In this webinar, Maryanne Dersch will show you new techniques to start communicating with ease, joy and abundance to create stronger relationships with existing supporters and attract new ones.

Full Transcript:

Steven: Okay, Maryanne. Is it okay if I go ahead and get this party started?

Maryanne: Let’s do it.

Steven: All right. Well, welcome, everyone. Good afternoon if you’re on the East Coast, and good morning, I should say, if you are out on the West Coast or somewhere in between. Thanks for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “8 Steps to Stop Stressing and Have New Donors Flowing into Your Organization.” Love that. Don’t love stress. I love new donors.

Thanks for being here. My name is Steven Shattuck. I’m Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang, and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion as always.

And just a couple of housekeeping items real quick before we get going here. Just want to let you all know that we are recording this session and I’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon.

Should already have the slides, but if you don’t, if I missed you earlier, I’m sorry about that. I’ll get both of those things to you this afternoon, I promise. So if you have to leave early or if you get interrupted, no sweat, you’ll be able to watch that recording later on.

And most importantly, as you’re listening today, please feel free to send in any questions or comments along the way. We’re going to save some time at the end for Q&A, as much time as we can, so send in those questions. We love to make the session interactive. You can also do that on Twitter. I’ll keep an eye on the Twitter feed for questions and comments.

And if you have any trouble hearing us through your computer speakers, we find that the audio by phone is usually a bit better quality. So if you can dial in by phone, if that’ll be comfortable for you, try that before you toss your computer out the window. You can find a phone number from the email from ReadyTalk that went out.

I know. It’s happened, Maryanne. It does happen. I feel like [inaudible 00:01:43].

And if this is your first Bloomerang webinar, just want to say an extra special welcome to you folks. We do these webinars just about every Thursday throughout the year. In fact, I think we did about 48 or 49 sessions last year. So we only missed a couple of Thursdays.

In fact, this is the eighth webinar of 2020. We’ve been doubling it up in January. So if you’ve been tagging along for that, thanks for making it all the way to the eighth session. We’re going to finish things off with a bang for sure.

But if you are not familiar with Bloomerang, besides the webinars we give, we are also a provider of donor management software. And if you are curious about that or just want to learn more about us, check out our website. You can even watch a quick video demo and see the software in action if you want to take a quick tour.

So check that out if you’re interested. Don’t do that right now. Wait at least an hour. You are in for a real treat. Joining us from beautiful St. Louis, it’s one of my favorite cities and one of my favorite people, my bud, Maryanne.

Maryanne, how you doing? Are you doing okay?

Maryanne: I’m doing great. I am so excited.

Steven: I know. I’m excited too. I’ve been looking forward to this. It’s been a great week here in Indy, and a slow week for me and I was just thinking, “Man, Maryanne is really going to brighten things up for us on Thursday.” So I’ve been looking forward to this.

If you all don’t know Maryanne, check her out. She’s over at Courageous Communications. She’s the principal over there. Awesome speaker. Just a great person. Super smart.

We were just talking in the last half hour and it went by like the snap of the fingers, talking about boards and money mentality. We’re solving the world’s problems before we turn the audio on. But don’t worry, she’s got a lot of great advice for you that she was saving.

Check out her book “Courageous Communication.” We’ll send a link out to that. You’re going to want to buy that after you hear it.

But I don’t want to take any more time away from you, Maryanne, so the floor is yours to tell us all about those new donors. So take it away, my friend.

Maryanne: Well, thank you, Steven, and thank you all for joining me for this hour. I am going to go at a pretty quick pace because I have a lot to cover. You have the slides and Steven will send the slides again just so you can have it, because I am going to walk through some concepts really quickly just to give you a solid overview of these eight concepts.

And so what I’m going to start with is really the groundwork, which is we all want to build our influence so we can build our income so we can have more impact. And sometimes, the leadership of organizations have a hard time understanding the value of marketing and what it really means.

But for me, this is a very simple way we’re going to build our influence, because we need influence can create that income so people will see your organization as worthy of investment and excited to give to it, so then you can create more impact.

And I’m going to show you now . . . I’ve been doing this work a really long time, more than 25 years. If I tell you exactly how long, I’d feel really old, so I just say 25 years. And in that time, I’ve found really five major milestones of the life growth of an organization. I’m going to walk through these with you.

Where you really want to be is over on this right side, on the “Thrive.” Here’s the journey people typically go on, which is you start in Survive, and that is maybe in a new organization that really has one person that is leading it. And they’re typically the founder, and if that person would go away or stop, that organization would probably stop too.

Survive is you maybe have a little bit of staff, not a lot, a small donor base, and you’re really taking it day to day.

And then you grow into what I call Compete. And in Compete, now in your organization, you have a donor base, you’re developing your programs, and all of a sudden, you’re not in Survive anymore and you tend to look around the landscape. Now, you’re seeing what else is out there and how you fit into that bigger picture.

And this is a place often of envy, like, “We’re never going to be able to charge $300 for our gala,” or, “How come that organization gets all the attention and we don’t?” And so this is often a place of frustration because you want to do better and you don’t quite know how you can get there.

Then organizations a little bit farther are what I call Complacent. So Complacent organizations are the money comes in, the money goes out, you’re giving great programming, and you’re so happy not to really be in Compete or Survive. Everyone is sort of relaxed into this place.

A lot of my clients come from that Complacent space because one of two things happens. Something internal flips. One of my clients wanted to have a capital campaign and they did a feasibility study and they didn’t really have the influence on the marketplace that they needed to raise the money that they wanted. That’s an internal.

