Author Archives: Brett

Reading list April 23, 2014

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Semi-regularly we gather together a collection of worthwhile marketing-related reading material. Consider it a mixed bag of lollies for your mind. Enjoy.

We’re guessing that a Sunday paper conducting a hatchet job on your charity would be your worst nightmare. Well this charity discovered that the ending can be a happy one – and financially rewarding. As in 1000%+ rewarding.

Singapore tourism commercial

You'll wish they never met.

Many fundraisers and business developers invest time taking people on tours of their operations. This is a guide as to how to do it well.

If you enjoy reading our thoughts we suggest you add some of these 50 marketing blogs to your daily investment in professional development. We read them all daily. Honestly.

Gosh, for such a sophisticated nation Singapore really does churn out some cringe-worthy tourism and government commercials.

And just because this is such a cool way to end an interview. This is a treat and takes exactly 20 seconds.

F%$* the Poor. When should you opt to shock?

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A few recent nonprofit marketing campaigns have given us pause to consider: is it best to gain attention even if it means losing a few delicate souls? Or is it wiser to tread carefully and continue to gently court favour from your audiences?

Both approaches have merit, though the conservative approach is in the overwhelming majority. Why? Because people in charge are terrified of offending people. They don’t want to stand out, make enemies or create headaches. Courage in the nonprofit marketing world is in short supply. Those in charge shy away from approaches deemed too intense, confronting, high-falutin or divisive.

fuck the porr campaign

We swear this billboard is in a good cause.

The good folk at UK’s Pilion Trust are made of sterner stuff and partnered with mega-global communications giant Publicis to create a video destined for controversy  – and lots of free media coverage.

Faced with typical nonprofit marketing restrictions; small budget, unsexy cause, no celebrity support and a crowded marketplace, Pilion Trust flicked the switch to ‘shock’ with its F#$@ the Poor video. Behind the swearing is a clever concept or premise: people offended by bigotry towards the poor; who claim to advocate for them; who challenge the sign-wearer were also very slow to lend financial assistance when politely asked. In other words – talk is cheap; put your money where your mouth is.

Were people offended when the video was released. Yep. But who cares? As Savvas Panas, the chief executive of the Pilion Trust, said: “We understand that some may be shocked by this footage. We are more offended however, that people across the United Kingdom are living in adverse poverty.” Nice line.

social marketing campaigns

There it is in black, white and red. Deal with it.

The Every Australian Counts campaign didn’t hold back when it released this message via social media and beyond. No swearing, but no punches pulled either.

Some thoughts on a good campaign:

1. No attention = no impact. It’s that simple – if you don’t grab the attention of all those busy, bored, self-interested,  Facebooking, fast-food dining, tired and dispassionate souls out there you will stand no chance to win them over with your carefully crafted messaging and heart-lifting imagery. Of course impact needn’t be created by hard-hitting approaches. Humour and absurdity make an impact too – though it’s far harder to get right.

Social marketing campaign

High-concept but heart-breaking.

2. Hard-hitting / high concept campaigns get to more people via the media coverage they inspire, than via the channels of the actual campaign. That’s a HUGE boost to your bottom line and campaign reach. How much is a page 8 pic and story worth to you? What if the coverage is similar to that given to Save the Children UK’s latest (stupendous) effort?

3. You win some, you lose some. Any true supporter will overlook their offence. Those who sever ties over some offensive word, nudity or an approach weren’t real supporters to begin with. Your chief concern should be igniting the supporter base which will otherwise sit dormant. Beyond that you want to pique the interest of new folk.

4. Put complaints in perspective. Nonprofits are v ery sensitive to criticism from stakeholders and the public. If you ever get the chance to unleash a campaign that is likely to cause a stir, have an understanding that a few negative comments is just that – a few negative comments. The I Wish I Had Breast Cancer campaign surely upset thousands.

Live export eMarketing campaign

Tough to look at. Tough to ignore?

