Nike is only half right. “Just do it” works until we need to “Just quit it.” Only the quitting part seems harder that the doing part. I had the privilege of hearing Bob Goff speak speak a few years ago.
If you’re not familiar with Bob (and I wasn’t before this conference), he is an attorney with a sense of humor. Impressive! (Those are rare by the way. And, of course, my apologies to my attorney. I do appreciate you.)
One of the things Bob said that stuck with me was he quits something every Thursday.
There are a lot of people who call themselves content writers. It seems to be the catch phrase in the freelance world. They reason, “If content marketing is in, then I need to call myself a content writer.”
This, understandably, creates confusion for those who hire content writers. After all, you can’t call yourself a doctor if you aren’t one, right? But this scenario often leads to frustration and disappointment and can throttle the openness a person has to working with content writers in the future.
For those of you who don't know my complete story (and why would you), there was a time in my career when I was responsible for the marketing, revenue, and operational efforts of a multi-million dollar business unit that sold offering envelopes to churches.
Offering envelopes are about as sexy as ... um .... NOTHING.
Nevertheless, we managed to sell more than 130 million of them a year to more than 12,000 customers.
There is a reason traditional nonprofits raise more money through this channel than most churches. They recognize it is more than a utilitarian effort or legal obligation. They know that connecting every dollar with impact is essential to building trust and confidence in the mind of the giver. And you don’t do this once but again and again and again. If you are willing to put a little thought into it, it will pay dividends for you.
Here are some common observations I share with churches related to contribution statements that might help you reframe the role they play in your ministry funding model ...
I’m not anti-sales. I’ve been on both sides of the table—marketing and sales.
I understand the pressures both positions come with, and I believe both must work together if a company is going to consistently grow revenue—the lifeblood of any business. That being said, there are some unique characteristics that case studies can bring to the sales process.
These characteristics can help salespeople overcome an often jaded and defensive target.
Fire a client? I know. It sounds backwards, doesn't it?
But the great thing about life is you get to decide who you want to work with and what you want to do.
One of the quotes I'll never forget from Tom Peter's book is this ...
I was stunned when my publisher called a few months ago and said I would be interviewed on CBN's The 700 Club about my latest book. I know I may be a big deal to my boys, and my wife loves me a lot. But I'm just "little Ben Stroup."
This was my first TV experience. And it was live.
I was worried I would stumble and stutter. While the guest coordinator and associate producers did their best to calm my nerves, there is nothing that prepares you for that moment.
Case studies are powerful tools that help others say things about you that you may not necessarily be able to say about your self.
An unexpected benefit of a case study is you get a great excuse to connect with some of your biggest champions and give them a chance to share their enthusiasm for you and your product or service with others in a powerful way.
Everyone knows someone who lives by the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
I believe this is a dangerous lie, especially within organizations.
OK. That may be a bit of a overstatement, but I do think such thinking holds teams and organizations back from experiencing break through moments.
Buying into such rhetoric gives us permission to “pass” on challenging the status quo.
As long as our teams are performing to expectations, general benchmarks, etc., then we can pat ourselves on the back and move on to more pressing matters. The fundamental flaw in this thinking is believing that only things that are broken need to be fixed.
The brand-as-publisher revolution is remapping go-to-market strategies for brands brave enough to do things differently.
Don't believe me? Just ask Red Bull. Somewhere along the way to sponsoring a guy who jumped out of a rocket to earth an energy drink company became a media company.
Some people think all books are magical. They mistakenly believe all books possess some mystical reality that contains timeless truths to be pondered and consumed over long periods of silence.
There are books like that. It’s true. But that doesn’t mean every book has to be like that. In fact, most books aren’t.
Books are simply an ecosystem of ideas organized into a consumable format.
You can't afford not to publish a book.
But books are for artists and creative types, right? Not business leaders.
That’s where you’re wrong. In fact, it may be time to rethink the book entirely when it comes to its role in the life of a business leader.
