Campaign Marketing Models & Tips

Obama -- Don't Let Your Hard-Won Community of Hope Die OffSo what happens when a groundbreaking campaign ends?

In Obama's case, I'm not talking about whether the candidate gets into office or not (that's out of any strategist's hands), but what's going to happen to the engaged, interested, willing-to-work/give community he's developed via

My advice: Keep it going.

These folks, many of whom are campaign/advocacy virgins, are enthused. They've been awakened, or re-awakened, by a passion for change, and by a candidate who's made it possible for them to grow into a community of like-thinkers. And they're well-positioned to do more; for other candidates, for the party, for key issues.

Jesse Helms, a mastermind marketer, transitioned campaign supporters' contact info (phone and address at that point) into what then became a very powerful National Republican Congressional Committee.

Obama, and your organization — at the close of an advocacy or issue campaign — should do the same (not to the NRCC, but to an ongoing community of interest and action around whatever they've responded to initially).

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Web 2.0 | 4 comments

Don't Tell Your Audiences What They Want--Obama Lawn Sign Blow UpLooking for one of these?

So are thousands of other Obama supporters throughout the country. And they’re pissed: They want to be able to show their neighbors where they stand. They’re viral marketers eager to spread the word, proud of their stand but frustrated as heck they can’t get the ammunition they need to shout it loud and clear!

According to a recent article by Tim Craig in the Washington Post:

“Kevin Griffis, an Obama spokesman, said the campaign hasn’t put a priority on lawn signs, noting that they don’t vote on Election Day.”

Well, as much as Griffis may snub his noise at sign-wanters (based on the campaign’s insistence that Obama doesn’t need the name recognition boost signs provide), signs do matter to Obama supporters. The campaign, in staying unresponsive to folks who are looking hard for signs — and willing to pay for them — is sending out a negative vibe ala, “we don’t care what you want.” And that’s all wrong.

According to Scott A. Surovell, chairman of the Fairfax County, VA Democratic Committee, “”Signs are incredibly important, because supporters want to show their support and want to show their neighbors who they are supporting. It can be very frustrating when their neighbors have John McCain signs and they can’t get Obama signs. A lot of people feel like they are fighting this fight street to street, house to house, and when they see McCain signs everywhere, it makes them feel alone.”

While bumper stickers have clearly fallen away from the game of retail politics, the lawn sign has not. In fact, it’s possible to say, especially with the lightweight, plastic signs, that it’s easier than ever for campaigns to mail signs to supporters. In any event, the Obama campaign has made a bad tactical move here: “People vote, not signs” is just rationalizing a bad decision.

Campaigning, like fundraising, isn’t pure science. Human emotion plays a huge role, and overlooking it is a mistake.

Make it easy for your base to get and stay emotionally involved (as well as intellectually, creatively, politically, etc.) by listening hard to their needs and wants, rather than shouting over them. The community they form around your org’s work and issues is a valuable one, to you and to them. Do whatever you take to nourish it, no matter what the science says.

P.S. Learn how to craft the shortest and most compelling story for your org. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Strategy | 2 comments

You're (In)Famous, and So Am I MoveOn's Personalized Video Paints Dark Future for Non-Voters

You've probably already received 10 emails about this "vote-or-else" campaign from, but I have to chime in with my admiration. It's irresistible. has outdone itself with this funny, engaging but ultimately, extremely thought-provoking video news report from the future.  And the video and news site are peppered with the “suspected non-voter’s” name(mine, or yours). It's the ultimate in targeting. Take a look.

Even better, makes the experience easy to share by filling in a simple form with your friends' contact info. You can make 'em laugh and make 'em think, in a second.

So vote, or else…

P.S. Learn how to craft the marketing message that matters most — your tagline. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don't dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Video, Viral Marketing | 1 comment
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Here's How a Committed Base Markets Your Org or Cause YesWeCarvecomI was delighted to learn about, a funny but powerful pumpkin-carving campaign launched by Obama supporters.

The four imaginative individuals who got this going aren’t campaign staffers, but passionate Obama-ites who brainstormed this delightful way to spread the message via a far-too-commercial holiday.

Now everyone I know is passing this site around, discussing which design to use and planning to deliver an inspiring message on Halloween eve that’ll leave candy corn in the dust. Now that’s a powerful viral marketing base!

Here’s what your org has to have if you want your base to do the same:

  • A clear, inspiring impact in the communities you serve
  • The ability to stay real and reliable, consistent in your org "personality" and presence
  • Strong, iconic messaging (easy to remember, repeat and riff on).

With these three key factors in place, your base will have what it needs to get inspired and spread the word.  Now back to choosing our stencil design….

Tip of the hat to Celeste Wroblewski.

Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Viral Marketing | 0 comments

Take Candidates' Lead for Email Wins for Your NonprofitI’ve been noticing distinct trends in the presidential campaign email I’ve received. Short subject lines top the list, but the flood of campaign email showcases several other powerful email tactics as well, many of which are great inspirations for powerful nonprofit marketing.

So I was pleased to see Karen Gedney’s summary of the best in presidential campaign email techniques on ClickZ.  Here they are:

1) Short Subject Lines
The shortest range from one to four words. Less is more, I always say. Here are a few recent examples: Appalling; Imagine; Last-Minute Attacks; Running Track.

Gedney cites recent metrics from MailerMailer that subject lines under 35 characters motivate 5% more opens. I suggest that you need to get under 20 characters (no more than four short words) for any real boost. The best way to understand how/if shorter subject lines make a difference in your campaigns is to do an A/B test of two subject lines of varying lengths (try one running 40-50 characters, and the second 20 or less characters).

2) Letter-Format Email Messages, Longer and More Personal than the Norm
Candidates are fleshing out short subject lines with messages that follow the traditional fundraising letter format and run 250-350 words. The narrative is usually supplemented by a graphic banner featuring a tagline and a visual sidebar, with a action button (Donate! being the most popular) and a video link.

According to Gedney, longer, more personal messages outperform short “ad” copy every time.

3) Stay on Message with Consistent Branding
Typically, the banner on these emails features a tagline summarizing the candidates position, which is repeated in the letter itself. That position is each candidate’s brand, the sound bite takeaway that needs to be highlighted, and conveyed consistently, in every email.

4) Video, Video, Video
Almost every email I’ve received from the candidates includes a video link. That makes it easy for me to “go live” and really get a sense of the candidates.

Gedney cautions that metrics don’t show that online video increases opens. Find out how video works for your audiences with another A/B test. Take a brief online video (3 minutes or less) to feature in the first version, delete it in the second and see which generates more opens and clickthroughs. And, if you don’t have a well-edited, brief video on hand, link to a brief slideshow of high-impact stills, like this timeline from EDC.

5) Multiple Senders, Celebrity Endorsers
Vary things for your audiences, so they stay interested. Otherwise, repeated messages from the same sender can get boring (my 5-year-old’s new favorite word, since when are kindergarteners bored?). Obama’s campaign emails come from him, from Michelle Obama, campaign manager David Plouffe and other staff members, celebrity endorsers and, most recently, VP candidate Joe Biden.  The variety keeps it fresh!

Sign Up Today for Free Email Campaign Training: Simply subscribe Obama’s and McCain’s email lists
I recommend you subscribe to a few campaign email lists (presidential  plus)  to get a constant flow of new ideas for your nonprofit email campaigns. I promise that the ideas just won’t stop (until November 5th). Don’t forget to let me know what you harvest and put into play for your nonprofit.

Strengthen your nonprofit brand with the Getting Attention Nonprofit Tagline Report. Subscribe to the Getting Attention e-newsletter (in-depth articles and case studies on nonprofit marketing) to get the free report on publication in mid-Sept..

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Email and E-Newsletters, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments

Finally Huckabee Puts Compelling Storytelling to Work -- First Convention Example is Big Time SuccessI don’t know about you, but I’ve been glued to TV coverage of both conventions. Of course, I’m interested in learning more about the folks who may be leading our country come January. But these speeches are also stimulating examples of messaging strategies good and bad.

Last night, Mike Huckabee delivered a couple of powerful stories, which made me realize that no previous convention speaker date, Dem or GOP, had moved out of abstract rhetoric, putting stories to work to connect with their audiences. Huckabee did so, big time.

The imagery of his two centerpiece stories is still imprinted in my mind:

1) “My own father held down two jobs, barely affording the little rented house I grew up in. My Dad worked hard, lifted heavy things, and got his hands dirty. The only soap we had at my house was Lava. Heck, I was in college before I found out it wasn’t supposed to hurt to take a shower.”

==> My response: I can feel the grittiness of that lava soap even this morning.

2) Huckabee segued to John McCain at the end of his speech by telling the tale of  elementary school teacher Martha Cothren, a teacher at Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock, who…

“Was determined that her students would not take their education or their privilege as Americans for granted. With the principal’s permission, she removed all the desks from her classroom, [telling the students they had to figure out what to do to earn their desks.]

