Emotions Rule in Nonprofit Marketing Communications!

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“Communications are all about the mind…and only about the mind. Keep that in mind.” Tom Ahern, How to Write Fundraising Materials That Raise More Money

Never did I think my study of psychology  & neuroscience, albeit to a lesser degree, would have such an impact on my work in marketing communications. Was I wrong!

I promise not to go too deep into the realms of neuroscience. But, bear with me. Understanding that the brain is the seat of emotions and that emotions “rule” when it comes to making a decision has huge implications for the nonprofit communicator.

In The Emotional Brain, Ken Barnett states that emotions invariably are formed in certain parts of the brain, in which the consciousness that we term the mind resides. From the mind these emotions– fear, anger, stress, elation, anxiety, love and all the rest – can gush out anywhere and everywhere, controlled or otherwise, productively or destructively, far more powerful and irresistible than logic.

Neuroscientist Antoine Bechara declared in 2006 that the “popular notion … that logical, rational calculation forms the basis of sound decisions … [is] wrong and [has] no scientific basis….”

Ironically this is something that direct mail marketers have known for quite a while!

Everyone is affected by emotional triggers. The key is to discover which emotional triggers create the action that you’re looking for in your marketing communications. My personal bias is that the main action you strive for is support for your nonprofit’s mission.

Group triggers to lead to action. Couple negative triggers – anger, sadness, fear with positive triggers – caring joy and hope. Create what Tom Ahern calls emotional twin sets. Match a catalyzing trigger, most often negative to introduce the problem with a calming trigger, which is positive and offers a solution if the reader takes action.

Don’t forget, as neurologist Donald Calne, author of Within Reason: Rationality and Human Behavior shows — reason leads to thinking, while emotion leads to action.

Of course this isn’t the whole picture. Interested in more applicable insights into the use of emotions and nonprofit marketing communications? I strongly suggest:

Communication is everything in marketing. If you can’t get your messages out to your audience and create the desired actions, your nonprofit will shrivel and die. Marketing communications is about understanding the needs of your audiences and finding the best way to speak with them.

Don’t forget, people develop trust with organizations that they are emotionally connected to. So, telling a story about how you change the lives of real people who come into contact with your organization is critical.

One last plug for neuroscience — our brain is hardwired to learn from and respond to stories! So the fastest and easiest way for your audience to understand and get involved with what your organization is doing is through stories.

By the way, curious about the photo on this post? That’s my lizard. She/it sits on a shelf in my office watching me work – or not!  I saw the lizard when we took a trip to Santa Fe New Mexico and I had to have it. After reading Seth Godin’s fascinating book Linchpin, I think I know why!

Any thoughts or contributions you want to make to the effects of emotional triggers on nonprofit marketing communications? I’d love to hear them.

Do you really – really know your audience?

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 “Getting to know your supporters, volunteers, clients and other participants in your mission is easy, if you build that listening and learning into your everyday work.”  Kivi Leroux Miller

There’s no question that knowing your audience is the 1st rule of nonprofit marketing. The idea of building a beautiful marketing campaign that isn’t specific to your nonprofit’s audience just doesn’t cut it!

Just last week I joined a dynamic conversation on LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Marketing Group. It would have to be considering that two of the voices in the conversation were Dennis Fischman, chief communicator at Communicate! Consulting and Brian Brown, principal of Narrator, a social fundraising consultancy that helps nonprofits raise money with their online presence..

Brian started the conversation by posting “There are lots of tips about email technicalities, but I don’t see much literature that challenges nonprofits to think about the different psychological strategies involved in email vs. direct mail. Have you tried any of these strategies? Any best practices?”

And, that lead to his blog post 6 ways to improve your email numbers. I was intrigued, especially when I realized that although he was speaking about email vs. direct mail, he was really speaking about truly knowing your audiences (or at least I thought so!).

