Lead Generation Tips For Non-Profit Organizations

Maria Semple shares prospect research tips for non-profit organizations to adopt in the new year.

Maria is an experienced researcher, trainer and speaker on the topic of prospect research. Based in New Jersey, she consults with organizations and firms. Learn more at The Prospect Finder website.

Most Important Tips to Choose Email Marketing Service

I’ve been asked several times in recent weeks to manage email newsletters for people, and I’ve turn most down. Why? Because for many, the needs are bare minimal and I’d feel bad about taking their money. Instead, I’d rather teach them to do it themselves. has a very helpful comparison chart of email delivery service features.

I’ve managed dozens of campaigns over the years and used many systems that cost from $25/mth – $10k/month. I honestly don’t prefer any one in particular — all have quirks. If I had to choose one, I’d probably recommend Blue Sky Factory, who cost a bit more than the average DIY services. But that’s for you to decide – there are many factors to consider ranging from quantity to feature set.

It’s All About Delivery

FrustrationDelivery is such a challenge because you can get flagged as spam by:

  • The Internet Service Providers (ISP)
  • The recipients email service
  • The corporate email system
  • The end-user’s own filters

So regardless of the service provider, the most important features I recommend you look at for your evaluation purposes have to do with helping you get delivered to the inbox. They include:

  • Relationship with the ISPs — Critical because it can help get your messages delivered and lower the risk of hitting the junk box.
  • Delivery Testing — the appearance of your HTML email can vary so dramatically in client applications (i.e. Outlook 2000 vs Outlook 2003, Apple Mail, Thunderbird, etc.) vs Web browser-based email clients (i.e. Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc.). Many services offer some sort of cross platform testing so you can work out the bugs before sending to your list. It also helps to send to a seed list of your own accounts as a safety check.
  • Delivery Scoring — some providers have functionality/algorithms to make you aware of concerns that could get you flagged as spam so you can fix before sending.
  • Reporting — Make sure all the basics are covered: delivery, undeliverables, open rates, click stats. Integration with Google Analytics is a plus.

Obviously I could add more, but to me, these are the most critical to get delivered to the inbox – and that’s just the first half of the challenge. The next is getting your email opened and your recipient to take action. But that’s a story for another time.

Please share your experience with us.

What’s your favorite Email Marketing Service and explain why. Thanks in advance!

A Professional Email Account Adds Credibility

Notice to all “Professional” Service Providers, Executive Recruiters, etc. that contact me… I do not take you seriously if you contact me with your,,,,, etc. accounts.

I don’t care if you have the most amazing offer, you’ve place doubt in my mind about your credibility as a real business. So I delete your messages, unopened.

Why? Simply put, I don’t have the time. Nor do many others like me.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • If you managed to register a domain name and build a website, there’s no excuse for you not to have an email address with that same domain name.
  • Contact your registrar for help.
  • Search for do-it-yourself solutions like Google Apps and follow the instructions.
  • Hire a consultant who can have you up and running in a few hours.

Your professional email address is an extension of your personal and business brand. While it is one minor piece of your overall marketing effort, it’s part of your first contact with a prospect. Get it right and reduce one more barrier to a great conversation.


HSCS-010 – 9 Cheap and Easy Ways to Energize Your Marketing

There’s lots of opportunity to light a fire under your marketing efforts for the rest of the year as you plan for 2010. Here are 9 tips for 09/09/2009.

  1. Get in sync.
    Lay all your promotional materials out in front of you — business card, fliers, mailers, website, online ads — and take a good, long, hard look at them. Do they make sense? Is it confusing? Do they look consistent?
  2. Develop some interesting stories that tell how you helped clients succeed.
    Sounds better than tooting your own horn.
  3. Play to your strengths.
    If 90% of your business is selling a particular service, then lead with that message instead of confusing prospects with a menu of services. Get your foot in the door before you cross-sell.
  4. Experiment with something you are uncomfortable with.
    You might be surprised how you may connect with new prospects.
  5. Get out and meet new people.
    I’m shocked at how many people I invite to networking events will not come, ever.
    You can’t afford not to!
  6. Smile and dial.
    Dust off all those business cards you’ve collected and reconnect with those business contacts.
  7. Become news worthy.
    Share an *interesting* human interest story that the Media might pick up on.
  8. Build your Linkedin and Facebook contacts.
    Strive for quality, not quantity. Regularly let your contacts know what you’re doing. Ask for introductions, testimonials and opinions. Treat them as an advisory panel.
  9. Spy on the competition.
    Okay, maybe that sounds a bit sneaky. But you should know what your successful competitors are doing right.
  10. BONUS TIP: Hire a consultant.
    Seriously, find someone who can either do the work for you or teach you what you need to know to do it in-house. If you can’t afford it, suggest bartering for services.

