Nonprofit

Online Marketing for Small Business: Helping a Diverse, Ill-Defined Group

Posted on July 13, 2011. Filed under: Business Management, Communications, Human Business, Inbound Marketing, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Small Business, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , |

Online Marketing for Small Business

Regardless of definition, small businesses need help putting it all together online.

Because I write for this blog for small businesses – a very ill-defined segment –I’ve decided to talk today about who you are from my perspective. You’re a group that ‘s quite misunderstood in terms of your diverse human characteristics – everywhere from government statistics to media coverage. Truth is, you’re not a monolithic group, but you do face similar marketing issues.

Although I keep up with the latest advances in web technology on your behalf, as I speak with you, I know that’s not necessarily what’s top of mind for you. Most of the companies I’m working with – or who are calling me in to help them get to the next level online — are very savvy. They have an earlier generation website, they have social media channels going, they’ve set up an ecommerce store, they’re doing email campaigns, have attended LinkedIn seminars. They know that online is where the world is and will continue to go. They’ve done the best they can.

But they need help figuring out how to make it all pay off for their businesses and how to organize online marketing into a manageable system. Time and limited resources are the enemy.

I can also tell you that small businesses defy easy categorization. We all see references to SMSB – Small to Mid-Sized Businesses. But the definitions of who they are and how small/large these companies are is all over the map. Attempts are made to define them by revenue, number of employees and other metrics. But in my experience, that’s not enough. So who are they?

Here are some of the varied characteristics of small businesses I’ve worked with:

  • Main Street mom-and-pop bricks-and-mortar stores marketing locally.
  • Start-ups with great ideas or products and bootstrap budgets.
  • Established businesses with a few employees that market nationally or even globally.
  • Growing regional companies building infrastructure.
  • Exciting businesses – and nonprofits, too — transitioning from the original entrepreneurial founders to management with next-stage experience.
  • Established bricks-and-mortars launching ecommerce divisions.
  • Start-ups with angel funding.
  • Divisions of larger companies with Round ‘A’ venture funding.
  • Entrepreneurships with varying levels of experience and previous success.
  • Billion dollar enterprises with three employees looking for the right kind of strategic marketing help.
  • Manufacturing and service companies with revenues up to 150 million dollars.
  • Established innovators ripe for acquisition with the right positioning and visibility.
  • Any and all of the above trying to gain recognition for any number of strategic and tactical reasons.

What you and the aforementioned small business types share is that you need scalable help making the web work for you. Regardless of revenues or budgets, you have limited time, staff and/or budget resources and need to get effective and efficient outside advice and/or implementation help.

The objective of this blog is to help you understand the current and emerging environment, for sure, but at a level that does not forsake the practical advice that will help you make the best use of what you have available.

Conversation is part of the equation, so please continue to send your comments, questions and ideas.

Image from deanmeyersnet under Creative Commons license.

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How to Succeed in Magazine Publishing: A Winning Formula

Posted on September 17, 2010. Filed under: Advertising, Communications, Content, Entertainment, Jazz, Marketing, News, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

In honor of Moffly Media’s inaugural A-List Awards (read on) today’s musical post is “Shaking the Blues Away” sung by Doris Day. eMail readers need to log-on to listen.

The other evening I had the pleasure of attending an inaugural awards event created by Moffly Media, a local magazine publishing company here in Fairfield County, Connecticut. It turned out to be one more step on a successful path that is keeping the company growing as other publishers are shedding titles and even closing their doors.

The A-List Awards brought back a touch of glamour that hasn’t been seen or felt around here since the onset of the Great Recession. It was done just right; not over the top. And, the awards were perfectly targeted to the advertiser and subscriber base of Moffly’s décor title, atHome Magazine. The well-produced program recognized the top area talent in interior and landscape design and architecture.

It was a great strategic move. And it was handled with sensitivity given the fact that we’re not quite sure we should be celebrating yet. But it sure felt wonderful to all who packed the landmark Westport Country Playhouse. The event benefited a fitting organization – Habit for Humanity of Fairfield County – which made us all feel better about feeling good!

The evening aptly demonstrated the concept at the core of Moffly Media’s success – local community. The family-owned operation began in 1987 when Jack Moffly retired from a 33-year career with Time, Inc. He and his wife, Donna bought the 40-year-old Greenwich Review and ran it as publisher and editor respectively.

They changed the name to Greenwich Magazine. They made it a beautiful glossy dedicated to the upscale Greenwich lifestyle and the singular people who populate the town. Most of all they contributed to the fabric of the community through their personal involvement in its life.

 

Using the same uber-local approach, Jack expanded into other towns with Westport Magazine, New Canaan-Darien Magazine, Stamford Magazine, as well as atHome. In 2007 he stepped down as publisher and turned over the reins to son Jonathan Moffly, who had joined the family business in 1998. Jonathan was involved in the expansion of titles over the years and since becoming publisher has added online, events and custom media divisions.

