Stop Wondering What To Do Every Day

Stop wondering what to do every day.

Do you wake up each morning and have to reprioritize or reevaluate that day's To Do list? Are you continually getting lost in your list, or do you waste time on tasks that don't matter? Is asking you to fit marketing into your routine just crazy talk?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, hopefully today's post will help. 

It's "Marketing May" here on the blog, and so far we've covered marketing basics, like what the heck is it and why you need it, as well as the latest trends.

And last week, we also talked about marketing plans, defined them, and stressed their importance. They are a valuable document many people tend to overlook, but they can be enormously helpful in defining priorities, even at a weekly and daily level. And once the work of creating your marketing plan is done, you're way ahead of the game!

The next obstacle, now that you have a plan in place (if you don't, more below), is figuring out how to execute it on a daily basis. Small business owners and employees like you have a wide variety of items on their plate. And marketing in all its forms can often take a backseat to more "pressing" matters. I totally get it. But effective marketing is how you can get ahead. It's a key to not only sustaining your organization, but growing it. And who doesn't want that?

Even better, you can create your daily To Do list from your marketing plan! The easiest way I've found to do this is to essentially put your marketing plan document into an Excel sheet. You can even download a copy of mine here

How to Create Your Marketing To Do List

This Excel sheet is, of course, customizable, so I encourage you to make it your own, and add any fields that you think will help you and your organization. 

Mine contains:

  • Item - Easy enough to pull right off your marketing plan. This could include print ads, email blasts, social media scheduling, and similar.
  • Date - I like to include the public date. For example, when an ad will show up in a magazine, or when the social media post goes live on Facebook. It's usually a good idea to sort the sheet by this date so the more urgent items show closer to the top.
  • Circulation - Because I was in public relations, I still like to look at these numbers. They're also helpful to see how they increase or decrease year to year. So, for a magazine ad, the circulation is how many issues are printed. But when talking about a Facebook post, you can include how many followers you have for your page or how many people saw it. Whatever you decide, I suggest including numbers that give you some perspective on how many people are seeing or interacting with your efforts. This can help indicate if your strategy and budget are working.
  • Status - I like to know where I'm at on a task. Is it complete, submitted, drafted, with the designer, etc?
  • Notes - Always a good idea!

Another option is to add a column for items that need to be updated later, like web graphics. If you're working on a launch, as an example, then post-launch, you'll need to go back and update your website, social profiles, and things like that. So, it can be helpful to have a column that triggers you to take that action.

Additionally, you might consider creating categories for big deadlines if you have a long-term project, initiative, or event. For example, the annual conference that I worked on had four major deadlines throughout the year. Opening day took place in the fall, we had another deadline before the end of the year, one late winter, and one early spring. So, I created categories on the Excel sheet to make everything easier to look at in a glance for each "bucket" in the timeline. To make this happen, you can simply skip a few lines between tasks for each major deadlines and use a colored line to separate them. Now, the entire event is still on the same Excel sheet, but I can see tasks associated with each deadline separately as well.

As you see, its not overly complicated. It's actually a pretty simple layout. But it is extremely productive, and will help you stay on task. Using this format was a lifesaver for me when I managed five events that each had their own deadlines and associated tasks.

Dig Deep

Be sure to add every item you can think of, even smaller details like changing staff signatures, or emailing staff and key stakeholders with updated information. Anything you can put on this list moves it out of your head, where it may have a chance to get lost.

I realize this format is unlikely to take the place of your current To Do list in its entirety. There are always other odds and ends that need to happen as well, especially if you wear multiple hats. However, it should go a long way in helping you organize your marketing and communications efforts so that they can become a larger priority in your week, rather than continually put on the back burner, never to be reheated again.

What if you don't have a marketing plan?

Many of you probably find yourselves in this category. But don't worry, all is not lost! 

Remember when you were in school and you had to create an outline for your research paper? Which did you do first? For me, it was easier to write the paper and then the outline, for some reason. The same principle applies here. Try creating your in-depth To Do list first, if you feel that needs your attention now. Then you'll be able to write your marketing plan from there. 

But I do encourage you to eventually go back and write your marketing plan. For all the reasons why, check out last week's post.

What now?

Whether you're creating your task list from a marketing plan, or starting with the list and moving backwards, this should make your day-to-day much easier.  It can be oh so helpful to see everything laid out in front of you at a glance rather than juggling a bunch of papers, separate lists, or keeping it locked up in your head.

Now you know what you need to do that day by referencing this task list because you have every item and deadline in black and white on one sheet. So, if you see that an email blast needs to go out in two weeks, you can work backward depending on how long it takes you to prepare it. Both short-term and long-term items are visible, helping you to manage your time better.

This will, of course, take some trial and error. If you are a person who loves systems, like me, you may adapt more easily. If you are used to playing your days more fast and loose, you may have more trouble initially, but implementing this idea will save you time and frustration because you'll automatically understand what each day has in store from a marketing and communications perspective.

As a result, you'll begin working further out, which removes a lot of the added stress of being in reaction mode or the frustration of working on projects in the wrong order. Your days can be tackled with greater intention, making better use of precious time.

Let me know how it goes!

And don't forget to download my task list template.

"This spreadsheet idea has saved my life, and made me so much more productive in the past year." - Erin J., Orange

Finally, you may also be wasting time on a few things that are sucking up your time, and not getting you anywhere. Wouldn't you love to free up some time and energy, so you can begin to focus more on what matters most? 


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How to Fit Your Marketing Into Your Week

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free Download)

Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free download)

Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

For several years, my friends and I set off each summer on what we called the Chaos Mission Trip. It was completely unplanned (hence "chaos"). We went through several weeks of training leading up to our departure date, but they were focused on personal growth and team development. Meaning, we were prepping for whatever might happen along the way. The trip itself thrived on spontaneity. Every trip was completely different because it changed depending on what direction we went in, who was on the team, those we met on the road, and what opportunities were presented to us. The goal was just to serve those we came in contact with in a way that benefited them.

In contrast, last year I visited Barcelona for the first time. This was a bucket list trip for me! And, as such, I wanted to make the most of it. It also marked my first solo international trip. I'm a planner by nature, and also an introvert. So, I scheduled myself fully each day to make sure I knocked out all the city's highlights. I booked all kinds of tours, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to make friends when possible. Every day was packed, and when I left, I felt like I'd accomplished almost everything I wanted to. I wasn't sure if or when I'd return to this amazing city, so I wanted the full experience. 

Both trips served a purpose, but I wouldn't recommend building your business using the chaos formula.

Sadly, that's what I see too often in organizations. Sure, it may not be quite this "chaotic," but there seems to be little strategy behind lots (and lots) of effort.

  • Social media posts go up haphazardly.
  • Emails are sporadic, at best.
  • To Do lists are determined by urgency.
  • Initiatives are based on what's been done before, or what seems best right now.
  • Goals are recycled or undefined.
  • Staffers are overworked, and always in reaction mode.

None of this sounds fun, but it may sound familiar.

However, there is one item that may help ease some of these pains. It's not a magic pill, or a miracle cure.

But it is a way to give your purpose more purpose, you mission more muscle, and your cause more concentration.

It's called a marketing plan. 

What exactly is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is likely a term you've heard before, but may not fully understand. The beauty of this document is that it provides both a 30,000 foot view and an on-the-ground perspective. It gives shape and structure to all your efforts. It tells you which direction you should go in, and helps keep you on the path for getting there.

Basic pieces of a marketing plan:

  • Objectives and goals
  • Customer or donor research
  • Market research
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Pricing and positioning strategy
  • Distribution plan
  • Offers
  • Marketing materials and collateral
  • Promotions strategy
  • Conversion strategy
  • Partnerships and joint ventures
  • Referral strategy
  • Retention strategy
  • Financial projections
  • Key dates (Not on a lot of plans, but I personally like to include.)

So, in looking at this list, you may automatically see why you've never created a marketing plan before. I get it. Some of the terms can be confusing. And you may assume this will take a lot of time and effort—and, frankly, you'd be right. But remember that first bullet list above? The one with little strategy behind it? Marketing plans are the workaround. Wouldn't it be better to focus your efforts rather than running around exhausted, overworked, and on the path that leads to burnout?

Think about it in your own life. Meal planning can save you money on groceries because you're less likely to eat out or waste food. And running errands in a particular order often saves you travel time. Time and money often top our priority list at home, as well as at work. So, preparation and planning can go a long way to ease some of your daily concerns. They have a beautiful trickle down effect.

In essence, marketing plans are the lens you can use to focus all your organization's efforts. When a new event or initiative pops up, as they tend to do, see where it fits into your marketing plan. Can you squeeze it in? Does it require some editing, or a complete overhaul? Should it be added to the radar, or become a priority? Use these filters to determine it's place in your organization. Depending on your answers, you may want to add it, put it on hold, or scrap it entirely. Without a marketing plan, you may not be able to see the big picture objectively, and how it may alter all other aspects.

Hopefully, by now I've convinced you of the need for a marketing plan.

You may even be asking yourself how you can create one of your very own. (Stay tuned!)

And depending on your job function, you may also be wondering if a marketing plan is best for your business as a whole, an annual event, or an big initiative? The answer is yes.

How do you create a marketing plan?

First, start with one of those targets: the company as a whole, an annual event, or a large initiative. Just choose one to begin until you've practiced and refined your process. If you decide to create a marketing plan for your business as a whole, it will touch on events and initiatives, but you can go into greater detail when you write one for all of the large "buckets" at your business. 

And to make things easier for you, I've created a marketing plan template for you:

Again, this document will be important for several reasons:

  • When your team goes through it together each year, you'll be able to get, and stay, on the same page. Goals, objectives, strategy—everything is laid out right there for you all to see.
  • It'll help you plan and execute more efficiently.
  • It'll help you easily answer questions for employees, partners, contractors, and new hires.
  • It can be helpful to show your board if you need to request a larger budget next year.
  • It's great for accountability, either for yourself, your team, or your entire staff.

I've included directions in each section of the template so you know exactly how to fill it in. I'd say to set aside a few hours minimum to work on this document. Your team can build it together, or you can kick things off and then bring others in after the first draft. And because this is likely new to you, be sure to work on it in a distraction-free space. You'll need to concentrate. It should be really well-defined and detailed so that it's easier to edit or update moving forward.

Remember, it's yours, so add as much detail as you like to be helpful. You'll see how nice it is to keep all of this information in one place! You may also choose to include more detailed explanations, budgets, note responsible parties for each section, add specific deadlines, and things like that. You can also, of course, delete anything you that's not relevant to you, but I'd recommend that sparingly because both nonprofits and for-profits can benefit from this information.

One and done?

Marketing plans are living documents, and should be reviewed at least annually, unless something major occurs. They can be edited and updated as needed, which will likely be minimal changes. The heavy-lifting occurs during the first draft, which should also come as a relief.

And marking plans are fantastic for being able to see information, trends, and outlines at a glance. That's what makes it more of a reference document than a one-time task. This is long-term thinking in action! Be sure to highlight and note any important changes from one revision to the next, such as a major shift in target audience, pricing, or financial goals.

Next?

    After you've logged the time creating this mammoth, you should be able to see how a marketing plan will direct your organization's efforts. It should give you both short-term and long-term perspective.

    Now, your mission has a map. The path has been laid out, and all you have to do is walk it. It's not always easy, but a marketing plan goes a long way to making it more simple.

