Meltdown an Opportunity for Marketing, Says UCLA Anderson’s Dominique Hanssens (Hat-tip: BNET Back to B-School Blog)Even when the economy looks bad your marketing doesn’t have to suffer, says Dominique Hanssens, Bud Knapp Professor of Marketing and the Marketing Area Chair at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. In fact, Hanssens, who recently served two years as the executive director of the Marketing Science Institute in Cambridge, Mass., and whose courses Andersen include Marketing Strategy & Planning and Research in Marketing Management, thinks a downturn is one of the best times for marketing to shine.I sat down with him recently to discuss the pressures marketing executives are under during scary economic conditions. Here’s what he said.Dann: What’s different about marketing during a recessionary period?Hanssens: The difference is the challenge on budgets, because many companies feel that marketing should be budgeted as a percentage of revenue, and therefore, if revenue does not look good because of the recession, marketing budgets are often the first to be cut. There’s a lack of understanding of the strategic value of good marketing, so if you work in the marketing function during a recession you get challenged more on your spending levels than other parts of the organization.Dann: What can a manager do to fight this off internally and get the resources he or she needs?Hanssens: The answer is to demonstrate the return on the marketing spending so that you don’t become a cost center where your budget is a percent of revenue, but rather a profit center where the allocations are seen as providing positive returns—especially in light of some recent findings that the impact of marketing can be stronger during recessions than during the good years.Dann: What final advice would you give to marketers who are finding it tough to manage in the current economic environment?Hanssens: It’s a wonderful opportunity to think through the mission of the [nonprofit] again and if [donations are] really is down, not just to chalk it all up to the recession. But think through the goals of the organization and look at all parts of the [organization], some of which are hurt more than others and ask yourself, “why?” You can get an indication of the true value being created by that part of the organization. It’s a good moment to sit down and reflect. In good times, that doesn’t happen because so much money is coming in and companies don’t challenge themselves.You don’t have to wait for the good economic times to be successful; you can be very proactive.
Things seem to be falling apart all around us and it can seem that our organizations are going to fall apart also. But, how bad is it for nonprofits? And what can be done to strengthen our fundraising programs so that we can survive and maybe even grow?Check out this archived presentation to:Understand what this current economic situation will do to your fundraising and how to take advantage of the opportunities inherent in this chaotic environmentLearn three or four things you can do immediately to raise money between now and the end of the yearKnow what are the main weaknesses of your own fundraising program and what you should do to address themAbout our speakerKim Klein is internationally known as a fundraising trainer and consultant. She is the founder of the bimonthly Grassroots Fundraising Journal. She is also the author of Fundraising for Social Change (now in its fifth edition, 2006), Fundraising for the Long Haul (2000), which explores the particular challenges of older grassroots organizations, and Ask and You Shall Receive: A Fundraising Training Program for Religious Organizations or Projects, Raise More Money (2001) which she edited with her partner, Stephanie Roth, and Fundraising in Times of Crisis (2004). Widely in demand as a speaker, Kim has provided training and consultation in all 50 states and in 21 countries.
