MARKETING SECRETS OF DONOR CENTERED FUNDRAISING

Last week I had the privilege to speak at the St. Louis Chapter of the Association of Funding Professionals Annual Conference about Marketing Secrets of Donor Centered Fundraising. The session was packed with the top fundraising professionals in St. Louis from the Development Team of the Missouri Botanical Garden to Managers of the St. Louis Science Center to Professionals at Teach for America and so many others.

In the session, I told them that there were three main areas that they need to focus on for the most effective donor centered fundraising: target audience, their organizational brands, and themselves! That’s right, to do more effective work for their organizations, they need to do more bring more of themselves to their work.

I shared how being true to a brand resulted in an 18% growth in funds raised, a 233% increase in new donors, and a 534% in ROI. I also talked about the critical role storytelling plays in marketing. We reviewed the development of the “Your Story is Our Story” campaign that I led with my marketing team at Jewish Federation of St. Louis. Check it out here!

Sharing the power of storytelling, how to apply the classic branding best practices to the not-for-profit world, and connecting with hundreds of St. Louis’ fundraising professionals was an amazing way to spend the day. If you have the opportunity to go next year, I highly recommend it! Hope to see you there next year!

AFP ST. LOUIS ANNUAL CONFERENCE SPEAKER

I’m so excited—just learned I’ve been picked as one of the speakers for the Association of Funding Professionals (AFP) St. Louis’ 2014 Annual Conference. The title of the session I’ll be leading is “Turbocharge Your Fundraising: Getting Personal with Your Donor-Centered Fundraising.”

I’ve spent the past two years developing marketing programs for Jewish Federation of St. Louis, a large non-profit community development organization that raises millions of dollars for the St. Louis Jewish community…. and now I’m going to share that knowledge with others!

Here’s the description of the session:

No two fundraisers are the same, so why should your donor conversations come from a canned script? Add your personal branding touch to today’s best practices to take your fundraising to a whole new level. With case studies that show how being true to your brand can have a tangible impact on dollars raised, this session will teach you how to weave donor passions, your organization’s mission and your personal brand together for heart-to-heart conversations that move people to action!

Learn from a branding expert about how to connect with donors that share your passion to turbocharge your donor relationships, your communications efforts, and your overall fundraising results. Discover how to translate your brand in the most authentic—and effective—way possible! By learning what motivates your donors, you’ll be able to present your organization’s mission in a way that resonates. In this session, you’ll learn how to:

  • Increase the authenticity and intensity of your donor conversations
  • Relate on a more personal level to your donors
  • Translate your brand authentically (even on mass appeals!)
  • Tell motivating stories that donors want to hear
  • Develop communications that are donor-centered and brand-centered at the same time

Tap into donor passions for the most meaningful long-term relationships

If you’re involved in a nonprofit, join me September 24 at the Renaissance Hotel at the St. Louis airport. If you register before July 31, you’ll get a discount off the registration fee.

Click here to register.

KEEPING TOP-OF-MIND WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

Written by Rahna Barthelmess originally for Southworth Blog

No matter what business you are in, you need to purposefully, thoughtfully and carefully plan out ways to stay top-of-mind with your customer base. If you sell consumer packaged goods, you are likely to use television advertising to let people know about your great product. If you are a retailer, you might use radio or newspaper to remind people to come to your store. But if you are a small business owner, how do you choose the right media for your business?

Knowing your customers’ behaviors will help you choose the right media.

What do they do? How do they spend their day? What does a day in the life of your customer look like?

What TV shows do they watch and when do they watch them? Do they read books, newspapers, magazines, blogs? Do they spend time online? Where? Are they involved in online communities like Facebook or MySpace? Which email service do they use? Which search engine? Are they a part of a group, i.e., a book club, association, woman’s group, church, charitable organization, country club? Do they listen to the radio? Podcasts? Are they creating content for YouTube? With respect to your industry, what do they buy or use or create right now?

Understanding where they live and what they do on a day-to-day basis will help you in choosing the right media.

The key to marketing is to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message…simple, but not easy. Ideally, you would only need to advertise right when you know your customers are looking for what you have to offer. If you sell pumpkins for Halloween or Easter baskets in the spring, your timeframes for staying top-of-mind are much more targeted. But for most small businesses, you need to be out there talking about what you have to offer consistently, because you never know when someone is going to need your services.

