Tag Archives: Non Profits

Promises Promises


I recently had a potential client ask me to make them promises on how many “likes” my product advertising would gain for the business. I wouldn’t do it. But why? Shouldn’t a marketer be able to promise a return on investment? Absolutely, but for so many reasons this request was simply wrong. Let’s break down why.
As I’ve written before, likes are largely irrelevant. If you want guaranteed likes, well then you can just buy them. They’ll be completely worthless. Let me correct myself; they’ll cost you to buy and then, later, they’ll cost you when you have to pay more to get your content out to your page since you now have a page that’s filled with people who don’t care about your stuff. But hey, if that’s your measure of success then you can, indeed, just buy them. But you’ll need to find another person to do that for you. I don’t do that kind of work. I also won’t sell you a bridge. Ruining my reputation isn’t worth it.

Another reason this request didn’t work is that this contract wasn’t about likes or growing the page. It was specifically about advertising product for purchase. Now granted, a side effect of advertising product is almost always growing a page. If people like and purchase a product, they’ll often like your Facebook page as well. It is important, however, to keep the actual end goal in mind. Do you measure your sales success by how many people like you? I hope your mortgage company takes likes as payment. Mine doesn’t. Measure sales success by sales.

I should stop here and say that I have done work to grow a page’s following. Lots of work focused on that end goal. There is a time and place for that. But how you go about that is VERY different from how you sell a product. It’s important not to mix the two. Just like friends, you don’t want your friends constantly selling to you, and when you go to buy something you don’t want someone spending all of your time trying to become your good buddy. There’s a time and a place for everything.
So then, will I guarantee sales? Probably not. But, isn’t that what the ad was about? You bet. And I’ve done exactly that in environments where I had control of ALL of the details that went into selling a product. The minute that one of those details changed my ability to guarantee sales drops to zero.

I can bring you in sales leads but if your sales team doesn’t follow up on those leads nothing I can do will make your product sell. I can get people to your website but if that website doesn’t convert there’s nothing I can do to make people want to buy. I’m more than happy to guarantee at least industry standards for metrics; frankly I’d be surprised to see anything that poor… I’ve yet to have rates that low.

If you want me or any marketer to guarantee something, they’d better have full and complete control over whatever it takes to make that thing happen. Are you willing to let your marketer do that? Check out this AWESOME post on just what a marketer should ask for regarding control should you want to guarantee sales…

As a marketer part of my job is setting realistic expectations. Some of that is working with customers to determine what they really want from their marketing. Many people don’t truly know. It also means sticking to an end goal. “I want ALL THE THINGS” from a single campaign doesn’t work. It’s the very reason many people believe Facebook and social selling doesn’t work. They’re doing all the things at the same time.

It also means making sure a client knows that a sales process isn’t simply putting out an ad. “If you build it they will come” works in fantasy baseball movie land. A true sales process is far more complex and requires effort across all parts of a company. If any part of that is broken the sales process suffers.

A final note. While all of this is “sales” related the same is true for nonprofits. Perhaps even more so. Many nonprofits have trouble determining what the end goal is for their social media campaigns. Or alternately they start with the hard sell before they’ve established any friends at all. You might be able to do that with a great product. As a nonprofit, you’re VERY unlikely to do that, even with a great cause.

The final point? Sometimes the person you need to hire is the person who will tell you no. No, you can’t (or shouldn’t) run this wire through your bathtub no matter how much you want to. Don’t listen to the electrician who tells you yes just because it’s what you want to hear.

Anyone can tell you yes, but that yes comes at a price. And that price is getting the results you ACTUALLY want.


What You’re Paying For with BIG Marketing

marketing firms


Quite some time ago I had what I thought would be the great privilege to work with a huge marketing firm.  I was very excited about the project as I was going to get the opportunity to see how one of the “world’s leading global public relations firms” handles marketing, social media and the like.

I was thrilled to have such a great opportunity to look inside such a huge marketing juggernaut and to learn from them whatever there was to be learned.  But more importantly, I was extremely excited about a specific project they were suggesting for the tiny nonprofit I was working with at the time as a consultant.

Learning from the “Gurus”?

You see, just prior to this consulting gig, I worked with TechSoup Global and helped to run their Digital Storytelling Challenge.  We had a very small team of folks to run this international competition.  While we had, in my opinion, knocked it out of the park, like any other huge project done by a small group of people with a ton of other projects going on at the same time, there was certainly room for improvement.

