Friday, July 31, 2009

NonProfits and Strategic Branding - Creating a Continual Cycle

Oldie But Goodie #1 from February 29, 2008

Look at your brand, what do you see? It runs much deeper than your logo. What is your identity, what are your values? After you have established your brand touchpoints your next step is to define your target audience. Where do they live? What's in their communities? What are their passion points? How can you reach out and make a personal connection? That's strategic branding.

Many nonprofits are so focused on delivering excellent programs and services that their branding and marketing efforts get left behind. Nowadays, you must exhibit strong marketing and PR processes to standout from all the others.

By using community engagement marketing you connect with your target audience in their own backyard. By creating a community focused mission experience they can make a difference in their own backyard. Everyone wants their communities to be incredible places to live. In turn they will willingly invite others to participate, starting a continual cycle. Follow this cycle and just like a paddle wheel it will keep turning and turning.

Key messaging, visual imaging, consistent delivery, an impressive and informative web site and word of mouth are all components of brand strategy and become vital in achieving brand success.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Power of Partnership

Oldie But Goodie #5 - September 7, 2008

Who you partner your business with not only says a lot about your company, but also helps your company.

We suggest exploring the idea of partnering with a non-profit organization, especially small businesses. By partnering with a non-profit everyone wins - the organization, the beneficiaries of the organization and your company. Run your business with a giving heart.

Some of the benefits you could see might include:
  • Exposure to a new group of potential clients you might have never reached before
  • Potential media attention
  • Increased brand awareness
  • More unique visitors to your web site
Not sure how to partner with a non-profit . . .
  • Host a cultivation event in your location
  • Sell a particular product or have a sales day with a percentage of the proceeds going to the non-profit
  • Donate an in-kind item like a coupon or auction item (check out In-Kind Connection)
The majority of non-profit organizations welcome the partnership and will promote the partnership - to their donors, volunteers, beneficiaries, on their web, etc.

It's for the greater good and a win win for everyone!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Convincing Your Board That Marketing Is Important

Oldie But Goodie #4 - August 22, 2008

Times are tough but sometimes persuading your board can be even tougher. Boards and administrators can be hesitant when it comes to spending time or money on marketing. But, in order for non-profits to survive and make their difference in the world they need funding. In order to achieve lucrative funding, they need marketing. Our equation for non-profit success is:

Development + Marketing = Successful Program

Maybe these five points will help make your board think a little differently about their non-profit survival needs:

  1. Change perception - perception is reality so get them thinking marketing is their friend. After all, marketing makes a bigger difference because you are able to reach a greater number of people. Marketing makes you stand out above the rest and, when marketing smart you become strategic not reactive.
  2. Be Efficient - you can create incredible looking pieces without breaking the bank. Be smart about your material choices like paper stocks, colors, folds. Streamline your message. You don't have to say much to leave an imPRession.
  3. Realize Needs - Create materials for what is really needed. You don't have to create pieces for everything. Maybe you have a milestone celebration coming up, focus your strategy around that and create supporting pieces for this call to action. Or maybe you need more volunteers so create a piece that will pop and create interest attracting more volunteers.
  4. Be Flexible - It's smart marketing to stay focused on initiatives but it's also smart marketing to be flexible. If after a few quarters if something is not working it might be time to change strategy - not necessarily the materials - but the strategy.
  5. Measure and Communicate - Track your results quarterly and share them with the board. When there is forward movement and progress they will begin to see the fruits of your labor and you will get buy-in.
Not sure where to start, columbus imPRessions can help you create your marketing strategies, marketing campaign or materials. Contact us at or call 740.816.3251.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

4 What = How

Oldie But Goodie #3 - August 13, 2008

No, this is not a new math problem. It's just the formula for successfully marketing your non profit's latest campaign or development program. By answering some important "what" questions you will learn "how" to be a fundraising winner.

