Lean Marketing tips: not-for-profit edition Mike

Like small businesses, most not-for-profits have limited resources, ambitious goals, and finite capacity. Many NFPs operate in ways that would not be considered ‘business-like,’ AND these organizations, like their small, for-profit cousins, can benefit by leveraging the ideas and tools that we often discuss in the Lean Marketing series.

Here are 8 tips for not-for-profit organizations on marketing their organizations, and some tools and suggestions for setting goals, maximizing resources, and extending capacity.

1. Define your goals.
Many NFPs have long-range plans, ambitions, and a clear mission. But one of the tenets os lean marketing is to define short-term and intermediate goals. It is of critical importance that NFPs define smaller, intermediate goals which are highly measurable and allow the organization to assess whether the strategies and tactics in use are successful. When determining these it is important to be as specific as possible, and to determine in advance how progress will be measured. Here is a post which goes into greater detail on the topic of setting goals.

2. Have a plan.
Put it on paper. Like most business startups, NFPs should also write their plan out in the form of a report or a presentation. Key to this process is homework: research, research, research. It is just as important for NFPs to write a formal document as it is with a for-profit business and the content of the plan should have many similarities to a formal business plan: an executive summary, a description of the market space and size, competitive analysis, and projections of growth and description of how that growth will be measured

3. Understand your market.
Many NFPs don’t view their organization as being a participant in a market, but the truth is they are. A market merely defines the aggregate of demand for a product or service and every organization, whether for profit or not participates in one. Without a clear understanding of your market, it’s size, shape, and composition it is impossible to define goals, raise funds, or execute strategy. Ross made a video on this topic and it is just as relevant for NFPs as it is for all small business and startups.

4. Market modestly.
It is necessary for NFPs to put a great deal of thought into their audience or audiences and then look for simple ways to market to each segment. For instance a service oriented NFP might have two types of ‘customer,’ donors and clients, and the strategy, messaging, and tactics  to reach each of those may be very different. For each of these groups, it is necessary to understand what it will take to ‘convert’ a customer by building awareness, providing education, and making interaction as simple and barrier-free as possible.

5. Get online.
If your potential customers are looking for you, whether you are aware of them or not, it is critical that your organization have an online presence. Whether your website allows you to process transactions, gather contact information, provide educational content, or simply manage your own internal process, its very existence is beneficial. Creating, maintaining, mining, and leveraging the website can be done in many ways but in the new millennium the lack of a website is a competitive and practical disadvantage.

6. Leverage the crowd.
Like startups and small business everywhere, NFPs can take advantage of crowd sourcing for everything from decretive services (crowdSPRING, duh), to fundraising, to professional services like accounting and public relations. Sites like Kickstarter allow NFPs and others to post their requests for funding and puts those requests in front of a large network of donors who can choose which organization, project, or effort they wish to help. Other organizations, like the taproot foundation, help NFPs connect with professional service providers for pro-bono help with legal, marketing, and other critical areas.

7. Mine your data.
Just as businesses large and small use analytics tools to understand their traffic, their customers, and their conversion metrics, NFPs can also benefit from the tools used for this. And there are sone great ones out there, many of them completely free. For instance, Google has a suite of tools available that NFPs can use as effectively as startups and small businesses: AdWords Small Business CenterGoogle Analytics, Google Alerts, and Google Places are all tools which can be used to great effect.

8. Be a leader.
Being a leader in your market or space is not only about innovating, but also about sharing your knowledge, advocating for your believes, and building your network. To do these effectively requires you to be a leader in action, but also a leader in thought. Create content, promote your public face, and make connections. Great tools are easily available to help: create a blog and post regularly, develop an email newsletter strategy, share resources, ideas, articles, and connections on Twitter, leverage Facebook to keep your audience and clients up to date on your efforts and activities, and identify conferences, classrooms, and other venues for speaking opportunities. When others look to you for your opinion, your analysis, or your ideas, be ready to provide them any way you can.


8 Content Ideas for Business Blogs: SEO Tips

Have you noticed that when you search a topic how many of those searches are blogs? Blogs are a great way to up your SEO. Below is a great article regarding content ideas for business blogs.

Content Marketing Optimization: 8 Content Ideas for Business Blogs 

Lee Odden

Blogging Content
At the SES conference this week I gave several presentations on Content Marketing: “Content Marketing Optimization” and “The Convergence of Search, Social & Content Marketing”.  In the CMO session, I provided SEO tips for each spoke in a hub and spoke model. The hub in this situation was a blog and one of the most common issues with business blog success is fresh content. In fact, one of the most common reasons companies don’t start a blog is over their concerns with creating useful content.
I can empathize with that concern and have addressed it with many companies over the past 7+ years that I’ve been blogging here on TopRank’s Online Marketing Blog. To help anyone interested in ideas for creating business blog content, check out the following 8 tips. They’ve worked for us and for many of our clients and may very well work for you too.

Oreo Cookie News Posts – Set up Google Alerts for keywords you’re tracking and when an article or blog post surfaces that meets your editorial criteria, excerpt in a blog post using your own intro and conclusion. That’s the “oreo cookie”, sandwiching a portion of the Google Alert with your own copy setting up why it’s important and your own conclusion or opinion.  Always cite the source of course.
Short Lists – (Like this one) Create short lists of tips according to keyword themes, especially information that is in high demand but short supply. You can also focus on the kind of information that could help customers during various stages of the buying cycle:  5 Tips on How to Buy a New Widget, 5 Tips on Getting the Most Out of Your New Widget, 5 Things You Can Do With Old Widgets, 5 Common Problems with Widgets and How to Solve Them, etc.

