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Internet Marketing with a Mission

April 13, 2008

Jason Marshall and Petey
If you keep up with this blog, it’s obvious that it’s been many moons since I’ve posted. I’ve been in social media hibernation focusing on my family. I probably should have put something up way before now, and I apologize to anyone who cares enough to read my stuff. I realize that in the world of internet marketing and social media that’s kind of a big no-no, but sometimes to be on-purpose and fulfill your real mission, you gotta do what you gotta do.

However, I am now thawing out to get re-engaged. Some things I’m working on are moving my blog to my own hosted site, writing an article about the perils and pitfalls of social media, and a putting together a white paper on social media strategies. More on that later, but I’m mostly emerging from hibernation to tell you about my friend Jason Marshall and his pal Petey.

An Internet Marketer on a Mission.

Jason was a contestant on the internet’s first reality show, The Next Internet Millionaire and turned everyone’s head by voting himself off the show! His desire to stay true to his sense of mission out-weighed his desire to make a lot of money. As a key part of Jason’s mission, he is a full time aide to a 12 year old boy named Petey who is suffering from a fatal disease called Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. Here’s a short video of Jason and Petey:

Jason is trying to raise money to buy a van to help transport Petey and his motorized wheelchair to appointments and outings. To do that, he has rallied some very successful internet marketers to put together a package of business building products as an incentive for people to help out. The package is worth over $2,000 real value for less than a hundred bucks. If you’re not interested in the package, you can just donate any amount. He launched last week and is still a bit short of the goal and is trying to make it by Petey’s birthday, which is this Friday, April 18th. If you’d like to help and get a great deal, check out: Petey’s Power Pack.

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Measuring Intangibles Revisted – Social Media Metrics & ROI

February 21, 2008

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A few weeks back I wrote a post about quantifying and measuring intangibles for Return on Investment (ROI) metrics (January 19, 2008, Measuring Intangibles – Making Impact the Bottom Line). The conversation got going based on a discussion about social media metrics with blogger Beth Kanter. I made the point that sometimes issues such as influence are not so easy to measure, but the impact is real nonetheless. I expressed my concern that businesses & nonprofits could miss opportunities because because they may find themselves unwilling to participate in activities that are not easily measured, but may otherwise prove beneficial. My conclusion to the thought was, “Focus on the mission, measure what you can, and the money will follow. Impact is the bottom line.”

However, lest anyone accuse me of throwing out metrics as a valuable and necessary tool for business development, I put together a short list of resources that shed light on measuring the impact of social media. As the saying goes, “you can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So any effort to better understand and quantify the impact of any strategic activity provides accountability and the benchmarks necessary to monitor progress. In fact, this is a key component that I include in all of the strategic planning that I do with my clients.

Here are a few of the resources that I have found useful in exploring the measurement of social media:

Latest Trend in Social Media: How to Listen Effectively and Engage in the Conversation
A free webinar archive featuring Senior Forrester Research Analyst Jeremiah Owyang and Glenn Fannick of Dow Jones has a great basic introduction to social media then gets into specifics of measurement.

This is one of the many resources provided by Owyang in a Social Media Measurement archive at his Web Strategy by Jeremiah blog. Tons of great stuff here.

Measuring Social Media Efforts
Social Media Consultant Chris Brogan takes a little different approach as he writes about mapping your social media activities to get a handle on the effectiveness of your efforts.

The ROI of Social Media

An article by Beth Kanter on The Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) blog gives a good overview with lots of links and Beth’s typical thoughtfulness and depth on the topics she engages in. Her blog also has a wealth of info about social media ROI.

Measurement, ROI & Social Media
Blogger and ACDSee Community Manager Connie Bensen was part of a meme detailing her approach to using quantitative and qualitative metrics in measuring social media ROI. The meme was started by Geoff Livingston at The Buzz Bin blog and has lots of great insight from others who were tagged in the meme.

