Thursday, May 17, 2018

Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook updated

Highly Regarded Handbook for Nonprofit Marketers Updated – Second Edition Released
The Second Edition of Ben Delaney’ Nonprofit Marketing Handbook has been published with a new chapter, Marketing Automation information, and hundreds of updates.

Chapter on Crisis Communications Management available online at

Oakland, CA —Ben Delaney’s award-winning handbook for nonprofit marketers has been updated and released in a second edition.

The Second Edition continues the mission of the first, to provide a guide for the people doing providing communications functions in nonprofit organizations. Often these people are drafted to do this work with no training and little experience. But this work is very important; in fact the very sustainability of a nonprofit organization can be impacted by its communication efforts.

Said Delaney, “A lot has changed since I wrote this book, especially in the social media and marketing automation areas. Nonprofit marketers need every tool they can find, so that their small budgets can stretch to do the work that is needed. I also see that more nonprofits are faced with crises of all sorts, from leadership malfeasance to fires to injuries, so I added a chapter on crisis communications management that I hope no one will ever have to use, but everyone should read.”

Also added to the Second Edition is information on Marketing Automation – using apps to handle routine marketing tasks, like responding to a new sign-up on a webform, and sending emails to the right people at designated time. Marketing Automation is enabling marketing departments to accomplish more with less, and in most nonprofit organizations, that is essential. A list of some of the best Marketing Automation tools is also included.

The Second Edition also included hundreds of updates to ensure that all references and web addresses are accurate.

The first edition of Ben Delaney’s Nonprofit Marketing Handbook received numerous awards, including the coveted Platinum award in the Annual MarCom Awards contest, and was a finalist in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards in 2015. It has all 5-star reviews on Amazon and Reader’s Choice.

Ben Delaney’s Nonprofit Marketing Handbook, Second Edition will be available on Amazon as a paperback book or in a Kindle edition. It may also be ordered from local bookstores. The ISBN for the print edition is 978-1-5136-3554-5.

Open in case of emergency

Managing communications in a crisis

It’s bound to happen. One of your major funders cuts you off. Your ED is accused of sexual harassment. The CFO makes off with your bank account. There’s a fire in your office. You’ve been hacked and your client records are exposed. Your reputation is at stake. Your funding is at stake. Every nonprofit may have to deal with problems like these at some time. How you deal with them can make a substantial difference in the health of your organization, and indeed, whether or not your organization survives.

Dealing with situations like these is called Crisis Management. How you handle a crisis is vitally important. Every member of the leadership team needs to be aware and involved, and those in Marketing and Communications can be vital to a successful resolution of the situation. In this chapter I’m going to offer a few tips, some of which are based on my personal experience managing communications during crisis.

First an anecdote. At a community-based organization (CBO), a surprise inspection by the fire marshall resulted in a notice to abate (meaning that they had to correct any problems with the building or cease operations). The landlord, the Board of Directors and the staff were near panic. What was going to happen? They had 5000 square feet full of stuff, a staff of 11, and limited resources.

“Information” got out quickly and created an immediate ruckus. One long-term volunteer started telling clients that the organization would soon close. She advised the staff to start looking for new jobs. Customers and staff alike were asking how long the organization would be in business and what its fate would be.

This was a classic example of the need to manage the message. The leadership team had to respond to the people who were calling, writing, tweeting, and emailing, all with increasing concern about the fate of the organization. A local newspaper ran an article with a headline announcing that the CBO was about to be evicted. All of this happened over a couple of weeks, and created an intense sense of urgency.

While this organization did not have a written crisis management plan, crisis management had been given a lot of thought and discussion. I don’t recommend being that casual, but that is, at the minimum, where to start with your own crisis management and communications planning.

The Board knew about the Order to Abate before the newspaper article appeared. Knowing that the situation sounded ominous, they went to work crafting a comprehensive, coherent and consistent message that everyone would use when talking about the situation. The Board worked on this message for several days, consulting by way of email and phone calls, until a short message that was accurate, truthful and calming was agreed upon. Immediately, the message was used in consistent response to emails and posted on social media accounts and the organization’s website.

In addition, the organization added a page to their website where they posted news and allowed the community to comment and talk among themselves. A GoFundMe campaign was started in response to the many people who had asked what they could do to help.

This turned out to be a successful example of how thinking about crisis communication management before an event occurs makes it easier to respond. Because the leadership team had started working on messaging early, the communications were effective, the panic quelled, the GoFundMe page raised several thousand dollars, and time was extended for compliance with the order.

Are you ready to handle a crisis? Let me share a few tips on handling communications during a crisis.

Don’t wait for an emergency.

