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CURE Childhood Cancer just announced record donations of $3.1 million received in its just-concluded fiscal year. This represents about a 200% gain in annual giving since they became a client of Guest Relations Marketing in 2007.  This has been accomplished primarily through activating their Zealots through online media and events.

More importantly, this has resulted in tremendous advances in research. We are striving for the ultimate success story – finding ultimate cures for childhood cancers. It is coming!

Recent report from Admap: an average of 0.5% Facebook fans interact with brands in a given week. Pretty low response, eh? Which is why direct marketing with average response rates of 1 – 2% is still a viable media option.

Every time a new touchpoint is invented, people and especially marketers rush to put it into an existing bucket.

We love what social media offers marketers. There is clearly a place for Facebook and other social media. But to consider it a replacement for other aspects of a marketing mix is a major mistake. Every media has its strengths and shortcomings.

It is natural to want to embrace the new. As consumers, we are curious about what we’ve not seen or touched before. As marketers, we want to try the newest media or promotional invention, if for no other reason than the fear of competitively being left behind.

A recent briefing from highlights the reasons behind an exponential growth of “new” products and services.

But, perhaps, embracing the “new” is not the right answer for your brand. Consider the authors concluding point:

“Last but not least, it does not mean all consumer attention will be focused on the new. There will still be endless value in heritage brands, known to deliver constant, trusted quality and provenance. There will be value in well-told, compelling stories. In comfort. In tradition. In the local. In curation of existing products. In tailoring. Remember, no trend applies to all consumers, all of the time, and the ‘new’ doesn’t always kill the old.”

This is a powerful roadmap for building enduring brands… new or old.

Haven’t you heard!? A lifeguard in Florida was fired for vacating his zone to save a man drowning in unprotected waters 1,500 feet south of his post. The young man worked for Jeff Ellis and Associates, an aquatic safety contractor.

Naturally, this decision has created a serious uproar online, sending Twitter and Facebook into public disapproval. In fact, if you search “lifeguard” on Twitter your timeline will be updated on a second by second basis with hundreds of tweets sharing the news story and opinions on the situation.

The overall consensus? The general public is outraged that a man who reacted on his instincts and training to save a dying individual would be reprimanded, rather than celebrated!

A spokesman for Jeff Ellis and Associates said in a statement that “We have liability issues and can’t go out of the protected area.”

This burst of social media presence is not uncommon. In fact, if the news is worth knowing, it will be shared. That is the brilliance, yet fear that all companies are aware of in today’s day and age. Or are they? Jeff Ellis and Associates should have considered this before they took action on Tomas Lopez, the lifeguard who was terminated. Before any decision is taken publicly, a company should always weigh decisions and strategy based on the potential viral reaction and impact.

Take the story posted by ABC News as an example. Less than 24 hours after the article was posted, it had over 1,400 Facebook shares, 392 Tweet shares, and 240 comments. You could also go to Fox News’ Facebook page to read about the story. In only four hours after posting, the story had received 694 comments and 432 shares.

As you can imagine, very few comments included terms of endearment and support of the aquatic safety company. Rather, people shared their outrage in the company, stating things like, “This is what happens when you put making money before saving lives.”

And if that wasn’t enough, news commentators and influential professionals started to comment on the issue. For example, Craig Button with The Sports Network tweeted the below message to over 20,000 fans:

Realizing the outcry through social realms and the backlash it was having on the company, Jeff Ellis and Associates attempted to save face by offering Tomas his job back. Tomas’s response was a big fat, “NO THANK YOU” that only fueled the flames of everyone who believed the man was doing the humane thing, backfiring again for the aquatics safety company.

The lesson learned for all companies, whether small or large? Take a step away from policies, rules and regulations and put yourself into the general public’s shoes. Ask yourself, “How could this be perceived by an individual who does not understand the legal jargon associated?” Even if the legality of the situation cannot be avoided, taking the precautionary step can at least prepare you for an adequate public address and response to critics. Because today, destroying a company’s reputation is as simple as 140 characters.

Yesterday we promised to discuss the 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study’s findings on online fundraising. And here at Guest Relations Marketing we always provide on our promises.

As the economy has improved, general giving has increased. As a result, these numbers can be directly correlated to the incline in the number of online donations that most nonprofit organizations are witnessing.

However, it is important to understand the trends in how people are giving and through what mediums. Below you will find a synopsis of some of the important takeaways as we explain what these mean to your organization.

Courtesy of eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Takeaway # 4

On average, 35% of online revenue was sourced to direct email appeals. The remaining 65% came from other sources, such as unsolicited web giving and peer referrals.

