Social marketer challenges NFPs to ‘Ask me anything’

Posted on 23 Aug 2021

By Matthew Schulz, journalist, Our Community

Brett de Hoedt is a man of 1000 opinions. The journalist turned social marketer shared many of them in his recent Ask Me Anything webinar – a Q&A with 600-plus not-for-profit and community sector organisations as part of the Institute of Community Directors’ Festival of Community Directors.

The agenda was simple – Brett would tackle any questions thrown at him about marketing, communications, campaigning, media, digital communications – the lot. You can find that first scintillating (and free) webinar here.

The sweep of issues reflected the challenges community organisations face – hard-to-reach audiences, limited marketing resources and dwindling attention spans from the public.

“Marketing is a tough gig,” says Brett. “That’s why I favour simple solutions. Be ruthless in pursuing whatever works and despatching whatever doesn’t. I challenge the worth of social media and promote media relations. I think that many organisations should ditch the annual report and throw those resources into building a better network of referrers, or campaigning – literally – on the streets. We need to be open to new options and risk a quick fail.”

Here's a taste of his answers to the curliest questions faced by NFPs when it comes to campaigns, comms, media and marketing.

Q. How can I get more members (or volunteers, supporters, clients, etc.)?

The internet is effectively infinite. If a prospective member is on your website’s membership page they have sent a VERY strong signal that they are interested in you. Remember – they could be anywhere but they are on your membership page. They are a fish on a hook. You must immediately throw everything you have at your disposal to land them before their concentration and good intentions fade like drapes during daylight savings.

Sadly, too few websites try hard enough.

Ensure that you shamelessly butter up prospects by thanking them for even considering you.

Brett has answers to questions you haven't even asked!

Have a special message written to prospects from your president or perhaps one of the people who benefits from your organisation. (And if that is an animal or inanimate object so be it.)

Most sites I see need more copy, not less. You are writing for a visitor who is there by choice and wants to feel that they are becoming a part of something – not doing their civic duty.

Emphasise the benefits that they – not you – will find attractive, and explain everything clearly, because any confusion lowers the chance of a conversion.

Have several testimonials from happy members, preferably on video.

Have an online application form ready and waiting along with smooth online payment, and process those applications ASAP.

Make contact with new members immediately with a similarly grateful message. This might be an email or perhaps a phone call.

Q. How can I minimise the time and effort I’m investing in social media?

Social media is a black hole into which your time, energy and soul will pour. That said, you (probably) need it, so how can you do it efficiently?

Go green: Create a baseload of evergreen content – stuff that will be just as relevant in 12 or 24 months as it is today.

Serialise: Don’t come up with 12 posts. Come up with one idea that can be serialised into 12. Try staff and volunteer profiles – use a standard format. Describe one service at a time. Get a swag of testimonials. Come up with 20 fun facts about your area of expertise. Then drip feed them to your adoring followers. No one post will change the world. Social media is a volume business so get posting.

Recycle: Don’t be afraid to repeat content after a month or two. Major publishers and institutions do this all the time. If someone sees your post twice, so be it! The more likely outcome is that they miss it twice.

Schedule: Use scheduling software to set and forget your output. The small investment will free you up and inspire you to create more content more consistently.

Q. Why do you say that referral business is smart business?

Why market a little to everyone when you can market a lot to a select few?

Not enough organisations identify and seduce a strong circle of referrers. Referrers are people who, because of to their profession or position, can point a lot of people in your direction. This is particularly important for those of us trying to connect with niche audiences such as people with low literacy, people from a CALD background or single parents.

Of course we all know that GPs and specialists may be a great source of referrals if you are a medical or health oriented cause.

But depending on what you have to offer you might find referrers in the form of financial counsellors, community legal centres, welfare officers, school principals, removalists, tourism operators, community health centres, TAFEs, clergy, food banks, sports coaches, real estate agents, certain professions, unions or peak bodies. The list goes on. Think broadly.

Many prospective referrers will not realise that they can help people by referring them to you. You will need to persuade prospects, which is never easy – there’s a lot of hustle required but building strong, positive relationships with the right referrers can dramatically accelerate your business.

Q. But you haven't answered my question. Is that it?

No, there's much more. You can still watch my original webinar, and now the new one-hour video sequel in which I answer all the questions I couldn't get to in the first session.

Ask Me Anything – the sequel

The webinar questions (like the lockdowns) kept coming and coming, so Brett created a sequel for you to enjoy. The additional 60-minute presentation is also choc-full of answers, opinions and suggestions on matters ranging from how to turn conservatives into activists and find sponsorship dollars to how to win celebrity ambassadors.

Brett also touches on why campaigns are so difficult to get right, the triumph of experience over promises and the uncomfortable truth that everything is marketing.

Note: As with The Godfather Part II many critics believe the sequel to be even better than the original. Decide for yourself.

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