“You have to anticipate a crisis in order to deal with it when it comes.” 
Daniel Kennedy, PR and MarCom authority

One of the most important aspects of dealing with a crisis is being ready for it. It is far easier to think about your emergency response in the calm before the storm.

An organizational crisis management plan should be prepared by every nonprofit. Developing this plan should be a collaborative effort involving your leadership team, the Board of Directors and other key stakeholders in your organization. The plan should include what to do in various types of emergencies, such as a fire, an earthquake, a tornado, a serious injury, a broken pipe or a heart attack, as well as unexpected media coverage or allegations about the organization, whether true or not. It should include a list of contact information for the people who may need to be reached in case of emergencies, such as the police, the fire department, your landlord, your insurance broker and others.

Your plan should include managing clients at your site, evacuation procedures (and what triggers them), and other aspects of likely, and unlikely, events at your organization. Of course, you want to be certain that your overall crisis management plan recognizes the differing requirements of various situations and addresses them.

Your crisis management plan should be easily accessible and should be reviewed at least once a year to make sure that it is still up-to-date and appropriate. In the case of some types of emergencies you will want to have periodic drills to help the staff understand how to respond in various situations.

Every comprehensive crisis management plan should include a crisis communications section. It’s important to coordinate with your leadership team to make sure that communications efforts align with and augment the crisis management plans that have been adopted. It’s also vital that you are prepared to defend your reputation and to show that you are handling the situation well.

Let’s look at what your Crisis Communications Plan should include.

Crisis Communications Plan Checklist

Start with a general plan, and then think of special situations and what they will require. Here are some of the key items to include in your crisis communications plan:
  • The person, or people, who are authorized to speak publicly about an event or situation. Typically, designated members of the Board, the Executive Director, and/or a media specialist are the only people authorized to make public statements. Everyone else in the organization, including Board members and staff, should refer questions to the designated spokespeople. This is a “must do” and is critically important.
  • Try to anticipate the various types of situations that may arise. For example, there may be workplace violence, or a serious injury at the work site. There could be a fire, explosion, or leak of toxic materials. There could be a natural disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, earthquake or flood. There could be accusations of sexual or other harassment. Malfeasance on the part of your Board or staff leadership can occur, or merely be alleged. These types of situations, as well as the ones that are unique to your organization or location, should be evaluated, and appropriate responses prepared for those that are most likely. 
  • List the people or teams that will be gathering information and how that information will be provided to the communications team. Include people to talk with: an attorney, an insurance broker, an HR expert, or a CPA, for example. The board and staff leadership should develop an approval process, and that process should be evaluated periodically. The plan will include the approvals needed before releasing information. 
  • Your communication strategy should incorporate the right media for the situation: social media, your website, traditional media, external and internal communications channels. One of the biggest advantages of having a crisis communications plan is that your message placement is predetermined, enabling you to act quickly and avoid bad decisions. Even so, remember that every situation is unique, with unique communication needs. You’ll often have to adjust on the fly.
  • Include a list of local journalists that  you want to contact. List each with the topic/beat he or she covers. Be sure you have your statement ready before you contact the press, and get it first to those who have been friendly to your organization. 
  • In addition, have a list of your other stakeholders that you’ll want to contact in various situations, before you go public, if possible. For example, if there’s a fire, you may need to contact your staff and clients right away. As you draw up this list, consider priorities: who do you contact first, second, and on down the list? If there’s a political situation, you may want to contact your local representatives or department heads with whom you do business. Think about your bankers, funders, individual donors, advisory board, and anyone else who needs to hear what is happening directly from the organization. Be ready with an elevator pitch for Board and staff to use casually. Keep in mind that your loyal supporters can help spread your message – draft them as ad hoc boosters, and keep them informed of changes in the situation and the official messaging. This is a critical element in your plan for successfully handling a situation.
  • You also want to think about how you’re going to get information to your staff. Think about what will be necessary if they are at work, or not, and be ready to let them know what’s going on, and what is expected of them. Warn them against speaking to anyone, especially the media, about what is happening. Instead, emphasize that they should refer questions to the authorized spokespersons.

