Did you hear the news? Co-Communications won ‘Best in Show’ at last week’s PRSA Mercury Awards for its Graduate!CT inbound marketing campaign. During the 6-month campaign, Co-Communications increased Graduate!CT’s website traffic by 400% and generated more than 200 new leads.
Co-Communications also took home nine Mercury Awards for media relations campaigns, integrated marketing programs, event publicity, research, advocacy and inbound marketing.
Earlier in June, Co-Communications received nine ‘Big W’ awards at the Advertising Club of Westchester’s ‘Big W’ Gala. Among the work recognized were public relations programs, advertising campaigns and websites created on behalf of nonprofit and for-profit clients. The Co-Communications team also received two Big W awards for the agency’s re-branding.
On the heels of yesterday’s 13th annual CT Business Expo, many Connecticut small businesses are sifting through an endless amount of business cards, collateral materials and premium products collected across the show floor. While it may be tempting to file one’s loot in a ‘to be dealt with later pile’, to temporarily leave it packed away with one’s tradeshow display or simply gloss over it in favor of a power nap, lost time = lost opportunity. It’s time to tackle that tradeshow follow-up.
Sort your leads. If you made notes on business cards or collected data intake sheets, start by sorting through the pile and culling out the folks who asked for additional information, a follow-up phone call or to schedule a meeting. Craft personalized emails and leave tailored voicemails for those folks before the close of business today. Afterall, Monday will be three full days after the tradeshow and a time when many exhibitors and attendees will get to tackle their own follow-up lists. Remember, the early bird gets the worm!
Debrief with your tradeshow team. Whether it was your first time exhibiting or your thriteenth consecutive trip to the show, there are lessons to be learned from the experience. What went well? What feedback did you receive on your booth / premium products / educational seminar? What did you admire about other exhibitors / presenters? Synthesize this information into a short memo for team-wide distribution and identify any immediate action steps as well as important reminders and action steps for future trade shows.
Strengthen new connections. If you had a great conversation with a fellow-exhibitor, met a job seeker who could potentially make a great addition to your team, or finally connected with a member of the business community who you have been eager to meet, consider sending them a personalized LinkedIn invitation or sending a ‘nice to meet you’ tweet. Be mindful of the volume of folks who exhibited at and attended the tradeshow and deliver a message that is targeted and timely. For example, if you met a printer with unique capabilities and discussed a potential project, make note of it in your message. In a sea of thousands, it can be challenging to remember the face and name of every single person who you connected with during the show.
Effective tradeshow marketing requires a strategic blend of pre-show, during-show and post-show marketing. A great booth and great conversations with attendees are strong first steps to generating tradeshow ROI but follow-up is key to optimizing the return on your tradeshow experience.
Limited staff. Tight budgets. Awareness gaps. These are a few of the challenges facing nonprofits in 2013. The question is, how does an organization combat these challenges while growing support for its cause? Just ask Bernard Kavaler of Express Strategies, Rich Hollant of co:lab and Greg Latz of The Village Ride, presenters at Connecticut Valley PRSA’s May 2nd workshop ‘Growing Support for Your Nonprofit.’
When working to build community, increase awareness and heighten support for a cause, the presenters offered the following insights:
- Everyone knows someone. Whether it is the cat sitter or the dentist, everyone knows someone who is passionate about your cause. For Greg, this meant finding cyclists, as well as friends, colleagues and clients of cyclists, to participate in The Village Ride. Tap into your network to uncover connections that can help advance your cause.
- Give people more of what they are looking for. If your most widely attended event of the year is always in Fairfield County, keep it in Fairfield County. Further, look for other opportunities to engage those attendees. If you secure most of your organization’s donations through email marketing, keep up the e-blasts. Simple enough, right?
- Ask yourself, ‘what do people really need to know?’ What matters most to internal audiences may differ significantly from external audiences. Know your audiences, what triggers them to take action and how best to reach them with the information they value most.