5. Change hurts. Going from business-as-usual marketing to hard-hitting or confronting is not easy. The reason for your change in approach may have to be explained to your tried and trusted supporters, especially the V.I.Ps.

6. Consistency matters: A bad-assed campaign belongs to a bad-assed nonprofit. If you can’t deliver on the tone you set, don’t assume the tone. Animals Australia (on the left) hits hard but that’s exactly what we expect from them. BTW please spend 2m to support the campaign here.


Ice breaking, trust building, show offing

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Brett de Hoedt will act as facilitator of a networking / ice-breaking session at a conference of the Anglicare Australia flock in September at the Hilton on the Park. The session aims to mix and mingle the audience which is gathering from across the far-flung nonprofit’s operations.

Brett has pledged to network the audience and build trust without the aid of laughter therapy or human pyramids. The theme of the day is: “Strength to strength, ideas that transform.”

facilitator in Melbourne conferences

What that 7.7%'s beef?

Brett – who emcees and speaks at such conferences across Australia – will also deliver a 90m session for newer professionals looking at career-building communications skills.

A similar session he recently delivered to young professionals for LG Pro received favourable reviews as measured on the left.

Stay in touch. We mean it.

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Advice on staying in touch, growing email databases and content marketing.

A recent trip to the Hootville post office box uncovered a quarterly alumni magazine from a secondary school attended for eight months several decades ago. The next day a quarterly appeal letter from a hospital appeared. Brett had spent three hours at the hospital six years ago, two of those hours unconscious. Despite the historic and transactional basis of the ‘relationships’ the school and the hospital act like it has a bestie in Brett. They do not but they are staying in touch anyway. That’s good marketing.

email for marketers

Once you come into contact, never let them go. Even if they have the United States of America to run.

The erstwhile marketers at these institutions (both private, elite operations in search of money) know that it’s easier to keep a relationship alive (no matter how weak) than start a new one with a stranger. Once a well-marketed organisation comes into contact with someone, they never let them go. At least not until the recipient severs the relationship.

An important question – think of all the people who came into contact with your organisation over the last three years. We’re talking about clients, ex-staff, students, those who attended events, called the helpline, volunteered, inquired about employment or made a donation. We’re talking about reasonably significant contact. Add all the fellow professionals met along the way at conferences or during joint projects. Now add politicians, bureaucrats and journalists you’ve dealt with.  

What percentage of these people do you regularly contact? 

If your answer is less than 75% you need to read this. Hell, read it no matter what your answer but if your answer was below 40% we really need to talk but don’t feel bad – we recently trained a VET education provider and a secondary school each of which kept in contact with 0%.

It’s easy to presume that once met, you’ll never be forgotten. That ain’t so. Even donors who specifically choose to support you can forget about you. Former casual staff can forget to recommend you to the right people at the right time. For event attendees, clients, journalists and fellow professionals the truth is that you will quickly be forgotten if you don’t make the effort – and have the confidence – to stay in touch.

Some rules about staying in touch:

You needn’t stalk people but less than four contacts a year is probably too few. Absence does not make the heart grow fonder.

You needn’t overwhelm people when you make contact – a quick light touch is enough.

Do not worry about annoying people – people who deliberately cut off contact with you for ‘over-communicating’ were unlikely to be true supporters anyway. Organisations with something to say, pride and a desire to gain influence communicate.

More on over-communicating:

Content marketing

The NAB know you want to hear from them.

Does anyone here think that the marketing team at NAB worry that they will be over-exposed? People HATE banks, are FORCED to use them, are LOCKED in to banks due to mortgages and direct debits yet NAB will STILL find new and expensive ways to stay in touch. You will never hear its marketing czar say: “Well we’re a household name, we have 4200 branches, TV, print and radio advertising, an online team, sponsorships of sporting teams and entire competitions and we mail out 1.2 million pieces of direct mail a week. Maybe we’ll ease off a bit.”