What to do when they unexpected occurs

Your communications plan gives you a head start on how you will be communicating in the event of a crisis. However, it’s impossible to preplan what you’re going to say. These pointers will help you be prepared when you need to act quickly. But remember – the situation will change, and you need to be ready for the unexpected.
  • Get the facts. Then act thoughtfully.
    When a crisis is upon you, you need to get in front of the story as quickly as possible, and you need to do that in a thoughtful way. Approach your information-gathering from a journalist’s point of view: Who, What, Where, When, and Why. Use those questions to guide you as you collect facts. Don’t jump to conclusions. Check back with people as the situation changes. They may have new information, and you may have new questions. Be sure you understand the situation and be aware that it may change rapidly. Stories evolve and change – everyone expects that. But retractions or major corrections can hurt credibility. 
  • Identify the people who are directly affected by the situation.
    It’s important to understand who the audience and stakeholders are in any given situation. Sometimes you need to collect information from them, sometimes you need to get information to them. Knowing your audience and stakeholders in any given situation is critical to effective communications.
    Develop lists of likely stakeholders and audiences who will have or need information in various situations.
  • Get expert help.
    Don’t rely just on yourself and your in-house team in a crisis situation. You may need to consult an attorney. You may want to talk with your insurance agent. You may have other stakeholders who can help due to specific knowledge of the situation or expertise in a specific domain.
    Be sure you talk to your experts before you craft your statement, because what they say might directly impact what you say. Remember, though it may evolve over time as the situation changes, you have only one chance to get the first  message correct, and to get in front of the situation.
  • Develop a list of advisors who you will contact in various situations.
    Work with your board and the other people directly involved to arrive at a consensus on messaging. Then, craft a statement that you will use consistently to explain the situation.
    Once you are confident that the situation is understood, and stakeholders identified, work together to determine how you want to talk about the situation; honestly, of course, but in a way that helps you manage the communications and the perceptions of what’s happening.
    Be sure to consider the impact of your statements on all of your stakeholders. Choose your words carefully. You don’t want anyone, especially your funders, to consider the organization unreliable or a bad risk. Express your concern and compassion, but don’t admit or assign guilt. (A caveat: If your organization has obviously done something wrong, admit it, explain your plan for correcting the problem, and discuss how you will prevent a reoccurrence.) Present the situation realistically, without being overly emotional, and without blaming people. Don’t make the situation look hopeless. Your reaction needs to be seen as appropriate, proportionate, and well thought out.
    Write down, and agree on, three versions of your official statement. These are used for different audiences and platforms – the short statement on Twitter, the mid-length one on Facebook, and the long one to the press, for example. (I usually start with a long version and edit down.) The written statement helps assure that your story is presented consistently, no matter who is speaking. This consistency helps your credibility.
    Distribute your approved statement to the Board and others designated to speak for the organization, and emphasize the importance of sticking to it. 
  • Roll out your message.
    • Your plan should include rollout timing. What’s the priority of getting the information out on different platforms? This will differ depending on the situation, but it’s important to pre-think so you can react quickly and precisely when you need to. Here are a few of the stakeholders that you will probably want to contact in almost any situation that you deem to be a crisis or emergency:
    • Proactively contact local media, especially if they have already started to cover your story, and offer to talk with them as soon as possible. Chose journalists who will report accurately and don’t have an axe to grind. Think about the impact of your language, and test it on a few people before you roll it out.
    • Contact your major funders and supporters. Let them know what’s happening. Provide the official statement and answer all of their questions. Do not wait for them to contact you.
    • Reach out to your staff and make sure that they understand what’s going on, what you’re doing to deal with the situation, and how it’s going to impact them. They rely on their jobs to pay the rent. It’s only reasonable to let them know how their employment might be impacted, or not, due to the situation. Be sure they know who the official spokesperson is and that they should refer all questions to her.
    • Your social community will want to know what’s happening. As you probably have noticed, bad news travels fast. You may be surprised at how quickly you start getting calls and emails from concerned stakeholders. These can include your clients, your vendors, and anybody you interact with. So be sure that you’re ready to get your information out through social media, including the possibility of an email blast.
    • Any other stakeholders that haven’t been covered need to be reached with your consistent messaging.
  • Be alert and be nimble.
    Your planning should acknowledge the fact that you can’t plan for everything. Any crisis situation can change rapidly. You need to be ready for that change and ready to adapt to it. New information may mean that you need to change your messaging or that you need to reach out a second time to the media or stakeholders. In any crisis, be ready for rapid developments, and be prepared to act quickly as the situation changes. If negative messaging occurs on social media or newspapers/TV, be sure to address it and get the accurate story, i.e. your thought-out messaging, to those individuals. Do not let their negative messaging go unaddressed.

After the storm has passed

After your crisis has passed, you need to mop up. Contact your press list and other stakeholders again with information that summarizes what happened, who was affected, and how the organization dealt with the issues. Talk about measures put in place to prevent such a situation from happening again, or how the organization will be better prepared to deal with it in the future. Remember to include your staff, so that they understand what happened.

Finally, do a debrief with your leadership team and Board to examine how well your planning worked. Make the necessary changes to your overall crisis management plan and to your crisis communications plan. And remember – review these documents at least annually.

