corporates with purpose

Recently I was lucky enough to get back together with fellow Marketing Academy Alumni for some thought provoking talks and sessions around the theme of purposeful marketing.

One of the talks was from a CMO of a large drinks company and was followed by various discussion topics. Here’s a few of the stand-out points I jotted down:

  • Its not about marketing to consumers, it’s about mattering to more people.
  • Clear sense of purpose is a guiding star that helps all things ladder up to delivering more engagement
  • World today:
    • About discovering a truth and getting it to be shared.
    • No longer define audience as consumers, we are talking to people.
    • Purpose a key part of mattering to people.
    • Many more customer touch-points means you need a stronger organising thought.
  • Stengal purpose study showed meaningful brands grow faster.

What’s does this mean for charities?

With much of what was shared easily being something a charity could say it reinforced for me how the landscape has changed. There’s no doubting the trend of corporates further aligning themselves with social good and, at least in some cases, investing in meaningful social good activities.

Of course having a purpose doesn’t always equal doing social good but this isn’t always clear to (or cared about by) mass audiences.

What is clear is that this trend amounts to heightening pressure for charities to focus on the things that make them unique. This could mean transforming in lots of different ways in order to do this better, and also differently to commercial companies.

When the public see your brand in the same frame as more highly resourced commercial brands it could be far too easy to be drowned out.

digital transformation KPIs: myths and meaning

This week I spoke at the NCVO Trustee conference in a session on digital transformation, with my particular bit being on the practical angle of measurement. It was a great session with talks from Megan Griffith GrayPatrick Nash and Kay Boycott highlighting the need to view digital transformation not as a subset of Comms, and not as “Digital”, but instead as Service Transformation.

My favourite bits included when Kay challenged the audience of Trustees to educate themselves and stop dismissing digital strategy as something they can delegate purely to junior staff. Seeing Patrick highlight the proven 70% – 80% savings possible in using technology to support delivery of services also made it to my highlights.

When it came to talking about Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), we asked the audience of around 40 to raise their hand if they were exposed to their digital KPIs as trustees. Sadly an awkward absence of raised hands followed. It’s not often I’m left that speechless…

Moving quickly on, I spoke on a few myths and meaningful factors to be aware of. Here’s the top-line points:

Myths

  • Big numbers matter
    • In their own right big numbers are misleading, having lots of traffic or social media followers means nothing if people are not actively engaging and doing things that contribute to your charity goals.
  • Improved results are always good
    • Seasonality and external environmental factors could be causing peaks which have nothing to do with any actions your charity has taken. While this improvement might be beneficial, it isn’t always an indicator you’re doing more things right.
  • Digital needs its own KPIs
    • Everyone owns the performance, not just the digital team. Equally digital should be woven through all you do as we live in a country where digital is embedded in our lives. Measures should no longer sit in a silo and be the interest of the few ‘experts’.

Meaning

  • Outcome driven
    • Start with understanding your audiences and what will genuinely impact them and your related charity goals. Measures like ‘opportunities to see’, ‘page views’ and ‘impressions’ mean nothing unless you can prove impact within or for your target audiences and mission.
  • People and culture
    • Building capabilities within your team is critical, you can’t assume younger workforces automatically have workplace appropriate digital skills. Taking a phone call personally doesn’t directly translate to what works professionally, this is the same with digital skills. Baselining and monitoring skills and personal development is key to encouraging and supporting digital transformation.
  • Shifts
    • What you really need to pay attention to is shifts, and aim to track this over time. Benchmarking your results and spend against the external environment will help you understand performance and whether you might be lagging behind. Using stats like the Ofcom Communications Market Reports can help define whether you should be investing in other areas based on consumer behaviour.

The session ended with a quick Q&A which exposed enthusiasm but a shared concern about getting the right help and resources. Personally I feel its too easy to use these challenges as excuses to brush aside change as unobtainable, but I’m hopeful this room of Trustee’s will start to change things.

should you always show a donate button?

In a recent strategy session I was leading with a charity we hit upon a debate the team had been having for the last few months of thinking about their new website; should the donate button always be on?