    Next week, we'll talk about what this looks like in action on a daily basis. I'll show you how I used five different marketing plans at my previous job to detail my To Do list. 

    In the meantime, check out other recent posts for "Marketing May" where I discuss trends and strategies, as well as marketing 101.

    And if you are interested in a marketing plan, but just can't find the time to create one on your own, this is a service I provide. I'd be happy to work alongside you in creating your map. Alternatively, learn the five things to stop doing this week, which will give you more time and energy to work on your marketing and communications.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Marketing: What Is It, and Why Do You Need It?

    Marketing: What is it, and why do you need it?

    Let's face it, marketing can be confusing. And the lines between marketing, advertising, and public relations have become more blurry since the debut of social media. So, if you don't have anyone on staff dedicated to managing your business communications, you may be feeling a little lost, or just claiming ignorance as bliss.

    However, marketing isn't just a buzzword. It's a non-negotiable piece of your business, whether for- or non-profit, and definitely not something you can neglect if you want to grow.

    So, during the month of May, I'll be covering a lot of marketing basics to get you caught up. Think of it as Marketing 101, without the tuition fees.

    Last week, I started with marketing trends and strategies. But now, I'd like to discuss marketing at it's most foundational level.

    What is it?

    To put it simply, marketing is the process that creates a relationship between creator and consumer. It doesn't matter if you're talking about products or services. And it doesn't matter if you're a for- or non-profit.

    Marketing includes the creation, promotion, selling, and distribution of "your thing," whatever that may be. So, in reality, you've already been marketing in some format, whether you were aware of it or not.

    But now is the time to start thinking of doing it more effectively.

    Why do I need it?

    Well, hopefully you have a better understanding of "why," now that you've clarified the "what."

    Marketing is how you decide what you're going to offer, find your audience, tell them about your offer, and turn them into fans/customers/donors. So, really, you can't have a business with it. Period.

    Knowingly or unknowingly, you've used marketing to determine the service or product you've created, how much it will cost, who it will benefit, how to talk to perspective buyers/donors, and where you'll talk to them. It also includes any follow-up and evaluation of customer satisfaction so that your donors/buyers stick around.

    See, look at that—you're a marketer! You just didn't know it.

    What we need to do now, though, is move you to a more intentional marketing strategy. If you've been sort of haphazardly communicated with your audience and getting mediocre results, now's the time to make a change.

    Your service or product doesn't do you any good if there's no one around on the receiving end, no matter how wonderful it may be. You need to make a living, and you need to promote your cause—which means you need a plan to make those things happen.

    The great news is that you don't have to have someone dedicated full-time to figuring this out. Sure, it would be nice, but I know that's not always an option. Maybe you can outsource or delegate it, but again, I realize this can be limiting at times.

    How do I start—or move forward?

    This may be the area you're stuck in. Perhaps you have some general knowledge of the "what" and "why," but you feel like your "how" could use some work.

    The best place to begin is retrace your steps. Set aside some time, whether you can take a full day or need to spread out some chunks of time over a month, to reevaluate what you're currently doing, and make improvements. Block it off on your calendar to make it a priority. After all, if you've got foundational problems, it's not a good idea to build your house on shaky ground.

    Product/Service:

    • Yep, go all the way back to the beginning. Think about whatever it is that you're offering, and take another look. In all of these steps, if your business has been around for a while, you may need to make some changes. You may not be in the same place that you started.
    • Does the product/service still make sense for where you are now?
    • Is the description accurate, or does it need to be clarified further?
    • Does the price need to change?
    • If you're trying to get donations, do you have multiple ways to make that happen? If your audience is young, maybe you need a text option. If they're "mature," maybe you need to add a mailing address.
    • Are these things prominent and easy-to-find on your website? Choose clarity over brevity.

    Audience:

    • Are you reaching the people that you desire to connect with?
    • If yes, maybe you just need to find more of them. We'll get to that below.
    • If no, you've got bigger issues to work through. Return to the first step and find the disconnect. 

    Promotion Channels:

    • Think about where your audience hangs out, either online or in-person.
    • Which social media should you consider utilizing? This is partially based on your preferences, but largely based on your audience. If you love Twitter to death, but no one in your audience is there, that's 140 well-crafted characters down the drain.
    • Are there any conferences or events for you to connect with them? Again, these could be online or in-person. (And when you can't afford to attend a conference, consider volunteering to attend for free.)
    • Gasp—should you consider print, radio, or direct mail? They aren't dead yet, and for the right service or product, they're still a great option.

    Execution:

    • How are you going use the promotional channels to talk to your audience about your offer?
    • Social media is largely free, but sometimes you may need to invest in some social ads as well. Try it with a small amount of money and then evaluate. Note that right now, Facebook is giving more favor to posts with images and Facebook Live.
    • Consider guest posting on blogs, or asking to be a guest on podcasts to increase your overall brand awareness. And when possible, provide a discount or link to your opt-in to get them on your own email list.
    • Even us introverts have to be aware that events are "game on" for making new connections. Whether you're attending for business or pleasure, be prepared to talk about your organization, cause, and offer. In-person opportunities can especially have long-term benefits.
    • Obviously, items like print, direct mail, or even radio cost a lot more than the other options. You'll need to really consider if this is something that would benefit you or not. There are times when it's certainly the right move.

    Satisfaction:

    • Once you've received a donation or made a sell, what happens? You need to keep this new fan engaged with your cause. You'll want them to make a deeper connection with your organization, whether that is another donation, more sales, or something like volunteering.
    • Regular emails and social media posts are one way to keep interested parties informed about your organization. Do you have a way to tell him/her about the best way to keep up with you? Don't assume people will excitedly read every word on your website, and automatically subscribe to your email or social media. Provide clear direction. 
    • Other ideas may include hand-written letters, direct emails, or in-person meet-ups. There isn't one right way to connect with your audience and extend a relationship. You'll have to put in the time to figure out what resonates most with your folks. 

    I shared this as a tip on social media yesterday, but a really great way to evaluate your marketing is to get another perspective. We all know our subject matter so well, stare at our sites so long, and write the content ourselves. So, of course, it make perfect sense to us! Unfortunately, that may not be the case for the world at large.

    Find someone who has some familiarity with your organization, but isn't a staffer or insider with extreme knowledge, and ask them to read your website or marketing materials. Then have that person tell you what they thought you were trying to communicate, sell, offer, etc. Does it line up with your goals? If not, make any necessary changes for alignment. And don't forget to buy them coffee or lunch in exchange for their time!

    Surveys are another great opportunity to evaluate your efforts. I love surveys! It's easy to assume what people are thinking, but do the hard work of asking them. Your email list (and/or social media peeps) is an invaluable source for feedback. Just be sure to keep it short and to the point. You can even offer a reward or coupon for participating to encourage more responses.

    After you have a good handle on all of these things, you can begin to move forward and build on what you already have in place. It's time to look at where you can increase your budget or efforts for a greater impact.

    Look at you—you're practically a marketing pro now! Let me know how it goes!

    Are you already overwhelmed with all the things on your plate that you can't imagine taking the time to evaluate your marketing? Start with my free e-course on the "5 Things To Stop Doing This Week" to jumpstart your marketing and communications. You'll be able to free up your time and energy so that you can prioritize your marketing. 

    "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Marketing isn't just a buzzword. It's a non-negotiable piece of your business.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Ask the Experts: Marketing Trends and Strategies

    Ask the Experts: Marketing Trends and Strategies for Small Businesses

    Each month, I'm inviting guest contributors to speak about additional timely, relevant and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations to be aware of as they grow. For May, I've gone rogue and asked myself to share! But this is not just an attempt to satisfy my vanity. Though I obviously cover marketing a lot on this blog, I wanted to provide you with some clear and concise trends and strategies in one little post.

    Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

    A. I've talked a little about it before, but content marketing has become HUGE over the last couple of years, and only seems to be growing in popularity. And with apps and technology, it's now easier than ever to implement content marketing whether you're a solopreneur or multi-national corporation. There really is no excuse not to give it a try. Content marketing should be a part of every organization's marketing strategy.

    If you're new to content marketing, it does seem counter-intuitive. Why would you give away free content when you have bills to pay? But the answer is all around you. Have you ever read the blog of one of your favorite authors, and then read his or her book? Did you opt-in to a free course, only to buy another product or paid course later? Do you listen to free podcasts, only to pay to hear the host speak in person at an event? Likely, the answer is yes. It certainly is for me.

    Free content allows us to build what we in marketing call the "know, like, and trust" factor with our audience. People/consumers are becoming more savvy and harder to convert. So, they need you to establish credibility in order to fork over their hard-earned cash. Content marketing allows you to do just that. You want to become the go-to expert for (insert your thing here), and this is a great way to start.

    Content marketing can include items such as blogging, podcasting, free e-courses, downloads, and checklists. It's a way for you to "give your content away" in an effort to secure a sale later. Marketing is all about creating customers, and then managing the relationships that brands have with customers. So, content marketing seems a very logical step in that direction.

    (If you'd like to learn more, Content Inc. is a terrific book on this subject.)

    Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in terms of their marketing?

    A. I offer the same piece of advice to people all the time, no matter their industry or organization. My #1 tip when it comes to marketing is consistency. I see this mistake, well, consistently. Most of the people I work with are at small nonprofits and purpose-driven for-profits. They are so focused on their cause that they ignore, or at least have a very lapsed relationship with, the people who can support them, whether that be sales or donations. But unless you're organization has one benefactor that will never dry up, consistently talking with your supporters is one of the best things you can do. If you are only communicating with people when you want something, you're going to lose that relationship to another organization who is happy to keep them updated and informed.

    Q. What is your best piece of advice for people regarding marketing?

    A. The people I speak with are always crazy concerned about social media. They've signed up for all the accounts they were told are important, but they are now overwhelmed. So what happens? They do nothing. Or maybe they post now and again on the platform they know best, but let the others collect dust bunnies. 

    I get it! Social media is important. And it's difficult to keep up with, even for those of us who work with it regularly. But my best advice with social media as it relates to your marketing is to remove the profiles from your website that you aren't going to update. They're making you look bad. Once someone has looked at your Twitter profile, and seen that it hasn't been updated since 2013, they aren't going to go back to check it out again later.

    I don't recommend deleting profiles because handles can be very hard to secure these days, but remove them from public view. Hide the accounts, if that feature is available. You can always go back and use it later if you'd like, but right now, it's doing more harm than good. And you have plenty of other things to keep you busy anyway.

    (If you'd like to hear more about other ways to get back your time and focus your energy, check out my free e-course.)

    Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve their marketing?

    A. Make a plan! Marketing shouldn't be haphazard. It's a strategy for creating customers/donors, satisfying their needs or wants, and then getting them to come back. This shouldn't be left to chance.

    Even if your initial plan only covers this week, do it. Then, block some time on your calendar to plan further out. And if you need to, ask for help. Marketing is one of the best things you can do for your business because it helps you get noticed and grow. Be intentional, not reactionary. Your time is too valuable.

    Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

    A. I'll end on a similar note as Jen did in last month's Ask the Experts social media edition. We worked side-by-side for several years, and maybe our minds have started to meld. But keep in mind that social media is rented real estate. Email lists are owned.

    Social media is difficult to keep up with because the rules can change at any moment. For example, up until a couple of years ago, businesses were seeing huge numbers of views and engagement on Facebook. Then the algorithm changed, and numbers drastically dropped. Now, it takes a lot of strategy, and sometimes money, to hit those same figures. That made some people mad, but remember, social media networks are first and foremost, for socializing between friends. Businesses have been smart to get in on the game, but you can't blame the platform for protecting their model, and then monetizing it to outsiders.

