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Live Chat: Survival Marketing

During this live webinar our own Courtney Davidson was joined by KeyMedia Solutions CEO, Korena Keys. They offered some insight into how businesses can best respond to business challenges during this temporary crisis.

Webinar Recording


Here are some of the resources referenced in today’s webinar:

Communications Audit PDF
This communications audit will help you think through your approach to marketing during this time.

COVID-19: Ad Credits for Google Ads Small and Medium-sized Businesses
From Google: “We want to help alleviate some of the cost for small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to stay in touch with their customers during this challenging time.”

Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses.

Mend Join Make

Matt Jensen Marketing is offering 19, 1-hour virtual brainstorming sessions to help businesses and non-profits work through communication and marketing challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more or sign up for a session today!

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Arts & Drafts: A Fundraiser for JAM Art & Supplies

A Toast to JAM

No, we aren’t talking about a great breakfast food to start your day (although that’s important, too). We’re talking about JAM Art & Supplies,  a local non-profit “committed to providing Sioux Falls artists with low-cost art making materials.” MJM is partnering with Fernson Brewing Company to host Arts & Drafts, a fundraiser for JAM Art and Supplies.

The event, organized by JAM and the design team at MJM, takes place at Fernson on 8th on Sunday August 21st, from 3 to 5pm. The purpose of Arts & Drafts is simple–to support JAM’s mission and to give people a chance to learn some basic drawing skills in a relaxed and comfortable environment. Drink craft beer, learn to draw, and support a local art non-profit!

Learn to draw! And Fernson!

If you have always wanted to be able to draw, but have yet to learn how, this will be an experience you won’t want to miss. There’s no pressure–this isn’t a contest, and your work won’t be judged by anyone. It’s just for fun!

Arts & Drafts will not only benefit those who want to draw, but also the Sioux Falls art community in general. For every beer sold, Fernson will donate $1.00 to JAM Art & Supplies to help JAM continue its mission, so anyone can buy the awesome craft materials they need at affordable prices. We hope to see you all at Arts & Drafts and we encourage anyone curious about drawing to come!

Let us know you’re coming and watch for updates on the Arts & Drafts event page. And please share this with anyone you think might be interested!

The One Thing Donors Want to Hear About Your Non-Profit

In the United States, non-profit marketing can be a mercilessly competitive arena. Based on some estimates, there are up to 3,000 charitable organizations started every day, many of which don’t succeed beyond a couple of years. Donor solicitation is ubiquitous, whether in person, direct mail, telemarketing, or through a bevy of digital mediums. “Giving Units” are bombarded with blanket and targeted asks, and that’s on top of the 10,000+ ad exposures they receive daily from for-profit companies.

The Tendency To Say Too Much

In the midst of such fierce competition and noise, it’s easy to see why many non-profits respond by trying to say more.  We have a tendency to equate “more” with “louder” and “louder” with “effective.”  As a result, we create vision statements that resemble small novels and mission statements that do everything.  We share overwhelming statistics of great need and match them with equally abstract numbers about our response. We try to tell all of our stories in all of their deserved nuance. We think the donor wants to hear everything about organizations that do everything.

We have a tendency to equate “louder” with “effective.”

The Need for Clarity

What we don’t realize is that, in a jumbled field full of noise, donors only want to hear one thing—clarity.

They want the clarity of a simple vision that can inspire.

They want the clarity of a focused mission they can easily remember.

They want the clarity of a simple story that embodies the emotion of the recipients and volunteers alike and demonstrates the tangible impact of your work.

A wise client of ours once told me that simplicity is always on the other side of complexity. We start with the complex story we want to tell and then winnow until we can’t say it any more simply and clearly.  In a country where 1.5 million non-profits are competing for your donors, the clear message will always stand out.

Give it a try, and you’ll see.

Differentiated from the Rest

To be more precise, that is the question organizations often unwittingly face as they seek to stand out in an ever-growing sea of smartly branded products and enterprises. And while the question of differentiation may not seem as existentially vital as Shakespeare’s original soliloquy, the wrong choices may leave your group suffering self-inflicted blows that fortune wouldn’t have dared strike.

Differentiation is no longer a buzzword in marketing and communications circles, it has passed into the less thoughtful realm of cliché. The danger with clichés is that their assumed meaning is often superficial and unhelpful. The “clichéd” definition of differentiation is a simple truncation of the word—to be different.

The unfortunate side effect is that aiming for “different” can lead to inauthentic attempts to stand out among the crowd… often by being louder or bigger or more risqué than the rest. In the 21st century, no matter how “different” you are, if it’s inauthentic you certainly won’t win the day. Worse still, in the long term, different for the sake of difference will dilute your brand and water down your organization’s voice. And, in an ironic twist, these inauthentic attempts at difference often make you quite similar to the rest of the crowd, like a hipster hanging out in a Brooklyn coffee shop.

Differentiation, on the other hand, is a distinct concept. When your organization can be true to itself, and creatively speak from within its voice and personality across a series of mediums, you can truly be differentiated. In the same way that no snowflake is the same, so it also goes with organizations; living up to your unique personality and the special ways you relate to your audience is in fact a simple way to differentiate. Moreover, being authentically differentiated cultivates a trusting relationship with those to whom you relate.

