#11NTC

Here’s how your nonprofit can win — big-time — with word-of-mouth marketing (w-o-m): Put traditional community organizing strategies to work.

Thanks to Michael Silberman of Echo Ditto and Darren Barefoot of Biro Creative for sharing their creative guidance on w-o-m at the recent NTC (NTEN’s conference). I’m so eager to share it with you, as there’s huge potential for your nonprofit marketing impact.

A Heartbeat Isn’t Enough: Your Nonprofit Must Be Remarkable

  1. Your marketing — online and offline — must be remarkable to be recognized, remembered, passed on and acted on.
  2. But…many of your routine offline and online marketing tactics — the email advertising, content strategy you implement daily — are unremarkable, inefficient and, as a result, counterproductive! They just heartbeats.
  3. The most effective nonprofit marketing teams don’t scale their work by buying email lists or Google Ad Words, or by spamming members with more and more direct mail, or via requests to sign petitions.
  4. Instead, they scale by being remarkable so they’re remarked upon
  5. That means your organization will be getting a good deal of your marketing done for you  — for free — by your most committed and passionate fans. And there’s nothing better than others’ talking about you; it’s human instinct to mistrust those who trumpet their own strengths.
  6. Word-of-mouth happens only when you provide a remarkable experience for them by being incredibly effective, unique, bold, creative and repeatable.
  7. Two steps to get there:
    • Create a remarkable relationship. A reliable path is linking your focus to what your supporters want to change in the world. The Howard Dean campaign motivated its supporters to go far beyond the usual tasks to host or join house parties.
    • Engage supporters in meaningful, engaging activity and continue to move them to higher levels of engagement. Vancouver’s Talk Green to Us site engages its citizenry via a offering multiple ways to interact, from proposing ideas to commenting or voting on submitted ideas. Make your asks bite-sized so the point-of-entry is low.

5-Star Word-of-Mouth Models

  • Greenpeace’s fundraising campaign/site for the second Rainbow Warrior features compelling storytelling, a fantastic 3-D rendering of the ship, and the opportunity to fund individual parts of the boat.
  • The University of Kentucky has put giant Facebook place icons throughout the campus to showcase its connectivity to prospective students. As students check in with their friends via Facebook, they also spread the word on the University. This is a perfect offline/online connection.

Please share your questions and recommendations for word-of-mouth marketing here. Word-of-mouth is finally evolving into a practical, tangible strategy and it’s a huge boon when we share what’s working and what doesn’t.

For more insight into word-of-mouth marketing, review the session slide deck here.

P.S. Get more in-depth case studies, templates and tools, and guidance for nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz on March 29, 2011 in Viral Marketing | 3 comments
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I have so much to do but don’t know where to start!

That’s the crucial–but seldom acknowledged or discussed–challenge on which I co-led a vibrant mind meld at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (#11NTC), along with superstars Katya Andresen, Kivi Leroux Miller and Sarah Durham.

We were thrilled at the number and engagement level of the hundreds folks squished in the room. In fact, discussion got so lively we were hushed by the organizer of the session in the next room! That request exemplifies the excitement of the crowd in discussing this stuff and in meeting each other–brainstorming partners in the making!

Katya created these summary slides on the fly as we provided one-minute consulting and participants shared their bright ideas on how to:

  • Get priorities right
  • Balance is crucial between marketing and fundraising efforts, not just within marketing
  • Manage up and build leadership buy-in on priorities you set
  • Balance incoming requests (agency model) when you’re acting more strategically (i.e. you have your own job to do)
  • Do the internal marketing necessary to build support, investment and a team of messengers among your colleagues
  • Cut down your program (hint – don’t cut a channel if it’s working, just scale back your effort)
  • Break up with social media if the ROI isn’t there.

Here are a few other outtakes on the session:

What do you have to add to these bright spots? Please share it here.

P.S. Get a jump start on your marketing planning via the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop led by Kivi Leroux Miller and me. Karen and Tara participated last fall with great result! 2011 workshops are scheduled for June 16 in Seattle and October 12 in New York City. Learn more nowthe workshops sold out last year and 2011 seats are going fast!

Nancy Schwartz on March 23, 2011 in Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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Last week I had the opportunity to join three fantastic colleagues to share guidance on this crucial nonprofit marketing challenge at #11NTC (NTEN’s annual conference). And I want to share that guidance with you.

What a pleasure to work with Kivi Leroux Miller of NonprofitMarketingGuide.com; Karen Secular, Communications Director at the Arnold P. Gold Foundation; and Tara Collins, Communications Director at the Watershed Agricultural Council! And what a thrill to have so many focused, sharp, engaged session participants asking questions and sharing their wisdom.