Nor should you.

What’s the best way to stay in touch on a light but regular basis? You want an option that is cheap, quick to execute, effective, measurable and effective. Social media? Good luck with that – are you really going to get everyone to follow you on Facebook? Anyway you know from previous posts that Facebook HATES spreading your content to the people who like you. Twitter? Puh-lease – most people aren’t on it anyway. Direct mail is an option but it is costly and doesn’t allow you to see who reads your content. And putting together a print publication is usually a saga akin to childbirth. Maybe you could telephone them but that can seem intrusive and is labour-intensive.

Nope – this is a job for email – affordable, simple, measurable and commonly-used email which brings us to our next question:

For what percentage of people do you have email addresses? If it’s less than 80% you need to look at how you gather email addresses. 

how to build email list

There are many ways to grow the base.

The graph on the left is compiled by Marketing Sherpa and shows how your fellow marketers gain and grow their email database.

Far and away the winner is “registration during purchase” which means that as part of the process of buying / registering / booking an email was provided. (Airlines are great at this.) Do you ‘encourage’ this during your transactions? And does the marketing team get access to the emails?

You can have a artfully designed template, attention-grabbing copy and offers a-plenty but your eMarketing efforts will never live up to their potential unless you actively seek to grow your database. Databases need a champion. Growth should be publicly measured. Marketers are excited to see growing Facebook likes and Twitter followings but email databases can stagnate with little loss of face.

Content marketing

One strange omission from table is “content marketing” by which we mean that an email is gained as part of the process of a website visitor downloading a resource – often a free eBook or whitepaper. This form of content marketing represents a HUGE opportunity for organisations such as yours which has expertise, credibility and a mission to help. And as we said – people are only  too willing to give an email address as part of an exchange in which they see value. Why give away your fact sheets without an email in return?

content marketing advice

You have knowledge. Offer something of value. Watch the emails stack up.

You can’t depend on people registering themselves on your website. At best this will be a slow trickle. You need to lure people into adding themselves and free, helpful, practical, quick-to-read content is a great way to do it. Content creation is hard but can be outsourced. And remember that the right content can be luring new subscribers to your databases for years.

Consider list-based documents such as:

  • 12 ways to…
  • 7 mistakes to avoid when…
  • How to…
  • So you’ve just been diagnosed with…
  • Subject X – the facts.
  • An introduction to…
  • Meet 9 people just like you.
  • The combined wisdom of last year’s class.

Be helpful, not boastful. Be visually appealing, with images, graphs and captions. Make content easy to read with less text and simple summaries. 12 pages is plenty. An alternative to a publication is a on-demand webinar or slideshow.


Stay in touch.

Use mass email to stay in touch.

You should get the email addresses for 90% of the people you contact over a given year. Find ways to achieve this – send people pre- and post- surveys or questionaires. Send receipts and notes via email. Take bookings and payments online. Just ASK.

Send short, sharp, useful email contacts.

Accelerate database growth by offering content in exchange for an email address.

Finally: the Hootville Lowdown is an example a short, useful email that keeps an organisation in touch. Trust us – it works. Now for goodness sake – if this story was any use to you, please share it.

Marketing 101: this post contains nudity and marketing jargon

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marketing advice

Marketing - it takes more than a logo and a style guide.

Definition: “Marketing” is a much-used and often-abused term meaning very different things to different people. For some people, marketing equals little more than a logo. Their idea of a marketing campaign is to ensure all the brochures adhere to the style guide. How quaint. However it’s a lot more than that. For our purposes we’ll define “marketing” as all the ways you communicate to the marketplace about what you are and what you have to offer. If you have difficulty thinking of your clients, participants, donors, prospective staff, policy makers, volunteers and other groups as “markets” you may opt for “audiences”. If neither of those terms ring true to you, you’re in trouble and so is your organisation.

marketing tips for small businesses

Stop and consider these three matters.