An external thing can be, “Hey, there’s a new player on the marketplace,” and now it’s shifting and you’re not really prepared to deal with that. So if you haven’t really marketed yourself with intention . . . because you haven’t really needed to before this.

So that kind of flips people into this top space, which is Influence. An organization of influence is one that understands, embodies, and articulates its value so that it can attract the right people to them, those likeminded people to them.

And once you become an organization of influence, and that’s what I’m going to talk about and teach you today, then if you stay in that space, with time and devotion, you become Thrive, where the resources and the money and the energy is all flowing to you so you don’t have to scrape every day.

I was at a networking thing the other day with a former client of mine and I said, “Oh, my God, Karen, how’s everything?” And she’s like, “We are thriving.” And she actually used this language and she doesn’t even know this chart. She just used the language.

So what we all want to be is thriving. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about and this is really where I help people.

So I want to ask you as listeners to sort of self-identify where you are on this chart. Probably most of you . . . if you want to just pop it into the chat where you think your organization is on this chart. And then tell me is that where you really want to be?

And so that’s what we’re here today to talk about, is how you can be that organization of influence that, like I said, understands, embodies, and articulate their value so that you can attract the resources that you need.

So the next model I’m going to show you is . . . so this is a model that I use a lot because, again, the basis of marketing is sometimes hard for people to understand. So these tools that I’m showing you today you can also use to help others in your organization, board, or staff, leadership, to help them understand the value of communications and marketing to your fundraising.

So most organizations are born out of three things. And those are the three Ms at the bottom of this triangle, this pyramid. It’s a mess, a moment, or a mission.

A mess is like disease, homelessness, an addiction, any kind of struggles, drama that people have. Those are messes.

They’re also more of moments, graduation, camp, all these moments, circus, sports, all the moments that you give people.

And then the last is a mission. A mission is advocacy, policy, higher-level work.

So messes, moments, or missions, typically those are what are most organizations are born in. And again, if you want to put in the chat, you can self-identify. Does your organization solve messes? Does it create moments? Or is it on a mission? Or some combination of the three? So most are kind of focused around one or the other.

What we do is then from that mess, moment, and mission, we create our messages. And then our messages, though . . . you’re on this webinar with me, so I’m assuming that there’s something about your messaging that’s not quite connecting, so that bar across there is like there’s a block. There’s something not quite connecting in your messages. You want to get to that top of that pyramid to that individual. So why aren’t these messes, moments, and missions of your organization resonating with that individual?

And this is what I want. This is the challenge here. Really, what we want to think about is our messages are born of our mess, moments, and missions. What we really want to do is understand the individual mess, moments, and missions. Each of us is born of a mess, moment, and mission. So when we’re listening and really connected with people, a connected organization is the one that’s not talking about their own mess, moments, and missions, but it’s helping individuals solve their own mess, moments, and missions. And that’s how you become an organization of influence.

And even though I help people and I will teach you how to craft your message, we need that because you need to be able to articulate that.

What you also need is to be able to understand other people’s mess, moments, and missions, how you can help them solve them. And that’s often the space that we don’t look at enough, is how can we be an organization of influence by being important to others and helping them. So I’m going to teach you a little bit of how to do that.

That’s a big concept that I just went over really quickly. But I am going to share with you in just a minute my own personal mess, moment, and mission. My philosophy . . . I open my kimono out. I’ll share with you so that you can hear what it sounds like and then you can start paying attention when people . . . and you don’t have to say, “Oh, that’s your mess. That’s your moment.” But you’re going to hear this. And so our job as marketers is to align messes, moments, and missions. That’s all we’re doing.

And what makes fundraising and marketing hard is when we try to convince people to care instead of connecting with likeminded people. And this is how you make the connection. You’re just aligning messes, moments, and missions. And if they don’t align, that’s okay.

My personal mess, moment, and mission is deeply born in me and everyone else’s is too. And I teach people to honor each individual’s own philanthropic hearts. A lot of times, organizations say, and you may have said this, “If they only could hear our story, they would give.” What that does is that dishonors that listener’s mess, moment, and mission.

“If they just heard our story, then they would be compelled . . .” No, they have their own philanthropic heart, their own needs, their own messes, moments, and missions, and all we’re doing is seeing if they align. So we need to be just as aware of other people’s. And all we’re doing is like, “Is there an alignment?” If there is, great. If not, that’s okay too.

I have a consultant I work with. She calls it bless and release. You’re just going to bless and release. We can’t convince those people to care. And that is what makes marketing and fundraising tiring and hard and stressful, because we’re trying to convince people to care instead of being strong in our message and mission to connect with likeminded people. And likeminded means we align with their mess, moments, and missions.

Okay. So I help people create brands of attraction, where you have the energy, the people, the money flowing to you. And so that’s what we’re going to talk about, and that is born in the philosophy of “We’re going to connect, not convince,” and that we’re out to raise the visibility of our organization to connect with likeminded people and really letting go of the need to try to convince people that they should care and find people who do care.

So I’m going to tell you my story real quick. I already got a little bit of an intro. I wrote a book. I’ve been doing this for a long time, but I’m going to share with you my mess, moment, and mission.

So really quickly, this is a picture of my family. And I am not in this picture because I wasn’t born yet. I was born seven years after my sister who is closest to me in age. My mother had six children. I had a brother who passed away. Six months later, my sister was born and then my mother has three more kids very quickly after that. My brothers are actually 360 days apart.