When all this is done, you’ve earned a time to relax and unwind. But don’t get complacent. It could all happen again tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Building a Better Board

Recently, I was asked for some help in choosing members for a nonprofit Board of Directors. I can't claim to be an expert, but having served on a half dozen boards myself, and having worked with several others, I feel that my experiences and observations may be helpful if you are involved with building a board.

The most important single attribute for prospective board members is a deep understanding and appreciation of the nonprofit's work. Without this, your prospect is unlikely to add value on a consistent, long-term basis.

Then, board member selection should be based on the type of organization. Will the board members (BoD) be expected to do the work of the organization? Many small nonprofits are run like this. If so, you need people who are willing, able, and skilled at the tasks required.

In this case, a written description of the board committees and the work they do will help you and your prospective board members understand what is expected. Try to define both the work that will be needed and the time it will take. For example: Outreach to City officials, 2 hours per month; Annual event planning and production, 50 hours annually, in six week period.

If the Board is a more traditional one, overseeing the work of a paid staff, usually with only the ED reporting directly to the Board, your requirements change from working expertise to advisory, and importantly, fundraising ability.

No matter what type of organization you have, a written job description for Board members is helpful. When you help your prospective Directors understand what is expected you are more likely to get candidates ready to do the work required.

Your BoD should probably NOT look like this!

Regardless of the type of Board, there are some roles I think almost every nonprofit should work to fill. They include (in no particular order):
  • An attorney, preferably one who will provide some amount of pro bono service to the organization.
  • An accountant. Like the attorney, someone who will help with oversight and auditing is very helpful.
  • Someone with marketing/communications skill and expertise.
  • Someone with organizational development skills.
  • People with deep pockets and/or friends with deep pockets.
  • Someone who loves to entertain and plan parties.
  • A high-level HR person.
  • People with expertise in the NP's work.
  • Diverse types of people who represent your community and your stakeholders.
Of course, all this is easier said than done. Good people are inundated with BoD requests. Be selective, and ask your current BoD members for suggestions.

Finally, almost every Nonprofit needs help with fundraising, and the Board is a natural place for fundraising to take place. I don't mean asking your Directors for money. In fact, I don't like doing that – I feel that they are donating a lot of value in their time. But asking them for connections and introductions is totally acceptable. Some of them may be willing to host events or work on a fund-raising committee. All of these expectations should be clear to prospective Board members before they sign on.

I hope this is helpful. Good luck forming your Board of Directors.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

What's in a Name? A lot!

Just came across this interesting post on the Advanced Marketing Institute website. Thought you would find it interesting.

Unique Marketing Test Reveals Likely Election Winner.
The Secret? One Name Captures the Emotions of Voters.

How do you reach inside the mind of voters to determine who they will vote for, even before they may even know themselves?

That is the particularly intriguing question faced by hundreds, even thousands of pollsters, not to mention politicians. As the public is exposed to the daily, hourly barrage of skittishly jumping results of the polls, there seems to be no way to measure what will happen, except to say it is "virtually a dead heat."

Hakim Chishti, Executive Director of the research firm Advanced Marketing Institute (AMI) believes his form picked the likely winner. And it will not be anywhere near a "too close to call election." In fact, according to Chishti, "one of the candidates is three more times more likely to be chosen in this election."

“It’s All in the Sound of Your Voice”

According to Chishti, "Going all the way back to Plato, it has been known that our emotions are affected by the actual sound of words; the tones within words 'mean' something to us, regardless of which language is being spoken, and regardless of whether we even know the

Chishti, who is fluent in several Near Eastern languages and a US Government Fulbright Research Scholar, says "I became interested in the harmonics of languages, when in my travels I found that people had emotional reactions to languages which they did not know."

Phonetic Symbolism: the Key to the Emotional ‘Meaning’ of Words

In linguistics this phenomenon is known as "phonetic symbolism." Marketers and researchers for decades have used this awareness to develop brand names and evaluate marketing communications. Russian researchers discovered that these sound affect a child while it is still in its mothers womb.

While the effects of spoken words on our emotions can be profound, understanding the specific mechanics of how sounds produce specific emotional reactions has been an elusive goal for researchers.

200,000 Words Analyzed for Emotional Impact

In the 1990s, Dr. Chishti led his team of researchers at the Advanced Marketing Institute to develop special algorithms. Based upon research at Bell Labs, Chishti's computer experts analyzed the tonal qualities in more than 200,000 words in the English language, and the specific centers in the mind and body activate by specific waveforms made by each sound.