Three considerations:

1.Your brand – what you stand for, your position, the reputation you want.

2.Your audiences – who are they and what do they think? What are their perceptions about you and your issues?

3.How to best reach them. (Which marketing and communications options you will choose to execute your marketing.)


Cynical about marketing? Here’s why it’s worth the bother

1. It separates you from the pack.

2. Folk won’t care about you, support you or use you if they don’t know you exist.

3. Marketing makes you more than just another service provider.

4. Good marketing is the best revenge – it can level a playing field against opponents with more power and money but less marketing savvy. Well-marketed organisations punch above their weight. How do makers of sweet fizzy drinks become ubiquitous? Marketing. You can all name peer organisations which unfairly occupy more hearts and minds than you. That’s marketing.

5. People important to you will be impressed. Stakeholders, shareholders, suppliers, government, sponsors and staff want to know your organisation counts. They want your brand recognised in your marketplace.

6.Good marketing strengthens organisations by attracting more and better donations, staff, vollies and opportunities. A solid marketing operation puts bums on seats and dollars in coffers with less effort.

7. Marketing makes everything else work more smoothly – recruiting of paid staff and volunteers, filling events or gaining support.

marketing umbrella

Two nude marketers in the desert comparing marketing umbrellas. It happens.

Umbrellas and channels

Marketing types like to talk about the “marketing umbrella” which implies that marketing is an overarching term under which many different marketing options (or “channels”) can be used.

It’s a horrible piece of jargon but under the umbrella are your marketing or communications options including: website and eMarketing, social media signage, media relations, publications and marketing collateral, public displays, lobbying activities such as letter-writing campaigns by your members, public speaking, events – from open days, guest speakers to conferences and yes – advertising. Every channel is a way to communicate; persuade, influence.

And that, dear citizen, is why so few organisations get their marketing right. Each of the elements above is a world unto itself. You could spend a career exploring the possibilities offered by any one of them. There are so many options, so many skills required, so many pitfalls and so few hours in the day that most of us do a patchy job at best. The more complex your cause, the harder it is. Eg: flogging an energy drink is simpler than pushing a safe injecting room. (Pun intended.)

And of course the use of these channels should follow a planning process to decide what you want to achieve and through which means you will accomplish your goal. Not to mention a process of deciding what ‘personality’ your brand will have. (More on that later.)

No wonder marketing campaigns fail to launch, go awry or leave behind exhausted workers and resentful volunteers for little gain.  Oh dear – continuing on regardless – read on.

how to manage a marketing campaign

Dear Boss - listen up.

Note to bosses: Marketing is NOT one thing such as an advertisement or an event. Clients often refer to their “marketing campaign” which amounts to just one thing – a street fair, art auction, launch, publication etc. A new logo!

Such activities are not marketing campaigns in themselves, just single channels through which you market.

If you are a boss ask; “Is this going to make a big impact with our key audiences?” Not, “Have you spell-checked the brochure?”

marketing challenges

Cross the bridge, save the girl, get the Schmacko.

Want to read more on this topic? Read this post about Marketing bridges you need to cross.

And if you have read this far how about sharing the wisdom?

The Critic’s Oath

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Dealing with feedback and criticism is part of a copywriter’s lot. That said, it can be soul-destroying.  It makes copywriters conservative.

copywriting feedback
Everyone’s a critic. Like these two proto trolls.

Nobody helps you with the first draft but after you’ve toiled away everyone’s a critic. We hate that so we’ve written a Critic’s Oath which may turn the tide of feedback from subjective to constructive.

It also shows that you take your writing seriously. You may want to pin this on the noticeboard in the office kitchen or read it aloud over the intercom on the hour, every hour.

Hootville’s Critic’s Oath

Writing is a lonely and often thankless task. Scribes toil away isolated and ignored, only to have strangers and colleagues throw in their two cents worth by the dollar, just as the presses are set to roll. We humbly offer this oath as a way to ensure your criticism falls on the side of constructive not destructive.

