Fri, July 20 2007

Fake Food for Thought

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Have you heard about what the Whole Foods CEO did

Apparently, Mackey has spent years commenting on blogs about the merits of Whole Foods and trashing the competition, pretending to be a Whole Foods fan (rather than its CEO).  Good grief - this is from the company that is supposed to be “all natural?”  (A point CK made.)

As I posted in a comment at Church of the Customer, Mackey’s behavior reminds me of topic of the week here in Washington - the increased scrutiny that politicians who talk family values deservedly invite when they hire hookers.  It’s bad enough to be a fake voice online—it’s even worse when you project an absolutely antithetical position publicly.  Authenticity sure seems in short supply these days. Just ask Mark Rovner, he’ll agree with me.

It also reminds me of the fact this week that Verizon sent me a very expensive direct mail piece ressembling a wedding invitation.  The fancy card told me I am a VIP customer.  Meanwhile, my nearly new Treo died last week, and Verizon flubbled the replacement shipment


FIVE PHONE CALLS BY ME.  Can you tell I’m irritated?  Verizon is clearly on a big customer service push, but no matter how friendly the customer service representatives are or how esteemed I am as VIP customer, if the company doesn’t actually deliver good service, it’s as fake as Mackey.  I pointed this out in a friendly way to the Verizon rep today and he gave me a sizable discount off my July phone bill, to his credit.  And he said he was sorry, nicely.  I felt slightly more VIP, and a little better about their authenticity.  I feel far less forgiving of Mackey. (Update - I’m less forgiving of Verizon a day later, because my phone still did not show up.  Let’s see if they are monitoring the web and see that I’m truly irate.)

People are sick of BS, and they are highly unforgiving when they step in your BS.

Seth Godin says all marketers are liars.  What would he say about all of this?  This is his take on what’s selling and what’s lying:

Every marketer tells a story. And, if they do it right, we believe them. We believe that wine tastes better in a $20 glass than a $1 glass. We believe that an $80,000 Porsche Cayenne is cooler than a $36,000 VW Touareg, which is virtually the same car. We believe that $225 Pumas will make our feet feel better than $20 no-names… and believing it makes it true. Successful marketers don’t tell the truth… They tell a story. A story we want to believe… Every organization—from nonprofits to car companies, from political campaigns to wine glass blowers—must understand that the rules have changed again. In an economy where the richest have an infinite number of choices (and no time to make them), every organization is a marketer and all marketing is about telling stories. Marketers succeed when they tell us a story that fits our worldview, a story that we intuitively embrace and the share with our friends. Think of the Dyson vacuum cleaner and the iPod. Marketers fail when they are selfish and scurrilous, when they abuse the tools of their trade and make the world worse. Think of telemarketers and Marlboro.

What do you think? I think it’s never okay to lie.  It is okay to connect with an audience based on their values, as long as you are making bold promises to them and not false ones.  The wine glass can’t have a crack in it, the Cayenne had better go fast ,and the Pumas had better look stylish.  The Whole Foods CEO had better walk his talk of corporate responsibility.  And a company that tells me I’m a VIP should try it’s damnest to treat me like one.  Tell a story, but make it true.

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Thu, July 19 2007

Get $10,000 for your nonprofit - and a t-shirt

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Social Media •

Kevin White Bkgd

Today at Network for Good, we’re relaunching Six Degrees with sponsorship from Hanes.  We hope the site (which we’re putting the final touches on this morning) is easier to use - and there are some good reasons to use it.  Hanes is supporting people including you) who create badges by awarding up to $10,000 to the causes of the six people most successful at connecting with friends and family to raise funds for their favorite charities.  In addition, anyone who gets six people to donate to their badge will receive an official Six Degrees t-shirt from Hanes.

Get your supporters to create a badge - or build your own.  It’s a great way to experiment with web 2.0, widgets and friend-to-friend fundraising.  In our first six months, we’ve seen $700,000 donated through the badges, which suggests there are a group of people very willing to donate in this way.  I’ll be talking more about Six Degrees this morning here in New York, where I’m speaking at the Money for Mission conference.


Six Degrees, a site created by Kevin Bacon in partnership with Network for Good, is a way to engage your supporters in fundraising for you with their own friends and family online with charity badges, which are fundraising widgets. This approach of person-to-person fundraising is often called “viral fundraising,” and it’s a new way your most loyal donors can help you. Because Six Degrees gives you a tool to fundraise anywhere online, it’s a great approach to getting bloggers involved in your cause and for tappinginto your supporters to integrate into social networks like MySpace. Consider it a creative, easy, and low-cost supplement to the fundraising you already do via your website and email.

