Author Archives: Brett

Facebook advertising, an introduction and our experience

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(Updated July 2015)

Oh social media – why do you tease us so? Twitter, Facebook et al promise so much to marketers but deliver so little. And it’s only going to get littlerer – fewer Facebook friends, seeing less of your content, engaging less with the content they do see and being influenced less by you despite all your efforts.

A super quick quiz about Facebook:

Let’s say you have 100 friends. (People who have liked your page.)

Let’s say you create a Facebook post, perhaps recommending this very article.

Q1. How many people do you think will see your post when they log on to their Facebook account? And by that we mean scrolling past it as they survey their Facebook feed.

Q2. How many people will engage with it by sharing it, pressing the Like button, clicking on some pictures or a link or leaving a comment?

Answer to Q1: between 8% and 12%.

Answer to Q2: less than 2%, probably less than 1%. Depressed already?

The bottom line is this – Facebook is making it harder and harder for your content to reach people – even those who Like your page. This is deliberate and in Facebook’s interest because it encourages you to pay to get more of your content to friends and strangers. Yep – it’s time to acknowledge that without spending money your Facebook impact will be small and diminishing.

There are various ways that Facebook will take your moolah in exchange for spreading your content to more people. Facebook continues to tweak its advertising offerings, terminology and back end interface but these basics should hold true for a while.

Facebook advertising advice

The boost button is for newbies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most basic option is to Boost.

It appears below your post and gives you the option to pay as little as $5 to display your post to more of your friends, their friends or to target an audience. Once your credit card is stored with Facebook, the process is seamless – a mere three clicks. No wonder millions of people a day use this service.

facebook advertising australia

Money well spent.

Does it work? Well, yes. Here’s how a boosted post compared to unboosted posts on the Hootville Facebook page. Have a look at that top post – Facebook has let it roam cyberspace. For money.

 

boosting a facebook post

Mr Zuckerberg appreciates your contribution.

So should you use it? Yes – on occasions when it’s important for you to get word out.

Of course you’ll have to convince your bosses to allow you to boost, with no guarantee of exactly how many people will see the post.

Ideally you’ll have a pool of money which you can spend $5, $10 or $20 at a time at your discretion, reporting on the results as you go. Life is too short to have each boost approved.

But boosting is for newbies. It allows you to reach more of your friends and their friends but it allows less targeting of potential audiences and less crafting of what they see. Thus let’s talk about Facebook advertising proper.

Finances: Facebook lets you set a daily budget which can start at a few dollars. Based on your budget Facebook displays your post to the people you target (more on targeting below).

It’s an auction system so as with real estate, the more popular your audience is with advertisers, the more you will have to pay to reach them. Targeting Double Bay Sydney’s brides-to-be is more expensive than targeting Alice Springs’ residents who have expressed interest in lawn bowls because more advertisers are seeking the former.

Of course it’s more complicated than that. Facebook wants to show people ads they will be interested in so if your ad has a high click through rate (more on CTR later) and relevance score it will be shown more often, more prominently. You can decide how much you are willing to pay for each display or (as we do) let Facebook decide.

choosing facebook advertising options

You probably want all of the above don’t you?

Desires: Facebook also allows (forces) you to decide what your desired result is: getting people to click through to your website, engage with your post, become your Facebook friend etc. This step is early in the process and is confusing for new players.

The top three should meet most of your needs. Facebook displays and deploys your post differently to achieve your goal.

 

 

There are three aspects to Facebook advertising:

facebook advertising

Everyone’s at it!

1: creating the post or ad you wish people to see comprising the copy, the images or video, your choice of call-to-action button etc. AKA as the creative. It can take only minutes to create your ad (Facebook guides you through) but take the time to consider the images you show and headlines you write as they will impact on your results. Monitor the stats and make changes accordingly. Keep monitoring and tweaking. This is not ‘set and forget’.

 

What we learnt about Facebook advertising content from weird belly fat products.

facebook ads that work

Promoting specific tips and advice work for us.

Here are two ads that worked well for Hootville which we confess were inspired by those ubiquitous belly fat advertisements.

We tried some generic ads: “Visit Hootville.com for lots of advice and help.” sort of thing with no great results. We then tried some posts which were more specific to greater effect.

They were not promoting Hootville as a whole but offering very specific targeted advice and assistance – copywriting tips, story-pitching tips etc. They had an intriguing image (hamsters anyone?) and a bold, conspiratorial tone like those belly fat ads.

Suddenly each action (having people like our page) was costing less than 50c. Are you willing to pay 96c for two appropriate strangers to like your page? Would it be worth $500 to gain 1000 followers who you then attempt to keep interested? That’s your call but it’s cheaper than stamps and unlike direct mail, by the time you’ve spent your 70c you already have a ‘relationship’, albeit tenuous.

Our advice – always try two similar posts with different images and / or text to see which works best. A small change of text or image can make a big difference.

