The ONE AND ONLY reason Twitter is a Valuable Marketing Tool

Marketers will argue ad nauseum about the number of benefits Twitter offers as a marketing tool.  However, in my opinion, there is only one that matters:  Brevity!!

I often wonder why some marketers believe the best way to communicate a message is by writing a dissertation. I've never met a marketer who preferred reading a two paragraph ad or a 500 word flyer, yet so many of the same people seem to think others do.  The very logic is mind boggling.

Research will tell you that the average consumer is hit with 600 to 3,000 marketing messages per day.  Even on the very low end of that range, how does the mind comprehend and remember even a small percentage of those messages?  The answer is "interest and brevity". 

First and foremost, no one is going to remember a message if it doesn't have any perceived value.  But many messages might have value if they were short enough for the consumer to read and remember.  This is Twitter's primary strength!  It requires marketers to keep their messages very brief, thus forcing them to focus ONLY on the most critical information.

An image is worth a thousand words, but without an image, you're stuck with a thousand words.  Really bad marketers seem to think you need both!

During my entire 20 year career as a marketer, I have always argued this point with the product and sales departments.  The good ones get it. The bad ones simply don't understand that just because they think something is important doesn't mean the customer thinks it's important.  The best way to ensure that your marketing message won't resonate with an audience is to make it long.  People just don't have time for long messages anymore.  Get their attention first.  If you generate interest, the consumer will do the rest of the work.  Believe me, they'll find you, as long as you tell them where to go.

Here's a little exercise (and challenge):  Take a look at any text based ad that you've created in the past year and try to convert it into a tweet (no more than 140 characters for those of you unfamiliar with Twitter).  If you can't, then you're providing more information than the average consumer is likely to absorb.  If you can, then you've successfully converted your message to one that is much more likely to be read, by identifying the points that are most important to your target audience.  Now try integrating that short message back into your original ad.  Does it still work?  The Magic 8 Ball says, "The odds are in your favor".

Good job!  Now practice it.

Nonprofits Need to Start Playing More in the Corporate Sandbox

Because I transitioned into the nonprofit sector from the corporate sector, perhaps I view this subject through a different lens than many of my peers; but I still see one major problem with nonprofit marketers:  They tend to spend too much time associating with other nonprofits.

For the record, I'm not suggesting that they stop doing so.  As a matter of fact, I recently attended the AMA/AMAF Nonprofit Marketing Conference in Washington, DC which provided a great opportunity for nonprofit marketers to share best practices and learn from both peers and experts.  They were even kind enough to present me with a tremendous honor as the 2011 National Nonprofit Marketer of the Year!  It was a wonderful experience and I'm quite certain I'll be back.

So, I'm not recommending that nonprofit marketers stop associating with other nonprofit marketers.  However, I am recommending that they start spending more time associating with corporate marketers and business leaders. 

How many nonprofit marketers have attended regional business lunches or events and been seated at the "nonprofit table"?  When that happens, I feel like I'm being placed at the kiddie table at Thanksgiving dinner.  I've begun specifically requesting that I not be placed at the nonprofit table.  While I find great value in my nonprofit relationships, I'm not going to secure funding for my organization from other nonprofits, unless they are foundations whose goals happen to align with our mission.  The greater value to me as a nonprofit marketer is in developing relationships with the corporate sector; positioning my organization as an impactful regional business and community leader, not just a nonprofit leader.  I want to leverage the national power of the Goodwill brand to strengthen my organization's regional influence.

Strategic partnerships that will enhance our brand, while driving revenue and reputation will more frequently result from alignment with corporate partners who have deep pockets and tremendous reach.  Not with other community based organizations that have databases composed almost exclusively of individuals passionate about any cause other than our own.

Strong nonprofit marketers should be joining groups like the AMA, chambers of commerce, boards of trade and other regional business associations, giving them greater opportunities to network with decision-makers who can have a direct impact on their mission, reputation and revenue.  But taking on leadership roles is critical!  There is little value in joining for the sake of joining. You MUST get involved.

Working side by side with corporate leaders and proving your capable of achieving results will increase the likelihood of getting corporations to listen and respond positively to your "partnership" proposals when the time is right.  You'll also dispel the negative stereotypes associated with nonprofits simply looking for handouts.

Let's face it, businesses want to associate with other strong businesses, whether they are for-profit or nonprofit.  If powerful corporations (with good brand reputations) see it as a benefit to align themselves with you, then you've already achieved a major victory.  The stronger your reputation, the louder your voice becomes.  The louder your voice becomes, the more people will hear you.  The more people that hear you, the greater the impact your message will have.  The greater the impact of your message has, the more people want to associate with you. The more people want to associate with you, the more revenue you are going to generate.  The circle never ends, it just gets bigger and perhaps a bit more complex as more corporate partners join the ranks.  However, the bigger the circle becomes the more leverage you have as well. 

