Thu, December 20 2007

What Mac users, alcoholics and Hillary have in common: the conversion factor

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

One of the best books I’ve ever read - and one I quote like crazy in my book - is Influence.  I also love the Influence newsletter from the Arizona-based Influence team. 

Today’s edition asks the question, what do Mac users, Hillary Clinton and alcoholics have in common?  Noah Goldstein, Ph. D., explains:

First-time Mac users have switched from IBM-compatible personal computers, longstanding members of Alcoholics Anonymous have turned their lives around by abstaining from alcohol, and Hillary Clinton switched political affiliations from Republican to Democrat over thirty years ago. In a sense, all three are converts of one form or another. But what can a convert do for us when it’s important to persuade others to take our point of view, give us buy-in for our initiatives, or take a particular course of action?

Social scientists John Levine and Ronald Valle conducted a study to find out. In their study, they had participants listen to a persuasive message in which the speaker was clearly an outspoken critic of alcohol use. Whereas some participants learned that the speaker had abstained from alcohol his whole life, others learned that the speaker was formally a heavy drinker who quit drinking two years prior. The results of the study revealed that participants were far more persuaded by the speaker who was formally a heavy drinker than the lifelong teetotaler. Although there are several reasons why convert communicators are more persuasive, perhaps the most powerful is that they are simply viewed as more experienced in the domain of their conversion. It’s this experience that leads audience members to view them as more of an expert authority on that topic.

This research suggests that when trying to convince others that your position is the right one, you should look for people who have converted to your way of thinking. For example, within an organization, this might mean that when trying to get employees to willingly adopt a new software system, you should ask others who have already adopted it to pitch the idea to more stubborn employees. Similarly, when attempting to get prospective clients to switch to your product from another company’s, try to solicit testimonials from others who have made the same switch, and then convey these testimonials to your prospects.

This is a great insight.  People listen to converts.  I think converts are not only credible to an audience, they are also especially passionate and eloquent spokespeople.

So who are your converts?  Could they speak for you?  Any skeptical donors who have seen the light?  Any beneficiaries who have done a 180?  Find them, and give them a platform to talk about their conversion.  People will listen.



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Wed, December 19 2007

Four fundamental laws of social networking

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •

About every 2-3 days, I get a phone call from someone starting a social network with a social conscience angle – a network for shopping for good, or for volunteering, or for donating, or for doing all of the above.  Since I’m often asked for advice on this topic, I thought I’d share what I say. 

It’s a timely topic to cover because Network for Good, where I work, just formed a new partnership with one of these social networks for social good –  We chose to partner with because its founder, Ben Rattray, is very focused on the principles I’m sharing with you here.  In fact, has lived up to its name and undergone a lot of interesting change itself.  Once a more generalized site for doing good, it’s now increasingly focused on helping nonprofits use its social networking tools to connect to their donors in more personal and profound ways.  Check out more on that here.  Since we’re both focused on helping you – nonprofits – connect to your supporters and motivate them to action (and donations), it made a lot of sense to make that happen together. 

So here’s some advice, before you start a social network for good – or join one:

1. Don’t build to a concept, build to people.  People don’t look for a social network to join – they look for people like them.  Networking technology is about NETWORKING – being amidst people like us – more than it’s about the tools or technology.  So don’t build a network because you think you have a great concept – build a network because you have a real group of people that wants to spend time together, connecting. 

2. Don’t try to create a constituency, serve one.  Related to my first point, focus on serving an audience rather than creating one.  Start with a passionate constituency – even a small one – and help it grow with your tools.  A great example of point #1 and #2 done well is  They built their entire site around people – individual people on the other side of the earth who need loans to change their lives and people who want to help them achieve their dreams.  All the tools are tailored to that relationship, and their community grows by the day because of this.

3. It’s the cause, not the structure (or network) around it, that compels action.  People give money because they feel moved to make a difference for a specific cause – because the cause is important to them, moves them, or matters to friends or family.  It’s that simple.  I can tell you from experience, nearly no one comes to Network for Good to wander around looking for a cause.  They don’t Google “donate to charity.”  They are looking to do something about cancer or global warming or the hungry person they saw on their block.  The relationship that matters is the one the donor has with their cause.  So a good social network seeks to enhance that in every way possible.  A bad social network gets in the way of it.

4. Communities are nice, but the most important relationship (and the deepest) is the one-on-one connections – the connections between the donor and the cause, the donor to their friend, etc.  Focus on that in all you do with networking or any outreach at all.  Beth Kanter is a good person to listen to—and emulate—when it comes to designing your outreach.

