Tag Archives: strategy

Fundraising For Social Change

Buy This Book If you work for (or with) a non-profit, this book is a must-read. Kim Klein (the editor) focuses on key problem all non-profits face: acquiring, retaining, and upgrading donors.

Acquiring is the process of getting new people to donate to your organization. Typically this is done with direct mail, web site asks, and some special events. The goal is to create an impulse donation.

Retaining is the strategy of converting an impulse donation into a habit.

Upgrading converts the “regulars” to give more than they have before. Typically this is done via a personal call, letter, or special “insider” event.


Finding Donors. Did you know that in 2004, 75.6% of contributions came from individuals (11.6% of foundations, 8% bequests, and 4.8% corporations)? Or, 7 out of 10 adults in the US and Canada give away money?

Asking For Money. What’s the #1 way to get donations? Ask for them! You need to identify people who: are able to make a gift, believe in your organization, and can be contacted. Formally, you ask for letter first with a letter detailing your organization and a request for monies for a specific need, following up with a phone call, and ending with a face-to-face meeting. Informally, a phone call followed by a letter would suffice.

Special Events. A special event is a two-fer: a fund-raising opportunity plus increased publicity. During the event, there must be a pitch to let people know now is the time to donate. Consider having some friends of your organization purposely start the donation process to break the ice.

Direct Mail. Use direct mail to: get someone to give for the first time, get donors to repeat their gift, and get donors to renew their gift. On a direct mail piece, expect less than 1% response (higher quality lists produce greater response) – so you’ll need to play the numbers game. Before starting a direct mail campaign, calculate the cost of the mailing vs. the likely result of the donation to arrive at a net income per donor. There a lot of information in the book about crafting the copy of the mail piece.

This book is a gold-mine of non-profit fundraising strategy. If you work with non-profits, read it often.

Marketing Snake Oil

The Dark Side Of Marketing The Dark Side Of Marketing

For the longest time, I associated people who market and advertise with evil. I hated seeing advertisements telling me “if only I bought this, I would be cool also”. I couldn’t imagine what type of person became a marketer or advertiser. Now I am one.

Marketing that attempts to change our belief systems or undermine our values I consider evil . It lives by appealing to our insecurities, showing us a shortcut to happiness. It preaches fear, isolation, failure and shows salvation by living your life differently. A number of years ago advertisers made a fundamental switch in how they talked about their product. In the “old” days, a company would tell you all the wonderful things that their products did and problems they solved. You would chose your product on its own merits. Some consumers that tried those products and didn’t get the promised results wound up in court, claiming a breach of promise. After defending too many lawsuits, the companies wanted a safer way to promote their goods. The result is now companies show a lifestyle, and then show how their product fits into that lifestyle. There isn’t a claim that the product will help you achieve the lifestyle (or any other promise for that matter) – just an association between what product and lifestyle. This works wonderfully, since our brains are wired to fill in the gaps (“Gee, if I had that product, I would look/feel/act/love like that”).

The good side of marketing doesn’t attempt to sway. Instead it simply tries to help customers find the solution to their existing problem. In some cases, marketing attempts to educate you that you have a problem. The good side of marketing is actually helping people. You’re doing a genuine service (and making money doing it).

Good marketing is harder than evil marketing, since you really have to understand what problems people have and try to fix them. Good marketing can also focus on people’s fear, isolation, and failure, but it solves it authentically, not with a mirage.

Gaming the SEO System

I recently heard an interview of a web “guru” who’s showing people how to get their website noticed quickly. Their first steps were straightforward: create a blog, keyword optimize it, and publish it. So far, so good.

The next step involved generating backlinks (links to you site) and social bookmarks (a “thumbs-up” vote for something people find interesting). Instead of waiting for this to happen organically, the guru pays people to comment and bookmark their sites. Since people are interested in the “next hot thing”, the bookmarks beget other backlinks, and the traffic builds quickly. It works.

But, is this ethical right ? Not so long ago, movie studios got into trouble when reporters figured out that some reviews were written by the studio (or someone that the studio paid). Some interviews (of people coming out of the movie) that raved about the movie were also studio-generated. The studios got bad press, and the practice (supposedly) stopped.

The problem is, it’s not yet easy to figure out who has paid-for-posts/bookmarks, and who has authentic ones.

Be careful: it’s a slippery slope to trade off your ethics for dollars.

10 Rules For Great Taglines

TaglinesA tagline or a slogan is a phrase (for example, “Just Do Itâ„¢”) intended to get “stuck” in prospects’ heads. The tagline should be short and memorable, like a great piece of haiku.

The following are my rules for creating great taglines:

  1. Don’t be “cute”. Cute often is seen as “cheesy”.
  2. Do focus on the benefit to the customer.
  3. Don’t repeat any of the words in your company’s name.
  4. Do spend time with a thesaurus.
  5. Don’t use more than 7 words (human short term memory limit).
  6. Do use short words.
  7. Don’t use well-worn phrases.
  8. Do use an emotion word to invoke the benefit (pain, pleasure, safety, etc.)
  9. Don’t think a tagline replaces good marketing strategy.
  10. Do ask your existing best clients what they think of your tagline.

