April 12, 2019

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: C is for Content Calendar

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 11:03 pm

A to Z of Social Media Marketing: C is for Content Calendar

Every social media marketing strategy should be paired with a content calendar. The content calendar makes it easier to keep posts fresh, organized, on-schedule, and spaced out appropriately. It’s also a good place to store and track links for curated posts.

A content calendar can be simple or more detailed, based on your needs and strategy.

Here is a content calendar template (Google Sheets) to download and customize for your organization.

Content calendar template

TIP: Here’s a detailed post on creating a social media content calendar from Hootsuite.

 

 

July 11, 2014

10-Minute Marketing: create an editorial calendar

Filed under: 10-Minute Marketing — lidia @ 10:00 am

Create an editorial calendarI know, the words “editorial calendar” can make you shudder. But with so many places to share content nowadays, having an organized plan is really useful. And it can help you stay on track with your content marketing.

My simple editorial calendar includes the following: month, topic, call to action and release date. I mainly use it to plan my email newsletter, but it can be expanded to include all of your social media outreach.

This week’s 10-Minute Marketing task:

Simple editorial calendarCreate a simple editorial calendar. Download our template for reference (Excel).

 

 

10-Minute Marketing is a weekly series featuring short, easy-to-accomplish marketing tasks. Follow along with past posts here.

December 9, 2010

2011 calendars added to our online shop!

Fresh new colors for 2011!

2011 Quick Peek Calendars are now available in our business greetings online shop.

Small enough to fit in a laptop bag or on an office wall, but large enough to see a year at-a-glance. Great for planning vacations. Buy a couple and share with your office mates.

NEW for 2011: color palettes inspired by Pantone 2011 color trends, including one of my personal favorites: turquoise and terracotta.

Free shipping via first-class mail on Quick Peek Calendars!

Follow the Greetings by Lidia Varesco Design RSS feed or twitter page to see the latest designs.

September 26, 2019

How to Use Branding to Personalize Your Organization’s #GivingTuesday Campaign

Filed under: Branding — lidia @ 2:04 pm

If your nonprofit is ready to join the #GivingTuesday movement, here comes the fun stuff: personalizing your campaign and making it your own.

The great thing about #GivingTuesday is that it’s an “unbranded movement”—you have the flexibility to make it whatever you want. You can use your organization’s branding to create custom #GivingTuesday social media graphics and hashtags that are consistent with your existing branding and marketing outreach.

Here are some tips for personalizing your #GivingTuesday campaign.

Start with a plan

Get started by downloading the Getting Ready for #GivingTuesday workbook. You’ll find prompts for developing your campaign name, visuals and tagline, as well as narrative and call to action.

Create a brand guide

A brand guide visually expresses the important aspects of your branding. It functions as a reference guide to keep your visuals and messaging consistent throughout your campaign.

Your brand guide can be simple, but should include the visual aspects of your branding, i.e. logo, colors, fonts, images and videos—as well as your voice, and the theme and hashtags you plan to use in your #GivingTuesday campaign.

When you design a campaign social media post or website graphic, reference your brand guide to be sure it’s aligned with your branding and messaging.

TIP: When designing a piece, ask yourself: Will a follower recognize this as part of my brand? If not, revisit your design (and brand guide) to make it more consistent with your brand’s identity.

Here is an example of a brand guide I use for my social media marketing.

Incorporate the #GivingTuesday branding

While you want to use your organization’s branding, it’s also smart to incorporate aspects of #GivingTuesday’s branding so that your audience recognizes your campaign is part of this global movement.

If you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, tools like Canva or Adobe Spark (both of which offer nonprofit discounts) make it easy to create images using the #GivingTuesday branding and logo.

TIP: The #GivingTuesday hex color codes are #C02032 (red) and #32417E (blue).

Here are some examples of how organizations have incorporated #GivingTuesday’s branding into their own.

Create a unique hashtag

Creating a hashtag unique to your campaign is one of the best ways to increase your engagement. You can use your organization’s name, tagline, or campaign name—just keep it simple and memorable.

