When the push is the process the mountain moves closer

“Special Report: e-Commerce Payment Processing & CRM” by Mira Allen and Laura Quinn (NonProfit Times, 1 April 2010). It’s not easy being a 501(c)3. With so much focus on the mission the necessary level empathy for those on the outside looking in can be difficult to muster. This is especially true when it comes to fund raising. Rarely will the guest (outside) be as committed as those fulfilling the mission (inside). Guests have their own mission(s) as well. Work, wife, kids, etc.

In short, successful donor engagement is no longer a once a year push, but an ongoing process. Resources are of course tight so management must embed the push in the day to day process, which in turn needs to align closer to the day the day lives of the target audience(s).

Mira and Laura (from www.IdealWare.org in Maine), cover many of the highlights in how to best to eat the donation elephant.

“As for any campaign, it’s important to formulate a plan before rushing out to ask for money. Start by developing a compelling message to inspire people to donate. Tell supporters a story — not just about why it’s important to support your organization, but specifically what the donations will support. Maybe the goal is a scholarship fund to help more people take advantage of your programs or a new piece of equipment. When possible, put names or faces to the people the campaign will help, or paint a vivid picture of what the hoped-for results will look like.”

Actually, for best results the story should be ongoing. It’s something that should reflect the mission and be constantly reinforced with every “blurb” that your org puts into circulation. Marketing in the 21st century is about a two-way conversation and not just traditional one-way messaging. It’ s a walk the talk world so be prepared to show them what you got. And then keep showing them! Additionally, it’s getting to be more difficult to meet fund raising goals when the marketing machine only gets ramped up once or twice a year. How do you think it makes your donors feel when you only come looking for them when you want money? While that might not be entirely true, if that’s their perception then consider it written in stone.

Whatever your medium, make sure you create compelling hooks to encourage people to donate. A simple “Help support our organization” might not get the same response as a “Help add 100 books to the library by midnight!” Almost any online message — whether ad, email, or status update — should be crafted to grab attention. Entice your constituents with intriguing and motivating calls to action.

At the risk of sounding like a broken mp3, do realize that the hook is for the donors, not for you. It’s not what those on the inside should find engaging and only have time for. What’s most important is what do those on the outside of the .org hear and/or expect to hear. How many times have we all seen an advertisement – not just from a nonprofit – that is about what the sender wants to say, and not about what the receiver is expecting to hear as well as how they are wanting to hear it. A product/service benefit isn’t a benefit unless the receiver thinks it is.  For example, the sender say,”Been around for 50 years…” While the receiver thinks, “Big deal! What are you going to do for me today?” That’s not to say tradition and established aren’t important to some, but hey are certainly further a way from the benefit target than “saves you time” or “saves you money”.

Btw, as a rule any “sales pitch” should avoid “cute” and don’t over think “creative”. If it’s not reinforcing the idea(s) then it’s probably a distraction. Nine of out of ten time KISS is will get the job done. Do you have the time to wrestle with unraveling a “cute” message? Don’t be that sender.

It’s more difficult to tell how many people are responding to your social networking appeals, but you can look for spikes in donations when you post something to Twitter or Facebook. It’s also possible to collect donations inside Facebook (using the Causes application), making it very clear how much is coming from Facebook users.

Actually, and this goes for you for profits as well, there’s a tool from Google called URL Builder that is an extension of their free website Analytics offering.  In short, you can add parameters to each of the links you post and Analytics will be able to better track that incoming traffic for you. And not to worry, the URLs generated with URL Builder still work with URL shortening services like TinyURL, Bit.ly, etc. Yes, URL Builder adds 120 seconds extra step but it’s time well invested if your .org want to analyze and understand what worked and what did not.

More is less. Less is better. But more is not better.

“E-mail is Making You Stupid” By Joe Robinson (Entrepreneur Magazine, March 2010). Funny, wasn’t technology supposed to make us all more productive? But it can. Just take a few minutes to step away from the Facebook updates and focus on this article. Great stuff! Especially helpful is Joe telling the truth about multitasking. Not only is it overrated, it’s actually unproductive.