The Advanced Marketing Institute provides a free analysis tool online which provides free evaluation of headlines. Site visitors run more than 30,000 headlines through the tool each month, to improve the emotional connection of their marketing slogans with potential customers.

The analysis results provide a breakdown of words into three categories - those affecting the emotional, intellectual and spiritual centers of a person. Based upon these criteria, Chishti's firm provides special computer analysis to Fortune 100 clients and others. The results are stated as an "Index" for each component of the emotional value of a particular series of words.

“Inside the Mind of the Marketplace” (And Voters)

According to Chishti, this type of research provides very deep insight into how customers interact with products, services, and other people. "We call this analysis "Inside the Mind of The Marketplace," Chishti said.

"It was possible for us to evaluate, as just one example," said Chishti, "political candidate's speeches, to discern how emotional, or intellectual or spiritual their communication is."

Chishti also said, "If you also evaluate the blog posts
of a candidates' web site, one can more fully match the communication style of prospective voters. That is a considerable advantage."

So after an evaluation of all the candidates' speeches and all of the campaigning across millions of miles and thousands of hours of stale dinners and limp shrimp, which candidate does Chishti predict will be the winner?

“It’s all in the name …”

"Of course many factors influence an election," he said. "The area we thought most relevant was the name of the candidate himself. Since this is the most obvious and often-repeated aspect of everyone's connection to a candidate, we wanted to get to the core perception for each candidate. We felt the name provided just such a focus.

And Chishti revealed to us that purely in terms of the harmonics of the names, one candidate is a clear winner, and overwhelming winner. And that is Senator Barak Obama.

"At least according to the science of linguistics and our computer analysis of how people respond emotionally, Sen. Barak Obama's name has an overall emotional content index value of 150%, whereas John McCain's rating is only 50%."

Candidate’s name “off the charts in terms of emotional appeal…”

To put that in perspective, even the best copywriters attain an index rating of around 30%. So while McCain's name is not necessarily weak, the harmonic strength of Obama's name if essentially off the charts. You practically could not have invented a more emotionally connective name for a political candidate," said Chishti.

"Without getting too technical about it all" Chishti said, "simply in terms the emotional, heartfelt connection, common people have three times the "emotional" connection with Sen. Obama."

Though considered ‘intellectual’, people ‘feel’ him as the more as emotional and empathetic candidate.”

Even more interesting, said Chishti, is that we can further break down the specific format of emotions, into heartfelt qualities or emotions, intellectual values and spiritual values. "Interestingly, " even though Obama is considered the "intellectual" of the candidates, his name conveys only "emotional" or heartfelt values to people.

"Perhaps that explains to some extent the rising tide of veneration enjoyed by the Obama campaign, and the large crowds, their sense of commonality of purpose and community exhibited by the huge crowds he draws," Chishti said.

This report may be forwarded or republished on any website with attribution to

Published by Advanced Marketing Institute
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Media Contact:
© 2008 Advanced Marketing Institute. World rights reserved.

Please send all comments, questions, and concerns to


Friday, June 6, 2014

Nonprofits losing millions from poor communications

Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook

New book helps nonprofits get their message to the people who need to hear it.

Starting a new job as a nonprofit Marketing and Communications Director, Ben Delaney looked hard for insight into the specific issues of nonprofit communications. He couldn't find the help he needed in the few dusty, ivory tower textbooks that addressed the issue. So, when he left that job a few years later, he decided to help others in similar situations by writing a book based on his experiences. That engaging book, Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook, was just released on Amazon in print and Kindle editions.

Despite the proliferation of social media, smart phones, and the internet, many nonprofit organizations are still not great communicators. Often, their communications efforts are relegated to interns and lower level staff who lack experience and specific knowledge of marketing tools and techniques. These organizations are losing millions of dollars in potential donations because the people who care about their programs never hear about them. Delaney's book will help nonprofits upgrade their communications for high impact and strong donor support.

Written for small to medium sized organizations, Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook is the hands-on guide to marketing and communications that he couldn't find when he started doing nonprofit marketing eight years ago. Novices and experienced marketers alike will find a wealth of actionable information here.

Realizing that many nonprofits lack the resources for effective marketing, Delaney wrote his book as a do-it-yourself handbook that addresses all of the key aspects of marketing and communications for nonprofits. He covers all the issues that nonprofit marketers need to address, starting by explaining the importance of System Marketing™, his method of ensuring that everyone in an organization is telling the same stories in the same words to provide unified communications.

Filled with helpful tips and real-life examples, Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook includes detailed descriptions of various marketing tools, describing what each is good for, how to measure their impact,  and their comparative costs. One chapter explains how to use different networking and presentation opportunities for maximum impact. He addresses branding, social media, public relations, advertising, search engine marketing, event management, advanced networking, research, working with nonprofit boards, and more, in 22 crisp chapters.

