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posted by Kevin Smith Dec 29,2010 @ 04:21AM

It’s simple.

Marketing a cause should be an easy sell. There’s a problem, and here’s an organization dedicated to solving it. Act now. Yet it’s not that simple.

In fact, simplicity, and a serious lack of it, is often the problem.

Selling a product is often comparatively easy because it’s so tangible. As marketers, we’re even trained to add dimension by assigning brand attributes and emotion to a product. With regard to causes, this is a trap.

We recently completed a project for Columbia’s Gills Creek Watershed Association. The association wanted a modest increase in its $15 memberships. Being a university town, there’s no shortage of conservation-committed individuals in Columbia. So that task at hand seemed easily obtainable, only we had a few obstacles:

  1. People aren’t aware of the organization
  2. People don’t know where Gills Creek is
  3. People don’t understand what a watershed is

Add to that the fact that the association was targeting environmentalists, developers, anglers, scientists and outdoorsmen on a variety of water-related issues from pollution to sediment. In short, there was message entanglement.

Creative team Lauren Bowles and Jason Corbin did a beautiful job simplifying the message to the most relevant common denominator, clean water. They also overcame budget obstacles by producing a poster for area retailers catering to the conservation-committed. Their work reminds me that if your messaging is not brutally simple, even the most worthwhile endeavors can fail.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 27,2010 @ 02:30AM

Fathers, and sons, and the elegance of civilized commerce

The very, very, very best part of my job is getting to meet people, from various walks of life, who inspire me.

This inspiration takes many forms. It is a thrill, as a creative, to rub elbows with greats in our industry who produce work that literally changes our culture. (And then to discover that they are, surprisingly, human.) As a professional whose work often intersects the nonprofit arena, I am constantly humbled by the generous spirits of those who dedicate their lives to social good. As a community servant, it is a privilege to work with intelligent, committed and conscientious men and women who bring passion and smarts to board rooms and workrooms around the Midlands.

But last week, I had the unexpected joy of not one encounter -- but two -- that left me . . . changed.

Here's what happened. In my role as board member, Central Carolina Community Foundation Executive Director JoAnn Turnquist and I are seeking support for Talk About Giving, an initiative (developed by Riggs Partners during CreateAthon), to encourage conversation about philanthropy in homes throughout our community. Our first two meetings were scheduled for the same day, two hours apart. In both cases, we met with well established and highly respected corporations headquartered here in the Midlands. And in each case, we met with two generations of corporate leadership: patriarch, and son.

I won't name the companies or the people in this post; I am quite certain that none of the four relishes that kind of personal spotlight. But I will say I was struck, and deeply moved, by the similarities of the meetings and the dynamics, in each case, between father and son. From the moment we shook hands in greeting, these men paid careful and thoughtful attention to the story we had to share. They listened generously. They asked questions. They engaged. And while each of them is, no doubt, extremely busy with very important work to do (they are, after all, leaders of major corporations), not one checked a Blackberry or stole a look at his watch or rushed us in any way.

We finished our presentation, and business completed, stood to leave. In both cases, we were escorted TO THE FRONT DOOR by these gracious executives, in one case detouring slightly for homemade holiday cookies along the way.

I left both meetings on top of the world, completely validated, as if what I had to say to these Heads of Industry was the most important item on their complex agenda that day.

Isn't that an invaluable lesson? Isn't it a reminder of the power of common courtesy, which is not so common today? Isn't it just good business?

Here's the other thing. In both instances, the son, who plays a significant role in the running of the corporation (and has for many years), honored his father with a level of respect I found humbling and refreshing.

There's no doubt we are all competing in a how-fast-can-it-be-done economy; speed is the name of the game in today's business environment. Be we seem to have forgotten that even in the rush, there is simply no substitute for good, old-fashioned manners.

