Don’ts

Make Sure I(s) are Dotted and Bows Tied Before You Drop Your Mailing -- Otherwise, You Frustrate Me To No EndWe’re loyal members of the Reeves-Reed Arboretum (RR), a nearby conservancy that’s both beautiful and innovative gardenwise, while providing lots of pleasure and great educational programs for gardeners (and garden enjoyers) of all ages.

The daffodil bowl is one of my favorite treats at Reeves-Reed, offering visitors a dramatic immersion into a glacial bowl planted with over 30,000 daffodils. That’s our daughter Charlotte among last year’s blossoms.

What I don’t love about the Arboretum is the frequent disconnect between its programmatic finesse and its marketing. Here’s an example:

  • Last week I received my spring members mailing, and excitedly tore it open.
  • I digested several events I’d like to attend, including a Wellness Walk, Art in the Garden, and the Great American Backyard Campout.
  • But….when I went to the RR Web site, I couldn’t find a description of any of these events. The calendar featured 2007 events and I got frustrated.

Nonprofit marketers, let this be a lesson. If you do a mailing or drop a mass email, make sure the back-up/related info is everywhere it needs to be (offline, online, staff members trained). If you don’t, you’ll lose attendees, and loyalty.

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Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Direct Marketing, Don'ts, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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WHERE am IDon’t. Just don’t. Don’t forget to tell me who you are on your home page.

I linked to this site from an ad in one of a million e-newsletters and get. And, like many folks, I don’t always get to digest the newly-opened Web site right away.

When I did get there (2 hours later), I really had to spend some time (remember, it’s all about making it easy for your audiences) putting the context together for this site.

Turns out it’s the site for a regional conference of the Society of Association Executives. Only thing is — they forgot to mentioned the sponsoring organization (nothing is so important) on the home page. Not even on the title tag (the text that runs on the blue rule at the top of every Web page). So I’m thinking it’s a New York City initiative to build tourism or something, when finally — at the very bottom of the page — see the attribution on the copyright line.

Your organization’s name is what you’re selling — whether your registering folks for a program, engaging prospective members and motivating donors to give again. Don’t forget it — front, center and recognizable. Just don’t.

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Nancy Schwartz in Don'ts, High-Impact Websites, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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My high school English teacher, Mrs. Hunter, despised double negatives. She insisted that anything nearing a double negative failed to communicate a writer’s meaning, and annoyed the heck out of the reader by requiring her to struggle to find that meaning. And when Mrs. Hunter despised something — in her most vocal, dramatic way — you remembered it forever.

Nothing proves her right more than the Ad Council‘s new Generous Nation campaign, heralded by the "Don’t almost give" tagline. Here’s why:

  • The campaign construct
    • Almost giving happens when good thought and intentions don’t turn into actions.
    • Don’t almost give. Give.
  • The problem
    • Huh?
    • Almost, in my book, nears "not" — and so the double negative classification. What are they talking about?

However you classify it, I think this is just a weak campaign. The Ad Council is striving to engage donors and volunteers despite the lack of a current crisis. They are right on target on acknowledging the difficulty of keeping folks active during this down time in an unbelievably crisis-packed few years, and in wanting to engage novice donors and volunteers who were stirred by recent crises to pitch in. But there’s got to be a more powerful way to do so.

When I see that message, "don’t almost give" — I don’t even get it. It takes me several minutes, plus a review of the campaign website to place the phrase in a meaningful context. It’s only when I spend several minutes to review a few of the campaign TV ads that I get it. And that’s much far too much time and effort to expect from target audiences.

Frankly, I’m surprised. The Ad Council has a tremendous record of success in the impact it generates via its public-service oriented ad campaigns. And why not, since the folks who donate their creative skills to campaign development are the best and the brightest in the ad industry.

But they’ve missed the mark with this latest campaign. Television, print, radio and Internet ads launched this week. I’ll be interested in seeing  what results.

But the Ad Council does triumph with some of the engaging features incorporated into the campaign website, including the voiceover that runs during a very effective black-and-white slideshow of opportunities to help. I’m moved by these photos, and the simple verbs than are projected on these images — feed, prevent, help, support…  Maybe sometimes less is more?

Another effective component is that audiences can easily take action immediately, through the site, to:

  • Get involved with charities that align with their interests
  • Find local volunteering opportunities via zip code search
  • Donate to more than one million charities.