Seven years later, I was born, and this really informed my life and shaped me as a person. And so I felt as a child really left out and left behind. My dad used to call me Michelob because he worked for Anheuser-Busch. We live in St. Louis. That’s why we moved here when I was a baby. Their tagline at the time was “the unexpected pleasure.”

And as a kid, I didn’t have a filter for that . . . children don’t have filters around those things, and I just felt like I was a mistake. And I carried that with me.

So this is an actual letter that I wrote to my family because I had to go to bed and everyone else got pizza. I wanted you to hear this case forgiving I give. So I shot it down the stairs. This was the actual letter with first aid tape, taped to a pencil, and I shot it down the stairs.

This is how I really felt in my life. It is not fair you get pizza and I don’t. I have to go to bed. And it said, “Upstairs suffering, please read.” And I said, “P.S. not funny,” because I knew they were going to laugh, and, “Love your dear, sweet, lovely, pretty, dignified, kind, warm-hearted daughter, Maryanne.”

So I share this with you because this is also a funny little memory and it’s also a pain point for me as a kid because I did feel really left behind. And this is my dad. So my dad was a natural performer. This is my dad in a diaper on New Year’s Eve. He would come down the stairs as the New Year’s baby and I would do these skits with him. I was like the straight man and he threw out the jokes. I actually had to practice this.

So I became this idea of me being left behind, but then also really wanting the spotlight. It made me a social justice champion. So because I always felt a little left out and left behind, I really adopted a very strong sense of empathy and I really wanted to just help those who I felt like were left behind.

So my kids are adopted out of foster care. I went to the march in Washington. We foster dogs. My oldest child came out transgender about a year and a half ago. So that’s her now on the right. So we’re involved in those. So I’ve always been really involved in the nonprofit space and social justice.

And I’ve always been in the spotlight, a natural performer. So I sing in karaoke. I recorded a PSA with the Blues. I was in burlesque for a while. So I’ve always gravitated towards the spotlight.

And in my last job, I used both those skills because I worked at 501creative where we did branding and web design for nonprofits. And my title was actually Strategist and Resident Extrovert. So I combined those two sides of myself.

So you can see my mess was this idea of kind of being left out and left behind. But I had this moment of clarity. So this was my moment. I was in my therapist’s office. I can tell you this is absolutely true. I was in my therapist’s office and she said, “You know, Maryanne, praise and criticism are the same thing.” I was telling her how upset I was at a friend criticized me.

And I said, “Well, that’s stupid. How can praise and criticism be the same thing?” And she said, “Because a whole person can manage praise, doesn’t need praise the feel good, and doesn’t let criticism derail them.”

And I thought in that moment, “Oh, my gosh, all my clients that are all nonprofits are overly dependent on praise and terrified of criticism.” We feel like we can’t really speak our truth because of that C word, criticism, or the other C word, controversy. So our messages tend to be safe and boring because we want to please, and we often please and we sacrifice our own needs for the need to please others.

So how can I teach organizations to be strong in their message? Because a truly whole person and a truly whole organization stand firm in their beliefs and do not waver.

And that’s what we want in relationships with other people. We don’t want to be with people who are overly dependent on praise and freak out any time there’s criticism. So that was the basis of my work and my book. And so now I am on a mission to really help organizations understand, articulate, and embody their value so that they can receive what they want and need. And this was born exactly out of that moment in my therapist’s office.

So now you can see, that’s my mess or my moment of clarity and the mission I am on right now. And I tell you that story so you can know that everything that I’m going to teach you comes from a place of integrity and alignment and my personal beliefs and values, that I eat my own cooking, and also that you can start to hear other people’s mess, moments, and missions and really craft messages that are going to resonate with other people’s mess, moments, and missions. When you’re a value above it to others, then they will pay attention to you.

So now I’m going to go through really the eight steps in the time that we have together. And I know I’m going pretty quickly, so just hang on with me.

So the challenges of today are really ones where you’re being pulled in a lot of different directions and you feel like you have so many different things that you need to talk about. And it’s really hard to keep a system in place where you are consistently marketing in a daily, weekly, monthly way.

Here’s what I see a lot of. You’re doing that newsletter or you’re doing that weekly email, and then the gala season comes up and everything blows up, and then gala season is over, and then you go back.

Well, how you’re really going to raise the visibility of your organization is to have consistency and devotion to your activity. You need a system to be able to do that. So no matter what’s going on, we’re still working.

Let me tell you the biggest challenge is the tension between the present and the future. This is the challenge that you struggle with and I feel you, okay? The present is always with you. There’s an email. There’s a deadline. What do you have to do after this webinar? I have a proposal I have to get done by 4:30 today because I have to be somewhere at 5:00. We have all this present.

Marketing and fundraising, that’s a future-driven activity. So the effort that you put in today, that might not . . . you’re planting seeds. That might not grow for a year, maybe two years.

So the present is consuming you and then you’re not paying attention to your future. So you’re creating a reactive environment. The organizations of influence who are in that Influence and top Thrive stage are managing their present while building their future at the same time.

I know you struggle to do that. I struggled to do that too. I am the sole proprietor of this business, so I have to be responsible that I’m serving my clients, I’m serving you right now to the best of my ability, and also planting the seeds and keeping that pipeline going. And so that is the biggest challenge. We don’t make time for the future and then we wind up in these really reactive environments.

