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VIDEO: Building Your Brand Ambassador Program

Is your organization thinking about how to implement a brand ambassador program? The video here is a slightly modified version of a presentation I gave earlier this week to nonprofit leaders in Austin. Highlights are after the jump.

It all starts with using a simple but effective branding model:
1. Consistency
2. Focus
3. Trust
4. Partnership

Based on this branding model, the five keys to developing your nonprofit’s brand ambassador program are:
Key 1: Create an internal strategy first
Key 2: Create a recruitment plan
Key 3: Create a wide engagement plan
Key 4: Make telling their story easy
Key 5: Create a recognition plan
Plus…there’s a final bonus key

Hope you enjoy the video and get some useful ideas and inspiration. If you’re interested in having this topic presented live to your staff or group, give me a call at 512.529.1510 or send me an email at contact@baileyworkplay.com.

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The Art Of Volunteer Engagement

Say you’re a nonprofit executive or someone responsible for working with volunteers…do you know the value of the volunteer work being done on your organization’s behalf? Consider all that time spent, all that energy devoted, all that expertise put to service of your mission. Do you have an idea of their true worth?

If your answer is “no” or any variation of “sorta,” don’t worry; it’s actually a rather complex question that’s going to be quite unique to each nonprofit. You might want to bring in a business anthropologist (I do happen to know one) to help you sort through all of the people and policy issues. But there are a few key domains to consider as you mull this question:

Relationship
What kinds of relationships do you want to form with your volunteers? After working with volunteers for nearly 10 years, I’ve come to believe in one certain truth: there is no such thing as “managing” volunteers. Management changes the interpersonal dynamic making volunteerism a transaction rather than a relationship. Plus, your volunteers don’t need or want to be managed.

This raises an inevitable question: how do you get your volunteers to do what you want them to do? It’s actually the wrong question to ask if you’re trying to cultivate strong volunteer engagement. I would suggest this one: How do you guide your volunteers to give their best talents, expertise, and energy in ways that are meaningful to both themselves and the nonprofit? Individuals give most freely when they see and feel the personal connection to their work.

Value
What’s the value of the work being done by your volunteers? Most nonprofits that I’ve worked with don’t have a firm idea of the value of their volunteer work activities. If volunteers put together an event, what would the price be if done by a paid contractor? It’s not a question designed to make you shout, “Wow! Look at all the money we’re saving using free labor!” Instead, take some time to realize that individuals are giving their effort and that it does have an economic value. Then, calculate in the emotional value that comes from the passion behind the effort.

Social Marketing Potential
What kind of word-of-mouth marketing are you getting from your volunteers? Here’s where that emotional value pays off. If your volunteers are emotionally invested in your nonprofit’s cause, they’re going to tell others about their work. They’re going to have stories to share with their friends, family, coworkers, and other folks they see on a daily basis. And these stories can have a significant impact on your organization’s brand, fundraising movements and advocacy appeals. Engage your volunteers in meaningful work and they will spread the word in ways you may never have imagined.

This was just a broad look at volunteer engagement. It really does need some deeper probing. To do this, Aaron Bramley (blog :: twitter) and I are doing an email dialogue exchange over the next week so we can drill down into this topic. When we finish, we’ll post the results so everyone can benefit. Neither of us know what it’ll look like so you’ll just have to subscribe and see what happens. And if you have thoughts or questions, post them below and we’ll weave them into our dialogue.

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Five Steps To Make Employees Your Best Brand Ambassadors

The modern concept of branding and word-of-mouth-marketing focuses primarily on getting customers to become raving fans and talk positively about a company to their friends and colleagues. In the past few years, this focus has come to also include the value of getting employees to be raving fans of their own company, to speak openly and honestly about their company’s virtues, and to share their pride for their own and the company’s work. The thinking goes that if a company employs happy and satisfied employees, then that adds to an overall positive reflection of the company brand.

Yeah, but what does this have to do with non-profits…or maybe more importantly, how does this help you achieve your organizational mission? I’d like to argue that your own staff is the critical, yet underdeveloped, edge you need to meeting your fundraising, advocacy, and other goals. You have powerful resources that extend far outside of your own marketing department. Here are five steps in figuring out how to use them.

1. Know your internal broadcasters.
Your staff can be roughly divided into two groups: consumers and broadcasters. Consumers take in content through various channels like newspapers, blogs, and websites. Broadcasters do all of this and also create the content. They’re your bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, Plurkers, etc. They’re the ones who are connecting with others far outside your particular marketing focus. They’re the ones you want to build your employee brand ambassador program around.

