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026 – Digital Marketing and Branding Insights with Scott Miller

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In this episode, David interviews Scott Miller, the author of a couple of best-selling books about Digital Marketing, Branding, and Team Management. Make sure you don’t miss out on it!

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Episode Transcription

David: Welcome to the Non-profit Digital Success Podcast. I’m your host, David, and today I have Scott Miller on the show. Let me preface this by saying that I’m excited about this episode, as it’s gonna have a little bit of a different take than our usual ones. So allow me to introduce him. Scott knows what it’s like to fail. He was demoted from his first leadership position after only three weeks. And that’s just one of several messy management experiences on his two-decade journey to leadership success. Everyone fails, but something that sets Scott apart is his transparency, his willingness to share his story in a way that’s forthright, relatable, and applicable. I’m sure you’ve all been in a position where a project didn’t turn out quite how you anticipated. It’s just part of learning and growing as an employee, it helps develop a strong character, and owning up to it and taking responsibility makes you a stronger employee, colleague, leader, etc.

During his tenure as the CMO at Franklin Covey, he had the opportunity to work with many non-profit organizations. He also publishes podcasts, webcasts, and best-selling books. I brought Scott on the show because the fundamental principles that govern for-profit businesses also govern Nonprofits and Charities. He knows a thing or two about branding and leadership. So we’re going to dig into that with him today. Scott, thank you so much for being on the show with me today.

Scott: Hey, man, my honor. Thank you for the spotlight. excited to have you.

David: Awesome, how you doing?

Scott: I’m doing great. I think your background is better than mine so I need to tidy up mine a bit, I slipped up back there.

David: Thank you, thank you.

Scott: Which one is your favorite book back there? Which one have you read most times?

David: Yeah. So this is a virtual background. So I appreciate you know, getting called out on that. That’s awesome. I’ve got bookcase sitting over here on the side.

Scott: I’m not calling you out, I think It’s great marketing. Nice job of actually illustrating the topic today. Nicely done!

David: There you go. There you go. Yeah. So if you’re ready, let’s jump in and, and we’ll get to it. So you know, like in my rules of marketing, communication teams, I worked in nonprofits for 16 years, it often felt like the rest of the organization was off doing their own thing. And you know, we were in the dark, too, to a certain extent, it took a lot of time and effort to become part of the conversation instead of just an afterthought, like, oh, we need mailings or an email campaign or, you know, we need something on the website. Have you ever experienced that?

Scott: Well, no question. I mean, you mentioned earlier that I think the principles that govern organizations are the same principles that govern for profit or not for profit. And the same is, of course, through the marketing world, whether you’re marketing, or a multinational global, for profit, or a small, you know, local nonprofit, I think the principles are the same. And the principles are aligning your marketing, your branding, your communication, what the top goals of the organization are, I think oftentimes in organizations even not for profits, the goals aren’t extremely clear. Perhaps they are to that, that the President or that Chairwoman, or that, you know, the leader, the director, but in many cases, because it’s in your head doesn’t mean it’s in everybody else’s head. So I think first and foremost, it’s a fundamental leadership principle, to make sure that you’re communicating, what are the top business priorities, and I say, business priorities, because every organization is either in, they exist to do one or two things, make money or provide a service, it’s an universal principle.

So if you’re in a not for profit, and you’re in marketing, you need to hold your leadership accountable for making sure that they are clearly communicating to you what are the top priorities, fundraising, service, brand, so that you can align all your activities with theirs.

And if they’re not clarifying that for you, then you need to call timeout and say, I need to get clear on what your top priorities are, so that we can align all of our measurement our initiatives and such with you. And I’d argue don’t blame that on them. Take responsibility for that. Because just because you are a leader doesn’t mean that you have everything mastered. So as a marketer, it is your responsibility to make sure that you are clarifying exactly what are the top priorities so you can align all your assets to that. And the more you ask smart questions, the more you should be valued. The more you poke and say so is this like a quarterly goal is the annual goal. How much is this over last year, the more than you can adapt your strategy to it, but if you’re living in a vacuum, it’s not just the leadership responsibility, it’s yours. You have to maybe move outside your comfort zone and ask questions. And honest to goodness, no question is a dumb question. Because if I know your question, it’s about you gaining clarity, then it’s a smart question.