For example, you are getting ready to launch your new school fundraising program. In order to report success to your board of directions you need to map out the answers to the following questions:
  1. What is your objective? (you want to create a successful school program in your chapter area with the ability to raise funds and create awareness in the community)
  2. What is your goal? (to raise XXX funds through a school program having to spend XXX to do so)
  3. What is your strategy? (set criteria - research and define what regions, cities, communities, districts - "who" you are targeting. Sometimes you can't reach everyone so you need to focus on your primary target for the best rate of return. Determine how you are going to reach them (direct mail, email, social media, face-to-face visits). Focus on the needs of your primary target (can you teach students the importance of philanthropy, can you incorporate some fundraising techniques into the school curriculum, can you share stories of your mission to get the students to understand, can you make the project fun)
  4. What are your measuring tools? (how many schools do you want involved, how many direct mail letters tweets, or emails are you going to send, how many schools can you visit to make the face-to-face connection, how many media stories do you want to run in the community)
How are you going to win?
Connect the students to your mission, make them feel they are making a difference, reach the parents to create an entirely new target of potential supporters, make personal visits to the school, stay focused on the criteria, create community awareness in the local media, personally follow-up, show supporters where there money went, thank them for their support. Then you will retain these supporters for years to come. You, your supporters and your mission will all be winners!

Your nonprofit doesn't have a school fundraising and marketing program. columbus imPRessions has experience in school program fundraising. Email or call 740.816.3251.

Monday, July 27, 2009

I'd Like To Introduce You To Steward Donor

Oldie But Goodie #2 - May 27, 2008

With corporate dollars dwindling during the economic crunch it is more important than ever to make sure you are creating a strong relationship with each and every donor - corporate and individual.

On the heels of the Columbus Dispatch corporate giving article we feel it necessary to point out the importance of donor stewardship. If you have great donor stewardship you will have great donor retention. It is after all much more expensive to acquire a new donor than it is to renew a past supporter.

There are several ways in which you can work to retain donors and columbus imPRessions can help. But basically it's as simple as treating others the way you'd like to be treated. Create a heartfelt relationship, ask what they want, meet their needs, give good customer service and

Follow-up for anyone, but especially corporations, is essential. Corporate sponsors like to see what they got for their money - brand impressions, PR, and marketing benefits. But what keeps them coming back year after year is to see what their funds accomplished and how they personally made a difference.

Unfortunately, non-profits are so busy trying to raise money that when they have a donor committed they tend to move on to the next prospect before showing the committed donor the impactful end result. If the donor doesn't see their difference they don't feel personally connected and most likely will move on to another organization. It can become a very bad cycle, one that is hard to get out of.

Don't let this happen to your organization. Take the time to fully steward your donors - beginning to end. Be sure you are making a good imPRession with all of your donors all of the time. You'll find they will stick around. You'll have a beginning, but there really won't be an end.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Goin' Fishin"

This week I'll be on vacation. So Instead of closing up for the week I've decided to republish some noteworthy posts from the past year. I hope you enjoy the "Oldies but Goodies" that I thought were worth repeating. See you next week!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Philanthropy Friday Behind the Scenes with A Kid Again

This Behind the Scenes Spotlight features non-profit organization A Kid Again. You can read my feature on this charity at Columbus Underground.

A Kid Again annually welcomes their children, as well as the public, to a remarkable show called, Miracles and Magic. Miracle and Magic is produced by the incredibly talented, Jon Petz. Jon has entertained audiences all over the world, and annually he assembles some of the world greatest magicians and entertainers in Columbus to amaze A Kid Again kids.

This year, just before ending his chemotherapy, six-year-old, Ethan appeared at the end of the show. The scene is called “Snow”, because Jon magically produces snow right on the stage of the Capitol Theater.

As it began to snow, Ethan lay down in the middle of the stage and made a snow angel. The symbolism of this youngster and his battle with Leukemia and how angelic he was touched the entire audience and everyone erupted in applause. It was just one of hundreds incredibly moving moments shared with the children.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Promise of Delaware County's BIG WEEK!