So these are the eight steps I’m going to walk you through. This is what I walk my clients through and I do half-day, full-day, two-day. I do live on-the-ground planning. We do it in real time. We just get together and just walk through it all at once. And we’re going to go from goals, audience, we’re going to talk about assessing the effectiveness of your current communications, brand promise, main message, talking points, adjusting what you have and building other tools, and then a delivery system.

Any new thing, campaign initiative, whatever, business, anything new, there are five stages to it. First is ideation. So you come up with an idea. Second is concentration where you’re putting that idea in action. And if you keep that idea moving, you’ll get momentum, which is kind of roller coaster. It’s very up and down.

Then you’re going to stabilize, and now this campaign, this program, this business, whatever you have is working. Then it’s going to stabilize, and it’s going to be just a part of your everyday life.

And then it’s integration, which means, “Okay, we did this once. Now we know how to go back and do it again.”

Where people get stuck, that’s why it’s in blue, is step 2, concentration and focus. Because the things I’m going to teach you to do today may not pay off for you right away, and you’re thinking, “Oh, this is a bad idea,” or, “Now I’m distracted because now I have to do events,” or, “Now I’m distracted,” and you’re going to move off those. Or maybe you thought, “Oh, this will take off right away,” and it doesn’t take off like you think it would or should, so you say, “Well, that must be a bad idea,” and you start again.

So we’re constantly bouncing between one and two, one and two, one and two. We have to sit in that two and have some faith that if we stay there, we’re going to get to three, momentum. Most ideas aren’t bad ideas. They just didn’t get enough time and intention to really grow. So that is the biggest thing, is staying in that concentration and focus.

Here’s the other thing. You want to create a wall. So this is not my model. This is called [inaudible 00:24:16] Wall. He’s an Australian branding expert. But most organizations are on the left. You see those arrows hitting a wall? They’re trying to break through the wall of visibility and they’re just throwing all these arrows at the wall. “Oh, we do this. We do this. We have programs for kids. We have programs for teens. We have programs for parents.” And nothing has the force to break through the wall.

What we want to do is find one thing. So now on the right side, if we find one thing we want to be known for and use all that force and that force can break through that wall of visibility, on the other side of that wall, then we can teach people all the other things that we’re about.

And this is where we get political and where it gets kind of emotional, and this is what I help people navigate through. What one thing do we want to be known for? Because then they’ll be like, “But we do this and we do so much,” and you wind up . . .

It’s like if you sat down with me and we had coffee, and we had to tell our whole life stories, that’s not how people get to know each other. You get to know each other kind of one step at a time. What does that first step look like? Then we can continue the journey.

So this is what we really want to think about here, is what one thing we want to be known for. Because once we get that, we can then court people into all the other things that we do.

The problem is there’s the politics, there’s emotion that keep people from really being able to focus in on one thing because one person says they want it to be this, one person says they want it to be that. So you wind up not making that decision. So that is what we really need to focus on, is what one thing do you want to be known for?

You have the slides, so I’m going to walk through these. But the first one is we want to set goals. Typically, clients want their marketing to support program efforts or fundraising efforts. Ninety-nine percent of the time, I would say it’s fundraising efforts.

So what do you want to raise, from whom, and by when? Those fundraising or program goals are going to inform the goals for your marketing. And the more goals you have, the less likely you are to achieve them.

When I work with clients on fundraising and marketing plans, I give them three goals. That’s it, because you don’t have the capacity to do more. And what we really focus on is what is the daily, weekly, monthly work that we need to do to make those happen? So really thinking about how much you want to attract from whom and by when.

And then once we know from whom, we’re going to build a profile. So this is where the mess, moment, and mission really come into play, because we’re going to build very specific profiles of who we want to attract.

This is counterintuitive to our thinking, because we think, “Okay, we want to cast that net as wide as possible because we don’t want to miss anything.” Actually, the inverse is true. The more focused you can be on exactly who you want to attract, the more likely you are to attract them or people like them.

So I have people create avatars, so these are personas with names. So I have an avatar. Melanie is my avatar. Julie is my other avatar. And I give them names because we’re going to explore. I want you to explore, “What is their mess? What is their moment? What are their lessons? What are they struggling with in their life right now? Are your donors younger? Is this person younger? Do they have young kids? Are they empty nesters? What are their struggles? What are their moments in their lives? What kind of mission are they on?” and really tapping into that.

Sometimes you know the person. This is an aspirational conversation, and sometimes it’s unknown. So sometimes it’s a person that you know that you would love more of, like that donor that’s amazing, everything flows, and there’s all this energy and you want 100 of him or her. Or it can be aspirational, someone you don’t know, but you would like to know, and you’re building a profile of that person, just depending on where you’re at.

But for each goal, you would have a different avatar that you would want to reach. That’s why I like to really narrow the goal, being very specific who it is we want to attract. And I give them names so that my messaging is really centered on talking to that person, not a group of people, because that person represents all those people.

Okay, step 3, attraction audit. So I will offer you at the end of this webinar . . . you can contact me and I will walk through an attraction audit with you if you would like. But first, we need to understand the effectiveness of your current marketing strategy.

Here’s what I want to tell you about this. To really understand when you look at all your materials, you’re going to put them all out and think about a couple of things. One, you want to think about do they all look like a family? Thinking about the avatar you just created, how well does what you’re saying speak to these people? How do those messages resonate?

And second, how much time and money are you spending to develop these materials? Nonprofits tend to value money and not time. We watch every penny, but then we spend a lot of time. And any time you spend that’s not in relationship building is probably time wasted. So really looking at . . .