2: targeting your audience:

advertising on facebook

Given that Facebook knows everything about us, the targeting options for advertisers are a little underwhelming. You select gender, geography, age, interests etc. Advertisers targeting off-Broadway locations are at a big advantage as they will generally have to pay less and expose themselves to fewer irrelevant people.

At each point you will be told the approximate size of your prospective audience. As with all marketing, you want to find the right audience for your particular message – casting too broad a net means more people will see your post but that your conversion rate will fall. Throw too tight a net and you will lessen your potential.  Above is how we targeted one post.

You can also create custom audiences – say of people who have visited your website and target a certain ad to them. Brilliant. This is called retargeting and explains why the ads on your Facebook page are from the airline / hotel / university / musician your were Googling.

3. displaying the ad – involves choosing whether you want your ad to appear in just the Newsfeed or on the right hand side column, on desktop devices or mobile devices too. We prefer the Newsfeed option as there is less visual competition. All these will make a difference to the impact your ad has in terms of CTR and cost per action. Play around and see what works.

facebook advertising

The ad (on the left) was a HUGE success due to pinpoint targeting and exquisite timing.

When you get all three aspects – creative, targeting and display – correct the results can be glorious. We recently promoted an online petition that was aimed at the greyhound industry in light of the live baiting revelations. We were able to target women interested in greyhounds. Not just dogs – greyhounds.

We had the ad running within minutes of the ABC-TV 4 Corners report and the momentum was irresistible. It was the nation’s #1 story, people wanted action, people talk about this sort of stuff on Facebook, it was a simple request – thus we got these results.

facebook advertising guide

How sweet it is. No other form of advertising can do this.

The average cost to have someone click through to the petition was just 5c. That’s cheaper than shouting out the window.

And of course each person who signed was then an email contact of Animals Australia who were behind the petition.

After seeing these staggering results maintain themselves we repeatedly extended the campaign.  best money we’ve spent this year. (We sent Animals Australia an email outlining our results suggesting they throw big money at it but received no response.)

Note – over the course of a year many nonprofits would be able to take advantage of some similar outrage to create a voice for change and build databases and relationships. Opportunity will knock. Be ready.

The stats page or “How do I know if I’m doing OK?”

social media advertising

You are the master of all you survey.

Administrators of Facebook pages that are advertising have access to the stats which reveal all. It can be a little overwhelming at first but here’s what to hone in on:

You know that you’re doing Facebook advertising ‘right’ when you have a paying a low cost per engagement. “Engagement” might be for a viewer to click through to your website or download your app or like your Facebook page.

If this is costing $1 per action you may wish to review your advertising. If it’s 25c per action it may be a very cheap investment indeed. Keep in mind a stamp today costs 70c + plus printing and handling.

The click through rate is another key indicator. It measures the percentage of people who having seen your ad, click on it. The higher the click through, the more attractive your ad is. Less than 2% is a concern. Above 10% and you may be a genius. You will be amazed at the different CTRs to the same ad you receive from men and women even when all other targeting is identical.

Alternatively you can run differently designed ads (as above) to the same audience and compare results. You might (indeed will) find that a differing image with the same copy can yield very different results. We wrote another blog post on this monkey experiment.

This is GOLD for marketers who can now stop, amend or double-down on any ad or sponsored post at any time. Try that with off-line advertising. take a gamble on your hunch.

More observations:

You must invest time to monitor results and tweak accordingly. We find that monitoring more than a few ads at a time to be complicated but that may be our simple mindedness.

facebook advertising help

Rejection? Oh yeah – we know how that feels.

Facebook has to approve each ad or post which can be annoying. You may be surprised to find your post or ad not approved – especially when you see the deliberately false and misleading advertising they do allow. They do not like too much text – they want images and would prefer videos. This usually take 5 to 10 minutes.

Video – early results show that audiences respond more to video.

You aren’t nearly as influenced by your peers as experts claim. Let’s say your pal Colin likes our sponsored post. You might consequently see a post in your Newsfeed saying more or less: “Hey – Colin just liked this post from Hootville. Check it out.” You probably won’t. Thus targeting friends of friends may not yield results but try it yourself and see.

The image accompanying the ad is VITAL. Hamsters got us results. Media trainer Brett de Hoedt in front of a PowerPoint slide – not so much.

Results very quickly flatten out. Initial results based on small exposure of your ad may be thrilling or depressing but within 36 hours results tend to plateau for good or bad. Whatever the current cost per click and click through rate will remain largely unchanged. This means that you can quickly cease a misfiring campaign or invest more in one that is working. (Try that with print.)

facebook advertising help

One is pleased with one’s high CTR.

Warning: this stuff can be addictive. Creating the right ad and matching it to the right demographic is fun for marketers. Testing variations is interesting as it lets you scientifically gauge your instincts.

