Why Integrate? Think Peanut Butter Jelly Time!

I like tools that serve multiple purposes. I like the Swiss Army knife or Leatherman because you can do multiple things with that one tool. You can fix stuff, eat, cut and more with this tool. I kinda like the spork for the same reason — it’s a spoon, it’s a fork, it’s a spork!

Integration helps software systems go together like peanut butter and jellyIt’s like finding that last puzzle piece to a puzzle you decided not to finish because there were a few missing parts. You know, that “Eureka!” moment. It’s like adding jelly to a peanut butter sandwich. It’s like getting into your car and driving to work when there’s no traffic. It’s like drinking ice-cold water after a great hike. It’s like a Star Wars movie without Jar Jar Binks. Too far?

Integration just makes things better.

Save time

That’s what integration is to me. It’s those tools that can do a little bit more than what you originally bought them for. They’re multi-purpose, saving you time. Standalone software solutions aren’t nearly as useful as those that integrate with other systems. I dislike, for example, when I open my Outlook and see a calendar item that doesn’t immediately pull in related documents. It’s inefficient.

Save errors

When your marketing solutions, like your webinar, don’t integrate with your marketing automation system or your CRM, not only is it inefficient — it’s causing you to re-enter data. This increases the chances for errors.

Save money and resources

Not only are you increasing the chance of errors, you’re occupying resources — that’s money. What’s worse is that you want those resources focused on driving revenue or reducing cost, not entering the same data multiple times in multiple different systems.

Good software companies are trying to make your life easier

These days integration and plugins are everywhere. Good software companies realize everything stated above and are geared toward solving these problems for customers. It’s in their best interests to solve these issues. Having software you can maximize builds trust and usage among those that use their products.

If your software company isn’t integrating what other systems you use, it might be time to dump them. They may be trying to end-of-life (the software company term for kill slowly) that product anyway.

Stop settling for software that isn’t making your life better. That’s really the intention of it. And if you’re not getting everything you need from your software — like integration — it’s probably time to rethink which software company you’re using.

After all, Star Wars was better without Jar Jar Binks. And peanut butter without jelly isn’t nearly as good.

What Should You Know About Marketing in the Nonprofit World?

A quality marketing strategy is a key tool enterprises use to draw in new business and improve their local or international standing. Why should your nonprofit be any different? You need consistent funding to expand your programs and services. Meanwhile, you may be competing for donations with hundreds of other organizations in your particular field. You need an engaging marketing campaign or plan to achieve these goals or overcome any hurdles along the way.

Why does marketing matter in the nonprofit sector?

One purpose of your nonprofit may be to “raise awareness” about a particular issue or plight for a group of people. While people may be unaware of the details surrounding the problem or need, raising awareness without a specific marketing strategy is ineffective. You won’t be able to reach the wide audience you need to bring about real change. This is why marketing matters.

Increase employee engagementNo doubt you’re also asked to help constituents — you can use marketing there too. You can’t serve people if they don’t know you exist.

And lastly, donors and grantfunders as well as other important partners, to help generate the revenue so you can fulfill the mission of your nonprofit.

Marketing strategies that will bring your donor base and organization to life

Stop focusing on one-time donations and pivot to monthly or bi-monthly gifts. Network for Good, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits and charities, found that the average recurring donors generally give 42 percent more during a year’s time than one-time givers. To draw in this continual donor base, you must implement innovative marketing strategies, such as content marketing, webinars and more.

Today, people don’t want to just be “talked at” or repeatedly hit over the head about why they should give or support your cause. They want to come to this conclusion on their own. This is why content marketing is essential. You can create thought leadership articles, social media posts and videos that start a conversation. Then, you will be there to provide the answers and guide them your way.

Meanwhile, webinars are the perfect way to reach a wider audience from the comfort and cost-effectiveness of our own office. You can convey your message in an easily digestible way that your audience can watch on the go or on their own time. This way, you’ll be reaching your potential donors where they’re at and not seeming to be overly pushy.

Focus on results

What has your nonprofit done to change the world or make it a better place? You need stories — again content marketing –collaboration within nonproft– to bring awareness. This is how you’ve impacted people. And you may say, “I’m not in a nonprofit that focuses on people.” People still can benefit. For example, if your nonprofit helps the environment, you may’ve changed people’s lives for the better — whether they’re near the Amazon where trees are now being saved or residents who’ve had water issues.

Also part of results is showing, in numbers, what’s changed because of your organization. These days, according to GuideStar, people want to see in numbers too where the money is going. That’s up to you. But the more transparent you are, the better the chance people will give to you. Besides, even if you have high overhead, you can explain it by the things you do for employees — if that’s where the money is going. For example, if you provide benefits, you may still attract givers who align to your values and your mission.

