Marketing Training & Development

Helping Animal Rescues & Shelters at BlogPaws

Dog adoptionI’m excited about the opportunity to speak at this year’s annual BlogPaws Conference, the largest pet-blogging and social media conference, on “Strengthening Your Brand: Relationship Marketing for Rescues & Shelters.” (More on this session topic later.)

Since this is a new nonprofit audience for me, I’ve spent the past several weeks learning about animal rescue and shelter organizations, including visiting their facilities. It’s been a fascinating experience listening to heart-warming stories of pet rescue and adoptions; sadly, there were also disturbing  stories of animal abuse and neglect. Here’s what I discovered:

  • Many shelters are mostly volunteer run, with few or no paid staff.  The people involved are exceptionally compassionate and passionate about their work with animals. (While it’s easy to be captivated by a healthy kitten or puppy, the volunteers are just as committed to helping animals with medical and psychological issues.)
  • Running a shelter or rescue operation is a 24/7, 365 day commitment. There is no time off.
  • Volunteers & staff wear multiple hats as: administrators … animal behaviorists … matchmakers (matching pets with people) … social workers … pet therapists … fundraisers … cleaners … vet techs & assistants (as allowed by law & training) … advocates and educators for animal spay/neutering, to name a few.

Silver girl PB071406While rescues & shelters have challenges that are unique to their respective missions and operations, they also share a common marketing challenge – competition.  There are many animal shelters within the same geographic region that compete for volunteers, prospective adopters, veterinary support, donors and sponsors. These organizations also compete with every other nonprofit in their communities for volunteers, funding, and consumer attention.

That’s why I was asked to speak about relationship marketing at BlogPaws, along with Kristin Elliott. I’ll provide critical insight on nonprofit branding and marketing engagement, and Kristin will share her experience as a pet-product entrepreneur who has helped animal shelter & rescue organizations.

I look forward to co-presenting with Kristin and being part of the BlogPaws Community.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

“Share of Mind, Share of Heart” Award News

[Update: I’m proud to report that my book is the winner of the Small Business Book Award in the Marketing category!]

I just learned that my new book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, is nominated for a 2013 Small Business Book Award, and I’m truly honored. This special recognition means greater awareness of the book and its reach among nonprofit leaders, staff members, and volunteers.

Now in its fifth year, the Small Business Book Awards celebrate the best business books that entrepreneurs, small business owners, CEOs, managers and their staffs should read. The Awards are produced by Small Business Trends, an online publication, which along with its sister sites, serves over 5,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually. Small Business Trends has published reviews of small business books, including Share of Mind, Share of Heart

“Today’s business owners are hungry for information and insights to help them run a successful business. Also, they use books as a way to grow and develop their employees and management teams. The Small Business Book Awards are a way to acknowledge the books that small business owners and entrepreneurs appreciated over the past year,” said Ivana Taylor, Book Editor at Small Business Trends.

Please share and vote …

These awards offer a unique online opportunity for people to show their support for and vote on their favorite business books. Please vote for Share of Mind, Share of Heart for the Small Business Book Award and encourage your colleagues, co-workers, friends, and family to do the same. You can vote once a day now through March 26th. Together we can help more nonprofits achieve success with this book. Thank you!


“Share of Mind, Share of Heart” Book News

Nonprofit professionals, leaders and volunteers interested in Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits now have the option to purchase it in both print and electronic versions. In response to numerous requests, my latest book is available for purchase and download at Energize Inc.’s Bookstore. I’m honored that Energize, Inc., a valuable resource for ALL things related to volunteerism, has chosen to offer my book.

For those readers who prefer print, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits is conveniently available online through WME Books, and Amazon.

Engagement Marketing

What They’re Saying About “Share of Mind, Share of Heart”

I’m thrilled with the positive response to my new book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits.

I’m honored to share these more detailed book reviews by Ivana Taylor, Small Business Trends, and Wayne Hurlbert, Blog Business World.

Here are several recent reviews that I’m also honored to share.

“With a great passion for (and deep expertise in) nonprofit marketing, Sybil Stershic has written an immensely practical, valuable book. “Share of Mind, Share of Heart” clearly explicates both marketing fundamentals and more sophisticated concepts for nonprofit marketing professionals in plain, easy-to-understand language, with concrete examples.

“Unlike many academic texts on nonprofit marketing, this book is peppered with questions designed to get you thinking tangibly and immediately about how the concepts discussed can be applied directly to the day-to-day business of your organization. I found her insights into internal marketing tools of engagement to be particularly apt and important. Too often in leanly staffed, undercapitalized nonprofits where staff is pressed for time, we overlook this crucial area. Morale and profits suffer as a result, with organizations sometimes seeming disconnected and disengaged from their customers, volunteers, and (in some cases) overall mission.

