor – anyone – is going to be more persuasive than you in making a case that your organization is wonderful.  It means you should rethink how you approach everyone.  It means you need to think about new messengers.

This has never been more true than now.  People are more suspicious than ever of claims of superiority, unless they come from people they know.  The rise of social media is all about the trust and sense of community we feel within our circles of influence.

Have your champions flaunt your credentials.  Encourage them to trumpet your merits.  Thank them profusely when they toot your horn so you don’t have to do it yourself.  (The sound emanating from the horn is far lovelier when you’re not the one playing it.)

Test this approach in your next appeal.  Try it out in your thank you notes.  Have a volunteer hand-write a few, identifying themselves as a volunteer, and see the amazing response you get.

In the meantime, for more advice on being persuasive, buy a copy of Yes!, Dr. Cialdini’s new book.  It has a terrific list of 50 scientifically proven ways to be persuasive, including the one shared in this column.

To conclude, I have one question for you: Whose book will you buy?  Mine or his?  His, of course, because my promotion of his book is a lot more convincing than my own self-promoting pitch.  That’s why the blurbs on my book jacket are from other people. 

Just further proof of how much the messenger matters. To you.  And to your donors.

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Thu, April 09 2009

New report: Green is in, but trust in green claims is tenuous

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Cause-related marketing •

BBMG’s second annual Conscious Consumer Report is out.  The national study on purchasing behavior and social values is available here.  Below are highlights from the report, provided by BBMG.  They sound about right to me - there is a lot of skepticism about all marketing claims these days.  And this is further proof that Wal-Mart has done quite a job turning around national opinion thanks to some high-profile moves to be more socially responsible.

Consumers Like Green, but Are Skeptical of Corporate Claims. Nearly one in four U.S. consumers (23%) say they have “no way of knowing” if a product is green or actually does what it claims, signaling a lack of confidence in green marketing and revealing a widespread “green trust gap.” But consumers’ lack of trust does not mean lack of interest. The BBMG report finds that 77 percent of Americans agree that they “can make a positive difference by purchasing products from socially or environmentally responsible companies,” and they are actively seeking information to verify green claims. Consumers are most likely to turn to consumer reports (29%), certification seals or labels on products (28%) and the list of ingredients on products (27%) to determine if a product is green and does what it claims. Consumers are least likely to look to statements on product packaging (11%) and company advertising (5%), signaling deep skepticism of company-driven marketing.

Interest in Green Holds Despite Tough Economy. Nearly seven in ten Americans agree (67%) that “even in tough economic times, it is important to purchase products with social and environmental benefits,” and half (51%) say they are “willing to pay more” for them.

Price and Performance Still Paramount, But Green Gains Ground. Price (66% very important) and quality (64%) top consumers’ list of most important product attributes, followed by good for your health (55%) and made in the USA (49%). But green benefits have increased in importance since last year – including energy efficiency (47% very important in 2008, 41% in 2007), locally grown or made nearby (32% in 2008, 26% in 2007), all natural (31% in 2008, 24% in 2007), made from recycled materials (29% in 2008, 22% in 2007) and USDA organic (22% in 2008, 17% in 2007).

Wal-Mart Tops List of Most and Least Socially Responsible Companies. When asked unaided which companies come to mind as the most socially or environmentally responsible companies, 7 percent of Americans named Wal-Mart, followed by Johnson & Johnson (6%), Procter & Gamble (4%), GE (4%) and Whole Foods (3%). Wal-Mart also topped the list of the least responsible companies (9%), along with Exxon Mobile (9%), GM (3%) and Ford (3%), Shell (2%) and McDonald’s (2%). Interestingly, 41% of Americans could not name a single company that they consider the most socially and environmentally responsible.

Consumers Reward, Punish and Influence Based on Corporate Practices. Seven in ten consumers (71%) agree that they “avoid purchasing from companies whose practices they disagree with”; and approximately half tell others to shop (55%) or drop (48%) products based on a company’s social and environmental practices.

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