David: Absolutely. Um, you know, taking the organizational mission, the goals, the strategy from the top will only help the organization as a whole succeed and grow and achieve their mission.

Scott: I would say, David, if I am confused on something, I never put that responsibility on somebody else. I ask more questions, I say, quite courageously, I don’t understand what you just said. Could you say that more simply? Or can I try to repeat it back to you in my own words and see if I have it right? I never wallow in confusion. I discuss the undiscussables, I ask questions that others might be embarrassed to ask, because I know that my success is 100% dependent on my understanding of what is the finish line look like? What does success look like? What are we trying to accomplish? And if I’m at all confused on it, then I can’t possibly win. But if I’m crystal clear, I’ll figure out a way to get it done or to get the team that I’m leading to get it done.

David: Absolutely. And you know, if you’re in a room, if you’re sitting in a boardroom, or just you know, a stand-up, you know, 15-minute check-in kind of thing. If you’re thinking that kind of question, somebody else is also thinking, right? It’s just, you know, who’s gonna be the one with the guts to ask it and ask for that kind of clarification. That’s absolutely huge. For sure. For sure. You know, in terms of Non-profits and Charities, needing marketing, one of the easiest and often lowest cost or free is social, you know, create a brilliant graphic or short video, and the person responsible for that in the team posted to, you know, the corporate Facebook page, the feed, the Instagram account, and whatnot. But then it gets like one or two clicks or likes, nothing really great. Do you have any recommendations on quick wins that people listening could use as an approach?

Scott: Well, so that might be actually counterintuitive, because it’s tough to get quick wins in marketing anymore, because there’s so much competition for people’s wallet, for their brain space. I mean, the amount of information we’re all consuming now is just mind-boggling consciously and subconsciously, it is difficult to get people’s attention. And so now more than ever, you’re having to test, you’re having to calibrate and recalibrate. So I think that social media is an invaluable marketing arrow in your quiver. And I think it’s the kind of thing you build over time, just like a database, right? Or any kind of marketing efforts, you’re not going to place an ad in the New York Times, and all of a sudden raise a billion dollars off that you’re gonna have to repeat it four or five times, you’re complementing it with a calling campaign or direct mail campaign. So first and foremost, I would say, I think that I would challenge the premise of the question, but I’m glad you asked it because I don’t believe much in quick wins in marketing. I think that there’s doubt, I’ve been the CMO of a for-profit company that’s, you know, governed by quarterly goals. So I get the need to have results in 90 days. And I’ve been measured by 90-day increments for 30 years in my career. So it isn’t like I think I’ve got nine months to create success on something. Social media is something I’ve built over time. I think a bigger question to ask, David, is, are you on the right platform? You know, based upon your not-for-profit? Should you be on Instagram? Should you be on LinkedIn? Should you be on Tik Tok? Should you be on Pinterest? I mean, honestly, clubhouse right, where should you be? How are you building your followers? How are you building your connections? Are you every day? Creating new followers? Are you adding value through engagement? You’ll ask yourself every day, do I have a cadence? Am I posting, you know, once every four days? So it’s episodic, am I posting every five hours? Is there value in what I’m posting? Is there a benefit to click on what I’m posting? I think there’s lots of things that can be small tweaks as big changes.

I’m consulting a client right now and in their social, their salespeople, it’s a for-profit company. They post marketing brochures, what we call slip sheets, in corporate America. The font is like, you know, nine on the page, it’s two on social media. Who was going to read that I’m not going to read that you kidding, I’m going to scroll and read it. So why not create a, you know, 30-second video and talk about what’s in that? Or what’s the big idea? So the fundamental principles of social are: cadence, value? Are you on the right platform for your customers are? I think the biggest question I would ask is, what is the purpose? Are you trying to raise money? Are you trying to provide more services? Are you trying to show your funders that you’re actually serving their needs by communicating? What’s the purpose of your social media? And then cater your strategy to align with that purpose because your strategy to raise money might be very, very different than you wanted to showcase how you’re deploying the dollars you have raised to your funders. Might be different than trying to find people to provide services to. Get really clear on why are you using it? And are you communicating value to those who should be listening? It’s like anything.

