Sunday, July 29, 2007

"The Fundraising Guru"

Nonprofits can do their best marketing—for free
By Stephen L. Goldstein--consultant, author, and host of "Fundraising Success," a weekly radio program, streamed on the Internet and podcast from WXEL/National Public Radio

I want to spread the word about a book about spreading the word. It busts nonprofits’ “we can’t afford to do the marketing/PR/publicity that we need to do” mantra—the self-defeating, poverty-perpetuating, too-often-believed rhetoric that keeps them stuck in a rut of their own making. In 184 jam-packed pages, it proves that using your smarts always trumps spending your bucks. It’s sine qua non reading for nonprofits that really want to succeed.
Word of Mouth Marketing by Andy Sernovitz is literally God’s gift to nonprofits. It even shows you how to create “a practical word of mouth marketing plan.” Subtitled “How Smart Companies Get People Talking,” its wisdom is directly applicable to the plight of every “community focused” organization. In Sernovitz’s words: “Word of mouth marketing works for . . . causes, ideas, charities, and organizations—anything that you want people to talk about.” Blissfully, it’s the non-money way to raise money.
Sernovitz defines word of mouth marketing as “everything you can do to get people talking”—with a marketing objective. In other words, it’s not just talk; it’s as “actionable, trackable, and plannable as any other form of marketing, just no-cost or low-cost.”
Obviously enhanced by morphs of the Internet—blogs, web sites, streaming audio and video—word of mouth marketing is predicated upon a concept as old as the proverbial hills: stellar customer service and products that make people want to tell everyone they know about you. As Sernovitz puts it, “Nothing beats coming up with a product so interesting that people just can’t help talking about it.”
Besides its cost-effectiveness, Sernovitz also points out that word of mouth marketing is “made for” nonprofits because they rely so heavily upon groups of supporters committed to their missions.
There are four rules of word of mouth marketing and three reasons people talk about you. For example, Reason #2 about why people talk is especially fascinating. It turns out that people really want to talk—to look smart, to help others, to feel important, to express themselves. In other words, all nonprofits have a built-in salesforce, if they are committed to giving it a reason to be energized and “sell.”
You’ll get the inside dope on the Five Ts of word of mouth marketing--the keys to getting it going, keeping it running, and assessing it. The #1 T is Talkers. You need to find people who will talk about you. Sernovitz tells you how to identify the seven most common types and how to put them to work for you. (They may not be who you think they are. For example, in his afterword to the book, Guy Kawasaki points out that your most powerful word of mouth advocates may be new to your organization. They may be the most excited about it, as opposed to those who know and are used to you!)
Number 2 is Topics. You have to know the art of giving people a reason to talk. Number 5, Tracking, shows you how to measure and understand what people are really saying about you.
Sernovitz invites you to check out the website that goes with the book: It’s full of ideas, examples, and resources to help you master word of mouth. The site and the book are must-reads. Take my word for it.

E-mail your questions and comments to Stephen Goldstein at He’s the author of 30 Days to Successful Fundraising and hosts “Fundraising Success,” a weekly, one-hour broadcast and Internet radio/podcast from WXEL/National Public Radio, hearable at any time from anywhere in the world at

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