Weaving your loose ends together is a prerequisite to your nonprofit marketing success but remains, for so many of you, a stubborn barrier. Here are two key tools we shared at the session; they are a huge help in getting started with your weaving:

Here are 12 steps to weaving a tight, powerful marketing plan, highlighted by session participants via Twitter:

  1. Moving marketing from support function to a strategic player is the game changer. (@stacyjclinton)
  2. Stop acting as the in-house marketing agency at your org, and take control of the situation (@egratto) A.K.A., “Stop taking the tickets and start driving the bus,” as Tara says.
  3. Only 16% of nonprofits have marketing plans. You need one to make the move to strategic player. (@ksuzj)
  4. A marketing plan is essential because it directs your focus and keeps you on a clearly defined path. (@elimcgon)
  5. However, marketing planning is ongoing series of refining and understanding. Don’t plan more than 1 year out. (@volmatch) Then break it down further to 3-month chunks @wendymarinaccio)
  6. Rule of 3: Identify no more than 3 target audiences for your messages or you risk diffusing your efforts. (@stacydyer)
  7. Meet your audiences where they are (channels and perspectives) (@weinrichc)
  8. Your brand is not just “clothes you wear” (e.g., logo and colors) It’s your organization’s whole personality-the way you walk & talk. (@linzbilks)
  9. Put all of your marketing material on a table; see if there is consistency through ’em (@weinrichc)
  10. Unless your blog is supporting your brand or a call to action it’s just words. (@ksuzj)
  11. Vital part of mktg planning is outlining every single task down to the nitty gritty – who is doing what when (@volmatch)
  12. Failures are what our successes are built on. (@mkdm, @andystitt829)

If you don’t have a plan, or have one that lives in your head or hopes, is just notes, not formalized and approved, or simply not working, get on it right now! It’ll change your life, and your marketing impact.

Please let me know what’s getting in your way, and I’ll give you some recommendations for pushing through!

For more insights from the session, review the slide deck and crowdsourced notes.

P.S. Get a jump start on your marketing planning via the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop led by Kivi Leroux Miller and me. Karen and Tara participated last fall with great result! 2011 workshops are scheduled for June 16 in Seattle and October 12 in New York City. Learn more now–the workshops sold out last year and 2011 seats are going fast!

Nancy Schwartz on March 22, 2011 in Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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It’s so good to be back with you.

We arrived home from New Zealand last weekend but, of course, I brought home some evil plane germs (among other souvenirs) and between fighting those and jet lag have been in slow mode! I’ll share more on the trip soon.

But today I want to invite those of you attending this years Nonprofit Technology Conference (a.k.a. 11NTC, which is sold out, but you can still participate online) to join me in the following sessions:

1) Nonprofit Marketing Affinity Group: Thursday, March 17, 11-12:30, Lincoln West, Hilton

100 folks are already signed up for this so we’re going to have some fantastic networking! Don’t miss it.

The Nonprofit Marketing Balancing Act: I have so much to do but have no idea where to start. Join me and my friends and colleagues Katya Andresen, Sarah Durham and Kivi Leroux Miller in this facilitated discussion on competing priorities/balance/time management in nonprofit marketing — where there’s just never enough time or focus at hand.

  • See how your peers are balancing competing marketing priorities
  • Identity what tools or techniques will help you achieve nonprofit marketing nirvana
  • Learn how to succeed at your own nonprofit marketing balancing act

But most importantly, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet others who do what you do (wear the marketing hat, or partial hat), share experiences and forge some great new brainstorming relationships you can carry through the conference and beyond!

2) Weaving Your Marketing Loose Ends into a Strong, Tight, Powerful Plan (11NTCweave): Saturday, March 19, 1:30-3, Georgetown West, Hilton

If your marketing and fundraising campaigns are a big pile of loose ends, or just too many loose ends that are a barrier to marketing impact, you aren’t alone. That’s how most nonprofits operate.

But that doesn’t mean it’s the right approach or one you have to live with. Join us — Tara Collins, Communications Director, Watershed Agricultural Council; Kivi Leroux Miller; Karen Secular, Director of Communications, Arnold Gold Foundation; and me — to learn how to knit all the pieces of your marketing and fundraising — online and offline — into a strong, tightly-woven plan that produces concrete results. We’ll begin the conversation then open it up for Q&A, counting on drawing on the wisdom of the crowd!

Session Takeaways:

  • See what pieces of your plan need be tightly knotted together, and what’s okay to leave hanging on its own.
  • Review a tested marketing plan template that you can start filling out right in the room
  • Explore how other nonprofits are making their websites, email, social media, direct mail, word-of-mouth, and PR work together to become far more than the sum of their individual parts.

Hope you’ll join us. Successful integration of all of your marketing efforts – cross-channel and with fundraising communications — is the first step to connection, which is the path to conversion!

For those of you who won’t be at 11NTC, I’ll blog out on key conversations asap! Please share questions you’d like addressed in either session.

 

Nancy Schwartz on March 10, 2011 in Professional Development | 1 comment
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Nope, I’m not talking about a spa!

Register now for the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) and we’ll finally have a chance to meet in person! Most importantly, you have the opportunity to nourish and energize yourself talking with–and learning from–some of the most creative, passionate folks in the nonprofit world!