Most people think about the total addressable market. I think the best marketers resist that temptation. They think about the smallest viable market.

Who are the people that we’re really looking to gain the attention of? And how can we message to them in our social media. You cannot be all things to all people.

David: Yeah, you know, taking that one step further, you know, aligning your goals in terms of outreach on social with your organization’s mission, would also help clarify, you know, identifying where your audience is going to be sitting for any given specific type of campaign that you’re trying to run.

Scott: Beautifully said, I will take it one step further. I think most of us marketers get sucked into the gravitational pull of our organization, our mission, our purpose, our needs, our budget. And I remind everybody watching and listening, that that’s a temptation every marketer faces and that in many cases, you have to be the lone, resisting voice to know “Well, so what do our funders need? What are the people that are receiving our services need? You need to ask the question, what is the circumstance our clients are in? I used the word clients because even not for profits have clients, right? Whether they are individual customers or individual consumers of your service or product, what is the circumstance they are in, get really clear on it. And that’s what you should message to. It might be what is the circumstance that our benefactors in, and you might be very clear, it is, you know, it is six-figure lawyers that are interested in legal justice, it might be people that are, are afflicted with a similar illness, and they’ve been able to cure their illness or that you’re, you’ve helped them so who are the other people suffering from that, but when you understand the circumstance, that your buyers, your clients, your consumers, your benefactors are in, then you message to them and have their goals more in mind than yours requires a bit of courage in resisting the hairball of your organization and be outwardly focused.

David: Absolutely. Getting the buy-in, putting yourself in the shoes of the people that you’re trying to communicate with and view things from their standpoint, will help you create that emotional connection. Right, and, you know, emotion drives, majority of decision making, right? So where, where they want to spend their donor dollars where they want to spend their time volunteering, it all kind of like pulls that all together, that was really great.

Scott: It’s a presentation over time, right? I mean, you’re not going to launch a social media campaign, and then you know, four days think you’re going to impact people’s, you know, behavior, you know, used to be where you had thought, conventionally a decade ago, that you had to have four or five impressions to, you know, move someone to behavior, then it went to like seven to eight. Now here, it’s more than 15. Like someone needs to see your product, your brand, your service, your message, your plea, an excess of 15 times before they are perhaps moved to action. That might mean some direct mail, it might be some sponsorship, it might be some social media, might be an advertisement on a digital site or in a print magazine. But it does take more to gain people’s attention, because everyone is so distracted now.

David: Absolutely. And that leads right into, I guess, my next question, which is, you know, in terms of learning from marketing efforts to produce effective content, what type of metrics would you suggest people consider as part of their marketing plans? And you know, a lot of people often don’t do this, but it’s like a post mortem review afterwards to talk about, you know, what worked, what didn’t work, that type of thing.

Scott: Right, in this book that I wrote, called Marketing Mess to Brand Success, I did dedicate a whole chapter to the value of a post mortem. So I think it’s extraordinarily valuable at the end of the campaign to sit down and open the kimono. And the leader has to start first, the leader has to start with, ”well, whose idea was that?” “Well, that was my idea.” “Sorry. That was pretty bad.” Because I mean, you have to make it safe for other people to be owning their mistakes as well, right? Or the wins as well, too. So it’s important, the post mortem is dealing with facts and reality. It’s all safe. It is what it is. What can we learn from this, what not to do, what to do?

Your first question was around metrics. This may sound convenient, David, but they’re going to change based on every campaign or organization, you might be in a fundraising mode. So you might be choosing to measure lead activities as well as lag activities. I think a lot of marketers fall into the mistake of having a scoreboard. “We need to raise $100,000 during this campaign.” And you think you have to track it every week. You do by the way, but more importantly than tracking your progress, is to track your lead measures, what types of things can we influence? What types of things can we change or pivot on? Not just, you know, how much we raised last week may or may not be an indicator of what we’ll raise this week. So you want to be thoughtful around identifying your lead measures, things you can influence, and your lag measures, things that are perhaps in your rearview mirror versus your, you know, your back window versus your front window. But your metrics are going to change. Here’s what I would do, though. If you’re leading marketing, you must make sure that what you are tracking is what is valuable to the operations or the business side of your organization, including if you’re not for profit, right? If you have a fundraising goal, if you have a communication goal, you want to make sure that you’re tracking but things that are valued from your leader as well. Because you might be tracking, like you said earlier, you know, number of likes, may come back and say we’ve got 38,000 likes on these 12 posts. But that doesn’t translate into meeting your goal. It’s immaterial, and you look disconnected. So I would argue that you should co-craft your critical success factors, co-craft your measurements, with the business side of the foundation, right to make sure or the leadership side to make sure that you’re tracking the right things and have the willingness and the courage to course-correct midway through, we often track the wrong things, right? Early out in campaigns for profit, not for profit, we think we know what our lead indicators are and realize that actually, that’s not working, what we should track is this instead, because that’s leading to a conversion.