Brian identifies four stages to nonprofit and campaign communications:

  1. Stage 1 is about infrastructure (we have a Facebook page).
  2. Stage 2 is about developing content to send out via that infrastructure (posting regularly, sending emails).
  3. The third and fourth stages are about refining your content, refining your audience, getting more interactive, and building a two-way relationship that reinforces and empowers your audiences’ identity relative to you.

Unfortunately there appears to be consensus that most nonprofits do not get past the first two stages. As both Brian and Dennis noted, it takes commitment and work to really know your audience.

So here are my suggestions to gain that knowledge. If any of this sounds familiar to my readers, it’s because these are the foundation questions that I use when applying the POST MethodAs with all communications initiatives, people, your audiences come first.

  • Who must you reach to meet your communication objective?
  • Why this target group? Are they clients, volunteers, donors, sponsors and/or prospects?
  • What attracted people to your organization in the first place?
  •  Is this a target group identified in your organization’s communications plan?
  • What do they know or believe about your organization or issue?
  • What type of content is important to them?
  • What will resonate with them?
  • What key points do you want to make with your audience to develop conversations & actions?
  • What new & traditional media tools are they currently using?
  • What are they talking about in relation to your brand/goals/issues/competitors?
  • What additional research do you need to do to learn about your target audience’s behavior or understanding/perceptions about your organization or issues?

I like to think of gaining this knowledge as a journey. It won’t be completed in a day. You’ll discover new insights by looking, listening, and being sensitive to clues along your path.

I know it sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. It does, however, take commitment and work.

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my POST Template, just let me hear from you – deborah@creative-si.com.

What it takes to be a nonprofit marketer

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Look inside the heads of great marketers like Seth Godin & Steve Jobs and you’ll be surprised by the number of skills these guys and gals have that might not necessarily be tied to marketing. You’ll see things like interview skills, giving good feedback, and even kissing butt. Sujan Patel, Single Grain 

Wow, I thought. Maybe this is why I see myself as driven!

The DNA in a marketer includes a relentless desire to get better and better at what she does. She is always trying to improve and to help her team members improve also.

So, I’ve developed a short list of what I feel it takes to be a superstar nonprofit marketer.

1.  A hunger for knowledge about great marketing and lessons from great marketers:

2.  Be open to learn from great marketing campaigns:

3.  Great writer in multi-mediums – annual reports, web, online newsletters, press releases, SM, etc:

4. Prolific content generator across mediums – written, video, audio, & photo:

5.  Marketing generalists – new & traditional media:

6.  Proactive communicator & connector – A marketer understands that the more people you know the more opportunities, ideas and help you will have. So you need to spend a good chunk of your time connecting with people, be it on social media, at conferences, networking meets and even lunches.

7.  A committed leader – As a nonprofit marketer most likely you will work with a team to accomplish your goals. A great marketer is a great leader, always recruiting and encouraging her team to accomplish goals from start to finish.

8.  Driven by metrics:

9.  Donor-Centric Focused – The truly great nonprofit marketer obsesses about her donors & other stakeholders: her needs, wants, desires, dreams and problems. Every marketing conversation begins with the “customer”—and how she will benefit.

10.  Be a Decision Maker – You have access to a ton of information. But, you’ll never have enough. Or, as I do sometimes, you may get paralyzed by information overload. Analyze the data, make a decision and then learn from your mistakes. A true decision maker doesn’t let fear stop her from moving forward.

Most importantly you must love what you do and celebrate that you are making a difference in the world!

Any suggestions to add to the list? We’d love to hear from you!

 

The Power of Community Engagement Committees to market your Film Festival

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Holding a film festival? Well, your festival promotion is key to its success.

Word of Mouth (WOM) still rules when engaging people to participate. Through WOM marketing you:

  • Invite community organizations to join you and promote the films to their members.
  • Ask volunteers and members to invite their friends and family.
  • Send messages that your team can forward to their email list.
  • Always include information about and a link to ticket sales.

*       Checkout Promoting a Film Festival in Three Weeks! 

Increase the power of WOM through a Community Engagement Committee. Charge the committee to assist in promoting your film festival to various groups within your greater community.