You can also play on your organization’s mission, like Dress for Success did. The organization—whose mission is to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing , among other things, professional attire—played on the #GivingTuesday name by staging a #GivingShoesDay where women were encouraged to donate their gently-worn professional shoes.

Be consistent

Consistent branding helps reinforce the who, what and why of your organization—and creates a connection with your audience. It also helps with donor retention.

Using a brand guide, as well as a content calendar, will help to create visual and messaging consistency that will inspire viewers to take action during your #GivingTuesday campaign—and throughout the year.

Here’s an example of how Appalachian Trail Conservancy has created a #GivingTuesday campaign that is consistent with their overall branding.

Tell authentic stories—through video

During #GivingTuesday people may feel overwhelmed by fundraising appeals. To stand out and resonate with your audience, you need to tell your story.

A compelling story allows potential donors and supporters to make an emotional connection. And video allow you to express situations in a way that static text and images can’t.

Videos are shared over social media 1200% more than text and pictures combined. If that doesn’t convince you, video viewers retain as much as 95% of a message when they watch it—text viewers only retain 10% of what they read.

Here’s an example of how Sick Kids Foundation uses storytelling in their “Undeniable” campaign video.

With your plan, brand guide and story in hand, you are well on your way to creating a #GivingTuesday campaign that is all your own—one that will stand out on December 3rd and beyond.

Stay tuned for the rest of our monthly blog series that will lead you through marketing your #GivingTuesday campaign!

August 7, 2019

Is your nonprofit organization ready for #GivingTuesday?

Filed under: Giving Tuesday — lidia @ 10:00 am

Is your nonprofit organization ready for #GivingTuesday? | lsvdesign.com

#GivingTuesday is a global movement that impacts local communities by transforming the way people think about giving and how they participate in the giving season. Their mission is to inspire collective action towards improving local communities through generosity. They stress the importance of each act of kindness—no matter how small. The ultimate goal of this movement is to bring people together to create a more generous world.

#GivingTuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It was started in 2012 to reclaim the season for giving and is now celebrated in more than 190 countries all over the world. In 2018, $400 million was raised online. 

How participating in the movement can benefit my organization

Nonprofits raise more during year-end when they participate in #GivingTuesday—the average donation is $105. In 2018, 75% of #GivingTuesday’s financial contributors were repeat donors. The holiday season creates a boost in giving by drawing in more donors and by encouraging current donors to give more.

#GivingTuesday is not just about monetary donations

#GivingTuesday celebrates every giver, no matter their donation. The movement is not about one’s ability to donate—it’s about taking action. Many donors participate in more than one way. For example, 37% of participants donate in non-monetary ways such as food and clothing drives or volunteer work. 

Having trouble thinking of ways people can give back to the community? See #GivingTuesday’s Case Studies. They share success stories from nonprofit organizations that can spark inspiration within your own organization.

4 characteristics of an effective #GivingTuesday campaign

Some campaigns are more effective than others, but why? Well, it’s simple. Those campaigns possess these qualities:

  • Inspired leader – Leaders who are passionate and authentic will inspire your donors.
  • Authenticity – Your brand, message, and approach should be authentic as well as resonate with potential donors.
  • Collaboration – Partnering with local businesses, funders and fellow organizations can amplify your campaign. Search for local movements here. 
  • Clear goal – You should have a goal that reflects your organization’s priorities and is big enough that people notice and are inspired to get involved. Here are some ideas:

Steps to get started on your #GivingTuesday campaign

#GivingTuesday is a mere four months away. Based on the 2019 Campaign Timeline, by now your organization should have:

  • Registered for #GivingTuesday (GT) at www.givingtuesday.org
  • Downloaded the case studies and toolkits relevant to your organization
  • Set clear goals
  • Organized a staff meeting to select team members to work on the campaign
  • Reached out to local businesses, funders, and potential partners for funding and idea exploration
  • Researched local movements to get involved in
  • Talked to donors about providing a match or challenge grant to build extra excitement

If you’re behind in your campaign steps, no worries! There’s still time to get caught up.

This month, your organization should be working on the following:

  • Confirm your campaign plan and goals that reflect your organization’s priorities
  • Map out a timeline and share with key team members
  • Confirm assets and graphics you’ll need for the campaign
  • Start mapping out your content calendar
  • Think about your evaluation strategy

Our next blog post will further explain the steps needed to continue preparing for your campaign.