We tend to want to bring everything in-house. I’m not an implementer, so I’m not saying this because I get work from this. I’m a coach and trainer. But over the years, this is what I’ve seen work. There are a lot of people who could update web content or write a grant, but there’s only one of you, and there’s only one person that can build relationships and that’s you.

Be very judicious about where you spend your time and money so that it’s in the most effective place possible. And that’s what an audit is about.

I said there are two parts to it, the look and feel and the messaging, and then the time and money that you spend doing that. And those are two things that you can look at because we want to be able to implement these new tools and new ideas.

A lot of times when you look and see, “Okay, am I spending too much time on this newsletter?” maybe the newsletter could be 4 pages instead of 16, and we could take that time and money and apply it to some of these new things. So what can you get rid of that’s not working to make room for these new initiatives?

Okay, now, steps 1, 2, and 3 were really internal. We’re looking at goals. We’re looking at our avatars. We’re looking at our effectiveness. Steps 4, 5, and 6 are about the brand and the messaging. So that’s when the rubber hits the road and the brand is out in the marketplace.

I’m going to walk through the three base elements of this. The first is a brand promise. The brand promise is the highest and most meaningful connection that you can make with your audiences. You don’t wordsmith a brand promise. It’s a feeling. It’s an emotional connection. “You can trust us. This is what you’re going to feel every time you interact with us.”

So one of my clients is a large organization that serves teens in crisis that are either homeless or struggling with homelessness or estranged from their primary families. And their brand promise is safety, like you have this feeling of safety.

Another organization I work with worked with people 65 and older who are coming into retirement and the next act, the next phase of their life. Their brand promise was this idea of feeling young at heart, the idea that we’re going to give you all these programs to keep your life and your mind and the next part of your life feeling active and healthy.

So you don’t have to wordsmith a brand promise, but what is the feeling that people get when they interact with you? I use Target and Walmart as an example, because everybody’s been in a Target and a Walmart.

So a Target, what am I feeling? What is a feeling that I get when I go into Target? And Target’s brand promise is about you’re going to love . . . Target is a recreational activity. I adopted my oldest at 3 and I was so nervous because I never had a kid and I was the youngest. I wasn’t around little kids a lot. And so I said, “What do I do?” And my sister says, “What do you like to do?” I said, “Well, I like to go to Target.” And she says, “Well, just go to Target.”

So I’d walk my little kid around Target because it was so comfortable. You want to spend time there. And I’ve never seen a cluttered Target, so they want you to have a good experience. They never say that. That’s the feeling that you get.

When you go to Walmart, a Walmart, well, they don’t promise you a good experience, which is fine because they’re delivering on their promise, which is low prices. And I do occasionally shop at Walmart and I really . . . I mean, it’s not the recreational activity that Target is. I want to get my stuff and get out, right? But they provide low prices, so they’re exceeding their promise.

Whatever your promise is, is okay. I’m going to spend a little bit of time on this because this is a concept, and I go really deep into this in my book, that I really want you to understand because this drives everything.

Once you understand your brand promise, that highest level what you promise to deliver for every single interaction that’s not printed or web . . . it’s everything. When people come into your office space and people attend an event, what feeling do you want to create for them?

And that feeling then filters through everything. And anything you create after that, you can say, “Does this meet our brand promise of family, trust, safety?” or whatever your brand promise is. I just walked through a couple of examples of organizations that I work with.

Once you get that, really what is that feeling that you want people to feel, then you have some criteria to build the rest of your marketing. That makes you consistent, and when you’re consistent, you’re trustworthy. And when you’re trustworthy, you can build relationships.

And that’s why the brand promise is so important, because you want to be consistent. Consistency and repetition is what builds brands. So you this is your first step into creating that consistency.

Now, the second then is your main message. I call it the main message. You can call it a tagline. It’s that thing that sits underneath your logo. And if you don’t have one, let’s think about how you can develop one.

If you email me, I have a worksheet I can give you with 10 steps to develop your own main message.

You can speak to your avatar and tell them why you matter to them. So this is taking that brand promise and articulating it into a statement.

So for instance, I talked to you about the organization 65 and up. That’s called Oasis. They’re a national organization that’s headquartered in St. Louis. And their tagline was “Lifelong Adventure,” because that’s answering the question of “Why should I care?”

Another organization I work with is Foster & Adoptive Care Coalition, and their brand promise is a family. And when you walk in there, you feel like family. Their executive director sits right by the front door. So when you walk in, she’s the first person you see. She doesn’t sit in the office in the back because she’s the head of the family. When you walk in there, you feel like a hug.

But their tagline is “For every child . . . a place to call home.” And you can see how that tagline then articulates that brand promise so that it’s filtering through everything.

Here’s the biggest thing about your main method I’m going to tell you. It’s that it’s not about what you do. It’s about the difference that you make. So always be focused on “We provide this and this,” and then it’s “For what reason? For what purpose?” And I’m going to give you a formula in the slides to come up to help you think of that.

After the brand promise and the main message are your talking points. Talking points are important because you deliver your brand in person more often than anything else. We really sweat over every line of that brochure and all that web content, and then people just sort of say anything.

And when I ask people . . . when I do workshops, I say, “So what does your organization do? What does your organization do?” And even in the same organization, people will have different ways of responding to that. It’s very important . . . not that people have to have a recitation. I hate elevator pitches. That is wrong.