2. Reward your broadcasters.
Broadcasters live for information. They want to know all the cool and worthy initiatives that are going on in your organization and be able to share that information with others. Don’t be shy about opening access and sharing this valuable information. And ask for their input and insight into how to penetrate your organization’s messages deeper into your target communities and wider into new areas.

3. Allow for creativity.
The social media space and branding world evolve at a rapid pace, which means that your dedicated and passionate broadcasters tend to live at the cutting edge. Don’t make the mistake of binding them or restricting their platforms. Innovative social media broadcasters are always finding new ways to use current tools. And for every one of today’s Twitters and Facebooks, there are several undeveloped tools waiting to be created and used.

4. Show them how to recruit other staff.
Broadcasters shouldn’t be an exclusive clique within your organization. Help them create more broadcasters and new brand ambassadors. Ask them to do “lunch and learns” about social media. Create knowledge sharing orientations to help them discuss their brand ambassador work when asked by others in your organization. The objective isn’t necessarily to get 100% of your staff involved in social media and branding…instead, show that every individual has an opportunity to contribute.

5. Keep an eye on the relationship.
I can imagine one objection or question that may be sitting at the tip of your tongue: how do we make sure that our broadcasters don’t put the organization or our formal branding work in jeopardy? The simple answer is that you can’t and the brutal truth is that you no longer have total control over the message. Sorry…those days are long gone, which is why #5 is so important.

It may seem obvious, but in order for your staff to speak openly, authentically, and enthusiastically about your organization, they need to be in a positive relationship with your organization. That means being focused on your staff’s level of engagement with their work and tapping into the pride your staff has working for your organization and it’s mission.

If your organization has had great results from cultivating organization-wide brand ambassadors, what’s your story? Share the wealth in the comments below.

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At Connection Cafe: Five Steps To Make Employees Your Best Brand Ambassadors

The modern concept of branding and word-of-mouth-marketing focuses primarily on getting customers to become raving fans and talk positively about a company to their friends and colleagues. In the past few years, this focus has come to also include the value of getting employees to be raving fans of their own company, to speak openly and honestly about their company’s virtues, and to share their pride for their own and the company’s work. The thinking goes that if a company employs happy and satisfied employees, then that adds to an overall positive reflection of the company brand.

Yeah, but what does this have to do with non-profits…or maybe more importantly, how does this help you achieve your organizational mission? I’d like to argue that your own staff is the critical, yet underdeveloped, edge you need to meeting your fundraising, advocacy, and other goals. You have powerful resources that extend far outside of your own marketing department. Here are five steps in figuring out how to use them.

1. Know your internal broadcasters.
Your staff can be roughly divided into two groups: consumers and broadcasters. Consumers take in content through various channels like newspapers, blogs, and websites. Broadcasters do all of this and also create the content. They’re your bloggers, Twitterers, Facebookers, Plurkers, etc. They’re the ones who are connecting with others far outside your particular marketing focus. They’re the ones you want to build your employee brand ambassador program around.

2. Reward your broadcasters.
Broadcasters live for information. They want to know all the cool and worthy initiatives that are going on in your organization and be able to share that information with others. Don’t be shy about opening access and sharing this valuable information. And ask for their input and insight into how to penetrate your organization’s messages deeper into your target communities and wider into new areas.

3. Allow for creativity.
The social media space and branding world evolve at a rapid pace, which means that your dedicated and passionate broadcasters tend to live at the cutting edge. Don’t make the mistake of binding them or restricting their platforms. Innovative social media broadcasters are always finding new ways to use current tools. And for every one of today’s Twitters and Facebooks, there are several undeveloped tools waiting to be created and used.

4. Show them how to recruit other staff.
Broadcasters shouldn’t be an exclusive clique within your organization. Help them create more broadcasters and new brand ambassadors. Ask them to do “lunch and learns” about social media. Create knowledge sharing orientations to help them discuss their brand ambassador work when asked by others in your organization. The objective isn’t necessarily to get 100% of your staff involved in social media and branding…instead, show that every individual has an opportunity to contribute.

5. Keep an eye on the relationship.
I can imagine one objection or question that may be sitting at the tip of your tongue: how do we make sure that our broadcasters don’t put the organization or our formal branding work in jeopardy? The simple answer is that you can’t and the brutal truth is that you no longer have total control over the message. Sorry…those days are long gone, which is why #5 is so important.

It may seem obvious, but in order for your staff to speak openly, authentically, and enthusiastically about your organization, they need to be in a positive relationship with your organization. That means being focused on your staff’s level of engagement with their work and tapping into the pride your staff has working for your organization and it’s mission.

If your organization has had great results from cultivating organization-wide brand ambassadors, what’s your story? Share the wealth in the comments below.

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