Just ask those who have achieved the kind of success that lasts, generation to generation.

posted by Ryon Edwards Dec 21,2010 @ 03:04PM

Why we buy, why we brand: A historical look at our relationships with brands

A couple of weeks ago, AIGA South Carolina members and guests were treated to a lecture by Debbie Millman, one of today’s most influential designers. She is the president of Design for Sterling Brands in New York, the national President of AIGA (professional association for designers), a contributing editor at Print Magazine, a design writer at FastCompany.com, a contributor to Brand New (UnderConsideration.com) and Chair of the Masters in Branding Program at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. In 2005, she began hosting the first weekly Internet radio talk show about design, “Design Matters with Debbie Millman”. Her most recent book is entitled “Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design.” Pause. Question: How does one person manage to do all of that?

Debbie took the audience through a historical look at our relationship with brands. She started by taking us back 50,000 years ago and discussed the “Big Brain Bang”— how the human mind starting developing and separating cognitive and emotional function: 30,000 years ago humans began “making” and “marking”; 10,000 years ago we began beautifying ourselves — not for each other, but for religious beliefs. Crests, shields and flags were decorated and designed for identification by the mid 12th century. The word “branding” is derived from the word “brond”, which means to mark, or to burn, and later became known as “brand” in the late 19th century when farmers marked their cattle for identification. Trivia: the very first trademark registration for a product was for The Bass & Co Brewery (the red triangle), which was registered under the UK’s Trade Mark Registration Act of 1875.

Debbie continued to discuss five waves of modern branding. Here’s a brief recap:

Wave 1 (1875-1920)
• Industrial Revolution
• Mass production and homogenization of products
• Coca-Cola brand became popular
• Trademark Act of 1906 (stated that products could not mislead or make false claims)

Wave 2 (1920-1965)
• Brands became anthropomorphic, and incorporated a story or a benefit
• Morton Salt developed a tag line, “When it rains it pours”
• Betty Crocker image created, one of the best-known women of the interwar years — (and someone who never existed)

Wave 3 (1965-1985)
• Brands became self-expressive
• Brands became a part of our lifestyle and culture (Nike)
• Levi’s designed a revolutionary way to make jeans through the use of rivets

Wave 4 (1986-2000)
• Brands became synonymous with “experience”: enter Starbucks

Wave 5 (2000 - present)
• Rise of the Internet and all things digital: ipods, smart phones, etc.
• Online social communities now provide companionship (or a sense of it)
• Brands have become connectors (example, Livestrong bracelets)
• Brands have the power to create emotional bonds and offer connections between our most basic instincts

It’s interesting to look at how branding originated and to be aware of the different waves that have occurred. Obviously, there are some underlying needs from which branding originated, which are still very relevant today: integrity, honesty, identification, connection and the desire for emotional bonding. Check out this link that Debbie shared that might suggest what’s to come: www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense. Pretty amazing. Thanks to AIGA SC and Debbie for a great lecture.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 15,2010 @ 04:10PM

CreateAthon: Discovery Impact

We present with joy this post from our beloved Peyton Rowe, associate professor of design at Virginia Commonwealth University, director of CreateAthon onCampus, and Chief Evangelical Officer of CreateAthon. Peyton has just witnessed the CreateAthon-inspired pro bono marathon hosted by our new friends at the Discovery Channel, who came to us earlier this year expressing an interest in using CreateAthon as a model for their own corporate social responsibility initiative called Creating Change. From Peyton:

I have a feeling I’ve been part of change.

I have spent the past two days amongst 200 or so Discovery Communications’ employees who devoted their time and talents to serving 40 nonprofits. I had no expectations of Creating Change when I arrived on Monday other than, “Cool. I’m at Discovery!” so I entered One Discovery Place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning with wide eyes and my camera.

What I experienced was the next generation of CreateAthon. I watched as the dedicated people at Discovery Communications, led by Erin Dieterich and Jennifer Button, harnessed the power of a corporation for the benefit of nonprofits. The scope of the event is still hard to take in – workshops, event recommendations, taglines, posters, identities, PSAs, marketing strategies, social media tools – the list goes on. Not only was there some fabulously creative work developed but there was true teaching. These 40 organizations will get the digital designs, plans, presentations in-hand as well as a collection of guidelines on how to implement the ideas. What a gift.

I have been given a gift, too.