Your committee’s success depends on having  a good marketing tool kit. My favorite was developed for the 2014 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival Community Engagement Committee. The toolkit is a link on the film festival website that is only accessible by committee members.

Steps to creating a Community Engagement Toolkit:

  • Create PDF files of the movie description in your film festival program. Here are a couple examples:

Brave Miss World

Esther Broner: A Weave of Women

  • Create a Handout of films by subject. Key each film to the page in the program.
  • Post a PDF of the Film Festival Program
  • Create a file that shows where each film is showing and at what time
  • Provide incentives for committee members to use such as discount price codes and group prices
  1. Schedule meetings with Community Engagement committee members.
  2. Provide a list of materials that can be found on Community Engagement Link.
  3. Capture information on outreach possibilities discussed at meetings.
  4. Offer staff support if a committee member needs help putting together visuals for face to face meetings.
  5. Create a tracking tool for committee members.
  6. Create a master spreadsheet of what outreach worked.

Another Community Engagement Toolkit favorite is Reel Power Films Fueling the Energy Revolution. 

Do you have any suggestions for a Community Engagement Toolkit? We’d love to hear from you.

Want a copy of the CS&I Film Festival PR Template? Please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com.

Enjoy the film festival!!

 

 

Is your nonprofit taking advantage of #GeorgiaGivesDay Nov. 13th?

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“Whether you know it or not, you live your life in nonprofits.” Georgia Gives Day

Georgia Gives Day is an initiative created by GA’s nonprofit sector. The nonprofit sector pulls together and asks you to consider your life and your community without nonprofits. So, instead of supporting one cause or locale, Georgia Gives Day supports the state’s nonprofits. This year’s event happens on November 13th. You’ll have an opportunity to support the organizations and causes in your own community and across the state. Whether you have $10 or $10,000 to give, it all adds up to greater impact on the issues that support and enrich our lives and make our local communities thrive.

Georgia Gives Day is a collaboration of the the Georgia Center for Nonprofits (GCN) in partnership with participating nonprofits, state agencies, corporations and businesses, associations, foundations and public relations and advertising firms.

And, succeed they did! The inaugural Georgia Gives Day in December 2012 raised more than $900,000 from more than 7,700 individual donors. This year, organizers at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits hope to draw more than 10,000 individual donations in a “flash mob day of giving” during the Nov. 13 Georgia Gives Day. Thanks to GCN, finding a cause or charity and making a donation is easy at www.gagivesday.org.

Today I received an email from Girls Inc. of greater Atlanta. I love that they encourage supporters to become fundraisers for the organization and provide a link!

The organization reminds supporters to share on social media by using the hashtags #GIGA1113 and #GAGivesDay.

Do you have any suggestions on how to take advantage of this great opportunity? We’d love to hear!

Don’t forget the video when you plan special events!

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“Video is probably the most important way to evoke emotions in the people you’re trying to reach – and that emotion is going to lead to not just initial attention, but then lasting memory of your cause, engagement in your cause, and willingness to take action.” Liz Banse, Resource Media

Video is a very powerful form of communications. A well done video reaches well beyond our physical senses and engages our emotions. Video is the perfect medium for helping you tell your nonprofit story.

Did you know?

But, there’s a lot of ‘noise’ on social networks! How do you cut through the noise to garner attention to your nonprofit’s mission and events?

Think visually! Photos are good and video even better.

YouTube is known as ‘the place’ to post your videos. And, YouTube has a nonprofit program. Benefits of joining include:

  • Adding a Donate button to your channel.
  • Placing call-to-action overlays on your videos so viewers can click to visit your website, register for an upcoming event and learn more about volunteer & sponsorship opportunities.
  • Using live streaming video on your YouTube channel, which is great to engage your virtual event guests who cannot attend in person.

You want to create a video that showcases your mission and is engaging. You can use the video to introduce people to your nonprofit, appeal to donors and show at your events.