    However, email lists are yours to keep. They are a direct line to people's inbox, whereas only a fraction of your Friends, Followers, and Fans see your social posts. Email is the way to go, and many people have forgotten that because of social media's flashy appearance.

    Do yourself a favor. Start content marketing. Start building your email list. Then, talk to the people who have asked to be in relationship with you. You'll be glad you did!

    I expand on some of these ideas in my free e-course, 5 Things to Stop Doing This Week. Jumpstart your marketing and communications, free up your time, and focus your energy.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Marketing Trends and Strategy for Small Businesses

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Marketing Case Story: The Orange Conference

    Photo Credit: The Orange Conference

    Photo Credit: The Orange Conference

    One year ago this week, I was still the Event Marketing Director at Orange, and we were hosting 8,000 of our closest family ministry friends for The Orange Conference 2016. People come from almost every state, about a dozen countries, and numerous denominations to attend this event each year. It's quite the undertaking, and though I worked on other events throughout the year, most of my time was spent on this 12-pound baby (really big, sometimes painful, but worth the labor).

    If you aren't familiar with Orange, they create curriculum, resources, and events for church leaders and volunteers. They do a lot of really amazing things, and if I may say, they put on some great events!

    As #OC17 starts today, I thought it would make a fantastic marketing case story for us to examine. 

    TWO SIDE NOTES

    1. If you'd like to watch the tonight's opening session on the live stream, visit Live.TheOrangeConference.com starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. This year's theme is "For Our Neighbors."
    2. I'm using the term "case story" because case studies are usually long, boring, and stuffed with stats. I wanted this to be a little less complicated and easy-going, so I'm utilizing that term, though I didn't create it. (I wish I had!)

    GOALS

    The major goals for the event are measured in:

    • Ticket sales, which include the current event and next year's pre-sales;
    • Product sales, which includes books, physical products, digital resources, lifestyle items, etc;
    • Social media metrics, which is tracked using a software; 
    • Attendee satisfaction, which is assessed both through social media, comments the staff receives, and a post-event survey;
    • Next steps taken, which can include things such as lead cards filled out, emails given, downloads of the conference app, and things like that. Ideally, this is something you want attendees to do at your event to continue the engagement after it ends.

    TACTICS

    As you can imagine, an event of this size requires a lot of time and effort to promote. Here are the major ways we did that:

    • Internal email list including curriculum partners, previous attendees, and some partner lists
    • Mailing list which includes the same as above, plus a purchased list.
    • Text system. We were able to send text messages throughout the year to those who opted to receive them.
    • Social media, mostly consisting of blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat 
    • Facebook ads
    • Ads on internal sites
    • A social media tool kit that our speakers, fans, and attendees could utilize to spread the word for us (which included both images and what to say)
    • A signature line in staff emails
    • Cross-promoting at other events, both Orange's and events where they had a booth
    • Blogger network consisting of bloggers who were Orange fans, across the US
    • Advertising on relevant blogs and websites
    • Print ads (Yes, those still work too!)
    • Press release
    • Partner e-blasts
    • Google Ads

    STRATEGY

    Yes, there are a boat load of items mentioned above, especially for those of you who are the only employee, or running the show with a small team. But again, all of these things occurred over a year's time. And many of them happened on a regular basis. There wasn't just one ad or one blog post or one mailer. 

    The pricing for the event was broken into five major deadlines, including the pre-sales on-site at the current event. Prices, of course, increased as the event neared. This brought in early revenue and helped us plan. Additionally, these distinct time frames gave me windows of time in which to promote.

    It's also very important to understand how your audience plans to spend their money. For example, we had two major deadlines to focus on: opening day and the February deadline. Opening day, of course, because we had the lowest prices and offered a bonus (early breakout registration) that was very desirable to our attendees. And everyone gets excited during an event launch. The February deadline was incredibly popular because many churches just had their budgets renewed with the calendar year, and we also offered curriculum credits, which enticed current and prospective curriculum partners. So, those two factors meant that I spent most of the marketing budget promoting those two deadlines.

    RESULTS

    • Every year, attendance for the event increased. We were very blessed in that way. When I started in fall 2010, there had been 4,300 attendees at the previous conference. And in 2016, there were about 7,400 at Orange Conference, and 500 at ReThink Leadership, a simultaneous event for senior pastors across the street. Those senior pastors came across the street for OC main sessions to spend time with their teams.
    • With increased attendance, social media reach also increased each year, resulting in about 2 million impressions in 2016.
    • Product and ticket sales also increased every year, but I am unable to share those numbers.
    • I read through every OC survey that was filled our during my time there. I was, obviously, responsible and accountable for sales in the marketing department, but I really wanted to know what people thought about the event. Did we meet their expectations? How could we improve? What made a difference? Why did they come to our conference over another? Overall, the feedback was incredibly positive. This was our signature event, and we tried to do everything with excellence. Of course, there are always people who didn't enjoy the event or different aspects. That is to be expected. But the key is to have a good filter for yourself when receiving negative comments to decide if it is valid, or if it is out of alignment with the mission. Sometimes it's just based on personal preference.

    KEY TAKEAWAYS

    No matter what size of an organization you're currently at, there are some lessons to be learned:

    • I was my own department. But I certainly didn't do everything! Other people took care of the graphics, social media management, logistics, etc. Only myself and I think two others actually worked on the conference year-round, and I was the dedicated person for promoting it. It was an all hands on deck situation as the conference got closer, but when you are well organized, have good systems in place, and have others to support you, it's a testament for what you can accomplish! (It's not too late to spring clean!)
    • To plan and execute a successful event you must have a marketing strategy in place. You can't just wing it. For much smaller events, you don't have to work as far in advance, but you still need to understand the ins and outs of how you're event will come together. Effective marketing also helps get people in the doors! The more the merrier, right?
    • Outline your goals first and foremost.
    • While I listed many tactics above, I'm certainly there are a few you can choose from to start implementing for your next event. 
    • You might be surprised to learn that our marketing budget didn't dramatically increase even though our attendance did. I was very used to working for small organizations with small budgets, so I utilized as many free avenues as possible. Additionally, we focused on getting people to bring larger teams to OC, rather than finding more churches to come. The latter is a much better way to concentrate your energies.
    • If you're event is just getting started, you may not have previous feedback to work with. If that's the case, start by sending a survey to your email list and social media followers to gain insight. You can also try asking people you know who fit your ideal audience.
    • Don't skip over the "next steps." You need to know what you want your attendees to do when they leave. You need to decide on how you want them to stay engaged with you after they walk out the doors. Waiting for emails about your event year after year isn't going to cut it.
    • Adding "surprise" and "delight" to your marketing efforts is always encouraged. People attended The Orange Conference to learn about family ministry, understand the trends, get information on how to do their jobs better, and connect with others. But they LOVED anytime we were able to surprise and delight them! There is even an entire main session dedicated to fun at OC because the brain gets a little overloaded during all the learnin' that a conference brings. These concepts also help endear you to your attendees.

    REMINDER

    If you'd like to watch the tonight's opening session on the live stream, visit Live.TheOrangeConference.com starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. This year's theme is "For Our Neighbors."

    FINALLY

    I love events. I've been planning events since I was in junior high! I guess I was always destined to be a part of them in some way. I get so excited by attending conferences and events, and I enjoyed creating a great environment for others. I'd love to help you with your next event.


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    The Orange Conference Marketing Case Story

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    The Impact of Planning a Personal Retreat

    I thought, a retreat wasn’t something "regular" people didbut there I found myself.

    Continuing along last week's self-care theme of work/life balance being a myth, I wanted to point you to a guest post I wrote recently for the Yellow Conference on "The Impact of Planning a Personal Retreat." Now that we're entering the second quarter of 2017, I know I find myself needing to reevaluate my goals for the year, as well as the work I've done so far.

    Depending on the seasons in which your organization operates, you may even already be approaching burnout. Don't let it happen! Please take an opportunity to get away and reflect on the first quarter's progress, your role, and your plans for the next eight months.

    Retreats differ from vacations because they have a purpose other than "relaxing." When I plan a retreat, I usually have a couple of large goals in mind that need to be accomplished outside of my normal environment.

    And retreats, whether taken by yourself or as a team, can be invaluable for gaining clarity and perspective. 

    I believe those who lead cause-focused organizations can easily reach burnout or become bogged down by the mission because of the nature of the work. True, this can happen to anyone, anywhere, but when your nonprofit or business exists to solve a social problem, the work feels more urgent. And often, you know the faces of those in need. Therefore, it's difficult to take a step back, no matter how necessary it may seem.

    However, it's often when you bravely set aside the time for yourself, you can actually recharge and come back to the immediate pressures more equipped and able to tackle the tasks at hand. That is something you won't regret.

    Learn more about my experience with a personal retreat, as well as a few tips for planning your own: THE IMPACT OF PLANNING A PERSONAL RETREAT.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    I thought, a retreat wasn’t something "regular" people did—but there I found myself.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Work/Life Balance is a Myth

    Work/life balance is a myth. However, work/life rhythm is guaranteed. 

    Let me say it again: Work/Life balance is a myth.

    Can I get an amen?

    Whether you're a solopreneur, a small business owner or employee, a full-time volunteer, or the head of a multi-national corporation, you've been in search of this "white whale" for too long. And, friends, I'm here to tell you that it doesn't exist.

    You've known this truth in your heart, but for so long, you dreamed of finding it—maybe at the end of the rainbow. It's kept you awake at night. You could even swear that you once met someone who said their cousin found it for a short-time, but then lost it. You've listened to podcasts, read books, joined groups, and prayed really hard, but that elusive work/life balance has continued to evade you.

    Is there no hope?

    Fear not. There is another . . .

    Introducing: RHYTHM

    I was introduced to this concept several years ago at a conference. I wish I could remember who taught it, because he/she has improved my life immensely with this idea, but sadly, I do not know who to credit.

    The crux of the matter is that we can never achieve work/life balance. One will always be in conflict with the other. Despite our best efforts, it's a constant see-saw effect, and many of us tend to dip to the work side, even with our intense desire for the opposite. 

    Then comes along the notion of rhythm. According to our friends at Merriam-Webster, rhythm is "movement, fluctuation, or variation marked by the regular recurrence or natural flow of related elements." 

    I love the mental images this definition projects. I picture ocean waves. I find it relaxing, and that in itself is enough to make me chase this approach.

    Think about it. When you consider the idea of "work/life rhythm," you are allowing for what is actually possible. And this means there is hope! 

    The most basic approach is one you're probably already familiar with, and that is thinking about life in the form of seasons. By reframing your time this way, you intuitively understand that there is a beginning and end to the periods of stress and madness.

    Rhythm in Work

    These are the seasons we're probably more familiar with. And I'm in one of those right now. I've been up late most nights and on the weekends trying to catch up on client and personal work because I was down with the flu for a couple of weeks. So, I've been working my tail off to keep my head above water, and feel like I'm back up to speed on what I need to be doing. It's an effort to become more proactive than reactive. I'm not finished with this season yet, but I think I will be soon.

    Obviously, some of these seasons last longer than others. Maybe you're in event planning mode. Maybe you have a launch right around the corner. Maybe you just had a staffer leave. Or maybe it's just one of the crazy times of year for your business. Inevitably, it happens.