I have met some amazing people. I have seen behind the curtain of Discovery and what a great vibe lives here. Everyone I met, particularly Jess, Nikki, Terrell, Jilna, Noha (I hope I spelled everyone’s name correctly), was more than generous, willing to share their ideas and create something for the greater good. It certainly was bigger than even the 65+ people I wrangle at CreateAthon onCampus but it felt accessible. When Erin had food from four local restaurants – food from Madagascar, India, Cuba and Greece – I found a spot at a table and, as always, began conversation. It sure didn’t feel like I was in a building with 1800 employees.

I’m still trying to understand the complexity that is the structure of Discovery Communications – Jen assures me it takes new employees at least two weeks to begin to understand it. But, the energy of the group I worked with and of the event as a whole felt authentic, generous and inviting. As I wandered up and down the eight floors, visiting different areas of the company: Animal Planet, Science Channel, Discovery Communications, Discovery Commerce, Discovery Creative, their own in-house creative team, everyone grinned. I was welcomed by Team One Love when I was more than willing to put together a Keynote presentation for them. They didn’t realize how ready and willing I was to get my hands dirty and give. I didn’t realize that I would be accepted as part of the Discovery clan so easily.

Highlights of the two days have been:

Shadowing John Hendricks, founder of Discovery, as he visited some creative groups brainstorming

Watching the Senior Vice President of Creative Resources, David Shackley, giggle at teasing one of the creative folks while he was getting a massage

Hearing folks’ stories about meeting various talent, including Jilna’s deep connection with the Deadliest Catch captains – they treated her like a daughter

The not one, not two but THREE sweeps through various merchandise closets, storage areas and goodies. Yeah, I’ve got some cool swag.

Hearing one of Discovery’s employees just revel in the excitement of his client; he described her reaction “like a kid on Christmas morning.”

What a remarkable experience it has been.

I did get to remember why I love using design and communications for social good and helping nonprofits do their jobs better. I did get to feel the energy of the collective good and the creative brainpower of professionals using their incredible talents together. I did get to feel the surge of energy, up and down, as I focused on someone other than myself, and something other than paying the bills or meeting the deadline or getting it “right.” I did get to meet new people, help organizations that need it and have a blast while doing it. Best of all, I did get to see the result of CreateAthon’s inspiration.

I sent a message to Teresa and Cathy this morning, right before client presentations began. I think it sums it up best.

I have a quiet moment before presentations start at 12 and I just had to say that it's pretty amazing to be here and watch Creating Change, CreateAthon's second cousin twice removed Erin and I have decided, and know that this would NEVER have occurred had it not been for you.

40 nonprofits are getting pro bono work from Discovery Communications employees because of you.

200 Discovery employees are getting to feel what it's like to use their talents to help nonprofits because of you.

The issues and people served by the 40 nonprofits are getting a louder clearer voice because of you.

As I've said before, CreateAthon is at a tipping point.

This is just the beginning.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 15,2010 @ 03:58PM

CreateAthon: Discovery Impact

We present with joy this post from our beloved Peyton Rowe, associate professor of design at Virginia Commonwealth University, director of CreateAthon onCampus, and Chief Evangelical Officer of CreateAthon. Peyton has just witnessed the CreateAthon-inspired pro bono marathon hosted by our new friends at the Discovery Channel, who came to us earlier this year expressing an interest in using CreateAthon as a model for their own corporate social responsibility initiative called Creating Change. From Peyton:

I have a feeling I’ve been part of change.

I have spent the past two days amongst 200 or so Discovery Communications’ employees who devoted their time and talents to serving 40 nonprofits. I had no expectations of Creating Change when I arrived on Monday other than, “Cool. I’m at Discovery!” so I entered One Discovery Place at 9 a.m. on Tuesday morning with wide eyes and my camera.

What I experienced was the next generation of CreateAthon. I watched as the dedicated people at Discovery Communications, led by Erin Dieterich and Jennifer Button, harnessed the power of a corporation for the benefit of nonprofits. The scope of the event is still hard to take in – workshops, event recommendations, taglines, posters, identities, PSAs, marketing strategies, social media tools – the list goes on. Not only was there some fabulously creative work developed but there was true teaching. These 40 organizations will get the digital designs, plans, presentations in-hand as well as a collection of guidelines on how to implement the ideas. What a gift.

I have been given a gift, too.