[By the end of the day, when they had failed to guess correctly,] in walked 27 veterans, some wearing uniforms from years gone by, but each one carrying a school desk. As they carefully and quietly arranged the desks in neat rows, Martha said, “You don’t have to earn your desks…these guys already did. They went halfway around the world, giving up their education and interrupting their careers and families so you could have the freedom you have.No one charged you for your desk. But it wasn’t really free. These guys bought it for you. And I hope you never forget it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, John McCain is one of those people who helped buy the freedom that we enjoy and the school desks we had. It’s my honor to do what I can to help him have a desk that he has earned one in the Oval Office.”

==> There was barely a dry eye in the house at the end of this one.

Kudos to Mike Huckabee for knowing that personal stories connect in a way policies and abstractions don’t.

It’s much easier for me to tell you every detail about then, than it would be for me to recant facts and figures. You want your donors, volunteers and program participants to be able to do the same, spreading the word on your organization. Stories are authentic and show — which is far more effective than telling — a point in a way that’s emotionally resonant. How can you put stories to work to connect more effectively with your audiences?

Learn more about how your nonprofit can tell a good story here:
Put Persuasive Storytelling to Work for Your Nonprofit

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications | 3 comments

Invite Your Base into the Inner Circle -- Everyone Wants to be WantedThe Obama campaign struck gold (again) this week with its email invitation to me (and many, many others) to be first to learn who the VP pick is.

Just by signing up (with a click), I can be (among) the first to get the VP candidate’s ID, via an email or text blast.

Surprisingly, this invitation does really make me feel like a member of the inner circle, and makes me want to be more involved in the campaign, so I stay there.

How can you ensure your org’s supporters want to be in your inner circle? Once they crave it, how do you invite them in?

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Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments

Two of My Fav Original Thinkers Share Nonprofit Marketing GemsSo much great content comes my way, I just had to share a few sparklers from two folks I am continually inspired by:

1) Seth Godin urges nonprofit marketers to focus on whom you’re talking with (not your org) and the  relationships rather than the tools. He also advises that we test, test, test to find the best strategies for our organizations.

  • Get more tips and insights via the full transcript of Seth’s online discussion with Chronicle of Philanthropy readers and staff. He knows what he’s talking about. Really.

2) Allison Fine shares her research on what it means to Millennials (15-29 year olds), to have the ability to become an advocate for their cause instantly, broadly, inexpensively, and what that ability means for nonprofit communications. She found young people to be very idealistic, marinating in causes, alienated from government and public policy — in short, Social Citizens.

  • Your org has to learn how to work with Millennials most effectively if you want to move forward, and they’re incredibly savvy marketing wise. As Allison said at the close of a recent speech on her research, "If we don’t figure out how to incorporate Millennials into our nonprofit organizations, they’re just going to start their own causes, overnight, using free tools.”
  • Dig into Allison’s paper to learn more about her methodology and guidance on talking and working with Millennials, then keep up with the conversation in her Social Citizens blog.

Photo credit: abielskas

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Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages, Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Social Media, Specific Audience Segments, Viral Marketing | 0 comments

Leverage Prez Hopefuls' Understanding Of Women To Increase Your Nonprofit Marketing ImpactThe current presidential campaign madness is serving up lots of insights into effective communications.

I found Linda Hirshman’s article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine on how gender influences political choices intriguing, both as a citizen and as a nonprofit marketer. Hirshman’s frame, based on lots of poll data, is: Women, who vote in greater numbers than men do, are either voting for or against Hillary Clinton because she is a woman, and being able to appeal to female voters could be the key to her victory or loss.

Here are some outtakes on why that’s so, and how those insights can strengthen your nonprofit marketing to women:

  • Premise: Women vote to protect their interests (men vote because they enjoy politics)
    • How to work it: Noted psychologist Carol Gilligan says that women are powerfully motivated by their interests (“family, education, household, health care, war and peace, economic  opportunity”) and if you can engage them, you’re gold. Relate your issue to women’s interests, but make sure you know what you’re talking about. Test, test, test.
  • Premise: When a women holds office or runs for office, other women are more likely to be engaged in politics. Also, fewer women turn to media outlets with mainly male sources.
    • How to work it: Focus campaigns to women on women — org leaders, program participants, etc. You’ll be more likely to engage women audiences.
  • Premise: Women are more likely to have an open mind.
    • How to work it: Considering breaking multi-part marketing campaigns into more drops (via mail or email) to women. Keep trying to approach the same offering, issue or ask from different points of view.
  • Premise: Women network, organically, so already have a network (or two, or three) in place. That goes for candidates, but also for their constituencies/supporters.
    • How to work it: Pitch your “forward-to-a-friend” and other viral campaigns more specifically. Just saw a new novel marketed to women with a “buy one, get one for your best friend free” offer. These relationships count, so make use of them.

I’ll keep you posted on more presidential tips for engaging women, and other groups. Do you have any to share? Please email them to me today.

