Tag Archives: nonprofits

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.


Marketing the Impossible…


Ducati EventEvery once in a while as a marketer you’re asked to promote something you just don’t think you can sell.  It may not be the product or the event itself.  Often the problem is the timing or something else outside of your control.

Just such a case happened last winter.  You see, winter in the motorcycle industry is not particularly friendly.  Few people are thinking about riding when the weather is cold and wet.

But when a major brand says they’re coming to your shop on a specific day you don’t get a choice in the matter.  And so it happened that I had to promote an event that would happen at what might well be the very worst time ever.  Tuesday, in March, at a motorcycle shop that’s hard to get to on weeknights, or really any time after about 3pm.

What To Do?

There are a couple of choices when you have something like this to promote.  You can go all in, trying absolutely everything to see if anything will stick or, you can decide to save your money for something with a larger pull.  I decided not to spend too much money on this event, knowing that I had a limited audience to pull from on a weekday.

What I did know is that if I targeted my audience correctly I might just stand a chance of getting people in the door.  Maybe.  So that’s what I did.

While the brand had done some advertisement, it really focused on general advertisement all over the US that basically said, we’re coming to a dealership near you… check out this page to see where.  Nothing that specifically told them to come see us.  Nothing that highlighted our shop in any meaningful way.  That was going to be up to us.


And it was going to be a huge sell.  Our local competitors had much better slots.  One of the big shops to the north had the Saturday slot.  Big city, Saturday.  And here we were at a shop that’s hard to get to on a Tuesday… Ugh.

So what did I do?  Well first I sent out our email blast.  With an open rate of over 50% our customers would certainly want to know if there’s something going on at the store.  We would make sure to tell them.  After all, we were joking that we’d have 6 people in the shop, 5 more than the usual 1 we see at this time of the year and we might not have that if we didn’t send our email blast!!

And then I did what I knew would be the most focused and least expensive marketing I could do… I advertised on Facebook.  For $15 I could very accurately target people I thought would have an extremely high likelihood of showing up at the shop.

But would it work?

The day came and almost immediately we were all blown away.  People were showing up at the shop all day.  And it wasn’t just our regular customers.

When all was said and done we had about 100 people in the shop, a miracle for a Tuesday in March.  And of those 100 people about 75% – 80% were customers who were new to us.

That is amazing.  For $15 we had a much higher turnout than we ever expected and more importantly, we had more new customers in the door than we have ever seen before at any previous event.

Needless to say, that was easily the best $15 I have ever spent on advertising.

Many may think that 100 people isn’t a ton of people through the door and for some businesses that would certainly be true.  For a motorcycle shop in March on a Tuesday none the less, it’s absolutely huge.

Spend, Spend, Spend!

When people tell you that you need to spend big money on Facebook what they’re telling you is that they don’t know how to run Facebook ads well.

A LOT can be done with $15.

What I’ve learned from Haiti

As promised I wanted to share with you a few things I’ve learned from my blog postings about Haiti around the idea of social media.

The first is that twitter can be extremely powerful.  The night I posted the first post on Haiti I kept going back to the bit.ly site to check my stats on the link. 

For those of you who don’t know what bit.ly is, here’s a quick low down.  Twitter limits you to 140 characters but as we all know a website link could easily take up all of that, so there are tools that shorten these urls to something more twitter user-friendly.  The great part about bit.ly is that it shortens the URL you’re posting but also tracks how many times that new URL is clicked.  Basically it’s instant stats for you to see if people are really clicking on the link you’ve posted.  That’s powerful stuff or can be.

In the case of the first Haiti post I watched as the clicks increased to over 400 in less than 24 hours.  Think about that for a second.  400 times people clicked on that link.  Sure, some of them didn’t read my post but many did.  That’s a lot more people than none.

So there we are, Lesson #1 Twitter can be extremely powerful if your message is powerful.

Lesson #2 I posted on the first Haiti blog post.  Not everyone on twitter is on Facebook.  Why is this important?  Well, that gets to

Lesson #3 Twitter has the ability to be a far more wide-reaching tool then either email or Facebook when it comes to nonprofits.  Here’s a quote from the article I found just as I was posting this Haiti information:

“The more nonprofits were active on Twitter and tweeted, the more their followers retweeted their tweets which helped grow their Twitter following”.