The fundraiser at the charity had shared some study or other (I’ve asked for details – please comment if you know them) which said a donate button on your home page and header wasn’t a good idea and actually put off visitors rather than allowing time to build engagement before making an ask.

Cutting to the chase; I disagreed.

A clear ‘always on’ donate button is like a steering wheel in a car, it’s an expected part of the furniture your visitor needs to see to know they’re in the right place (a charity website) and to get involved if they want to.

With every part of your website now a potential homepage, because any user could land anywhere on your site from a search, you need to ensure there’s something that clearly communicates what you are and a donate button is a good shortcut – a badge for charities.

If you’re a heavily service orientated charity you should of course consider the weighting of the ‘call to asks’ across your site. Focusing on servicing the people you’re there to help is critical, without question, but like all things in life – awareness comes before action.

 

 

 

barcampnfp 2015

Barcampnfp 2015 end of day group shot by @netsmith

Barcampnfp 2015 end of day group shot

Hello, long time no see, sorry!

This year seems to have really flown by and I have a few different blog posts stuck in my head ready to get out. The first one being to share all the great stuff we learned from this year’s Barcampnfp.

Held 8th April 2015 in the ultimate shabby chic east London space (thank you Top Office Machines) we again had around 100 non-profit interested tech and nfp staff come together to network and learn.

How did the day work?

barcampnfp session card photo by Gaby JeffsFor those of you that don’t know already; Barcampnfp is in an unconference format, where the only thing set before the day is the venue and times. A blank timetable is posted on the morning of the event so that every participant has the chance to propose sessions. The event truly is owned by the people who attend it – this way only the topics of interest to the audience actually become part of the day!

I’ve always slightly broken the rules of a traditional barcamp by having a defined theme (tech & non-profits) and curating the sessions rather than just allowing the timetable board to be filled up directly. Following the mammoth curation session last year I decided to try just letting the participants free like the traditional format. To support this I creating more structured session cards (see pic) to guide people making suggestions.

The structured cards worked well but the curation was something participants said they’d like back next year. The curation was missed because it helped similar topics merge and gave the chance for people to be matched with someone who knows about a theme they want to learn about. Some great lessons to take on for the next event!

What did we learn?

Here’s a few of the high level things we learned:

  • Agile methodology is becoming more adopted in non-profits, but contrary to common thought discipline and documentation is what really makes agile work.
  • Digital transformation is a hot topic in the sector right now, some organisations are completely in support while others aren’t. Either way there are lots of ‘stealth’ tactics that can be put to use by specialists without org support.
  • Engaging young people requires great imagery along with good stories. Just bite the bullet and use Instagram and Snapchat which is where these audiences are right now.
  • A/B testing is important but don’t test something that you’re not prepared to implement -­ it might win!
  • Video can be done on a shoe string – raw and real stories work best in this case.
  • Measuring impact is a challenge still being ploughed through – the AMEC framework can be a great model to work with.

Check out the live notes from the day here and pictures here.

As always, let me know if you’d like to run a barcampnfp near you or get involved in the London events @spirals.

charities going backwards in digital maturity – should we blame the donors

This week Lloyds and Go On UK released their 2015 digital maturity report with the headline insight that charities are behind SMEs and going backwards when it comes to digital.

There’s some fascinating stats such as the % of digital skills across four broad skill areas (communicate, find things, provide information, transact). The study shows that charities come out worst in transact skills areas and, to be honest, I’m not that surprised.

Lloyds digital maturity report - graphWhile it’s easy to get into debates about the methodology used in the study, what’s harder to deny the fact that as a whole the charity sector has been slower to take up more digitally enabled transaction methods.

You can logic that this is due to appropriate audience focus; with older audiences being more likely donors and where average giving amounts are typically higher. To my knowledge the persistence of the printed cheque is specifically tied to charities lobbying for it to continue precisely due to this fact (happy to be corrected here if you know different!).

So should we blame the donors for charities being behind in digital?

Before I say anything else, the answer to this is clearly No. There’s a complex set of factors at play beyond audience fit; limited resources, expertise and affordable technology.

