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The topics discussed here grow out of the bread-and-butter issues that confront my consulting and software clients on a daily basis. We'll talk about prosaic stuff like Membership Management, Meetings and Events Management and Fundraising, broader ideas like security and software project management, and the social, cultural, and organizational issues that impact IT decision-making.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Getting your Message Across: : A Link Roundup

There's a lot of talk about accidental techies nowadays. But the non-profit world is also full of accidental marketeers: people who are experts in their subject but struggling beginners when it comes to selling their organization's programs to donors. This first half of June the blogosphere has been full of tips to help the accidental marketeer.

1. Underpromising
A few days ago The Agitator talked about the current marketing maxim advising companies to "underpromise and overdeliver" and wondered how this applied to non-profits.
How do you understate or modestly state your need, its urgency, the unique effectiveness of your approach, or the impact you expect to have, without getting drowned out by your more shrill or flamboyant competitors?
An interesting question. It would seem to me that that underpromising does not mean to play down the need, or the quality of your approach. It means only to avoid making specific quantitative promises you might fall short on. There is no need to understate the devastating effects of Malaria. And by no means play down your great idea of placing health aides in popular cybercafes to provide information and sell treated nets to customers waiting for a p.c. But if your goal is to train and place 50 of these folks in the first year, promise 35 in your literature. Then do better.

2. Headlining
A List Apart, a site devoted to website design and technique, focused recently on some very non-technical aspects of online marketing: the effective writing and and layout of web pages that sell your message. As they say,
A lot of web copy is written by copywriters who aren’t trained in writing for the web—and much of the rest is written by people who aren’t trained writers at all.
The article begins with simple advice on writing headlines and moves on to discuss an entire menu of techniques for writing online marketing messages.

3. Getting people talking
The book is sandwiched between a forward by Seth Godin and an afterword by Guy Kawasaki... how can you not want to check out what these two communication gurus are endorsing? Word of Mouth Marketing: How Smart Companies Get People Talking, by Andy Sernovitz is a quick read that will get your head buzzing with ideas about how get your communities buzzing. For example, they remind you to reach out to all those bloggers you read, and tell them your news. They just might pass it on. Like this. But the book is full of far more surprising ideas that organizations have come up with to get their message out there.

4. And helping others talk less.
While it's your goal to get your community talking more, some of us tend to talk on and on. Kivi Leroux Miller says she's found that about 60% of people complain that their writing is to verbose, and she provides six smart tips for pruning your prose. If you find yourelf doing more and more writing on behalf of your organization, you ought to pay attention to her blog, Non-Profit Communications.

5. Non-Profit Market Research.
But whoa! Before you start writing, editing, and launching campaigns, do a little research first. Think market research is only for rich organizations? Check out Katya's Non-profit Marketing Blog. She can show you four things you can do for free without leaving your office that will leave you with a good bit more information than you started with about your organization and its brand.
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