Happy January to all of you!

I’ve had a few instances over the past several weeks that have reminded me of some things that might be useful to share with all of you. Whether you are a small business or non-profit, you undoubtedly have limited resources (read: time and money) for engaging your target audiences (e.g. customers, donors, partners).

Often, we are too busy getting work done to lift our heads up out of the weeds and tell people about what we are doing. Other times, we may have a “What if we…” moment, but we don’t have the skill set in-house to get that idea going. Here are two cheap/free options you may want to pursue.

Upwork

Upwork is an online freelance web hub. Basically, you hire freelancers for discrete jobs. This may be something simple like converting an image from jpg to svg (vector format). Or modifying an image to remove a background. Or converting a Word form to a fillable PDF form. The joy here is that you can search Upwork’s database of freelancers for the specific skills you want, within a certain price range, with a certain customer satisfaction, and more. You decide how much to spend. You don’t pay until you are happy. Everything is handled via Upwork so there are no shady interactions. I’ve used Upwork freelancers for a variety of projects for which I didn’t have the time or skills and I’ve been quite happy so far. Visit them at https://www.upwork.com/. If you need help finding freelancers, let me know.

Mailchimp

I’ve mentioned this before. Mailchimp is a contact management platform (in other words email marketing). You create e-newsletters to engage your audience(s) to take action (buy, donate, sign-up). Mailchimp allows you to configure your website so that every time you post a blog, it automatically gets sent to everyone on your list, automatically gets posted to Facebook, automatically gets posted to Twitter, and more. If you have 2000 or less contacts, IT IS FREE. You really can’t beat this. Of course, nothing is really free. You have to take the time to stop what you are doing and decide to share it with everyone. The best example I have of this is my client Network Against Human Trafficking and Slavery (NAHT). Their Executive Director, Dr. George Bellitsos, is excellent at making time to write posts that I post for them on their website. These are configured to automatically get emailed via Mailchimp to their list of contacts and to get automatically posted to their Facebook page. The time he spends on these posts is totally worth it. Here’s why:

  • The posts are formatted to be emailed in a consistent manner. For each email, there is a consistent header and footer. Readers know where to look for the “meat” of the email. (Aside: If you are engaged in email marketing, stop changing your header/fonts/colors with every email. It makes it hard for people on your list to easily read what you are sending. Give your readers’ eyes a rest. Trust me.)
  • The posts are easy to scan. There are defined design elements that highlight subheadings or bullets. They are consistent so the reader can always find them.
  • There is a clear call to action (sign-up, “like” via social media, donate, “share” with others, etc.). These calls are always available.

As an example, the NAHT recently had a “legislative day on the hill” where the Governor signed their proclamation against human trafficking. This was announced on their blog (and therefore via their email newsletter on Mailchimp). They had over 100 people show up in Des Moines for the day on the hill. Incredible. In addition, they’ve been training hotel/motel employees across the state and these trainings are announced via the blog/email. So far, they’ve trained over 75 people. This is a huge impact which took time from Dr. George and a consistent email marketing strategy to achieve.

Of course, I’m also guilty of failing to share what I’m doing too. It’s hard to get beyond your core, day-to-day work to talk to others who might be interested. If you feel you are putting stuff out there and not knowing whether you are reaping benefits, contact me. We can chat about the feedback loop.