January 28, 2019

RECAP: IAPD/IPRA Agency Showcase Competition

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 10:00 am

Last week was my fourth time judging the Agency Showcase Competition at the Illinois Park and Recreation Association/IAPD Soaring to New Heights Conference.

The competition features communications and marketing work from local park districts and parks/recreation agencies. Entries are judged on creativity, design, content and organization.

The category I judged was Print Communications (Informational and Promotional). Being the print lover that I am, I enjoyed browsing the brochures, reports, posters, sponsorship booklets and other print collateral. I look forward to hearing if any of my “faves” are winners!

January 18, 2019

RECAP: Alumni Coffee Connection at Columbia College Chicago

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Networking — lidia @ 10:00 am

This week, I attended Alumni Coffee Connection, a Columbia College Chicago Alumni networking event that I helped to plan. It featured Columbia College Chicago alumna from the ’90s, ’00s and ’10s.

The inspiring panel, Michele Anderson of Lookingglass Theatre Company, Maggie O’Keefe for 40th Ward Alderman and Meka Hemmon of SpiderMeka Photography, discussed how they used the skills and connections developed at Columbia, successes and challenges in their career, how all of their experiences led them to their current career path, and mentorship and why it’s important to have a mentor (or be a mentor for someone else).

Michele pointed out, you can “learn from good bosses and bad bosses.” And I loved what she said about her mother, and how she believed there were no limits for her daughter’s generation.

Maggie said “It’s OK to change careers—don’t apologize for wanting to change your path.” And Meka added “no decision is permanent (with the exception of children!)”

Coffee was provided by Back of the Yards Coffeehouse and Roastery, a roastery and cafe on the southwest side of Chicago (woot!) that is minority- and woman-owned.

Thank you to Shannon Langan of Columbia College and my fellow members of the alumni host committee, Alexandra Eidenberg of The Insurance People, Kate Nicolai of Wine Shop at Home, Rebecca Resman of Chicago Family Biking, Dafna Nussbaum, and Kate Alpert of Women Belong. And, thanks to the attendee who reminded me that I’m part of the Columbia College Chicago 20-year club! (BA in Graphic Design ’94)

June 25, 2018

How nonprofits can thrive during challenging times

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

ACN Annual Meeting 2018

On June 1st, the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits (ACN) held their annual meeting in Chicago. This year’s event featured networking, breakout discussions on specific topics and a panel on consultants discussing how they are helping nonprofits grow and thrive.

The panel was moderated by Chicago broadcasting legend and philanthropist, Merri Dee, and included panelists Clara L. Carrier 
of Breaking Through Consulting, LLC, Gregg Mellinger 
of USI Insurance Services, Joyce Golbus Poll of
 J.G. Poll & Associates (and former ACN Board President) and Amy Schiffman of 
Giving Tree Associates.

How nonprofits can thrive during these challenging times

1. Funding—and What is Working Now

A hybrid/diverse approach is best: corporate, foundations, individual giving. Think about different ways to bring in funds. Call on board members and make them accountable. Be realistic about who wants to fund you, make sure they care about what you do. [Amy]

Connect with people, be specific about what you need (i.e. volunteers, goods, etc.) [Clara]

2. Making Use of a Documented Fundraising Strategy

Break down what to do: why do you to raise money and how will you get there? It functions as an insurance policy against desperately coming up with ideas throughout the year. Determining your strategy is the first step. [Amy]

3. Utilizing a Workflow Analysis

Do what you can to save the organization money. How can we maximize efficiency? Create an effective workflow: it makes for a happy customer and staff morale increases. See who’s doing what and determine how it can be done better. Use resources such as software and consultants, or form teams. [Joyce

4. Reprioritizing Spending

Insurance is your second biggest line item (after payroll); create a proactive, documented multiplayer strategy tied to your budget, so you are not scrambling at the last minute. Follow the money: where is the money going? People will accept lower pay if there are benefits that are suitable to them. Follow the formula: PEOPLE > PREMIUM > PURPOSE. [Gregg]

5. Hiring Employees or Consultants

Whomever you hire must be passionate about your cause. Get to know millennials or other groups, know what their purpose is and how they can relate to your cause. Ask candidates about failures or what they learned. [Clara]

Look for someone who understands and wants to be a key part of your organization’s future. They should want to become am integral part of your team/purpose. Gregg also spoke about asking for a tour of a prospect’s facility in order to better connect with them—and the prospect commented that no one had ever made that request before. [Gregg]

Look for consultants with a strong track record, success working both with people one-on-one and with the board, and a strong belief in your mission. [Amy]

6. Deciding to Become a Funder

Things to consider: need, who they are in community, and how prepared are they are to ask: do they know their needs? Have they done their research and pre work? [Merri Dee]

It was an inspiring, hopeful discussion and it made me feel good about being a creative partner with several local nonprofits here in Chicago. Together, we can do great things!