You may find yourself, staring at the columns of reporting, updating, tweaking and feeling like a Wall Street wolf. You may soon scream: “CTR up to 8% – I am the Facebook Queen!” to co-workers. We dare you.

Behold the public speaking pyramid

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book for public speaking

Read this, get savvy, speak better.

There’s a lot of public speaking advice out there (our new free eBook Speak Savvy for instance) and no wonder – many people loathe the thought of a quick presentation to workmates. A keynote presentation to 1000 peers is enough to render many mute and let’s not even mention speaking to media.

That’s a shame because presenters who are engaging, confident and knowledgeable are seen as smarter, better leaders and are more likely to get their way compared to people of equal experience and IQ who cannot command attention. That’s showbiz.

So what makes a “good public speaker” “good”? Well we took a cue from nutritionists who – like the Egyptians – created a pyramid long ago that still gets referred to today. Say hello to the public speaking pyramid.

public speaking advice

It all starts with knowledge. Note the lack of whole grains, dairy or legumes in this pyramid.

The good news is that being a strong speaker is all based on knowledge. Many speakers and speaker trainers tacitly believe that it’s possible to compensate for a lack of real knowledge and specific experience with some YouTube videos, a loud voice and a silly ice-breaking activity. It isn’t.

One of the best presentations Brett ever saw was delivered by a woman with no PowerPoint, no audience activities, no dramatic pauses and certainly no honed TED-style personal stories. She hadn’t taken our Present Savvy workshop.

public speakign trainer australia

Deb with late great Joan Kirner, former Premier of Victoria.

The speaker was Debbie Kilroy and she spoke from the heart from her own personal experience about a topic that held 1000 people enthralled – women in prison. She didn’t even move from behind the lectern but her knowledge and expertise was so compelling, authentic and unique that she killed. (Showbiz talk for “excelled”.) Knowledge works – that’s why it’s the base of our public speaking pyramid. You need multiple servings of this.

Knowledge is more than facts – it’s what you and you alone can explain. It’s your experiences and perspectives. As we emphasise to our Present Savvy participants, if your content is compelling, robust and valuable nobody regrets the missing videos, dramatic pauses or audience participation. Nobody misses the entrance and exit music when the speaker is smart and helpful. So be smart and helpful.

Consider this range of response.

So how was the speaker today, dear?

Option A.

Super confident and he had all these cool graphics but I don’t know what makes him an expert in waste water treatment. We all knew as much as he did. 

Option B

Yeah – pretty good.  Not exactly a bundle of laughs but there was nothing about waste water the guy didn’t know.  I learnt some stuff for sure.

 

Stories & examples

public speaking stories

Stories work for grown ups as well as they do for kids.

Your knowledge needs to be brought to life. It must be transferred; given colour and be made comprehensible. Great public speakers liberally pepper their stagetime with examples and stories which are selected to be both representative, memorable and moving.

Of all the content you deliver on stage, your stories and examples are most likely to stay with audiences after the show. Good speakers take time to find examples that hit home with audiences. Note – the stories don’t have to be about you. They needn’t be long – they might be more a personal reflection or reminiscence.

Do you use examples or stories? Do they illuminate? Have you practiced how you tell them? We guarantee every speaker we train that we can improve their stories and examples.

Why stories? Empathy is in short supply. Humans presume their own lives to be complex but others peoples’ situation to be simple. The right story or example will reveal nuance. It might drill down and highlight the moment something changed. Stories and examples, like this one from leading introvert Susan Cain might inject some humour or humanity. It should offer you a way to explain something beyond just straight talking. Stories help your messages sink in.

Consider this range of response.

How was that speaker at work today dear?

Option A

Not bad. Total expert in her field – nothing she didn’t know about recruiting staff but I don’t know exactly how any of it was particularly relevant to me.

Option B

Not bad. Total expert in her field – nothing she didn’t know about recruiting staff. She gave us this case study of a business that is a lot like us. The company went from employer of last resort to an employer of choice. There was definitely stuff I can use.

 

Engagement & Exercises

public speaker australia

Doing sometimes beats talking.

Speakers and presenters have a message to get across. Otherwise why even bother? To get your message across you MUST engage the audience. Many public speakers are too meek to take control. Get over this self-imposed limitation. It can be as simple as a quick audience poll or as extravagant as having 1000 people form teams to build constructions out of pasta. (Dried not fresh.)

Audiences may claim to be tired of group exercises. Liars! Appropriate, well explained, well executed activities leave audiences enlivened. Exercises break up slabs of talk and allow people who have different learning styles to thrive. Engaging exercises showcase the speaker’s prowess as a presenter and elevate your contribution from speaking to presenting. Exercises make your contribution more memorable. No engagement = no attention. Note – the exercises must relate to your content and message somehow.

Consider this range of response.

“So how was the conference dear?”