Almost there, but not quite, Ad Council. Remember that your campaigns will have the greatest impact if they are concrete, clear and generate an immediate emotional reaction. Don’t almost make it easy for your audiences. Make it easy.

I’m interested in hearing your thoughts on this campaign. Just make a comment below.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advertising, Case Studies, Don'ts, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Taglines | 6 comments
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Here’s the latest Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants – on the theme of nonprofit marketing this week.  I tell you,  I’m more impressed than ever by the great bloggers out there focused on the nonprofit sectors. So, read away, and don’t forget to comment, and to participate in next week’s Carnival.

Always funny (as in haha, not weird) Joe Waters at Selfish Giving jumps off from the somewhat-successes of the Verb campaign, guiding nonprofits on how to be Merchants of Cool. Hats off to Joe for nudging us nonprofit types to put ourselves out there a little more boldly.

Beth Kanter at Beth’s Blog offers an incredibly practical post on Using Flickr as a Visual Resource for Presentations. Beth makes introduces some very specific ways to increase audience engagement in presentations, and outlines the value of Flickr images as a no-cost, high-engagement presentation component. Thanks, Beth. Love the how-to stuff.

Pithy, punchy Jeff Brooks at Donor Power Blog cautions against The White Man’s New Burden,  reporting on a recent change in the way international relief organizations like the International Red Cross are limiting images to those that convey the “dignity” of the subject. Jeff contends that when the needs disappears (as it does in these more dignified photos), so do the level of engagement and giving. I’m with you, Jeff.

Kivi Miller at Writing911 discusses Activities v. Accomplishments in Annual Reports. Kivi’s on-target recommendation to focus on what your nonprofit has achieved, rather than the work its done, is particularly relevant as we plunge into annual report season.

Marc Sirkin, VP of eMarketing at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) and blogger extraordinaire at npMarketing Blog shares a useful Case Study in Online Event Fundraising. Make that events, as the campaign was put into place at the national and chapter/local level. In his post, Marc details the strategies – most centrally, a wiki —  LLS used to ensure that chapters shared experiences, materials and successes. And no, Marc isn’t a consultant, but he’s an insightful, innovative communicator in our field who shares some very useful recommendations and perspectives. Just coloring outside the lines a bit.

Celeste Wroblewski of Studio 501c pitches her concept that a blog can be like a business lunch. There’s nothing I relate to more than food metaphors, Celeste. Ideal for a nonprofit CEO blog, but applicable in other situations as well, Celeste’s approach is a great way for nonprofits to start blogging. What’s next, the all-you-can-eat-buffet blog?

Betsy Harman of betsy’s blog advises nonprofit organization on Reaching Donors Under 40. Especially important is Betsy’s point about executing multiple marketing strategies to different target audiences to ensure you engage each one (or, to put it conversely, to make sure you don’t alienate anyone). That’s a particularly vital technique when segmenting donors and prospects by age.

And last, and maybe least, Nancy Schwartz, of GettingAttention, shares the story of How a Small Nonprofit Shaped a Clear, Memorable Brand – Five Steps to Low-Budget Branding for Big Results.

Next week’s Carnival of Nonprofit Consultants hones in on Young Professionals in Philanthropy. Don’t forget to submit your post, and to read all on Monday, October 2nd.

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Nancy Schwartz in Advocacy, Blogging for Nonprofits, Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Cause Marketing, Don'ts, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Recommended Resources, Unique Approaches | 4 comments
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I recently received an email announcement on two new board members from a foundation that will remain nameless. What a bomb! The email was devoid of impact, featuring only the following for each new board member:

  • Name
  • Photo
  • 2-3 sentence bio.

What a lost opportunity, with nothing about:

  • The evolution of the foundation having led it to select these two new board members who are leaders in those areas of focus.
  • Other foundation news.
  • The foundation more generally. No tagline, logo, positioning statement or other branding. No website link, email signature or contact information. Do they ever make it hard for a recipient to find out more.

Bomb! This post launches a new Getting Attention blog category–Don’ts. Subjects will remain anonymous as their missteps highlight good marketing practices (and those to avoid).

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Nancy Schwartz in Don'ts, Nonprofit Communications | 0 comments
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