    The point is to hunker down, work hard, and make the best of it. No, it probably won't be fun. But it also won't last forever. The wave is crashing on the shore all around you right now, but there will come a time when it rolls back off the sand. You can do this!

    Rhythm in Life

    These are the seasons when we have more time for friends and family. We take vacations. We leave the office a little early. We go to the movies. We're having a lot more fun. And honestly, these are the times we wish could last a lot longer than they do.

    But, alas, it's only a season. Before we know it, our calendars and To Do lists will be full, and our attention will be pulled in a million directions. The tide turns once again. I'm not trying to be a downer, but I am offering some perspective.

    The point of this season is to, first and foremost, appreciate it! Whatever you do to show thankfulness, now's the time! Be grateful, and enjoy every minute of it. Next, consider what things you can do during this period of time to get ahead. Put systems in place, work ahead, sharpen your skills, develop your team, etc. There are numerous ways to utilize this time so that the hard seasons are a little bit easier. Use the margin in your schedule to your advantage. 

    Applications

    You may be wondering what this post is doing on a blog about marketing and communications for cause-focused organizations. Fair question. 

    I think this post points to self-care, which I think is essential for everyone, but especially those who lead in, and serve at, nonprofits and purpose-drive for-profits. When we are led by a strong, social mission, it's easy to drive ourselves into the ground. After all, the work is never done. The champion of a cause can always do more. But the champion is also of little use to the cause if he/she is suffering from burnout.

    I'm here to help you look and sound better to those who support, purchase from, or donate to your organization. I want you to get noticed and grow. And to do that, you need to make whatever season you're in right now work for you, not against you.

    Work/life balance is a myth. However, work/life rhythm is guaranteed. 

    If you redefine this concept in your mind, you'll be more equipped for your current season, better prepared for the next, and happier overall. 

    Stop chasing the white whale, and instead, find your rhythm.

    If you're reading this post, it likely means you're at a point where you're feeling overwhelmed. If so, I have more good news! I've outlined five things you can stop doing today to jumpstart your organization's marketing and communications. That's right—five things you can cut out this week to free up your time, energy and focus. What are you waiting for?


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    Work/Life balance is a myth. Work/Life rhythm is a guarantee.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Ask the Experts: Social Media Trends and Strategy

    Jennifer Wilder is a social media professional who helps brands reach customers through online conversations.

    Each month, I'm inviting guest contributors to speak about additional timely, relevant and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations to be aware of as they grow. For April, I've invited my friend and former co-worker, Jen Wilder, to share about social media since that is always a hot topic.

    Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

    A. In social media, we continue to communicate more and more in videos, live streams, and images. With the addition of Instagram Stories last year, we see people letting us into the organic texture of their lives that isn’t readily perceived through their perfectly staged and lit product shots found in the standard Instagram feed.

    This year, Instagram added a gallery option where multiple images are shared in one post, accessed by the user swiping to the right. And Facebook continues to dominate with making live streaming available to all users. We get some inside looks we want to see, and others we don’t. Ha!

    Lately, I’ve been reading about “Dark Social,” which is the traffic websites receive that isn’t linked to a referral, such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. Dark Social is sharing that’s happening one to one in private emails, or via texting, or even through texting apps. In fact, some estimate that Dark Social is responsible for 80+ percent of traffic to sites. Hootsuite has a great article about what Dark Social is and how to attempt to measure it—though, it won’t ever be completely measurable.

    Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in terms of their social media?

    A. Some of the businesses that I see struggling lack imagery, lack personality in their copy, and lack consistency. It’s mind-boggling how much more we click on links with images than static text links. So, add images! And images with copy overlaid get even more clicks. Sites like Canva and Adobe Spark make it easy to create these shareable images.

    With copy, you want to make sure you sound human, that your headlines are intriguing, that you’re asking questions to get those scrolling on Facebook to stop and click. Be authentic and interesting in your approach.

    But images and copy don’t matter if you’re not consistent. When you show up sporadically, even if your content is killer, it will be hard for people to stay engaged and interested. To stay in front of your audience on social, you have to show up in their feeds regularly. Set up a schedule and get your great content in front of your customers’ eyes!

    Q. What is your best piece of advice for people regarding social media?

    A. It’s hard to nail down THE best piece of advice, so I’ll probably give you a couple here.

    It’s okay to pick one social channel—Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.—that fits your brands communication style and put your efforts into it first. You can develop into other social channels, certainly. But start with one and put out great content—content that your audience wants to see and read more about.

    And that leads me to content. If we think back to when I mentioned Dark Social, and the fact that upward of 80% of Web traffic may be shared one to one, then that tells us that content is driving those shares. It also tells us that the Web, sans the myriad of social channels cropping up day in and day out, is already social. We’re going to share good content whether there’s a Facebook or Twitter or Instagram.

    Be intentional about thinking through the problems and questions your customers are asking. Then create content around answering your customers questions, solving their problems and showing them that your company is their solution.

    Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve their social media?

    A. Go to one of the image-design sites and create images to go with your blog articles, or to ask questions of your customers. Post that to social media with a link to your site, or one of your blog articles.

    Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

    A. One thing I didn’t yet cover is the importance of developing an email list. With an email list, you have very personal access to your customers. So, come up with a resource you can give away—a white paper, worksheets, coupon codes—and ask people to sign up for your email list. Having this email list tells you that these are people who want to hear from you. They like you and they want whatever it is you’re selling. So, be a good steward of this email list and give them a high amount of value and time.


    Jen Wilder Headshots-6.jpg

    Jennifer Wilder is a social media professional who helps brands reach customers through online conversations. Over the last decade, she has worked with LifeWay Christian Resources, Leading The Way, The reThink Group/Orange, and The John Maxwell Company. With her husband, she is soon to be buying a new house and getting a dog . . . and maybe a kid or two.

    Jennifer is available for freelance social media consulting and voiceover work.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Jennifer Wilder is a social media professional who helps brands reach customers through online conversations.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Spring Clean Your Marketing and Communications

    Be better prepared, focused, and productive for the remainder of the year. 

    We're just over a week into both spring and the Daylight Savings time change. I don't know about you, but more sunshine equals more productivity for me. Though I am the pale, freckled, poster child for skin cancer, I always feel a little bit like Superman in that my powers are directly tied to the sun. I tend to find renewed energy and deeper concentration when winter days give way to spring ones. 

    And I love a good spring cleaning! Is that weird? I just can't focus amongst clutter. I need a neat and tidy workspace, car and home to function well. So, this past week, I began the process of ship-shaping those three areas. 

    Today, I want to help guide you what spring cleaning your marketing and communications might look like. And maybe dust off those New Year's Resolutions (or goals) too. It's time for a fresh start!

    SPRING CLEAN YOUR WORKSPACE

    While it's true that there are a unique few who can thrive in chaos and actually know what is located in the heaps and piles on or around their desk, I don't think that's true for the majority of us. I think most of us get stressed out and distracted by those things, and it compromises our brain power, and therefore our work, by not dealing with it. 

    ACTION STEP: Over the next week, take the time to do some thorough sorting, sifting, recycling, tossing and sharing. Yes, I know you don't have time. But you need to sacrifice a few hours for the clarity it will bring you after its done. Whether you have a small desk in your guest room, a corner of the dining room table, or the corner office in the high rise, your productivity will increase by eliminating these distractions.

    SPRING CLEAN YOUR COMPUTER

    While it's true that I don't like physical clutter, I am a serial saver—at least as far as online articles are concerned anyway. I've mentioned before on this blog that I love learning. And it takes no more than a few minutes on social media, reading through emails, or scanning messages in Facebook groups to have a dozen or so windows opened with things I want to read or go back to later. I'm also bad about downloading resources to my desktop and saving them there with the intention of going back "soon" to read them. Pretty soon my computer desktop is a mess, my email is overflowing, and I can't shut down my computer for days at a time because I need to keep all the tabs open. Anyone relate?

    ACTION STEP: Decide how important things things are to you and make a plan to tackle them this week. I did this last Friday. I was sick and didn't have a lot of brain power for creating and problem-solving, so I focused on this project. It took a few hours, but my computer desktop is clean, my email is manageable, and I shut down my computer over the weekend. It's a great feeling! And guess what, I learned a few new things in the process!

    If you just don't have the time, or know the piles will only get larger, then give yourself a break and start deleting, knowing that new information will soon come your way. If you do decide to sort it out, then start getting excited about the new information you're about to digest. Grab some coffee, an easy chair, your laptop, and enjoy the process. I found some new resources to share with my Facebook group, learned a few tricks from fellow entrepreneurs and watched two webinars for upcoming personal projects. I also did a fair amount of deleting. Whichever path you take, deleting or sorting, find the determination to just do it.

    SPRING CLEAN YOUR MINDSET

    This is admittedly the hardest. The previous two categories require cleaning out "stuff" which I think is a lot easier, or at least it is for me. You can also see the changes much faster. Now we are moving onto the real work. Remember I mentioned those pesky New Year's Resolutions/Goals in the beginning? Here's where we tackle those.

    I am a very goal-driven, task-oriented person. And with this being my first full year in business, I had a lot of things I wanted to do. One of those was developing my first online course during the first quarter of 2017. Now if you mosey on over to that section on my website, you'll still find "Coming Soon!" as we head into quarter two. That is just one example, but I assure you, there are others. Now, I did hit one goal, which was to attend more human trafficking events this year. I've actually already made it to two. But for every goal I hit, there is at least one I didn't. Know the feeling?

    It's easy to get stuck in the headspace that tells you that you're behind, failing, or never gonna make it happen. But I'm asking you not to. I have to ask this of myself regularly. And because you're working for a cause, it's hard not to feel the pressure of things left undone. Everything is important. But these are the times we have to stop, reflect and reevaluate.

    ACTION STEP: I'm going to give you two weeks for this assignment because it's more difficult, though, actually, it may take the least physical amount of time. In fact, if you get down to business, you might be able to do this homework in about an hour. But I think you need to walk around with the question in your mind, letting it occupy the back of your brain, for a few days or even a week.

    Then sit down and reevaluate your marketing and communication priorities for 2017. What were your goals back in January? How do they need to shift? Maybe timelines need to be extended. Maybe projects need to be put on hold. Maybe they need to move to 2018. Maybe they just need to be scrapped. That's all okay.

    First, determine your big priorities for the year. It's quite possible they've changed in the past three months. Then, assess the resolutions or goals you made and figure out which bucket they should fit in. Finally, feel good knowing that you've made some progress. After all, reevaluation is still progress. It's going to help you move forward for the next nine months.

    NEXT STEPS

    Okay, so you've cleaned your physical space, your digital space and your mental space—or you will very soon. It should feel amazing! It should give you clarity. It should bring a big smile to your face. You've just done some really powerful things.

    By tackling these three categories, you've just set yourself up for success in your marketing and communications for the rest of the year. You'll be better prepared, focused and productive. 

    We all get so hyped up come January. We're ready to take on the world! But life happens, work happens and we quickly realize that we didn't have a lot of control anyway. It's easy to get discouraged. That's why this spring cleaning is essential.

    A New Year takes a little getting used to. I mean, hello, is anyone else still writing 2016 on everything?!?! So, when you take the time to stop, reflect and reevaluate your current efforts, you can make the shifts necessary to lift the fog, get out of the funk, and tackle that To Do list.

    Oh, and once you've done your homework, don't think you're off the hook! The next step is to set a date on your calendar three months from now. The year will be half over, and it'll be time for a good summer cleaning!