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Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Specific Audience Segments, Strategy | 2 comments

Update The ABCDs of House Party Success -- How to Put 'Em to Work for Your NonprofitPost-Party Update — Feb. 4, 2008
Our pre-primary party was a fabulous success, with more than 80 folks engaged, provoked, stimulated and talking. Guests responded with huge thanks for the forum. Here are a couple of the emails we received the next day:
“Congratulations, and thanks again on pulling off an ambitious party. It really worked out great! We had fun, learned something, got to enjoy the company of new and old friends.”

It was great fun, good to hear from the articulate and smart folks there, and inspiring to enjoy the general good feeling and hope about next year.  Thanks for pulling us all together, giving us a chance to talk politics and a reason to savor this rather extraordinary moment we are living through!

Here’s what made this party a huge success, and what will work for your nonprofit’s house party:

A) Build a sense of excitement
ahead of the event, to frame the focus and format, and get guests intrigued, involved and up-to-speed before they walk in the door.

B) Organize it out the wazoo.
Nothing is as deflating as guests drifting around, uninvolved. Be prepared to capture the energy, build on it, then put it to work. Outline the format (ours outlined below worked great), have handouts ready and leave the group motivated to act (and make it easy for them to do so).

C) Make it fun. All work and no play makes a party dull. Remember you have a self-selected group of interesting, interested people. Make sure they have the opportunity to connect on other fronts as well…that’ll increase their enthusiasm about the experience, and probably the issues, and add an infrastructure to the community you’re building.

D) Keep up the momentum, continuing to nurture the community of interest you build. Your guests’ departure is only the beginning of a beautiful relationship . Before your guests go out the door, have your follow-up plan in place, and move on it within a couple days. We’re sending out a follow-up email, with a post-party poll, and will keep up with periodic emails, and a mid-July fundraiser.

P.S. Take a close look at the photo above. Yes, our friend Tori at left is wearing a vintage Nixon dress, itself worth the price of admission.

Readers, here’s a semi-personal story I wanted to share with you.

In our state (NJ), we’ve never had a REAL say in the presidential primaries before. But this round we’re part of Super Tuesday (Feb. 5th), something many folks haven’t fully absorbed. So we’re holding a pre-primary party to help 100 of our undecided Democratic and Independent friends get clear on whom they’ll vote for in Tuesday’s primary, and get everyone, decided or not, excited and motivated to vote, volunteer and give.

The concept — an issues-oriented house party — is ripe for the stealing from the political arena. After all, creating and sharing new traditions is a key way to cope with an ever-changing culture.

The possibilities for your organization to launch a house party campaign are almost endless. It takes only the simplest online support mechanism (deliverable via your Web site) to make it easy for your supporters to raise dollars and awareness for your cause. Education, awareness and possibly fundraising, all  in an atmosphere of conviviality and good food (let’s hope). Talk about putting your supporters to work for you.

Here’s how our party will work:

1) Pre-Party Ramp Up

  • Emails to guests to build understanding and excitement about the event, and a clearer sense of where the candidates are on the issues.
  • Online pre-party poll.

2) Caucus and Meet Your Candidate Captains

  • Guests will caucus for 20-30 minutes with others who also support their current pick.
  • Each group will be asked to define 3-5 key reasons it’s supporting that candidate AND 3-5 reasons why the other candidates aren’t strong enough. (Polite bashing is acceptable).
  • Undecideds are free to roam.
  • The aim of this portion of the party is for the captains to compile a list of reasons to support the candidate (and oppose the others),and find out who among the group wants to participate in the Soap Box session. (This may take some gentle nudging for some.Of course, no pressure for anyone to speak in the Soap Box session.)

3) Soap Box Sermonizing — Pro and Con

  • In rotating order, a representative from each camp (can be the captain or any other supporter for that candidate) will ascend the Soap Box, and be given up to ONE MINUTE to address the party with a key reason the group supports their candidate (Pro). It’s our own Speakers Corner.
  • So, we’ll get one minute from a Clinton supporter, one minute from an Edwards supporter, one minute from an Obama supporter.
  • Then in the next round, following the same order, people will speak to the “Con” — Why the other candidates aren’t up to snuff.
  • We’ll do this until all three camps have shared main reasoning for and against.

4) Caucus Fraucus and Straw Poll

  • We’ll dissolve into a Caucus Fraucus of beer, soft drinks and chips. During this time, primary party-ers are encouraged to engage each other about who they’re supporting and why.Cajoling and persuading are encouraged.
  • Then they step over to our “voting booth” and cast their ballots in our straw poll.

5) Pizza for all, as we announce/predict(?) the winner!

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Nancy Schwartz in Campaign Marketing Models & Tips, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment

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