I’ve joined the ACN Board

I’m also thrilled to share that after being a member for two years (and part of the Marketing Committee), I’ve been invited to join the ACN Board of Directors as VP, Marketing and Communications. I’m excited to be a part of this growing community of nonprofit consultants in Chicago. And stay tuned to hear more about ACN!

 

 

 

June 20, 2018

3 Ways Your Organization Can Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

photo by pexels

The Summer Solstice, in agricultural terms, is a time when crops are in full growth and approaching harvest. But why let farmers have all the fun? Here are 3 ways you can use the energy of the Summer Solstice to assess and foster the growth of your organization.

1. Conduct a branding audit

How has your organization grown in terms of branding? Is your brand accurately telling your story? Is there room for improvement? I suggest to my clients that they perform a branding audit at least once per year, and this is the perfect time to do so.

Download my Branding Checklist.

2. Make a list of this year’s highlights

We’re all accustomed to making “to-do” lists, but how about making a “done” list? This is a list of your organization’s growth and accomplishments. Some ideas are: program highlights, speaking engagements, events, press mentions, new services or programs, growth in membership or supporters, etc. I actually recommend doing this on a regular basis. Personally, I keep a note in Evernote and I update it monthly.

3. Review your marketing campaigns to-date

Make a list of this year’s marketing campaigns, along with the results for each. What were your successes and why? (Don’t forget to add them to your “highlights” list) What areas of improvement are there? How has your organization grown or moved forward this year?

Download my Marketing Campaign Assessment template (Google Doc)

However you decide to celebrate the Summer Solstice, I encourage you to step back from the daily work of promoting your mission, and admire the growth of your organization. You deserve it!

 

May 15, 2018

How smart is your social media branding?

Filed under: Branding,Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 1:15 pm

How smart is your social medai branding

Social media is a smart way to promote and increase awareness for your organization or nonprofit. In fact, social media may be the first point of entry for a prospect or supporter, so you want to make sure your branding accurately tells your story.

What is social media branding?

Social media branding is how your organization is perceived on social media. This encompasses both visual (logo, imagery) and verbal (writing, voice) but for now, we will be focusing on the visual aspect.

Keep it consistent

One of the first steps to social media success is having well-designed and consistent branding throughout. You want people to easily recognize your organization or nonprofit wherever they may find you on social media.

Design a smart social media brand

The first step is to claim your page on all the major social media channels (even if you’re not using it yet): LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest (just to make a few). Ideally, you should choose the same username for all social media channels.

Then, you need to upload the required images, which usually includes:

  • Profile
  • Header
  • Cover
  • Background

You can use the same or similar images for each social media channel, but be aware of the different sizes and specifications required by each. Whatever you do: DON’T just drop in your logo or stretch it to fit!

TIP: Sprout Social has a great “always-up-to-date” social media image size reference here.

Have some fun with it…

With many of my logo design clients, I will create a custom version of their logo specifically for social media purposes. And since you are not limited by paper size or ink colors, you can get creative with it. For example, Facebook now offers business pages the ability to upload a video profile image.

Bring more awareness to your events or programs

You can also create custom social media graphics, headers or profile images to promote special events or programs within your organization. And don’t forget to create a custom hashtag for the event too.

Your social media branding can—and should be—constantly evolving. How well are your telling your brand story?

I know it can be overwhelming keeping up with ever-changing social media specifications and the myriad required images for each channel. Let me help! Check out the social media branding we’ve designed and then give us a call.

 

 

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!)

January 11, 2017

How to make the most out of working with a graphic designer

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

8 ways to get the most out of your graphic designer

Having a graphic designer partner can make a huge difference for an organization. Since your branding is probably the first thing a potential client or partner notices about you, investing in a well-designed logo and other marketing materials is one of the keys to success.