    Have you done anything else to spring clean your marketing and communications? If so, please tell me!

    Need some help with your reevaluation? Contact me for a Communications Strategy Session. I'd love to get you on, or back on, the right track.


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    Be better prepared, focused, and productive for the remainder of the year. 

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    12 Questions That Inspire Content Creation

    If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

    Content marketing has made a huge splash over the past few years, and it's only gaining ground. If you aren't familiar with the term, content marketing is defined by the Content Marketing Institute as, "a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action. Instead of pitching your products or services, you are providing truly relevant and useful content to your prospects and customers to help them solve their issues."

    This is the reason you see more and more organizations of all sizes utilizing social media, blogs, webinars, podcasts, Pinterest and the like. These mediums for "giving away" free content do not hurt revenue, and only help to spread the word about your organization. They also help build credibility as well as a relationship with fans. If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

    However, one of the biggest challenges to content marketing is creating a steady stream of, well, content. Some days it can feel like inspiration rains from the heavens, while other days are more drought-like. The important thing is to record ideas as they come, so you'll have them on tap for a later date.

    If you need a springboard, or think your supply is running a little short, below are some questions to get you started.

    CLIENT INSPIRATION

    1. What questions have they asked?
    2. What problem or need are you trying to solve for them?
    3. What case studies can you share that others can learn from?

    INDUSTRY INSPIRATION

    1. What are the latest trends?
    2. What have you learned at recent events or conferences?
    3. What are your online and in-person mentors discussing?

    PEER INSPIRATION

    1. What relevant conversations are you having?
    2. What questions have they asked regarding your expertise?
    3. What do you see them doing that could help your clients/customers/fans?

    POP CULTURE INSPIRATION

    1. What movies or TV shows have sparked business ideas or lessons?
    2. What books are you reading that you could share lessons from, or post a book review on?
    3. What podcasts are you listening to that could also benefit your audience?

    As you see, inspiration can come from anything. Pretty soon, you'll start to recognize it in all its forms. And because information changes, your knowledge base expands, and perspectives shift, you can come back to these questions again and again.

    A reminder: Make sure you have a system handy for writing down ideas when the pop in your head so that you have them ready to go in the future. And a tip for writing—do it when the mood strikes, and write as much as you can. Get ahead, if possible, for when you are low on time or your creativity is more tapped.

    Where do your content marketing ideas come from? Please share in the comments!


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    If you haven't jumped on the content marketing bandwagon, you'd be wise to not only consider it, but start the implementation process soon.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    How to Successfully Launch an Event or Campaign: Lessons From Hamilton

    It's an amazing show, and it also has some important lessons to teach us about event and campaign launches.

    On Saturday, I had the absolute privilege to see Hamilton: An American Musical on Broadway! After trying to get tickets for over a year and a half, it had a lot to live up to, and and it absolutely did!

    It was an amazing show, and it also has some important lessons to teach us about event and campaign launches.

    "WAIT FOR IT"

    Build buzz. Lin Manuel-Miranda actually started talking about this show back in 2008, when it was still mostly just an idea in his head. He had one song written, but he knew the show had big potential.

    Lesson: If you're excited about your product or launch, talk about it and get other people excited too. Start with your circle of insiders and biggest fans. And especially if you're trying to sell something, these early conversations will help you decide not only if there is a market, but the value of it as well.

    "I AM NOT THROWING AWAY MY SHOT"

    That one song? He sang it at the White House. He was invited there to perform, but instead of singing one of the songs from In the Heights, his hit show at the time, he decided to test out this new material. What better place to talk about a Founding Father? President Obama's reaction to the concept? "Uh, good luck with that." Ha! But then he belted out the title song, "Alexander Hamilton," and people were ready to line up for tickets—years before it would open.

    Lesson: Look for unique opportunities to talk about your product or event, even far in advance. This will allow you to build anticipation. And don't forget to include the influencers in your life. Let them help you get the word out as needed. It will add credibility, and help get you in front of new audiences.

    "NON-STOP"

    From the time Hamilton opened Off-Broadway in early 2015, I heard about it everywhere! On TV, from friends, on social media. It moved to Broadway just a couple of months later, and immediately sold out for months at a time—as it still does. And almost two years later, people are still talking about it. Not only do they have an email list and soundtrack, but they have additional merchandise at the theater and online, and they also released a Mix-Tape last year with celebrities singing some of the popular songs. This gives fans who've already gone something else to remember it by, and people who haven't yet been, and chance to feel included while patiently waiting for tickets and the traveling tour.

    Lesson: Whether your event or product has a defined timeframe or an open one, you've gotta hit the marketing hard. Use every available avenue to talk to your fans, potential fans, and their friends. Word-of-mouth still has the strongest return on investment, but there are multiple options for reaching your target audience, and it will likely take a combination of all of them to get the job done. Be creative and consistent. 

    "RIGHT HAND MAN"

    In the emails I received about the show and in the program, there were always ads by relevant services and destinations. In the emails, it was usually about other Broadway shows and ticketing partners. In the program, there were several ads about American Revolution museums, vacations in the Caribbean where Hamilton grew up, or other Broadway shows.

    Lesson: When it's right for your event, product or organization, consider taking on partners. These can be short- or long-term. Maybe the services or products are complimentary, maybe the person is speaking at your event, or maybe they just love what you're up to. Just like influencers, partnerships have the ability to put you in front of new audiences and expend your reach. Just remember, it needs to make sense for both parties and be valuable to your audience.

    "ONE LAST TIME"

    I was finally able to buy a ticket last June, so I had nine months to wait before actually attending the show. Because it was so far in advance, the tickets weren't even ready at the time of purchase. So, a couple of months later, I received an email that my tickets were ready. I still had a few months to go, but I got excited all over again! And a few days prior to the show, I received another email with helpful information about getting to the theater, some Q&A and a digital "Hamilton Tour of NYC."

    Lesson: It's not over till it's over. Just because you have initial buy-in, don't dismiss the opportunity to talk to your audience, delight them all over again, or get in on the countdown. And always be helpful. By anticipating people's wants and needs, you'll be the hero.

    "BLOW US ALL AWAY"

    Like I said, I waited a year and a half to sit in those seats. By the time I did, I knew the music, watched a documentary, and been consuming all kinds of info on A.Ham and the American Revolution. So, not only was I well prepped, but I had very high hopes. However, I knew they wouldn't let me down—and they didn't.

    Lesson: You can have an amazing launch, but if what you're actually marketing doesn't deliver, you'll lose the confidence of your audience, and they'll be less likely to follow you down this road a second time. Make sure your product or event has a solid foundation to stand on.

    "YOU'LL BE BACK"

    On my way out the door, it was all I could do not to purchase every piece of merchandise I saw! I managed to restrain myself, but I did snag another picture of the marquee on my way out, just to make sure I had a really good one for Instagram.

    Lesson: After your launch, be sure to follow through. That could mean a survey, or a thank you, or asking people to take some sort of next step. But don't let the experience end with the purchase. Use the purchase to extend the experience.

    What are your best practices for a launch?

    Do you have an event or product launch coming up? If so, I can help you with just the writing portion, or I can be a little more hands-on and involved. Just let me know how I can help!


    PIN FOR LATER:

    It's an amazing show, and it also has some important lessons to teach us about event and campaign launches.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Celebrating International Women's Day

    Highlighting women-run organizations that I love.

    Today is International Women's Day! So, I thought that one of the best ways I could celebrate would be to highlight women-run organizations that I love, and would love for you to be aware of. And, in keeping with the spirit of this blog, I'll let you know what I like most about their marketing and communications as well.

    Here are 10 that I've chosen, but there are so many more that I could've listed! There are many women out there doing inspiring, and much needed, work. Be sure to check these gals out, and support them in some way, even by just following them on social media or telling a friend.

    NONPROFIT

    1. Be the Bridge: This budding organization utilizes resources and conversations to further racial reconciliation. They believe that the Church must become a bigger answer to this issue, and are equipping people to host racially diverse small groups that create open lines of communication.

    What I like most about their marketing and communications is how grassroots-oriented it is, which fits with their business model. People who are a part of their online and in-person groups have a voice, which creates not only fans, but advocates for the work.

    2. TrueNorth Freedom Project: TrueNorth helps individuals, families and ministries navigate our sex-saturated culture through resources and conversations. By learning how to talk about sexual issues with grace and compassion, relationships will be strengthened, kids will be better prepared for the challenges, and the Church will become more effective in leading many to true freedom in Christ.

    What I like most about their marketing and communications is their approach. They tackle a very difficult societal issue, but always take the stance of grace over shame, and that always shines through.

    3. A21 Campaign: They are fueled by a radical hope—that human beings everywhere will be rescued from bondage and completely restored. They are the abolitionists of the 21st century, and work with you to free slaves and disrupt the demand.  

    What I like most about their marketing and communications is that they frequently share survivor stories which makes the need real and urgent.

    4. Refuge Coffee Co.: They relentlessly pursues the goal to provide employment and job-training opportunities to resettled refugees, to create a unique, welcoming gathering place in Clarkston, and to tell a more beautiful refugee story to Atlanta.

    What I like most about their marketing and communications is that they tell a lot of stories, including the staff and volunteers, neighbors and those who frequent the establishment. Their mission involves being active and present in the community, and that is apparent in all aspects.

    5. Thistle Farms: Thistle Farms is a sanctuary for healing for women survivors of abuse, addiction, trafficking and prostitution. They are a community of survivors, advocates, employees, interns, volunteers, and friends from all across the world. They are young and old, women and men. They want to change a culture that still allows human beings to be bought and sold. They believe that in the end, love is the strongest force for change in the world.

    What I love most about their marketing and communications is how diverse they've become in their model, which allows them to constantly talk about what they're up to, and a great deal of cross-promotion. Currently, they have Magdalene House, a bath and body care product line, Thistle Stop Cafe, Shared Trade Global Marketplace, The Studios Workshop and the National Education and Training Center.

    Honorable mention to: The Mend ProjectWellspring Living, Malala Fund

    FOR-PROFIT

    1. Dr. Bombay's: One of my favorite spots in Atlanta, this darling little tea shop in the Candler Park neighborhood funds “life scholarships” for girls in India with their Learning Tea program. With these funds, girls can go to college, have a safe place to live, and have all their basic needs provided for. (And her chai is my absolute favorite!) I've actually seen their work in India first-hand.

    What I love most about their marketing and communications is how "local" it is. They are good neighbors. Many of their ingredients and offerings come from local or small businesses, and they also place event posters in other area parter businesses as a regular part of their promotions. And the atmosphere is so quirky and unique that it makes a great place for people to take and share photos!

    2. Yellow Conference: They are a conference for creative, entrepreneurial women who want to change the world. Bonus that it takes place in Southern California!

    What I like most about their marketing and communications is their heart for their community, both in-person and online. They are supportive and encouraging, and always looking for ways to help their fans be better in life, in their jobs, and in the world.

    3. So Worth Loving: They are a community of passionate and original individuals who exist to embrace your past and empower your future. They believe no matter your history, past mistakes, religion, career choice, or relationship status, you are worthy of love. And they believe that fashion is the most iconic way to make a statement.

    What I love most about their marketing and communications is that they always keep it simple. And it's highly effective! They share the stories of their fans, promote the idea of self-worth, and sell clothing that reminds people that they are worth loving.

    4. Business Boutique: This is a fairly new conference that speaks to Christian, women entrepreneurs. They focus on all three aspects of a business: Dreaming, starting and building. 