Please cast aside your News Limited tabloid, be upstanding, hand on heart as you forget what they taught you about writing in school and recite the following:

I promise to be a good critic. This doesn’t mean I shall praise everything put before me but it does mean that I:

  • will sit down to read the words wearing the shoes of the intended audience – not my own – as good writing is all about the audience;
  • find ways to reduce length, never add;
  • endeavour to add interest, humanity and excitement;
  • value “effective” over “nice” understanding that being direct, quirky or challenging is more important than being pleasant;
  • clarify and correct factual errors and clear up confusion;
  • understand that changing: “Reserve your place today.” to “Call today to reserve a seat.” improves nothing;
  • will refer to and respect the original brief which specifies the purpose of the communication and the approach of the writer;
  • respond quickly and with certainty as deadlines wait for no one.

Thankyou. You are now a better critic and a better person.


Developing key messages (misunderstood and over-rated)

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Prospective clients often request workshops or training to “develop key messages”.

Often the underlying belief of the clients is that the right words, in the right order will make a world of difference. If that were these case we’d all be out of work.

developing key messages

Well this is one technique...

We sometimes surprise clients by explaining that Hootville is NOT a true believer in key messages per se. Words only carry so much impact. The finding of such a workshop should influence marketing across the board.

Also – we think that developing quality key messages should be based on two prior steps:

1. knowing and defining your brand’s personality,

2. understanding your audience extremely well.

Only then can you develop messages that will cut through. Trying to just get some good-sounding words to be rolled out as slogans or soundbites is plain shabby. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a slogan is a key message, nor that any one message will change the world.

Far more than just words on a page or screen, the messages you develop in a key messaging workshop should influence all your marketing: presentations and speeches, the nature of events you hold, your look and feel, the media coverage you seek.

Tips on creating effective key messages. They should be:

true to the brand’s values and personality. You must be able to deliver on the impression you give via your messages. Don’t claim inclusiveness if you can’t deliver.

specific, not generic. A key message shouldn’t be interchangeable with other key messages about other brands in your category. Everyone claims to be friendly, professional and passionate. How about being maverick, determined or long-term in your approach? (Warning – see the first dot point above.)

pitched at the right tenor – neither too dramatic nor flippant. Eg: don’t attempt to play on people’s patriotism / altruism if this is a step too far. Humans are generally self-centred but many nonprofit sector key messages aim to hit upon audiences’ idealism and community spirit. Here’s a prime example of a messages that are entirely out of synch with the way an audience might see and feel about an issue.

resonant with the specific audience at that specific time about that specific issue. This is hard for many smaller marketing operations wishing to reach as many as possible, as cheaply as possible. This is understandable but a scattergun approach yields less results.

brief and simple;

• aimed to create a certain thoughts, feeling and actions in the audience. (See below)

action-orientated. Attempt to encourage a behaviour – far more achievable than a change of attitude.

• based on more than just reason. Emotions inspire people into action. If logic was enough, many of us would be out of a job.

• addressed what you truly know of the audience including their motivations, anxieties, incentives and the sort of value propositions they like to see.

More on Think…Feel…Do.

We want to develop messages that influence people’s behaviour. If we go along with the broad observation that our thoughts influence our feelings which in turn influence our behaviours we need to start with the right thought.  This is a way to evaluate prospective messages. Will they make people think certain thoughts, create certain emotions and in turn take certain actions.




I can do this


Make a call right now

This is for people like me


Visit the website

I will be well supported


Attend a meeting / event

Not too big an undertaking


Refer a friend

This will be fun


What a great idea


I get / understand this idea


Want help with this? Call Brett at Hootville: 03 9017 1062.


Tacky tie-ins

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pr advice for marketers

On top of everything, it costs MORE than double the 9-hole fee to play 18 holes.