So don’t be afraid to demonstrate humility, and change your mind midway through, I think the best leaders, the best marketing leaders are those that can balance their confidence, with humility, and be able to pivot and turn on a dime.

David: Yeah, and you know, the last 18-19 months has definitely, you know, led to “Okay, well, how are we gonna survive this how, as an organization, are we gonna be able to pivot, as you say, and you know, stay viable, as an organization to continue to serve our communities, serve the greater good, health, etc, etc.” So, I think that was, you know, spot on, for sure. You know, inevitably, a few times of year when, when we meet with our clients, we’re asked if we should produce some kind of collateral as digital-only or print only, or a combination. Think about something like an annual report, right. So what are your thoughts on digital versus print for publications?

Scott: You know, one of the chapters that I write about is the responsible resurgence of print. And so I think it’s, again, all about knowing the circumstance, knowing your market, right? If you’re not for profit focused on environmental impact, I think it would be probably lunacy to create a print report, unless that made sense and it was on, you know, the right paper, and it was only six pages versus last year, 70 pages. I mean, I would be asking questions of your audience. How would you feel if we were to produce this? Here’s a report and a printed document, because of how much digital confusion there is with clutter and inboxes? And, and what if you were to present it, you know, on this or that or the other, or we were to plant trees to offset it, just you know, make sure you think through? What are the unintended consequences? It might be horrifying, if as your annual meeting, you pass out a printed guidebook, and everybody’s wondering, “Are you kidding me? How tone-deaf are you?” Or it might be the right thing to do, because you wanted to illustrate some things that otherwise could not be viscerally felt in a presentation. So first, I think it’s, there’s no wrong or right answer. As long as you’ve asked all the right questions. I think a lot of marketing campaigns go sideways because things are built in a vacuum. And all of a sudden, you built this beautiful report, and you realize your biggest benefactor is the Audubon Society. Or someone who’s extremely into, you know, preservation of trees or the ozone layer, you get the point, right.

So just you got to know your audience and make sure you’re not asking questions in a vacuum, get out of your office, go and talk to some of your customers, to your funders, and ask them what their opinion is. I think there’s a great place for print. Here’s a good example, as an author, you can see behind me I’ve written numerous best-selling books, I speak for a living, I’m on the road continuously speaking. My books are consumed probably in 60% print, about 25% audio, and 10% Digital. When I speak, I never use PowerPoint. What I do is I take this book and I turn it into a card deck that I’m sharing now on the screen for those of you that perhaps aren’t in on watching, so all of the 30 challenges in my book are created on a card deck that I pass out in the audience. Now some might think that that’s not, you know, environmentally sensitive. And that might be true in that moment. But I’m also in business, and as soon as that PowerPoint is done, I’m done in that person’s mind. But this person has taken my PowerPoint back with them, be able to use it in a meeting, you’re able to say, “well, here’s a great principle, let’s talk about this,” you can’t do that with a PowerPoint you’re never going to see again.

So there are times when converting your content, your service, your product, into something that hits the client where they need it to be. I think it’s all about knowing your audience, and moving outside of your own groupthink to make sure that you have validated the upside or the downside of using different types of media, I mean, I can send out 8 million emails, seven and a half million, will never get to the person because of their clutter and their spam, and their company controls. You’re pissing in a hurricane, I’m sorry, for the lack of delicacy there. Make sure you are thinking through your campaigns. And you’re thinking of all the intended and unintended consequences of having it be effective, it might be the best thing to actually have a print piece of direct mail. And to say, a tree was planted for every 10 of these to offset and to branch arm. It’s good. Thanks for that. It’s nice.

