Mon, October 30 2006

Help!  My boss hates marketing!

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

No, not my boss.  Thankfully he agrees with me that marketing is one of the most powerful tools for nonprofits, as well as the center of the universe.  Right, Bill?

Actually, “Help!  My boss hates marketing!” is one of the most common comments I get from people who speak to me after my presentations, and today will be no exception.  I’m in Kansas City presenting at the Midwest Philanthropy Conference.  Since you’re not here with me, I thought I’d share my response.  In fact, this week, I’m going to devote my blog to the most common questions I receive, and I’ll share my answers. 

Let’s launch into today’s topic.

Q: How do I get my boss to value marketing?  (or why won’t she let me do marketing, hates marketing, won’t fund marketing, won’t listen to me, doesn’t appreciate me, etc.)

A: You don’t.  Instead, you do the following six things.

1. Don’t call it marketing.  Call it something else.

I typically ask people what they are saying to their recalcitrant boss, and the answer is instructive: “I tell my boss why marketing is important and why he should care about it.  I tell him we absolutely must do X, Y and Z because marketing is so valuable.”  What’s interesting about this approach is that it’s basically a sermon on why our boss should value marketing.  That is not walking our talk as marketers!  We should be asking our bosses what THEY care about rather than informing them that they should care about marketing. 

2.  Show how your “initiative” (which is really marketing) meets their agenda.

Don’t position your agenda as a marketing campaign; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language.  Show how you are going to help make that fundraising goal, audience behavior change or front-page newspaper story happen.

3.  Make it about the audience.

A good way to depersonalize different visions for “marketing” is to make it about your audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss.  A little audience research is great fodder for advancing your agenda.  For example, “Mr. Board Member, I loved your suggestion to put a quote in Greek on the cover of our brochure!  I even created a draft of it and showed it to a group of our donors.  Can you believe, they didn’t get it?  For this piece, we’re going to take their suggestion about what they understood and prompted them to give.”

4. Report every wee step of progress.

Every single time anything good happens, be sure the boss knows it.  Identify some early, likely wins toward your boss’s goals and report victories. 

5. Give your boss credit and put him or her in the spotlight.

When good things happen, give credit to your boss.  Create a dashboard that shows progress against your boss’s goals and let your boss show that progress to the board.  Your boss will like you for it.  If you pitched your organization’s story in a completely new, marketing-savvy way to reporters and that yielded your boss’s photo in the paper, all the better.

6. Seek forgiveness, not permission.

If all else fails, just do what you want to do anyway, quietly, and tell your boss about it when something good happens.  People don’t get fired often in this sector anyway.

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Sat, October 28 2006

The no-neck view of the world

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Have you ever noticed how very young kids’ drawings usually don’t feature a person’s neck?  Have you wondered why?

My theory is that if you’re two or three years old and your perspective is pretty low to the ground, you don’t see people’s necks when you look up.  You see a head sitting on arms. 

I can’t think of a better analogy for marketing.  Marketing mandates that we look at the world through the eyes of our audience and communicate from that perspective.  It can be hard to tear ourselves away from the comfort of our long-necked world view, but we must. 

Believe me, I know how difficult it is.  I forget the marketing principles I tout all the time.  The brilliant folks out at ASU (namely a brilliant person by the name of Gregory Neidert) recently reminded me I was violating all my own marketing principles on Network for Good’s web site.  Where was the audience perspective?  Wouldn’t people who come to the site want it to know if it was safe or reliable?  Wouldn’t they want to know if other people trusted the site?  And why wasn’t the “search for your favorite charity”—the reason most people come to our site—the most prominent thing on the page?  Errrr, because I forgot to do as I say.

Here is the way our site was, and how it is now.  Since we started working completely from the audience perspective, conversion is up 30%.  If you haven’t read it, get this book from those ASU folks.

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Fri, October 20 2006

Steal, steal, steal that corporate savvy

Katya Andresen's avatar

Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Since I covered death and condoms in my first day’s posts, I’m sure it will be all downhill from here.  Fortunately, there is always stealing—stealing corporate savvy, to be exact. 

Here is what the great corporate minds of America know: If you speak to an audience’s values (not your own), that audience will listen.  Savvy nonprofit marketers take that approach.  The oft-cited Don’t Mess With Texas is an anti-littering campaign that became an unofficial state motto by tapping into the macho and fiercely prideful ethos of the young men who had a tendency to toss their trash out of their truck windows.  It’s as if the campaign had stolen the approach here and said, “Hey, if that works for Guns and Ammo, let’s make it work for us!”  And they would be right on.  “Give a hoot, don’t pollute” would never work in the Lone Star state.

Identify your target audience and then check out all the advertisers trying to influence that audience.  (A brilliant trick I stole from Kristen Grimm!)  The best companies behind those ads spent a lot of money on research to figure out what makes their audience tick, and their ads speak to the audience values they uncovered.  So take those ads - from websites, magazines and TV (make notes) and plaster them on your office wall.  What are they speaking to?  How can you tie your cause to that sensibility?  If you make that connection, you just stole a lot of very valuable intelligence.

My favorite web site these days is www.care.org, because CARE has the Nike ethos nailed. 

Ads are like one big focus group out there for you to comandeer.  Just do it.

Photo from LisFace, Flickr, and screen shot of www.care.org.

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Wed, October 18 2006

The arresting opening

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Author, Robin Hood Marketing

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Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

The first line of my first blog entry is about dancing corpses.  The first line of Robin Hood Marketing is about an encounter with a giant condom.  And the first line of one of my favorite books is,

“It was the afternoon of my eighty-first birthday, and I was in bed with my catamite when Ali announced that the archbishop had come to see me.”

  I adore Anthony Burgess.  In his work Earthly Powers, he writes a few lines later,

“I retired twelve years ago from the profession of novelist.  Nevertheless you will be constrained to consider, if you know my work at all and take the trouble now to reread that first sentence, that I have lost none of my old cunning in the contrivance of what is known as an arresting opening.  But there is nothing of contrivance about it.  Actuality sometimes plays into the hands of art.”

If we are committed to a cause, we are fortunate, because we possess intriguing actuality in the form of our compelling work.  This actuality can play into the hands of art, if we master the arresting opening.  We simply must.  We need to grab people’s hearts and minds fast, because when we seek to get attention, people will give us a glance at most.  We have just a few words in a poster, brochure, blog or email appeal to get that glance and keep that gaze with an arresting opening.  Do me a favor.  Go look at the first line (and ONLY the first line) of everything you’re using to raise money or change people’s behavior.  Does it seize you by the synapses and leave you longing for more?  If it doesn’t, read on - perhaps you’ve buried your lead, as journalists say.  Find the sentence somewhere that will arrest your audience, and put it at the top.  If you don’t have one, make one.  Write that first line as if you were Scheherezade, and your life depended on it.  Then see what happens to those messages and click throughs—they may just earn a lasting stare.

 

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