The best way to get something to “stick” is to capture your potential customer’s problem and pain and show the solution. Don’t write a tagline from the perspective of how great you are – no one really cares.

Let’s say I’m looking to hire the best Realtor that I can find to sell my house. I’m looking for someone who: has a proven track record, is a great listener, is a great negotiator, and can get me a great deal. Period.

I filter every Realtor that I meet against my list. Which of the following Realtor taglines would be most likely to appeal to me?

  • Your Realtor With Heart
  • Finding Your Dream Home
  • Your Realtor For Life
  • I Know Your Neighborhood
  • The Hardest Working Realtor You’ll Ever Meet
  • Selling Homes Is All I Do

How Can I Market to Senior CEOs/CFOs?

What are the effective ways of marketing to reach those CEOs and CFOs, as targeted audience? The industry I am in is Accounting Software Solutions.


You’ve identified only a piece of the marketing target: management in a field. What problem is your company solving of theirs? Why should they believe you’re the best for solving it?

Getting a message in front of your audience isn’t hard. Getting the right message is much harder. The right message will create a dialog with you. The wrong one will result in no phone call.

Focus on the benefit message for your demographic. Once you’ve narrowed that down, then it should become clearer how to reach them: email, phone call, ads, postcards, hand-written notes, white papers, or clever “gifts”.

How Can I Market Our Technology Solutions?

I am requested to provide the management with a marketing plan for Information and Communication Technology solutions. Our products are the service that we provide. However I need to put them into packages in order to be able to sell them. I was thinking about internet ad (such as in yahoo and msn …), technology and business magazine, what else might help? tournament? in what? or TV program? I need ideas that enable me to brand them. What may I suggest as activities? or marketing ideas? My target audience are all the large and medium size enterprise in the Arab countries.


If your target is “all the large and medium size enterprise in the Arab countries”, what problem/challenge/need do they all have? If they don’t have a common need, then you need to narrow your target even more.

If you’re selling IT & Communication services, why should these companies (which have these departments in-house), choose you? What can you offer that they can’t do themselves?

Who within the organization needs to hear your message? IT? CEO? C-Level? Manager of IT?

To advertise/market to your target, you need to be places they look: online, magazines, newspapers, trade shows, television, radio, websites, blogs, etc.

Your message needs to be written specifically to the target company/person within the company in language they use (different levels of management use different terms for the same thing because of their different perspective).

The entire point of your message is to get them to contact you. Don’t spent a lot of time crafting your solution to their problem and advertise that. Instead, identify who you’re talking to, their problem, and your solution (benefits-based). You want them to go to your website, email you, and/or call to find out more information. Make it easy for them to find you.

Your website should likewise talk in the same benefits-based language as your advertising. However, as people click through your site to find out more information, you speak more in details. Provide lots of examples, white papers, testimonials, videos, etc. Anything that can help people feel more confident in your company. You’re building trust.

Who Loves Your Business (and Why)?

We Love YouIdeally, you want not just customers, but fans. You want your business name to be passed around via word-of-mouth without you having to do any work. How do you find customers? How do you turn them into fans?

The first step is creating a marketing strategy. The key to an effective strategic marketing plan is answering the following:

  • WHO is your desired customer? The more specific you can be, the more you can tailor your marketing message to them.
  • WHAT customer problem do you solve? The problem is from the perspective (and language) of the desired customer.
  • HOW do you solve it? Here’s where you identify how your product or service solves the customer’s problem.
  • WHY you’re the best to solve it? Why should the customer trust that you have the right solution for them?
  • WHEN you can provide the solution? Will your customer have to wait for the solution or can they start solving their problems today?

Next, implement the strategy. The strategy should inform all your marketing actions (“branding”) – everything from your emails, to your websites, brochures, advertisements, and even phone message.

Cherish your unhappy customers. If a customer (or prospect) is unhappy about your business or service and contacts you, you have the makings of a great fan. If someone is unhappy, realize they could simply complain to others and you would likely never hear about it. Thank them for their complaint and take care of their problem as best you can. Everyone says they give great service – give it when it’s hard and you’ve got satisfaction, and the start of a great story – and a new fan who’ll spread your story to their network.

Create a dialog with all of your customers. Most businesses make the mistake of trying to sell all the time. Instead, find out what people like (and don’t like) about your business. If you want to know what they think – ask. And sincerely regularly converse with your customers – you never know where your next referral will come from.

Let’s work through a marketing strategy for Jane, a massage therapist. Jane specializes in cranial sacral therapy.

WHO? Jane works on active adults in her home town.

WHAT? She could focus on stressed adults. Or adults in pain. Or adults who strained their muscles doing their favorite sport. Or adults whose range of motion is limited. Or people who sit too long in front of their computer. She isn’t looking for adults who want massage – she’s focusing on her clients’ problem. Because of her specialty, she targets athletic adults who have overdid it.

