October 8, 2009

Think outside the bus

Take a minute today to leave your house. Walk outside. Even if it's just on your patio. Appreciate something green. Use your own feet to transport yourself. Don't take your car or the bus. Wax Poetic.

October 6, 2009

Donors Choose

How cool is this site?

You can donate online to classrooms throughout the country in need of financial resources for material, equipment or projects.

The material is delivered to the kids, and then you can see online exactly how your gift is impacting lives. Pictures, thank you notes, the whole deal.

Remember how I posted earlier about the new age of Philanthropy? This is it, right here. Donate and you get the practical, social and tribal benefits of philanthropy all in one place! The name of the site says it all. It's all about you and what you choose.

October 4, 2009

Embrace the unfamiliar

There's so much we can learn about marketing from everyday life! Here's a basic marketing lesson we can learn from Sukkot, the festival which Jews around the world are currently celebrating:

Embrace the unfamiliar: Jewish law dictates that we build outdoor booths and eat, sleep, and generally spend as much time as possible in them. Anything we would normally do in our houses, we now do in a temporary dwelling. We are commanded to pick up and leave our homes for an entire week. One of the many meanings behind this practice is to force us to look at the world from a new perspective. Nothing can achieve this as well as changing our place of dwelling.

There's a great song by John Mayer called The Great Indoors which describes our fear of the unfamiliar. He sarcastically recommends just sticking with what we're used to: Scared of the world outside you should go explore / Pull all the shades and wander the great indoors.

But it's the simplicity of his conclusion that is so compellingly relevant for us : So go unlock the door / And find what you are here for / Leave the great indoors.

Sometimes we spend so much time "inside", looking at things from our familiar, narrow perspective. We forget that there is a key. A key that opens the door and allows us to solve the simple problems that have been plaguing us for years. Just by stepping outside and looking at things from a different point of view.

Organizations would do well to learn from this simple life lesson. Sometimes we need to leave our old ideas behind, get up, and look at things from an entirely new perspective. Usually it's enough to inspire us to think creatively and innovate. And it's refreshing.

October 1, 2009

Philanthropy 2.0

Philanthropy is changing quickly. Organizations have to do more with less. Social media is changing everything. Donors are more particular about who they give to.

So how can nonprofits keep up?

Well, BBMG did some solid research and published a white paper which summarizes these changes and addresses what you can do to stay in the game. Their findings struck a chord with me so I thought I'd share a few of the main ideas with you:

Americans are re-evaluating what truly matters in their lives and seeking brands that deliver both value and values. Specifically, consumers are looking for brands that offer personal relevance, social purpose and meaningful participation.

1) Practical Benefits: How does this brand improve my life?

2) Social Benefits: How does this brand help me make a difference in the world?

3) Tribal Benefits: How does this brand connect me to a community that shares my values?

In this age of radical transparency, nonprofit organizations must show how they live their values in every action and interaction. By engaging the new consumer, yesterday’s nonprofit brands can move from legacy to leadership and become tomorrow’s passion brands. Demonstrating personal relevance, driving social impact and mobilizing a community of true believers ensures that consumers share in the conversation, help spark innovation and change the world.

You can check out the rest of their findings here.

Thanks ejewishphilanthropy for bringing this research to my attention.

September 25, 2009

Have a pleasent day

Ever feel like you're getting a new present when you're really just enjoying something you already owned? That's what it feels like when I pick up my shirts from my dry cleaners.

My whole life I was used to getting my clean clothing back on a hanger. A hanger! Can you believe it? How passé.

Now my shirt comes nicely folded, buttoned, wrapped and I even get those cardboard inserts to make everything stay put. But most importantly, I get a personal greeting from the dry cleaning management:

"Have a pleasent day."

Yes, you read it right the first time. Pleasent. Not pleasant.

We've all seen some funny misspelled words. This probably isn't very high on my list of "all time bests". But it's more annoying than most precisely because it's such a small, silly mistake that could have been solved by 10 seconds of investigative research.

The funny signs we see are the result of sheer stupidity and ignorance. But this misspelled word comes from an otherwise smart company. They offer a great service, have good prices, are centrally located, and get me my clothes back quickly and squeaky clean. And that's why it's so frustrating to see this blunder.

They should have known better than to print a million of these things without running spell check first.

Normally something small like this is enough to deter me from going back to a store. Any slight whiff of a lack of professionalism and I'm gone. I'm crazy like that.

But despite being annoyed, I still bring my clothes here. Turns out that bad/stupid/silly marketing material doesn't always affect consumer decision. Sometimes companies have enough good things going for them that we can overlook the mistakes. This is one of those cases.

What do you think?

September 23, 2009

Biblical Marketing

How good is the Bible at marketing? What can this holy book teach us about the art of selling? Well, judging from the book sales it has certainly done a pretty good job of marketing itself. But what about its ability to sell other products?

Here's a product I came across last night at a local supermarket. Ezekiel 4:9 Organic Sprouted 100% Whole Grain Flour-less Almond Cereal, made by Food For Life Baking Company. Got all that?
Now I haven't actually tried the product. But I'm still curious: is this a good marketing effort from Food For Life?

I think so.

Here was the reaction of the person I was with upon seeing this: "Just because of the name I wouldn't buy this." Is this how you would react? I disagreed. I personally think the name is interesting, enticing, out of the ordinary and a pretty good selling point. It also plays to the subconscious of a Bible following individual. Irrational as it may be, there is a feeling that one is doing what the Lord wants by eating this cereal.

And for the many people out there looking to live in line with the Bible in a more literal manner, this may be another avenue for their self-expression. But if we're gonna be literal, let's just read the rest of the verse. You know what it says? It tells you how long Ezekiel had to eat this stuff for. No not one...not 10...but 390 days! Chew on that!

What do you think? Good marketing or bad?

(By the way, the New York Times Magazine rated this product 4 out of 4 in their cereal taste test.)

September 17, 2009

Please interact with me

Most promotional or marketing emails bore me. Maybe it's just me. Mabe it's because all it takes is a click to get it out of my face. Or because I'm old-fashioned and want something physical in my hands.

Think about this word: interaction. How often do you get emails that really connect to you? That stimulate you? For me, the answer is 'rarely'. Even the well-designed fundraising appeals with really emotional graphics and killer copy usually don't do it for me. That same appeal in snail mail form might work. But in email, it loses its edge.

So here's a breath of fresh air for you marketers out there. I got this email from MASA the other day, and quite frankly, I really like it. If you haven't heard of them, MASA is known as "The Gateway to Long Term Israel Programs," as they call themselves.

The email starts with their logo and catch phrase at the top. Clear and catchy. Then it asks us a question: "In this new year, what are you hoping for? A Challenge? Adventure? Romance?" Great so far. They've captured my interest. I want to know more.

But it gets better. Now they offer me a chance to interact with them: "Take the Rosh Hashana Quiz below to find your perfect match!" Amazing. I can interact with the email itself without having to click on a link first! It's only after I've already done this that I need to click on a link. It also doesn't hurt that the content of the quiz is witty and original. And then they follow it all up by capturing my contact information, and again, all in the original email.

I'm loving it. PLUS, there is the prominent Happy New Years wish (with cool logo), the succint 3 sentence description of who MASA is, 'send the quiz to a friend' button, 'connect on facebook' icon, and 'follow us on twitter' link. Talk about interaction!

Thank you MASA for renewing my faith in the potential of email marketing. Everybody else, take notes.