David: Yeah, you know, as you said before, it’s a matter of connecting with the end person, right? Connecting with who it is on the end of it, that’s going to be receiving it and making sure that it matches with their principles.

Scott: I think the marketing campaigns that flop is usually because they’re tone-deaf. I’ll repeat this, as the Chief Marketing Officer of a global public company, it’s not good enough just to cook it up in your office with your team, go pitches the executive team, and then launch it, you got to take it out to the field, you got to go out to your who all your constituents are and ask them, “Do you like this? How would this feel if I show you this, right?” I mean, I’ve never had to pull something back, because I didn’t launch a TV campaign or create a billboard and all of a sudden had to take it down because it was tone-deaf. I’m actually shocked that sometimes how these big brands have to take down commercials or campaigns, because they offended a huge section of the audience by misappropriating someone’s cultural heritage or know something in English means this in Mandarin, right? And you get the point. You’ve got to get out there and kind of field test it to the best of your ability to make sure you don’t find yourself in an embarrassing situation.

David: Yeah, it can be definitely tough to dig out from that whenever this happens.

Scott: Every day, it’s tougher to dig out. And it’s even tougher to predict, like, “that’s a thing that would offend someone, that ever crossed my mind”. But then you realize, “oh, my gosh, that’s a thing and I was ignorant of it and my intention for that”. But you’ve got to get out there and ask more people that you could probably over vet your campaign, because someone’s gonna have a problem with everything, right, there’s going to be a problem. You’re gonna have some people that could not ever imagine having water in a plastic jug. I think people buy it by the case law because they’ve got seven kids in the water in their community is, you know, know your audience and get outside your comfort zone and ask people how would you feel about this? Invaluable thing.

David: Absolutely. For sure. You touched on this a little bit a moment ago. You know, many organizations rely on email marketing, be it for fundraising or getting the message out there, events, in your book Marketing Mess To Brand Success, you talk about net fishing versus spearfishing, can you cast a line into that and explain the difference in how non-profits could use such a technique?

Scott: Yeah, just kind of a marketing adage that says every marketing campaign needs to have three components, the quality of your list, the quality of your creative, and the quality of your offer. It used to be the conventional wisdom gave it was a third, third, and a third the quality of your list the quality of your creative, meaning how creative is your coupon or your ad or whatever it is, and the quality of your offer. 60% off Buy One Get Three free, whatever it is right, donate to this and get a free hat, whatever it is. Now I think it is probably 80% the quality of your list, 10% the quality of your offer, and 10% the quality of your creative, because the list is everything. Lists tend to churn about 35% a year. So if you have a list that is three years old, it’s 100% obsolete. The average tenure of someone at their job now is 18 months, people now changing careers companies every 18 months. And so I think it is an obsession of every marketer to make sure that you have the quality of your list as your number one job. It is the least validating. It is the least fun. It is the least sexy. It’s the least creative. You don’t go home at night showing your spouse or partner “Look at the quality of my list”. You want to go home and show them your, your social, you know card, right or your direct mail piece or the ad in a PDF. That’s fun.

The best marketers recognize that a lot of marketing isn’t fun. A lot of marketing is behind the scenes grunt work to painstakingly build a list, whether you rent them, or if you buy them, whether you build them in house the old fashioned way, by going on Google or LinkedIn and find, you know, just so happens that, you know, people that have recovered from breast cancer are most likely to donate to breast cancer, I’m making that up, I’m guessing there probably is some logic to that, and go out and find the extent you can with, you know, with regulations and such, how do you carefully curate your list because your email is only effective, as effective as the quality of your list? And, you know, with spam filters, and what is the law in Canada?

David: Castle.