    What I love most about their marketing and communications is the practicality. I left their event feeling informed and resourced in moving forward in my business. And the podcast is a way to continue to soak up the knowledge.

    5. The Skimm: A short, daily email telling you all about the day's top political news.

    What I love most about their marketing and communications is that its fun! Otherwise, I wouldn't read it, to be honest. I have a hard time connecting with politics and news because it is usually so depressing or mean. They give you the highlights in a compelling way.

    Honorable mention to: Joyn, Fashionable, Huffington Post, Raven + Lily

    What do you think? Who would you have included? Tell me below!

    And happy International Women's Day! #BeBoldForChange


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER: 

    Highlighting women-run organizations that I love

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Ask the Experts: Branding and Design

    Mad & Dusty is a creative team for nonprofits and purpose-driven brands.

    Each month, I'm inviting guest contributors to speak about additional timely, relevant and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations to be aware of as they grow. First up, we have my friends, Madison and Dusty Beaulieu, who expertly designed my branding and website!

    Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

    A. There’s definitely been a leaning toward illustration and texture. (YAY!) Flat design is huge, but now designers are taking that minimalism and giving it over to the artists. The desire for perfection in design is being replaced with a need for history and personality. We want to see the human hand in design now. Watercolor, paint, printmaking, hand lettering . . . the arts are showing up in a big way through design, and we love it.

    Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in terms of their brand?

    A. People give logos more credit than they deserve! Your brand is your tool box. Your logo, type, colors and patterns will help show your customers who you are in the same way that the clothes you’re wearing tell others a bit about who you are. Think of your logo as an accessory. If your purpose and brand values are not clear, appealing, and meaningful, an amazing logo won’t be able to fix that. Purpose and values are the foundation for your brand, and a good designer will help you clarify them before jumping into the logo design. Design that comes from the core of your business will work no matter what’s trending.

    Q. What is your best piece of advice for people during branding and design, especially for those who are new to, or overwhelmed by, the process?

    A. Be sure you understand the investment and what it will mean for your business. The branding process is not something to jump into half-heartedly. (We would make How to Style Your Brand by Fiona Humberstone required reading if we could.) The first six months of any business are unpredictable at best. I recommend that you quick-design a temporary logo using a template from Canva or another app, and build a one page site on Squarespace. After six months, sit down with a designer and discuss taking your business to the next level with an original brand. The branding process should feel like a celebration of your hard work and hustle. It’s an exciting time!

    Also, find a designer that you trust and enjoy working with, even if you technically don’t need one now. It’s kind of like finding the right doctor. When something comes up, it will be good to know who you’d turn to.

    Additionally, don’t be afraid to talk honestly about your budget. If a designer is passionate about what you do, they may be willing to find an agreement that works for both of you.

    And, finally, not all design is branding design. We work with several clients for 5-10 hours per month on designing emails, social graphics, and those random little items that come up. We love partnering with them, and they love delegating those would-be headaches.

    Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve their brand presence, either online or in print?

    A. Make sure you’re using all the same fonts on documents. (No more than three different fonts.) It’s the smallest thing, but it will instantly give your brand a sense of cohesiveness. Typography works very subconsciously. Make sure it’s working for you!

    Q. Anything else we should keep in mind for our brand, website or graphics?

    A. Be true to your values. Be consistent with your community. Be honest about your capacity. Simple, purposeful things done consistently make a brand shine.


    mad_dusty-168-2.jpg

    Mad & Dusty is a creative team for nonprofits and purpose-driven brands. Starting in 2015, Madison and Dusty Beaulieu have worked with over 40 purpose driven organizations to tell important stories through art and design.

    Find them online at www.madanddusty.com.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:


    Mad & Dusty is a creative team for nonprofits and purpose-driven brands.

    Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Marketing Strategy Made Simple

    Implementing a strategy gives every day focus and purpose.

    It's week six of the "Foundations" series! Wow, I can believe we're already at the end of the first series on this blog! I will undoubtedly have other topics to include here over time, but I feel like we've covered the absolute basics that you need to begin, or get back on track with, your marketing and communications. With these things as your foundation, you're in a really good place to start building, creating, and planning.

    Speaking of planning, today's tip is all about strategy. I think a lot of small, cause-focused organizations get confused or tripped up on their marketing and communications because they don't have a strategy in place.

    IT'S HARD TO BEGIN IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO END.

    The good news is that you don't need a dedicated, full-time marketing employee to create a strategy. You will, however, need advanced time and thought. It's a matter of putting in the work ahead of time knowing that it will reward you later.

    HAVING A STRATEGY SIMPLY GIVES YOU DIRECTION.

    Here's an example. Like you, I wear a lot of hats. And one of those is new business owner. The last few months have been FILLED with decisions, and at times, that was overwhelming to say the least. I'd been writing blog ideas in Evernote when they came to me, but it was just a list of bullet points in no particular order. Then came the creation of this website, and with that, the writing of it. So, I put off writing the first blog post because I already knew it would have an introductory focus. Past that, I was too in the weeds to consider anything else. But I also knew I wanted to have several blog posts up when the site went live. Again, other things seemed to take priority. Because, you know, there are ALWAYS immediate needs fighting for control of your time.

    Soon after, I reached a decision point. I really needed to start adding other blog posts because the site was about to go live, but hadn't made any progress on what the topics would be. But I thought that I had a great list to choose from, and I'd just pick a few important topics to roll with as needed.

    And then, ladies and gentlemen, I remembered that I was a marketer . . . 

    Um, hello!

    That was completely the wrong approach, and I would do us both a disservice if I just winged it. So, I stopped, took a deep breath, moved to a quiet location, and started putting together my content calendar. This action gave the blog and social media a strategy.

    Yes, it took time I didn't think I had. No, it wasn't easy, even for someone who's more used to marketing than you may be. Yes, it was totally worth it.

    By taking the time to start creating my content calendar for my blog and social media, I feel more prepared each week to tackle what's ahead. I know how every piece builds on each other, or what I'm pointing you to in order to better help you shape and share your message. And I understand that when I have a strategy in place, I'm best utilizing both my time and yours. 

    IMPLEMENTING A STRATEGY GIVES EVERY DAY FOCUS AND PURPOSE.

    I know that most days, many of us feel like Indiana Jones being chased by that big boulder. We think that if we stop, even for a minute, we're going to get squashed. Some days, yes, that may be more true than others. But if we keep letting those immediate needs dictate our time, we'll never move into a more productive cycle. And that does ourselves, our cause, and our supporters a disservice. It also means that our marketing and communications efforts will always be reactive, never really going anywhere. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could mean stagnation (or loss) of sales or support, and that most certainly is a big deal to you.

    I know people who have crazy detailed strategies for their marketing and communications. They have marketing plans and content calendars and detailed budgets and all the things. I want to be them when I grow up. And I'm working on it. But I'm still getting my legs under me as a new business owner, and it's going to take me a while to get there. If you think that's what you have to have too, and you find that discouraging, take heart. Start simply. Think about this month, or even just this week.

    Set aside some time to put your strategy in place. If you can find an hour, make that a really productive hour focused on the very short-term. If you have a half day, think further out. If by some miracle you can find an entire day, think six months or a year out. But make this time intentional. Remove distractions. And after it's done, reap the benefits. I promise, you'll see them.

    And if you need some assistance, I'd love to help. I get all kinds of giddy about helping people think through and create strategies. Nerdy, I know, but hey, we all have our gifts!

    Additionally, I've created a sample content calendar that you can use for your planning. I'll talk more in-depth about a marketing plan soon!


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Marketing Strategy Made Simple

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Know Your Audience

    KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE DETERMINES HOW YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR MESSAGE.

    Not long ago, I was sitting in a meeting for a nonprofit's benefit dinner. We were brainstorming various ways to communicate the message for the evening, and make the big "ask" for donations. This was THE annual benefit dinner, so obviously, a lot of pressure was riding on how well this evening went.

    There were a lot of smart people in the room. A lot of great ideas. And a whole lot of perspectives. 

    So, how were we going to decide which idea to act on? 

    I decided to ask a couple of questions that changed the conversation:

    1. Who will be in the room?

    2. How do they need to hear the information?

    Turns out that this audience was actually a little different than the three previous years. This was the first benefit dinner in which a lot of new people would be in attendance. Previous years had included a lot of friends, family, and personal connections. This year, there were new partners, more sponsors, friends of friends, and a few others who were newly interested in this organization and their cause. So, they weren't as close to the issue as those who had come in the past. 

    This meant they needed to be spoken to not as insiders, but as those who were just learning about the organization and its cause—because that's exactly who they were. 

    And given the answer to the first question, how did they need to hear the information?

    We actually decided to do this in a few different ways based on learning styles, attention spans, and wanting to spread information out over several hours to be less overwhelming. First, we had an interactive exhibit which brought the issues to life as people entered the doors. Second, we decided to include not only video testimonies, but also have the people in the videos there to meet attendees. Third, the founder and his son gave a compelling "ask," which included some background on how they started the organization as a family, and how it's grown. And finally, as they exited, those in attendance were given a keepsake and a handout with next steps.

    All of these things wouldn't have been necessary if the audience had been filled with people who were already familiar with the organization and their mission. 

    KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE DETERMINES HOW YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR MESSAGE.

    But, of course, before you get to your "how," you have to know your "who."

    One of the most popular ways to know your audience is to develop a persona. That is, give your "who" a name. There are some marketers who get super detailed about their persona. They delve into every facet of this "person's" life—their spouse's name, the type of pet they own, what they wear on a Tuesday, their birthplace, etc. It sounds a little like coming up with an alias, which I kinda dig. Often, this are fictional personas that represent large groups of people. However, mine isn't that complicated. Maybe that's because I have two personas . . . which can likely lead a number of jokes about having multiple personalities.

    But way back in blog post numero uno, I gave some background on why I started SIGNIFY, and who I started it for—my friends. So, because I speak to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, I have two actual, real-life friends that represent each of those areas. Much of what I've been talking about on the blog has come from conversations with them, or people like them that I've met or helped along the way. That makes my audience persona(s) easy. I write and create content that I think they'd find helpful and useful.

    WHEN YOU IDENTIFY OR CREATE A PERSON TO REPRESENT YOUR AUDIENCE, YOU CAN SPEAK TO ONE WHILE SPEAKING TO ALL—AND ACTUALLY BE HEARD.

    You have a great message. I know that, and you know that. But do you understand who your audience is, and how they need to hear it?

    The chief complaint I've heard about this process sounds something like this, "But our organization (or product, etc) appeals to everyone. Why should we narrow that down?"

    In theory, it's a great question. You don't want to feel like you're eliminating anyone that could support or advance your cause. 

    But it's actually quite short-sighted. There really isn't one thing that appeals to everyone. Not everyone shops at the same stores, eats at the same restaurants, buys the same phones, wears the same closes, donates to the same causes . . . you get the point. That's why we have variety. Otherwise, we'd only have a couple of options for each of those things, and we'd never be overwhelmed on Amazon again.

    You can't speak to everyone. You need a message that's tailored to someone. When they read your website, or open your emails, or see you on social media, they need to feel a kinship with you. They need to relate to what you have to say. Giving them that kind of connection is what turns them into fans, or buyers, or donors.