- There is power in putting yourself in other people’s shoes. To accurately define your organization’s audience persona(s), you need to put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Combine with tip three for optimal success.
- Align your nonprofit with other organizations that have similar missions and core values. Strategic partnerships, be they between nonprofits and for-profits or between multiple nonprofits, can help broaden an organization’s reach and expand its bandwidth. Think about the benefits the organizations can offer one-another and the best way for everyone involved to reap the rewards.
- Treat budgetary confinements as a blessing, not a barrier. While it can be frustrating and challenging to work within a tight budget, it forces organizations to be selective with the communication channels they use and community building tactics they employ. Brainstorm creative strategies for achieving your organization’s goals that deliver maximum ROI with a reasonable financial investment.
For more tips on building a hardworking nonprofit communications strategy and effective community-building campaign, check out my previous post from Growing Support for Your Nonprofit for six additional nonprofit marketing tips.
Considering expanding your social media marketing program to help grow support for your nonprofit? Download our free nonprofit social media toolkit today.
As nonprofit marketers, we are often tasked with increasing support for a cause. Whether a nonprofit is looking for more donors or to better engage its volunteers, talking to the right people, in the right place, at the right time, and delivering the right message are all paramount to one’s success.
This morning’s PRSA-CVC workshop, Growing Support for Your Nonprofit, explored how to leverage branding, grassroots marketing and strategic communications to enhance the effectiveness of nonprofit outreach and community-building efforts. Panelists Bernard Kavaler of Express Strategies, Rich Hollant of co:lab and Greg Latz of The Village Ride shared first-hand experiences helping nonprofits raise awareness and move the needle. Among the presenters’ tips for successful nonprofit marketing and community-building campaigns:
- Stand out in unexpected places. To quote Bernard, “people who drive also eat”, suggesting that an auto dealer may get more attention for an ad in the food section than the automotive section where readers would expect to find it.
- Put a few things on your menu and cook them well. A lesson from Greg, a la chef Gordon Ramsey, focus on a few well-executed marketing tactics and guiding strategies rather than trying to be everywhere and talk to everyone.
- Embrace repackaging. The proliferation of communication channels has increased the need for content. Turn a great piece of media coverage into an e-blast and extract some highlights to share on your social media channels.
- Connect with funders year-round. It is a lot easier to ask for a donation, be it in-kind or funds, when you have maintained a relationship with the contact between asks. Form and sustain a reciprocal relationship for the best results.
- Address the mess. If your nonprofit’s brand is outdated or your messaging is disjointed, acknowledge the disconnect and take steps to correct it. Without a strong brand foundation and consistent messaging, it is difficult to build support for a cause.
- Differentiate between what your organization is working on and what it is working towards. While the things an organization is doing may help bring it closer to achieving its end goal(s), what a nonprofit does and what a nonprofit is working towards are not the same things. Each warrants a dedicated strategy and focused attention.
With limited budgets and diverse audiences to reach, nonprofits need to be strategic in their allocation of resources and realistic about their bandwidth for execution of tactics. Visit our blog next Wednesday for more highlights from Growing Support for Your Nonprofit.
Interested in forming a strategic nonprofit, for-profit partnership to help grow support for your cause? Download our free Win-Win Playbook today.
Event season has arrived. From galas and golf tournaments to tradeshows and networking events, nonprofits and businesses alike are working to fit in the last couple of events before summer arrives. With an unending stream of similar events competing for attendees, differentiating one’s event(s) from the pack is vitally important.
In a world where information is shared in real-time, event invitations can easily become lost in a sea of emails, posts and tweets. From the email’s subject line to the design of the physical invitation, everything needs to be on-point. Make your e-vites stand out by including multimedia components, such as a short clip of a featured speaker or video highlights from last year’s event.
Within the invitation – be it print or online – clearly outline the benefits of attending and/or supporting the cause. This message should answer the question ‘what’s in it for me’ (the attendee) while clearly demonstrating the event’s uvp(s).