What this mean for you

A majority of online giving is coming from sources other than email. As a result organizations should NEVER exclude providing additional opportunities for people to donate. Consider unsolicited web giving and peer referrals as other great sources for fundraising.

How can you increase peer referrals? Social sites that promote sharing and make it easy for people to talk about your organization provide excellent word of mouth marketing opportunities. If you aren’t in these mediums (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) than you should consider doing so immediately.

Courtesy of eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Takeaway # 5 

While one-time gifts remain the largest source of online revenue for participants, online revenue from monthly giving is growing at a much faster rate.

What this means for you

While one-time gifts are generally of higher value than monthly giving, keep in mind that the total dollar value for continuous donations will be higher. Consider establishing brand loyalty amongst your fans and provide opportunities for them to give over and over again throughout the year.

Maybe this is done through a series of events or establishing a monthly loyalty plan. Either way, keeping your organization top of mind will promote continuous giving.

Encouraging and promoting online fundraising isn’t always an easy task. Thankfully social media has enabled organizations multiple channels to spread the word.

Interested in how most nonprofits stack up in the social realm? Check in tomorrow when we summarize the benefits of having a strong social media presence.

Curious at how your nonprofit organization stands up against the rest when it comes to online messaging, fundraising and social media?

Thankfully M+R Strategic Services and the Nonprofit Technology Network have analyzed 44 nonprofit data sets to analyze the average performance in 2011, measuring email messaging, list size, fundraising, advocacy, social media and mobile programs. The results were compiled into the 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study.

However, we realize that many of you are way too busy to sit down and analyze graph after graph or even understand the significance of the findings.

Here at Guest Relations Marketing we have interpreted the data for you. Over the next few days we will roll out important takeaways from the study and explain what is means for nonprofit organizations.

Today, we discuss email messaging!

Courtesy of 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Takeaway # 1 

When sending emails, advocacy messages had the highest open rates, click-through rates and response rates – as well as the lowest unsubscribe rates. In contrast, fundraising emails have the lowest open rates and highest unsubscribe rates.

What this means for you

On average people don’t enjoy being asked for money, even if they are a Zealot for your organization’s cause. Keep this in mind and consider providing fundraising news within other email messaging.

Want to put a heavy emphasis on the fundraiser? Then be sure to use a crafty subject and headline that will capture the recipient’s attention. Directly stating that your email is requesting they contribute could send their cursors directly to the delete button.

Courtesy of 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Takeaway #2 

With only a few exceptions, almost every organization in the study saw their email subscriber list grow from 2010 to 2011, though the increase in growth rate appears to be slowing (environmental groups grew their lists at the highest rates).

What this means for you

Remember that every day people’s inboxes are flooded with random emails that most consider spam. It’s easy for an individual to get frustrated at the constant stream and quickly hit the unsubscribe button. More relevant to this topic, it is easy to assume that many people are hesitant to even sign up for email newsletters out of fear of how their inbox will be filled.

Finding a solution to this problem on the surface is two-fold.

First, whatever the cause that your organization is working for, it is important to make it relevant and trendy to the general public. Environmental concerns has been a general growing topic of interest over the last few years and it can be assumed that this would have a direct correlation to the large increase in email subscribers.

Second, you must provide incentive for people to want to receive emails from your organization. Maybe this is subscriber only updates, or behind the scenes looks. Whatever the news, make it clear for people that the only way they will get certain information is by signing up for your email newsletters.

Courtesy of 2012 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study

Takeaway # 3

Between 2010 and 2011, the email fundraising response rate held steady at 0.08%, with a negligible growth of 2%.

What this means for you

Online fundraising has steadily increased in popularity for nonprofit organizations. This should not be news to you. However, what is important to take note of is that email fundraising rates are generally low and should not be the only way your organization pushes to raise money.

Interested in what other methods generally show success at fundraising? Then tune into our post tomorrow where we will highlight some of the study’s findings of online fundraising.

Ah, metrics.

Ask any marketer in the world and they will tell you that it is important to measure your marketing efforts. Because if you don’t monitor metrics that report  the significance of what you are (or aren’t) doing, then you will never have any idea if you are doing the right thing.

This should not be news to you. 

Blog posts and articles saturate the web that outline the significance of measuring marketing efforts. However, and might I add ironically, this is the exact area where marketers lack the most. In fact, I garauntee that if you walked into any marketing agency and asked them if all of their metrics dashboards or data sheets were up to date you would get a big fat “NO.”

Why is this so often the case? Well, I could tell you because updating spreadsheet after spreadsheet is often tedious. Or maybe you would prefer the answer that marketers are so fixed on doing that they forget to look back and observe what they’ve done?

I believe that the true answer lies into a little of both.