Big donation and planning a Big celebration to boot!
Media is invited to attend the August 1st event.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Kid Rock Beer

That's right Detroit Rocker Kid Rock has extended his brand and now has his own beer - American Badass Beer. Being a true rock 'n roll party boy, I'd say he is staying true to his brand. The beer brewed in Michigan is an American style lager, smooth with no aftertaste. The beer was introduced to concert goers at two of his Detroit shows this week.

Next month, Badass Beer will be in stores all over Michigan and hits the retail market with 12 and 22 oz. beers coming to Ohio, Texas, Nevada, California and Tennessee next year.

This beer is being developed and marketed by Drinks America and Kid Rock under the name "The American Bad Ass Beer Company." It is said to be bringing almost 400 desperately needed jobs to Michigan.

Initial reviews from concert goers seem to be favorable. Most were pleasantly surprised. Some comments: "Good aroma, malty sweetness, corn flavor, low hops." I myself am more of a wine drinker so I'm not sure what this really means. I'm heading to Michigan next week for vacation so maybe I can find a bottle myself and give it a taste. If I do, I'll let you know.

Another great recommended beer brewed in Michigan is Bells Beer.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Coach Packaging - Who Needs Wrapping Paper?

Yesterday for my birthday I got the present I was hoping for. Coach Legacy
Perfume. For this present no wrapping paper was necessary.

The package design from the bag to the box to the actual perfume bottle is beautiful. The design says this brand is pure class, sophistication and elegance. It smells wonderful too with a mix of soft florals, amber vanilla and wood. I'd spray some on this post if it would work. Maybe that could be in web 4.0.

Baby Bonanza and Kid Expo

Yesterday I met with Kendra, Show Producer for Baby Bonanza Expo, to talk about possible ways columbus imPRessions could help with creating awareness for the family-friendly event. Plans are underway for the 2010 Expo and next year's event will be filled with new and exciting changes!

The first change is to refresh the brand. The once Baby Bonanza Expo will now be the Baby Bonanza and Kid Expo extending its reach from pregnancy through preschool to now pregnancy through ten-year-olds. This change will add new opportunities to the Expo.

The second change is that the Expo is moving to a new, larger venue - Veterans Memorial and will now be a two day event, April 10th - 11th.

Exciting changes are ahead for the spring show and hopefully I will become a part of that. That remains to be seen as I am waiting to hear back on how I might fit into the 2010 Expo plans. Fingers crossed!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Make a Wish!

Today is my birthday so I closed my eyes and made a wish.

It must have come true because I have the day off! :)

Today I will indulge in good coffee, a spa day, some chocolate and a glass of red wine.

Hope you enjoy your day too!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Social Media And The Wild Ride

Over the last year and a half I've had quite a wild ride with social media.

I actually started my ride with social media in 2006 with a family blog. Most of our family is out of town and it made for a great way to keep the family up-to-date on our happenings. The ride was off to a smooth start.

Then in early 2008, I started my social media marketing adventure. I wanted to learn different ways I might be able to apply social media to my professional career. Because of Internet policy at work, I did this on my own time with a blog called imPRessions. Climbing the first hill of the coaster.

As you may have read in previous posts, in Spring of 2008 I was forced to resign because of my blog site. My boss obviously did not understand social media. My coaster ride was plunging down the first hill at a rapid pace and I could hear myself screaming.

But instead of letting it get me down, a friend/business partner and I turned the blog into a business, columbus imPRessions. Hitting the second hill towards the double loop and feeling excited.

columbus imPRessions grew rapidly. For almost a year we had a steady client list, as well as a strong and widely recognized brand. The ride was fun!

However, in February 2009, the economy changed, my business partner had to leave columbus imPRessions, and business slowed down. Dizzy from the twists and turns of the double loop.

In spring I started networking, a lot! Everything from TasteCasting to Meetups, Jellys, Tweetups and meetings with LinkedIn and Twitter connections. I met a lot of really great people. In the straightaway and getting my second burst of excitement.

Then summer came and new opportunities I never thought possible presented themselves through speaking engagements, training sessions and feature writer assignments. Starting to ascend another hill.