Additional #GivingTuesday resources

  • Getting Ready for GivingTuesday workbook: gives you step-by-step instructions on building a #GivingTuesday campaign. It’s a great tool for cementing thoughts on paper with plenty of room for notes and ideas. The workbook is backed by previous #GivingTuesday leaders. The workbook aids the organizations on campaign building, recruiting a team, and timeline creation.
  • GivingTuesday Learning Lab: a Facebook Group for nonprofit organizations to ask questions and share ideas with other organizations. I’m the “resident branding expert” in this group, so bring me your questions on branding.
  • 2019 Campaign Timeline :lays out all of the tasks that need to be completed during each month from June to December. It is a great way to help you stay on top of things.

Are you ready to join the #GivingTuesday movement? 

Mark your calendars: in 2019, #GivingTuesday falls on December 3rd and your nonprofit has the opportunity to join thousands of other organizations to spread generosity that positively impacts others. Sharing your story will inspire change, and may start a wave of generosity that lasts longer than just one day.

Stay tuned for the rest of our #GivingTuesday blog series that will lead you through branding and marketing your campaign, along with monthly to-dos to keep you on track. 

January 4, 2019

Kick off the year with a quick social media audit (free worksheet)

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 9:00 am

yearly social media audit worksheet

For last few years, I have started the new year with a social media audit to assess the previous year’s results. It’s a quick and easy process and provides useful insight for your social media strategy.

How to perform a fast and easy social media audit

Before you start, you have to know your social media goals. What are you hoping to accomplish through your social media efforts? For example, it could be brand awareness, increase in sales, increase in followers, or email list growth. Keep your goals SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.

Next, review your social media numbers. Review analytics for the past year in all of your social media accounts—including your blog and email marketing—and jot down key data, such as follower growth and top-performing posts. Compare the results to past years’ data, as well as your current goals.

Lastly, revise your social media plan for the new year. Review your results and use the data to refine your social media strategy for the upcoming year. For example, did a particular type of Facebook post or email newsletter subject perform well? Make sure it’s incorporated into this year’s content calendar.

How to find social media data

Not all outlets allow you to download a year’s worth of analytics, so you may have to do some digging. In addition to each outlets’ built-in analytics, here are few other handy resources for reviewing social media analytics:

Doing this short exercise will allow you to see what worked last year, helping to refine your social media goals and strategic plan for the new year.

Make it easy by using a worksheet

I usually track my yearly social media data in Evernote (you can also use a Google or Excel sheet) but this year, I created a handy worksheet where you can input your social media data and see your progress at-a-glance.

Download my Yearly Social Media Audit Worksheet (PDF). If you find it useful or have suggestions, please let me know!

Yearly Social Media Audit worksheet

January 30, 2019

7 Blogs to Follow to Improve Your Social Media Marketing

Filed under: Social Media — lidia @ 10:00 am

Social media can seem daunting when you’re working solo, or at a nonprofit organization or small business. Here are the social media blogs that I find most useful for staying up-to-date in the changing world of social media.

Many of these blogs also offer weekly email tips and/or how-to or beginner’s guides to social media topics, so if you are just diving in keep an eye out for those.

7 Useful Social Media Marketing Blogs to Follow

Buffer Blog

Buffer makes my favorite social media scheduler and shares the latest trends in social media marketing, as well as useful case studies from companies that are doing it well.

Digital Marketer

Digital Marketer shares tips, roundups, and lots of  “best-ofs” (i.e. best articles for organic traffic, etc.) as well as many free social media-related worksheets and resources.

HubSpot Blog

HubSpot is one of my favorite overall marketing resources—especially for a small business like myself. They are champions for inbound marketing and share social media advice that is clear and easy to adapt. They also have a free Social Media Certification course through their HubSpot Academy.

Moz Social Media Blog

Moz is an SEO tool, so they approach social media from an SEO perspective (you can’t have one without the other, right?) Check out their Beginner’s Guide to Social Media.