Option A

Good. One speaker was talking about how hard it is to come to Australia as a refugee.

Option B

Good. One speaker was talking about how hard it is to come to Australia as a refugee. She did this thing where she handed out forms to enrol your kid in daycare, rent a home and apply for a mortgage but instead of being in English the forms were 50% in English and 50% in Arabic and asked us to complete the forms. Impossible.”

Another example

“So how was the conference dear?”

Option A

We had this sales expert who talked about how important it was to have really great answers to frequently held objections from our customers.

Option B

We had this sales expert who talked about how important it was to have really great answers to frequently held objections from our customers. She had half the room come up with the objections and half the group come up with the responses. The responders had three minutes to come up with their answers and we voted on which group had the best responses. Honestly – the difference between some of the responses to the same objections was horrifying.

 

Audio / visual

The ante has been well and truly upped in this regard. There are some super slick videos and infographics out there being used to full effect by presenters. Undoubtedly they can be the icing on the cake but they are no substitute for knowledge, examples and stories and engagement.

powerpoint mistakes

A picture is worth a thousand words. It should not contain 1000 words.

The use and abuse of PowerPoint is an old chestnut but like the weather everyone complains but nobody does anything about it. If you use it (and you do have a choice) use it lightly to illuminate, clarify and entertain. We have plenty of tips in our free PDF eBook: Speak Savvy.

If you depend on videos to bring home your point make them A) your own B) not utterly familiar C) relevant to your message D) short.

I place audio / visual at the top of the public speaking pyramid – it’s a bonus not a basic. Yet most presenters will spend far longer on their PowerPoint than refining their stories or devising an engaging audience exercise.

You stand more chance of moving someone with an exercise than a slide.

So how was that speech you went to?

Option A

Pretty good. She played that video of the gorilla and the basketballers. They all use that. Then she played some American TV ad to get some message across about collaboration. It a bloody commercial for a mobile phone – who cares?

Option B.

Pretty good. She showed this video from one of her workshops. She interviewed participants before and after about teamwork. She turned some absolute lone wolves into collaborators. Maybe she could do something with our team.

 

Stagecraft

The icing on the pyramid cake (pardon the mixed metaphor) is stagecraft. ‘Serious’ speakers – those who land big fat speaking fees – have made much of stagecraft including: pauses, mime, roaming, whispering, costume changes, props and chants.

If and only if you have

  • knowledge,
  • stories & examples;
  • engagement & exercises;
  • audio visual;

all sorted then and only then can some cunning stagecraft help lift you to the speaking stratosphere.

presenting about climate change

Ok – some gimmicks work pretty well. For former Vice Presidents.

I have seen (endured) speakers who come with sherpas laden with paraphrenalia. Home videos, props, role plays, songs and dances.

This is a trait of the non-expert who covers a lack of real experiences and smarts under an icing of showbiz. I am all for showbiz – but as the dessert, not the main course.

 

So how was the conference dear?

Option A

There was this sort of ‘motivational’ speaker woman – my God! She cried, she sang, she came out wearing this glittery ball gown. She talked about her childhood and her corporate career but I’m not sure how recent any of that was. Some of us were wondering afterward – what exactly was she here for?

Option B

There was this woman – my God! She was amazing. Quite theatrical – she showed us all these pictures of herself growing up around the world. She sang a little song but what I got out of it was that collaboration is built from four key shared values.

book for public speaking

For anyone who speaks to other people as part of their work.

If that’s given you food for thought download the free PDF eBook Speak Savvy.

It’s full of ways to be a great presenter on stages small or large.

And find out what two of our training workshops can do for you. Speak Savvy is for those wanting to bask in the media spotight. Present Savvy makes you a savvier presenter to audiences big or small, clients and stakeholders..

– Brett de Hoedt, Mayor of Hootville.

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Why we don’t need another domestic violence awareness campaign

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Updated Tuesday May 12 2015 (Budget night)

social marketing

Not enough, yet too much.

Recent violence against women and children has the community appalled and politicians grappling for a response. Predictably our political leaders have swung behind an awareness campaign. The Federal Government pledged $16.7 million over three years in last night’s budget and COAG will throw in about $13 million more. It’s not often that you hear a marketer say this: but this time maybe more marketing isn’t the answer.

When non-marketing people refer to an awareness campaign, they usually mean advertising, typically on television, perhaps with a letterbox drop and celebrity YouTube thrown in. Badges are likely too.

domestic violence awareness campaign

Really? Do we really have to pay for this? On prime time TV? Save your money and build us a levy.

Politicians are drawn to advertising as it’s easily understood and highly visible. Politicians of all persuasions are drawn to measures that help them to be seen to be doing something. Taxpayer funded advertising has recently asked us to stop smoking, get moving, screen for cancers, work safely and curb alcohol consumption in front of children. The list goes on. One oddly-specific campaign even warns us of the perils of swimming in flood waters. Do these campaigns work? To some degree, surely they do. However if they worked as well as agencies and their clients argued they do, we’d all be thinner, richer and happier than we currently are.

