Marketing Realities For Non-Profits

10 09 2009

Whenever we market anything, we work on the basis of certain assumptions – about the world, about our customers or clients, about the state of economy and individual preferences. All these can be summarised as ‘marketing realities’ which define the strategies we can use and those that will be the most effective. Kivi Leroux Miller examines the nonprofit sector in her article 10 Marketing Realities Nonprofits Need to Accept to Succeed. She provides a nice list with my favourites being:

  • Reality 1: Marketing is not a dirty word – Don’t think of your marketing program as a megaphone or a soap box, but as a conversation. It’s true that some communications tactics are naturally more one-way or impersonal than others, but your marketing program as a whole should include many opportunities for back and forth dialogue with your supporters.

I would add that the new 2.0 world brings many more opportunities for online conversations – use social media and other channels to engage your supporters!

  • Reality 3: You need to build your own media empire. – Don’t depend on the mainstream media to get your message out. That sector of our society has its own set of survival problems. Instead, build your own media empire using online tools.

Again, great use for social media. Nonprofits need to take advantage of building their own news feeds and online media channels because this is the easiest and fastest way to gain supporters and raise awareness of their issues.

  • Reality 7: Good nonprofit marketing takes more time than money. – Because the Internet has revolutionized communications between organizations and individuals, effective nonprofit marketing programs can be implemented for online pennies on the print dollar. Engaging supporters in conversations is more time-consuming than blasting messages out to them. Managing profiles on multiple social media sites is more time-consuming than updating your website once a month. Writing a blog with several posts per week is more time-consuming than sending out a print newsletter twice a year. While all of these tasks do take more time, they are also more effective at building a community of supporters.

A lot of the nonprofit marketing realities that Kivi presents can be used in general settings. Even though traditional marketing channels are still surviving, it is clear that web 2.0 is bringing countless new opportunities for marketing strategies. The uses of social media in marketing are substantial not only in the nonprofit sector. On the other hand, it is essential to keep in mind that even these new channels have their limitations and require time and effort to get expected results.

For more ‘marketing realities’ go check out Kivi’s post. Do you have anything to add?


Online Presence as the First Step

3 09 2009

In my recent post on how to use social media in marketing I focused on the potential that new social networking sites and channels offer both to individuals and companies in marketing their personal and professional brand in this Internet age. Many people, however, only turn to new channels as a last-resort solution when everything else fails. Keeping the current job, managing customers that you currently have or working on getting your desired book deal often simply take precedence even though a different approach with focus on online image may yield better results. This article outlines why building your online presence first may make your life easier in the long run.

UNDER30CEO recently published an interview with Christina Katz, author of Get Known Before the Book Deal. What Christina argues in her book is that aspiring authors who want to get published should work on building their “platform” first and foremost rather than sending manuscripts blindly to hundreds of publishers. In the interview, she describes platform:

Your platform communicates your expertise to others, and it works all the time so you don’t have to. Your platform includes your Web presence, any public speaking you do, the classes you teach, the media contacts you’ve established, the articles you’ve published, and any other means you currently have for making your name and your future books known to a viable readership. If others already recognize your expertise on a given topic or for a specific audience or both, then that is your platform.

This can be easily adopted to any profession or expertise. Once you “establish your name” online and build your online presence, you have a tangible piece of portfolio-like content that proves your abilities and (hopefully) already has readership and followers. In this way you can connect with people who are interested in what you have to say and pitch your ideas better. Furthermore, an outsider who has no experience working with you or your company can get a feel for what your brand stands for simply by looking at your online platform and the way you interact with your industry.

You can use your online presence as leverage when presenting yourself in all, not only Internet settings. It “gets you in the door” and can open up many possibilities.

Are you working on your online presence now? Or are you still procrastinating?

For more thoughts on how to go about it, check out another UNDER30CEO article “How to Create a Rockstar Online Presence”.

Learn To Use New Social Media in Marketing

27 08 2009

I’m currently in the process of writing a “How to use social media” guide for students which will appear on this blog as soon as it’s finished. The reason for this? Despite the recent surge in discussions and commentaries on the advantages of new social media channels, the actual implementation rates can often be very low. This is true even for the Generation Y talents and my classmates who are graduating from university and letting some of the best opportunities slip either through mismanagement or ignorance of professional uses of social networks. And they’re not the only ones.

Who should be using new social media for marketing?

  • soon-to-be  and recent grads: market yourself in a professional way in the daunting job search
  • professionals: Are you maintaining your personal brand? Are you considered an expert in your field?
  • businesses: Do your customers know what you’re doing? Are you open about your business strategies? Are you attracting new customers?
  • nonprofits: Is your charity getting enough publicity? Do people know about you? They can’t help if they don’t know you exist.

How can you use social media for marketing?