I recently shared my top 8 tips for working with a graphic designer on the Keyword Marketing Blog:

  1. Let us know what your goals are for the project (aka the “who, what and why”): This includes WHO you are trying to reach, WHAT you are trying to accomplish, and WHY you chose this type of marketing piece. The more we know about your project and your goals, the better the end result will be.
  2. Send us copy that is complete and well-organized: This will cut down on the number of potential edits (saving you time and money). Let us know if you need referrals for a copywriter or editor. Or ask us for help editing your content to fit your message.
  3. Provide graphics that are high-resolution and in usable file formats: Please, no graphics pulled from the web! Also let us know of any potential copyright issues—if you are unsure about using an image, we can help you investigate or find appropriate images.
  4. Inform us of deadlines and crucial project milestones: It helps us create a working production schedule—and we are happy to keep you on track if necessary!
  5. Let us know how and where your project will be used: If you need print materials, a website, online advertising, social media profiles or graphics, promotional or staff apparel, etc., we want to know about it.
  6. Provide samples: If you have existing marketing materials or branding, please provide samples at the start of the project so we can keep everything consistent.
  7. Bring up any concerns as they arise: Please let us know as soon as possible of any concerns you have during the design process. Frequent and honest communication is appreciated and will help both of us stay on the same page.

  8. Bonus points – if you have Brand Guidelines, please send them: This helps us keep our designs on-brand (And if you don’t have brand guidelines, we are happy to create them for you)

Above all, know that we are here to help. If you have any questions as we go along, please ask. Remember, our job is to make your business look good so the more we communicate, the better your business branding—and our relationship—will be.

Do you need a graphic design partner? I would love to chat with you!

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January 4, 2017

2017 word for the year: priorities

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion,Time Management — lidia @ 10:00 am

word for the year_priorities

Starting back in 2014, I’ve chosen a word to set the tone for the upcoming year. 2016’s word was REGROUP. In 2015, my second child arrived 7 weeks early (requiring a 3-week hospital stay) so my priorities understandably shifted to my new baby. Once I was back to work, I felt that I needed to regroup and focus on my business again. I also joined an accountability group and used my word regroup to guide my goals progress.

I like to choose a word that applies both to my personal and work life, so this year’s word is PRIORITIES. My creative brain tends to jump from project to project as inspiration strikes. Now that my work hours are dictated by my kids’ schedules, setting strict priorities and staying on task each day is crucial.

I also want to set my priorities at home, for example making after-school time more focused on my kiddos (my 15-month old literally cries when I open my laptop and try to finish up work!)

What is your word for 2017?

August 3, 2016

7 tips for getting email marketing right

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — Tags: , , , , , , — lidia @ 10:00 am

7 ways to do email marketing the right way

I’m amazed by the amount of spam I receive, specifically email lists I’m added to without my permission by someone who I don’t know. (I use a different email address on my website contact form so I can easily identity when this happens. I know, sneaky…) Today, I got another one of these emails and said to myself: something must be done!

Email marketing is a great way to reach qualified prospects—the key here being the word qualified. Adding people indiscriminately to your mailing list in the hopes of making your list bigger can backfire: your messages will get marked as spam, eventually leading to your account getting closed down.

So, what’s the right way to approach email marketing? Focusing on quality, not quantity is my approach. My list is small but very targeted, so every email newsletter I send results in a reconnection, conversation or new project.

7 tips for getting email marketing right

  1. Keep a clean list: Every now and then, go through and delete contacts on your list who are no longer prospects or have outdated email addresses
  2. Be very careful when adding names: Only add people who have specifically given permission to be added to your list (see #4 & 5 below) or with whom you have worked in the past.
  3. Write for your audience: Make sure your email content is tailored to your list or they may unsubscribe
  4. Have an opt-in freebie on your website: Create a freebie (report, eBook, tipsheet, etc.) for prospects to download in exchange for their email address
  5. Send a cold email: If there is someone you really want to connect with, send them a friendly introductory email with a request to join your list (make sure they will find it useful, see #3)
  6. Give them an out: Make sure your messages always include an easy way to opt-out or unsubscribe
  7. Focus on quality, not quantity: Yes, a huge mailing list sounds tempting, but it only takes one successful connection to generate results, so focus on adding good, qualified prospects rather than increasing your numbers

Are you breaking any of the “rules?” By focusing on quality not quantity, you will quickly see the benefit of having a well-managed email list.

Need help developing your next email marketing campaign? I can help with design and strategy, as well as managing your campaign. Let’s chat!

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March 2, 2016

Package design is not just for stores

Filed under: Marketing & Promotion — lidia @ 12:11 pm

Package design is not just for retail products. Nonprofits or associations can use it for a variety of promotional purposes. You may want to create a product to honor your most-active members or supporters, give away at a conference, or promote a fundraising event to your top donors.

Here are three great websites for package design and format inspiration:

  1. The Dieline
  2. Lovely Package
  3. Package Inspiration

Are you thinking about creating a promotional product for your organization? Take a peek at my packaging design samples and then let’s get started on your project!

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