As you’re walking, chew on this:

The cult of multitasking would have us believe that compulsive message-checking is the behavior of an always-on, hyper-productive worker. But it’s not. It’s the sign of a distracted employee who misguidedly believes he can do multiple tasks at one time. Science disagrees. People may be able to chew gum and walk at the same time, but they can’t do two or more thinking tasks simultaneously.

In short, it’s a quality issue. Focusing on less and completing those tasks before moving on will actually yield more.  Trying to do it all at once is a mistake. The human brain is wired to have a limited span of control. Overstep that bound and output and quality actually drop.

You should find this useful as well:

E-mail multiplies like rabbits, each new message generating more and more replies. Want fewer distractions? Send fewer e-mails. Here are some helpful rules.

— Turn off all visual and sound alerts that announce new mail.

— Check e-mail two to four times a day at designated times and never more often than every 45 minutes.

— Don’t let e-mail be the default communication device. Communicating by phone or face-to-face saves time and builds relationships.

— Respond immediately only to urgent issues. Just because a message can be delivered instantly does not mean you must reply instantly.

— Severely restrict use of the reply-all function.

— Put “no reply necessary” in the subject line when you can. No one knows when an e-conversation is over without an explicit signal.

— Resist your reply reflex. Don’t send e-mails that say “Got it” or “Thanks.”

— Use automatic out-of-office messages to carve out focused work time, such as: “I’m on deadline with a project and will be back online after 4 p.m.”

Understanding a non-profit and loss statement

“Helping Hands” by Jessica Tsai (CRM Magazine, February 2010). It’s not easy being a 501(c)3, aka non-profit. By their very nature the measuring stick that the rest of the world use to define success has been removed. Therefore, the challenge is to define what cause’s  success will look like and communicating that to the public/target. Easier said than done, eh?

On the other hand there are a fair number of best practices, free tools and other reasonably priced resources that readily available yet too often ignored. So maybe the issue isn’t so much profit vs. non, but must adapt vs. adapting isn’t so important when all that’s needed is another grant and some more volunteers?

But does it have to be that way? From the outside (i.e., guests) looking in (at the brand) is there really a difference in perception and expectations? In  saying, “But we’re different…” are non-profits actually doing themselves a disservice? Does the fear of competing create an organizational environment that is unable to compete?

Dollars and future sense

“The Future of Money” by Daniel Roth (Wired.com, March 2010). If you thought it was just about dollar and cents then think again. Roth puts one of the world’s oldest traditions in a whole new light. If you like to speculate about the future (pun intended) then this one’s for you.

Also be sure to check out the sidebar bit, “From Credit Card to PayPal: 3 Ways to Move Money”, as well as, “The New Ways to Pay” (scroll down to the bottom of the page).

The future is? – Part 2

“Bill Gates Sets Out His Global Charitable Goals” (NPR.org, 25 January 2010). As a supplement to yesterday’s post, here is a link to Mr. Gates being interviewed on National Public Radio’s (NPR) Talk of the Nation.

For the most part Mr. Gates’ perspective is global. He does however mention during the inteview that s in the United States the two biggest issue his foundation is  addressing are helping teachers and online learning. Contrast this with the fact that Uncle Sam’s approach has lead to a system where only 60% of the students who start high school actually graduate.  The irony comes when one considers how many massive corporations jump through tax loopholes to avoid paying into the system and then those same outfits also expect to have a well educated work force available so they can be even more profitable.

Is the system just dented and bent, or broken and in need of a complete makeover?

The future is?

“2010 Annual Letter from Bill Gates” by Bill Gates (Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, 25 Janueary 2010). While certainly not an oracle, Mr. Gates, former Microsoft head honcho, is well established and well connected and needless to say very very wealthy. If you’re curious about what’s ahead then invest some time in Mr. Gates’ thoughts.  In short, good economy, bad economy or New Economy, we have a lot of work to do.

In the event you don’t make it to the last page, Bill says:

I have decided to take the notes I make after taking a trip, reading a book, or meeting with someone interesting and pull them together on a web site called www.gatesnotes.com. This will let me share thoughts on foundation-related topics and other areas on a regular basis. I expect to write about tuberculosis, U.S. state budgets, creative capitalism, and philanthropy in Asia, among other things.