It’s true that long-term, high-priced marketing campaigns have helped us dramatically turn-around levels of smoking and driving fatalities but it’s too easy to give marketing all the credit. Changing drink-driving from a skill to a socially unacceptable behavior took education but has been underpinned by constant enforcement and legislation. Hard-hitting, award-winning and incredibly expensive television commercials are all well and good but booze buses, speed cameras, demerit points, court appearances and licence loss are the true secret weapons of that success.

Smoking rates have plummeted. Do we have marketing to thank? Partly; though government’s ability to squeeze smokers over the availability, cost and convenience of their vice is key. The fact that cigarettes lead to cancer hasn’t hurt either. Anti-smoking and road safety campaign briefs are a relative doddle when compared to domestic violence – and progress still took decades. Changing attitudes and behaviours to domestic violence is far more challenging and far less likely to succeed. It’s the Everest of social marketing campaigns.

Social ills such as drink-driving, smoking and obesity are topics that most of us – even those of us guilty of the ‘crime’- can discuss. Smokers admit to failed attempts to quit, the plump lament their excess kilos, those living in bushfire zones confess to their indecision to stay or go. This is bread and butter barbeque conversation with little social backlash.

australia says no campaign

Another high profile campaign. Now loooong gone. We say NO to short-term, broad-based awareness raising.

Domestic violence is usually a dirty secret for victims and almost always so for perpetrators. Domestic violence has not has lacked for awareness-raising campaigns: The ‘Australia Says No’ campaign was a high-profile TV-driven campaign of the Federal Howard government. Did it help?

More recently police, media outlets and sporting codes have lent their support to the cause. This is great of course. White Ribbon Day is a now major national happening. The ribbon has become synonymous with violence against women – we see it on the lapels of the powerful, on our public buildings and at major sporting events.

We’ve had a flurry of celebrity ambassadors and confessions, social media outrage and even a twice-yearly White Ribbon Cup between two AFL teams. This all helps create a culture that is unaccepting of violence and it should continue but there comes a time when marketing ends and reality begins. Domestic violence is well and truly on the agenda. What next?

Marketing has limits when it comes to changing attitudes and behaviors. Even under the best of circumstances, a good campaign must be long-term and specifically targeted to the key audiences and must evolve overtime to help people make a change. A good campaign leads to specific actions.

family violence website development

Hume region family violence alliance website by Hootville. Cost about the same as a full page ad.

Experts with whom Hootville works tell us that enforcement and services are paramount. And that services are overwhelmed by demand. Campaigns eat up money. Awareness-raising campaigns are empty calories; feeling good in the short-term but amounting to nothing. Funds end up with consultants rather than services. And let us not forget that it is government that is accountable for the level of service and priority this issue and its victims receive. Will government be happy to see a campaign that lobbies for better services? We think not.

What would our desired actions be for a family violence campaign? Is it to encourage victims to leave to abusive situations? To inspire more reporting to police by family, friends and work-mates? How about tools for parents to raise less violent boys and less tolerant girls?

The ultimate creator of perception is reality. Every inadequate court sentence handed down to a violent criminal sends the message – ‘Violence is okay!’ Every video game aimed at young men with no female characters demonstrates that women don’t count. (Video games in which you can kill female prostitutes are surely an urban myth.) Every overflowing refuge says: “our care is finite.”

domestic violence campaigns

Fiona McCormack put her finger on the root cause of domestic violence. It won’t be easy to tackle.

The CEO of Domestic Violence Victoria, Fiona McCormack put it beautifully in an interview on ABC1’s 7.30 when she explained the link between misogynistic attitudes and domestic violence. She compared it to the connection between increased levels of homophobia and attacks on gay people. This concept may be a bridge too far for some people.

Most professionals in the domestic violence sector would rather see money diverted from additional awareness-raising to bolstering the range of services offered to victims.

Whenever a victim of family violence summons the courage to leave, she needs shelter, services and support immediately and indefinitely.  We need a justice system resourced and nimble enough to protect the innocent and deal with perpetrators. And when a victim reports a crime; she must feel confident that she will be believed, supported and protected. These are complex issues far beyond the remit of any marketing agency.

social marketing campaign

Working on some ideas for the little ladies. Seriously – this is EXACTLY how ad agency people are today. In Australia. In 2014.

“Can’t we have both services and marketing?” you ask. Well, based on the current inadequacy of services we can’t even get half of that mix right. Too often money that goes into campaigns directly comes out of services budgets.

Let’s leave the TV commercials and billboards for upcoming election campaigns. That said; there will be big ad agencies lining up to raise awareness at the expense of services. With respect to our peers (above): hands off.