Soon it will be fall. For me fall is pivotal. It is then I will make the decision to either continue as columbus imPRessions or to get back into the workforce. If business continues to be slow I will most likely be forced to choose the latter. Who knows, maybe someone reading this post will either need my help through columbus imPRessions or refer me to someone who does. I'm entering a dark tunnel uncertain of what's coming up next.

This incredibly wild ride with social media has produced many ups and downs and I know the ride is not over yet. Honestly, I'm a little frightened (I've never really been a huge fan of roller coasters). Hanging on real tight waiting to see what comes next.

Fun coaster facts:
  • Coasters date back to the 16th century when Russians created ice slides that people rode down on sleds.
  • The first American coaster was built in Coney Island, Brooklyn in 1884 and was named Switchback Railway.
  • The oldest continuously operating coaster is in Australia. Luna Park's Scenic Railway has been running since 1912.
  • Fastest and Tallest coaster: Kingda Ka at Six Flags in New Jersey. Speed is 128 miles per hour and has a 45 story climb that drops in less than a minute.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

If I Had A Million Dollars

Yesterday I admit I was daydreaming a little. . . .

It's no secret I love wine, especially red wine. Growing up in northeast Ohio I have visited many wonderful wineries that surround the lake area. When I go back to visit I always find time to catch up with old friends either at Laurello's, Ferrante's or Debonne's while enjoying some of the local grapes. On our honeymoon year's ago my husband and I went to San Francisco. I made sure we took a day to spend time in Napa Valley visiting the wonderful wineries of northern California. I love spending time at a winery.

So, if I had a million dollars I would purchase a winery. A cozy little place around the lake area that would be called "Wine By the Pine". In my daydream I pictured myself sitting on a bench under a pine tree looking out at the lake while enjoying a glass of Cabernet.

To take my daydream just a step further I spent a little time designing my wine labels. Here is what I came up with:

Now, how do I come up with a million dollars? Well, at least daydreaming is a fun distraction.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Bar Hunger for Feeding America

Snickers came up with a very clever cause marketing campaign that involves snacking, celebrity, social media and a good cause. Snickers is fighting hunger with your help. Through this campaign, Snickers and Feeding America will reach the goal of providing over 3 million meals to hungry families in need. Snickers will also match any donation made up to $25,000.

Here David Arquette explains his involvement with the cause and why he is a snacktivist.

David's stunt in Madison Square Garden is helping raise awareness for Feeding America and is getting quite a bit of attention.

Snickers also has a Feeding America Facebook Fan page. Lot of fun video, photos and awareness info on Feeding America on the Causes tab. Snickers also developed a new snack vocabulary that even has a translator. Here is what columbus imPRessions looks like in Snicker snack speak.

That's so AWESYUM!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Free Food for an Entire Day

Over the last few months I have signed up for various restaurant e-newsletters. I did this basically for the free food offers - free appetizers, free desserts, and even gift certificates. With a tighter economy and lower income it really comes in handy when the family wants to go out to eat.

When signing up for the e-newsletters you obviously add in contact information and there is always a line for your birth date. Well, next week is my birthday and when I opened up my email I found a bunch of emails from various restaurants wishing me a happy birthday. All the emails were like little presents with various offers for my "special day."

So it looks like next Monday I have free food for the entire day. Here is the plan:
  1. I'll start with my free coffee drink at Caribou Coffee
  2. Followed by breakfast at MiMi's Cafe ($10 off $20 purchase)
  3. I'll enjoy lunch either at at O'Charley ($5 of $20 purchase) or Red Robin for a free gourmet burger of my choice
  4. I'll feast on dinner at Brio Tuscan Grille ($10 off with purchase of entree)
  5. And I'll finish the night with dessert at Dairy Queen where I get a free 16 oz. Blizzard (with the purchase of another blizzard)
I'm full just thinking about it. Thanks to the Freebie Blogger for blogging about all these great offers.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Do Break Dancing Babies Make You Want to Drink Evian

Last week Evian Natural Spring Water introduced their break dancing babies and their "Live Young" campaign.

Reviving their brand, Evian decided to go with a playful approach focusing on health, purity and youth, hence the talented, energetic babies. Nothing like a little "Rapper's Delight" to get you moving. Take a look.