Scott: Castle, right, you have to be super careful about protecting people’s privacy and not having someone you know, choose to make an example out of you, because you haven’t had the right opt-out buttons or the right opt-in or all of that. And so I generally am not a huge fan of email anymore. I don’t know about you, I get 400 emails a day, just in my corporate email box, I get another 125 in my business box, I probably get about 30 LinkedIn messages a day, I probably get 10 Facebook messages, 20 or 30 Instagram messages, and probably what, 75 To 80 inbound texts today. Email is the last place I go, because most of it gets caught in a filter and goes to trash. So I don’t mean to relegate email, I still think there is value in it. But with the advent of marketing automation, where now you can load up your email into HubSpot, or Marketo, or Eloqua, and send out nine emails that all make it look like I’m your best friend, everybody is wise to that. Delete, delete, delete, delete, delete, I think marketing automation has probably been a curse, in many ways to the efficacy of email. So be thoughtful about where it fits in your mix. But know that the quality of your database is much more important than everything else. There is science around the subject line, right? That’s important. But I would just ask you, does our audience respond to email? And may not be? And if it does, when should I send it? Because if your audience’s C suite staff, I’d say send it a five o’clock in the morning, because that’s when most C suite is starting their day. And she checks her email, and she might come in and ask because subject line is the fourth one, she’s gotten weeks, and it’s added some value to her, she might choose to click on it and move it forward. But make sure that you’re catering your email to the circumstance that your intended audiences are in. But that was a long answer, sorry.

David: That’s brilliant advice. Absolutely, you know, hit them where they want to be hit. It’s a constant message through everything that you’re saying, right? Like, take into account who you’re dealing with who your audience is.

Scott: Right, because a lot of email marketers when they publish an email calendar, right? The best time is Tuesdays at four o’clock. Not for a CEO. Best time for a CEO is probably Monday at 4am. Because if you’re a CEO, you’ve been thinking about your business all night long in most cases and you’re in early in the saddle, and you’re pulling up your email from your phone as you’re having a cup of coffee at 4:35 in the morning, before you go to your trainer. Before you do your meditation. Whatever it is, you need to know what is the lifestyle that you’re trying to hit and be your best to navigate into that.

David: Yeah, just today, every handful of days, I take a look in my spam, just to make sure you know, there wasn’t anything important that got caught in there. And I went in there today, I wish I would have kept this email so I could read it. But just in terms of like email automation, it was some random spam about “oh, you know, we’ll redo your website”. They sent it to me, right. So they haven’t obviously seen that that’s what, you know, Wow Digital actually does. But it said something in there like, “Oh, we’re in the midst of June. And you know, by the end of July, we’ll have a website redone for you”. I’m like, It’s October, today’s October 28. I don’t know when we’re going to necessarily air this episode, it might be in a couple of weeks from now. Right? Like, come on. If you’re sending out messages, you need to make sure that it’s on point.

Scott: That’s right. And I think people are starting to get wise to these emails that feign a level of familiarity and connection. And I think it’s kind of a tipping point. Also, I just don’t want to dismiss email like I won’t dismiss direct mail. It’s a component of your plan, the surround sound of your marketing, and every single one of these, your team should be asking yourself, how would we use this? How will this reinforcing complement our overall strategy, don’t put your entire budget into renting 9 million emails, when in fact, that might not be the right way to put your firepower, your magic, your genius in front of your intended audience. Everything should be scrutinized and thought about and tested and measured and post mortem to put you earlier and decide “Was that a good thing? Should that be no longer a strategy? Or should we minimize that strategy and put our time elsewhere?”

Marketing is, gosh, next to technology, marketing is probably the most agile and nimble industry that is changing constantly.

David: As technology evolves, as it does, right, and as people’s workplaces evolve, right, this last year, or so has definitely made a major change with that. So does, you know, how people deal with communications.

Scott: At the end of the day, the most powerful marketing is word-of-mouth referrals. At the end of the day. You can send me an email, ask me to come to your fundraiser, you can send me a direct mail, I still get mail miles to my mailbox, I get 15 pieces of mail every single day, I walk out to my mailbox, and I look at it, I don’t get any email at my corporate job. Because that ended 18 months ago, I haven’t seen a piece of mail from my company in 18 months, I guarantee you there are 1000s of gift baskets, and apples and view masters and calendars and journals all piling up at my corporate email address like the other millions of people that have or haven’t been back to the company three times in a year, or perhaps we are. We’re not walking down, the mail cart isn’t coming around the building anymore. The world has changed. But if David sends me a text and says, “Hey, I’m really passionate about this cause, would you be willing to buy a $60 ticket to come to our gala next week”, Yeah I’ll come, you got it. Don’t ever underestimate the power of human connection relationships and referrals to drive interest in your enterprise, profit, or not-for-profit. See, here’s a good example. My wife and I sent our boys to a private school in Salt Lake City. We pay our property tax, which funds public schools. There was a big gala a few weeks ago for the public schools. We don’t put our kids in public schools, although we didn’t go to it. We donated to it. We gave something for the silent auction because a friend of ours asked us to. Had they been emailing me. they clearly don’t have a good list because they don’t realize my children aren’t enrolled in public school. But it was the power of someone calling me that knew me and asking me for that. And I still think that that’s the most valuable marketing is the relationships and people leveraging their network on your behalf.