All About Interns

smart internIf your company hires high school or college-aged interns, you know that providing feedback can be … challenging. While you want to help them further their career development, you may be afraid that your constructive criticism or suggestions may squash their spirits or cause them to become indignant. Whatever the reason, we can always agree that it’s not an easy task to undertake.

If you are seeking out ways to encourage your interns to evolve and better themselves in their current positions, here are a few of the best ways to provide meaningful feedback:

Implement a set of expectations and standards from the start

There is no worse way to provide feedback than to do so when your workers have no idea where you’re coming from. Imagine yourself as a young, aspiring intern writer at a communications firm that didn’t realize you had to write in AP Style. Then your boss comes up ato you one day and tells you that you aren’t performing up to snuff and that you need to start improving your AP handbook knowledge – or you’re out. You would be terrified!

As a manager of interns, you must clearly define all their job duties, along with what you’ll be evaluating them on or expecting from them. This way, if they still are struggling throughout their time, at least they will know what you think or that you want to help them improve. Setting expectations is essential for any role, but especially for people who are new to the workplace.

Ask yourself — what do you want to see? When do you want to see it? How often? What do expect when you see it? And then convey that information to interns.

Meet their career goals

Before your intern walks in, you have a set of projects. How do you know it’s a good fit? Maybe their career goals are focused elsewhere. Only one way to know: ask. And then align projects that allow you to get work done, but also allows your intern to explore a passion. Do you have an engineer that’s filling marketing duties? Maybe they can update the corporate website or set plans in place for testing. Think about how work can be a win-win and you’ll get projects accomplished and meet your intern’s budding career objectives. You might even have someone committed to helping your company once they’re done with college or high school.

Let them network

One of the biggest skills we take for ranted in the workplace is networking — meeting other people with similar interests and passions. For people just entering the workplace, they need a group of people to socialize with and build connections. Likely, their college or high school friends don’t necessarily meet that need. Allow them to work on projects together and build time into the schedule to meet like-minded people. After all, when people find friends at a company, their employee engagement increases dramatically. That means they’re more likely to move from intern to employee.

Give them the right tools

There’s one generational difference for interns vs. Baby Boomers or Gen X — they’re digital natives. They expect technology to work. They expect to have tools that enable them to be productive, too. Don’t be surprised if your interns come in with a greater base in technology than your most senior people. They’ve tried just about every type of communication platform and they know what works and what doesn’t. Listen. Try to give them the tools to make them successful.

Give feedback that’s honest and specific

Leave no room for ambiguity with your interns. Tell them as soon as you recognize they’re failing in a particular area! Don’t let them flounder and continue to make the same mistakes over and over again. Set them down and be specific and honest about how they need to improve and how you can help them grow.

Meanwhile, don’t draw out the process longer than is necessary. While small talk and gentle reassurance might be nice at first, don’t blindside them by relentless optimism. Though they are young, they’re at your company to learn, so they need to begin learning how to handle criticism constructively. They’ll thank you for it in the long run – trust us.

How to Launch a Product Blog Series: Inform Your Org.

product marketingEngineering, Product Management and Product Marketing have worked months to get the product launched, so now let people in your organization know about it. Why? When employees are aware of new products, it gets them excited about what the organization is doing and gives them some messaging points to talk about it.There are a range of activities and communication tactics that you can use depending on how big or small the launch will be.

For minor launches:

  • If your sales and account management teams have a regularly scheduled meeting, join the meeting to provide an update. Include information about the product update, provide them with some messaging, and field any questions they may have.
  • Send an all company email letting employees know about a new feature, update or fix.
  • If your company uses a social media platform like Yammer or Chatter, post any updates there.
  • If your company has an all hands meeting, that can also be another place to let people know about anything new.

For major launches:

  • You can use the above tactics, plus…
  • Set up specific training sessions for customer-facing teams.
  • Hold a brown bag lunch session, where anyone in the company can come and learn more about the product.
  • Order logo’d items and hand them out to employees to generate awareness. These can be anything from stickers to t-shirts or hats. We even did some 3D printed foxes for one launch and asked employees to take the fox with them on trips or to meetings and post to social media.
  • Ask employees to do a social storm at a specific time and date by giving them the messaging to share with their social channels.
  • For a really big launch, you can generate excitement by throwing a launch party. We did this when we launched FoxDen. FoxDen was a new product for our company that helped us get into the video meeting space. We rented out a nearby restaurant and invited employees to join us for some food and beverages. Our senior leadership team talked about what the launch means to our company, and thanked all those involved.

It doesn’t hurt to communicate and over-communicate in a variety of ways – email, verbally with training, through social media, and having employees see a demo of the product. How do you let employees know there is a new product or service?