Right-Place Nonprofit Marketing

Here’s one of the most common pain points nonprofit marketers like you have just shared with me. NOTE: I’m interested in hearing your greatest pain point—Please take 2 minutes to tell me now right now.

There are so many choices these days in choosing the marketing direction forward, that it’s tough to ID the right things to do right now.

And it’s not just you. It’s the world we live in. But I have a way out for you…


Nancy Schwartz in Relevance Rules | 0 comments
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Join Kivi Leroux Miller ( and me for this rapid fire learning experience – get your answers here.

Kivi and I recorded this half-hour webinar on July 21, 2011 to answer the questions you submitted via email, Facebook and Twitter. When you listen in here, you’ll get answers to a broad range of questions, including:

Nancy Schwartz in planning | 0 comments
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Please join me and Tara Collins, Communications Director at the Watershed Agricultural Council for this first-time webinar, produced by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. The folks at the Chronicle have been generous enough to extend a 15% discount to the Getting Attention community — just enter coupon code “Schwartz” at the bottom of the registration form.

Tara and I will guide you through the smartest ways your nonprofit can engage your target audiences on a tight budget—and how to convince others in your organizations how and why they should invest in marketing. We’ll introduce a bit of theory — to connect what you’ll be doing here to organizational and marketing planning — but focus mainly on practical techniques and case studies. Participants will learn to:

  • Demonstrate how good marketing makes it easier to raise money, attract news coverage, win grants, and build your online community.
  • Tell a better story—highlight your results, use data more effectively, and make it clear that your organization makes a difference in the lives of those you serve.
  • Convince your chief executives and board members of the critical role marketing plays in your organization’s success and ensure they invest in your marketing goals.

Don’t miss this chance to learn about vital but often overlooked techniques and tools vital to maximizing your impact without blowing your budget. Join Tara, me and Peter Panepento, Assistant Managing Editor, for this fast-paced, immersion learning experience on Thursday, June 23. Register now and enter the coupon code “Schwartz” to get your discount.

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 in Professional Development | 0 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 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; 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 in Planning and Evaluation | 0 comments
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Join us at the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop
Seattle Early Bird Rate Runs through March 31 – Saves You $100

We’re back! I’m partnering with my friend, Kivi Leroux Miller, to offer you a special opportunity to find the solutions to your 2011 marketing challenges: The Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop. Plan in a day—blueprint forever!

We premiered the workshop in New York and D.C. last fall, and received great ratings. Here’s what two of our participants had to say:

Would Have Taken Me Forever on My Own
I learned so much about marketing planning today. It would have taken weeks or months to do so on my own.

Now I Know How to Shape Our Marketing Plan and Transform It into Action
As a result of participating in your outstanding workshop, I am re-focused on exactly what I need to do to create an effective marketing plan for our organization. Now I know the steps I need to take to transform that plan into actions that are understood and adopted throughout the organization.

We hope you’ll join us for this intensive, limited-enrollment planning seminar for nonprofit communicators and development staff members, board members and executive directors who do it all.

You see this day is going to be different from other workshops you’ve participated in.

You’ll immerse yourself in marketing planning for a day, as we help you shed the muddled messages and impossible to-do lists that pull you in too many directions and diminish your marketing impact.

And, most importantly, you’ll leave with a clear, focused, practical marketing plan that will work for your organization—one you are fully capable of implementing.

Don’t Miss this Opportunity —

Learn more now! The Seattle early-bird rate runs through March 31 but we expect seats to fill up fast.

Hope to see you there!

Nancy Schwartz in Professional Development | 0 comments
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Welcome back to guest blogger, Rebecca Leet who helps nonprofits sharpen their goals and connect with the people who can achieve them. Here’s Rebecca…

Writing powerful messages is always a tough challenge, and sometimes it’s impossible.

I was reminded of this while at a meeting in New Orleans (what a great place for a conference!).   A group of professionals who deal with child abuse and neglect were frustrated as they tried to craft an effective message to support their prevention work.

As the discussion unfolded, I realized the barrier to their success had nothing to do with words.  It was caused by a fundamental and unresolved issue: what strategy they favored.

The program strategy of some in the group was standard child abuse and neglect prevention:  educate the public and professionals about how to recognize and report it so that appropriate agencies could intervene to stop it quickly.

The focus of others in the group was dramatically different.  Their strategy was to promote, in a variety of specific ways, stronger and healthier families as a way of preventing child abuse and neglect before it occurred.

These polar opposites were a barrier to creation of a single clear, concise and compelling message.

This group wasn’t unique.  How many times have you suddenly realized there was a good reason you floundered in creating messages for your organization?  I’ve found three reasons groups fail as they try to design good ones:

  1. The organization hasn’t decided what it wants others to do once they’ve heard the message.  A message that’s not built around a clear call to  action is like a body without a spine – floppy.
  2. The organization hasn’t settled on the strategy for achieving its goal. A strategy is the path for getting somewhere. A bunch of different strategies looks like a plate of spaghetti with strands going every which way – a set-up for a message that goes every which way but the right way.
  3. The organization doesn’t know who it must activate with the message.  Messages are designed to be heard by people with certain self-interests.  If you don’t know who you’re talking to, how can you decide what to say?