When I first read this article about how much more traffic nonprofits were getting out of twitter I was quick to think, yes, but are these followers people who care or just spam bots following everyone in hopes of being followed back.  Of course that’s always part of the story, but think about this, if someone is retweeting your message then it’s getting out to a whole group of people you haven’t reached before.  That’s relevant.  That’s important.  That’s powerful.

So my new lesson and tactic is to spend less time on Facebook (where, interestingly enough, not one person commented on the Haiti post or reposted… telling no?) and more time on twitter.

And one last little bit of info for you… just in case you still think social media is irrelevant or unimportant (or have someone at your organization that thinks this way), here’s a great video passed to me from my friend Larry.  While I don’t know that this is how you want to sell it to your ED or board


 “Social Media has overtaken porn as the #1 activity on the Web”.


Think about that.




Haiti part 2

As you should guess by now this blog will partly be devoted to great articles and insights about social media and part dedicated to spreading word for my friend’s nonprofit about the current situation on the ground and their work in Haiti.  This may seem like a drift in mission but if you know about social media and social networking it really isn’t.  If you don’t understand why, don’t worry, I’ll be talking about this over the next few weeks, possibly longer.  And soon there will be more posts about social media and some of the things I’ve learned this week.  Because I don’t want them to get lost here and because many who came to this post specifically aren’t necessarily interested in that I’m only posting about Haiti today.  Tomorrow a bit more insight into what I’ve learned and a few really eye-opening articles.  (I’ll give you a hint, if you’re not on twitter you should be).

So as for Haiti.  As you know from my last post I posted here because my friend Kathy is simply too busy (as are other people in her tiny org) getting aid to people, not writing, tweeting, blogging or advertising.  This is what I can do for her and her organization.  Help spread the word about what’s truthfully going on, share with people who care- there are sooo many of you! and give the truth from the ground a bit more publicity then it’s currently receiving.

My last post on Haiti raised a lot of questions.  Here they are with the answers to them direct from Kathy:

What organizations are requesting the forms to be filled out?
We are hearing reports that Minustah (the UN overseer in Haiti) is requesting these forms before aid can be authorized for an area.  Although we understand the need for over sight and coordination the 100 question form contains questions that most would not have the answer to (Haitian or other) such as the GPS coordinates.

Are these forms that individuals from a community has to fill out if they want to transport supplies back to their community? These are forms that an aid group or leader from a community has to fill out.  I am unsure how the food is distributed once approved because we have now taken it upon ourselves to buy truck and boat loads of food and are bringing it to communities not being served.

Is there anyone else with first hand knowledge that can write about it?
We are hearing of similar reports from other NGO’s working on the ground.  I am sure they have already written about it and as I said we have moved on and are focusing on delivering emergency aid.  Some of the groups that I know have written about this are Konpay, Beyond Borders and Soil.

Are there any pictures we can get of supplies sitting at airport?
I do not have any pictures but even CNN was talking about this story and showing the back log of supplies.

Do they have any knowledge of locations that have received NO aid yet?
Yes we have a coalition of 25 small NGO’s working together in Haiti that send and share assessment reports.  There are MANY areas that have not received any aid.  I am also receiving phone calls from Haitians all over the country reporting no aid.  The large aid relief efforts are focused on the tent cities in Port au Prince and in Jacmel.  However there are hundreds of thousands of affected residents that are not in these tent cities.  To put it in perspective here are some numbers,  there are 2 million homeless, over 250,000 killed, over 300,00 injured.  Over 450,000 residents of Port au Prince have fled the capitol returning the countryside reaching every corner of the island.  Over 60,000 have reached Jeremie alone one of the farthest point on the island and over 14 hours away from Port by boat.  Some people walked 6 days to reach there.

It is not surprising given the vastness of destruction and mayhem that there would be some delays in getting aid distributed but a point to remember is that UN has been in Haiti since 2004 with over 7,000 peace keeping troops already on the ground through out the country with bases, supplies and a infrastructure that could have facilitated aid in the first couple of days.

HSDF is part of the Haiti response coalition and has brought food, water, medicine, doctor and volunteer teams into 4 areas that had not received any other aid.