You can still get the regular conference rate if you register by tomorrow, Feb. 11. After that, late fee!

Full disclosure: I’m a board member of NTEN, which runs this conference. But I became a huge NTEN champion through attending this conference — the only venue I know of where program, fundraising, communications folks and other key nonprofit staffers and consultants learn and talk together about common challenges and strategies!

It’s cross-fertilization at its most valuable, and most engaging. You’ll love it.

The program is too extensive to cover here but I promise you you’ll learn, be inspired and meet folks you’ll never forget (in the best way). Please join me there.

Register today to change tomorrow!

P.S. Great tagline!

Nancy Schwartz on February 10, 2011 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Register now for the Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) and we’ll finally have a chance to meet in person! And if you register before December 7, you’ll save $100.

Full disclosure: I’m a board member of NTEN, which runs this conference. But I became a huge NTEN champion through attending this conference — the only venue I know of where program, fundraising, communications folks and other key nonprofit staffers and consultants learn and talk together about common challenges and strategies!

It’s cross-fertilization at its most valuable, and most engaging. You’ll love it.

The program is too extensive to cover here but I promise you you’ll learn, be inspired and meet folks you’ll never forget (in the best way). Please join me there.

Register now to save $100. Early bird registration rates end COB December 7!

Nancy Schwartz on November 17, 2010 in Professional Development | 0 comments
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NTEN‘s 10th Nonprofit Technology Conference (a.k.a. #10NTC). And let me assure you the conference is about much more than technology as the IT folks think of it. That perspective is there too but the 1,500 participants are an unusual amalgam of nonprofit communicators, fundraisers, program staff, some foundation folks and yes, the tech specialists.

The common theme is use of technology tools to do the work more effectively, and efficiently. What’s unique is how the richness of cross-functional participation enables nonprofit communicators to strengthen understanding of other critical points of view within their orgs and better engage colleagues as participants in communications success.

These are some of the most compelling points I heard in NTC sessions, drawn from session leaders as well as participants. When possible I’ve credited the thought, but couldn’t catch many of the sources.

1. Marketing Strategy

  • You have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert — John Kenyon reaffirming my insistence that you have to define goals, key audiences and best ways to meet them before “just doing it.” In our session on integrating social media strategy with communications strategy.
  • When approaching communications–think strategically, act tactfully. — Co-panelist,  Demetrio Maguigad, Community Media Workshop
  • Focus on what you do best, network the rest. — Allison Fine and Beth Kanter
    • What can your org give up?
    • One small step to becoming a networked communicator: Ask your Facebook fans to post your message as their status update. It works!

2. Messaging & Marketing Content

  • Don’t convince supporters of the value of your cause; show them that your cause relates to their wants and values. (From the Marketing/Fundraising meet and greet. Read tweets from this session #10NTC.mktg here.)
  • Online writing needs to be conversational, direct, informal and skimmable. Users read only the 1st sentence then move on.

3. Storytelling

  • Stories (on one person or family) and images make a much stronger immediate impression than stats. The “power of one” (one subject, rather than 500 people) engages and will motivate your network to act.
  • But real storytelling is about your base (those who volunteer with you, you provide services to and others), not about your organization.
  • It’s not the “About Us” content on your website. Keep your org in the background.
  • Good stories are becoming a real differentiator for prospective donors and other supporters: Your website has less than one minute to engage your users.
  • A few good stories are more valuable than many so-so stories.
  • Make sure stories are integrated throughout your communications channels, not just in “stories” section on site. Work well to illustrate value of your programs and services, more so than your description.

4. Email Outreach

  • 11am Tuesday, in recipient’s respective time zones, is THE optimal time to send email campaigns. Make sure your ESP (email service provider) enables you to capture zip codes and sort sends by time zone. — Jordan Dossett, Antharia
  • You have just 8 seconds to capture a recipient’s attention before he clicks away. Here’s how to strengthen your emails.

5. Social Media

  • Trying to control the internet (and its social media content) is like putting a
    wire fence around water
  • 50% of nonprofits plan to increase staff commitment to social media. But only 40% have external budget for this. Disconnect (but not as much as I anticipated).
  • 60% of orgs are now on Twitter, up from 38% from 2009. You should be there personally, to learn the medium, even if not for your org.
  • Your social media policy in one tweet (140 characters): Be professional, kind, discreet, authentic, and represent us well. — Beth Kanter
  • Shorter videos work for new donors, longer format for existing donors who are invested. Repurposing is king!

6. Online Fundraising

  • The hard truth: 1% response rate is typical.
  • Social Survey Results-only 3.5% of organizations have raised 10K or more on Facebook.

More #10NTC “notable quotables” here.

P.S. I hope you can join me next year for #11NTC in Washington, DC, March 17-19, 2011. Subscribe to NTEN’s e-news to ensure you get registration info in the fall. There’s a great early-bird discount.

Photo: Geoff Livingston

Nancy Schwartz on April 15, 2010 in Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments
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