An organization’s leaders must be involved in addressing these issues. The task can’t be delegated solely to communication professionals.   Organizations with strong, effective messages are almost always ones where top leaders recognize their role in message creation and actively engage in the decision-making required to produce powerful ones.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s messaging with the all-new Nonprofit Tagline Database and 2011 Tagline Report.

Guest Blogger in Branding and Messages | 1 comment
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First of all, let me thank you for all of the questions, stories and feedback you share with me on an ongoing basis. It’s your input that makes it possible for me to cover what you need to know to increase your nonprofit’s marketing impact!

I’d like to end the year by asking you to respond to a simple but vital question: What’s the biggest marketing lesson you learned (or re-learned) in 2010?

It could be anything tactical or strategic, simple or complex. Some examples might be:

  • Don’t fail to get a final proof before sending a brochure to the printer
  • Do an A/B split (comparing response on two versions) on a fundraising campaign landing page on your website before rolling out the campaign
  • Don’t change your messaging but forget to train front-line and program staffers about the new way to talk about your organization.

Whatever comes to mind as a lesson or key principle learned—either from hard knocks or new found success. Just enter your lesson learned here.

I’ll summarize the trends, and share the lessons submitted by you and your colleagues, in the 2011 Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Report (hat tip to Marketing Sherpa). You’ll get a free copy when you share your biggest marketing lesson learned!

Please take one minute to share your thoughts and insights now.

Thanks so much!

Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 1 comment
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I was struck hard by Umair Haque’s directive to stop and reflect, featured in his article Making Room for Reflection Is a Strategic Imperative in the Harvard Business Review.

Like most of us, I’m more of a doer. It’s far easier to do, even when it’s busywork, than to step back.

Stepping back to reflect requires stopping and stopping brings up a lot of fears. What about that pressing deadline, the e-newsletter due to launch tomorrow or the new twitter handle that needs to be handled?

But doing doesn’t move your marketing agenda forward. “Our doing/reflecting ratio is wildly out of whack. [Many] action items [are] distraction items — from the harder work of sowing and reaping breakthroughs that matter,” says Haque.

I’m with him in believing that the real key to effective strategy is reflection. Here are two of Haque’s recommendations for productive reflection:

  • Get right to the source for insight on what’s needed and how you’re doing in meeting those needs (programmatically) and discussing that (via marketing)–your program participants, donors,partners and others in your network–rather than depending on surveys, third- or fourth-hand stories or nothing at all. Their perspective nourishes your reflection.
  • Qualify, rather than quantify. Stats mean less than richer qualitative insights. Think survey plus interviews, rather than survey alone. A number is a number, an anecdote is far more. Together, you have fantastic material for reflection.

And a few of mine for structuring reflection in the context of your marketing work:

  • Evaluate your marketing impact. But you first have to set measurable benchmarks that tell you you’re on the right path (or the wrong one) and implement measurement. Results are a perfect spur to reflection.
  • Assess your marketing plan against the current environment. That’s the kind of productive reflection that’s much more meaningful than hitting every implementation deadline. Deadlines are important, but only in the context of the larger picture.
  • Craft a marketing plan for your organization, if you don’t have one. That process (here’s a marketing plan template for your use), which far too few of you plow through, is all about reflection. If you’re just doing without a plan, you’re marketing agenda is all action without traction.
  • Timeblock a period for reflection on a weekly basis–be it planning, evaluation or just brainstorming away from your desk. It’ll never happen if you don’t schedule it.

Reflection is the only way to move away from more of the same. As Haque says, “what got you here, won’t get you there.”

What are your strategies to integrate reflection into your marketing work, and how does it help you? Please comment below.

Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 4 comments
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1st 100 Days In Nonprofit Communications Job What Would You DoJoin the discussion over at the new Getting Attention group on LinkedIn!  We already have nearly 100 folks talking about key issues nonprofit and foundation communicators need to figure out now. The more of you who jump on board, the richer the discussion and the learning. So please do join the group today.

Once you’re a member (a great learning opportunity at no cost), you can add your 2 cents on priorities for the first 100 days in a nonprofit marketing job, and other lively discussions. Or you can ask your questions of this skilled, interested and active group.

This latest inauguration-inspired query comes from nonprofit marketer Kivi Leroux Miller, who’s crafting an e-book on the topic and eager to feature some sage advice from others in the field. I know you have something to add.

P. S. Don’t miss out on the in-depth articles, case studies and guides on key nonprofit communications topics featured in the Getting Attention e-alert. Subscribe today.

Flickr Photo: Leadenhall

Nancy Schwartz in Nonprofit Communications, Professional Development, Strategy | 0 comments
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