Offer unique experiences
Leverage shared experiences to help build community among prospective attendees. What ‘one time only’ event can attendees be part of? Is there a way to offer an experience that cannot otherwise be bought? Think backstage passes and the like.
While someone may have the option to attend twenty golf tournaments, all tournaments are not equal. When planning the event, identify what makes it unique, why people would want to attend your tournament over another tournament and how to best convey these unique opportunities through invitations, social media marketing and media relations efforts.
Lastly, evaluate how the experience can be used to expand the attendee’s relationship with the host organization. Is there an opportunity to sell tickets for the following year’s event? Should a handful of attendees be asked to join the organization’s board?
Add a charitable twist
Partnerships between non-profits and for-profits can provide lasting value to both organizations. Among the keys to building and sustaining successful partnerships are relevancy and reciprocity.
When identifying a nonprofit benefactor for an upcoming event, consider how the nonprofit ties in with the company/brand. For example, was a colleague helped by the organization? Does the nonprofit embody the business’ core values? Is it a fellow organization in the same community? Was the organization chosen in response to a timely event? Each of these tie-ins can be leveraged to build a strong hook that drives event attendance and garners media attention. For more information on structuring win-win partnerships, download our free playbook.
When planning and marketing events, businesses and nonprofits need to mindful of other similar events taking place in their community and identify opportunities to make their event(s) stand out. From the save the date to the post-event thank you note, all communications need to be consistent, compelling and relevant to the target audience(s).
Our agency often engages with nonprofits after a new strategic plan for the organization has been put in place. With growth objectives, team roles and responsibilities, and the most up-to-date mission clearly defined, nonprofits are ready for a marketing communications plan that supports their larger organizational goals.
How does the process work?
Similar to the process of creating a nonprofit’s strategic plan, there is a discovery period where past plans and activities are reviewed, and effectiveness, evaluated. This provides a baseline for building the new marketing communications plan. Additionally, key stakeholder insights are collected, as appropriate. The goal is to aggregate data that can inform the communication strategies and tactics that may be included in the plan.
Why does a nonprofit need a strategic marketing communications plan when a strategic plan is already in place?
While marketing and communications can play a significant role in helping a nonprofit to achieve its organizational goals, one doesn’t want to put all of their eggs in one basket. Take development goals, for example. Clear, concise and compelling communications play an important role in securing donations, be they funds, goods or services. However, the development program’s success will be limited if only one communication channel is implemented and/or a member of the nonprofit’s staff or board isn’t cultivating and sustaining individual relationships.
The strategies and tactics included in a nonprofit communications plan can help to achieve objectives, such as:
- Increasing event attendance
- Establishing consistent touchpoints with individual donors and key funders
- Garnering media coverage for organizational milestones and other significant accomplishments
- Engaging new and different audiences
- Furthering understanding of an organization’s mission and community impact
While marketing and communications can take a guiding or supporting role in achieving these objectives, they are best integrated with other strategies and tactics to help achieve the organization’s goals.
Who executes the plan?
The beauty of a carefully crafted strategic nonprofit communications plan is that it can be executed in whatever way best suits the organization. Depending on the size and in-house resources of the organization, some nonprofits opt to execute their plan internally while others outsource execution. In some instances, a nonprofit may opt for a hybrid solution that leverages internal and external resources.
The keys to ensuring effective execution of the plan are:
- Ensuring everyone executing the plan (from staff to Board Members) has bought-in to the plan
- Ensuring all key players have a common understanding of the objectives, strategies and tactics
- Assigning deadlines to key deliverables
- Setting benchmarks for evaluating and tweaking the plan
How does one measure the success of two unique plans?
Success metrics are unique to each and every nonprofit. A 15% increase in donations may be overwhelmingly positive for a small community-driven organization, while a larger, regional nonprofit may reap limited rewards from this level of growth. An organization whose target audiences are active social media users may grow its community of supporters exponentially through a creative online campaign, while a nonprofit that deals with sensitive populations and has a niche offline audience of supporters may find a campaign of this nature had no impact on its bottom line.