Being a long time digital specialist in the sector I’ve seen the trials and tribulations of forward focused individuals (including many non-specialists). Individuals who’ve tried to use digital but been left feeling disempowered and receiving warnings that this would risk their long-time supporter engagement. Where you have limited resources and the technology isn’t easily available you do often have to make a choice, and do it quickly based on assumptions.

Things have changed but they need to change more

With SMS giving increased in the last few years I’ve definitely seen a shift in charities thinking more about younger people. As ‘older donors’ become even more technically savvy this too has increased the impetus in the sector.

Instead of the first assumption being ‘they don’t do digital’ a few more decisions now come from the assumption ‘everyone is using digital and if we’re not there they’ll go to someone else’. However, having worked in some of the largest charities and now working with more different sized charities I can see there’s a lack of equality across the sector. Not every charity has the resources, expertise and technology to have shifted.

I’m excited to be working on something that should help to change this, let me know if you want to know more.

lessons in digital transformation from UNICEF UK

Now I’ve moved to a new job at Raising IT I’m feeling very reflective about the 3.5 years I worked at UNICEF UK.

My job involved working with my team across three main areas; direct digital delivery (content, marketing and technology), leading the digital strategy and providing internal strategic consultancy, plus the most challenging but rewarding area – digital transformation of the whole organisation.

I’ve written quite a bit about on this my blog over the years but here’s something I wrote for another site recently; an executive summary of how we delivered digital transformation at UNICEF UK.

Plus here’s a pic that gives me flash backs 🙂

why aren’t there more charity start-ups?

Last night Nesta held an event examining this very topic. As usual there was some great content from Mary McKenna who has been working with Vinspired on Tasksquad.

Tasksquad is a rarity – one of very few charity founded startups, at least to my knowledge. Yet I feel there are so many factors that should make charities fertile ground for entrepreneurial action;

  • goodwill support,
  • often more forgiving audiences (if you fail for the right reasons)
  • and a wealth of expertise in real social issues.

Here’s a storify from the Nesta charity digital innovation event on what everyone had to say about why it’s rare.

what’s changed in digital over the years?

This is a rather belated post promised to Amy the other day. She promised me it wasn’t a sneaky way to work out my age!

What has changed?

I’ve worked in digital for my whole career and a lot has changed in that time.

In the past 12 months there have been a few moments that have left me practically punching the air with glee because they’ve signalled the non-profit sector is finally maturing its approach to digital. To name a couple; when the opening plenary of the Institute of Fundraising Convention started with a speech about embracing digital in fundraising. The other being when I heard the change of title of the digital lead at a couple of major charities from Head to Director – a much truer recognition of the roles as they’ve been for some time.

 

From web monkey to specialist advisor

I can remember a time when there were only web officers. Expected to mostly put pdf’s on the website with little to no notice, that’s if people remembered the website was there at all. Now digital has a seat at the strategy and planning table in many organisations – at the very least at a project level.

From custom build to on-demand tools

Updating the website was a thing that only the web monkey knew how to do. It was all a bit techy and there was this complicated hmtl or something. Now we’ve got content management systems and other tools that everyone can use and, in some cases, that dynamically personalise the content, journey and more to the user. This was the stuff of Tommorrow’s World not too long ago.

From under the carpet to KPI

You were glad if you got a few hundred hits (yes – hits!) and quietly shared this with any geeky friends. Then perhaps you started to email and post up your top line web stats probably to an almost deafening silence of no return comments or questions. Now digital stats are part of the report to board members – Marks & Spencer even had its ecommerce stats reported in press.

 

I could go on I’m sure – but that’s another thing that’s changed, we’ve all got shorter attention spans 🙂

the tension between brand and digital

Post it sorting at Mozilla with UNICEF UK volunteersThere’s been many debates over the impact of digital on brand and reputation. Only recently, it cropped up in a few different ways during a workshop I was involved with organising. Given this, I thought it was time to pull together some thoughts on the theme.

