Unique Approaches

Amanda Aldrich edited-1Our guest blogger Amanda Aldrich is Regional Communications Specialist with the American Red Cross of Northwest Ohio. The opinions she shares here do not represent those of the American Red Cross.

As a regional communications professional, I’m frequently asked to present in the area, and the requests often surpass my availability.

Rather than explore ways to clone myself, we’ve responded by developing a speakers’ bureau. Our group of speakers helps tell our story to the local community, engages volunteers and recruits new supporters to join our cause. It’s a win-win-win!

Here are nine steps to take to build your organization’s speakers’ bureau:


Nancy Schwartz in Unique Approaches | 2 comments
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A Cause Marketing Coup

If you’re a Target shopper and/or a Ben & Jerry’s (B&J) fan you probably know about Volunteer Match‘s (VM) cause marketing coup.

Back in June,  B&J launched its Berry Voluntary and Brownie Chew Gooder flavors at Target (a long-time VM supporter), aiming to encourage local volunteering via VM’s Scoop it Forward program.    After registering for a volunteer activity and forwarding the opportunity to five friends, all six people received a coupon for a free pint of one of the new flavors, redeemable at Target.

Reinvigorated to Reach New Audiences

That’s a five-start cause marketing partnership but focus on even the most engaging promotion flags after a while.  VolunteerMatch was determined to use this opportunity to engage additional audiences to build awareness of volunteering.

They devised a brilliant, funny strategy to do so — challenging Stephen Colbert (who has his own B&J flavor, Americone) to an ice cream taste off.

And what better (potentially viral) way to launch the challenge than this video: “I challenge Stephen Colbert – man to man and spoon to spoon – to see who has the ice cream flavor that people prefer,” joked Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch. “Anywhere. Anytime. Any tongue.”

After trying each flavor, Baldwin invites tasters to vote for the flavor they prefer, which is a great way to further engage those who hear about the taste off.

But the creative team at VM didn’t stop there. They generated major attention by storming the line of folks waiting to see the Colbert Report taping last week.  VM distributed sample sizes of Berry Voluntary, proffered a written challenge to Colbert and the show’s producers, and launched the video big-time!

With Great Immediate Results

The long-term results will be how increased awareness from the taste-off generates more VolunteerMatch volunteers. But that won’t be clear for awhile.

What’s immediately apparent is that the spectacularly original and marvelously engaging approach has gotten big time attention. The story launched on Monday and was immediately covered by Fast Company and the Huffington Post, among other channels. That means that VM has already reached new audiences.

Next step, getting Baldwin on the Colbert Report! I’ll keep you posted on progress.

Powerful Inspiration — Use It to Spice Up Your Campaigns

There’s lots of inspiration here. My challenge to you is this: How can you take a great existing marketing or fundraising campaign, spice it up and roll it out to engage new audiences (or re-engage those who might have seen it the first time round)?

P.S. Vote now to build your messaging skills by selecting the best in class in the 2010 Taggies — the third annual Nonprofit Tagline Award Competition. It’s a fun project that will help nonprofits in all fields discover what works, and why.

Nancy Schwartz in Cause Marketing, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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Lift Your Head and Collaborate to Power Up Your Nonprofit's MarketingLet me introduce you to David J. Neff, nonprofit marketer extraordinary, who kicks off a periodic series of posts from guest bloggers.

I believe strongly in the value of multiple perspectives and weaving in guest writers into the Getting Attention blog and e-update is the best way to do it. Welcome, David…

“Hello! Today I want to introduce you to the #1 focus for nonprofits in 2010, getting to know other organizations and collaborating with them.

So what does that mean? Am I talking about the “kids who need coats” organization teaming up with the “kids who need bikes” non profit so that kids can ride bikes when it’s cold? Not exactly (although that would be nice).

What I am talking about is stopping your daily grind from time to time to lift your head. For you to climb out of your silo to have coffee with the communications director of the organization down the street who has no idea what your organization does; to discuss how you can co-promote, share mailing lists or plan a joint event. Or to schedule a call with the marketing consultant for that organization so much like yours but serving a different county.

Unsure where to start? Take 10 minutes a create an online survey and ask your email list what organizations you should be talking to (asking where else they give or volunteer is a great way to generate ideas). Or post a blog entry or Facebook page request. I think you’ll be amazed by the direction you get.

As the co-founder of the nonprofit Lights. Camera. Help., I know I was thrilled with the feedback we got from our network. They named film festivals all over the country that we’re now sharing ideas and experiences with.

At the very least, get to know colleague organizations in your region. Explore local meetups, 501 Tech Club, video camp or tech camp. Or simply google local “nonprofit meetings.” I can almost guarantee something is going on in your area and urge you to get there.

So press pause on that campaign and look around for a chance to say “hello”. Doing so is a wonderful source of enrichment and inspiration. Enjoy it.”