When posted on a Facebook event page or your organization’s YouTube site, the same video will make a great promotional piece for your upcoming special event.

I was recently introduced to Reflection Films, a company that specializing in marketing, fundraising and training videos.

I asked co-owner Rachel Jallinek if I could share a web excerpt of a video Reflection Films created for The Food Project, a nonprofit that has built a national model of engaging young people in personal and social change through sustainable agriculture. The video was created for their 20th Anniversary and first gala.

The video clip really spoke to me. So I went to the website and watched the full video!

Don’t forget to take advantage of the new technology and social media sites to use your organization’s video to tell your nonprofit’s story at your events and to promote the event to draw greater audiences to attend.

Happy filming!

 

 

 

 

The Rise of Social Media Press Releases

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The Rise of the Social Media Press Release

Yesterday I visited a Facebook group in which I’m a member. I was somewhat taken aback when I read a post that started –

“Social media has forever changed how nonprofits and journalists distribute and consume news stories, yet the format of press releases has not evolved at all. Almost every communication medium out there has been impacted by the rise of social and mobile media, but not press releases.” (11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable)

Well, I know I’ve been creating and posting social media releases (SMR) and releases that are Search Engine Optimized (SEO) since 2009 when I managed The Eizenstat Family Memorial Lecture featuring Al Gore.

And, I’m far from the first!

Then I remembered the post The Definitive Guide to Social Media Releases by Brian Solis, written February 11, 2008.

The blog covers a lot of information about the creation of SMR and the evolution of press release wires and includes a description of what an SMR should include:

  • Headline
  • Intro paragraph, rich with key words, relevance and context (summary)
  • Supporting facts
  • Quote
  • Embeddable Video (The new VNR)
  • Embeddable Audio
  • Embeddable Images
  • RSS for the organization’s news
  • RSS for product/services info
  • Post in “insert social network of choice”
  • Blog this (links to blogging platforms)
  • Share on Twitter, Tumblr, etc.
  • Bookmarks
  • Relevant links
  • Digg, Reddit, and other relevant news aggregators and communities
  • Comments – Maybe also include a link to a hosted network on Ning or even a discussion forum
  • Contact: hcard, vcard, Linked, Facebook

I use a national or local release distribution service, depending on the scope of the release. All have templates in which you input your press release and include ways to ensure that they are SEO and SMR.

I love using the Atlanta Daybook for local news releases. They have direct reach into the newsrooms, corporate headquarters and nonprofits in my target market.

Once the release is posted I encourage members of the organization to share with their organizational partners and personal networks.

I also send my releases pasted to the face of a personalized email. When I do this I:

  • Keep everything flush left, including the header, sub-head, organization’s logo and contact information
  • Follow the classic pyramid with the most relevant information in the 1st paragraph
  • Ensure that the subject line has all the relevant information & piques interest in the release
  • Use keywords in the header and subhead
  • Hyperlink the name of the organization, project and/or event to the organization’s website in the 1st paragraph
  • Use a relevant quote in the third paragraph
  • Link details of relevant information back to the organization’s website
  • Provide a link to usable JPEG files housed in the website press room
  • Add a link to the website in the boilerplate
  • Add contact info to the bottom of the release
  • Post the release in the organization’s press room, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter feed, blog and whatever social media platforms they use.

Is there room for improvement? Absolutely! Read through the suggestions in 11 Tips for Making Nonprofit Press Releases Social and Shareable and see which suggestions will work with your organization. Also checkout Marketwire’s Tips for Entering Your Nonprofit into the Social Media Environment and PRWeb’s Nonprofit News Release Services. You’ll find good information and some excellent examples of nonprofit social media releases.

Remember, no matter how social and shareable your release is, be sure that the information is relevant and worthy of distribution and creating positive conversations between your organization and your target markets. And, don’t forget that to have ‘real’ people follow up and respond to queries from the media and bloggers.

Any other suggestions? We’d love to hear from you!