To give a bit of context; the workshop involved a diverse group of UNICEF UK fundraising volunteers playing around with a new Mozilla product. Appmaker helps almost anyone build a mobile web app. It’s still in an experimental phase but already quite progressed compared to the version I helped shape at mozfest last year.

Brand Vs digital

When this issue crops up its still typically presented as opposites. But like most things I’m not sure its helpful to see this as an argument with ‘sides’. This introduces a sense of competition rather than partnership or evolution.

In the workshop this sense of opposition was clear in most of the concerns raised, for example ‘what about your brand if volunteers are creating apps without your involvement?’.

Here’s a break down of the underlying tensions that crop up regularly and the real world factors as I see them.

Look and feel

What: The sense that anything not created by the brand owner is going to be poor quality or inconsistent and that this will damage the organisation.

My perspective:

Most “average joe’s” spend less time looking at your stuff than you do. Anything more than a minor problem is likely to be spotted quite quickly by today’s savvy consumer so the risks here are contained.

The democratisation of technology also means its easier to support non-designers to create reasonably consistent and good quality material if you put the right toolkit in place. If you don’t proactively put a toolkit out there you have to expect more variation and ‘dodgy design’ as people enthusiastically work out ways to hack it for themselves.

Sometimes a person outside the organisation can be more authentic and creative, and therefore more effective. Rather than spending hours trying to include authentic voices, empowering others means you’ve already done that legwork and created a sustainable model.

Open to abuse or untruths

What: The sense that people will use their new power to create an authentic looking app or other digital material to say or do something that’s not right, either on purpose or accidentally. Common concerns are that users will say something on behalf of a brand that isn’t true or funnel money or data into the wrong place.

My perspective:

This is definitely a risk, but its a risk that has always existed. Anyone could knock on a door and claim to be from a particular organisation by brandishing a printed leaflet. Educating consumers has always been a need. Today’s technology may have magnified the problem in some ways but it can also be a part of the solution.

Digital tools can provide ways to ‘lock-down’ elements of the setup so they can’t be tinkered with. Additionally there might be some sort of notification that gets sent to an organisation when certain actions take place meaning there’s a transparent audit trail.  An example with Appmaker is that UNICEF UK could possibly create a default ‘donate’ component that links directly to UNICEF’s secure payments and database.

There are also ways that digital can help to authenticate individual users are who they say they are. For example with Appmaker we could possibly create an electronic badge system where the unique badge can only be earned by genuine fundraising volunteers who have been in touch.

Finally, if there’s anything suspicious the thing about digital is that the genuine website and contact points for the brand are just a click away. As I said earlier, consumers are savvy, it’s fairly frequent that we get emails and tweets @unicef_uk checking if something is really authentic.

Aligning priorities and messages

What: The sense that you can’t keep control over key messages and timings if you’ve empowered others to act on your behalf and tailor their material/s for their own community.

My perspective:

If any of these concerns gets me the most riled up it’s this one. By consciously losing a little bit of control you gain the ultimate benefit that marketing seeks; you become a more integrated part of people’s lives. By being malleable to the interests of users you become more relevant and interesting to them personally.

Not forgetting that you continue to control the primary digital channels for your brand and can communicate the priorities to anyone who you’ve empowered. You might also reserve a place in your digital toolkit that will automatically update from central messages.

There’s not many (any?) moral ways you can control conversations or minds so this risk has always been an aspect of marketing.

Do you need designers and brand managers?

Don’t get me wrong, all of this doesn’t mean you can do away with designers or brand specialists. They can create the toolkit, focus on the big picture and keep pushing forward with more cutting edge work. They have a powerful role in making an ecosystem of digital empowerment real.

Digital can magnify the impact of designers and brand managers which is why it befuddles me that this topic still comes up in the language of arguments.

barcampnfp 2014

Notes

Blogs

Mixed media

Pics

 

What’s this all about?

Barcampnfp is an ‘unconference’ where people from Tech & Digital come together with people from Non-profits (charity, academic, gov, arts & culture etc) to exchange ideas and learning. I’ve been the London lead for a number of years now.

This year’s full day event it took place at The Bakery on Thursday 20 March 2014 and we usually have a half day event during Social Media Week in September.