In part one of this series, I discussed the first steps the National Women’s Law Center took when we initially received our Google Grant, and some of the challenges we faced getting started. Now, I’ll go into more detail on how we’ve maximized the use of our grant, and some of the benefits we’ve seen from it.Refining the ProcessFiguring Out What WorksOver the first few months of our grant, we continued to experiment with our ads and keywords, and to monitor how each of our campaigns was performing. Of the ten issue-based campaigns we started out with, we noticed that two of them – the ones focused on child care assistance and child support enforcement – were outperforming the others. They were maxing out their allocated daily budgets of around $30. So we directed more of our budget to those campaigns.We also held more brainstorming sessions on those issues and added new keywords that came out of those sessions. For example, when we brainstormed for additional keywords for our women and poverty campaign, we added terms like “poverty level” and “poverty line” to our existing collection of keywords (“low income women,” “poverty in america,” etc.) – and now those are getting among the highest impression counts of all our poverty-related keywords. And for our general women’s rights campaign, we added new phrases using the words “equal” and “fair” in broad match combinations we might not have thought of originally, like “women fair” and “equality women.” We’re seeing high impressions on those, too.Lo and behold, the campaigns started maxing out on their new, increased budgets. Over the next few weeks, we moved more and more of our budget into those two campaigns, as well as a few others that were also showing above-average performance. Soon, we were coming very close to using our overall daily budget of $330 every weekday. Weekends and holidays were always lower, and, much to our chagrin, Google won’t allow us to move any of our daily budget from weekends to weekdays. It’s $330 a day, every day, period. (Grr.) So we tried moving more of our budget into certain campaigns on the weekends, then moving it back on weekdays – and that helped, too.Making the Most of the News CycleIn September 2008, NWLC launched a voter education microsite that included a register-to-vote widget, and we started running Google ads on keywords like “register to vote.” Visitors who clicked on the ads were encouraged to complete the voter registration form on our site, sign our Pledge to Vote form, and check out our educational resources on women and voting.Surprise, surprise, a lot of people were searching on keywords like “register to vote” in September and October, and we got our highest numbers yet. So we moved a lot of our budget into those adsDuring the pre-election season, this was the ad that performed best for us:Now that the election is over, we’ve moved most of our budget back to our standard programmatic ad campaigns. But we’re continuing to add new campaigns when our issues are in the news. For example, when NWLC’s Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights, Judy Waxman, was interviewed on MSNBC in a story about the failings of the individual health insurance market when it comes to women, we ran special ads on keywords we thought people might search for after watching the piece.Back to BasicsWe’re still keeping a close eye on the performance of our campaigns, and experimenting with new topics, ads, and keywords.These are our best-performing “evergreen” ads – the ones that aren’t tied to a specific timely topic:(A note on that last one – yes, we do run ads using our organization’s name, and its common misspellings, as keywords. Although sadly our unabbreviated name is too long to fit the 25-character limit on ad headlines.)The PayoffIn October, at the height of the election season, we managed to go over our Google Grants budget, spending $10,212 and earning a click-through rate of 6.43% and a conversion rate of 2.10%. By November, when things had gotten back down to semi-normal, we spent $9,108.57 and had a CTR was 2.17% and a conversion rate of 4.40%.Other BenefitsWe’ve been pleasantly surprised by the additional, less quantifiable uses we’re finding for our Google Grant. For example, NWLC’s website is undergoing a redesign, but right now, our site isn’t very well optimized for search engines. However, our Google ads offer us a way around that. People who are searching for issues that we work on might not find our website in their first page of organic search results, but they may well see one of our Google ads. Then, they might click through, sign up to join our e-mail list, and spend time exploring our site, using our resources, and getting to know the organization. They might even make a donation or two.We’ve also found that the ads are a great way to test new messaging. We’ll create three or more ad variations for each campaign, and Google will tell us which version got the most clicks. These results can help us determine what messaging to use in our other communications. For example, we discovered early on that “Find out if your birth control is covered by your insurance” generated more clicks than “Does your health insurance plan include contraception?”Looking AheadWhen we were first starting out, our goal was to use as much of our budget as we could. Now, our goal is to increase our conversions – the number of people who click on an ad and then sign up to join our e-mail list, or download a free resource, or take another action. We’re paying close attention to how we set up our landing pages, conscious of the fact that people searching for information on low-income families in the United States might have different expectations from our website than people searching for information on the history of NWLC.We’ll keep refining our ads and keywords, and we’ll keep following the latest news and tips from the Google Grants blog. And we’ll keep trying new things and seeing what works. Without a doubt, that’s the best advice I can give to anyone working with Google Grants – experiment, experiment, experiment. Source: frogloop, care2’s nonprofit communications and marketing blog – http://www.frogloop.com/care2blog/
Michael Hoffman of See3 did a great training for us on this topic! You can listen or read the transcript here.
People are conformists. They do what they think other people are doing. This is the basis of social norms theory and plenty of effective marketing.What does this mean to you if you’re marketing greener behavior?Don’t tell people to save the planet. Show them what their neighbors are doing if you want them to think about their behavior.There’s a great analysis of a study that did just this at NeuroMarketing blog.The study found if people think their neighbors are using less electricity, they lower their usage. If they think they are using more, they may increase their usage.One of the smartest minds on marketing in the world and an expert on social norms theory, Robert Cialdini, calls this phenomenon the magic middle in his new book Yes. If you’re marketing greener behavior, keep this in mind. If you’re marketing anything, keep this in mind. The magnetic middle works for raising money, too.