I have met some amazing people. I have seen behind the curtain of Discovery and what a great vibe lives here. Everyone I met, particularly Jess, Nikki, Terrell, Jilna, Noha (I hope I spelled everyone’s name correctly), was more than generous, willing to share their ideas and create something for the greater good. It certainly was bigger than even the 65+ people I wrangle at CreateAthon onCampus but it felt accessible. When Erin had food from four local restaurants – food from Madagascar, India, Cuba and Greece – I found a spot at a table and, as always, began conversation. It sure didn’t feel like I was in a building with 1800 employees.

I’m still trying to understand the complexity that is the structure of Discovery Communications – Jen assures me it takes new employees at least two weeks to begin to understand it. But, the energy of the group I worked with and of the event as a whole felt authentic, generous and inviting. As I wandered up and down the eight floors, visiting different areas of the company: Animal Planet, Science Channel, Discovery Communications, Discovery Commerce, Discovery Creative, their own in-house creative team, everyone grinned. I was welcomed by Team One Love when I was more than willing to put together a Keynote presentation for them. They didn’t realize how ready and willing I was to get my hands dirty and give. I didn’t realize that I would be accepted as part of the Discovery clan so easily.

Highlights of the two days have been:

Shadowing John Hendricks, founder of Discovery, as he visited some creative groups brainstorming

Watching the Senior Vice President of Creative Resources, David Shackley, giggle at teasing one of the creative folks while he was getting a massage

Hearing folks’ stories about meeting various talent, including Jilna’s deep connection with the Deadliest Catch captains – they treated her like a daughter

The not one, not two but THREE sweeps through various merchandise closets, storage areas and goodies. Yeah, I’ve got some cool swag.

Hearing one of Discovery’s employees just revel in the excitement of his client; he described her reaction “like a kid on Christmas morning.”

What a remarkable experience it has been.

I did get to remember why I love using design and communications for social good and helping nonprofits do their jobs better. I did get to feel the energy of the collective good and the creative brainpower of professionals using their incredible talents together. I did get to feel the surge of energy, up and down, as I focused on someone other than myself, and something other than paying the bills or meeting the deadline or getting it “right.” I did get to meet new people, help organizations that need it and have a blast while doing it. Best of all, I did get to see the result of CreateAthon’s inspiration.

I sent a message to Teresa and Cathy this morning, right before client presentations began. I think it sums it up best.

I have a quiet moment before presentations start at 12 and I just had to say that it's pretty amazing to be here and watch Creating Change, CreateAthon's second cousin twice removed Erin and I have decided, and know that this would NEVER have occurred had it not been for you.

40 nonprofits are getting pro bono work from Discovery Communications employees because of you.

200 Discovery employees are getting to feel what it's like to use their talents to help nonprofits because of you.

The issues and people served by the 40 nonprofits are getting a louder clearer voice because of you.

As I've said before, CreateAthon is at a tipping point.

This is just the beginning.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 13,2010 @ 05:11PM

Move Over, Citizen Kane.

The world looks nothing like it did in 1941. That one’s obvious. But it also looks nothing like it did in 2008—thanks to the recession, large-scale natural disasters, and complicated politics. A new study released by Edelman confirms what we already knew: people think (and buy) differently now. Welcome to the era of Citizen Consumer.

According to the Edelman study, a solid 87 percent of Americans expect companies to consider societal interests equal to business interests. Our nation’s collective social consciousness has been awakened. Are you out of bed yet?

Here are a few bracing sips of reality:

1. Our voices will only get louder.

In April 2010, nearly half of Americans age 12 or older were members of at least one social network. Social media’s growth has exploded, changing the way we think, buy, give, respond, and experience. Need proof? Consider the role social media played in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake — raising eight million dollars for relief in less than a week. Or, try this one: If a customer has a bad experience or a complaint, they’re probably going to tweet about it. In February, Hollywood director Kevin Smith (a Twitter user with 1.6 million followers) launched a barrage of angry tweets against Southwest Airlines, after he was asked to deboard the plane when the captain deemed his obesity a “safety risk.”

Social media isn’t going anywhere. Growth can only continue to rise. This means that millions of ordinary consumers now have a voice, and they understand that strength lies in numbers. If Americans are passionate about something, you can be sure you’ll hear it.