About David: David works with nonprofit organizations via Ridgewood Communications and Lights.Camera.Help. As long-time director of Web and interactive strategies at the American Cancer Society, he was named as 2009 Nonprofit Social Media Marketer by the American Marketing Association.

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to
nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly
Getting Attention e-update.
Subscribe today.

Guest Blogger in Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 3 comments
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Extend Your Org's Reach -- At No Cost

I’m a big proponent of engaging your base to increase the impact of your communications (and impact). Communications-wise, help usually takes one of two forms: spreading the word (engaging their networks) or advising your org on how best to engage folks like them.

Engaging your supporters, the folks who love your work the best, to engage their networks (a.k.a. viral marketing) is a no-brainer. But it’s incredible how rarely this tactic is used effectively. Here’s a great example of an org that’s working it to the max:

  1. The Communications Network, a membership organization for communications professionals working for or with grantmakers, has a conference coming up.
  2. The group, and the conference, are small in size. Even so, many of the attendees won’t know each other. And, conference content has value for a far larger group of nonprofit communicators.
  3. To ensure that the value extends beyond the four walls of the conference itself, and to weave connections among attendees who don’t know each other, the Com Network recruited and trained its Gorilla Engagement Squad to tweet, blog and video on the gathering.
  4. Lots of fun, no cost, broader and deeper reach!

P.S. Don’t miss out on in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Viral Marketing | 0 comments
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True MajorityMoms Rising Launch Blockbuster Mom's Day Video -- Fun & Effective True Majority & Moms Rising premiered a customizable video for Mothers Day. Another great example of engaging your base around an event that’s top of mind.

The video is pretty much irresistible. Try it!

Best yet, you have fun while Moms Rising reinforces its commitment to equity in pay, health care and more (review the strong cover email here), and harvests your email address when you pass the video on to your mom.

BTW, happy Mothers’ day Fran (my MIL)!

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches, Video | 2 comments
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5 Steps to Magical Fundraising -- Dixon Place Case StudyI attended an incredible performance at NYC’s Dixon Place a few weeks ago, along with my husband and some friends. This is a venue I’ve known forever, and have seen grow from a tiny spot in the founder’s living room to its latest incarnation in its own beautiful building. But I haven’t been there much lately and was incredibly impressed by its magical fundraising.

Here’s how Dixon Place worked it:

  1. The minute the lights flickered and the audience was seated, a staffer thanked us for being so central to the theater’s success, thoroughly reviewing its growth from step one to the new building (this was one of the first performances there).
  2. That worked to engage an already excited audience, making us feel proud of ourselves even if the only support we provided to date was buying the tickets for that day.
  3. The magic hat was passed, with a request to keep it coming. Passing the hat made it all tangible, and the fact that it was a bicycle helmet, rather than the common cap, emphasized the originality of Dixon Place’s agenda. Who could resist? And giving further engaged us.
  4. Next, the staffer suggested we visit the theater’s’s Web site to get more involved , capitalizing on the here-and-now of our attention. On to the show…
  5. And a big final thanks after the compelling show.

My personal poll of our group of five showed a deep feeling of engagement, interest and openness to more Dixon Place. 5 steps to magical fundraising!

P.S. Magical fundraising requires effective messaging. Download the free Nonprofit Tagline Report for must-dos, don’t dos, case studies and 1,000+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz in Case Studies, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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How to Supplement Gifts & Grants wEarned Income Yes -- Charge for ItI’ll be joining two other communications experts — Hannah Kane from Idealist and reporter Carly Rothman from Newark’s Star Ledger (the daily newspaper) tomorrow in a panel (Nonprofits, Technology and Messaging) hosted by NJN, NJ’s public TV and radio station.

NJN is doing something really smart — building an earned income stream by marketing for-fee use of its production facilities and services to carefully-identified target audiences. That’s earned vs. unearned (income from donations and grants); a stabilizing source particularly in tough times. Always makes sense to diversify, including income-wise.

Here’s the strategy:

  • The folks at NJN are targeting nonprofits, government agencies and small biz/production centers/event planners — the folks they feel are mostly likely to need moderately-priced outside production help/facilities. Interest is there — 150 org staff members will be at tomorrow’s session.
  • They’re marketing facilities and expertise they already have — but aren’t fully needed by the station itself. Many public radio and/or TV stations do so; but not on so formalized (and effective) a basis.
  • They’re reaching out strategically to build awareness, interest AND relationships. The panel in which I’m participating is part of an open house series — one for each type of prospective customer — designed to introduce not only the facilities and services to prospects, but to build relationships and a deeper understanding of how NJN can help with their challenges.
  • They’re showing their understanding of the target audiences, and their respect for their time (and value of their contribution) by providing a free customized training component in each open house. That’s where our panel comes in.