    WHEN YOU TALK TO YOUR AUDIENCE IN A WAY THAT COMMUNICATES YOU UNDERSTAND THEM, BOTH IN WHAT YOU SAY AND HOW YOU SAY IT, YOU CREATE A RELATIONSHIP. AND RELATIONSHIPS TURN FOLLOWERS INTO FANS.

    This is a process that grows and gets shaped over time. And the good news is that if something isn't effective, you can always try again!

    I've created a resource for you to continue working through your "who" and "how."


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    KNOWING YOUR AUDIENCE DETERMINES HOW YOU COMMUNICATE YOUR MESSAGE.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Alexander Hamilton: Marketing and Communications Icon

    Image Credit: TheFederalist.com

    Image Credit: TheFederalist.com

    As I write this post, I'm sitting in a fantastic restaurant in Washington, D.C., called Farmers & Distillers. It's definitely a menu that induces creativity! Check out the Founding Farmers restaurant group next time you're in D.C.! It's yummy! 

    Anywho, welcome to week four of the "Foundations" series. I'd like to discuss communications, and D.C. seems like a fitting place to chat about both foundations and communication.

    SPECIFICALLY, I'D LIKE YOU TO COMMUNICATE BETTER.

    Like thousands of other people, I'm currently obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. It's pure genius. I've been listening to the soundtrack over and over, and it seems to still play on repeat in my head long after I get out of my car. 

    One of the things I've realized through diligent "study" of the musical, watching the PBS Special, reading a book about the Founding Fathers, absorbing A. Ham's Wikipedia page, visiting relevant D.C. museums, and my current stay at The Hamilton Crown Plaza (which is actually just a coincidence because I had points here), is that Alexander Hamilton was a true marketing and communications pro. He was BRILLIANT at it. 

    Communication, whether it's to your internal team or your external audience is vitally important. That's not a revolutionary statement (pun intended). In fact, I'm sure you'd agree. But how well do you actually feel like you communicate to those groups?

    GOOD COMMUNICATION COULD MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HAVING BOTH INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL SUPPORT—AND NOT HAVING EITHER.

    Examples of internal support might be getting your project off the ground, receiving a promotion, department harmony and team synergy. External support can include sales, donations, sponsors, partners, or volunteers. 

    And you may think that to communicate better means that you need to write well or be articulate. But I believe it has more to do with two things: Frequency and content. Sure, writing well and being well-spoken are bonuses, but I think I can argue a strong case for frequency and content.

    For example, I tend to over communicate, but I think that's a good thing. And, from what I'm told, so did my previous co-workers. Like any job, there's always a lot going on at the company, and it's super easy to lose track of what's happening. But in over-communicating, I tried to make sure that everyone was in the know with my marketing endeavors. I'm a words girl, so this mostly meant email for me. But this may also be the reason you hold regular team, department, or staff meetings. (Find what works for you.) I was the Event Marketing Director, and there was always an event going on—or about to go on! So, I regularly emailed staff about promotions, ways they could share the event on social media, questions they might get asked, and things like that. I tried to be proactive, and prioritized teams that would be directly effected. Without a doubt, I sent more staff emails than anyone else. But no one ever said stop. They only told me that they appreciated having the info and being up-to-date.

    I gave them the information they needed (and wanted) in order to do their job better, and stay current with the event. I treated them like valuable insiders.

    And, on the flip side, I made a huge effort to do that with the audience, specifically event attendees. Our annual conference had what felt like a million moving parts that guests needed to understand to enjoy their experience. So, I had an FAQ page on the website, a Facebook group for attendees, a network of bloggers to help spread the word, and a series of regular email blasts, to name a few efforts.

    I gave them the information they needed (and wanted) in order to have a better experience, and stay current with the event. I treated them like valuable insiders.

    And guess what? Staff members and attendees felt better equipped and more satisfied. (And event attendance steadily increased.)

    Back to our friend, Alex. Yes, he possessed excellent writing skills and was a skilled orator, but he also understood that an important message had to be repeated. It had to sink in over time to gain traction. If you're familiar with The Federalist Papers, he and two others wrote a series of essays defending The Constitution, because this new legal doc had created a whole lot of controversy. Hard to imagine, isn't it? But one essay just wouldn't do. No, sir! They were originally supposed to write 25, but ended up writing 85! And Hamilton wrote by-and-large the majority of them. He kept coming up with new things to say, or repeating what he felt needed to be clarified or underscored. He did this to gain support from the public and other government officials for the document that would literally be the law of the land. These were published in print, of course, but I like to equate them to email marketing. ;) 

    I realize that communicating seemingly small (or large) details on a regular basis might seem like a lot to remember. Without a doubt, you have a lot on your plate already. But believe me, it cuts work on the back end down, and might even improve internal and external relationships. So, put a sticky on your computer, a reoccurring entry in your day planner or a reminder on your phone. You want to get better at this, trust me.

    COMMUNICATING FREQUENTLY ALSO HELPS ENSURE THAT YOU BECOME KNOWN AS THE EXPERT.

    Think about it, if yours is the most consistent voice on any subject, people will come back to you when they need more info on that subject. And that is exactly what you want!

    Even after working in communications for years, I still need to be better too. Siri reminds me of this constantly! I'm not sure if she thinks I have a lisp, or just slur my words, but we do not communicate well. (Apologies to anyone I've misdialed.)

    And like you, I get busy too. I forget things. Or even worse, I think I've done a terrific job communicating, and I still find my audience confused. This happened a lot with the IT department. It's a different language you have to speak, after all. (Love to my IT guys and gals, but whew, I do not speak the language!)

    PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT. IT'S A CLICHE FOR A REASON.

    You're reading this blog because you want to improve your marketing and communications. You're also reading this blog because you have an important message to share. These two facts only highlight the need to communicate better.

    So, what are you waiting for?

    This week's homework is to assess your communications efforts, both internally and externally. Take a hard look, and give them a grade. If you have a team, go through it together. But you have to be able to spot the holes in order to fill them. This is where my spreadsheet friends will really excel! (Again, pun intended.) You may also consider sending out an anonymous survey.

    And if you need an outside perspective, I'm here too

    By the way, this is just one example of A. Hamilton, marketing and communications extraordinaire, but there are so many more lessons to draw from! In fact, I'm headed to NYC to see the musical next month, so I'm sure I'll have another one or two for you.

    Do you have any wins or tips to share from your own experiences? I'd love to hear them!

    PS: You can listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack here, or watch the cast perform at the Tony's here. (Warning: You may become addicted too! Oh, and not suitable for the kiddies.)

    PPS: A fun fact. A few years ago, they were considering replacing Hamilton with a woman on the $10 bill. But then the musical blew up, and he saved face, literally. ;) Told you I was obsessed! #10dollarfoundingfather

    “Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort that I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”  - Alexander Hamilton

    Read the other posts in this series:


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    Communication, whether it's to your internal team or your external audience is vitally important.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Get Organized

    If you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it. You have to get organized.

    It's week three of the "Foundations" series, and I just kicked someone in the gut with the title, "Get Organized."

    Whether you formally resolved to do this in the New Year, or just made a mental note, I know this topic makes a lot of lists. But if you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it.

    YOU HAVE TO GET ORGANIZED. #sorrynotsorry

    The first reason is for yourself. In order to do what you do well, you need a system that keeps you organized and on track. If you don't know where your files are, which marketing tasks you're supposed to be focused on this week, or have asked someone to email you a graphic three times, you won't make much of a dent in your To Do list. It will only get longer, and you'll find yourself more frustrated.

    The second reason is for those you work with. They're begging you. You may not realize it, but you may be the bottleneck in your office, where good work goes to die . . . or at least takes an extended vacation. Even if you're a solopreneur like me, you still work with people (accountant, designers, contractors, etc). And even though us introverted types might sometimes want to work in a vacuum, that's largely a myth, unless you are some kind of unicorn who can do it all. (For the record, I am not.)

    I'm not going to dictate any type of organizational system that works across the board. I just don't think that's out there. But I do think you need to find one that works for you. That could be paper and pen, stickies (digital or physical), a white board, online storage applications, or a variety of other options. You may even want to invest in one of those fancy day planners, because like the gym, it may mean more when you pay for it. Just find something that's easy for you to use and can become part of your routine. 

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    Did I just blow your mind? Nope, probably not. None of these should be shocking to you. They're all simple and readily available. But they work for me. If you try to hand me something on actual paper, I'll likely ask you to email it to me. I don't like keeping up with paper, but I can easily file it away on my computer. However, I know people who are the exact opposite, and that works for them.

    It's 2017, and the options for organization are limitless. Yes, it may take some time to find a system that works, or even dig yourself out from underneath the pile on your desk. But you need this. The people you work with need this. And you'll be a happier, more productive person when you get organized.

    What's your favorite organizational tool?

    * Please, for the love of all things, stop emailing files to people and wondering who has the current version. If you collaborate with people, these are a MUST for file sharing and storage.

    Read the other posts in this series:


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    If you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it. You have to get organized.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    Expand Your Curiosity to Improve Your Marketing

    The ability to ask good questions, the desire to learn, and the drive to understand what you don't know will take you far, which in turn, can be a huge benefit for your company and your cause.

    It's week two of the "Foundations" series, where I'm covering the basics for developing a great marketing and communications strategy for your business. Today I want to talk about curiosity. Whether we're talking about life or business, the ability to ask good questions, the desire to learn, and the drive to understand what you don't know will take you far, which in turn, can be a huge benefit for your company and your cause. Curious people tend to excel because they are always seeking to improve themselves.

    Do you want to learn a new skill you can use in your job? (Ex: design)

    Do you want to learn more about your role and the latest trends? (Ex: public relations)

    Do you want to learn about your cause? (Ex: human trafficking)

    I am a curious person by nature and love to learn. But it took me a long time to figure out exactly how to make this work for me. I was a good student, but my mother always reminded me that I had potential for better grades. (Thanks for believing in me, Mom!) I soaked up new information with eagerness, but I didn't enjoy reading. I wanted to talk to people who knew things that I didn't, but I didn't know how to find them. I have a lot of passions and interests, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by them.

    And then three things opened the doors for me

    The first was when I attended my first major conference, Catalyst, which will always hold a special place in my heart for this reason. Oh my, I was in heaven! Where had these gatherings been all my life! (Evidently, they'd been having them without me.) My friend had a ticket, and he couldn't go, so I filled in. I mean, I had NO IDEA what I was in for! I'd found my people. It was two glorious days of note-taking and hearing from people who were so smart and generous enough to share what they knew. I. WAS. HOOKED. That was about 12 years ago, and now conferences are a regular part of my life. In fact, when I worked full-time with a regular vacation policy, most of that time was spent at conferences. I can't get enough, and am always looking for new conferences to attend. This love was also a big reason I accepted my last full-time job as an Event Marketing Director. I got to help create a great conference experience for others, which was exciting.

    The second thing was Audible. If we've had an hour-long conversation at any point, I've probably brought up something I listened to on Audible. This was an absolute game-changer for me. Another friend dragged me down this rabbit hole, and I'm so glad he did. Honestly, I didn't think I'd enjoy it. As I said, I wanted to learn, but I didn't enjoy reading. And I am not really an auditory learner, so I didn't think I'd pay attention. In the beginning, I definitely had to rewind and replay the sections I'd spaced out on—a lot. But once I got the hang of it, I was absolutely smitten. It's pretty much the only way I read books now. In fact, I rarely listen to music in the car. And up until this self-employment gig, I had a long commute, so I'd easily get through 30+ books in a year. (TIP: I always recommend that people start with fiction since there is a narrative you can follow, and you won't get lost as easy if your mind drifts.) It's been an invaluable tool for me, and in fact, one of the best books I read last year was called A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer.