This huge international marketing firm was suggesting something fairly similar to the digital storytelling event we had just completed at TechSoup.  It would be easier to run as it only involved photography rather than both a video and photography component as we had done at TechSoup.  Unlike the TechSoup Challenge, it was only going to be open to folks in the US rather than all over the globe, cutting out a ton of complexity.

And of course, with the HUGE global presence of a marketing firm with over 70 offices worldwide who contests all the time, marketing for some of the biggest companies in the world, watching them run something like this should be amazingly educational.  Right?

Learning How

As I sat in on the meeting a ton of the logistics about the contest didn’t seem to come up so I asked about them.  There didn’t seem to be much thought or knowledge about how these basics would work.  These things hadn’t even been considered.  I should add that I wasn’t talking to the high level idea people.  No, these were the people who would make this project happen for us.

Finally I asked the big question, the one we had struggled with at Tech Soup and the one that provides for a ton of really tricky concern as, if you do it wrong, you can get into a TON of hot water… RULES.

You see each state has a ton of different rules about what is allowed when it comes to contests.  Use the word raffle in some states and you’ll be in serious trouble… cause now you’re gambling.  Aka no one can pay to enter your contest and your contest has to be a contest of skill, not chance.

And this is where my mind was blown.  It wasn’t that they didn’t know off-hand about how rules for each state would be handled.  No, that wasn’t the shocker.

They Didn’t Even Know…

They didn’t know that there was even a concern about rules regarding contests.  They didn’t even know that there were rules that existed for contests.  They didn’t know this would be an issue or something to even consider.


I’m not sure if I did a decent job of hiding my shock at this or not.  I doubt it.


These people are paid BIG BUCKS… in this case more than $350 for a blog post with a few words and some pictures (as an example) and they didn’t even know that contests have rules?  I can’t recall how much they were charging for the contest portion of the marketing contract.  It was a lot.

That may not seem like a huge problem but if they don’t know that there are rules around this sort of thing what other hot water might they get our tiny nonprofit into?  What other thing might I need to watch for?  

Is it possible that we could get into serious legal issues because they don’t even know what they don’t know?

And with the HUGE cost of what we were paying for, shouldn’t we be able to expect they would have our back legally?  Shouldn’t that kind of thing be a given from a major global marketing firm?

The answer is no.  You shouldn’t expect that from a major marketing firm apparently.  You shouldn’t expect that from the majority of marketers you work with.


The take-away?

So find someone who knows better.  Find someone who thinks “is there something we need to look into here legally before we do this thing?”


Just because you pay through the nose doesn’t mean you’re getting what you pay for.


More on that funny thing called conversation…

There will probably be a lot on this conversation topic here.  It’s probably one of the most important things to remember when you dive in to the social media world.  Far too often we just want to jump in and get things perfect.  We want the most pretty, perfect blog.  We want all the best tweets (not to mention the best looking page).  We want to have people donate to us like their lives depend on it.  But we forget that its SOCIAL networking and SOCIALl media, not just marketing.  And that means good social skills.

I originally started this blog because I have read a ton about social media and wanted a way to share the great articles I’ve found with my coworkers.  I work for Community Voice Mail and at our yearly conferences I’ve talked a bit about Seattle Free School and what nonprofits can do, marketing wise, without any money.  A fitting and timely topic these days for everyone, especially nonprofits who are feeling the pinch from both business and private donations.  There were a number of choices to get the word to my friends in the federation.  I can post on Facebook as many of my coworkers are friends there.  I could email to get to anyone I’m not yet connected with on Facebook.  But like so many, far too often I delete emails that I’d like to read because I just don’t have time right now and I don’t want it hanging over my head in that gigantic to do list called an inbox.  By blogging people including myself can come back to articles and ideas at some time in the future should they want to.  So I hope this winds up being useful to you… it will be useful to me if nothing else!

Because I’m thinking the most about my nonprofit friends the first article I’ll post is an excellent one by Josh Catone posted on Mashable (a great resource that you might want to bookmark.  Now.  http://mashable.com/)

The article takes you through the 5 main points of Social Media for nonprofits.  Engage your followers, consuming information as well as broadcasting it.  In other words repost things, share information from other nonprofits, be a part of the, yes you guessed it, conversation!  But wait you say, that sounds like a ton of work!  And a ton of time.  The first clarification I’d like to make here is that you don’t need to be everywhere.  You don’t need to be on every social media site ever invented.  I suspect that your head would explode if you even tried.  So pick the ones you like or ideally, love and make those the ones you really dive into.  As Josh states “pare down your social media presence to only the essential sites”.  More on how to figure that out in a later post.