What skills, products and/or facilities does your org have on tap and aren’t fully used by your own programs and operations? Look hard and inventory possibilities now. Winnow down the list by evaluating what fills a market need and is most feasible to deliver (e.g. of interest to audiences beyond the folks you already provides those services or products to, requires least additional work…). And go with it.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on fee-based services, branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Earned Income/Ventures, Nancy's Speaking Gigs, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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99Designs -- Get a New Logo for a Bargain Price
Need a new logo but don’t have much of a budget? Turn to 99Designs to run a design contest sourcing your logo or other design challenge from a vast array of emerging graphic designers.All you need is a clear idea of what you want designed and how much you’re prepared to pay for it.

Here are some current design contests, and here’s how 99Designs works:

  1. Craft your creative brief — The brief articulates all the tough prep work your org needs to do — brand definition, goal, target audiences, etc. My guide to creative briefs includes an easy-to-complete template.
  2. Set your budget — How much is your org to pay the winning designer to purchase their design (aka the prize)? Prize amounts generally range from $100 to $600 depending on the type of design you require.
  3. Work with the designers — Once your design brief has been posted to 99designs.com, designers from around the globe will submit design concepts to compete for your prize. It’s your job to rate the designs and provide feedback to help the designers deliver what you want.
  4. Choose your favorite design — Consider asking your base to weigh in here as well. At the completion of the design contest (which is typically 7 days) you will choose a winning design and pay the designer the prize amount. The designer will send you their completed design along with copyright to the original artwork.

Of course, as with everything communications (and most else), what you get out of it is directly proportional to what you put into it. My friend Brian Reich, co-author of Media Rules, shares this guidance for running a productive 99Designs contest:

  • Comment, comment, comment: The more you comment on submitted designs, the more designs come in, and the better they get. Makes sense, you’re honing your vision so the graphic representations of it are more on target.
  • Be brutally honest.
  • Eliminate the ones you don’t like pronto: That narrows the field and focuses the designers.
  • Guarantee payment: It doesn’t necessarily matter how much (although I’d say $300 is a healthy average for logo design) but
    designers do better work if they know a winning entry gets paid.

Remember though, the more detailed and comprehensive your creative brief, the better the submitted logos will match your org’s vision and needs.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 13 comments
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Speak Up Comedians Guide Teens to Speak Out on Reckless Driving For more than two decades, car crashes have been the number one killer of teens in the United States. Recently, the Advertising Council joined with a coalition of state Attorneys General and consumer protection agencies to launch a series of PSAs) designed to save lives by reducing teen reckless driving. But this one is different — the ads turn the typical on its ear, using three well-known comedians to deliver some very serious messages to teens.

Research conducted by the Ad Council shows that teen drivers are more likely to listen to their friends than the adults in their lives. No surprise to parents of teens.

What’s great is that the new ads (TV, radio, outdoor and interactive) work with this peer-to-peer influence, rather than fight it. The TV spots feature comedians Rachel Harris, Fred Willard and Rob Riggle acting as teen passengers who humorously “speak up” to prevent a car crash: “If your friend is driving recklessly, say something.”

The PSAs direct audiences to visit www.SpeakUpOrElse.com, where for motivation and practical tools to help them speak up.  Additional elements to come include a free iPhone and iPod Touch app that turns a phone device into a bullhorn with flashing lights that can be used to inform a friend of his or her reckless driving. (I’d like to use that for my own citizen arrests.)

Site users can also user send instant message videos, starring the comedians, to friends. The recipient, expecting a friend to chat, will receive a reckless driving video instead. All of these tools are designed to get the point across with humor rather than a heavy hand, from one teen to another.

This is a considered, creative example of reaching audiences where they are (on social networks, online, etc) with messaging that means something to them (peer-to-peer) and making it easy for them to pass the word. Job well done.

P.S. The right messaging is critical to the success of every nonprofit communications campaign, and the tagline lies at its very core! 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, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment
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Pow Wham Communicating in a Fresh Way Can Bash Through to ConsciousnessDC Jobs with Justice and the Institute for Policy Studies found a refreshing and attention-getting way to communicate on complicated issues in Economic Meltdown Funnies, a comic book about the recent economic crisis.

The comic is indeed comic. But far beyond that, its format is a welcoming way in to a topic that’s confusing and upsetting. It works.

Very reminiscent, actually, of Primo Dinero, my high school intro-to-economics text. Primo was the narrator of a tale of micro-economics on a small island, in comic book format. Believe me, everyone did the reading in that class.

Think about how you can put a comic, or some other non-traditional format to work to get through to your network — on complicated issues or on simple ones that people think they know everything about already so their eyes glaze over.

P.S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on branding, messages and more featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Graphic Design, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 0 comments
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