Just as the communication strategies and tactics included in a nonprofit communications plan are unique to the organization, so are the metrics for quantifying success. To ensure consistency with the nonprofit’s strategic plan, the role marketing and communications will play in helping achieve these larger objectives should be evaluated carefully and the success metrics, defined appropriately.
A marketing communications plan can be a tremendous asset to a nonprofit but requires an ongoing commitment to execution and evaluation. When embarking upon the process of creating a strategic nonprofit communications plan, evaluate how the recommendations will support the organization’s overall goals and what internal resources are available to support execution. While an ambitious plan can help team members to envision the future and provide exciting goals to work towards, the depth and breadth of the plan needs to align with the bandwidth and resources available to support its execution.
Gone are the days when social media marketing tools were best suited for consumer brands. Law firms, auditors, insurance companies and countless other businesses are using social media to help achieve strategic business goals and generate ROI. Among the industries benefitting from the growth and diversification of social media is healthcare. Whether it is a primary care practice with a few physicians or a multi-discipline medical complex, social media can help to attract new patients, enhance the patient experience for current clients and share expertise that positions practitioners as go-to sources for media.
Studies from PwC Health Research Institute (2012), Pew Internet & American Life Project (2012), and Mayo Clinic (2012) show consumers are using social media to find doctors and share positive experiences:
- One-third of U.S.consumers are using YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to find medical information, research and share their symptoms, and offer opinions about doctors, treatments, drugs, and health plans
- 44% of patients are willing to share a positive experience at a medical facility…42% are willing to share it about a specific doctor or provider
- One in two adults use their smartphone to look-up health information…19% have at least one health app on their phone.
With consumers demonstrating an appetite for receiving and sharing medical information via social channels, how can doctors, hospitals and medical practices leverage these communication channels to demonstrate ROI?
Facebook as a medical marketing tool
With 44% of patients willing to share a positive experience at a doctor’s office or hospital via social media, there is a significant opportunity to collect positive reviews and word-of-mouse ‘endorsements’ through Facebook. While patient-generated content will help to engage the community, practices still need a strategy to ensure a consistent stream of self-generated content.
To ensure the content appeals to a wide audience, it is important to incorporate information about the practice, demonstrate practitioners’ expertise and highlight third party information (e.g. news stories, studies, etc.). To highlight all practitioners’ expertise while maintaining a consistent brand voice, designate a point-person to maintain the Facebook page and standardize tone, language, etc.
Twitter as a patient engagement and recruitment tool
Twitter’s 140-character limit lends itself to succinct factoids, statistics and statements. It is also an ideal tool for asking questions of patients and prospective patients – What do you value most in a doctor? Why are you a patient of XYZ practice? The answers you receive to these questions can serve as fodder for future Facebook updates and blog posts.
Trends and statistics are two additional forms of Twitter-friendly content. Is the rate of flu outbreak on the decline? Are more patients booking appointments via the web? This is important data to share with followers and can help impact how patients interact with the practice and/or practitioners.
YouTube as a patient-practitioner relationship-building tool
Effective and engaging videos focus around a central character or small group of characters and drive home a consistent and compelling message. The explosive growth of smartphone usage has made it easy to shoot videos on-the-go, be it a :30 second clip from the ribbon cutting at your newest facility or a :15 second interview with an award-winning doctor in the practice. Be sure to tag videos appropriately when uploading to YouTube or other video sharing sites to maximize search value for the content. To increase reach, embed videos in news releases, e-blasts and other electronic communications to patients and affiliated practices/practitioners.
Blogs as a success-story sharing tool
Blogs afford hospitals, doctors and medical practices an opportunity to highlight patient success stories in a longer format. An on-site blog is also the single best social marketing opportunity to enhance the organic search rankings for your website. Leverage the blog as a tool to:
- Provide a local perspective on national health trends
- Showcase patient success stories, as appropriate
- Share tips for everything from avoiding the common cold to safely increasing physical activity after surgery
- Highlight how a hospital or practice is leveraging technology to improve the patient experience
Blogs are also an opportunity to showcase how hospitals, medical practices and/or doctors provide patients with a unique and superior treatment experience. When describing these attributes, be sure to include keywords and phrases that prospective patients may be looking for when choosing a new doctor.
