The road to hell.

The road to hell.

Recently, I received an email (twice), inviting me to at $1,000-per-person charity event.  Hmmm…there should be an engraved invitation for a thing like that, methinks.  Responding to the email with that very thought, the answer came back that their big donors got an invitation in the mail, and they just blasted the email to everybody else. Which begs the question: why send something to someone who wasn’t in the target audience to begin with? Of course, this nonprofit does fabulous, vital work in the community.  They need all the donors—large or small—they can get.  To alienate someone who has given money (which is why I was on the email list at all) with a “you were good enough for email but not a printed invitation” response hinders them in their work.  It also may have turned a small donor into a non-donor.  Would Mercedes Benz send an email to a potential car buyer that says, “We know you can’t afford this sweet ride, but we included you in the email blast anyway?” Good intentions can backfire, and so can failing to tailor the message to the audience.  It’s so easy to hit “send” to blast a message to your whole list, but is it smart marketing? If you’ve ever wondered where the quote “the road to hell is paved with good intentions” comes from, it’s been attributed to a lot of people throughout history, including my 10th-grade history teacher. Please join us on Facebook for timely tidbits from the world of...

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When it rains, Facebook pours.

When it rains, Facebook pours.

Notice how on a rainy day, suddenly you have a lot more stuff in your Facebook news feed?  On a pretty, sunny day, Facebook activity slows because people have other stuff to do.  Operating on the same premise as “fish where the fish are,” you should also fish when the fish are around.  If you’re using Facebook to promote your business or nonprofit, choose your spots carefully for maximum effect.  People with lots of friends get lots of posts in their feeds and your message may get pushed so far down they never see it; better to post when they are actually looking at their screens. The truth is that most people check their email and social media sites at work, so you’d think early Monday morning (before the work actually starts) would be the best time for Facebook posting; not so.  Thursday and Friday mornings are peak times, and Saturday isn’t bad…unless it’s sunny, of course. Please join us on Facebook. Need help managing your content for social media, website, blog?  We can...

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How well do your guard your brand?

How well do your guard your brand?

Fiercely. Constantly. In every teeny, tiny detail. And we’re not talking about just a logo. A brand is the place your business occupies in the mind of your constituents…prospects, customers, donors, board members, employees. Anything you–or anyone else–does to the brand moves it a little, either toward or away from its true essence. Here are some things that can strengthen your brand… Graphic Standards: Guidelines in writing, with examples of acceptable and unacceptable uses of the logo online and offline. Signage, ad specialties (the ever-popular coffee mug, and so on), websites other than your own, business cards, even your email signature. Content Standards: Decide and put into writing what subjects are of interest to your brand’s constituents and are appropriate for your brand’s personality.  Stick to those; don’t throw a cookie recipe onto a website about knitting just because it’s cute. Writing Standards: The finest brand in the world can be undone by a terrible writing, poor spelling an bad grammar. Whoever is writing for you doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, but he or she should know the basics. Investment: Companies like Nike and McDonalds have spent millions upon millions in advertising, packaging, public relations and more to solidify their brands in the minds of the public.  All the more reason why smaller companies and nonprofits need to protect their investments in their brands. The little guys simply can’t afford to let anything erode what they’ve worked to establish. An Enforcer: While branding is the responsibility of everyone in the organization, somebody has to be the ever-vigilant protector, sniffing out any and all threats to the brand. What will you do today to protect your...

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Online tools that get us through the day.

Online tools that get us through the day.

With the first cup of morning coffee in hand, we fire up the PC and, even before checking email, start the day with a whole range of free online tools. Feedly: Organizes RSS feeds into a magazine-style format, arranged by subject area; keeps notifications of blog posts out of the inbox. Quickly scan for news and inspiration. Google Alerts: See what has hit the internet in the last 24 hours on topics we’re following. Diigo: Bookmark the interesting stuff in an intuitive, user-friendly way. Jing: Capture screen images for sharing, by link, email or post. Facebook: Check in with friends, post updates for clients. Bit.ly: Shorten URLs before sharing, save them and  organize them. WordPress: Maintain blogs (like this one) or create stand-alone websites. Posterous: Make wonderfully simple blog sites for clients…and a personal blog. Photobucket: Store and share photos and other files, creating unique URLs for each. Shutterfly: More than a photo-sharing site, this one also lets you maintain a group calendar and message members of the group. Perfect for a private network. YouSendIt: Send huge files via links instead of clogging an email pipeline. Wave Accounting: Create professional digital invoices and manage income and expenses. Google Analytics: Monitor website traffic. That’s a lot of free stuff.  It keeps us organized and up-to-speed with the latest developments.  Between the usual office programs, Adobe Creative Suite, website-specific content management systems, and these tools, we can integrate a client’s online–and offline–communications…and occasionally our own. One last tool that gets us through the day: the Emma email marketing platform.  It’s not free, but the cost is nothing compared to the amount of functionality, reporting and awesome service it provides. Now, back to work. Please join us on Facebook. And share your favorite online tools...

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When social media isn't.

When social media isn't.

The “social” part of social media has taken on a new meaning. The dictionary definition of “social” is:  pertaining to, devoted to, or characterized by friendly companionship or relations; seeking or enjoying the companionship of others; living or disposed to live in companionship with others or in a community. From a corporate perspective, social media has become just another advertising channel. Visit the Facebook pages of Symantec and SteelMaster Buildings and you’ll be greeted by giant ads; the graphic shown with this post is from Symantec’s page.  Not much companionship there.  It’s hard to feel all warm and fuzzy about metal buildings, but it’s also hard to argue with 12,370 and 8,803 “likes” respectively. Starbucks is notoriously social with over 20 million Facebook “likes,” and their fans are highly engaged on the page’s wall. What do you think about businesses using social media as billboards? Comment here.  And please like...

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