Orbit Media Social Media Blog

Orbit Media is a Chicago-based web design and development agency and they are my go-to for content marketing advice in general because they make it so easy to understand and implement (and it’s like they KNOW what I’m thinking…)

Social Media Examiner

SME was one of my first social media marketing resources, but it continues to be one of of my go-tos. You can pretty much find anything related to social media here, and they also host a yearly conference called Social Media Marketing World. 

Social Media Today

SMT offers a great overview of all social media channels, as well as content marketing. Their home page includes a library of free ebooks and calendar of upcoming events.

Sprout Social Blog

Sprout Social is another great social media scheduling tool and they share quick tips, geared to small businesses. Check out their complete guide to social media for small business. 

 

Did I miss any of your faves?

July 26, 2018

Why your small business needs brand guidelines—and how to create them

Filed under: Branding,Small Business — lidia @ 5:38 pm

Why your small business needs brand guidelines

I was recently designing packaging for a small business and when I requested their brand guidelines, she had never heard of the term. I’m guessing this is common for many small business owners. Or else, you have heard of brand guidelines, but don’t know where to start when it comes to creating them for your business.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines (also sometimes called brand standards, style or identity guidelines or graphic standards) provide a detailed overview of your business’ (or product’s) branding—from the graphic look and feel to the overall voice and tone. It assures that everyone in your organization—as well as outside partners and vendors—are expressing your brand consistently and accurately.

Since many small business owners are managing many (if not all) marketing tasks internally, having strong brand guidelines can make marketing and promotion of your business (or product) much easier as there is always a reference point. Plus, it keeps everyone inside and outside the organization on the same page (literally!)

Why your small business needs brand guidelines

  1. Consistency: It keeps your branding and marketing consistent across all print and online media.
  2. Efficiency: When you have a reference point for your marketing pieces, you can create them more quickly and efficiently.
  3. Professionalism: When all of your marketing materials are consistent and on-brand, it shows people you know what you’re doing.
  4. Convenience: When everything is in one place, it helps your partners and vendors (such as graphic designers, photographers, writers and print vendors) do their job faster and easier—which also saves you money.
  5. Accuracy: When brand details are easily accessible, it helps to avoid costly mistakes such as using the wrong color or font on a printed piece.
  6. Continuity: When everything is in one place, necessary brand assets such as logos or brand colors, can be easily accessed when needed and project delays can be avoided.
  7. Onboarding: New employees can get to know your brand quickly and easily, so they can get to work faster. It also provides them a constant reference as they get acquainted with their new job.

What should be included in brand guidelines

A good set of brand guidelines will assure everything people see and experience related to your small business is an accurate expression of your brand. So, what should be included?

Before getting started, think about how your organization will use the guidelines:

  • What types (and channels) of marketing do you use? (i.e. print, digital, social media)
  • Will your in-house team mainly use them or will you share with outside vendors?
  • If you work with outside vendors, what types of work do they produce? (i.e. brochures, flyers, advertising, email marketing)

At the very least, the following should be included in brand guidelines:

  • Mission and vision statements: including verbiage about how they relate to your overall brand.
  • Logo usage: including sizing requirements, clear space (the space around the logo that separates it from other design elements), logotypes and icons, logo lockups (i.e. if the logo should always appear with another element such as a tagline, date or URL). It’s also a good to include misuse examples, for example: the logo should not be stretched disproportionately or used smaller than ¼”.
  • Taglines: including when and how to use the tagline, and where it should be placed in relation to the logo.
  • Fonts and typography: including allowable primary and secondary fonts for both print and online usage. Optionally, include examples and/or suggested usage for headlines and body copy.
  • Color palette: including primary and secondary color palettes for print (Pantone, CMYK) and digital (RGB, HEX) usage.
  • Imagery: including suggested types of photography and illustration that should be used, as well as when images should be used. May also include recommended website for purchasing stock photography or illustration and/or image guidelines for in-house or contracted photographers.

