Mon, March 10 2008

Live from the Social Enterprise Summit

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:  

I’m at the Social Enterprise Alliance Summit here in Boston, where I’m presenting this tomorrow.  My favorite session today was by Jerr Boschee, who spoke about what makes a successful social enterprise.  (For the jargon-averse, a social enterprise is an organization with a double bottom line - it yields both social and financial returns.) 

He spoke about the importance of focusing on the one thing you do well - and getting rid of the rest.  I’m a huge advocate of this approach.  (My version of this advice is here.)  Jerr says focus yields a lot of good for everyone:

1. Have a sharp focus: Be great at one thing.  Contraction is good.  Kill programs that aren’t core to what you do best.  He calls this “organized abandonment.”

2. What happens when you focus?  Expanded impact.  You get more profound penetration into your area of focus - and greater social impact. 

3. You also get a revitalized culture.  Clear focus yields happy, productive and united staff.

4. Influence is also an important outcome.  The more power you have, the more freedom you get to speak the truth and do what you need to do.

I like his list. 

It is scary to focus.  But like all things that require courage, it is powerful.  Fuzziness and fear don’t make great organizations or significant social change.

It’s not always about what you should do.  It’s also about what you should not do.

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Fri, March 07 2008

How to be an fundraising princess

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

My daughters’ favorite book is a guide to being a princess - it covers dress, etiquette, conduct, etc.  The funny thing is, a lot of it is good advice.  It covers topics like “how to disguise you’re bored around others” and other tips that all of us could use in our work lives, particularly during long meetings.

So much of the advice on this blog is about good manners.  And superlative marketing is often based in princess-level manners.

For example:

1. Be polite.  Don’t interrupt or lecture imperiously at your audience.  Seek permission to hold forth with your audience.  In other words, don’t buy email lists and spam people.  Contact them when you have permission, and make it a conversation, not a lecture.

2. Be gracious and generous.  Thank those that help you, often and well.  Don’t be stingy about sharing information or resources with others.

3. Be loyal.  Keep up your relationships with others.  Even if they haven’t given you money lately, you can still show people you care by reaching out with a kind update.

Be sure to curtsy next time you see me.

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Fri, March 07 2008

The old/new trap

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

A lot of people think old is good. 

“We should do this because we’ve done it every year.”

This is how you end up with an Oldsmobile-style marketing strategy.

Not good.

A lot of people think new is good.

“We should do this because it’s new and different.”

This is how you end up with a “this is not your father’s Oldsmobile” marketing strategy.

Old and new are not ideas.  They are substitutes for thinking.  Don’t make decisions based on what you’ve done in the past or what looks good in the future.  Make them based on what’s relevant to your audience now.

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Wed, March 05 2008

Why people give

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

Below are the most typical reasons, I think.  It’s an A-O of giving - feel free to chime in with the P-Z.

The common denominator?  These are deeply emotional, personal reasons.  “Because I loved the organization’s brochure” is not on there.

So what do we do?  Make people feel this way.  When they feel moved to give, you need to assure them something good will happen as a result.  Talk tangible impact.  Once they give, thank them over and over.  Remind them of why they were moved to give and what terrific things resulted. 

a.    Someone I know asked me to give

b.    I felt emotionally moved by someone’s story

c.    I want to feel I’m not powerless in the face of need and can help (this is especially true during disasters)

d.    I want to feel I’m changing someone’s life

e.    I feel a sense of closeness to a community or group

f.    I need a tax deduction

g.    I want to memorialize someone (who is struggling or died of a disease, for example)

h.    I was raised to give to charity – it’s tradition in my family

i.      I want to be “hip” and supporting this charity (ie, wearing a yellow wrist band) is in style

j.      It makes me feel connected to other people and builds my social network

k.    I want to have a good image for myself/my company

l.      I want to leave a legacy that perpetuates me, my ideals or my cause

m.  I feel fortunate (or guilty) and want to give something back to others

n.    I give for religious reasons – God wants me to share my affluence

o.    I want to be seen as a leader/role model

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Sat, March 01 2008

Free is the future

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Chris Anderson of Long Tail fame now has authored a seminal article on increasing shift to business models predicated on giving away the product.  It’s a must-read.

The article starts with the example of razors with disposable blades - they were first successfully marketed by being given away.  That created demand for blades.  The model is alive and well today - you get a free cell phone but pay for the monthly plan.  The printer is cheap but the ink or toner is expensive.

This model is also becoming increasingly dramatic, posits Anderson.  He says:

It’s now clear that practically everything Web technology touches starts down the path to gratis, at least as far as we consumers are concerned. Storage now joins bandwidth (YouTube: free) and processing power (Google: free) in the race to the bottom. Basic economics tells us that in a competitive market, price falls to the marginal cost. There’s never been a more competitive market than the Internet, and every day the marginal cost of digital information comes closer to nothing.  One of the old jokes from the late-‘90s bubble was that there are only two numbers on the Internet: infinity and zero. The first, at least as it applied to stock market valuations, proved false. But the second is alive and well. The Web has become the land of the free.

Accomplished blogger and great friend Jocelyn alerted me to this part of his thesis when she emailed me yesterday about the article:

There is, presumably, a limited supply of reputation and attention in the world at any point in time. These are the new scarcities — and the world of free exists mostly to acquire these valuable assets for the sake of a business model to be identified later. Free shifts the economy from a focus on only that which can be quantified in dollars and cents to a more realistic accounting of all the things we truly value today.

I experience this dynamic every day at my nonprofit, Network for Good.  We give away every bit of expertise and information we can - we have free training calls, we have free fundraising tips sent via email, we have a completely free online Learning Center.  We find people are more likely to choose us for their paid fundraising services as a result.  It’s like the “gift economy” that Anderson describes.

I think all nonprofits can make this model work.  Are you the American Diabetes Association?  Send out lots of free information on managing your diabetes.  Are you a conservation group? Provide free tools for making your home or business more green.  You’ll end up with more (financial) supporters because more people will know your value.

How else do you think the free economy affects our sector?

You can watch Chris talk about the concept on YouTube, but I could not embed his video here because his magazine Wired disabled the “free” embed feature.  He’s brilliant but that’s ironic!

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