2. We’re all connected.

The Edelman study points out that, “2010 produced a string of events that propelled our social consciousness into collective overdrive.” Social networks were in place, allowing us to experienced and respond to these events as a nation. In hard times, people bond. Events like the earthquake in Haiti or the BP oil spill in the gulf reminded us that we’re all in this together. We live in a different world, and we’re interested in making it better. 2010 opened our eyes to the power of collaboration, and today, studies show that 74 percent of citizens believe brands and consumers could do more by working together.

3. We’ll switch to your brand if it makes the world better (or makes us look better).

Consumers — particularly millennial generation consumers — now expect companies to do more than provide a product or a service. Edelman reports that two-thirds of consumers would switch to another brand of similar quality if it supported a good cause.

There’s another dimension to this willingness to change brands: if we are buying stuff that makes the world better, we look better. Consider the success of TOMS shoes: Founded in 2006, the company is structured around a “one for one” business model. For every pair of shoes sold, the company gives a pair away to a shoeless child in a Third World country. The company has donated over one million pairs of shoes to date, and become one of the most popular brands of shoes in the meantime. Wearing TOMS isn’t just a fashion statement—it’s a lifestyle statement. Consumers are motivated to become “brand enthusiasts” for those companies that merge social good with profit pursuit.

4. People are going to buy things.

Not everyone is a fan of cause-oriented companies. The Buy Less Crap campaign, a response to the Product (RED) campaign, insists that “shopping is not a solution” and encourages consumers to skip the purchases and give directly. But here’s the simple truth: people are going to buy things. What we buy and whom we buy from is power — we might as well improve the world with the purchases we’re going to make.

Consumers are raising their voices to make the world a better place. The companies that are listening — and working to effect social good — are the companies that will resonate in this changed world.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 13,2010 @ 10:27AM

The great miracle makeover: 100 Women Who Care

And so this is Christmas, says John Lennon. Or Hanukkah. Or Kwanzaa. Or whatever it is that inspires you this time of year to reflect on your life and its relation to others in the world. For me, it’s the natural point during which I reassess what I have — or perhaps have not — done with the resources in my life. Am I a good steward of the gifts I’ve been given? Do I put them to good use? Or do I waste time, talent and money on meaningless, self-indulgent activities?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all about having fun and enjoying things. I’m just saying that perhaps there’s something to this idea of giving a little more of ourselves to things that matter and a little less to the things that really are fleeting. For example, I’ll have to admit that a $100 donation to a 100 Women Who Care giving circle might pack a little more punch than the money I spent at the make-up counter the other night. (Although one could argue that a brighter under-eye area can strengthen your effectiveness as an evangelist for social good. There’s that whole making eye contact thing, you know).

So here’s the deal. Why don’t I match that $100 make-up expense with a $100 gift to a giving circle right now? And if I can get 99 other women who care to do the same thing on the same night (I’m thinking sometime in January), we can produce a $10,000 gift and perhaps transform a local charity and its work overnight. Now that’s what I call a real makeover.

Let’s start the new year off with a fresh face, girls. I’m betting it’ll look great on us.

posted by Cathy Monetti Dec 09,2010 @ 03:02PM

The Lost Art of Conversation

I believe our lives are defined by the mantra that plays in our heads. Here's mine: I don't have time. If I just had more time. Why is there never enough time?

I know, I know. It's a matter of priority and focus. But — and you women know what I'm talking about — somehow it's ALL priority. My children, my husband, my parents, my family, and extended family, and church, and clients, and causes, and on, and on. There are a thousand details to be managed and executed, and if you "just let that one go," chances are good there will be a great big hole in its place. (Case in point: DINNER. If it's not a priority, there isn't any.)

And thus I rant. Until this week. When I Took Time.

I didn't mean to. I joined a group of fabulous women for a little holiday gathering at my friend Pam's house. And I packed a bag, so as not to face a late night 30-minute drive across town.

The evening was lovely in every way. And when all the Fabulous Ladies (I am inspired by every one!) had left for home, my hostess and I settled in front of her warm fire, faces washed and PJs on, and spent two hours wandering aimlessly through each other's lives.

