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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.

TopTenReviews.com 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!
-Roland

Promote Your Local Business With Google Adwords and Facebook Ads

A real estate professional recently asked about whether to try Google Adwords and/or Facebook Ads for local business advertising. I shared this opinion because I run campaigns for clients and myself, and I also teach an introduction to Google Adwords class for small business owners.

My advice based on my experiences…

Don’t rush into advertising on Google Adwords or Facebook (or Yahoo or Bing) until you’ve done some significant keyword research and planning.

Real Estate, Finance, Insurance are all extremely competitive. You are often biding against the major brands and well as their local agents.

It takes time to find the right combination of keywords (and negatives), the right ad copy, the right targeting. There are no shortcuts and it’s better to test a lot of variables before you can dial in on what works.

Determine a niche your good at that your local competitors aren’t active in.

Google Adwords has flexibility of running in Google search results only, Google’s extended search network of partners, and on the Contextual network (blogs and other sites). You need to break all those out and test individually. Two of the three might unnecessarily skew your results and effectiveness.

I like Google for local business because it has more refined geo-targeting. With Facebook, while you can choose a specific town/city, you have to choose from defaults like 10 mile radius, 25 mile radius. Also not every town/city will be available.

I like Facebook because it lets you be clever by combining factors like self-reported age, gender, marital status, interests and location.

Bid-wise, I’ve noticed my Facebook campaign click costs are typically twice Google Adwords. But ultimately you need to have the right sales conversion metrics in place to track that a lead or sale came from Facebook vs Google. Then with enough data you can decide if the higher expense gets you a more qualified lead/sale.

In summary:

  • Plan carefully
  • Do your research
  • Find a niche, and
  • Test everything so you can make informed decisions.

I hope you find this helpful. Please share your experience and opinion here.

Thanks.
-Roland

Inspiration a la Ned Flanders

Ned Flanders CocoaTaking a slight break from marketing to enjoy a rare snow day here in the Northeast. School is closed. So how do you turn those little frowns upside down? Make a mug of Ned Flanders Cocoa for the rug rats… Read more

Subject Matter Experts or Intimidating Puss Faces?

Sears has a long way to go to convince me that they’re the place to go for advice on home electronics. Quite franky the only thing I ever buy from them is a Craftsman screw driver or socket wrench every 5 years. So when I started seeing these “Blue Crew” ads, I really have to wonder why should I talk to intimidating looking puss face employees?

Shouldn’t they be warm and inviting and give me a sense of confidence? Shouldn’t they make me feel comfortable talking to an enthusiastic and knowledgeable floor staff who can demystify some of the techo-babble? Instead (in my opinion) they appear angry, condescending and don’t want to be bothered.

CrewFirst impressions count. Whether you’re the size of Sears or a solo-preneur, your business needs to make a good impression from the top all the way down to the front lines.

So when was the last time you observed how your customer facing employees present themselves to prospects and customers? Not lately? Then why not conduct some secret observations to check how your business comes across to those who want to do business with you? Make some some blind calls or inquires through the website. Evaluate common points:

  • Time to respond
  • Enthusiasm
  • Knowledgeable
  • Attentiveness
  • Was your problem solved to your satisfaction?

Document it. Share the results (and your expectations) with your staff. Then do it again next month.

What else would you suggest?

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 @aol.com, @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @comcast.com, @verizon.net, 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.

Thoughts?

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?

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