As a marketer I want to put the client first. I want to share their content, brainstorm for their brand, and dream of the next viral campaign. However, the more time I spend on thinking of the future without observing the past, the higher the risk I run of heading straight down a path to NOWHERE.

My point? Take the time to measure your initiatives and understand how your marketing efforts are performing. I promise that it will only provide insight that will enable you to be a better marketer. And in the end, isn’t that what we all are striving to become?

Why do you want to intern?

You’re looking for an opportunity to gain school credit?

You are seeking to get real-world experience?

You’re ready to launch your career?

You had an advertising campaigns class and really liked it?

Mom or Dad said you have to get out of the house and do something?

Those are all nice reasons. But those are not us.

We’re looking for one intern. That one.

We’re about creating more zealots for our clients.

We’re zealots for our clients.

We’re zealots about our work.

Our intern? That one?

A zealot. A zealot for inventing, creating, solving, satisfying and doing.

Our interns are on the firing line.  No hiding here.

No auditing our program. You’re in the game. Real work. Real involvement with clients. Real problems to solve. Real opportunity.

We’re looking, too. For that one.

Passionate. Intelligent. Witty. Teammate. Winner. A Zealot for Life.

Our internship is not a “give back to the community” program. We’re looking for the one individual who is bursting to get in the game, start practicing their craft and change the way marketing happens.

Our interns get to do a lot of work. It usually results in a real job. Because they will have proven they can do real work.

Guest Relations Marketing is almost six years old. We’re still a kid. And, we only recently instituted our intern program. So, what is our track record? We’ve had three interns. Two we hired permanently. The third? Currently working for an online agency. The partners of Guest Relations established an intern program at their previous agency. The program became so renowned that other agencies called to interview and hire our interns.

Nothing fancy here. Just one great opportunity. For one great intern. Are you the one?

Tell us why. Email April:


The requirements:

Primary Objectives of the Program:

  • Provide a “real world” learning experience
  • Cross-platform training & project execution

Program Opportunities & Requirements:

  • Intended as major course credit/learning
  • Available starting:  February, April, June, September
  • 30 – 35 hours per week / 90-day commitment required
  • Unpaid internship

Basic Duties:

  • Get an overall view of full scope of marketing duties and interaction, through participation in internal and client meetings
  • Develop a project essentially from start to finish, including presentation to the client
  • Assist team in developing specific recommendations, projects or analyses in support of client or agency programs
  • Other as approved by specific program outline

Internship Program May Include:

  • Competitive interview process
  • DISC or other profile analysis
  • Educational platform that may include such topics as:
    • Marketing 101: Agency vs. client-side
    • How to effectively work with your clients
    • Traffic, project management & time management
    • Account planning & research
    • Importance of great creative
    • The new media frontier
    • Social media training
    • Effective e-Communication & database management
    • Presentations, communications, and brand you
  • Networking & industry event opportunities
  • Mid-point and final performance review


  • Demonstration of high interest/passion for advertising profession
  • Good communication skills, particularly writing ability
  • Flexible, team-oriented
  • Advertising, marketing or related major emphasis
  • Junior, senior or recent graduate

Program Contact:

  • Submit the following three items:
  1. Your resume
  2. One thing you are a Zealot for (and why)
  3. Best example of your writing capabilities


“Zealotry Marketing” is about creating programs that have a primary goal of generating referral. If referral is the best indicator of long-term profitability, then it made sense to us to use that as the starting point for creating marketing programs. Not merely looking at referral as an indirect end result.

This has led us to a revolutionary perspective on blending the classic marketing principles with today’s hot social media. And, heresy for old-school practitioners – the idea that the most effective marketing may well come from operations and service delivery.

This is the story of Zealotry Marketing: where loyalty begins with a company exceeding a customer’s expectation. An approach that can be engaged through any company and doesn’t require so-called marketing pros. It does require a sensitivity and commitment to exceeding customer expectations. Guest Relations Marketing believes Zealotry Marketing transforms the traditional loyalty equation.

What are you doing to create Zealots?

It was recently announced in the automotive trades – “Ford and GM renew a bitter rivalry.” Despite their financial issues, both companies clearly have “zealots” for both their overall company as well as specific branded vehicles. As a zealot for Mustangs, a Camaro, no matter how “transformed,” is simply second rate.

Great brands have zealots. They also have arch-rivals. One of the tenets of marketing from Steve Jobs: overtly identify and make known your enemy. It is core to great branding. If you make it clear what you stand for, you necessarily stand against something else.

Who is your brand’s enemy?

What are the great rivalries of zealotry brands? Here’s some that quickly come to mind. What is your best example?

  • Miller Lite vs. Bud Lite
  • Mercedes vs. BMW
  • Pepsi vs. Coca-Cola
  • Apple vs. Microsoft

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