“‘Share of Mind, Share of Heart’ is a book that should be on the shelf of every nonprofit marketer, both novices and veterans.” Andrew Edmonson, Director of Marketing and Public Relations, Houston Ballet

“Like the author, I have served on a variety of non-profit boards and counseled them about marketing. I’ve found that the whole idea of marketing is intimidating to many non-profits. They often believe marketing is too complicated for them and requires a commitment of resources (both human and monetary) beyond their capability. This insightful book dispels these fears as myths. Marketing is presented here as it truly ought to be: a simple, people-based idea about creating and communicating value. Each chapter provides an understandable exercise that will cause the reader to pause and reflect upon how to bring the marketing concept to life in any non-profit.”     Frank Haas, Dean of Hospitality, Business and Legal Education, Kapiolani Community College

“Every now and then, you find a book that contains more than a powerful message—it houses a poignant experience. Share of Mind, Share of Heart is an experiential wisdom-sharing tome written for organizations that benefit us all. Full of practical how to’s and laced in the language and philosophy of non-profits, it will open eyes, enhance skills, and enrich outreach.” Chip R. Bell, noted author and consultant, The Chip Bell Group

Special thanks to Andrew, Frank, Chip, Ivana, and Wayne for taking the time to review and share their thoughts on my book!

Engagement Marketing

What is Volunteer Engagement?

Ask most people to explain volunteer engagement and they’ll tell you they know it when they see it, yet find it difficult to articulate. They can describe it in general terms as a process that includes recruiting and matching volunteer interests with a nonprofit’s needs, then recognizing and respecting those volunteers.

Beyond the generalities, it’s easier for people to describe what volunteer engagement is not. For example, volunteer engagement means:

  • not taking advantage of volunteers’ time and talent.
  • not keeping volunteers out of the communication loop regarding what’s happening (e.g., major changes in operations or direction).
  • not ignoring volunteers’ input and ideas.
  • not creating extra work just to keep volunteers busy.
  • not giving lip-service to volunteer value.

One can turn these negative descriptors into positive ones to get closer to explaining volunteer engagement, but it’s not enough. Fortunately, there’s a more comprehensive definition.

Volunteer engagement is …

According to Jill Friedman Fixler of the JFFixler Group, volunteer engagement is “a strategy that builds organizational capacity through staff and volunteer collaboration and the development of high-impact, meaningful opportunities that create greater influence and outcome for the organization.”

What I like about Fixler’s definition is that it recognizes:

  • as a “strategy,” volunteer engagement is intentional
  • its purpose is to help advance a nonprofit’s mission by building “organizational capacity”
  • it is based on mutual endeavor via “staff and volunteer collaboration”
  • it benefits the nonprofit by creating “greater influence and outcome.”

A great way to articulate what volunteer engagement is and does.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Internal Marketing Tools of Engagement For Marketers (Part 2)

Last week I shared examples of how Marketing can start to build better relationships within the firm. In addition to this general outreach, it’s important to get employee buy-in and cooperation for each marketing program you implement. Here are several tools of engagement you can use.

Before launching any marketing initiative or program …

  • Share the rationale and goals behind this initiative with employees – clearly explain what you’re trying to do and why.
  • Communicate how Marketing’s efforts in relation to the program help support the firm’s overall mission and strategic plan – reinforce the message “we’re all in this together” instead of contributing to the perception that Marketing creates extra work for people.
  • Get employee input, and be sensitive and responsive to how their work will be affected by this program.
  • Provide the necessary training (and any incentives, if appropriate) so staff can effectively support the initiative.

Once the initiative is up-and-running …

You can’t just let it run its course and forget about it. As part of your monitoring efforts:

  • Stay in touch with what employees need to keep the program’s momentum going.
  • Share interim results and any fine-tuning that needs to be done and why.
  • Recognize and reinforce employees’ support of the initiative.

And when the program is over …

  • Share final results and “lessons learned” – for example, what worked & why (to replicate success in the future ) and what didn’t work & why (what to avoid and what to improve the next time)
  • Acknowledge employees’ individual and collective efforts in supporting marketing and organizational goals
  • Solicit employee feedback on how to improve future initiatives.

Employees who deliver on the brand promise can make or break Marketing. That’s why we need to consider employees “upfront” when planning and implementing any marketing initiative – so they’ll work with us, not against us.