Evian is using the Internet and social media marketing for their US campaign. A few of the babies even have their own Facebook pages. Check out the Evian Roller Babies website for more details.

Hilarious, entertaining, but will it make you buy Evian water? I'm not sure about that. But the campaign does work for creating awareness. This is the first time in a long time I paid attention to Evian water. I'm sure this makes Evian happy, but I'm sure they'd be even happier if the campaign moved me to buy their product.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

My New Collage

Made it on Picasa.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Philanthropy Friday Behind the Scenes with Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio

This Behind the Scenes Spotlight features non-profit organization Lutheran Social Services of Central Ohio. You can read my feature on this ninety-five year charity at Columbus Underground. They also need your help with their wish list. To see items they desperately need visit the In-Kind Connection.

During our interview, Lutheran Social Services shared a special memory about Margot with me. Below is Margot's story of survival.

Margot worked as an office manager when, as a result of downsizing, she was let go. She decided to enter the nursing field, pulled her savings together and earned her State Tested Nursing Assistant certification. She then began working full-time at a skilled nursing facility and eventually paid her debts to a point where it was possible to attend school full-time and work part-time. Shortly before nursing school began, however, Margot was again unemployed. With her money invested in nursing school, she was forced to move into her car. Weary, hungry and desperate, she called a homeless shelter that referred her to Nancy’s Place, Faith Mission’s women’s shelter.

Margot says she is grateful for the shelter, as she is in a safe environment that will support her in her achieving her goals of becoming a nurse and finding permanent housing. Recently, Margot was appointed to the nursing school’s student advisory council, an honor based on her demonstrated leadership abilities and academic achievements. None of this would have been possible, Margot adds, without help from Nancy’s Place.

Lutheran Social Services is using social media to increase awareness about their mission and to engage people outside of their traditional donor demographic. Learn more about LSS through their social media accounts.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Having a Tiny Chat

Last night I was on a conference call for the Greatest City of All Blog. But this wasn't just your average conference call.

Cheryl Harrison, Jason Blanton, me and Kelly Gingery
Instead we used Tinychat. Tinychat is a free audio video chat room. If you have a web cam and mic you're in! It's easy to set up too. Just create a chat room and invite people to join through a link.

Because of Tinychat all of us on the call could see and hear each other like we were in the room together . . . well, we did look a little like the Brady Bunch in our boxes . . . but it worked great. We did have a technical issue with echoing so we did use Skype to conference for our audio.

This new video conferencing would work great for anyone but especially for non-profits and small businesses who may have offices, clients or vendors in other cities. Think of how much money you could save in travel costs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Becoming a Speaker

It's amazing the twists, turns and opportunities that come with owning a business. Lately I have been approached to speak at meetings, workshops and conferences for trade association and non-profit organizations.

This fall I have two big engagements lined up. One in September at the Ohio Benefit Bank and a handful in October for Ohio Credit Union League. Both speaking engagements will deal with Using Social Media To Spread Your Message.

Social media can be a free platform to create awareness, connect with individuals and create calls to action. My session will teach how to use social media to spread your message, as well as strengthen your brand. The session will also cover measuring your return on investment and reputation management. By incorporating these elements into your social media plan you can take your organization to the next level.

Today I became a member of Speaker Site where I officially listed myself for future speaking engagements. If you are a small business, non-profit or trade association looking for someone to speak to your staff, members or constituents look no further. Contact me through my Speaker Site Profile or email I'd be happy to work with your organization as you incorporate strategic social media tactics to take you to the next level.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Easton's Milestone Year

This summer Easton celebrates its 10 year milestone as well as its evolution into one of the top retail destinations in the U.S. Since 1999 more than 156 million visitors have shopped till they dropped in addition to enjoying plenty of entertainment along the way.

Throughout the years, Easton has given back millions of dollars to the community through the Easton Community Foundation. Programs like Cornerstone Events, Change for Charity and Community Foundation Scholarships have provided funds to hundreds of non-profit organizations and graduating students.