That’s why I recommend developing different tactics for your marketing plan. You will want to mix it up a bit, using many different media to keep in touch with your customers. If you are a small business that sells business-to-business, it may be as simple as writing an email, then following up with a phone call, then sending them a letter, then commenting on something they said in social media (perhaps a comment on their blog or a re-tweet of their twitter posting) You can meet them at a trade show, send them a direct mail piece, schedule a meeting with them, then send another email, and then another letter. As you vary the approach, you will learn which forms of communication work best (or you will learn which to avoid in future!). It may be that the variety itself is what draws them in. You keep their interest by your variety of communication.

In all these communications, your goal should be to build engagement in a way that matches your brand statement. If you send an email, make sure that it is clear and concise and free of typos. If you make a phone call, be animated, respectful of their time, and have something important to say. If you send them a letter, you’ll want to make sure it is a personalized note on high-quality stationery that speaks to their critical business issues.

Make sure that your communications are relevant to them and speak to them about topics that matter to them. If you end up talking about your products/services, make sure to do it in a way that highlights how it helps them. Highlight blogs or articles you think might be of interest to them. This shows that you care about them and their business (and that you can become a trusted partner because you understand their world).

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not reaching out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s an old-school tactic that always brings results, or a new digital technology that allows you to track your customer’s initial evaluation of your website, or a sophisticated affiliate marketing program, there are a myriad of ways to communicate. Which ones work best for you and why?

 

KEEPING TOP-OF-MIND WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS

Written by Rahna Barthelmess originally for Southworth Blog

No matter what business you are in, you need to purposefully, thoughtfully and carefully plan out ways to stay top-of-mind with your customer base. If you sell consumer packaged goods, you are likely to use television advertising to let people know about your great product. If you are a retailer, you might use radio or newspaper to remind people to come to your store. But if you are a small business owner, how do you choose the right media for your business?

Knowing your customers’ behaviors will help you choose the right media.

What do they do? How do they spend their day? What does a day in the life of your customer look like?

What TV shows do they watch and when do they watch them? Do they read books, newspapers, magazines, blogs? Do they spend time online? Where? Are they involved in online communities like Facebook or MySpace? Which email service do they use? Which search engine? Are they a part of a group, i.e., a book club, association, woman’s group, church, charitable organization, country club? Do they listen to the radio? Podcasts? Are they creating content for YouTube? With respect to your industry, what do they buy or use or create right now?

Understanding where they live and what they do on a day-to-day basis will help you in choosing the right media.

The key to marketing is to speak to the right person at the right time with the right message…simple, but not easy. Ideally, you would only need to advertise right when you know your customers are looking for what you have to offer. If you sell pumpkins for Halloween or Easter baskets in the spring, your timeframes for staying top-of-mind are much more targeted. But for most small businesses, you need to be out there talking about what you have to offer consistently, because you never know when someone is going to need your services.

That’s why I recommend developing different tactics for your marketing plan. You will want to mix it up a bit, using many different media to keep in touch with your customers. If you are a small business that sells business-to-business, it may be as simple as writing an email, then following up with a phone call, then sending them a letter, then commenting on something they said in social media (perhaps a comment on their blog or a re-tweet of their twitter posting) You can meet them at a trade show, send them a direct mail piece, schedule a meeting with them, then send another email, and then another letter. As you vary the approach, you will learn which forms of communication work best (or you will learn which to avoid in future!). It may be that the variety itself is what draws them in. You keep their interest by your variety of communication.

In all these communications, your goal should be to build engagement in a way that matches your brand statement. If you send an email, make sure that it is clear and concise and free of typos. If you make a phone call, be animated, respectful of their time, and have something important to say. If you send them a letter, you’ll want to make sure it is a personalized note on high-quality stationery that speaks to their critical business issues.

Make sure that your communications are relevant to them and speak to them about topics that matter to them. If you end up talking about your products/services, make sure to do it in a way that highlights how it helps them. Highlight blogs or articles you think might be of interest to them. This shows that you care about them and their business (and that you can become a trusted partner because you understand their world).

In today’s world, there is no excuse for not reaching out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it’s an old-school tactic that always brings results, or a new digital technology that allows you to track your customer’s initial evaluation of your website, or a sophisticated affiliate marketing program, there are a myriad of ways to communicate. Which ones work best for you and why?

HOW ARE YOU CREATING BRAND RELEVANCE?