There was no television to watch. There were no emails to check, no texts to respond to. (And there was no multi-tasking, unless you count "throw-log-on-fire-while-having-meaningful-conversation-with-dear-friend.") Instead, we sat there, person to person, face to face, and talked—uninterrupted—for a glorious, soulful, peaceful two hours.

The next morning, I woke up renewed. By taking the time to participate in real human conversation, by talking, and listening, and focusing on an exchange of perspectives for which there was absolutely no agenda and for which there would be no "completed" checkmark, I relocated a part of me that had become lost amid a million swirling daily details.

It makes me think about the insatiable appetite of this digital world we live in. How ironic that digital technology gives us the ability to make endless connections, and in our quest to make the most of each of them, we are forgetting what it means to really connect.

And so I vow: Rather than obsessing over my inability to out-manage my demand-filled life, I will, instead, focus on the human being RIGHT THERE who is trying to simply have a conversation with me. And for that moment, I will let the rest go.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 09,2010 @ 11:36AM

The Cause Trinity: A world-famous example

The concept of achieving full integration among a nonprofit’s strategic, marketing and development plans is an easy one to agree with. But is there a practical example of this principle at work?

Absolutely. Here’s a perfect example of a nonprofit that rose to meteoric heights when it refocused and realigned itself, fully.

Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families had a $7 million budget and a truly herculean mission: to improve the lives of poor children in America’s most devastated communities. It provided New Yorkers with family-support networks, a homelessness-prevention program, a senior center, and a host of programs to meet the needs of troubled and impoverished children and teenagers.

Despite Rheedlen’s many good programs, however, the prospects for Harlem’s children appeared to be getting worse, not better. So in 2002, CEO Geoffrey Canada led the charge behind a new name and a sharpened focus. The agency became the Harlem Children’s Zone and linked its original mission to a very concrete impact statement: that 3,000 children, ages 0 to 18, living in 30 blocks of Harlem should have demographic and achievement profiles consistent with those found in an average U.S. middle-class community.

With support from the board and major funders, particularly the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, the organization discontinued or transitioned out of activities that were no longer in line with the Harlem Children’s Zone’s intended impact. They also diversified the Zone’s funding, shook up and expanded its management ranks, and invested precious dollars in evaluating results. By 2004, the Zone had more than doubled in scope, encompassing 60 square blocks that housed some 6,500 children. In 2007, the organization added another 37 square blocks—housing 4,000 kids—to the zone. Over the same five-year period, its budget grew from $11.6 million to $50 million. Today, the work of Geoffrey Canada and the Harlem Children’s Zone has been hailed as a model for the effective integration of organizational strategy, effective communications, and development efforts. It has been featured in business and nonprofit news all over the world and was featured just last year in the American Express “Members Project” campaign. Geoffrey Canada today is highly sought after as a motivational speaker.

The New York Times called the Zone "one of the most ambitious social-service experiments of our time.” It was never intended to be easy work. But if there ever was proof of the power of a concept like the Cause Trinity, this is it.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 08,2010 @ 09:02AM

Social media in health care demands professional focus

How does a healthcare system’s marketing department determine how — and on what level — to shift traditional marketing resources to support social marketing efforts?

There are so many factors in that equation. If you’re a healthcare marketing director, it’s incumbent upon you to reconcile (a) how to take advantage of digital marketing tools that are changing by the moment, (b) how to budget time and money to support the initiative and (c) how to staff the work, either by retraining, reallocating, or hiring new internal or external staff to lead the initiative.

The one thing you cannot do: a little bit of it all.

Social media is so organic, it demands a high degree of focus. It must be led by someone — either internally or externally — who is immersed in it every day and who understands not only social media but inbound marketing as a whole (SEM, social media, lead nurturing). Of course, that is not to say that a healthcare organization can’t start any social media efforts until it has tapped a professional to handle the entire program.

Many hospitals that have established a basic social presence are making the move to hire social media managers, which is viable option. The trick is making sure you’re bringing someone on who has the skills to strategically align all forms of inbound marketing within an overall cross-channel marketing program. This doesn’t mean that this person should be responsible for every single social media to-do item that goes on within the marketing department. Rather, this should be a professional that knows how to direct both internal and external resources in building specific, digitally driven campaigns.