What is interesting is that many of The Gates’ concerns are resource and/or “head count” driven. Yet, there is little mention of population and population control as a means to helping solve some of these problems. We’d all agree that technolgy can be a wonderful tool, but let’s not forget about (changing) good ol’ fashion human behavior as a means to a better ends.

Home, home on the Wave

“Frequently Asked Questions About Google Wave” by LifeHacker.com (www.LifeHacker.com). Wave – some love it, some don’t, some don’t know what to think, and finally others have yet to try it. Regardless of which category you fall into this article and associated comments (which are always insightful) should help you decide where you are, or maybe where you should be on this H2O based subject.

Have you tried it? And … ?

Failure is like Red Bull, it gives you wings

Wired magazine (www.Wired.com) has collected a series of articles on failure. The title of the grouping is, “How To Fail: Screw ups, disasters, misfires, flops. Why losing big can be a winning strategy.” Take some time, these are sure to put the value of “R&D” into proper perspective.

“Accept Defeat: The Neuroscience of Screwing Up” by Jonah Lehrer

“Stay in the Game: The Fall and Rise of Alec Baldwin” by Scott Brown

“Learn to Let Go: How Success Killed Duke Nukem” by Clive Thompson

“Time Your Attack: Oracle’s Lost Revolution” by Daniel Roth

“My Greatest Mistake: Learn From Six Luminaries” by Wired Magazine

“Accidental Art: Three Alternate Histories” by Christoph Niemann

For those who like to look up at the stars then “Six Luminaries” is the obvious first read. Other than that, just dive in. Don’t be afraid to pick the wrong one. And for those of you who like to believe that the key to success is perfection. Well, you’re making a big mistake.

Toes touches and jumping jacks

“The future is a gimmick” by David Weinberger (KM World, 1 Jan 1 2010). The parties are over and it’s back to reality – cold, non-stop reality. But let’s not be foolish and try to break into a full sprint from a dead stop. It’s always smart to loosen up a bit. As you sip your coffee and gear up for 2010, consider this article toe touches and jumping jacks. Enjoy!

They can hear you anywhere

Another buzz service that maybe you’re familiar with is Google Voice. In short, it’s a free phone number with it’s own outgoing message. No more using your personal number for business. Or maybe you just need a special (temporary) number for a special project. Skye, Yahoo! and others do provide free numbers but more often than not they don’t allow for your own personalize outgoing message.  And this is just the tip of the iceberg.


Intriguing, eh? From here be sure to consume “How To: Totally Overhaul Your Phones With Google Voice” by John Herrman (Gizmodo.com, 12 December 2009). That should get you started. Much like Google Wave, Voice is in limited beta. It’s invite only for the moment. But the turn around is approximately two weeks — http://www.google.com/voice.

What’s hard to say, but certain to be interesting, is how Google eventually integrates Wave with Voice. For those who have thus far underestimated Wave, the ball is still bouncing so keep your eye on it.

Everybody in the pool

Depending on where you fall on the Geek IQ scale, you may or may not have heard about Google Wave (http://Wave.Google.com). The buzz around this beta release has been building over the last few weeks. Some love it. Some don’t. And most seem to be somewhere in between. While it’s too early to pass judgment my prediction is that trend will build towards love it.

Google’s pitch line is that Wave is what email would be if it were invented today. In a Made to Stick sense, that’s probably an accurate and easy to consume marketing pitch. But as user friendly as the email reference might be, Wave is not email. The analogy to the postman/woman doesn’t hold water very long. Wave is a multi-vectored communications and collaboration platform that excels in real time, and is still better than email even when it’s not. It’s a bit clunky right now in implementation but the theory behind it, simple as it might be, is stunning.

Ultimately, Wave is a collaboration tool, and collaboration depends on bodies. Where as email’s effectivenss degrades as more people get added to the To: list (i.e., the famous Reply Alls from hell), Wave increase in value as your network of collaborators grows. Unfortunately, currently Wave is a limited, invite only, beta. So unless your fellow collaborators also have Wave accounts then Wave, as it stands today, is obviously not going to be very effective.