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Marketing myth exposed: sexy is nothing!

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Note: The original post was published in May 2015. We added a significant update at the bottom of this post in May 2016. Enjoy and please share.

One of the greatest myths in the nonprofit world was trotted out in response to Carrie Bickmore’s 2015 plea for greater funding for brain cancer research. It was delivered by the Cure Brain Cancer Foundation’s head of engagement. When asked why her cause gets such a small slice of National Health and Medical Research Council funding she explained it thus:

marketing advice for nonprofits

Sexy? No. Interesting? Undeniably.

“We don’t have the awareness we need. It’s not a ‘sexy’ cancer.”

That quote may be taken out of context or it may have just been a passing thought but the attitude is endemic. It’s convenient thinking, defeatist, demonstrably wrong and we want to tackle it to the ground right here.

Nonprofit marketing is a fiercely competitive playing field – like every other kind of marketing. Every cause, every disease and every charity is fighting for hearts, minds and wallets. Nonprofit marketing is in no way a meritocracy. It’s showbiz – which is the opposite of science.

 

 

marketing myths

Prostate cancer and depression anybody?

Agreed, there’s nothing sexy about brain cancer but there’s little that’s ‘sexy’ about bowel cancer, lung cancer, domestic violence, drink driving, depression, asylum seekers, Indigenous reconciliation or live animal export. Yet all these causes currently outperform brain cancer in terms of media coverage, public support and funding. Good for them. It’s not by accident.

It’s true that every cause starts with natural advantages and disadvantages. In terms of impact, HIV – a new, fatal, sexually-transmitted disease – was pretty hard to beat for a while. The sight of puppies in squalid puppy farms is gut churning. Kids with just about any diagnosis tug at the heart strings. Anything with the prefix “trans” (-gender, -fats, -Pacific Partnerships) sparks curiosity. Yet we follow and support many causes to which we have little connection.

fundraising advice

Child sponsorship has been made standard operating procedure.

One of the great feats of social marketing is child sponsorship in which global charities convince Australians to donate on a monthly basis, to kids they’ve never met, in countries they’ll never visit. The kids often come from countries and cultures with which we feel little affinity yet we give millions a month, often while actively avoiding any contact with the beneficiaries. Remarkable.

Similarly there are plenty of causes that we ‘should’ care about more deeply, which aren’t being effectively marketed:

• we’re all gettting older yet there’s no effective grey lobby in Australia;
• 100% of people are going to die yet dying with dignity commands no army of active supporters;
• twice as many students attend state schools than non-government options yet state-schooling parents hardly form a pro-state-education voting block.

We heard a brain cancer researcher justify her cause’s poor public profile by saying that as brain cancer mortality is so high, there are few survivors to spread the story and stoke the fires of the cause. She should stick to the lab.

• Road fatalities are pretty damn fatal yet attitudes to drink driving have turned on a dime.

• Battery hens live in misery and many of us have sworn off cage eggs; yet few of us speak chicken.

Despite everything you’ve heard, your cause or brand doesn’t have to be ‘sexy’ to get the media coverage, political sway and public support you seek. There are many factors behind any campaigning success; so if you ain’t sexy; fear not. Here’s what you need to be to cut through:

 

You need to be emotional.

Live export eMarketing campaign

Tough to look at. Tough to ignore?

There’s nothing rational about emotions. Corporations make us feel passionate about their products and services.

Queues form for the latest iPhone, football teams inspire violent support from superfans, people pay extra to wear the logos of the favoured tax-minimising global megabrands.

Make people feel something. Animals Australia, PETA and the folks behind Anzac Day are masterful at this.

 

 

 

You need to be interesting.

Can you put a human face to your cause? Will you challenge government or public policy? Being seen as an advocate works nicely for Greenpeace. When was the last time you really stood up for your stakeholders?

Will you create media friendly events that we can join and cover? Head-shaving, moustache-growing and boss-incarcerating are all winners. Who knew?

Paul Keating described it as “flicking the switch to Vaudeville” and he was right. If you want to engage the masses, you better be willing to play by their rules. They like fun events, blunt spokespeople, sympathetic ‘victims’, simple slogans, hope, celebrity endorsements, very little science and even less guilt.

Attention spans are limited and their favour is fickle but some campaigns do cut through and maintain a place in their hearts. In terms of events Australia’s Morning Tea is cutesy, low-tech and highly successful. In 2014 it raised $11 million! No lab coats required.

 

You need to be entrepreneurial..

It’s about trying something, failing, changing and moving on to something that works. That’s how tech start-ups work and you should too (with less hipsterism please). Cliches such as ‘minimal viable product’ and ‘iterate’ and ‘ready, fire aim’ may come in handy. Does your organisation hustle or haggle?