HOW? Jane uses cranial sacral therapy, which is a gentle treatment that attempts to restore the natural movement between the bones of the skull. While that’s interesting, that doesn’t address the WHAT. What does an athletic adult in discomfort want? Relief from pain? Better sport ergonomics? Pain is the key motivator, but there are lots of therapies that address pain relief. By getting the body more into alignment, the natural motions that cranial sacral focus on will get the body moving efficiently. Jane’s gentle technique of athletic pain relief and natural healing respond to the athletic adult’s need.

WHY? Jane has been studying this advanced form of therapy for five years. Before that, she studied a number of other massage techniques, but wanted to help people not simply feel good, but feel better. Jane’s advanced training and personal belief in cranial sacral answers the why.

WHEN? The customer can call or email for an appointment. She sees people after normal work hours, so people can get a treatment before their next training opportunity. She might even provide online bookings on her website.

How Can I Sell Long Term Care Insurance?

I am an insurance agent who used to be a Social Worker. I have some contacts in the health care industry and would like to market LTC to them i.e. retirement homes, independent living facilities, residential care homes, etc. I first would like to introduce the product to the staff then to prospective family members of the residents. I have tried a couple of visits to such facilities but have found that staff are somewhat guarded and not very interested. Any ideas for a letter that would ease their mind so they do not feel so threatened.


You’re making a classic mistake – trying to sell to someone before knowing what they need. Instead, start doing informational interviews.

Call a staff member and tell them that you’re not trying to sell them anything, but would like to know how you can help their organization and their clients with insurance. Maybe it’s not allowed to allow a 3rd party to sell services through them. Maybe there’s a family day that you could get invited to. Perhaps purchase a mailing list. Perhaps you could offer a free seminar (that isn’t a sales talk) about insurance. Offer to write a regular column about retirement savings (again, not a sales piece). If they have a senior fair, have a booth. If you have some stories of people you’ve worked with (as a social worker), share how insurance would’ve/did made a difference

Selling is about listening, not talking.

What Should I Do After I Print My Business Cards?

I printed business cards out… what next? I have a painting business.


Look at it from the other side. So you gave me a business card – why should I call you? What makes your painting business better than the others? Why should I trust you?

What you need is a business strategy. You need to first identify who you want as your ideal prospect – business? residential? apartment? How many sq. ft? Inside or outside? Multi-story?

Next, focus on what problem you solve for them. Besides putting new paint on the surfaces. Clean new look? Color consultation? Mold eradication? Crack repair?

Now, identify what makes you different / special. A technique? Years in business? Special skills or certification? 24/7 service?

These are the start for a strategy. The strategy will create the marketing plan – how to contact, who to contact, when to contact, why, etc.

You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar

Buy This Book

Are you having trouble getting people to buy what you are selling? Read this book. Let’s say you already know that to be successful marketing your business you need to identify your audience’s problems and show why you have the best solutions. Isn’t that good enough?

David Sandler (who created the Sandler Sales Institute) offers great insights for improving your sales presentations. His book begins with his five rules of sales success:

  1. Qualify your prospects
  2. Extract your prospect’s “pain”
  3. Verify that the prospect has money
  4. Be sure the prospect is a decision maker
  5. Match your service or product to the prospect’s “pain”

Rules #1, #2, and #5 are identical to the rules of effective marketing: identifying your market and their challenges (rule #5 might involve a creative packaging of your products or services for the prospect’s needs). Rule #3, while obvious, shouldn’t be skipped. Rule #4 ensures that you’re not wasting your time talking to the wrong people in an organization.

The book continues with a description of the “Sandler Submarine”, a series of selling steps:

  1. Bonding & Rapport. Make the prospect fell more okay than you feel.
  2. Up-front Contracts. Create an agreement to see if you have anything to discuss.
  3. Pain. Find a prospect’s “hurt” and probe how much pain they are in. Show how your business can eliminate the pain.
  4. Budget. Identify their budget, or offer a lower end “entry” solution.
  5. Decision. What is your prospect’s decision-making process? When will they be moving forward? How do you get paid? Who will be involved the the decision-making process?
  6. Fulfillment. Review your prospect’s contract, pain, budget, and decisions. Ensure that your solution solves the prospect’s pain.
  7. Post-Sell. To avoid buyer’s remorse, thank them for the order, bring up a agreed upon compromise, and give them a chance to back out now.

Additionally, he introduces a number of techniques to control the selling conversation, including:

  • Reversing (“That’s an interesting question. Why do you ask?”)
  • Controlling the Interview (“Can we just back up for a moment?”)
  • Stroke-Repeat-Reverse (“I appreciate the fact you’re telling me I’m close, but let me ask you a question”)
  • Negative Reverse (“Could you tell me more specifically just how you see my product solving your problem?”)

Thanks to Bob Annick (707. 343.1722 Business Growth & Development Corporation) for recommending this month’s book.