I’ll leave Ben with the last word, and it’s a good one: “Donors want a better giving experience, and social networking technology, properly used, can significantly improve this experience by making it more personal, by giving people a sense that they are a member of a community and not just a cash machine, and by enabling people to dramatically magnify their impact.  Social networking will fail in the philanthropy space if it’s seen as a vague end goal (as in, our goal is to build a big community of people who care), and should instead be seen as a tool to solve real problems – as in, our goal is to use social networking technology to address the impersonal nature of most solicitations, the sense from donors that their individual contributions have no significant impact, the need for nonprofits to have authentic voices spreading their message on their behalf rather than relying on inefficient and decreasingly effective direct mail prospecting, etc.”

Well said.

Happy networking in 2008!

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Tue, December 18 2007

The stuffed animal rule

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

In our house, there is a trunk full of stuffed animals.  I don’t buy them, but my children periodically get them as gifts.  We have too many, and the girls only play with a few.  So every time I get the chance, I donate a handful of the better stock to charity or, if the stuffed animal sings or squawks something truly annoying, the trash can.  But somehow, despite my downsizing, the number of animals remains constant.  The trunk is always full.  It’s as if these creatures reproduce when I’m at the office each day, their fluffy offspring rapidly replenishing any depletion in their ranks. 

The phenomenon is something I call the stuffed animal rule:  No matter how hard you try to simplify and give yourself space—to breathe, to live, to think big—silly things always crowd back into your life.  Especially this time of year.  We try to keep focused on what’s important, but it’s so hard.  Stuff gets in the way - fluffy, inconsequential stuff that takes up too much space. 

That’s why it’s a challenge to get people’s attention right now.  To ask them to help your cause.  They want to do good, they think of doing good, but then a flurry of things crowd their minds and the moment is gone.  The trunk is full.

Think of your job this time of year as doing two things:

1. Not adding to the clutter.  Don’t crowd people with your message.  Don’t stuff in a lot of inconsequential detail that gets in the way of your point.  Don’t be yet another appeal jamming their inbox.  Show great economy in expressing why someone should care and what you can achieve together.

2. Clearing out the clutter.  Help people remember what’s more important than the details distracting them from what matters most.  Don’t criticize their clutter.  But cut through it with the amazing stories that remind us of what it is to be human.  Help people get back in touch with what this season is really about.  They’ll thank you.  And support you.  And feel far better.


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Thu, December 13 2007

Start 2008 With $50,000 for Your Nonprofit

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Fundraising essentials •

I’m excited to share the following news:

PARADE and The Case Foundation today announced the America’s Giving Challenge to award $500,000 to charities in the U.S. and overseas. The program aims to show how anyone and everyone can have greater impact in their community and bring more support to the charities and causes they care about.  Participants can choose to use a simple and fun Web 2.0 tool called a “charity badge” to promote their cause and help their charity get $50,000.  Or they can simply give to a cause to help it qualify for a $1,000 award. The America’s Giving Challenge runs from 3:00 p.m. EST on December 13, 2007 through 3:00 p.m. EST on January 31, 2008.

Go here to participate

There are two easy ways to participate:

CHAMPION A CAUSE: Using fun and simple charity badges, individuals can get $50,000 for the cause they support.  Eight Champions will be named based on the number of unique donations they have gathered for their charity through the Challenge.

GIVE TO A CAUSE: Simply donate to a favorite charity through the Challenge donation partners—Network for Good’s Six Degrees site and GlobalGiving—and that charity could get $1,000. One hundred charities will each be awarded $1,000 based on the number of donations they receive through the Challenge.

Who Can Participate?

To “champion a cause,” you must be 13 years of age or older and a legal resident of the United States.

To “give to a cause,” all you need is the means to process a donation through one of the Challenge’s two donation partners—Network for Good, typically for those giving to U.S.-based charities, or GlobalGiving, typically for those giving to international causes.

Thanks to the Case Foundation and Parade for this wonderful support to charities - and to Wired Fundraisers.

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Wed, December 12 2007

The Ultimate Marketing Guide for the Overworked and Overwhelmed

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

I am extremely happy to announced that my organization, Network for Good,  has launched a new online learning center about all things marketing, messaging, fundraising and online outreach at  This. free online resource center is designed to be a searchable, readable survival guide for the overwhelmed, overworked nonprofit.

We think there’s not enough of this kind of information out there, so it’s been a labor of love. 

A few highlights:

* The Learning Center features 500+ articles categorized by the following topics: Fundraising, Social Networking, Website 101, Email 101, Donor Database, & Nonprofit Marketing.
* There’s also a Training tab that is home to our popular Nonprofit 911 teleconference series.
* While some of the content you’ll recognize from this blog or from Network for Good materials, we’ve got lots of other articles from the greatest minds in our field: from nonprofit professionals, coaches, trainers, bloggers, and consultants—great thinkers like Beth Kanter, Seth Godin, Mark Rovner, Jeff Brooks, Nedra Weinreich, Nancy Schwartz, Kivi Leroux, and so on.

If you’d like to contribute your own content to the Learning Center, please visit the site and click on the FAQ button at the bottom of the page.

learning center

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