Large Collections – Compile large collections of resources according to a search keyword or social topic theme. If you can find disparate resources that don’t normally get included together, it can really resonate as a unique and useful content object that will get bookmarked and shared. Long form and media rich content will often get bookmarked  more because readers aren’t likely to consume it in one sitting.
Really relevant, unique and useful collections of resources can be hard to compile in one sitting, so set a task to collect such resources a few at a time, over time. A few minutes a day over 3 weeks is barely noticed compared to 2 uninterrupted hours in one day.

Interview Industry Influentials – First you need to define what influential really means to your particular industry. Those with the most subscribers, friends and fans (in social media terms) may not be the people who can be the most cooperative and giving.  When approaching really well known industry people, it’s often easier to ask 10 people 1 question and compile the answers. That makes it easy for them to participate and when they see who else is involved, it can motivate them to participate. That means starting off with a few “internet famous” people that you know will participate, and reference them in requests to others you don’t know as well.

When interviewing subject matter expert “unsung heros”, use more questions and think about using keywords in the questions themselves, structuring the questions so that they might result in keyword rich answers. Of 10 questions asked of 10 people, make sure 2 or 3 questions are very tactical. Aggregate those tactical responses from the 10 interviewees later in a new post. There’s so much more you can do with repurposing content in original ways, but you get the idea. The key is to plan ahead.

Curate Comments – Aggregate the best comments from your blog or even other blogs according to a particular topic.  Identify important blogs in your industry, especially those with active commenters.  When you cite another blog, the content doesn’t need to be limited to the blog post. It can also include the comments from other blogs. You can chose to organize those comments according to keyword topics (citing the source blog of course) or a particular position that you’re taking.
You can also compile some of the best comments from your own blog as a way to recognize community participation.

Crowdsource Content – Think about doing surveys, polls & contests that result in content. Give readers an incentive to participate in a promotion where entry into the contest is based on some kind of content: short articles, images or video. Enable your blog readers to rate entries and promote the winner.  Don’t just do this once, because if it works well at all, you can build momentum by running the promotion annually or quarterly depending on the volume of interest and participation.  I recently posted about crowdsourcing content on ClickZ.

Answer with Subject Matter Expertise – Many subject matter experts and business executives are too busy to write blog posts. But if you ask them a question, they’ll talk your ear off. Use that behavior to your advantage and get business blogging staff to ask subject matter experts in the organization questions verbally – in person or on the phone – and use the answers in corporate blog posts.
Frontline Answers – Another goldmine of content for blogs is from frontline employees that interact with prospects and customers.  Customer support staff and sales people answer questions all day long. Find a way to harvest that knowledge into edited FAQ’s for your blog.  Always make sure you give feedback to whoever helps provide content to your business blog. That will contribute to their feeling of contribution and can help motivate future participation.

These ideas are just an excerpt from one slide of my solo presentation on Content Marketing Optimization. There are many other things you can do to create interesting content for your business blog, especially if you’ve done homework with customer profiles, search keywords and social topics.  We’ve created processes around content calendars for blogs and other content marketing efforts that makes this a very straightforward process. Lists like the one above can certainly fuel an initial content calendar to either start a business blog or introduce new content to an existing blog.

Are you facing challenges with your business blog? What’s stopping you from launching a new blog or with content creation?  What creative content ideas have you seen on other blogs that you’d like to share?

You probably notice, I use the Oreo Cookie Approach in this blog. Remember content is king, whether it’s in a website, blog or online news release.

LINKEDIN mess with your personal info. Here is How to Opt Out.

  1. Click on your name on your LinkedIn homepage in the upper right corner. From the drop-down menu, select “Settings.”
  2. On the “Settings” page, select “Account.”
  3. In the column next to “Account,” click “Manage Social Advertising.”
  4. Uncheck the box next to “LinkedIn may use my name, photo in social advertising.”
  5. Now check the new default settings under “E-mail Preferences” and “Groups, Companies & Applications.” Make sure to opt out of “Data Sharing with 3rd-party applications” as well.

What Business Does Your Business Have On Facebook

Hopefully by now, you have found compelling reasons of why your Business now has a Facebook page. I am amazed by the number of people I work with that are now just finding how valuable it can be. Here are some tips by the Top Pros in business to help you make your page even stronger.

Are you using video marketing for your business?

Here are a collection of tips from the social media examiner to make your video marketing easier…

Are you using videos to market your business? Are you wondering how to get started? Do you need some ideas to improve your videos? We asked our writers to share their best tips on how to make video marketing easy for you. How to Get Started Creating Videos #1: Try video now My biggest tip […] Read the rest of this article…

3 Branding Tips

Good Branding Tips To Work On
Learn from your competitors. It’s always a good exercise to analyze and critique your competitors on what they are doing right and wrong. This way, you can up with a better strategy for your personal brand. If you fail to review your competitors material, you might end up making the same mistakes later.
Reinforce your brand. One of the reasons why you want to keep a consistent brand is that each time people see your face, name and information, they will reinforce each other. The more you do it, the more powerful of a brand you will build.
Treat everyone like a potential customer. You really don’t know who is connected to who sometimes so you need to treat everyone with respect. Someone that can’t afford your services, or hire you, can refer you to someone who can. .