In the end, what does this mean in practice? I recently worked with a non-profit whose identity is built around honesty in good times and bad. They were crafting a monthly newsletter to report on an initiative they had just launched. Some of the groundwork for the program hadn’t gone as smoothly as they had hoped. As they reported on progress to their donors, they were clear about their struggles. They didn’t include unnecessary details, but were extremely transparent nonetheless. As opposed to scaring donors away, it appears more people than normal read the newsletter. And the response was overwhelmingly positive. They were true to their personality and differentiated from countless other organizational newsletters that mundanely and predictably trumpet flawless performances. Most of all, it appears they deepened the trusting relationship with their audience.

So there it is. Be yourself. Do it creatively. And you will be differentiated from the rest.

Playing Hard To Get: Good for Dating… Not for Development

I recently decided to subscribe for information updates from 15 well-known non-profits in the industry. These are groups with large revenue streams, and professional marketing departments. I figured that signing up would be pretty easy… non-profits are usually begging for email or physical addresses, and here I was ready to just hand over my valuable data.

So, I headed to the first site, and began to look around their homepage for a big button allowing me to “sign up”…for just about any information they wanted to send my way. After a detailed search, I came up completely empty. There were no big buttons, no highlighted links, and no open fields where I could input my information and establish an initial relationship with the organization. Since I’m a sucker for playing “hard to get,” I began to peruse the tabs, secondary pages, and even some of the fine print. Nothing.

Surprisingly, as I made my way through the list of 15 organizations, I encountered similar difficulties on almost half of my targeted sites. Fifty percent of the organizations made it hard for me to give them my information… even though I wanted to follow their activities.

Sometimes, in the non-profit world, we work so hard to convince people about the just and necessary nature of our cause, that we forget to enlist those who are already nodding their heads in agreement. While it’s important to make a case about your cause, it’s necessary to connect and cultivate relationships with people who are already on board with your mission. If you can make it easy for them to find you and follow you…if you can keep in touch and let them know you appreciate their advocacy, they will become your fans. And authentic, excited fans are the best way to convince the rest of the world to join your cause.


Non-Profit Marketing: Branding Is Part of Your Mission

I recently had a conversation with the leader of a nascent non-profit regarding his agency’s branding efforts. As is the case with many in charity related work, this man is interested in creating positive change in the world by diving into problems and “fixing” them. Unfortunately, as is also the case with many in the non-profit field, this leader perceived branding as a superfluous afterthought to the “real work,” the content, of his mission. His misperception of branding as a “necessary evil” isn’t just erroneous; it’s fatal.

A few years back, the Stanford Social Innovation Review reported that over 200,000 non-profits had been founded in the United States since 1970. Many of these organizations ended up closing their doors, in spite of their worthwhile goals. While there are a bevy of reasons that lead to a non-profit’s demise, a primary cause is often poor branding.

Many philanthropically minded leaders perceive branding as an attempt to create a perception of their organization in the mind of the audience. For these leaders, “perception creation” is synonymous with advertising, and sometimes with manipulation. Branding, per this misperception, is beneath the dignity of their cause.

This grave misunderstanding is more than unfortunate; it’s deadly. Non-profits must learn to understand that branding is a holistic concept that incorporates all the ways an organization lives out and communicates its identity. Branding ranges from the way we interact with the recipients of services, to the visuals, vocabulary and syntax we use to tell about those interactions and their value to the common good. Simply put, branding is both who you are, and how you share your story.

When done well, branding becomes a clear, concise, and intentional experience that draws the audience into the stories of your work and your constituent’s lives. It creates a dialogical interaction with donors and participants that can lead to mutual transformation. Good branding doesn’t just proclaim a cognitive understanding of positive change, it allows people to participate and “feel” the process. Authentic transformation, after all, is a very real and invigorating experience.

Personally, I don’t often contribute to an organization that doesn’t draw me into an experiential encounter with their story. That doesn’t mean they aren’t doing good work, it just means I don’t have the time or energy to figure out who they are, what they do, and why it’s important.

I want to experience changing the world, and I would love to do it through your organization. The question remains, will you learn how to use branding holistically so I can fully participate in your work? If not, don’t count on my gift. It appears there are thousands of other worthwhile organizations in this country ready to help me experience civic responsibility and the intangible benefits of philanthropy.

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S4G MSP – Strategy For Good

On April 28, 2012, MJM participated in the 6th Strategy for Good session held at CoCo St. Paul. Strategy for Good is an opportunity for non-profit groups to work with top marketing strategists from the Minneapolis-St. Paul area at no charge. Teams of 2-5 strategists work with each non-profit, learning about their organization and offering feedback and solutions on some of their most vital challenges around awareness, social media, event strategies, media strategies, and building a strong brand.

Strategy for Good is hosted in the MSP area about 3-4 times a year. If you are a marketing strategist, consider joining us and giving of your time to help non-profits. If you work with a non-profit group, we’d love to serve you!

To learn more about the Strategy For Good #6 event held last weekend, visit http://s4gmpls6.eventbrite.com/

You can also sign up for more information when Strategy For Good #7 is announced!