OK, so we know we need to talk, converse back and forth to matter to our followers but that means regularly checking on whatever form of social media you’ve picked.  “Inactivity only hurts your brand and turns users away”.  You can’t grow a community if you only respond once every couple of weeks.  No one will follow your blog if you only post every once in a while.  Remember, people are looking to you for information on whatever subject you’re talking about.  If they aren’t getting it from you they will go somewhere else.  So if you’re not going to use it then DON’T use it.  Keep the profile if you want, just don’t ever post there.  Because I just can’t pass up the chance to quote my favorite movie guru “Do or do not, there is no try”.  You don’t have to do it perfectly, but you do have to actually do it, you have to post regularly and respond regularly.

The beauty of this is that you’re not in college.  Your posts don’t need to be dry and sterile.  And frankly those of us following you would prefer that they weren’t, we’ve gotten enough of textbook writing long ago.  We want to hear what you, the human has to say.  “You’re a real person, so you should tweet, post and email like one.  Always interact with your followers on social networks as you.”  You have passion.  You have energy.  You believe in your cause.  Your organization or business is just a thing.  It can’t have those emotions so use what you have and make us love what you do by sharing your drive with us.  There is nothing motivational about a dry, informational post.  But you, you can make us really truly care.

I’ve posted this article first because I think it really covers the basic requirements for getting involved in social media, in a way that is very accessible.  There are lots more great articles coming, and of course if you have one let me know… I can never read enough!

Read “5 Essential Tips for Promoting Your Charity Using Social Media” by Josh Catone here.


Most of us get what it takes to have a good conversation in our daily interactions face to face or on the phone.  But what does it mean to have conversations when using social marketing?  It’s easy enough to think about and easy enough to do if you just frame it in terms of your in person interactions.

So imagine just for a second that you were meeting someone for the first time.  You like the person enough to spend the time with them and in general you’re excited to hear what they have to say.  So you meet for coffee somewhere.

Maybe you shake hands and exchange business cards and then the “conversation” begins.  Your “friend” begins talking about something they’re doing, “yesterday I went to” blah blah.  You find it pretty interesting and know enough about communication to nod your head, put out verbal cues that you’re listening and at some point you try to relate to them through a story of your own, showing that you do know what they are talking about and that you’re interested in having a real conversation.

They don’t seem to notice that you said anything.  They’re quiet for a while and then go on talking about that same subject.  Hmm.  OK, well maybe what you said just wasn’t interesting or maybe they were thinking about something else.  The conversation continues and again you try to relate and again you’re completely ignored.  What the…?  You’re a big enough fan of this person to keep going and eventually you start talking about something that you find very interesting and that you suspect this other person will see as important too.

Apparently they don’t.  They don’t comment on it, they don’t talk about it and yet again they just start talking about themselves.  This goes on.

And now you’re probably thinking, “yeah, this goes on but not for long”.  Why?  Because it’s RUDE.  Not listening to others, not responding when someone reaches out to you in conversation, just being totally self-absorbed isn’t a way to make friends.  It’s a way to annoy people.

And yet how often do we do just that in our social media venues?  How often do we just post about us, our organization, our business?  Do we watch to see when people respond and make sure we’ve responded to them?  Thanking them for reposting?  Continuing the conversation if they comment or post a question?

It’s too easy to see social marketing as a one way information dump for you and your organization or business.  But that won’t gain you any friends and eventually, unless you are just so important people can’t ignore you, people will stop caring about what you’re saying.

If you’re not reposting important things on Facebook or Twitter or sharing information with your network and instead only talking about yourself you’re not being a good conversationalist.  If you’re ignoring the conversation you started you’re not being a good conversationalist.  But more importantly you’re not networking.  This doesn’t mean reposting everything… then you’re just that needy weird friend.  But when you find something interesting SHARE IT!

The very idea of social networking and marketing is that we’re all spreading the word about things we find important, including those things other people have brought to us.  So make that happen.  Those articles you found interesting on Facebook, share them!  When someone makes a post on Twitter about you or about something you find interesting, respond!

If you don’t or feel like you don’t have the time then get out because frankly we want to talk, not just listen.

(there are lots of articles that inspired this post not just one so the reviews of great writings will start tomorrow… and yes, please do respond to this if you’d like.  I do want to start a conversation!)