Sun-Life-FinancialSun Life Financial is a fairly unknown insurance company that has been around for 144 years. They have recently launched a campaign to expand their exposure, using humor to try to build relevancy with consumers. There are some very funny ads about “the Sun Life guys,” two company advocates who are traveling the country to try to convince various people to change their names to somehow include “Sun Life.” It’s a really fun campaign that executes on some very strong branding principles: You can check out their ads here.

The campaign is creating relevancy where none existed before. Among other things, the two guys try to convince the Florida tourism board to change its name from the “Sunshine State” to the “Sun Life State” and to convince KC and the Sunshine Band to “KC and the Sun Life Band.”

Humor works well here, because insurance is boring and an unbelievably low-interest category. By aligning themselves with something totally random they are building relevancy with their audience. It doesn’t matter that they are not talking about how stable the company is or how secure their holdings are (although they do manage to weave those solid points in to the commercials in the end). Their strategy is to build awareness, and that’s what this campaign does.

There is also a social media campaign that is closely tied to the commercials which shows more places where the they have tried to convince others to alter their names. They are very consistent in the execution of this campaign, which has video, digital and print that is all reinforcing their primary strategic messages. You can check out the campaign particulars at the Get To Know Sun Life website.

Last week, I conducted a training session for their employees to inspire them to think differently about their personal brands. This is a company that is in the process of strengthening its corporate brand and felt that it is important invest in its people, to help them strengthen their personal brands. There was a wide range of titles, responsibilities and experience levels in the room, but everyone walked away thinking more clearly about how they can express their brands more fully in their jobs.

So in looking at your personal brand, how are you creating brand relevance with your desired audience? Look for ways that may, at face value, be totally random and impossible, but may in fact make strong strategic sense. Build rapport and commonalities to help further a desired relationship with a desired client.

And don’t think for a moment that if you are in a corporate staff position that you do not need to think about this! We all have clients. They may be internal clients, a boss or another department that we serve. Look to build relevancy and points of commonality in order to strethen your brand!

BEACON TREND WATCH: THE IMPORTANCE OF TRENDS

profits-1953616__340As part of a new product development project I worked on recently, we looked at current and upcoming trends to spur our imaginations and see what new product ideas could be generated with those trends in mind. In your new product development, make sure you include some trend work in your ideation session, as the combination of a few random trends could make for some really inspired new product ideas!

To spark your thinking, I am including a few trends–from American Tea Parties to American Idol, from the appeal of the latest technological toys to a yearning for simplicity–that may have implications for your industry:

Recessionary Reset

How has the shift in American spending impacted your industry? What will healthcare reform mean for you (personally and professionally)? What do you see ahead? As the media argues over a double-dip recession versus a slow return to prosperity, marketers must evaluate the permanent mindset change that has impacted consumers over the past two years—the loss of jobs that is forcing greater entrepreneurialismexploding direct selling industries, and causing the belt-tightening that has led to a struggle for middle tier brands to prove their value amidst the resurgence of private label brands, the staycation phenomenon, the rise of DIY décor, and the inconspicuous consumption of those who still have jobs and money now tiptoeing out to spend money without anyone noticing, not bringing in their designer shopping bags from the car until after dark.

Empowered Narcissism

The rise of the social media allows everyone to shine a spotlight on everyone’s favorite topic…themselves. Now that people can tweet about what they had for lunch today and blog about their opinions on the latest celebrity scandal, it means that everyone’s an expert and everyone is media (see blog post from April for more on this topic). Crowd-sourcing on-line has empowered everyone, given each person an opportunity to contribute a potential SuperBowl ad idea, speak up and let their voices be heard, from American Tea Parties to giving their rating on the latest novel at Amazon, voting on who should win American Idol, America’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars or any of the other “audience participation” shows on prime time.

Authentic Environ-mentality

Green efforts continue to build, as more Americans are gravitating to products and services that can boast environmental friendliness. However, buying green must be easy, and authenticity matters —DON’T bother to “greenwash” your product; such efforts will eventually backfire.”Buy local” is a watchword that goes along with those efforts, with many just now discovering the delights of the weekend farmer’s market.

Technological Touchpoints

Whether you are an individual consumer or a multinational retailer, technology still rules. With M-commerce on the rise as now 32% of Americans using mobil phones and mobil apps to access email, text or shop on-line, technology is changing how and when we communicate, while web-based training programs at the office and do-it-yourself scanners minimizes the need for human interaction—even at the hardware store. While some argue that today’s mobile-empowered consumers cannot communicate “properly” (meaning that they can’t carry on a conversation of more than 160 characters at a time), others will argue that technology is only enhancing how that social interaction happens, with tweet-ups and meet-ups organized on twitter.com or eharmony.com.