Integrating social communication channels with existing patient communications, media relations and community relations efforts is critical to ensuring consistent messaging and a broad reach. To ensure the success of both individual channels and the integrated marketing program, internal and/or external marketing communications teams must be staffed with a broad range of expertise – ranging from the person who understands medicine to the social media savvy – and work cohesively to execute a ROI-focused strategy.
Considering social media to expand the marketing reach of your hospital or medical practice? Download our social media toolkit to get started today!
For those unable to attend SXSW in person, social media has proven a powerful tool for keeping in-the-loop on the latest news and trends. Whether it is live tweets from sessions or Instagram photos from the exhibit halls, social media users were able to experience (at least a portion of) the SXSW events online.
For businesses, sharing highlights from a tradeshow, professional development workshop or press conference via social media can help to enhance relationships with existing and prospective clients. Something as simple as tweeting 'Learning about what the Affordable Care Act means for businesses with less than 50 employees' can let key audiences know that you are up on the latest rules and regulations, and committed to working with businesses of that size.
Here are four event-related opportunities to share key information with constituents via social media:
Professional Development Workshops & Conferences
Are you attending an industry-specific tradeshow? Exhibiting at a small business expo and attending a handful of professional development workshops? Before heading out to the event, take a look at the sessions you will be attending and create a list of key topics that matter to your target audiences. For example, if you are a manufacturer attending a workshop on the costs of outsourcing production overseas, your clients may be interested in the pros, the cons and examples of companies who have been successful with this approach. Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and a blog are all avenues through which you can share this content. Depending on the volume of content and its relevancy to various audiences, one conference may yield a series of blog posts that span the course of a month. These posts can be cross-promoted via other social networks to increase exposure.
Is the Governor announcing his biennial budget? Will the mayor be announcing a new business moving in to a key area of the community? Before attending an event - or publishing a related social media update - think about what this news means for your business, prospects and clients. If the press conference will include highly detailed information on which you must focus intently, consider taking notes - either manually or electronically - and synthesizing them in an e-blast or blog post. This will allow target audiences to obtain key information and commentary that explains the associated costs and benefits.
While one would likely opt against live tweeting every individual or company that is honored, awards ceremonies often feature a keynote speaker whose address may warrant a handful of tweets or a post-ceremony blog post. There may also be an opportunity to craft a blog post about industry trends using the award-winners' work as supporting points.
Are you noticing new small business trends as you walk through a tradeshow floor? Are other businesses focusing on information that impacts your customers within their booths? This is key data worthy or one or two social media marketing updates.
Given the geographic reach of many tradeshows, there are often folks with an interest in what is being displayed and discussed who aren't in the room. Leverage this as an opportunity to strengthen relationships with these folks by serving as a conduit to the information they are interested in receiving. In advance of the tradeshow, post that you/your company/your colleague will be in attendance and ask current and prospective clients what information they are looking for from the show. Share live updates from the tradeshow, if possible, and follow-up with post-event summaries as well - i.e. Five data security trends from XYZ tech expo. Package the trends within the context of the benefits and consequences each could have for your target audience to demonstrate your company's awareness and understanding of key industry topics.
While it is easy to get wrapped-up in preparing for a tradeshow or soaking in all of the knowledge imparted upon you during a professional development seminar, think about how you can harness your business event experiences to benefit clients and prospects. Translating one's event experiences into social media marketing content that brings value to target audiences is an opportunity to differentiate oneself and their company from the competition while enhancing organic SEO.
In a world where using social media to communicate with target audiences can easily dominate the conversation, email communications are commanding less attention. Rarely do I hear friends and peers raving about the amazing e-newsletter they received from their nonprofit of choice. Instead, I hear about motivational YouTube videos, inspiring Pinterest boards, heartbreaking/heartwarming Facebook photos and captivating tweets.