So here’s an example of talking points for our client that I have. This is in my book. So there are four parts to the talking points. First is the “what we do.” The second is “how we do it.” The third is “why you should care.” And the fourth is “what to do about it, your call to action.”

So what we do is your agency description. So if I say, “Hey, Steve, what does Bloomerang do?” then you’re going to say, “We provide . . . ” whatever that slide says. “We provide donor software.”

What they’re really asking is not what we do but the difference that you make. So people say, “Oh, what does your agency do?” You say, “Oh, we provide services to adults with disabilities. We provide jobs to adults with disabilities.” Okay, but really what they’re asking is, “What difference do you make? What outcomes you get?” “So we provide jobs to adults with disabilities so they can have a productive life and contribute to the economy.” So you’re really focusing on those outcomes that you provide.

And then the second part is how we do it. That’s where your programs and services can come in. Most people say, “Oh, we have this program, this service,” and you’re describing your agency as a laundry list of programs and services. That’s not compelling. What you want to do is describe your agency in a set of outcomes, but how you do it are these programs and services.

The “why you should care” then is audience-directed. So for each avatar that you have . . . each role is going to have an avatar. And each avatar, we’re going to have a set of talking points because “why you should care” is going to be changed with each persona. Why a high-end donor would care may be different than a corporate sponsor, may be different than a lower dollar donor or a volunteer. So you’re going to adjust the talking points per audience.

And then “what to do about it,” which is the call to action.

So be very focused on that you understand your outcomes, and then the second is that you’re going to really focus your talking points to your avatars.

I don’t like elevator pitches. I don’t like that phrase. If I have to be trapped in the elevator for you to pay attention to me . . . a pitch, again, is like what I said before. “If only they heard our story, they would care.” That’s the same mentality as a pitch. It’s the same mentality as an elevator speech.

If I want to tell somebody about my organization, I’m not telling you about my organization. I want to know your story. I want to know your mess, moment, and mission so that I can see how my organization’s mess, moment, or mission align. So I’m going to be listening. I don’t want to pitch. I want to listen. Then I’m going to be able to share in a way that’s genuine and that is authentic to the listener.

So you can do that individually and you can do that in your marketing by using your avatars and really speaking to them and helping them solve some of their messes, moments, and missions in their life.

Here’s a little formula that you can use. The magic formula for your organization description comes in three parts. You’re going to do what you do, for whom, who you serve, so they can, what outcome you provide. So this is what I work on a lot.

We provide scholarships for . . . this is one I did last week. We provide scholarships for childcare professionals so they can grow in their career. Wait. Hold on. I have to think of the outcome. So they can further their education and further their . . .

Sorry, let me do this again. We provide scholarships for childcare professionals so they can grow in their education and their careers.

It’s like, “What do you do?” “We provide scholarships?” “For who?” “Childcare professionals so they can grow in their education and careers.”

And you can also toss these up like salad. So, “We create more professional childcare workers by providing them scholarships.” You can kind of twist this around. As long as you have those three elements, it’s fine.

But this is just an easy formula for you to use to. What we’re looking for is “what we do.” That “what we do” thing, this is how you come up with that. It’s what you do, who you serve, and what outcomes you provide. Very simple formula so that you can solve that.

I know a lot of organizations struggle with just how to describe themselves. Remember, it’s what you do, who you serve, and why does it matter? We really need to think about why it matters.

Now, I’ve gone through a bit of this branding. All right? So we’ve done our brand promise, we’ve created our main message, and now we’ve had our talking points so that we can deliver this message. Now we are going to then really think about how are we going to implement all of this?

So steps 7 and 8 are adjusting and implementing, and then delivery. Share your sign. We’ve got to take this on the road.

So we’re going to go back. Step 7 is now that we know our brand promise, we know our main message, we know our audiences, we know our talking points, we can look at that assessment and say, “What do we need to adjust or change or modify to really make this work?”

It’s such a blessing now. Before, when I was a younger person in this industry, we didn’t have digital short print runs. We didn’t have a website you could just change. Everything was in print and everything was a big print run. So doing changes and adjustments like this often took a long time.

Now, we can be a little bit . . . you can look and say, “Does our website say home, safety, all those things, young at heart?” Do our brochures, any our print materials, our trade show displays if you do conferences and you have displays like this, does it all say that? What can we adjust?

And you want to triage this because it can get overwhelming. This is the part of my planning process where people go, “Oh, now I’m really scared,” because now they’re feeling that tension between the present and the future. “How are we going to get this all done? How is this really going to work in our life?”

And so we’re going to look at what do we need to change first, second, third? Let’s just relax into this. There’s enough time. There’s enough money. It’s going to be fine. We’re going to figure it out and we’re going to make those adjustments.

And then step 8 is now we’ve got to deliver, right? So we’ve got to go where our avatar is. Share that information, create community, and create content for other sites.

So let me go over this a little bit because this is . . . I’m going to spend like five minutes going over this for you.

So how are we going to share? Thinking about our avatars, where do our avatars recreate? Where are they hanging out? Where are they spending their time? How can we be present in those spaces and helpful in those spaces so that my needs are your needs?

So instead of opening up your computer in the morning and saying, “Okay, I have to promote this and this and this,” opening up your computer and saying, “How can I be of value and service to others today? How can I help my donors, my stakeholders, my participants in their life? What can I do to be of value to them?”

