I Took a Sabbatical

September 30, 2014

I took a sabbatical from blogging. Actually, I never quit writing. I just quit posting.

My Journal

“We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand.” – Cecil Day Lewis

When I began blogging more than half a decade ago, I gave myself permission to post when I had something to share, and to refrain when I did not. That has worked well for me. Now that I’ve returned to blogging, I’ll still adhere to that rule.

I often write my unedited thoughts in a private journal where they can incubate. Journaling helps me to sort things out, especially during times of transition and confusion. At least ninety percent of my writing is done only for me. I write to understand, and therefore I’m usually the exclusive audience. Although I am a professional communicator, only a small fraction of my writing is shared with others.

In a noisy, cluttered world, we sometimes need to be comfortable with our own solitude and silence. In a fast-paced society that demands immediate results and constant production, we sometimes need to stop and catch our breath.

We need sabbaticals to replenish our energy. We need downtime to incubate ideas. We need periods of silence to nourish creativity that would otherwise wither in the arid atmosphere that permeates where we live and work.

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Giving Thanks for Clichés

November 22, 2010

I‘m thankful for clichés. They save me time because I can “copy and paste” them into any daily situation. They keep me from having to think deeply. They conserve creativity for some future time when I might need to be more creative.

Clichés are like an old pair of shoes. They’re comfortable, despite the obvious holes. They get me where I’m going, assuming I have a destination. They appear stylish, or at least they did years ago when they were new.

I like the way clichés cleverly coagulate the flow of communication. My favorite clichés fall into these three categories:

  1. Verbal clichés. People who speak in clichés think they are thinking outside the box. In business, clichés are like the leaves of autumn—everywhere. Even in church I’ll hear someone with the voice of angel offering up a trite prayer that sounds pious and impressive. I pray that God will find sincerity in the hearts of those who find comfort in worn-out phrases.
  2. Photo clichés. If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a thousand times. A nonprofit newsletter publishes a photo of a check presentation. A website shows photos of formally-dressed people who paused long enough at a charity event to “say cheese” in front of a camera. Facebook photo albums show groups of friends scrunched around restaurant tables, flashing plastic smiles and clutching their beverages of choice.
  3. Resume clichés. I’m beginning to think that 100% of resumes and LinkedIn profiles say exactly the same thing. If you’re planning to update yours, let me save you some time. Copy and paste this: I am a highly motivated, dynamic self-starter, results-oriented, hard-working, dedicated, team-player with excellent multi-tasking and communications skills. I have ___+ years experience in fast-paced environments. (You’re welcome.)

At the end of the day, when you boil it all down, I have never met a cliché I didn’t like. Never being content to let sleeping dogs lie, I won’t beat around the bush. Clichés sell like hotcakes. You may try to avoid them like the plague, but I think using them makes a person sound as cool as a cucumber. I get up each morning on the right side of the bed with a commitment to seize the day. Because today is the first day of the rest of my life, I will give 110%.

Have a nice day!


Day 22 – Marketing’s Unique Role

November 2, 2010

Differentiate marketing’s unique role from that of fundraising.

The better I define marketing’s niche within my organization, the more effective I am in producing results.

To help clarify my unique role as a marketer, I regularly ask myself, “What do I do that no one else can do as well?” On a departmental level, I also ask, “What contribution does marketing make that cannot be made as effectively anywhere else?”

Too often in nonprofit organizations, marketing and communications are relegated to be subordinate to fundraising. In my opinion, such an organizational alignment weakens marketing’s effectiveness and ultimately hampers the organization’s success in fulfilling its mission.

Granted, marketing must support fundraising, but the two are not one in the same. Marketing is a unique profession separate from that of raising money. Kivi Leroux Miller, in her excellent book The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, says:

Although you can have successful long-term (nonprofit) marketing campaigns that don’t involve fundraising, you cannot have successful long-term fundraising campaigns without marketing. Marketing and communications are how you talk to your donors in between those times when you ask for money.

My efforts as a professional marketer can result in donors being more engaged, volunteers giving of themselves in more meaningful ways and customers making better purchasing decisions.

As I think about the unlimited potential of a differentiated marketing program, I find renewed energy. I am professionally rejuvenated.

Read the rest of this entry »


Quotes I Love

September 29, 2010

Quotations inspire me. They focus me. They motivate me.

I like the way an eloquent quote can elegantly reflect the light of resplendent wisdom. To me, each quotation has special value.

I collect quotes as a gem collector might gather precious stones. Like gemstones, quotes were never meant to be hoarded and stored in a dark, out-of-sight vault. Rather, they are most appreciated when shared and displayed for the enrichment of all.

If you also appreciate quotes, I invite you to meander through this collection of my favorites, categorized by these topics:

  1. Being Creative
  2. Planning and Goal Setting
  3. Being a Leader
  4. Learning, Teaching and Being Well Educated
  5. Understanding Life’s Transitions
  6. Marketing Effectively
  7. Achieving Success
  8. Creating a Compelling Vision
  9. Overcoming Adversity
  10. Chuckling with Yogi

A Manifesto for Marketing Success

August 18, 2010

Marketing is not as complicated as some want you to think. Good marketing is based upon common sense, though such sense is uncommon.

With a commitment to successful marketing, I invite you to join me in believing  that:

  1. Marketing will flounder when not in pursuit of a measurable goal.
  2. If a product, service or even a person cannot be differentiated, it cannot be marketed.
  3. Marketing will fail unless strategy drives tactics, not vice versa.
  4. Marketing must be based upon the concept of exchanges. Without a quid-pro-quo exchange, we will never have a solid marketing program.
  5. Value can be defined only by the customer, not by the company producing the product or service. (Nonprofit organizations especially have trouble with this.)
  6. The social media revolution is the best thing to happen to marketing in a long, long time, even though the tools for achieving marketing success have forever changed.
  7. Old-school marketers who try to control the message will become increasingly frustrated, disoriented and ultimately obsolete.
  8. You are still functioning in a 1.0 world—even if you’re using 2.0 tools—when you are not creating community and engaging people in conversations.
  9. If we aim our message at no one in particular, we shouldn’t be surprised if no one in particular responds.
  10. Communications comes at the end of the marketing process, not at the beginning.

 


Why the Red Cross Launched a Facebook Page

August 27, 2009

In my opinion, too many nonprofit organizations have Facebook fan pages.

They were probably created because 1) everyone else was doing it 2) the technology was available or 3) someone with influence told them they needed to be on Facebook. The problem is they don’t know why they have a Facebook page.

At the American Red Cross of Greater Kansas City, we decided not to launch a Facebook page until we could tie it to our strategy. As marketing director, I did not want to naively launch a traditional 1.0 tactic using a new 2.0 tool. Though I’m a huge proponent of the social media revolution, I wanted to understand how a Facebook page would fit into the smorgasbord of all the communication tools available.

We had just redesigned our Web site (kcredcross.org) and I wanted our Facebook page to be complementary rather than redundant. Our Web site would continue to serve as a useful reference in the 1.0 world of broadcasting or pushing information, whereas our social media activities would hopefully spawn interaction, provoke conversation and ultimately engage members of our 2.0 community.

The strategy came into focus as I re-read Seth Godin’s book Tribes. The Red Cross Facebook page could become the place where our “tribe” would gather to share information and rally around a common cause. Read the rest of this entry »


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