David: Absolutely. Earlier on, you touched on something called smallest viable market. So what does that mean to nonprofits?

Scott: You know, earlier asked me the question around net fishing and spearfishing. This is a good time, I think to answer that is metaphorically what a lot of people do because they’re lazy, or don’t know better, is they just cast their net out to everything, everyone, right. Let’s get the biggest email database we can whether or not they may or may not be interested in helping children suffering from this type of, you know, ailment and they scoop up everything. They scoop up, they’re looking for a grouper, they scoop up grouper, but they also scoop up a tire, chain link fence, they scoop up an alligator, they scoop up a hose, you get the point, right, that’s kind of net fishes. There probably is a time and a place for that. I can’t think of one. And there is spearfishing, and that is for going after grouper. And perhaps it’s a bit of a cobb now, but you’re now going on in your boat towards the grouper feed right and you’re very carefully taking your spear and you’re going after the grouper one by one. Takes more time, it’s not as fun, it takes more effort, takes more research and preparation, takes thinking and listening, and be quiet looking. These are fundamental marketing principles, and I think it supports well your current question which is smallest viable market. The best marketers in the world will tell you that entrepreneurs, business owners, leaders of not for profits. It’s the same principle.

Don’t try to go after everybody. Everybody is not your customer, everybody is not your benefactor, everybody’s not your donor.

Figure out what is the circumstance they are in and go out to the first one. If you’re going after parents who are passionate about reading, I’m your guy. You’re trying to fund a mobile bookmobile for underserved committee? Need a 1000 bucks? Bring it on, I’m your guy. I love reading, we have 1000s of books in my house, I’m passionate about literacy, and then I’ll go tell someone. Then who is your next customer. It’s your smallest viable market versus your total addressable market. It’s counterintuitive because everyone thinks bigger is better and more is better. Not true. Find out who are the Scott Miller’s that are passionate about literacy, and go after them. And by the way, I know that most organizations think they want more customers, you don’t.

You want the fewest number of customers you need, you might need two donors, you might need four donors, you might need 40, you might not need 4000.

Now I recognize the fewer you have, the more important they are, the riskier there is if they fall out. So you have to ask all those questions, but I think to ask yourself is if we could get by with only eight donors? Who would they be? What are their names? Where do they live? Where do they shop? What do they eat? What do they do? Go after those, and then your circle will resonate. Because people who are passionate about literacy like me, I’ll call all my friends and say, I got the coolest thing ever listen to this, this is a mobile bookmobile serving the urban community teaching young kids that never been in a library report the power of reading, let’s have a dinner for them, everybody, donate 100 bucks come over my house, let’s have dinner. And I’m ready, before you know it I’ve raised $4,000, and you haven’t spent a single penny, because you’ve spent the time identifying the smallest viable market about a person who has a passion for what you do. This might be elementary, but I think the next generation of marketing needs to go back to these principles as opposed to getting hooked up with just the digital aspect of marketing. At the end of the day, you’re trying to get Scott Miller’s attention who has passion around your cause, and the best way to do that is to come talk on my heart, speak my language.

David: It goes back to the motion in regards to marketing, a lot of people think about demographics. Very few, like really very few think about psychographics and really digging into the psyche of the person you’re you want to connect and what their beliefs are what, you know, Scott, he’s into books, he’s into literacy, he wants to make sure people are able to think for themselves and learn new things, right? How can we connect with them, and with the Scott Miller’s of the community to have them believe in our cause and help support so I think it’s definitely key.