So I had a friend who was a fundraiser at a private school in St. Louis, and he put on . . . he was the development director. He put on alumni reunions in all these different cities. And they would say, “Oh, my gosh, Jim, thank you so much.” And he would say, “You are so welcome. Just remember me at annual appeals.”

And that was his thing. He didn’t even really have to ask for money at annual appeal. He had everyone so primed because he was delivering this great content and programming for them all year long. He was making sure that that school was in value to their lives.

So thinking about how can we be . . . sometimes I feel like we really miss this. So we want to create community as in your needs are my needs. How can I be helpful to you?

I know I just went through steps 4, 5, and 6 on how to articulate your . . . because that’s important. And what’s also important is “How can I be of value to others? And how can I be of service to them?”

So I teach people to create something called expert content. Expert content is not promotional content or testimonial content. Expert content is what are you great at? What are you an expert at? Are you an expert at working with troubled teens? Are you an expert at solving homelessness? Are you an expert at early childhood education?

Whatever you’re an expert at, you can create articles and content that can help people that may not be your client base, may not be the folks that you typically serve, and yet we’re looking for those mess, moment, missions to connect with those folks.

So when you can create that content, now you’re making yourself visible because that content is helpful and needed and shareable, and that’s really where I think the most opportunity is for you to start creating some content that . . .

Promotional content is great and testimonial content is great. We need the mix. But where you could really create some new content is around this idea of expert content.

I just wrote a blog post on this last week to help people understand what this looks like, but, “Here are the five ways you can do this,” or, “How to do this.”

If your organization was born out of a collaboration or you run initiatives or networks, teach people how to build a network. Teach people how to create initiatives. If you were born out of a merger, you can even help other nonprofits.

We’re experts and we’re thought leaders, and we’re amazing at what we do. And how can we share that in a way that’s not like, “Oh, I’m so amazing at what I do”? That’s a little bit hollow. So you don’t have to tell people that you’re amazing. You’re going to show people by giving them something of value.

And here is the last real big concept. So I told you I eat my own cooking. I like KPIs, key performance indicators. I also have something called key fulfillment indicators, which are the things that I do to keep myself energy rich and fulfilled so that I can have energy to share. You can build those in too.

But key performance indicators, these are mine. I help organizations develop these. But when we go back to our goals, one of the things I said was, “What are those . . .” I’m going to flip back here real quick so you can see what . . . “Do the daily work and the goals will happen.” So this is how you do the daily work.

I’m working with a group right now and she’s making five . . . one of her performance indicators is she’s making 10 phone calls a week and booking 2 meetings a month.

As you can see on this chart, I do key performance indicators by week and I do activity by week. And activities are things that you can do without the help of someone else. I can write a blog post. I don’t need you to do a blog post. However, I do need you to grow my email list. I can’t do that by myself. So anything that you need help with someone else to do, those are key performance indicators.

So when you’re looking at your goals and you say, “Okay, we want to have . . . ” I’m just making this up. “Raise $100,000 in the next year.” So then we can do the backwards math. How many people do we need to talk to? Then how many meetings do we need to set to actually get a commitment to raise the money? And then start doing that daily work.

Then this is how you’re going to solve the difference between the tension between the present and the future. Your KPIs are building your future and they’re helping you see that you are growing in your activities, even when it sometimes feels like, when you’re in that Phase 2 concentration, that what you’re doing is kind of like just going into a black hole. Just stay in that faith and stay in your KPIs, and then you’re going to start to see that momentum. You’re going to start to see it flow to you.

And that’s really the biggest thing. It’s just staying in that faith that your efforts will pay off instead of like, “Oh, my gosh, this is worthless. I’m going to try something else now.” And that’s what keeps us flipping back from one, two, and that one and two, one and two ideation and concentration and not really getting any traction in the marketplace.

That’s what keeps us living in the present and being in a really reactive environment instead of building our future at the same time, to have those resources, and be able to connect with people easier because you have them flowing to you because you have the visibility that you want and you’re connecting with the people who are truly aligned with what you do. You’re not spending your time and money trying to convince people to care when they don’t really care.

So we’re getting . . . okay, let’s take a breath. If you are interested in working with me some more, I work with organizations that want to grow their influence, who are committed to making a change, organizations that value coaching or training. Those are my avatars. That’s who I’m looking for.

If you know of speaking opportunities, if you would like me to come facilitate a board training or retreat, that’s really what I do. I don’t work hourly. I do half-day, full-day, two-day sessions, either with groups of different nonprofits or focused just on one.

But for you, because you’re amazing, if you’re interested, you can do step 3, the attraction audit, with me. We’re just going to walk through in detail so you can really get a sense of where you want your marketing to go.

And if there’s an option for us to work together, we can talk about that. And if not, that’s okay too. That’s my gift.

And if you have questions for me, I know Steven’s been monitoring things for me. I just have a few minutes and I want to get to some questions.

This is my email. Feel free to email me. And I send out amazing emails every week. They’re very popular. I give you one lesson. Again, this week I did expert content. Last week, I actually talked about KPIs and what gets measured grows. We talked about using KPIs to grow what you need.

So I guess I’ll just take a couple questions from the chat if we have any.

Steven: Yeah, we do. But first, I just want to say thank you to you, Maryanne, for spending your afternoon, I guess, early morning when you got on, Central Time. This is awesome. Breath of fresh air, as always. I really love what you said on the brand promise slide. I was just sitting here and nodding my head. That one really resonated with me. So thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for doing.

Yeah, there are some questions. But if you haven’t asked a question, now is the chance. We’ve got about maybe five minutes for questions, so get it in while you can.