However, as Google lets more people use Wave the more Wave’s value will increase. And thus the trend towards more people loving it. What do you think?



Be careful what you wish to measure for

“Mistaken Metrics” by Lauren McKay (CRM Magazine, October 2009). Please pardon the delay in getting to this one but it has finally bubbled to the top of the to-do pile (on a Saturday morning no less). It is also not exactly lite reading for a weekend but it’s certainly not rocket science either. Grab a coffee and let’s go!

In short, the twin sibling of, “Be careful what you wish for” is, “Be careful what you measure (and what decisions you make based on that data/information.” As we all know, numbers and statistics can be misleading especially when data is coming from multiple sources. Or worse yet, is the wrong measurement to begin with. The majority of the time there are caveats, or should be, because no info/date source is perfectly clean. Of course, there is also always the human element (read: bias) when collecting data and using it.  And finally, just because you can collect it faster doesn’t mean it’s right.

Yes, there has to be measurements but don’t be afraid to question their validity and value when applied to decision making. As Ms. McKay concludes:

No matter what you do or what you measure, you’re destined to pick the wrong yardstick at least once. The trick, experts say, is not to force yourself to live with the wrong measurement — the trick is recognizing when the measurement you’ve chosen is the wrong one and having the fortitude to step away from it.

In the same issue, as a side bar was also, “Your Metrics Are Outdated” by Lauren McKay. If you have to pick one, pick this one. The first article gives “Outdated” context but none the less is fairly freestanding if you are at least somewhat familiar with measurements and their impact on management decisions.

You have all weekend so try to consume both. It’s time to start lining up the ducks for 2010.

Just press the Go Viral button?

“A Web Presence Needs Sizzle, For Shizzle” by Fritz Nelson (Information Week, 18 November 2009). Good golly Rudolph, give this guy a candy cane and double him up on the eggnog. Santa should no doubt move Mr. Nelson to the top of the nice list.

Aside from sharing some damn good examples of inspiration, he hovers under the mistletoe and plants this golden gem of a KISS on us all. (Note: The bolding was added for effect.)

On the Web, entire economies and cultures emerge with surprise. The less creative or visionary watch and try to follow, as if there’s a secret formula to be revealed to the most astute observer. People look at the NetFlix corporate culture Google (NSDQ: GOOG) free lunch program, and Obama open government mantra and say: It worked for them, it will work for us. There’s some truth in that, but the success variables are never the same. Ultimately, each business must create its own wave.

Success on the Web, like The White Rabbit, is alluring in its urgency and its insistence on its path. Words like “crowdsourced,” “social,” and “sticky” are simple labels for complicated ingenuity. Anyone who sets out to create The Next Big Thing invariably fails compared with those who create something out of real social need, or passion. There’s no hidden button for “Go Viral” on the Web, and there’s no magic formula to replicate what happens when something does. Take new social media buzz factories, FarmVille and FourSquare.

In other words, just because you use the channels doesn’t guarantee anything. That said said there is a “secret” for going viral and that is, introduce something to the conversation that’s worth talking about. The usual blah blah blah is not going to get anyone attention, nor is it going to differentiate you from the masses. And if you don’t have an authentic passion for it then certainly no one else will either. There are enough me-too and cookie-cutter type outfits out there. The time has come to suspend the belief that your brand is special just because you think so.

The web hasn’t changed the fact that you have to have passion. Someone has to have passion for your brand (for which you provided the reason(s)). And ultimately to cut through the clutter you have to differentiate both in medium and in message. Actually, if the web has changed anything it has made these must-dos even more essential. Can you afford to do X? Nope! The question is, can you afford not to? That is what your guest will be looking for- The Winner. The one who goes the distance with them and for them.

Thanks Fritz! And a ho ho ho to you too.

Price and cost are not the same thing

“Furnishing Higher Profits – Business Intelligence: How Analyzing ERP Data Helped a Retailer to Get More Value from Suppliers” by Kim S. Nash (CIO.com, 28 October 2009). Today seems like a great day for KISS so let’s just get to the bottom line.

