Archive for the 'Resources' Category

Getting the most out of corporate sponsorship?

May 1, 2011

When growing companies think about communications tactics to reach new customers or further develop existing relationships, they often think of traditional advertising (e.g., print, broadcast) or perhaps, today, social media techniques. One other opportunity is through the corporate sponsorship of an event, program or initiative.

Smaller, community-oriented companies are frequently approached by an employee or friend to sponsor a local sports team or recreation program. Many companies view this as part of their charitable giving or community support initiative. They contribute to the cost of the team’s uniforms and get the company logo slapped on the back.  This is great community-level support but true corporate sponsorship is different and has become very sophisticated.  It can be a powerful tool but to get the biggest return on investment, it pays to enter into these arrangements strategically.

Sponsorship vs. charitable giving

Many organizations have a charitable giving program. Larger organizations sometimes provide matching programs for employee-driven charitable initiatives. The receiving charity may acknowledge this gift by publishing the name of corporate givers or including them on the “donor wall” for all to see.

This is not sponsorship in its  purest form. Sponsorship may have an altruistic aspect to it but its primary purpose, for the sponsor, is promotion. A company provides money to a non-profit or community event in exchange for the opportunity to promote the company’s name, products and services. Sponsorship activity is usually paid for from the advertising budget.

Sponsorship should be selective

Growing companies should examine sponsorship opportunities carefully to ensure that the one(s) they choose meet their business goals and will reach the right audience. When evaluating a sponsorship opportunity, consider the following:

  1. Fit – The sponsorship should have some relevance to your business or its stakeholders so that you can reach your target audience. A pet food store would likely do better to sponsor a dog show or an animal shelter than a jazz festival, for example. Unless, of course, their market research reveals that most of their customers listen to a lot of jazz.
  2. Level matches exposure – Organizations offering corporate sponsorship usually have various contribution levels that provide corresponding benefits/opportunities. Examine these different levels and choose the one that will give you the best exposure for the cash. Events/non-profits that closely align to your organization’s business goals/audience will be of more value to you than those with a broader appeal.
  3. Opportunities to leverage the package – The best sponsorships are those that provide sponsoring companies with a way to build in other opportunities. For example, if your company is sponsoring a performance event, does the sponsorship provide you with a block of tickets that you can use as a special perk for good customers or that you could raffle off as an employee morale booster? Feel free to suggest spin off activities to the organization offering the sponsorship to see what kind of flexibility there is to tailor your package.
  4. Evaluation – As with any other advertising or PR endeavour, evaluation is important. Does the organization offering the sponsorship provide a report after the event? This report should include the amount and quality of publicity the event received, number of times your company’s logo appeared on banners and in advertising etc. You can then integrate this information with what you see on the company side in terms of sales, increased awareness, staff morale and the like.

On the Charity/Event Side

There is a lot of competition out there for sponsorship dollars. Craft the sponsorship offer for your non-profit event/initiative well by using the resources at CharityVillage.com. This helpful site has lots of valuable information specifically on  corporate sponsorship.

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*This popular post originally appeared in this blog on September 11, 2008
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Social media resister or risk taker – both need slower approach

April 6, 2011

I have two types of clients that present a challenge to me when it comes to social media. One is the client who is so intimidated by the use of social media sites that they come up with every excuse possible to avoid even examining whether they could be of use. The other is the client who sees creating a Facebook page or Twitter account as an end in itself. As if just being on these platforms will result in engagement. They want to be “there” without any thought to why or how.

In the first case, I encourage the organization to  start by just exploring how other, similar organizations are using social media before examining how they might use these tools themselves. I urge them not to get anxious about what they should/should not be doing. Just listen and observe first. There’s no risk involved and no huge rush to jump in. Those of us who are immersed in it every day forget that there is actually a lot to learn both technically and culturally when it comes to using social media. Move too fast and the uninitiated become overwhelmed and turned off quickly. Take it one step at a time.

Interestingly, the approach I take with the client at the other extreme is similar. I ask them to slow things down. Take a look at the big picture and appreciate what social media can do for your organization from a strategic point of view. How will you use these platforms to meet organizational goals? Why do you need a Facebook page? “Because everyone has one”  is not a good answer. You need to set specific goals around what you are trying to achieve. Otherwise, you won’t know if your engagement is successful.

Before dismissing social media or leaping in head first, take a look at some of these resources to inform your approach:

Things your organization should consider before social networkingAn earlier post from this blog that promotes a thoughtful approach to social media planning.

Top 10 Business Social Media Pitfalls A post on The Social Roadmap blog by Sam Fiorella that emphasizes the need for a social media plan and points out some common mistakes.

Conquering your fears of social media – a blog post by Todd Heim, an Internet marketing professional who counters many of the basic fears about getting started.

8 Reasons Not to Fear Social Media – A blog post by Aliza Sherman that points to some great resources that can help to reduce the anxiety of wading into social media.