Be Fearless to Foster Social Change

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“In 2012 and beyond, inspired by the challenges we face and the opportunities we are afforded, we’re officially declaring our intention to Be Fearless in all that we do … in our approach to philanthropy, social change, and social good – and we hope you’ll join us in this journey.” Jean & Steve Case, Case Foundation founders

I am a founding trustee of an organization committed to lasting social change in the lives of women and girls in the Jewish community.

I feel privileged to be involved. I know that pooling resources, energy and ideas is a smart way to have impact.

So, I would like to share with you the Five Values of Fearless Changemakers from the Case Foundation introduced during our last meeting.

  • Make Big Bets and Make History. Set Audacious, not incremental, goals. Is your organization one that looks to what has worked in the past so you can do more of the same and feel safe? Why not set “big, hair, audacious goals” for yourself as described by Jim Collins & Jerry Porras in Built to Last.
  • Experiment Early and Often. Don’t be afraid to go first.  We are living in a nanosecond world. You must experiment to respond creatively. And, you need to communicate to your audiences to keep them engaged in your initiatives.
  • Make Failure Matter. Failure teaches. Learn from it. Innovation always carries the risk of failure. Wear it. Celebrate what you’ve learned and move forward. Follow  what Lucy Bernholz calls Failing Forward.
  • Reach Beyond Your Bubble. It’s comfortable to go it alone. But innovation happens at intersections. Sticking with the tried and true stifles innovation. How does your organization the challenges of innovation? Don’t forget the African Proverb – “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” 
  • Let urgency Conquer Fear. Don’t over- think and over-analyze. And, in the words of Nike, “Just do it!”

Do you have additional characteristics of what it takes to be a Fearless Changemaker that you would like to share? I’d love to hear them.

4 P’s + 1P = Good path to focus on local community

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Separate yourself not from the community – Pirche Avot 2

 

I just love when the universe hears me. I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the significance of local initiatives and how important they are. Maybe I’m a contrarian, but as the world becomes more global I’d like to see people focus on their communities.

So, I was thrilled when I came upon two posts that spoke to local issues. The first, Local Businesses Need to be Findable by Paul and Sarah Edwards had suggestions that in my mind worked as well for nonprofits as businesses.

According a Local Consumer Review Survey, 85% of people use the web to find local businesses. Do you know how many of your clients/donors/event participants use the web to find your nonprofit? If you don’t have a website or are unhappy with what you do have, consider some alternatives:

  • Get a free listing on Google Places.
  • Create a Facebook page for your nonprofit. You can find oodles of posts on how to use Facebook for your nonprofit.
  • Make sure you have a presence on LinkedIn. Invite members of your community to Link to your page. Join relevant groups that touch the issues in which your nonprofit is involved in your community.
  • Start a blog. This will attract the search engines and bring people to your website.
  • Make sure your address is consistent on all your social media sites and your website.

Then I was reading another excellent post by Clair Axelrad “Purely Practical SMIT: 4 Keys to Never Lose the Why.” Claire always reminds me why I’m committed to empowering nonprofits to do good.

Claire’s March SMIT (Single Most Important Thing I have to tell you) is to never lose sight of the “Why.” It is virtually impossible to connect with people unless you know your purpose.

“Your vision or, if you will, your dream is your purpose. It’s the “why” of your existence.”

So, instead of bemoaning the fact that you can’t be everywhere at once, bring your passion to your neighborhood or your community.

Okay, but how do the two posts mesh?

To me, the first speaks to the tools you can use to make sure you have a real presence in your community. Remember the 4 P’s of marketing – Product (service), PLACE, Promotion & Price. Well, Local Businesses Need to be Findable speaks to some of the social media tools you can use to make sure you’re found.

Then, add the 5th P – PASSION from Clair’s post and you’re on your way to making a difference in your community. You see, even when your focus is on your community, you must know your purpose and care about it with passion.

In a future post I’ll introduce you to a friend who is working on what he calls a Hyper-local initiative. Sound intriguing? You bet!

Any thoughts on staying focused on your community? I’d love to hear them.