Engagement Marketing Training & Development

Internal Marketing Tools of Engagement For Marketers (Part 1)

My recent post on How Marketers Sabotage Themselves raised the issue that marketers need to engage all employees who deliver on the brand, including those outside the Marketing Department.

To get employee buy-in, we need to break out of our silos and strengthen marketing’s relationship with employees; i.e., we need to do a better job of marketing “Marketing” within the firm. Here are a few ways we can accomplish this.

  • Participate in new employee orientation to explain how every employee has an important role in delivering the brand promise. If someone from Marketing is unable to attend, educate whoever is in charge of orientation to share this message.
  • Host a real or virtual “Open House” so non-marketing co-workers can get acquainted with Marketing and its resources. Invite key people from other departments to your staff meetings to learn what Marketing is doing and vice-versa.
  • Share general marketing information info to let others know what’s happening in the marketplace, such as consumer/customer trends, competitive analysis, customer satisfaction results, etc.
  • Find ways to effectively recognize employees who positively deliver on the brand promise; e.g., “Brand Champions” or “Marketing Heroes.”

I’ll have more on this topic in my next post, so stay tuned …

Engagement Marketing

Why Nonprofits Need Engagement-Part 2

Upon learning about my new book, Share of Mind, Share of Heart: Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits, my friend was puzzled. “I don’t get it,” he said, “especially when nonprofits are so mission-driven. Aren’t the people who work there more engaged than those who work in the for-profit sector?”

My friend’s presumption about nonprofit engagement is a common one. Regardless of whether an organization is profit-driven or mission-driven, the quality of workplace engagement depends on the organizational culture and how its people are treated. Nonprofits can’t claim any advantage based on employees’ and volunteers’ passion for the mission.

As nonprofit employee and consultant Jinna Halperin wrote in Voices from the Field: Nonprofit Workplace Culture – Why it Matters so Much to Us:

“All nonprofits are dysfunctional in some way or another and figuring out where to hang your hat requires one to assess whether the level and type of dysfunction is personally tolerable …

“I am no longer driven only by the mission of the organization. Having so many issues about which I feel passionate and on which I have worked, I have come to believe that employment happiness at nonprofits is more about how one is treated and whether one’s contribution is respected …”

An inspiring mission may attract talent employees and volunteers to an organization, but it takes much more to get them to stay. People need to feel they matter as much as their work.

Note: To get a look inside my new book on nonprofit engagement, stay tuned for next week’s post.


Engagement Marketing

Why Nonprofits Need Engagement-Part 1

My love of nonprofits started in my teens when I volunteered to work at a summer camp for intellectually disabled children. Since then, I’ve served a variety of nonprofit organizations in a range of roles that include frontline volunteer, committee member, advisory member, board member, board chair, and in a professional capacity as a marketing & organizational advisor.

Here’s what I’ve learned based on my personal and professional experience:

1. Mission matters – it provides organizational focus and intention. It also brings together the people who share a passion for the mission and want to do something about it.

2. The people behind the mission also matter – the employees and volunteers who carry out the mission through their dedication and commitment.

3. People’s passion for the mission should not be taken for granted – employees’ and volunteers’ passion for the mission does not guarantee their continued commitment to an organization.

These valuable insights are the basis for my new book that I’m excited to introduce here. I wrote Share of Mind, Share of Heart – Marketing Tools of Engagement for Nonprofits to help nonprofit leaders, executives and managers better engage the employees and volunteers who carry out their organization’s mission.

My book will be published shortly. In the meantime, I’ll share more about nonprofit engagement and my new book in the next two posts.

Engagement Marketing

Special Request Over My Summer Blog Break

Note to my loyal blog followers:

It’s time for my annual break since blog traffic is typically slower in summer. What’s special about this year’s break is that I’ll be using the time to research and write my new book for nonprofits: Engaging Nonprofit Employees, Volunteers, and Consumers: A Manager’s Guide to Inside-Out Marketing (the “working title” at this stage).

Please let me know if you want to share any good or bad examples of internal marketing in nonprofit organizations. The “good” examples of nonprofits that effectively engage staff and volunteers (including board members) I choose to use in this book may include the organizations’ names, pending their permission. However, I won’t name nonprofits with “bad” examples of what not to do when it comes to engagement or, conversely, how to alienate staff, volunteers, and (ultimately) consumers.

Note to new readers:

Welcome! I hope you’ll take a few minutes to explore my blog that offers an abundance of thoughtful content – more than six years worth! I also invite you to share good and/or bad examples of nonprofit engagement.

See you in September

I’ll return to posting this fall with new content – including updates on my new book. In the meantime, enjoy the summer!