Okay I know someone will say, what, why didn’t you include Social Media in the list. Truthfully, for newbies, I only advocate investing time in Linkedin and Facebook. Over time, as comfort level and experience increase, then there’s plenty of opportunities (e.g. Twitter) to experiment with and add to the marketing mix.

Thanks for listening/reading!

What do you suggest?

Read more

Critical Tips To Jump Start Your Marketing Career

I was honored that a recent college graduate sought out my advice on how to get started in a career in advertising and marketing. I was tempted to advise her to run away while she still could. But we ended up talking about various tools to give her an edge over the competition. Read more

Consider How You Present Yourself To Recruiters

I posted a job description recently looking for a freelance writer for project. I clearly stated what the assignment would be, the experience requirements and asked for writing samples to be sent for consideration.

Among the replies I received:

Are you still looking for a wrtire. if sso I would like to apply and show you clips.

(Those are actual typos sent by a ‘writer.’)

Very interested. Could you tell me more about it.

It’s strange how some professionals don’t edit themselves or follow simple instructions.

I realize that sending your resume and experience into a black hole can be frustrating, especially if you do it routinely. But consider the person on the receiving end. You have just seconds to impress that person before he/she moves on.

Simply put, do what is required or don’t expect to be considered for an opportunity!

Do you have any thoughts or frustrations to share?

Make Great PowerPoint Decks Not PowerPoint Dreck

I write many PowerPoint decks each year. When I start a new one, I shut the office door, light candles, draw a pentagram on the floor then summon the Beast to glide my mouse and guide my fingers across the keyboard.

When the smoke clears, I emerge with a twenty-slide document of digital dreck.

Feeling frustrated, I dug out something I remembered by Seth Godin. (Seth is a marketing subject matter expert that I’ve followed since the 90’s.)

Here are Seth’s five rules you need to remember to create amazing PowerPoint presentations:

  • No more than six words on a slide. EVER.
  • No cheesy images. Use professional images from instead. They cost $3 each, or a little more if they’re for ‘professional use’.
  • No dissolves, spins or other transitions. None.
  • Sound effects can be used a few times per presentation, but never (ever) use the sound effects that are built in to the program. Instead, rip sounds and music from CDs and leverage the Proustian effect this can have.
  • Don’t hand out print-outs of your slides. They’re emotional, and they won’t work without you there. If someone wants your slides to show “the boss,” tell them that the slides go if you go.

I used to have this mentality that as a document, it needed to act like documentation – citing every detail for historical reference. Truth be told, I’ve improved, but I know I can do much better.

In real world practice, I realize that the clients I present to are so overwhelmed that they never open the document again. Sometimes never at all to begin with.

So here are my PowerPoint writing tips:

  • Write, re-write and re-write again. Brevity is key. Be ruthless to distill down your thoughts to a simple sound bite. Embellish with spoken word.
  • Come up with creative ways to display your ideas graphically instead of as bullets — A chart, graph, funnel, Venn Diagram — whatever it takes. Edward Tufte is an excellent source of inspiration for expressing details in a visually comprehensive way.
  • Have a cover sheet with a title, date and name of the person(s) it’s for. It drives me crazy looking at old decks and not having a clue who they were for.
  • Include a Next Steps slide with specific action items, dates and responsibilities.
  • Include all the contact information for the relevant team on the last slide. That makes it easier for the client to figure out who to talk to.

Please add your suggestions and let me know if you find this useful.

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