Komen is a case study in how successful this type of strategy can become. They have done such an amazing job building brand equity that they are dictating sponsorship terms, not the other way around. I know...I worked with them when I was on the corporate side, and I understood the value the brand association with Komen would have on our reputation.

However, that brand strength didn't result organically. It took a great deal of work on Komen's part to position themselves as a change agent who could make things happen. They didn't do that by aligning themselves exclusively with other nonprofits. They did it by engaging the corporate sector, positioning themselves as a global leader in breast cancer research and then leveraging their brand reputation to further enhance their brand reputation, leading to critical corporate and foundation funding.  However, I think Komen is the exception, not the rule. 

Nonprofits need to have a better understanding of the power of their brands.  Unfortunately, few nonprofits place an emphasis on brand and reputation building.  In my opinion this is a result of few nonprofit leaders understanding the value and importance of a brand. 

The Millward Brown 2010 Value D Study found that 81% of consumers make purchasing decisions based on brand, while only 7% make purchasing decisions based on price.  What this tells me is that donors and corporations aren't afraid to give money to good nonprofits.  They're afraid to give money to good nonprofits they don't know or trust.  And that's what brand building is all about!

In today's economic climate businesses are placing a greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility not just to build brand loyalty, but to protect their brand reputations.  They need to align themselves with strong nonprofits because they want to convert nonprofit constituents into brand advocates. There is tremendous opportunity here for innovative nonprofit marketers who can find a way to get themselves "a seat at the corporate table". One of the best ways to do that is to start playing more in the corporate sandbox.  Go where they go, read what they read, find ways to lead corporate leaders rather than waiting for them to lead you.  Building your nonprofit brand starts with building your personal brand.  If you're a strong regional leader, your organiztion will be perceived similarly.

So if you want to make a real and measurable impact on your organization, don't stop networking with other nonprofits.  Just be sure to place as much emphasis on networking with your corporate peers.  Your seat at the table awaits you.

Breakup Recovery: The Breakover Plan

[Note:  Although this entry was written for a woman in a heterosexual relationship, these same principles will help anyone whose relationship has ended.]

Whether you were together for two weeks, six months, or four years, breakups hurt.  A LOT.  What’s worse, they can be really hard to get past.   A breakover is a set plan that moves you from the initial pain of a breakup to

Improving Self-Esteem

“No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Self-esteem is how you feel about yourself, how confident you are, how accomplished you feel. It reflects whether a person loves, accepts, and believes in who they are. For some of us, it can go up and down. One day you might feel really on top of everything, great about yourself, unafraid to try anything. The next

Crocs: Stylish? You decide. A marketing success story? You bet!

Okay, clearly I am not the target market for Crocs.  Personally, I think they are among the ugliest forms of footwear I've ever seen.  Though in fairness, I don't claim to be a fashion icon or stylist.  I haven't even purchased a new suit in two years.

However, from a business perspective, Crocs is a case study in how marketing can have an incredible and measurable impact on a brand's success; or in this case, a brand's turnaround.

A recent article, Crocs, Feeling the Love Again, on, discusses how Crocs' new CEO, John McCarvel, received a Stevie Award as the "Turnaround Executive of the Year" at the 2011 American Business Awards for successfully revitalizing the footwear brand, resulting in a 200% jump in stock value over the past three years. 

According to the article, here's how McCarvel transformed Crocs from a dying brand to a successful one...again:

• Cleaned up distribution channels — moving out of hardware stores and gas stations

• Controlled rip off copies, through the use of Crocs' propriety croslite technology that eliminates odors and helps the soft material conform to your foot

• Expanded product offerings to more than 250 styles including sneakers and boots, making it a viable four-season brand

• Opened 61 new retail stores worldwide

• Increased its online presence

• Reinvigorated its corporate social responsibly platform, Crocs Cares, focused on children and families in need

While McCarvel deserves due credit, I am excited to see how heavily he relied on marketing to play an instrumental role in the Crocs transformation.  New CMO, Andrew Davison, and his predecessor's fingerprints are all over the brand's CSR platform, distribution channel strategy, online presence, expanded product offerings and brick & mortar expansion. 

The New York Times also recently wrote about Crocs' successful new image campaign that helped launch the turnaround.

While I'm still not a big fan of the footwear, kudos to McCarvel and his marketing and product development teams for an amazing effort!