Delaney leads the reader through building accountability into marketing efforts and building websites with stickiness. He unravels the tangles of search engine marketing and optimization. His chapter on testing makes even this often daunting concept easily understood. He concludes the book with a resource guide and glossary.

Scan this code to see
Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook on Amazon.
Written in a conversational tone, and based on more than thirty years of award-winning marketing and management experience, Ben Delaney's Nonprofit Marketing Handbook is a valuable tool that should be on every nonprofit development and communications specialist's iPad or bookshelf. It is available on Amazon as a Kindle ebook or in paperback. Find more information on or at

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Best Exercise is Walking

How getting up and getting out can really boost your MarCom efforts

One of the least expensive, and most effective way of communicating about your organization is as old as campfires in the hills.

Think about how you learn about new restaurants to try, new movies to see, new bands to hear, new networks to check out. In most cases, even in our hyper-connected age, word of mouth is still the most trusted communication, especially for recommendations. Sure, we all use Yelp and TripAdvisor, but don’t you usually ask your friends, too?

Getting up from your chair and getting out of the office to talk with people is one of the most cost-effective marketing arrows in your quiver.

There are a million opportunities to get out and tell people about your organization’s great work. Most are free to very inexpensive. A few require larger investments, and as with any other MarCom purchase, you need to evaluate the potential ROI.

In my last job, I had my assistant call all of the local Rotary, Lions, and Elks clubs, as well as Chambers of Commerce, offering my services as a presenter at their frequent luncheons. Our goal was one presentation a month, and after a few weeks she had easily lined up those presentations for me. Not only did they directly bring in new business from people who were unaware of our organization (a nonprofit social enterprise) and its great work and mission, but it enabled me to make a few long-term connections that have proven beneficial. The cost of this? A few hours of my assistant’s time and a few hours of my time. And generally speaking, I got a free lunch out of the deal.

An added benefit of these lunch-time talks was the rehearsal time they afforded me. Most top marketers are frequently required to make presentations on their organization and its programs. The Rotary lunch talks got me ready to talk to our funders and donors. They helped me see what descriptions made the best impressions, and how to best talk about what we did. The frequent talks showed me which jokes worked and which programs created the greatest empathy. And because I generally had a slide presentation as part of my speech, the frequent repetitions helped me fine-tune that, fixing slides that didn’t flow well, or that people didn’t seem to understand. And after you do this a couple of dozen time, your stage fright will disappear, or at least becomes controllable, and your presentations will get better and better.

Finally, the questions that always came after the prepared remarks revealed how well I was communicating, which concepts were easy to grasp and which were confusing, and what parts of our program really resonated with people. All of this was incredibly useful information. And a great opportunity to hand out business cards and some brochures.

Is that a badge in your pocket, or…

Of course, one must include conferences and conventions in your marketing efforts. They are great opportunities to meet lots of people by giving presentations, but also by simply being there. There are dozens of conferences every day – and you could spend your entire career on the road attending them. But if you pick the top two to four conferences each year and attend those, you’ll make dozens of new connections and spread the word about your organization while learning new tricks to help your work improve.
Speaking at conferences usually involves one of four presentation options: Panels, Breakout sessions, Plenaries (to everyone), and Keynotes.

Panels are conversations between two or more people on a specific topic. Audiences like these because they get a multitude of opinions and expertise addressing a specific issue. Organizers like them because they enable a lot of people to talk, and usually each speaker brings in income for the conference organizer.
Panels can be a good way to present information, but they have a few drawbacks. Unless the moderator has good control over the panel, you can get a runaway speaker situation, where one presenter monopolizes the time available. This can be especially annoying when that presenter is not very good, or is boring and uninteresting. Another hazard of panels is poor moderation in general. The panel moderator needs to know enough about the subject to be able to ask interesting and provocative questions, and to be able to keep the panelists on topic and on time. Panels are especially good because they give you an opportunity to get feedback from the audience. The question-and-answer period after a panel presentation is usually the most useful part of the presentation, and almost always the most interesting.

If you are asked to moderate a panel, be sure you understand the topic and the presenters as well as possible. Call the panel members beforehand, preferably in a video or audio conference so that everyone can talk together, and discuss  the topics you want to cover, the order of the speakers, how long each of them has for an introductory speech, whether or not you want them to use slides, and how much time you have overall. Well-run panels can be really interesting for the audience members, are great way to meet other experts in your field, and can be very rewarding.