Books are as valuable today to growing your business as your business card was in previous decades.
Content marketing has come to the enterprise, and the enterprise is the natural next frontier as content marketing matures.
What should you expect when launching a content marketing effort within your company? In other words, how do you know if you're doing it right?
Here are a few markers to identify along the way ...
Every office has at least one mean person. It sounds silly, but it’s true.
Mean people exist everywhere. It’s not just in an office setting. But there is something about office politics, the pressure to perform, and personal doubt that provide a fertile environment for mean people to thrive. Life is, after all, survival of the fittest, right?
Let’s define mean.
Mean people are not confrontational, direct communicators. The office is a melting pot of different personalities who must learn to get along. Some people are better at verbalizing their ideas than others. We all communicate in different ways and should learn how to best do that with a variety of people. (Note: This is the “magic” of management.)
I’ve tried to learn from every manager I’ve had in the past. Some have been good. Some have been not so good. (If I’m honest, I’m sure there are plenty of people who place me in both categories.)
My favorite managers have been people who wanted to invest in my thinking and creativity—even if my formal job at the time was very mundane and predictable. One way they did this was by giving me reading assignments that opened me to new ways of thinking, new perspectives, and helped me see the world through new lenses. I’ve tried to carry on that tradition now that I manage and lead teams of people.
Driving people along a production schedule is one thing. Teaching people to think differently multiplies their value and improves the strength of the team.
I started programming on a computer in second grade. I started typing my school papers instead of handwriting them in third grade. That means I’ve spent a majority of my life creating digital versions of what many people previously accomplished with some type of paper solution.
I’m proud to be part of the first generation to go digital in just about every way.
I still remember the Motorolla “brick” phone that my parents purchased. And then the bag phone, flip phone, and now the smartphone. I’ve seen digital evolve right before my eyes.
I’ll never forget going to the fabled Radio Shack to buy our first Tandy x086 computer. And returning the next year to get the upgraded model. First came the big, black floppy disks and then came the smaller, hard disks. (Yes, I’m old enough to remember when those terms were introduced.)
Not all client experiences are the same. Some are exceptional and make you feel (almost) superhuman. Some are so disgusting that they make you want to quit and do just about anything else you can imagine. Neither experience is a completely accurate reflection of reality.
A mentor once told me, “It is never as good as it seems nor is it as bad as it seems.” I believe this to be true.
I’ll never forget what he said. I believe it to be true.
Executive leaders are critical thinkers, experienced decision makers, and relentless about only investing in things that will move the brand or organization forward. This posture intimidates some marketers who casually borrow the language of content marketing, but it shouldn’t. Instead, it should be an opportunity to win over the C-Suite to the value or content strategy.
The difference between a marketing professional who dabbles in content marketing and one who fully understands content strategy is the ability to translate organizational goals into concepts, concepts into ideas, ideas into tactics, and tactics into a system that can be defined, measured, and adjusted over time.
A good, effective content strategist understands and appreciates the fundamental value of every business: revenue creation.
Every leader will inevitably face a difficult conversation. The ones who master it will not only win the admiration of the people they lead but will achieve results beyond what anyone expects.
I still remember my first difficult conversation. I was selling software at the time, and there was an implementation that was not going well. I was risking my integrity and knew I had to offer to cancel the deal and refund the money. (I had already received my commission which meant I would have had to pay that back. That would have hurt.)
I called the client and reviewed the situation.
I am a HUGE fan of book publishing but not for the reasons you might think.
My interest in books is less about their artistic value or what accolades accompany them. My interest in books is a little more plain than most people.
I love books because they are the most efficient way to capture and transfer ideas from a brand, cause, or nonprofit to their respective support base. And if you are lucky enough to create or capture an experience worth remembering, then others will share your book and story as their own within their personal networks. Your book then becomes souvenir that represents a significant experience as well as a promise to benefit others.
So what is the problem with book publishing for nonprofits?