Moffly Media has been bold in trying new things, yet it’s grown in measured steps that maintain its basic values and leverage its capabilities. If something works, they apply it elsewhere. For instance, a larger-format private label magazine it developed for a client was so stunning that it led to a re-design of atHome in the same mold.

The company hires top people who are knowledgeable about the towns in which they work and/or their areas of specialization. For example, it tapped Camilla Herrera, longtime features writer for the Stamford Advocate, as editor of the new Stamford Magazine when she became available after newsroom cutbacks at the daily. And James M. Gabal, another Time, Inc. vet recently joined to head Custom Media.

The Moffly’s are terrific business people. They know how to add value for advertisers. The A-List Awards are a perfect example, as are the quarterly DesignDistrict evenings they run to showcase advertisers in the towns they serve. Print and online advertising and sponsorships are another way. They understand PR, too, and the behavior required to maintain a stellar reputation.

The Moffly team seems to share a sense of humanity and respect for all its constituents – readers, advertisers and the advertising/PR/marketing agencies who interact with them. They’re good folks. And it’s nice to see good people succeed!

Other publishers – even those who put out national titles – can learn from Moffly Media’s model. Each audience is, in essence, a ‘local community’. Treating them as such works in print, online and in person everywhere.

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A Word to Wise Nonprofits: Avoid the Pro Bono Trap

Posted on September 13, 2010. Filed under: Communications, Jazz, Marketing, Nonprofit, Not-for-profit, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The music accompanying this post is about the inspiration I’ve received from everyone I’ve ever met who has committed to a career in the nonprofit sector. I get chills and tears listening to the lyrics of “If I Ruled the World” by Leslie Bricusse and sung here by the spectacular Tony Bennett.

Over the years, I’ve worked with many nonprofits on their marketing and PR programs. The work that nonprofits do is essential to meeting our society’s needs in ways that neither the government nor the private sector can do as well. I consider having non-profit clients a very meaningful part of my practice. I’m writing this post not to be in any way self-serving, but because we need our nonprofits to succeed more than ever!

Although my fees for nonprofits are at a lower rate than for commercial clients, I do not provide my professional services pro bono. I will volunteer in many other ways. However, I believe that marketing is such a mission critical function that I do nonprofit clients no favor by offering a pro bono arrangement. This is a drum I’ve been beating since the stock market crash of 1987 and again in the recessionary aftermath of 9/11.

The topic came rushing back to mind again last week when a respected colleague of mine told me that she had agreed to provide some pro bono web and graphic design services to a local arts group. However, she gave the executive director one condition: No deadlines. She would have to implement the project when she had time, as she owed first priority to her paying clients. This is reality.

And that, my nonprofit friends, is the pro bono trap. You may need a service performed pronto to meet a grant deadline or to announce an important fundraising event. But as the adage warns, “Beggars can’t be choosers.”

When the economy went into the tank in late 2008, many nonprofits immediately cut back or completely curtailed their paid marketing and development activities. So did many for-profit companies to be clear.

During 2009, there were many out-of-work marketers offering free help as a way to keep busy, keep their portfolios fresh or reposition themselves. Admirable that they wanted to turn lemons into lemonade for a good cause.

In 2010, many have either gotten permanent jobs, or transformed themselves into consultants with paying clients.

 As the economy improves, nonprofits that have been relying on board members and volunteers to get the word out about their missions, their successes and their funding needs may very well find that they’ve fallen dangerously behind. Pro bono services are generally provided piecemeal in the best of cases. Overall or longer term strategy takes a back seat.

In addition, the world of marketing and PR has changed drastically in the past couple of years. Just putting up a Facebook page – as some organizations have done – does not substitute for preparing to attract meaningful support using online channels. But doing some serious planning and working with professionals – in- or out-of-house – on execution can create never-before-possible efficiencies of scale.

Savvy nonprofit Executive Directors/CEOs need to make a strong case to their boards of directors that marketing is a specialized skill that can’t just be dumped on a volunteer or junior staffer to ‘make it happen’. It goes hand-in-hand with successful development efforts and needs to be in the budget at a serious level every year.

Likewise, foundations and other grantors must recognize that solid and appropriate marketing can help nonprofits leverage funding and improve service to their constituents. Marketing grants need to be more numerous and more generous.

Mind you, I’m not talking about over-the-top direct mail campaigns that, frankly, I find offensive and have written about in the past. Just don’t regard marketing as a frill. Nothing could be farther from reality. As the funding pie shrinks, when it comes to generating revenue it’s the NFP that thinks and acts like a business that will survive to help those who need its services.

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