BI (business intelligence) is great but even the less enabled don’t need such a heavy duty investment to benefit from the takeaways of this article. Keep in mind:

— There is more to cost than the number on the price tag.
— You get what you pay for.
— When you’re the seller (and not the buyer) be sure to communicate the holistic value you provide for the fee you charge.

Done! Enjoy!! Pass it on…

NYC >> Web 2.0 >> 2009 >> Douglas Rushkoff

A colleague and I were fortunate to witness this first hand a couple weeks ago. Considering that this was part of the Web 2.0 Expo’s free seminars, is simply amazing. Rushkoff alone was worth the time and the cost of the train multiplied by a few thousand, at least. Cheers to O’Reilly for bringing that event together and having Rushkoff expand our minds. Challenging, brilliant and not to be missed.


The Art of The Twitter

“How Twitter Is Revolutionizing Business (140 Characters at a Time)” by Jason Ankeny (Entrepreneur magazine, December 2009). Jason rounds up both a history lesson as well as bits on the current state of The Art of  The Twitter. Unfortunately, the Entrepreneur web site is not as current as the print version. Not to worry, just whip up a Google/Yahoo! alert so you know when they finally get around to sharing this article digitally.

In the meantime, here is the run down on the sites/services mentioned:

oneforty.com — “A Better Way to Discover Twitter Apps. oneforty is your Twitter outfitter, with tons of resources for all things Twitter. Currently tracking 2031 apps that make Twitter even better.”

ChirpCity.com — “Local Twitter search, latest tweets from and about your city… and a top user list for the cities (listed) above.”

NearbyTweets.com — “Instantly find Twitterers nearby.”

Tweepz.com — “Search, find and discover interesting people on Twitter.”

SocialOomph.com — “Tools to Boost Your Social Media Productivity.” For example, schedule your tweets.

CalTweet.com — “Social Events Sharing Tool via Twitter & Facebook.”

Seesmic.com — “Stay connected and share information with your friends.”

Twitalyzer.com — “For Tracking Influence and Measuring Success in Twitter.”

ExecTweets.com — “Find and follow top business execs on Twitter.”

Tweetdeck.com — “TweetDeck is your personal browser for staying in touch with what’s happening now, connecting you with your contacts across Twitter, Facebook and more.”

BingTweets — “BingTweets enables you to see deeper, real-time information about the hottest topics on Twitter by fusing Bing search results with the latest tweets.”

Twidroid — “The Twitter & Identi.ca client application for android mobile phones.”

And while you’re waiting for Entrepreneur to update their site, be sure to check out Mashable.com’s Twitter Guide Book — How To, Tips and Instructions.

Good stuff, eh? Looks like Black Friday will have to wait. How about you? Please leave a comment to share any sites you feel should have been on this list.

Great relationships require trust

“The Cure for the Common Virus” by Jessica Tsai (DestinationCRM.com, October 2009). Wow! Yet another I-wish-I said-that article from Ms. Tsai — especially for those seeking to break their 20th century marketing habits.

It’s a holiday week so you’re either quite busy or slowed down to enjoy the moment. Either way let’s skip the usual intro and jump to some highlights.

Measuring the totality of viral’s impact is extremely difficult, if not impossible. After all, how do you measure emails forwarded from personal accounts? Or URLs copied-and-pasted into instant message windows? Or a remark passed over a fence? And yet, no one would argue that messages spread virally are extremely powerful. After all, consumers are far more likely to trust one another than any marketing pitch out there. (See “Who Do You Trust About Trust?,” and our interview with “Trust Agents” co-author—and 2009 CRM Influential Leader — Chris Brogan, in Required Reading.)

According to customer experience company Satmetrix, and codeveloper of the Net Promoter score (NPS), word-of-mouth recommendations by promoters are increasing year over year in all industries. The uphill trend is not due to an increase in viral marketing–specific campaigns, says Deborah Eastman, chief marketing officer; rather, the Internet and social media have ignited a sharing frenzy.