Where do you fall on the social media anxiety scale? Are you quick to adopt every new social media tool that comes along or do you tend to agonize about experimenting to the point of avoidance and inaction?

5 tips for increasing your fans on Facebook

March 21, 2010

So, you’ve created a Facebook fan page for your nonprofit and now you’re waiting for the hoards to join. As with all social networking tools, there’s more to building a community of followers than simply creating a profile or, in the case of Facebook, a fan page. Here are my top 5 tips for building a fan base.

  1. Invite your stakeholders – People are not going to search your nonprofit out on Facebook. You need to lead them there. Use every means at your disposal. Put a link to your fan page on your website. If you are on other social media networks, such as Twitter, lead folks to your page using those as well. Write about your fan page in your newsletter, announce it at community or stakeholder meetings, link to it as part of your staff e-mail signatures. Remind people about it. Telling them once isn’t enough.
  2. Change your default landing page – When new visitors come to your page, have them land on your info page (which contains an engaging message about your organization), rather than your page’s wall? Why? Because a fan page wall can look a bit disorganized and hard to sort out to a new visitor. Visitors might also first view fan comments before having a context for your page. Your landing page could influence the visitor’s decision to join.  You can set the landing page from the “edit” link under “wall settings”.
  3. Engage your audience – Don’t treat your fan page as though it is a newsletter. Use the SOCIAL part of social networking to engage your fans. Pose questions to your followers to encourage discussion rather than just post information. Ask for input, post a quiz or survey about your cause or issue.
  4. Remain active – Don’t let your page languish. Try to post something at least every couple of days or so or you risk fan drop off. Also make sure that you are monitoring fan comments/posts to your wall. Respond to them! When a fan takes the step to actually participate, reward them by acknowledging it. This encourages more participation and engagement.
  5. Use a Facebook ad – You can do a lot to promote your page organically but a few shots of Facebook advertising can go a long way to increase your numbers. Facebook advertising is incredibly inexpensive and allows you to target specific demographics. A good starting approach is to target the friends of those who are already fans of your page. Facebook does a pretty good job of  step-by-step instructions for posting an ad so if you haven’t posted an ad before, start here.

Having a Facebook fan page can be an incredible way to build community around your cause or issue. I’d love to hear how your nonprofit uses its fan page and what success you’ve had with it. Anything you’d add to the above list?

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All flash and no substance? Your message is doomed.

March 9, 2010

I went to see Tim Burton’s new film, Alice in Wonderland, last weekend. I had been looking forward to seeing it ever since I saw the trailer revealing its stunning visual effects and typically wild, Burton-esque costumes. In the end, it was a very pretty film but not very compelling. With just a thread of a plot to hang onto, the story ended up being kind of, well, boring. The eye candy and A-list actors will be enough to bring out hoards to the theatre but will this film endure? I’m doubtful. The same holds true for the vehicles you use to communicate with your audiences in the corporate or nonprofit sector. If you aim for style over substance, you’re going to fall short of your goals.

A stunningly designed website, newsletter, advertisement, brochure or blog gets your foot in the door to your customer’s consciousness. It’s an absolute must for getting your message across. Equally important, though, is the written message you deliver. If it’s not clear, engaging and structured to deliver results on your established goals, it’s going nowhere.

Many small to medium-sized businesses as well as nonprofits  don’t appreciate the value of solid copywriting. Granted, professional design is an easier sell because the difference from bad/amateur design is immediately apparent. The effect of rambling, poorly constructed copy, however, only hits home when you realize people just aren’t reading, or understanding, whatever you’ve produced.

Here are the key indicators of good copywriting:

  • It reflects the audience reading it. This means it takes into consideration the audience’s interests, needs, values and reading ability.
  • It’s tailored to the platform. The medium (e.g., brochure, blog, website, direct mail) dictates writing style, length and structure. (Choosing the right platform for your message is also important.)
  • It engages. Good writing immediately draws your audience into your message and compels its members to act.
  • It’s clear. It doesn’t distract with poor grammar or typographical mistakes.

Small businesses and nonprofits are not always in a financial position to hire a professional copywriter but should make every effort to ensure that their message is being delivered in the most effective way possible.

If you’re the person charged with writing copy for your organization, invest in the time to learn the basics of effective corporate and persuasive writing. In addition to scads of good books that address various writing challenges (The Copyblogger blog includes a “must read” list), there are many free, online resources for improving writing as well. Some of my favourites include:

Bad Language (writing about writing) – blog

Write to Done (Unmissable articles on writing. Twice weekly.) – blog

Coppyblogger (Copywriting tips for online marketing success) – blog

Grammar Girl (Quick and dirty tips for writing better) – podcast/blog

Writing good copy is vital for any business or nonprofit. Without it, you’ll be less competitive and the goals you’ve set for reaching new audiences or engaging and sustaining customer relationships will consistently fall short. Make sure your message is being delivered.

Do you agree or do you think great design can make up for less than stellar content? Weigh in with a comment.