Breakout and Plenary presentations are a bigger deal than panels, and put you in the spotlight in front of the audience, all by yourself. Breakouts take place at the same time as other sessions, and typically have only a portion of the total attendance, but otherwise are very similar to Plenary sessions. Plenary presentations are usually a half hour to 45 min. long. They require a firm understanding of your topic, a tight presentation that doesn't wander or give people time to get bored, good slides, and confidence on your part. Usually you'll work with the conference organizers to determine what the topic should be, what style of presentation they prefer when you're going to give the presentation, and what audiovisual or other amenities will be available. This is a tremendous one-to-many communications opportunity, and a chance to tell important stories about your organization’s efforts, methods, and impacts.

Keynotes are often among the most highly-anticipated presentations at a conference. This gives you a huge messaging opportunity. Keynote speakers often get featured in the program and receive a lot of attention. As with any important presentation, you want to be sure to talk to the organizers of the conference beforehand to understand their expectations, how long you have, what the stage and presentation area will be like, who you're following and preceding, and any other details that are important.

Before you do any presentation at a conference or even a luncheon be sure to rehearse it. I find it really good to talk to myself, to give the presentation while looking at the slides on my computer, to get a sense of flow and timing. Flow is very important — your slides and your presentation has to move along as if it were a conversation. The best presentations sound like someone talking directly to you, not like someone reading a book. It takes time and practice to get relaxed enough to give a talk like that, and its only possible when you know your material well.

After you've talked through it yourself a few times, looking at your slides and checking how well the flow and timing works, ask a few friends to be guinea pigs and critique your presentation. I always do this before an important talk and find it to be incredibly valuable.

You don't want your friends to be just your friends when you're doing a rehearsal talk and asking for their critique. You want them to point out the things they don't understand, and the places where you struggle with your delivery. You need them to tell you if your talk is interesting, and holds their attention. You need them to be brutally honest with you. This isn’t the time for people to be patting you on the back, and telling you how good you are. (But you are, you’re really good!)

One last thing. Don't make your presentations commercials. Talking in a way that sounds overtly like a sales pitch is going to alienate your audience and make them far less receptive to what you have to say. Your presentation needs to tell the stories that help people understand your topic. It can be all about your organization and the great programs it provides. But don't make it just a sales pitch; tone it down, keep it subtle, and make it interesting. When you get people engaged with your stories, they'll be eager to learn more, eager to help, and eager to donate.

I recently saw an online conversation that started with the question, “How do I get my development director out of the office and talking to people?” don’t let your boss ever ask this question. Whether you’re in development, MarCom, or general management, get up off your chair and go tell your story.

In summary, here  are a few of the types of places you can make presentations with a few thoughts about each type of venue.

Good for
Hallway conversation at a conference

Getting to know people.

Practicing your elevator speech

Getting the latest gossip

Learning about things before official announcements

Making friends and allies

This can be the most important time at a conference

Practice your elevator speech before you go.

Notice how people react to your elevator speech and refine it as needed.
Talks to service clubs (Rotary, Lions, Chamber of Commerce, etc.)
Getting the word out to local people.
Creating new supporters
Practicing your presentation skills.
Wonderful practice opportunity – get your presentation down.
Great way to get info to the community.
Good place to meet local who will support your mission.
Panel discussion at conference

Opportunity to be seen and have your story heard

Be seen as equal to other presenters (increased status)

Providing short comments on a topic

Learning from other panelists while presenting

A way onto a conference program.

Usually a larger audience than a service club.

Meet other presenters who may be good to know.

Low-risk way to get feedback and test your messaging and presentation before a larger, more sophisticated group.
Plenary presentation at conference
Providing long-form information to an interested audience.
Establishing authority and the importance of your topic/organization.
A bigger audience, with higher expectations than at a panel presentation.
Keep your talk general enough to appeal to everyone.
Be sure you rehearse until it becomes effortless.
Keynote presentation

Captivating an audience with the strength of your personality and the importance of your cause..

This is the big time, be sure you are ready.

Remember: a plenary talk is often as much about entertainment as information.

A great way to introduce new ideas, plans, efforts.

By virtue of place, your status increases.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

About advertising

© 2014 Ben Delaney 

Advertising. We're all surrounded by it, inundated by aural and visual noise that pollutes our environment and covers every surface around us. But advertising serves a purpose, and the best advertising sticks in our minds for years. Good advertising reaches the right audience with the right story at the right time. Good advertising creates good impressions and memories. There's no reason that you shouldn't use advertising to help get your message out. The only question is how to advertise so that your advertising is effective, both in terms of reaching the people you want to talk to with the message you want them to hear, and doing that while spending the least amount of money.

