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Archive for the ‘Branding’ Category

the “New Normal” for non-profits from Branding Bytes

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

Interesting Q&A regarding the “New Normal” for non-profits from the Winter 2011 Issue of Branding Bytes (a FREE quarterly e-newsletter courtesy of Larry Checco of Checco Communications).

How dependent are we on government funding?
For decades, countless nonprofits have relied largely or exclusively on local, state and federal funding, or a combination of all three, to achieve their missions.  If yours is one of them, and you haven’t already experienced a decrease in your funding, brace yourself.   Given the state of most government budgets, it’s just a matter of time.

The Age of the New Normal demands that you start seeking alternate sources of funding.  Despite these hard economic times, there is money to tap into.

Do we still believe that marketing and branding would make us look too much like the for-profit sector?
If so, get over it. A lot of the available non-government money that’s out there is in the hands of people who made their fortunes in the private sector.   Many are seeking to support good causes. But only organizations that can effectively and clearly make their case by successfully explaining to these potential funders who they are, what they do, how they do it—and most important, why it matters—will be on the receiving end. In other words, marketing and branding should be integral parts of your business strategy.

Are we still trying to raise money under the rubric of being a “charity that makes a difference”?
If so, you’ve got a tough row to hoe. Under the New Normal, funders are seeking ever greater accountability, transparency, responsibility– and demonstrated outcomes. To simply say you make a difference will no longer cut the mustard.  You need to show how you make that difference. And the more data you have to support your claims, the better.

How well do we collect and leverage our data?
A lot of nonprofits don’t even bother to collect data, and those that do often don’t use it in a way to help promote their organization’s narrative or story. The New Normal says it’s not enough to tell prospective funders how many people walked through your doors last year.  The New Normal wants to know, among other things, how your services improved the lives of these people, what are these people doing now and what impact does your work have on the community, at large.

What about our use of technology?
Yikes!  Given the pace of technological change, the Age of the New Normal is a rapidly  moving target. At the very minimum, your organization should have a website that’s easy to navigate, is updated regularly, and allows people to donate to your organization online.  If you haven’t already, you should be looking into how best to use new social media, such as FaceBook, Twitter and LinkedIn as potential fundraising tools, yes, but more importantly to help build a community knowledgeable about and loyal to your organization.

FINAL THOUGHT: If a Millennial comes to you with an idea about technology, or anything else for that matter, do not respond by saying, “But that’s not the way we’ve done it in the past.”

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Don’t Rush Your Seeds of Vision

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010


The shortest known gestation period is 12 days for an Opossum, and the longest is over 700 days for an Elephant. Your countless ideas, visions and dreams gestate for anything from 12 to 700 days.

So, don’t rush, but be prepared to let the world know about your ideas and know what to expect in those first few weeks. Say to yourself: “I am the parent of incredible dreams. I release them in the world like children, to grow and become mature plans.” Then, start to create a business plan that is more general to start but becomes more detailed as your idea matures.

When you are ready to release this idea be prepared to begin branding and marketing it. Here are a few basic questions to think about when creating your business plan:

  • 1. What is the purpose of this idea – mission and values?
  • 2. What is my value proposition?
  • 3. Who is my target market?
  • 4. Where is my target market located?
  • 5. How can I best reach this target market?

Then, contact a really good marketing or communications firm to help you build a strong marketing foundation in which to grow your idea into a successful business!

Hey, I think I know people who can help, just drop us a line.

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Social Media – NOPE.

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

Social media is not necessarily the right marketing tactic for your business. Having a plan is key, but don’t assume that your business automatically will be successful with social media. Don’t believe me? Take it from Josh Miles:

Should our firm be using Social Media?”

Josh says, “Nope.”

Read the full article here.

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Innovation in a Recession

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Eric Ryan and Adam Lowry, 27-year-old entrepreneurs, have built the world’s largest eco-friendly cleaning brand, Method (sold at Target). In February 2001, they mixed their first four cleaning sprays and had the managers of 20 independent groceries itching to try them. Once they researched the market opportunity and got these stores to agree to try them, they pooled their money and built Method.

Reader’s Digest interviewed this entrepreneurial pair asking how they pulled off the launch of their new products in the middle of a recession (2001). Their answer? The recession forced them to sharpen their differentiators and make their product USP easy to grasp. To someone starting a business, Eric and Adam suggest understanding how your product or service brings value to consumers with extreme clarity.

Be clear and concise about your unique selling proposition.

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Direct Mail Lessons from Glodan

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I recently got the Glodan postcard in the mail and loved what “Dan the Paper Man” had to say…

“A lawyer had successfully handled a difficult law case for a wealthy friend. Following the happy outcome of the case, the friend and client called on the lawyer, expressed his appreciation of his work and handed him a handsome Moroccan leather wallet. The lawyer looked at the wallet in astonishment and handed it back with a sharp reminder that a wallet could not possibly compensate him for his services. “My fee for that work”, acidly snapped the attorney, “is five hundred dollars.” The client opened the wallet, removed a one-thousand dollar bill, replaced it with a five-hundred dollar bill and handed it back to the lawyer with a smile.

However, a spelling error caught my eye and took my attention away from the story.

Lesson #1 – Direct Mail is more effective with poignant stories.

Lesson #2 – Review carefully and know that spell check doesn’t catch everything.

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Creating successful design and customer experience.

Friday, August 7th, 2009

The Harvard Business Review Management Tip comes into my inbox daily and occasionally there are tidbits I feel compelled to pass along…

Yesterday, I read a post about Target’s ClearRx pharmacy system. Target was able to create a very successful customer experience with the new product design of their pill bottles which feature clear typography, color coding, and flat surfaces for easier reading. Target’s ClearRx provides a number of lessons for anyone wanting to create a great design and deliver a great customer experience.

1. Prototype early.

  • Whether you are creating a new product design, developing your social media plan or developing processes for internal operations, you can get a win under your belt by prototyping early. This allows for your team members to see more realistically how you want the design or process to work and it ignites some rallying around the new project.

2. Prepare for a long ride and plenty of persistence.

  • Be prepared to work on this prototype extensively and be persistent. Practice makes perfect and great ideas are often recreated or developed multiple times — the more revisions the better! Get your team together and brainstorm for potential roadblocks and modify accordingly in your design revisions.

3. Involve your team as early and often as possible.

  • Many heads are better than one, so form a team of key people and be sure to involve them every step of the way. But be aware of having too many hands in the pot!

Read the full HBR Management Tip.

Hard Work, Practice & Consistency

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

Research now shows that the lack of natural talent is irrelevant to great success — in any industry. So, what’s the secret? It’s painful and demanding practice and hard work.

There is no substitute for hard work. According to an article written by Geoffrey Colvin (“What It Takes To Be Great”), natural gifts or lack thereof are irrelevant – talent has little or nothing to do with greatness. You can make yourself great. Most accomplished people need around ten years of hard work before becoming world-class. But, hard work is not enough.

Practice makes perfect. The best people in any industry are those who devote a significant amount of their time and energy on “deliberate practice”. Deliberate practice is an activity that’s explicitly intended to improve performance and provides feedback on results. Another aspect of becoming great is consistency.

So, how does all of this fit into becoming a great marketer for your company? Well, the point is that any company can achieve marketing success with hard work, practice and consistency. All successful marketing campaigns, whether via print branding or email, must have these three components.