We are all for timing one’s marketing to tie-in with public events, milestones or catalysts but these two PRfails are just awful.

Mind you, if we don’t play golf at these crazy prices (left), the terrorists win. You can tell how respectful they are by the capital C in Commemorate.

And then there’s this awful attempt by a marketing blogger to explain how the attacks of 2001 created sweeping changes in…marketing. It was written in September 2006 and is a sad example of an author who wants to appear thoughtful, respectful and relevant – when all they are doing is trying to fill some space with enough keywords to attract some 9-11 anniversary internet traffic. Worth a read – if only to cringe. It’s title: September 11th – a marketers reflection. Cringing yet? The end bit is glorious.



PR tip: 97.9% of journalists lie about influence of PR

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Oh dear- pride is an awful thing. It makes people tell fibs as this recent survey of journalists reported in The Sell-In so ably displays.

pr tips for publicists

Our finding? 97.9% bollocks.

The question: Have you ever been talked into reporting something that you has decided to ignore following a call from a PR person?”

Guess what? 97.9% of journalists said NO. Well that would be that then, for publicists everywhere. Put down the phone and wait to be summoned. Happily that ain’t how it works. Follow-up calls can and do work, every day.

Journalists will tell you: “If I am interested I’ll get back to you.” but journalists are busy people – they forget, other priorities take over, they deal with what is right in front of them at a moment in time.

Brett knows this from experience – he was a busy journalist himself once upon a time.

In all our time as publicists Hootville got exactly zero calls from journalists telling us that after due consideration they had decided not to do a story we pitched them. This is despite 1000 media hits over a decade or so. Of those 1000 hits maybe 300 would not have happened without a follow-up call.

Extra calls do get results for publicists, even if that result is a definite NO. A definite refusal allows you to move on to the next victim. And even a brief phone call allows you to understand the journalist better for the next pitch.

Journalists will always tell you that PR people are nothing but a nuisance; at best a means to information but never – never – the source of a great story but we are – all the time.

Otherwise there’d be no fashion, real estate, food, entertainment, TV, movie and showbiz reviews or celebrity coverage. No interviews with authors, actors, singers. Have we got to half of all media coverage as yet? Let’s say 30%.

Throw in those big serious interviews with overseas politicians, public figures, corporate honchos and thought leaders. Getting closer to half way. Add the “exclusives” that litter television news (“be the first to see details of the new rail line / highway / stadium.”) Now we’re at 50%.

Most sport coverage outside game time is PR-driven as is anything involving a media conference or photo call –  and that means most police and crime reporting. And most big leaks are leaked directly from publicists. That’s close to 6o%.

95% of big social issue stories – that’s what we all push – are entirely PR driven. Equally so for scientific and technology stories.

Don’t let the journalists’ party line dull your desire to make a call and a follow-up. Calls – more than emails and on a par with tweets – get results. Nobody ever says they are influenced by advertising either – but that ain’t true neither.

Tips for getting a successful pitch:

  • Have a well-developed story idea.
  • Sell the talent.
  • Select a relevant journalist and outlet.
  • Pitch well – be succint, down-to-earth, pragmatic. Do not be dumb, ditzy or boring.
  • Never, ever start with: “Just calling to see if you got my email…”

More on the art of pitching stories to media here. And if you pitch but once a year this is a MUST read.

Tagged , ,

Jobville launches Facebook page with ASUS tablet giveaway

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It is low self-esteem that drives us to give ourselves away like this? We know - who cares? offers every Australian nonprofit and community sector organisation the opportunity to recruit staff, volunteers, interns and board members for free. Nobody else does this.

Beyond the site, email and Twitter, we’ve now bowed to pressure and established a Facebook page which features every single job we advertise. It also includes some other workplace-related stories.

Like the page before 5pm Sydney time Friday September 20 and you’ll enter the draw for an ASUS Memo Pad tablet.  Simple. Now go and like us.

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