Scott: If you’re raising money for rugby, I’m not your guy, right? If you’re raising money for people with speech impediments, I’m your guy, lifelong stutterer. Four types of braces, Invisalign, headgear, retainer, speech pathologists, speech therapists, speech coaches, I’m your guy. You’ve got to figure out who is your smallest viable market, if somebody came to me tomorrow, asked me to help them fund a program around, you know, speech therapy for children. I would be like, where is my checkbook? I am all over and show me your program, right? I’m passionate about this. This is not new to not for profits, but don’t lose track of this. This is your key focus.

David: Yeah, and, you know, into the next thing I’d like to talk about is there’s many organizations out there that are vying for people’s money and for their checks, and a lot of them, not a lot, but you know, for every organization, there’s at least a handful that are doing the same kind of work, maybe in a different region of the country or a different country altogether. So in terms of, you talk about friending your competition, how would that apply for a non-profit?

Scott: Yeah, so this is a business principle that I applied in the book. I think it’s a good lifelong principle for many years, decades. In the corporate world, you kind of demonized your competition, you sold against them, right? Well, here are their weaknesses, and here’s an- I just, I’m just so beyond that alive. I just genuinely don’t. I genuinely detest the tearing down of people, whether it be from political leaders, whether it be from community leaders, I really detest the politics of hate and division. I detest the cancel culture. I think this relates to this point, which is, you can learn a lot from your competition, go to lunch with them. What are you finding valuable? What are you finding is your sweet spot? How can we complement you? Are we going out to the same donors? Should we have our campaigns at different times of the year? You know, so how can we work together? They have Scott give both to public schools and for literacy programs, and for, you know, speech impediments. And I would, so I think there’s a lot to be learned from your competition. Is email working for them? Have they tried how the Gala is like? How do you have a virtual Gala? What’s happening with this? How are you pivoting? I think most leaders have an abundance mindset. Especially not-for-profit leaders because they’ve chosen to dedicate their lives to these valuable missions and by the very nature of their own legacies, they’re not scarce, they are abundant. Now, they’re smart. They realize there’s only so much philanthropy to go around or only so much. You know, we get that I’m not a Pollyanna, but I think generally having a spirit of abundance, by allowing you to talk with your complementary or perhaps even competitive other organizations.

Stick together, maybe you sequence your campaigns and they’re not on top of each other, maybe you talk about what is working for you. You’re probably not sharing all the same lists, because if you’re focused on your smallest viable market, and you’re spearfishing, you’re probably not in competition with them for the same person. So I do think, generally speaking, this should hit a sweet spot with your listeners because by the very nature of the countenance of your listeners being a not-for-profit, they’re very mission-driven. They have an abundance mindset, there probably isn’t a scarce bone in their body.

So you might rethink the lens in which you look at your competition and how could you collaborate versus seeing them as a threat?

David: Yeah, I mean, your passion for marketing and really digging in and getting to the heart of what will help people drive to see you, to be part of the organization, to be part of your mission and your goals, whether it’s for business – and we’re talking a lot about non-profits – but your passion is so great. This has been so enlightening. I’ve taken away some amazing tid-bits that I can definitely take back to my clients, so thank you very much, and I hope that the people listening today have been able to get some great advice and pointers from you. If anybody wanted to get in touch with you, what do they need to do?

Scott: Sure, so the book that I’ve been drawing upon for the last less than an hour is Marketing Mess to Brand Success, it was the number one on Amazon new release. You can buy it at all your paper book sites or retailers. You can visit me at scottjeffreymiller.com, I host one of the world’s largest weekly leadership podcasts. It hits about 7 million every Tuesday, so you can subscribe to my podcast in addition to David’s as well. You can connect with me on every social platform, I’m there as well. I’ll be honoured to have, if any of your listeners found the concepts of our discussion valuable, I think they will find Marketing Mess to Brand Success full of funny, relevant, some horrifying marketing mistakes that I’ve made but will learn from my marketing messes in the hopes that it will bring your brand success.

David: That’s amazing, thanks again for joining, Scott. It’s been great having you on the Non-Profit Digital Success Podcast, a much smaller podcast than yours is, and to everybody listening if you want any of the links or resources that Scott provided, his contact info, etc, just head over to our podcast page at wowdigital.com/podcast and click on this episode for all the details. Until the next episode, keep on being successful. Thanks!

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