That’s the 25 million dollar question, especially for an advocacy group like Amnesty International USA (AIUSA). We’re the nonprofit group that protects people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Talk about a broad mission.It’s no surprise then that when I first joined AIUSA as the Managing Director of Internet Communications, we were sending out 2, 3 or more emails PER DAY. Yes, we segmented, but trying to build suppressions, queries and code emails to send 2 to 3 emails per day was a nightmare and not always effective. The online team at that time was primarily seen as a group of glorified tech-monkeys who would take copy and email it to our list. The quality varied from downright embarrassing to just OK, but still really wonky and dry.I knew immediately a couple things needed to change: 1) the online team needed to be key decision makers on email; 2) our volume had to decrease; 3) the quality of the writing had to improve.Because we had the keys to the tool that actually sent the messages, I began acting like we had the authority to do things differently. The first thing I did was rewrite email copy sent to the online team, and I asked the other online staff to do the same. Programs didn’t like us rewriting their copy, but I was persistent, and told them that we knew how best to write emails meant to mobilize online supporters. Our writing at the time primarily focused on having great hooks that were timely, and focusing on individual stories that could humanize our issues. It probably took a year before other departments got comfortable with our expanded role.To address our email volume, I first measured how many emails our average subscribe received and compared it to other advocacy groups. We were at the very high end, sending most subscribers between 19 to 25 emails a month. Yikes!I used this comparison, along with some research from M+R that showed reduced email volume improved response rates. Admittedly, the research wasn’t so cut and dry, but it was enough to make a case.Then I put together a set of email guidelines that gave allotments out to the staff in charge of: fundraising (usually 2x a month), priority campaigns (up to 8x month), and non-priority programs (up to 4x a month). There were a few other emails that could get on the calendar (event invites, registrations) too.This approach forced the individual programs and campaigns teams to go lobby their supervisor, not the online team. I remember when we proposed the new structure for email communications, there were all sorts of predictions about how we’d no longer be able to do our work, that our campaigns would fail, and the world would probably end.A year into it, we found that most of the objections were exaggerated. However, there were some important emails that these guidelines didn’t allow, like sending super targeted actions to key targets during key moments, or thanking people after we achieved something. So we adjusted and loosened the guidelines to allows for these important types of emails.18 MONTHS LATER:Our first set of guidelines were probably more like a sledgehammer than a scalpel, but they were critical to changing the organization’s inaccurate view that high volume, low quality was an OK way to use this scarce resource. We’re now about to release our third iteration guidelines and these are much more strategic.Ben Brandzel, formerly with MoveOn, Avaaz and the Edwards campaign, conducted a 5 hour training with us on what makes a great email. The gist is that email really is only effective when you can clearly articulate a crisis, an opportunity (crisitunity), and a theory of change (how taking action now will resolve the crisitunity).Some examples of crisitunity and theory of change:Good crisitunity: Monks are being killed in Burma
A good one! If there is one thing nonprofits need to do more, it is telling stories. Storytelling should be the way we communicate our mission, win support and show impact. Storytelling is how we learned 70% of what we know in this world. Yet most written materials, websites, appeals, grant proposals and presentations are devoid of good stories. We need to fix this.If you’re seeking some guidance on why storytelling matters and some inspiration for crafting great stories, a good starting point is a new book by Michael Margolis, “Believe Me: Why Your Vision, Brand and Leadership Need a Bigger Story.” This short yet valuable manifesto describes why we personally seek stories – and how that need translates into a broader mandate for story as the key tool to organizational vision and change. The book is not a how-to guide but rather meant as a call to action. Margolis is trying to get us to change how we communicate rather than telling us how to do it. He intersperses his book with quotes that eloquently make his points:The ability to see our lives as stories rather than unrelated, random events increases the possibility for significant and purposeful action” — Daniel Taylor, Author of Tell Me a Story.If you’re looking for this kind of inspiration, you can get a free sample of the book here. If you choose to buy it on that site, use the code 7Z8WDVU3 and you’ll get 15% off. (Thanks, Michael!)If that’s not enough to get you thinking of your stories, remember what Maya Angelou said:There is no greater burden than carrying an untold story.