Depending on your small businesses’ needs, you may also want to include:

  • Voice and tone: including writing guidelines for print marketing, as well as digital marketing such as blogs and social media outlets.
  • Sample layouts: including commonly-used marketing templates such as business cards, stationery, flyers, brochures or print ads
  • Social media guidelines: including an overview of how your brand will be expressed on social media (if available, include an overview of the business’ social media strategy and editorial calendar)
  • Guest author guidelines: including guidelines for writers who will contribute articles to the organization’s website, blog or social media.
  • PR reference: including organization blurbs (ranging from a 5-word blurb to several paragraphs), staff bios, headshots, and other materials that may be needed for PR opportunities. Include filenames and shared drive locations for easy access by all staff members and contractors.
  • Email signature: what should be included (logo, name, title, email, phone number, legal verbiage, other relevant links) as well as the specified format (text, HTML). Have a template handy on a shared drive to supply to new employees or contractors.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple or complex as your small business needs. And enlisting the help of a branding designer can make it much easier. Believe me, it will all pay off in the end. As a designer, I know how frustrating it can be to search for logos, color specs and other necessary design elements when working on a project.

Need inspiration or examples?

Sometimes the best way to get started developing brand guidelines is to see what others are doing. A good place to start is by Googling “brand guidelines and [your industry or business]” to see examples.

Or check out this roundup of 80+ brand and identity guidelines from various organizations and brands around the world.

Need help creating your brand guidelines? If you can’t tell, I love creating them. Let’s chat!

April 25, 2018

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines—and how to create them

Filed under: Branding — Tags: , , , , , — lidia @ 5:13 pm
Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels

I work with many nonprofits in Chicago, and one of the reasons they choose to work with me is because they need help bringing consistency to their branding and marketing materials.

For an established organization (or even a new one), branding can start to become diluted over time, with marketing materials using multiple versions of logos, colors and images that are not on-brand, and messaging that is not targeted or audience-focused. This is where brand guidelines can make a big impact.

What are brand guidelines?

Brand guidelines (also sometimes called brand standards, style guides, identity guides or graphic standards) provide a detailed overview of your organization’s branding—from the graphic look and feel to the overall voice and tone. It assures that everyone in your organization—as well as outside partners and vendors—are expressing your brand consistently and accurately.

Since many nonprofit leaders or managers handle most (if not all) marketing tasks internally, having strong brand guidelines can make marketing and promotion of your organization much easier as there is always a reference point. Plus, it keeps everyone inside and outside the organization on the same page (literally!) And most importantly, it allows you to focus on what you do best—sharing your mission and serving others.

Why your nonprofit needs brand guidelines

  1. Consistency: It keeps your branding and marketing consistent across all print and online media.
  2. Efficiency: When you have a reference point for your marketing pieces, you can create them more quickly and efficiently.
  3. Professionalism: When all of your marketing materials are consistent and on-brand, it helps to emphasize your experience and competency
  4. Convenience: When everything is in one place, it helps your partners and vendors (such as graphic designers, photographers, writers and print vendors) do their job faster and easier
  5. Budget: When design elements and other brand-related files are easily accessible, projects can be completed faster and more economically.
  6. Accuracy: When brand details are easily accessible, it helps to avoid costly mistakes such as using the wrong color or font on a printed piece.
  7. Timing: When everything is in one place, necessary brand assets (i.e. logos or brand colors) can be easily accessed when needed and project delays can be avoided.
  8. Onboarding: New employees (and vendors) can get to know your organization quickly and easily, so they can get to work faster. It also provides them a constant reference as they get acquainted with their new job and assures that they are sharing your message accurately.

What should be included in brand guidelines

A good set of brand guidelines will assure everything people see and experience related to your organization is an accurate expression of your brand. So, what should be included?