We just had a question come in, Maryanne, while it’s fresh in their minds about the KPI slide. The question was, “How long should you go before you maybe change the goals or edit them? Should you kind of chug along, even if you’re missing goals?” How can people kind of edit that as they go along based on what they’re actually able to produce?

Maryanne: Becky, most ideas don’t work because people think they’re not a good idea. And I think we’re also afraid to fail. So let’s just say the fact that we don’t have failures, we have lessons.

People are like, “Oh, if I keep going, am I wasting time or money?” Most of the time, you’re not. And even if it’s not quite the right thing, that’s still learning.

Having said that, I make adjustments all the time. So for a while, I was doing a lot more one kind of meeting, and then I realized, “Okay, I can do less of these because I’m getting . . .”

I would do what I call connection calls. So people who didn’t . . . I was reaching out to people and saying, “Hey, I’d love to tell you about my work.” And they’d be like, “Yeah, sure.” We’d have this nice . . . I’d tell you about my work and I want to hear about you, and we’d have what I call a connection conversation. The only point of that conversation was to connect, and I was going to do eight of those a week.

Then I was getting more conversation where people were saying, “Hey, I want to work with you.” And I realized I could do less of the connections and more of what I call the strategy session. So I am adjusting those as I go.

There are two ways. There’s the practical and the intuition. So intuitively, I was like, “Okay, I realize now I can cut back on these.” My overall goal was to do eight a month or eight a . . . I think it was eight a month. I can’t remember now.

So the two things that came through for me was you can make adjustments. Just don’t stop, because truly what gets measured grows. Where your attention goes, your energy flows, and that creates your external reality.

So just by charting these activities . . . the other big thing that I didn’t really talk about is accountability. So I have a business coach and every Friday I open up my KPIs and we walk through them. And just tracking that . . . because you could be like, “Oh, my God, I’ll write that blog post another day. I’m so busy.” It was like, “Oh, no, I want to put that in there. I want to get credit for that.” So that helps so much.

I mean, these were a game changer for me, and that’s why I use them with my clients and that’s what we work on. When we look at this marketing plan, it’s not just a plan. It’s what daily activity, what weekly activity, what monthly activity, quarterly, and what are our goals for that? If you’re doing the daily work, the goals are going to happen. They are just going to happen. And so that’s what I would tell you around that there.

Becky, if you want to email me, I have a Google Sheets template I’m happy to share with you or anyone. Just a template that you can use with some sample KPIs to kind of get you started. You can see how that fits for you, how that would work for you.

Steven: I love it. Wow, that was an awesome answer. That may be kind of a good way to end. We’re getting close to the 3:00 p.m. hour here. And I know we didn’t get to all the questions, but we got your email address on the screen. Maryanne, is it okay if people maybe reach out to you with questions as they think of them or if we didn’t get to them today? Is that cool with you?

Maryanne: Yes, I am here to serve. Like I said, I am here in service to the . . . Oh, somebody just said, “Thanks for loving [inaudible 00:57:57].” My kids are adopted out of foster care.

Steven: Oh, I didn’t know that about you.

Maryanne: Yeah. That’s why they’re . . . it’s not my shade. My kids are all African-American adopted out of foster care. And I have an unofficial foster kid right now. My little son’s friend moved in with us June 1st, just temporarily, but he’s not going anywhere. So he’s like an unofficial foster kid. But that’s why [inaudible 00:58:24] is near and dear to my heart.

So, yes, I love and appreciate all of you. Please reach out to me with any questions. And they’ll send the PowerPoint to you and you’ll have all the slides and the recording. So I appreciate your time and I hope you learned a ton.

Steven: I told you all it was going to be good. She’s a beautiful human. I told you. It was a good one. And I want to hug that newsletter. Really good newsletter. I think I bug Maryanne every time she sends it out because I reply to it and say that I loved it. But you should all sign up for that. Go to her website. You can sign up for that. It has good tidbits in there, and obviously a wealth of knowledge. So reach out to her. Follow her online and keep the conversation going.

Maryanne: You can let them know in the survey if you want me to reach out to you as well, right?

Steven: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, you all are going to get a survey. Just let us know what you thought about the presentation today. It won’t hurt my feelings. I don’t think you’ll hurt Maryanne’s.

And I’ll also get the slides and the recording out to all of you. I’m going to email that to you this afternoon. So just be on the lookout for that. If you didn’t get the slides already or if you maybe missed the first half of the presentation or whatever, don’t worry, I’ll get that to you today. Just be on the lookout.

We are taking next week off for our webinar series since we did eight in January. This is a really good way to end it, by the way. So check out our webinar page to see all the topics we’ve got coming up in February and beyond. We have some really cool ones coming up. And there are lots of free resources on our website beyond just the webinars.

We will definitely get you invited to the upcoming sessions. You should get an email from me probably next week or maybe the week after that with some more formal invites and all those good things. So just be on the lookout.

And like I said, I’ll get you that recording and slides today as well.

So we’ll call it a day there. I hope you have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a good rest of your week and a safe weekend, and we will talk to you again soon. Bye now.

Maryanne: Bye-bye.

Kristen Hay

Kristen Hay

Marketing Manager at Bloomerang
Kristen Hay is the Marketing Manager at Bloomerang. From 2018 - 2020, she served as the Director of Communications for the Public Relations Society of America's local Hoosier chapter. Prior to that she served on several different committees and in committee chair roles.