 

You need to be passionate

Sadly we often see more passion from app developers, real estate agents and the paleo crowd than from non-profit folk. Passion for any cause goes a looong way. It is zero coincidence that many campaigns run by passionate volunteers and amateurs outperform those run by full-time paid professionals. Eg: Oscar’s Law which is about to change state legislation.

You need to have PR skills.

Do you have people who know how to conceive and package a media story idea? Can they then pitch to media? Don’t expect the part-time graphic designer-come-PR-person to have media sense. Get some training!

 

media training

Makes SCIENCE sexy by being interesting, passionate and available. Bless him.

You need to have talent

Do you have spokespeople who can deliver an interesting interview or killer presentation? We’ve heard too many boring spokespeople recently, wasting precious opportunities. Dr Karl Kruszelnicki makes science sound sexy on a daily basis. Dr Tim Costello is one of Australia’s most-interviewed citizens. He’s authentic and outspoken. What’s that worth to World Vision? A. Whole. Lot. Get some training!

 

You need to possess expertise.

What do you know that others don’t? What special experiences, knowledge or perspectives do you bring? What cats are you willing to bell that others are not? (Consult your Brewers.)

Media runs on expertise. Want proof? The weather bureau! Show me one other (cardigan-clad) body that gets more media time on an hourly daily basis. Nobody. Weather is not sexy – but expertise is. But don’t expect the media to recognise your expertise – shout it from the rooftops.

 

marketing advice for nonprofits

What a simple thing to get behind. Not sexy. Simple.

You need to be simple.

People abhor complication. Fred Hollows Foundation restores sight for $25! Pretty simple ain’t it? (It probably ain’t quite that simple but who cares?) What a great value proposition. What’s yours?

 

You need to be persistent and consistent.

We’ve met clients who put their faith in a TV commercial campaign, a mail out or a single event. That’s not how brands are built or movements made. You need to find the resources to be in front of people on an ongoing basis and that includes the 51 weeks that aren’t your awareness week.

carrie bickmore

Who says brain cancer ain’t sexy? Not us.

Now make yourself irresistibly sexy by donating to Cure Brain Cancer Foundation.

Still unconvinced? A: go to hell B. Read our interview with Lucy Perry who is one of the best speakers you’ll ever hear on matters NFP, marketing and the like. Until recently she headed Hamlin Fistula Ethiopia in Australia.

marketing advice

Listen to Lucy

Lucy is a rule breaker, ideas maker and communicator. She now uses her powers for speaking and writing about leadership, creative thinking and changing the world. Visit lucyperry.com.au

So Lucy, where does fistula in Africa rate on the sexy scale? Thanks to celebrities like Oprah and Natalie Imbruglia, obstetric fistula has received a lot of awareness in the last 10 years. But it really doesn’t matter which way you look at it, smashed up vaginas and incontinent women on the other side of the world is a tough story to tell. I would give it 2 out of 10 for broad appeal.

Did the inherent unsexiness of your cause inhibit you? Did it change the way you campaigned? I have always attacked communication messages head on with the truth. It is the only way to be heard, understood, trusted, believed. I saw the challenge of explaining the horrors of obstetric fistula as the best part of the success story. When people hear a strong message about women’s health, women can empathise, men are protective. There is no point dancing around the truth and softening the reality. You will never find me saying “birth canal” instead of “vagina” and you will never find me pretending shit ain’t real.

Were there times with prospective partners / donors / staff etc that they expressed some trepidation about becoming involved with fistula as an issue?
There were times when major corporates were not interested in supporting a charity in Ethiopia. It was not so much the fistula injury that bothered them as much as their financial support going to the other side of the globe. But that was not across the board. I developed relationships with whopping great corporates like CommBank who were happy to give financial support to a vagina charity on the other side of the world. Go CommBank!

How important is it for campaigns to balance making people feel angry with giving them hope?
One of the top 10 shared emotions on social media is outrage so that is an important part of gaining traction for any cause. People have to feel uncomfortable with the reality of the issue. Then they have to feel like their contribution is needed and they can actually help. Then you have to make people feel good about their contribution after the fact. So, the emotional trifecta for successful fundraising communication is outrage, hope, satisfaction. Take your donors on a loop of those feelings and you’ll have them for life!

Is it possible for any charity fighting any cause to be positive, interesting and hopeful? How?
Absolutely. In fact it is essential. Add to that list: funny and entertaining. People have very short attention spans and they also have a limited capacity for horror stories. So any charity fighting any cause needs to be positive, interesting, hopeful and humorous so that when they do slam their supporters with the heartbreaking truth of their cause, the audience hasn’t already suffered a mild case of cause fatigue. Your comms have been so entertaining, funny, positive and uplifting that your story lands on ears ready to listen and hearts ready to donate.