Customers don’t care if you want them to pass something along. Abandon the PR lingo and the corporate speak. No one wants to listen to it, let alone pass it on to their friends. “Share honest information,” says Tom Anderson, managing partner of Anderson Analytics. “What are you worried about—your competitors seeing it? Big deal. Everything’s instantaneous now.”

The bottom line is this… If you want to tap into the natural conversational energy of the crowd, then you have to give them something worthy of discussion.  But you also have to take that a step further and realize that worthy is defined by them, not by you. Traditional marketing’s one-way, dictate it and they will listen approach no longer applies. In fact, spin might only get you backlash.

We are by nature social beasts and that can certainly work to your advantage. Nothing beats word of mouth! But in order to win you must be honest and you must be authentic. Most of all, you must give them something truly worthy of their time. Because don’t you expect the same?

The truth about Apple

“Apple The Outlier” by Rich Karlgaard (Forbes.com, 21 October 2009). In response to Mr. Kalgaard’s blog post the following comment (below) was submitted. Maybe you’ll find it entertaining, so it’s also being shared here.

While I didn’t read every comment in detail, with all due respect, I think the essential point has been missed… When it has been more successful, Apple has been the tortoise. There are plenty of cases of Apple and/or Jobs falling on their face. How many of you are using a Next computer :)

On the other hand, where Apple has done really well, is when it slows down while others rush in. The ipod and the iphone both being great examples. Neither were new ideas. What they were were still developing ideas done a bit better and more importantly, rolled out *after* “the tipping point”. Apple doesn’t feel the need to be first to market, they’d rather get it more right their first time. They’ve come to realize the value in learning from others’ mistakes.  If there is an irony, it’s that Apple really isn’t a technolgy company (i.e., technology for technology’s sake). They understand that they are a solutions and services company, and that’s what they focus on providing.

When they get it right, Apple doesn’t waste resources trying to get to the tipping point, they let others do their bidding. In the meantime they’re using their resources (time and people) to build a better mouse trap as well as come up with the marketing spin to make it look new and exciting. I am not trying to belittle the iphone, I am only suggesting it is not the cure for cancer.

There is no doubt, Apple is a great outfit. But the reasons for that success are too often wrong and/or overstated. They have a great formula – look how their growth and market share has nudged up year by year (i.e., like a tortoise) – and at the moment it’s working quite well for them. But a smart competitor could duplicate their formula quite easily. Provided that competitor isn’t blinded by the hype, or fearful of a beast that isn’t even there.

NYC >> Web 2.0 >> 2009

For obvious reasons, this year’s Web 2.0 Expo, presented by O’Reilly, didn’t have the same buzz as last year’s. None the less, there were some pearls. Aside from a stack of brochures to consume, here’s a raw list (in no particular order) of domain names dropped during a few of the seminars/presentations:

https://www.SuperFluid.biz/

www.GoogleWave.com

www.CompleteWaveGuide.com

www.BetaWorks.com

www.Tumblr.com

www.Neighborhoodr.com

www.SetJam.com

www.apstrata.com

www.EarthAid.net

www.FoodSpotting

www.AnyClip.com

As this list as well as the brochures are consumed in detail, there promises to be follow up posts. Grab the AU RSS feed and stay tuned.

Dude, where are my files?

“Digital Tools: Forget Disruption. Dive Deep Instead” by Lee Gomes (Forbes Magazine, 2 November 02, 2009). True, there are a number of solutions similar for DropBox (www.DropBox.com). On the other hand, there’s something to be said for being vetted by Forbes and Mr. Gomes. As Lee mentioned, simplicity can be a beautiful thing. A free account of 2 GB is available so it’s certainly worth a look.

While the means is different, there can be times when Adobe’s online suite of Acrobat (Acrobat.com), BuzzWord (BuzzWord.com) and/or Photoshop (Photoshop.com) comes in handy. One of the nice things about BuzzWord is that it uses a secure https connection. Whether the others do or not, I’m not sure. I’ll have to check on that. That being said, what’s more likely to happen, someone breaching your internet connection, or you losing or  temporarily misplacing a USB drive?