Before getting started, think about how your organization will use the guidelines:

  • What types (and channels) of marketing do you use? (i.e. print, digital, social media, in-person events)
  • Will your in-house team mainly use them or will you share them with outside vendors?
  • If you work with outside vendors, what types of work do they produce? (i.e. brochures, flyers, advertising, email marketing, social media, video)

At the very least, the following should be included in brand guidelines:

  • Mission statement and vision statement: including verbiage about how they relate to your overall brand.
  • Logo usage: including sizing requirements, clear space (the space around the logo that separates it from other design elements), logotypes and icons, logo lockups (i.e. if the logo should always appear with another element such as a tagline, date or URL). It’s also a good to include misuse examples, for example: the logo should not be stretched disproportionately or used smaller than ¼”.
  • Taglines: including when and how to use the tagline, and where it should be placed in relation to the logo.
  • Fonts and typography: including allowable primary and secondary fonts for both print and online usage. Optionally, include examples and/or suggested usage for headlines and body copy.
  • Color palette: including primary and secondary color palettes for print (Pantone, CMYK) and digital or presentation (RGB, HEX) usage.
  • Imagery: including suggested types of photography and illustration that should be used, as well as when images should be used. May also include recommended website for purchasing stock photography or illustration and/or image guidelines for in-house or contracted photographers.

Depending on your organization’s needs, you may also want to include:

  • Voice and tone: including writing guidelines for print marketing, as well as digital marketing such as blogs and social media outlets.
  • Sample layouts: including commonly-used marketing templates such as business cards, stationery, flyers, print ads and social media posts.
  • Social media/content marketing guidelines: including an overview of how your brand will be expressed on social media or content marketing (if available, include an overview or links to the organization’s social media/content marketing strategy and editorial calendar)
  • Guest author guidelines: including guidelines for writers who will contribute articles to the organization’s website, blog or social media.
  • PR reference: including organization blurbs (several versions ranging from a 5-word blurb to several paragraphs), staff bios, headshots, and other materials that may be needed for PR opportunities. Include filenames and shared drive locations for easy access by all staff members and contractors.
  • Email signature: what should be included (logo, name, title, email, phone number, legal verbiage, other relevant links) as well as the specified format (text, HTML). Have a template handy on a shared drive to supply to new employees or contractors.

This may sound like a lot of work, but it can be as simple or complex as your organization needs.

And enlisting the help of a branding designer can make it much easier. Believe me, it will all pay off in the end. As a designer, I know how frustrating it can be to search for logos, color specs and other necessary design elements when working on a project.

Want to see examples?

Sometimes the best way to get started developing brand guidelines is to see what others are doing. A good place to start is by Googling “nonprofit brand guidelines”.

Or check out this roundup of 80+ brand and identity guidelines from various organizations and brands around the world.

If you need help developing your org’s brand guidelines, reach out to me—I would love to help!

December 18, 2017

Instead of “to-dos” make a list of “dones”

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 1:03 pm


As a natural listmaker, I’m always busy making my to-do lists throughout the year. So it’s nice to take some time at the end of the year to reflect on what was accomplished, instead of what needs to be done.

As I mentioned in this 10-Minute Marketing post, I keep a running list of “monthly highlights” as the year goes by. Specifically, I track client and sales growth, number of leads or prospects, press mentions, and events I participate in. This helps me stay focused on my goals as the year goes by.

But I also jot down what I like to call “Success Stories”—positive feedback and project outcomes or other accomplishments that can be shared with my clients or used as personal inspiration throughout the year. For example, a few of my success stories were being invited to be a judge for print communications (for the second time) at the IAPD/IPRA Agency Showcase Awards, as well as hosting my first Branding 101 workshop for local nonprofits and small businesses. (P.S. I was easily able to reference and copy/paste this information from my Monthly Highlights doc)

As 2017 draws to a close, why not set aside your to-dos and make a list of “dones” to reflect back on. Create a few easily quantifiable categories that relate to your organization’s goals, such as increase in donors or members, increase in funds raised or attendance at events, increase in social media reach, or number of press mentions. And think about creating a doc (in Evernote, Google Drive, etc.) that you can update throughout the year. It will help you stay focused on your goals—plus it’s always encouraging to see your list of “dones” grow as the year goes on.

Plus, once you have all that good stuff written down, it’s great reference for your marketing materials, content marketing and website. Increased your membership by 20%? Share it on your membership brochure to inspire new members to join. Great turnout at your gala event? Share it on social media to encourage potential donors, attendees, and local media to support future events. Clients, supporters and prospective partners love to hear about all the great stuff you’re doing and how you and your organization are making a difference.

Speaking of, here’s an infographic that shows my business highlights from 2016. (Stay tuned for this year’s version!)

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