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Expecting a Transition? MJM’s Account Team Helps You Avoid the Pitfalls

Change is inevitable. Key leaders will retire or move on. New locations will be opened or a smaller business will be acquired. Technology will improve your operations, but disrupt your workflow for a season. No business, including yours, is immune to these and many other changes.

MJM’s account team has helped navigate all manner of business transitions for clients. Here’s their advice for handling change well.


Abby Rogers

Abby Rogers

Communicate change from the inside out. Start internally with those most vested in the organization and work your way out. Once everyone on your team knows, move on to your referral networks and vendors. Announcing your news to the public should be your last step.


Justin Mootz

Justin Mootz

It’s tempting to skip it, but a basic communication plan complete with a tentative timeline is a must before announcing any change. The process of drafting the plan will bring up logistics you may not have anticipated. It also provides a reference so that everyone tells the same story consistently and confidently. You can’t take back your words and a communication plan will help you get them right the first time.


Bobbi Trumbull

Acquiring another business is a common transition, and it’s wise to acknowledge that, while your ultimate goal is one unified team, the business you’re acquiring comes with an already-established culture. You can move the needle, but don’t expect to do it overnight.


Courtney Davidson

Courtney Davidson

You’ve likely had the benefit of months of research and time to get used to what you’re planning to roll out, but your team will need time to get used to your proposed changes. Be patient and receive their pushback graciously. Teams tend to come together once they’ve had time to get used to the changes.

Account Hacked? Here’s What To Do

Many of us already know the feeling and those who don’t are likely to one day experience it. We’re talking about the gut-wrenching feeling that comes when you’re trying to post on social media for work, but the password that opened Facebook and Instagram the day before is rejected today. Instead of seeing the normal dashboard, you see some variation of an error message and a red-lettered warning. And then, as if that isn’t bad enough, you see someone else is posting or running ads on your accounts with your credit card!

For most people, there’s a  carefully-crafted four-step process for such emergencies:

  • Step 1: Panic
  • Step 2: Spread anxiety to your team
  • Step 3: Think only of worst-case scenarios
  • Step 4: Abandon social media completely

Even though Step 4 is very appealing at times like these, social media is a vital communications tool for any organization. So you can’t quit it altogether. And you can’t get kicked out, even for 24 hours, because that can blow a marketing strategy.

So let’s start with a few basic don’ts, all meant to protect your business’ social accounts from being hacked in the first place.

  • Don’t be (password) weak: We’ve all rolled our eyes when we’re creating a new account and we’re told our password of choice is “weak.”  As annoying as that is, it’s not nearly as bad as the alternative of getting hacked. So go to the work of picking strong passwords (which is a euphemism for long passwords) and avoid reusing them for other accounts. Your best bet is to use a password manager and make a plan to change your passwords at a minimum annually.
  • Don’t skip two-factor authentication: Two-factor authentication is an extra layer of security that kicks in when a new device accesses your account. The new login triggers a code, usually sent to your mobile phone, that must be entered to gain access. Without the code, illegitimate users can’t gain access.
  • Don’t allow everyone access: Limit the number of team members with the login info to two or three. With limited users you can more easily pinpoint problems, and it’s easier to keep everyone abreast of updates, changes, and new features. MJM recommends at least two users so that there’s always a back-up. Users should also carefully guard their personal accounts. More on why in the next section.
  • Don’t access work accounts using public wi-fi: As elementary as this seems, it’s a worthwhile reminder in the current mobile and virtual work settings we often find ourselves in.

Putting all of those guardrails in place is no guarantee though. Unfortunately, it’s probably not possible to be 100% secure, but it is possible to be secure enough to make it more trouble than it’s worth to get into your accounts.

If your account does get hacked, here’s what we recommend:

  • Act urgently: This is no time to wait and see or to hope for the best. If possible, change your account passwords right away. A hacked account requires your full and immediate attention.
  • Identify the problem: This can be tricky and time consuming; however, if you’ve limited administrators to just a handful, that should cut down on variables. The most common issue MJM’s team has seen is that an administrator’s personal account is compromised, and it’s affecting the business account they’re attached to. Checking in on your administrators’ personal accounts is a good place to start.
  • Revoke access: If possible, have those with administrative access evaluate third-party apps for suspicious activity and revoke access when appropriate. Likewise, take a look at the other accounts your profile/page interacts with. Are they all legitimate accounts? Delete those that look suspicious or are unknown to you.
  • Get help: Facebook and Instagram both provide  instructions on their sites that will walk you through the necessary steps for accessing your account. You’ll probably have to start by logging out, and then clicking the “get help logging in” or “reset password” options.
  • Report your own profile: If the process is moving slow, consider reporting your own profile. Most likely, you’ll be locked out of your account for 12-24 hours while it’s investigated, but it will also lock out the hacker so that further damage isn’t done while you work to recover access.

At its best, social media is a wonderful tool for business. It’s affordable, generally easy to navigate, and can reach a lot of people at once. There’s no need for it to cause you a DEFCOM 5 level of panic, and if it does, contact the experts at Matt Jensen Marketing for help. We’ll make you a posting pro in less time than it takes to scroll Instagram’s latest filters.

The One Thing Donors Want to Hear About Your Nonprofit

In the United States, nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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.

Nonprofit Marketing: Branding Is Part of Your Mission

I recently had a conversation with the leader of a nascent nonprofit 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 nonprofit 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 nonprofits 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 nonprofit’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. Nonprofits 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.