And the winner of the haiku challenge is…Lorraine. Not only is she good, she’s prolific. I loved them all, but she takes the cake (book, actually). Here’s my favorite from her body of work:Old Marketing HaikuSuch a big, loud adCosts your client a fortuneWith no ROI.New Marketing HaikuWant to sell your stuff?Stop shouting at your buyers.Try conversation.Lorraine, email me your address for your free copy of Robin Hood Marketing!
You have less than eight seconds to create an impression on your visitor when visiting your website. Be very selective when it comes time to choose the web firm for your website design. Here are ten guidelines and pointers to help you choose the right designers:1. Do they have a portfolio? Make sure they have some experience under their belts and unless you want to be a designer’s test subject, make sure they have some experience behind them.2. Can they cater to any type of business? Look through the portfolio for variety. Do their client’s websites all look similar in format and structure? Make sure you are paying for a custom web design service, not a cheap template.3. How is their response time? This is vital to the success of your website. Take note of their choice of response (e-mail, phone, fax, instant messenger, chat) and how quickly they can respond to your inquiries. If you prefer to do business over the phone and the designer doesn’t, then it’s probably best to move on to your next choice.4. Do they have a contract? If it’s not written – it’s not true. Everything should always be put down in writing. Before you sign anything, make sure you read the entire contract, including all the fine print. If you have any questions on anything: ASK! Don’t sign a contract unless you understand everything in it. If the company’s representative makes you feel awkward or uncomfortable with your “bothersome” questions, then end discussions and find another designer.5. How reasonable are their prices? Make sure you get what you pay for and if you are on a budget, that the designer you choose won’t exceed it. But it is also important to insure you put plan for extras and have a plan to continually invest into the website’s construction. Your website is going to the link between you and your customers, so make sure it is the best it can be. Nowadays, you can find websites for $500, or “package deals” that will “save” you money. You’ll soon find that these kinds of deals are like going to McDonald’s when you should be going to the grocery’s healthy foods section.If you can’t afford for everything you feel your website should have then settle for a smaller website and create it in stages. Don’t settle for a cheaper designer. You get what you pay for.6. Can they help you market your website? Online marketing is key to your website’s success It is best to find a designer that knows how to promote the sites they work on whether it be through search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, viral marketing or another method. Ask your design firm what they feel is best for your company. You should feel comfortable in their explanation and reasoning, otherwise ask some other firms what they’d recommend.7. Are their clients satisfied? Can you find client testimonials on the site? Don’t hesitate to contact their clients to ask for opinions and get their feedback on how their service with that company went. It’s your money after all. It’s better to spend 15 minutes on the phone than months of hassle and pain with the wrong developer.8. Are they able to meet all your needs? Do you want an e-commerce store, Flash elements or a custom web application? Can they do everything you want? The last thing you want is different companies meddling with your website’s design. Choose a firm that has the full corporate solution for your needs – whether it’s Flash intros or database-driven websites.9. Can they deliver on time?Are they willing to meet reasonable deadlines? If you need your site done by a certain date, can the designer you choose get it done by then? Be sure to ask about delivery times when you’re on Step #7.10. Do they take a personal and friendly approach? Is the designer willing to help and suggest his/her own ideas, or do they robotically go along hoping they got everything you want? It’s always best to find a designer that has some ideas of their own, with fresh ideas and that knows their limits and won’t insist something be done a certain way if that’s not what you want.
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
Social media makes it easy to connect and be heard online in real time. But with all this freedom of speech and expression on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others, there’s one question that’s probably crossed your mind (or the minds of your Board members):“Why risk going on social networks when people might say bad things about us?”What if people embarrass your organization?What if they point out your flaws?How can you maintain your e-reputation without yanking the social-networking rug out from under these vocal online talkers (i.e. removing your organization from the online space entirely)?Learn how to be both pro-active and reactive to the conversations taking place all around you and your nonprofit. Here are five ways to keep your brand breathing even if a social media debacle strikes your organization:Be Listening for It: Be sure you have Google Alerts set up to monitor what people are saying about your organization online. Keep tabs on Twitter (via Tweetbeep, for example) and YouTube. When You Find Something Dreaded, Assess Who Is Saying It and Who Is Listening. Is this one crazy person with no audience? You may want to wait and watch. Or is it someone who talks to people in your audience? Even one noisy person can be a problem if they have or can rapidly build a following with people who matter to you. Or if the traditional media picks up on their diatribe. I generally err on the side of judging someone worth responding to rather than ignoring them. Act Fast on the Spot Where It Started: If you need to respond, do it now, IN THE VENUE where the situation started. Slow reactions are bad reactions. Things move at light speed on web 2.0 and you don’t want something to spiral out of control before you get in a response. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers or every piece of needed information – just be TRANSPARENT about it. “I’m really concerned with this and looking into it” is better than radio silence. “I’m concerned our staff said that to you and am finding out what happened so I can give you the response you deserve” is better than nothing. By responding to a Tweet on Twitter, you ensure rapid communication as well as achieve the potential to keep the controversy within the community in question.Be Honest, Transparent, Friendly and Non-defensive: This is key. If there is misinformation out there, correct it in a helpful, non-combative way. Network for Good’s own crisis communications plan (hope you have one, too) sets out the following principles if we’ve made a mistake:– Be sincerely and profusely apologetic if we’ve done wrong.– Take responsibility.– Err on the side of open, frequent communication.– Be absolutely honest.– Ensure what we way is accurate – if we’re not sure, say we’re not sure.– Do all we can to fix problems and mitigate harm.– Say what we’re doing to ensure it doesn’t happen again.Remember It Is a Conversation: This isn’t a monologue by the critic or by you nor (hopefully) is it a war-it’s a conversation. When you respond, be open to reactions and answer questions. You can’t post one response and call it a day, you need to keep tabs on the situation and participate in the ongoing conversation.
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!