Take some time with each of these ideas (and many others that you can see in your own industry) and discuss how they are impacting or could impact your business moving forward. Looking at these trends slightly differently could yield a whole new stream of revenue one year, three years, even ten years down the road!

ADVERTISING WORKS

newspaper-154444__340Advertising works.

 

 

 

 

 

That’s something that not many people will dispute. The question becomes, “What should we say in our advertising?” And there are many schools of thought to answer that question.

Last August, I read a discussion about whether drug advertising should be regulated or abolished in the New York Times “Room for Debate” article (which can be read here). Marcia Angell, a senior lecturer in social medicine at Harvard Medical School was quoted, “Direct-to-consumer prescription drug advertising does exactly what it is intended to do — increase sales for drug companies. Increasingly, it does that by promoting medical conditions, as well as drugs. If the industry can convince essentially normal people that minor complaints require long-term drug treatment, its market will grow.”

Some advertising sells pain; some sells pleasure. That “pleasure” is referred to in advertising circles as the “end benefit” to the consumer. I’ve always been a positive person, so I am drawn (both as a marketer and as a consumer) to that which sells pleasure. At Miracle-Gro, we always showed the amazing results and beautiful gardens achieved with product use; with LEGO, the advertising celebrated and highlighted for kids the joy of building. I am bothered by the barrage of negativity ever put before us, as I believe pharmaceutical ads simply sell sickness. Yes, I am one of those people who push the mute button every time the TV starts talking about restless leg syndrome, prostate cancer and erectile dysfunction. I choose not to fill my head with such negative images.

I am watching, as many Americans are, our country’s struggles to deal with healthcare issues. One productive answer might lie in the same premise, that advertising works. Maybe the insurance companies should be advertising wellness—the joys of exercise, the fun of not smoking, the confidence inspired by good eating habits.

But what does this have to do with your brand and your business? Well, my question to you is, “What images are you putting top-of-mind with your consumers?”

Maybe you don’t have a multi-million dollar budget, but every company (large or small) has ways to heighten awareness of something—through an online video, a TV ad, a windshield flyer or even in a simple email communication. Everyone can bring a product/service/problem/solution to the forefront of someone’s mind in order to move them to action.

If you’d like help strategizing the best messages to keep top of mind with your customers, give us a call. We’re experts at identifying the compelling, motivating, get-them-off-the-couch end benefits so that you can highlight them in your marketing efforts. We’d love to help you.

DEATH BY IRRELEVANCE

Hummer-logo-2000x205

If you’ve been keeping up on your business and marketing news recently, you already know that the HUMMER brand is dead. General Motors has decided to retire this iconic brand. They tried to sell it to a Japanese company, but in the end, they found no takers

What happened?

The market shifted and HUMMER did not.

The funny thing is, the brand enjoys very strong recognition levels–so much so that it is number one in mass-market brand scores for the latest J.D. Power & Associates Consumer Service Index. Branding without relevance doesn’t work, as this case study clearly shows. With the seismic shifts in the global economy, the “bling bling” era came to a crashing halt in 2007 and with that, HUMMER sales plummeted (50% decline in both 2008 AND 2009-Yikes!). The age of conspicuous consumption, gone. Mix in with that America’s increasing emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions and “green marketing,” millions of people laid off from work, and it’s easy to see why it died.

The tragic thing from a marketer’s perspective is that it didn’t have to die. Those brand managers could had figured out a way to bridge the legacy that it had built up into an area where it would still have some viability and perhaps the brand could’ve survived. For several years, I was involved in the development and marketing of HUMMER vehicles, so I know the strength of the brand, one part ostentation and two parts rugged individualism. HUMMER brand managers could have leveraged that brand’s affinity into more niche markets — perhaps snowmobiles, ATVs or some other extreme sports. Who knows … maybe it will get resurrected somewhere, somehow.

To me, it’s a lesson in staying relevant. You must stay on top of consumer trends and know where your customers are going. You cannot simply rest on your laurels or you will become as irrelevant as an Edsel, a Pontiac, Oldsmobile or now, a HUMMER.

Don’t let that happen to you! If you’re looking for consumer insights or trends, let us help you! With over 25 years in building and rebuilding brands, keeping top brands on top and expanding brands into new product categories successfully, we can help you to stay relevant to today’s consumers in today’s markets.