    The third was finding a mentor. I actually didn't know I needed a mentor until I had one. It was kind of like walking through the aisles at The Container Store, and realizing how unorganized you were and that they had exactly what you've been looking for all your life. Just me? My first mentor was a group experience with some ladies at my church. There were two mentors, and six of us single girls. It's such a special memory to me, and I learned so much from all of them. After that ended, it took me several years to find my next mentor. But a mutual friend introduced us, and now I've been meeting with Holly almost monthly for about six years. She is amazing. Such a smart business woman, a kind individual, and someone I definitely want to be more like. It's been a terrific experience. I always have so many questions to ask her, and she is always patient with me. Additionally, one of the things Holly has taught me is that you can have multiple mentors that fill different roles in your life. So, this year, I'm seeking a new mentor that has similar experience to mine, and can show me the ropes in this new role as entrepreneur. Should be exciting!

    So, let's circle this back around.

    My curiosity has served me well, and I know it can do the same for you.

    It has led me to learn all kinds of things I might not have known otherwise. It keeps me asking questions, and it helps me strive to be better. I'm certainly better at my job because of conferences, books (or podcasts, etc.) and mentors. They have all played crucial roles in my life, and now, I can help you be better at your job too!

    Undoubtedly, you know of books that you can read to develop a new skill, or learn more about your role, or gain more understanding about your cause. That one is easy, you just have to go for it. Similarly, podcasts of all kinds are out there to do the same. 

    Conferences of all shapes and sizes are are just waiting to be discovered by you as well. I have another friend who is a math teacher, and has attended math conferences. To me, this sounds like a nightmare I can't wake up from, but she loves what she does and wants to improve. Now she's looking at a conference for educators. Google will be your best friend here if you don't already have a few events in mind. And just maybe, your work will foot the bill, or at least part of it, which is the absolute best!

    Mentors are definitely the trickiest. Start by asking around. That's what I'm currently doing. And if you sit and think about it, you may already know of someone that would be a great fit. Never assume they're too busy, just ask. If they are, move on. If not, problem solved! But your friends or networks are the best place to begin. And if it takes you a while, hang in there! It took me about three years to find Holly. Until it happens, find wisdom through books and events and use those smart people as virtual mentors. 

    I hope you have an insatiable curiosity as well, but if not, I hope you'll take the time to develop it. I cannot stress how important it is, and how much it can do for you, both professionally and personally. You will improve. Your work will improve. Your cause will benefit.

    If you're curious about my favorite resources, including books, podcasts, conferences and more, you can grab that RIGHT HERE. You can also share your suggestions or experiences in the comments below.

    And if you'd like to try Audible free for 30 days, click here. It might just change your life.


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    The ability to ask good questions, the desire to learn, and the drive to understand what you don't know will take you far, which in turn, can be a huge benefit for your company and your cause.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    My #1 Marketing Tip

    My #1 marketing tip: Be consistent.

    Welcome to the second blog post! You’re now considered an early adopter and a trend-setter!

    Last week I wanted to share a bit about me and Signify, so you’d have a little context for our budding relationship. So, I hope you had a chance to read that post, but if not, you can do that first by clicking here.

    Now, we’re going to get right to work! I’d like to spend the next six weeks on a series I’ll call “Foundations.” These are my go-to pieces of advice. They are the things I continually talk organizations through, both for- and non-profit, and I believe they are, well, the foundations of any successful business. (Clever name, huh?) Some of them will probably be easier for you than others, but all will be well worth your time. Whether your organization has been around for many years, or you’re still in the concept stage, consider this your “Start Here” series because you likely need improvement in at least one of these areas.

    Okay, so straight out of the gate, I’ve decided to give you my number one tip for just about everything. That’s right: Business, personal, relationships. Pretty much anything except sugar and carbs can benefit from this advice, which is really unfortunate for me, and sugar, and carbs. But it’s so important that it tops my list. And that is . . . drumroll, please . . .

    CONSISTENCY.

    That’s right, repeat after me, consistency. It’s one of the top mistakes, if not the top mistake, that I see people making. And that could show up in a number of ways, but for this purpose, we’ll discuss it in relation to your marketing and communication efforts.

    I don’t have to tell you that good intentions really don’t get you anywhere, and they’re certainly the enemy of consistency. I’ve spoken with scores of well-meaning individuals who had good intentions for a weekly blog post, daily social media content, an updated website, new head shots, monthly white papers, or ______. (Feel free to fill in the blank.) But every day, our To Do list spirals out of control, co-workers drop by with the latest news, customers or donors call to complain, coffee breaks or lunches linger—and on and on and on. So, before you know it, all you’re left with is a pile of ideas and no time left to execute them.

    IF YOU WANT PEOPLE TO PAY ATTENTION TO YOU AND YOUR CAUSE, YOU NEED TO BE CONSISTENT. 

    Your supporters want updates. Did you hear that? They WANT updates. They don’t need them, they want them!

    Now, if you consider yourself a business that doesn’t need any more fans, followers, supporters, donors, customers or friends, you have my full permission to stop reading now. You’re nailing it, and we’re all looking forward to your upcoming class. But if you find yourself lacking in any of those categories, you probably need to work on your consistency.

    Think about it: Do you want to know when your favorite brands are having sales or launching initiatives or holding events or celebrating milestones or building wells or rescuing survivors? Yes—you do! And that’s because you’ve signed up for their updates. So, why wouldn’t you return the favor for your fans?

    Maybe you’re great at Facebook, but not so much with Twitter. Maybe your email list hears regularly from you, but your social media is quiet. Maybe your website is new and beautiful, but you haven’t actually directed anyone there. Maybe you have an event coming up in a few months, but have done nothing to promote it.

    Take a moment to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Write it down somewhere, physically or digitally. And then make a plan to start making small, regular improvements.

    If you’re just starting out, don’t get caught up in what you’ve heard about how frequently you should be doing any of these things. That will lead to overwhelm and frustration if you start falling behind. To begin, just figure out what is realistic for you and build from there. Then, make adjustments as you go.

    CONSISTENCY BUILDS CREDIBILITY.

    Work toward consistency. Your fans will take notice and grow. And you’ll be able to deepen your relationships with them as well. Because let’s face it, if you’re only talking to them when you need something, you’ll become a bad taste in their mouths.

    One of the push-backs I often hear in regards to this strategy is, “What if I don’t know what to say, or run out of things to say?” Good question!

    I used to work at a public relations firm. And I spent a lot of time both announcing news, and making it up. The latter is because we didn’t want to be out of sight, out of mind with the fans of our clients. I know you don’t want that either, and I realize it’s a valid concern. But the truth is, you can always make something up. I don’t mean to be deceptive, of course, but there is likely information you’re sitting on that you didn’t think about releasing. For example, you can give a shout out to your employee of the month, show a photo of the company office, relay a famous quote that fits your mission, or remind people of other places they can follow your brand online. There really is always something.

    No one knows your brand like your employees, but often we treat fans as if they are employees, disregarding that they need further education, or at least a reminder.

    So, there you go: Consistency is key. It’s my number one tip. And if we had a conversation, I can almost guarantee that it would come up at some point.

    Do yourself a favor and take a look at your current marketing and communications efforts to spot the areas lacking in consistency. This one concept can be a game-changer! Yes, it’s hard to do, whether you run solely on volunteers or have 5,000 employees. But it’s something you owe your organization and your fans.

    And if you are consistent at something, by all means, brag about it! Share it in the comments below.

    By the way, I also touch on this idea in my guide to the "5 THINGS TO STOP DOING THIS WEEK" to jumpstart your marketing and communications if you’d like to dig a little deeper.

    Read the other posts in this series:


    PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

    My #1 marketing tip: Be consistent.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


    And So It Begins...

    The founding of Signify—writing, consulting and strategy for nonprofits and for-profits with a social mission.

    Well, hi there! Thanks for reading my very first post! To kick things off, I just wanted to share a little about me and why I decided to create Signify. Let’s consider this a get to know you kind of thing—like a first date, but way less awkward.

    I’m Kristi Porter, the founder of Signify. I’ve been a professional writer for 13 years, which includes both full-time and freelance work. I’ve written for the hospitality industry (primarily restaurants), lifestyle profiles, churches and ministries, an environmental foundation, a Christian events and curriculum company, a footware retailer, a skincare company and spa, a Christian event planner magazine, a frozen yogurt company, and a few others—and that was all before Signify! I think good writing translates across just about any industry, so I took advantage of most every opportunity that came to me.

    Through those varied experiences, I realized that my most fulfilling work came from collaborating with cause-focused organizations. That is, for- and non-profit companies that began with, or centered, on a social mission. (If you need some examples, take a look at my stellar clients.) Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of them, and often, it began with friends.

    I am lucky to have a number of friends who started nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises. And in learning from them and others like them, I kept coming back to the same conclusions. First, most all of them got into their profession because they had a heart for the work, and were fantastic at their mission, but few had any real marketing and communications training. Second, because many of them were small, they couldn’t afford to hire someone like me permanently, but they could often find the funds for project work. Third, there were a lot more businesses out there like them.

    So, when I began thinking about leaving my full-time position as an Event Marketing Director, all of these thoughts kept running through my mind.

    I loved what my friends were doing.

    I wanted to help.

    I had the skills to do so.

    And Signify was born. (Ok, more or less born. This took months to flesh out!) But my friends were my inspiration, as has been true so many times in my life, and these were the types of companies that I wanted to succeed so others would support them too.

    I chose the name Signify after months of agonizing. I love single words with multiple meanings, so I did a lot of brainstorming, stream-of-conscious writing, and looked up about a thousand words on thesaurus.com. I liked Signify right away, but still sat with it for a couple of weeks before telling anyone. This is so much easier when it’s not your own company, am I right?

    SIGNIFY MEANS TO MAKE KNOWN,

    TO SYMBOLIZE,

    AND TO BE IMPORTANT.

    I didn’t want to just name the company after myself, which is totally fine, but I wanted it to represent more of the synergy between myself and my clients, and the community of do-good organizations everywhere who are championing a purpose and mission to make things better. So, I felt Signify did that . . . all in one little word.

    One final note is that I especially love small businesses. I’ve worked in a number of them. They’re scrappy, interested in learning, and teach employees a variety of skills instead of just focusing on one. They’re budding with potential, and often just need some knowledge and a nudge in the right direction. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re huge and have piles of money to throw at someone, I’m your girl! But I try to remain reasonably priced and accessible so I don’t leave the little guys behind. They got me to where I am!

    Ok, so that’s a bit about me and Signify! Questions? Ask me in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer. You can also read a few fun facts over on my About page.

    If you’re a cause-focused organization, and you’d like to work together, hop on over to my Contact page and shoot me a message! And you’re also more than welcome to join our Facebook Group where you can connect and learn from like-minded do-gooders. I want to help you FOCUS your message AND SHINE in the world!

    PS: A big shout-out to my inspiration: Katrell, Latasha, Eryn, Anne, Jeff, Patti, Holly, Nelli, Mark, Meier...and the others I’ve undoubtedly forgotten (So sorry)! You are amazing, and the world is a better place because of your work—and so am I!


    Pin this post for later:

    The founding of Signify—writing, consulting and strategy for nonprofits and for-profits with a social mission.

    Kristi Porter, founder of www.signify.solutions

    I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.