If you’re an individual, make sure your profile is complete and puts the best reflection on your professional credentials. LinkedIn is extremely useful if you’re currently job hunting – use the search options to get yourself a referral at the company or find out who the hiring manager is so you can contact them directly. Make sure your profile is in line with the personal brand you’re trying to portray (for a great article with more information see Dan Schawbel’s “How To Build Your Personal Brand on LinkedIn” at Mashable).

For companies and nonprofit organizations, LinkedIn can be a great source of professional publicity. Do you appear in the “Company Search”? Are your employees on LinkedIn and saying good things about their job? Use LinkedIn to manage your professional network and maybe attract new talents.

  • start a blog

Blogging is a great way to establish expertise. Are you following the news in your industry? What happens if you do a “vanity search” and put your name (or your organization’s name) into Google? Do you like what comes up? Do you have a strong online presence? Writing a blog allows you to control the content that appears online and is a great way to present yourself to potential employers or your customers. Blog about what your business is doing. Blog about the cause that your nonprofit is supporting. Blog about your knowledge of the industry and the skills that you’re developing. Then put your blog url on a business card and make use of this wonderful channel of marketing.

Tweeting about your company can provide you with great feedback. Use the search engines to find out who (if anybody) is talking about you. Individuals should tweet too. You can use Twitter to promote your blog posts. You can use Twitter to share interesting articles that pertain to your field and which your followers and customers could find valuable. Build your social network and strike up conversations. Make sure the content you post is useful and engage with others. Present news about your organization. Mention the seminar you’re attending to advance your career. Work on your personal or business brand in the vibrant Twitter community.

This is especially useful for businesses and other organizations. Set up a Facebook Page and post information about new products or innovations, about events and workshops that you’re holding. Allow people to connect with you and seek feedback. Gain new supporters on one of the largest social networks.

How are YOU using social media to market yourself or your organization?

Are You a Purple Cow? – marketing in the new world

23 08 2009
it’s safer to
be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things.
Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but
down, it becomes even more imperative to create things
worth talking about.

I’ve just been reading Seth Godin‘s marketing masterpiece Purple Cow. The style of the book, with short and to-the-point chapters and case studies, provides a very readable, crisp and thought-provoking account. Below are some assorted notes and favourite parts.

Seth talks about BEING REMARKABLE as the biggest, and only, marketing strategy in the modern world. Simply advertising your product is not effective anymore as your potential clients and customers have learned to ignore the majority of marketing efforts. What you need is a unique and remarkable idea.

On the easiness of this task, Seth argues:

I don’t think there’s a shortage of remarkable ideas. I think your business has plenty of great opportunities to do great things. Nope, what’s missing isn’t the ideas. It’s the will to execute them.

What Seth talks about here is the idea economy. Ideas – new and fresh – are what separates you from the competition. Only with the ideas can you market your product effectively. That’s why companies seek creative people – employees that can provide the necessary edge and “remarkable” new perspective. Thinking is important.

He continues:

It’s safer to be risky –to fortify your desire to do truly amazing things. Once you see that the old ways have nowhere to go but down, it becomes even more imperative to create things worth talking about.


Seth also concentrates on who your audience are when you come up with remarkable ideas. He stresses the “early adopters,”

who can actually benefit from using a new product and who are eager to maintain their edge over the rest of the population by seeking out new products and services.

These people are your most important group. Firstly, they may be the buyers or users of your new product. Secondly, they are the idea-leaders of the rest of the population. The majority of people are followers. They wait out the first rush and only after they’ve heard recommendations from the early adopters will they choose to engage with the new thing.

This point is especially important when you take into account the sudden sky-rocket spread of social media in recent months. If you own a business or are launching a product, you want to be able to use these. The modern word-of-mouth recommendations appear on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. Sure, face-to-face contacts are still the most powerful but imagine the reach a recommendation on Twitter can have if the individual has thousands of followers who believe his taste and credentials. And then add Re-Tweeting to the equation. The results are amazing.


How do you break into the market? Specialize!

The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market. With a niche, you can segment off a chunk of the mainstream, and create an ideavirus so focused that it overwhelms that small slice of the market that really and truly will respond to you.

You still need your great idea. But at least you’re not trying to eat the whole elephant at once.


How can you apply this strategy to a job-seeking individual?

The secret doesn’t lie in the job-seeking technique. It has to do with what these people do when they’re not looking for a job. These Purple Cows do an outrageous job. They work on high-profile projects. These people take risks, often resulting in big failures. These failures rarely lead to a dead end, though. They’re not really risks, after all. Instead, they just increase the chances that these people will get an even better project next time.

So go out and try and be unique. Build your remarkable badge. This is Seth’s advice which is still very timely. Network your way to better opportunities, get the most out of each one of them, take on extra tasks. Build your personal brand and become the Purple Cow yourself. Can you do it?

For some pointers watch Seth give a TEDTalk about standing out.