As with any other marketing, you first have to understand your audience. If you are a nonprofit organization you should know your audience fairly well. You should have lots of records on your donors, as well as people who have expressed an interest in your organization. You should also have good records on your clients, who often can become donors and supporters. You have a clear mission and vision, and a fine message crafted.

As in any other marketing effort, you first want to define your goals. What are you trying to accomplish with this advertising? Who do you need to reach? What do you want them to do? How much money do you have to spend? How long do you have to accomplish what you need to do?

As part of your System Marketing™ plan, advertising needs to fit in with all the other marketing that you're doing. Everything needs to form a coherent whole. Your staff needs to be ready to handle inquiries and be prepared to respond to people who are interested in your product. Depending on the product you're promoting, whether it be your big annual benefit, a donor outreach effort, or new product from your social enterprise, the entire advertising campaign, including preparation for response, needs to be thought out in advance, and with data collection and measuring points built-in.

One of thing to remember about advertising is that one ad rarely is as effective as you hope it will be. People respond to repetition. They need to see your ad over and over again. So before your event you should run the same ad, or very similar ads, in as many places, as many times as you can afford. Weekly newspapers and online outlets provide regular updates which enable you to have many impressions in the window of time available. More impressions are good. Just be sure you're reaching the people you want to get your message.

Let's consider a hypothetical case, an advertising campaign to support Kitty Rescue League's Fat Cat Bash. The goal of this at this event is to bring a hundred seventy-five donors to a fancy dinner. The advertising budget is $2,000. That might not seem like a lot money but will see how to spend it to get the most effective return.

Identifying our target demographic is fairly easy. We know we want cat lovers in our local area. We know that older cat lovers have greater disposable income, and possibly more free evenings. However, we don't want to ignore the significant millennium generation; a lot of them like cats too.

We start by start by surveying local media: radio, TV, newspapers, and magazines. For each of these we want to ask publishers to provide demographic as well as distribution information. For example, where I live, the San Francisco Chronicle is the largest newspaper, reaching close to half a million people every day. Its distribution range is roughly a 200 mile diameter from its publishing base in San Francisco. If I needed to reach a lot of people who didn't need to be in any particular nearby area, the Chronicle is a great way to do it. However the Kitty Rescue League is in a small suburb of San Francisco. Ninety percent of their donors live within twenty-five miles of the office. So buying advertising in the Chronicle would not be cost-effective, because much of the advertising would be wasted on people who live too far away. Looking further, the marketing intern at Kitty Rescue League discovers that a local weekly newspaper covers the target geographic area well and has a broad demographic appeal. This newspaper fits the criteria very well, and happily costs far less than the Chronicle.

Other local advertising opportunities might include church newsletters, local animal shelters' newsletters, and newsletters at local senior centers. All of these are relatively inexpensive. Because this is a one-time event your campaign will only stretch over a month or two, which also reduces cost. What is important is reaching the target demographic, and reaching a lot of people a number of times, within your budget.

For radio and TV, be sure to consider public service announcements (PSA's). The can be provided by email, or, if you have the ability to produce it, a complete video announcement. Be sure to contact the stations directly to learn how they handle PSA's. PSA's are free, but you have no control over when, or even if, they are shown.

However, print and TV are far from your only advertising option. Social media is an essential part of your advertising mix, especially for fast-breaking information. Social media is also very inexpensive – essentially free – so you can use it a lot with minimal impact on your budget. Remember, though, that the criteria for social media must be evaluated in the same way as those for print: reach and audience are key items to look at. Social media casts a broad net, but since it's free, it doesn't matter that much of the reach is wasted. Remember, too, that social media is ephemeral and dynamic, so you must update it frequently, and you must keep your updates interesting or you risk losing your audience.

Here's a checklist of things to remember when you plan your advertising:
  1. Demographics of your target audience, including gender, age, income, physical location, previous giving history, and the source of this name.
  2. Specific program interests, which means that certain donors prefer to give for certain programs.
  3. Media preferences. for example, if most of your donors are under 30, mobile media might be the way to reach them best. However if your donors are older and perhaps not as computer literate, you may reach them best on traditional media; television, radio, newspapers, and magazines.
  4. Budget. You don't want to spend more than you can afford.
  5. An offer. What's your call to action? You need to get people to do something; in this case, buy tickets for the Fat Cat Bash.
  6. Set goals. How many tickets do you need to sell to pay for this advertising? That's your minimum goal.

Finally, be sure your budget includes a good graphic designer for your print and online efforts. Your audience is sophisticated and will ignore or deride bad design. The money you spend for good design will help your organization look professional and help your advertising cut through the noise. And ultimately, that's your bottom line.