If you have a valuable member of your team that has a propensity for inbound marketing, you may choose to invest in retraining that person, as long as he or she understands that social media is about establishing online relationships with consumers versus pushing out more institutional marketing messages. It’s a paradigm shift, one that makes the difference between a successful inbound marketing program that yields ample ROI and mediocre social media activity that wastes time and money.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 07,2010 @ 03:51AM

The Cause Trinity, Part 2

So I’ve put this big fat idea out there. Allow me to unpack it a little further.

Nonprofits have historically done a good job of addressing strategic planning, marketing planning and development planning on an a la carte basis, but have not necessarily experienced the impact that can come when these planning initiatives are fully aligned.

The Cause Trinity is an easy way to think about the interconnectedness of these three areas. Consider how much greater the results could be if nonprofits made a deliberate effort to look at the relationship between nonprofit organizational structures and fundraising and communications effectiveness.

Some simple definitions help to connect the dots:

  1. Strategic planning identifies an unmet need in the community or world that your organization is uniquely qualified to fill through a distinctive product offering. It then operationalizes that offering by putting the proper human, capital and physical infrastructure in place. It connects the end user to the offering.
  2. Development planning makes the case for financial support of your offering within a targeted donor population. It connects donors to the cause.
  3. Marketing planning identifies all audiences (end users, volunteers, staff, online influencers, the media, donors, etc.), develops specific motivational messages, and deploys those messages through communications channels to solicit engagement. It connects all audiences to the cause and the product offering.

As you develop plans for 2011, take the time to dissect the relationships that exist within the Cause Trinity. Aligning your strategic, marketing and development plans—and executing them in harmony with each other—will help to maximize your existing resources and build greater capacity in the long run.

posted by Kevin Smith Dec 06,2010 @ 11:24AM

Moe’s Hits the Books

It dawned on me this fall that Facebook wasn’t merely another communications tool, at least not among young people. It hit me that this new medium was their television. Facebook is the “channel” every young person watches, and watches all day long.

My next conclusion was that Facebook didn’t need postings and updates, it needed campaigns, just like television. Fortunately, we had the perfect client for this in Moe’s Southwest Grill, whose brand and products resonate with students.

Since January, we had been posting rather standard fare, like “It’s Moe Monday, where $5 gets you any burrito, a drink, and chips with salsa.” We had 1,500 followers. In September, we offered free burritos to USC students if we reached 7,000 followers, and surpassed that goal easily.

With sales escalating, we launched Moe’s High School Facebook Challenge. This month-long event offered the high school with the largest percentage of its student body following Moe’s a day of free burritos at the Moe’s location closest to their school. Participation was simple: We asked students to write the name of their high school on Moe’s wall and kept a daily tally.

The campaign went viral quickly. Students at one high school printed flyers and had the contest mentioned on the morning announcements. Others promoted the campaign on their own Facebook pages. More than 200 students from the same high school signed up during one evening.

Moe’s Columbia currently has more than 11,000 followers engaged with the brand twice a day. The outcome is a loyal following with a high frequency of use. The lesson here is that Facebook works best when it’s about your audience, not you.

posted by Teresa Coles Dec 01,2010 @ 10:41AM

The Cause Trinity

Nonprofits are no different from for-profit companies: they want to be all things to all people all the time and they want to talk all the time because what they are doing is sooooooooo important that you should stop whatever you are doing at that moment and hand us a big fat check ‘cause we’re really the only organization that is doing anything about this problem, so you see we’re doing you a big fat favor merely by being here.

Whew. That really sounds harsh. But I say it with love.

You just cannot achieve any real meaningful results by talking about everything at one time and assuming that people are as equally on fire about your issue as you are.

It takes focus, patience, and aligning the Cause Trinity:

  • Strategic planning
  • Marketing planning
  • Development planning

We’ll take a look in upcoming posts at how these three drivers of a nonprofit organization, when properly aligned and continuously connected, can and will put your nonprofit on the road to success. In the meantime, write them down in the palm of your hand.

 

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By the numbers

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