Your charity can create a badge for your supporters - or you can ask your supporters to create their own. Here’s how it works:

-You go to and click on “create a badge”
-Create a badge for your charity by uploading photo and text and generating a Donate button for your organization - this takes about 5-10 minutes
-We give you the code to display the badge on your website and share it with your supporters
-The badge tracks in real time the number and amount of donations
-You can create as many badges as you want, and you can invite your supporters to create their own badges if they’d rather design their own, instead of using yours
-Any badge created at Six Degrees during our matching grants campaign is eligible for the matching grants
-There’s no charge for creating badges. The only fees invovled with the program are the Network for Good transaction processing fees, which are 4.75% of transactions. We give donors the choice of covering that fee for the charity or deducting it from the donation
-You can log in to your Network for Good Donation Tracking Report at any time to obtain information on the donors that have supported you through the badges

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Wed, July 18 2007

You can’t fake authenticity

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

My esteemed colleague Mark Rovner has a great blog carnival this week on authenticity. In this era of withering scepticism about all things marketing, we’re best off being honest and flawed rather than slick and slimy.

Check it out, it’s worth the read. You can discover some new blogs in the process.

I think when you’re unsure of what to do, especially when it comes to talking to your audience, authenticity can help you out of the dark.

Wondering how often you should contact your supporters and by what means? Tell them you’re unsure, and ask them what they want. They’ll love it - no one else bothers.

Concerned that your story isn’t perfect? All the better, it’s human.

Worried people aren’t opening your mail or electronic newsletters? Label the next one, “did we bore you last time?” and ask your supporters what interests them.

Candor, directness and truth cut through the clutter.

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Thu, July 12 2007

10 things to engage constituents online

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Websites and web usability •

At yesterday’s AMA Foundation Conference, I had an excellent time presenting with three very smart people on the above topic.  They were Jonathon D. Colman of The Nature Conservancy, Jacob Colie of Mercy Corps and Arlin Wasserman of America on the Move.  Here were the 10 things we said were vital:

1. Do cross channel promotion (Jacob).  In the mail, email your donors before they receive postal mail appeals.  On the phone, give your donors the option to give online.  Send email to your best offline donors.  Make the pieces work together.

2. Make marketing a conversation (Katya).  Make sure all your online outreach and presences enable two-way conversation with your supporters, fans and non-fans.

3. Be accessible, easy, encouraging and intimate (Arlin).  Check out how well America on the Move does this on their site.

4. Show accountability (Jacob).  Make it clear where they money goes!

5. Make it easy for people to find you (Jonathon).  Optimize your search engine marketing.  Start by getting as many high-quality links to your site as possible - and link out to other good sites.

6. Segment your way to success (Jonathan and Jacob).  Talk with supporters differently, depending on who they are, how they give, the ways in which they support you, etc.

7. Test, test, test (Jonathon).  Never do one version of any appeal or newsletter.  Test different versions so you can learn and improve all the time.

8. Make your supporters your messengers (Katya).  Ask your supporters to spread the word among their friends and family.

9. Offer recurring giving (Jacob).  Mercy Corps does an amazing job of “supersizing” their donors into monthly gifts.

10. Don’t only ask.  Thank and inspire too (Katya and Arlin).  Show people the difference they are making.

Thank you to all who listened to us, and thank YOU for reading this blog.


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Thu, July 12 2007

Our Triple Bottom Line

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

Filed under:   Nonprofit leadership •

It’s been a busy week - on Monday, I presented at the Association of Fundraising Professionals meeting here in DC.  On Wednesday, I presented at the American Marketing Foundation Foundation annual conference, and today I hosted a free teleconference called, “Nonprofit 911” about how to fix ailing online giving programs (675 people registered, so clearly it struck a chord!).  My experiences at these events have yielded loads of material for the blog, which I’ll be sharing for the next week or two.

Today, I want to highlight some points made by my professional mentor and marketing idol, Bill Novelli, who delivered the AMA conference’s closing speech.  His theme was the nonprofit sector’s triple bottom line.  Corporations have a single bottom line - shareholder value, which is driven by profits.  As people working for the public good, we have a triple bottom line, he said.  Namely:  social change, stakeholder value and revenue generation. 

What Bill said that was most interesting was that we’ve got to stop thinking about those three line items as separate and instead think of them collectively.  Specifically, he said we have to seek the synergies between them.  (Oops, I broke my vow never to use the word “synergy” in print, but at least I’m quoting someone else.  I promise to keep my pledge with respect to “leverage.”)  You could save the whales, send out plastic wristbands to thank your members, and sell whale-embroidered neckties at the holidays as separate endeavors, and they might work in isolation.  But wouldn’t it make more sense to save the whales by making the other two endeavors reinforce your mission of saving the whales - like naming whale pods after your most generous members and reporting on how they’re doing regularly to show value, and selling whale-watching trips so that ecotourism dollars would drive more environmentally-friendly policies in areas home to whales?  This is my example - Bill showed how AARP is building social impact into products from health care plans to financial products to achieve a self-reinforcing triple bottom line. 

“Synergy is the most powerful part of your work, if you can figure it out,” he says.

I like to think we do this at Network for Good.  Our mission is to get more resources to nonprofits online.  We provide tools and training to help nonprofits get more money online (stakeholder value) and also sell special paid (but inexpensive) fundraising services to nonprofits, which reinforces our mission.  This hasn’t always been the case in my career—I remember once working with a furniture company on a co-branded campaign that sure did nothing to promote social change.  Oops.

Is your triple bottom line reinforcing your mission?

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