We will continue to work on getting emergency critical aid to these areas and coordinate to serve other areas we know are still waiting several weeks after the catastrophe.

Hope that helps. I have heaps of other facts and numbers but literally have pages of reports.


I will be doing what I can to keep the information flowing.  As I said, Kathy has worked quite literally since this thing happened to find her family and get aid to the unaided people in Haiti.  I don’t know that she’s taken even a day off yet so getting more information isn’t something I’m willing to push for.  I have told her to just spout information (emails, reports, you name it, well written or not) to me and I’d pull from them the relevent bits and pieces but even this is one more step in her insanely busy life.  I will get more information from them as often as possible without adding more stress to an already insanely stressful time.

In the end I’d rather have people I know and trust making things actually happen in Haiti than having them spend even a fraction of that time writing, blogging or reporting.  The good work doesn’t involve those things no matter how much we’d love to know what’s going on.  Thankfully there are organizations more interested in getting aid to people who are suffering then paperwork and written documentation!


OK, this is somewhat off topic except that it isn’t.  My friend Kathy’s organization is doing very important work in Haiti and one of their people on the ground in Haiti wrote a great note in Facebook about the reality of the large organizations and how they aren’t getting aid to people, instead favoring paperwork far too much of the time.  I decided to tweet this note out to many people on twitter who seem to be really following the stream there on the topic.  Many people I tweeted don’t have Facebook (my learning for today, not everyone on twitter is also on Facebook… everyone has their own desires for communication) so I need a way to post this note elsewhere to share it.  So here it is.  Yes folks, this is what Social Networking is about. 

Hello tout moun,

It has been an interesting experience sitting here in Port-Au-Prince being part of a coalition of 25 non-profit organizations coming together to coordinate the dispensation of food, water, and medical supplies. It hasn’t been easy because of the extreme difficulty of passing through the myriad loops that the large NGO’s require before anything will be given out. There is a 100 question form that they are passing out to communities to fill out bring back in order to receive aid. This alone can take them a week or so. The questions they ask are very difficult to answer and explaining location in Port-Au-Prince, is nearly impossible. Often Haitians use directions like, next to the large tree around the corner from so and so market. The UN wants GPS coordinates because many streets are not marked here and navigating the city has proven to be difficult.

After the one riot that took place in the worst part of the city, they are only sending out non-food items at first to see if the communities can function without a disaster taking place. I understand their concern for safety, but it seems to be quite a long process to go through before any nutritional needs are met. It has been nearly three weeks now and communities all over the place are living on minimal amounts of food if any. The Haitian government has been completely bypassed in all of this. The president has thrown his hands up in the air because he is not being included or informed about anything that is happening involving this process of bringing aid relief to the people.
Boats full of goods are being redirected to pass through the Dominican Republic (DR) which is a very lengthy process as well. We actually have a boat waiting in the DR which hasn’t received any clearance by the port of Jacmel to debark.

When did it occur that our society got so disorganized. Where paperwork and numbers are given priority over bringing actual aid to the people. Smaller organizations have given up all over the place trying to deal with the larger NGO’s and the UN because there still has been any sign of the goods being distributed. They have warehouses full of boxes and can’t organize their dispensation to the country. The small organizations have given up and are buying local food to distribute and/or taking trips to the DR and driving truck loads of good back to the communities they are working in.

I understand that indeed this is quite a difficult project, but how could it be so disorganized? I hope that there will be a reflective inquiry into what made this all such a mess, so in the future aid relief will arrive and actually be given out to the people in timely manner and avoid the watching the population deminish everyday while groups run around like a chicken with its head cut off staring at piles of papers and computer screens, forgetting that behind the numbers are real people in dire need.
This has been a huge disaster, not only with the earthquake, but with the response. I only can hope that we get it together before more and more Haitians perish because the loads of aid aren’t quite ready because they haven’t been given the go by those in charge. If this doesn’t reflect the depth of our Orwellian times, and not wake us up from this great mess we have gotten ourselves into, I am not sure what will.

The Haitian people are unfortunatley used to living with very limited resources including food and water and have a high tolerance for suffering. If this was to happen in the US there would have been no tolerance for such suffeering. With great hope and determination we will overcome this all and Haiti will revive itself.

Thank you,
Ryan McCrory