While social media has proven an effective communication tool for many nonprofits, it is important to remember that not all audiences are engaging with your organization through social communication channels. Most nonprofits still have constituents who prefer a hardcopy newsletter be mailed to them.
As organizations devote additional resources to building a robust and engaging social media presence, it is important to find ways to leverage social media content - and community input - to enhance other nonprofit communications. For example, the e-newsletter. Here are four ways to make your nonprofit's e-newsletter more social:Add a section for social snippets
Just because your organization already shared a compelling statistic on Twitter, doesn't mean it can't have a place in the e-newsletter. Aggregate a small grouping of social media content that is appropriate to share through this additional communication channel. Dedicate a section of the e-newsletter to this content and let readers know how they can engage with the content - and your organization - through social media.Include pre-formatted tweets and Facebook posts
Time is a scarce commodity for many. Make it easy for readers to share your content by including a couple of pre-formatted social media updates that can be shared across their networks. Be sure to include either your organization's Twitter handle or a link to its Facebook page so that you can both track and thank individuals who share your information.
Ask e-newsletter subscribers to share content
An e-newsletter can also provide an opportunity to ask community members for third-party content. Encourage supporters - be they donors or volunteers - to share their story on your Facebook page and or blog. To grow your nonprofit's audience, ask third-party contributors to cross-promote the content on their own social networks.Social widgets
When reading your nonprofit's e-newsletter, is it clear to donors, volunteers, strategic partners, staff and other constituents how to connect with your organization online? A carefully-placed widget can help to grow your nonprofit's social communities.
Making e-communications social media-friendly is key to growing a nonprofit's online communities and helping to spread information to new audiences. The next time you draft your nonprofit's e-newsletter or a timely e-blast, consider how you can increase its reach by making the content social media-ready.
Looking to amplify your nonprofit's social media marketing program? Check out our free Social Media Toolkit for Nonprofits:
Growing up, your parents may have told you that ‘no good deed goes unnoticed.’ While this principle is important for people, it is also important for business. Some organizations commit to company-wide community service days and run robust corporate volunteerism programs, while others have developed programs and initiatives focused on being a good corporate citizen.
As key players in the communities where their offices are located, building and maintaining strong and favorable relationships with 'the neighbors' is extremely important for businesses. When it comes time to add a new building or parking garage, you want the community on your side, even if it means they encounter a little more traffic or a slightly obstructed view. You also want the community to tout your good work to their friends and families, as it could lead to new business and increased revenue.
While businesses may partner with a local charity for their corporate giving program and they may have staff and employee volunteers that run food drives, coat drives and other charitable initiatives throughout the year, Biz Stone, Co-Founder of Twitter, remarked at the October 2012 PRSA International Conference in San Francisco that he believes philanthropy is the future of marketing.
Stone predicts a budgetary shift that could reallocate as much as 75% of an organization’s marketing dollars to philanthropy. Noting the ‘compound impact in altruism,’ which he likened to the compound interest money earns in a bank, Stone emphasized that ‘Change is not a triumph of technology. It’s a triumph of humanity.’
Having spent a few months thinking this through, it seems 'doing good' could become 'good enough' when it comes to building brand awareness and maintaining a favorable image. The question is, what exactly does this all look like?
While Stone’s speculation is beyond intriguing, it could represent a paradigm shift in how businesses generate leads and convert prospects into customers. Think about it – could sponsoring the addition of a new wing on the local library become the new image advertising campaign? Could planting trees on the heels of wildfires become the new business growth press release? What does all of this mean for the future of social media? Do brand timelines become corporate philanthropy timelines? Will the concept of Facebook’s business milestones be redefined?
While this post inevitably raises more questions than it answers, do you think we are nearing the dawn of a new ‘marketing’? Are the actions of corporate philanthropy alone enough to increase brand awareness, cultivate relationships with prospective clients and convert qualified leads? I’d love to hear your thoughts.