Just a few minutes ago, the Case Foundation, Causes and PARADE kicked off the 2009 America’s Giving Challenge, a 30-day, national online competition that enables people to leverage their online and offline personal networks to build communities (“causes”) that raise money and recruit support for a nonprofit. These causes will compete to win cash awards, funded by the Case Foundation, that will total $170,000. There will be daily and overall awards for the top fundraisers. America’s Giving Challenge will be hosted by Causes through its application on Facebook. In addition, PARADE Publications will help launch the Challenge with cover story about the importance of giving by actor Matt Damon.As a partner of the Case Foundation and Causes, Network for Good (where I work) is the processing donations for the challenge.So I’m biased. But I like these challenges, and I’ll tell you why. In my experience with last year’s challenge and similar efforts at our site Six Degrees, I find they are worth your time because they provide:1. A good reason to experiment with social networking. It’s easier to sell an online experiment internally when there are matching grants and exposure at stake. If you’ve been encountering internal resistance to social networking, this may be something that gets naysayers more interested.2. Something measurable. By nature this kind of campaign is well-defined in scope with clear goals and measures of success. Those all happen to be key components of strong online initiatives.3. A way to harness the power of your supporters. Your biggest fans will enjoy a new way to champion your cause – spreading the word on social networks so you can win matching grants. Put your message in the hands of your best messengers – the people who love your cause and quite naturally enjoy recruiting others to it.4. A strong reason to give. I always say you need to answer four questions to get people to give money: why me? what for? why now? and who says? This kind of campaign answers all four well. You are proving relevance (why me) by putting your appeal in the hands of champions spreading the word among friends and family on Facebook. You’re answering what for and why now with the matching gift — donors dollars can go further if enough people give. This kind of campaign provides a great sense of urgency. And most powerfully, it answers who says — by asking your supporters to ask their friends for help, you gain powerful and persuasive third-party endorsement.So consider doing it – especially if you have staff, volunteers or supporters who are wildly enthusiastic about this kind of thing, which does take energy. From now until November 6 at 3:00 p.m. EST, participants will have the opportunity to compete for daily and overall awards – ranging from $500 to $50,000 – based on the number of donations to their cause using the Causes application on Facebook. Nonprofit organizations and individuals who wish to participate in the Challenge can get involved in one of two ways:1. Champion a cause – Individuals can become “cause champions,” individuals who are passionate about a specific cause and will compete to obtain the most donations for their cause through the Causes application on Facebook.2. Promote, donate or join a cause – all individuals are encouraged to take part in America’s Giving Challenge by joining, promoting and donating to the causes they care about. Facebook membership is not required to donate to a Giving Challenge cause.If you do give it a try, here are some tips:1. The more personal the messaging, the better.2. Donate yourself. It’s not inspiring to see zero donations on a cause when you’re asking others to give.3. Post links everywhere – on your site, blog, email signature, etc.4. Send a link to alll the people you know on Facebook and in your email address book.5. Ask others with a following to help. Go to technorati.com and search for blogs that are focused on your issue. Tell bloggers about your campaign and ask them to post on your efforts. They have a circle of active readers who are likely to care about your cause. Talk to Facebook groups that support your cause. Keep widening your circle of influence by co-opting those with their own followings.6. UPDATE: Don’t forget to focus on the people, not the money. It’s about relationships at the end of the day. More on this from Joe at Causes.More tips and training are here.Finally, here is some parting inspiration from last year’s winner – who proves offline tactics help, too:“Winning America’s Giving Challenge  has energized the staff, the board, and thousands of members and friends of Engineers Without Borders – USA. The Giving Challenge inspired so many people to give – from the student members who handed out flyers in their college towns telling people how to make a donation online to the board members and staff who e-blasted their entire address books – all in just 9 days from when we first read about the Challenge in Parade Magazine.”-Heidi Dormody, Director of Development for EWB-USA, which raised $67,867 from 2,979 unique donors.Good luck!