Were there times when you wished you were representing puppies or fighting to save a much-loved landmark?
Never. I have always preferred to fight for the underdog and fistula sufferers are some of the most marginalised women in the world. Puppies and landmarks don’t float my boat like womens’ health does. I need to be working on something I am truly passionate about so that it shines through in my communication. Love for the cause, love for the patients, love for the underdog – it all fuels my reason for being, my purpose as a communicator.

Update: can we talk vaginal prolapse?

media coverage for unsexy stories

Sexy is nothing. Prolapse is everything. For the moment anyhow.

We had the honour of Shauna Hurley’s company at our most recent Media Savvy workshop. Shauna handles media among other things for medical research reviewers nonprofit Cochrane Australia and recently scored some media on what may be the least sexy topic we’ve encountered in a while – vaginal prolapse. (Google it if you dare or ask 50% of mothers.)

Anyhow Shauna did not presume that the topic was taboo, unsexy or of little interest and her pitch – based on the fact that the common surgical intervention may be more harmful than helpful – scored a lovely big hit in The Conversation which lead to a follow-on hit on ABC RN’s The Health Report with fabled presenter Dr Norman Swan.

Prolapse unsexy? Vaginas unsuitable for primetime? Bollocks. Money can’t buy these hits and Google analytics won’t track how many women may well avoid unwelcome complications surgery. Kudos Shauna.  Go ask for a raise.

Now – how many media hits are you counting yourself out of?

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eMarketing advice – refine your sign-up page

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Any eMarketer wants visitors to their website to sign-up to their email database.

Friction is your enemy. Friction is anything that slows down people from doing what you want them to do.

Badly design sign-up forms add friction and lower results.

Let’s see how we can fix this.

And if you want to really get your eMarketing together call Brett to discuss an eMarketing Savvy workshop.

Oh – download your free eMarketing eBooks from the Hootville Giftshop.

 

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Marketers! Know thy audience

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We’ve written previously about the importance of knowing your audiences and the value of the conversion formula. Infact it’s one of our most-read post. We ensure every Marketing Savvy workshop devotes time to just this.

Well know we’ve made a short video about it. Enjoy.

Straight to video: how to write a media release.

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Prepare for a dramatic expansion in the size of YouTube. Brett’s been in the studio (back of his house) lately. He’ll soon be delivering all manner of PR advice and marketing tips. The NBN will finally get a proper workout as we premiere 20+ full colour productions, several of which feature a canine companion in a non-speaking role.

Video #1 gives a quick look at the media release – headlines, length, quotes and other components. Short sweet, video advice.

 

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Dr Stan is good talent. Listen and learn.

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Good talent makes journalists weep with joy. It also leads to lots of call backs and further media opportunities. Brett recently interviewed Dr Stan Rodski about his new colouring book Colourtation which is for corporate grown-ups. Dr Rodski is very good talent. Listen as we deconstruct him.

media interview tips

20,000 copies sold and counting…

0.38 He has his opening statement ready. Colourtation isn’t a book – it’s “a way to relax quickly and easily in our very hectic days.”  He’s positioned this wad of paper with patterns as something we all want.

1.20: Dr Rodski has positioned his simple colouring book as a solution to aneurysm and dementia. Long bow? Who cares?

2.03: Dr Rodski positions his simple book as an easy, simple alternative to all those tricks we know that we ‘should’ do – meditation and relaxation. Anyone who has failed to chant their way to a peaceful mind will be pleased to hear this.

3.31: He plugs his practice but more importantly places himself in a story which demonstrates his authority.

4.00: Dr Rodski explains the science of it all so clearly and  simply. Lots of examples. He does this immaculately at 6.25.

He’s relaxed and comfortable isn’t he? He takes charge but in a friendly way. Everything is easy, simple, certain, reasonable.

How does putyourdressout and freshinourmemories happen?

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Social media fails by Mortein and Woolworths were breathtaking and jaw-dropping. Response has been fast and furious.

social media fails
Lots of folk thought this was just fine, BTW.

 

Brett (who has a job on the side presenting the radio program Hootville Saturday mornings 10 to noon on 1377 MyMP in Melbourne) spoke to Hugh Stephens, CEO of Dialogue Group about how these faux pas happen.

Tune in and get an online marketing specialist’s viewpoint.

 

City of Casey feedback

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social media training

The Caseyans are pleased.

Brett trains, participants learn and as you’ll see everybody’s happy. From the City of Casey:

The April 1 social media session was very successful

Feedback from evaluation forms:

  • The session was very informative and helpful
  • Will be useful to promote the centre and events
  • Excellent presentation of a complete subject
  • Not certain yet but much better informed to make decisions
  • Lots of informative and interesting material
  • Mail chimp sounds very useful
  • Facebook worth trying now
  • Lots of info that save learning by mistakes, will look at changing things.

Thanks, Marja Park, Community Facilities Development Officer, City of Casey.

No, no Marja – thankyou.

If your local government wants to deliver training to local businesses, community groups (or itself) call Brett on 0414 713 802.

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