Change for Charity
Change for Charity selects six different non-profit organizations each year to receive proceeds from Easton's parking meters. This month's 2009 beneficiary is Buckeye Ranch Foundation.

Cornerstone Events
Since Easton began hosting Cornerstone Events over $8.7 million has been raised. The next Cornerstone Event is the New Albany Classic on Sunday, September 27th.

Community Outreach
Since the inception of the community outreach program, 34 students from Northland, Mifflin, Brookhaven and Gahanna Lincoln have been awarded the $2,500 renewable two-year scholarship.

Happy milestone year Easton! Thanks so much for giving back to Columbus!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Creativity and Humor Make A Great Campaign during Cankle Awareness Month

It's Monday morning after a long holiday weekend and I have to admit I'm having a bit of a hard time getting back into the groove.

Reading my RSS feeds, I came across the new Gold's Gym summer campaign, Say No To Cankles. Even though I think I still have sleep in my eyes this caught my attention and really made me laugh. Mixing creativity and humor is definitely one way to get me motivated.

This microsite looks like one of those cheesy magazine ads, injects loads of humor for "Cankle Awareness Month", as well as some serious exercise suggestions. While on the site place a vote for the best legs in Hollywood, and sign-up for seven days of free Canklebusting. There is also a link to join Gold Gym's Facebook page where you can use an application to send someone cankles.

Overall, a very clever campaign to get people's attention to join the gym. These are the kinds of people I'd want to work out with. The only suggestion I would make would be to continue the promotion to the brand's other media channels. Their Facebook page, Golds Gear site and Gold's Gym site do not reflect their "Cankle" promotion but instead their "Know Your Own Strength" promotion. Personally, I would suggest adding some of the cankle pieces to create brand continuity and consistency.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy July 4th Holiday Weekend!

Taking a long-weekend to enjoy family, friends and fireworks.
Here's hoping you are doing the same!

Have a wonderful 4th of July holiday!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Give to Charity Just By Clicking

Non-profit organizations use cause marketing and the Internet to drum up attention and funding. Today you can help a number of non-profit organizations just by clicking your mouse, literally.

There are so many great cause marketing campaigns on various websites. I thought I'd list a few so you can start giving by clicking:
  • Coppertone - Take the Pledge for National Foundation for Cancer. Your click is worth $1.00
  • Kraft - Share a Little Comfort for Feeding America. Your click is worth one box of Mac & Cheese
  • Intel - Small Things Challenge for KIVA and Save the Children. Your click is worth 25 cents

Do you know of any simple click on-line cause marketing campaigns? Give me the link in comment section and I'll be sure to add it to the list.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Poppy: Coach Budget Friendly Line

The luxury brand for working, fashion-conscious women has adapted to the economic times. Meet Poppy, the new brand of purses and accessories from Coach priced for today's frugal customer.

Poppy has a youthful feel and is about 20% less than the original coach purse making the average price about $260. Here is a description for Poppy I found on the Internet:

The schoolgirl chic accessory line is handbag heavy using classic shapes with retro pop art colors like bright blueberry, daisy yellow, pale chalk gray, slick spearmint, and black licorice. The Poppy Girl has a little pep in her prep and sass in her class. This is what separates her from the expected Upper East Side boarding schoolgirl. Fresh and affordable (everything is under $400!), Coach’s new line appeals to a youthful audience.

Sure I love Coach and think Poppy is energetic, chic and artsy. But I do have a few issues with it:
  1. It is clearly targeted to a younger demo so I'm not sure I'll be rushing out to get one anytime soon.
  2. Fresh and affordable? The 20% savings is really not that reasonable for the majority of their younger target audience.
  3. My teenage daughter has already strongly hinted how much she loves this new line so the pressure to purchase one for my daughter has already started.
    Perhaps if Coach wanted to make an economic line targeted to teens and 20-year-olds they could have been a little more generous on the pocketbook. I'm just sayin' . What do you think? Am I being to stingy?

    Coach is using social media for Poppy promotion. You can become their fan on Facebook here.