Ten Things to Know About Measuring Social Media
Marketing Consultant Larry Chase has an article in his Web Digest for Marketers written by web metrics expert Jim Sterne. This perspective comes at social media measurement from someone with a background in traditional web analytics. Many social media consultants feel that traditional web metrics are not that helpful when dealing with social media, but Sterne provides some useful insights that the social media pundits don’t tend to focus on.

A Not So Final Word…

Like social media itself, the measurement of it’s ROI is clearly evolving with the needs of it’s users. Would standards be helpful? Surely. But in the end, the organization doing the measuring has to determine what is most important to them. Whether you lean toward measuring hard numbers, e.g., subscribers, comments, links, etc., or influence and organic relationship building, an effective social media strategy is necessary for any organization seeking deeper engagement and interaction with it’s constituents. In business, selling widgets and building relationships are not mutually exclusive. But if you don’t have the relationships, who are you gonna sell your widgets to?

Feel free to add a comment with other resources on social media metrics & ROI that you have found helpful.

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Capital + Marketing = Growth – The Capital Factor

February 20, 2008

The Capital Factor

While I was in Orlando at JVAlert, I made the comment to someone there about how cool it would be to have an event like that in my hometown of Denver, Colorado. Then lo and behold I just ran across this event called The Capital Factor, being held in Denver April 5 & 6, 2008. This one-of-a-kind event combines how to raise business capital with killer strategies in internet marketing, direct & offline marketing, investing, financial independence, and professional development. Coming on the heels of my last post about business development and networking, I thought it would be good to put this out there for people to check out.

Whether you’ve owned your business for the past ten years, just started yesterday or even plan to start one next week, there’s no better place to be on April 5th and 6th than The Capital Factor.

Here are just some of the topics to be covered thoughout the weekend:

  • Triple your profits using the right tools the right way … and see how technology can automate your marketing efforts and systematize your sales process.
  • Create high impact off-line marketing … without draining your resources.
  • Attract venture capital and angel investors … by learning exactly what they’re looking for in an investment project.
  • Increase your leads and sales from the Internet … on a shoestring budget.
  • Gain trust in your financial numbers … and make better business decisions.
  • Use audio and video to promote your business … without spending the usual $2,500 to $15,000 production houses charge.
  • Evaluate your current credit score … so you can make a plan to improve it and create more financial options.
  • Enjoy significant tax breaks … and learn which programs can deliver tax incentives right to your bank account.

The question of growth—and profit—is a daily struggle for most business owners. The Capital Factor Conference, features 11 business growth experts who will show step-by-step strategies that will explode your business growth right now.

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Armand Morin started online in 1996, generating over $35,000,000 in revenue from his personal online businesses since then. This doesn’t include the millions of dollars his students have produced from his teachings. Armand will show specific real-life examples of what works today online rather than what used to work even just two years ago. He’ll talk about blogs, SEO, copywriting, website layout, sales letters, and how you can apply these tactics to your own Internet strategy and get result the very next day.

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Rick Raddatz was a technical executive at Microsoft from 1988 and 2000, where he often met with Bill Gates and other high-level executives. As part of his job, he consulted with CIOs at over 100 Fortune 500 companies. He founded Xiosoft, his current company, in 2002. Xiosoft has helped more than 10,000 businesses realize their true potential by pioneering several widely used web-based tools and utilities.

Rick has a knack for taking complex technology and making it easy to understand and apply. “As a business owner,” he says, “… you don’t have time to do everything. Learn to use tools and let them do some of the work for you to make a difference in your bottom line.” Rick will show how to triple your income using the right tools the right way. He’ll demonstrate several new web-based tools to help increase your leads and sales. Just one of these tools helped a brick & mortar business with a depleted marketing budget enjoy $78,000 in sales from just 2 audio e-mails.

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Slap Google back! A former Google employee, Simon Leung is now a full-time Internet Marketer and Google AdWords consultant, author, speaker, coach and mentor. Simon has insider knowledge that you can use to maximize your online ad campaigns, get higher positions while spending the least amount of money per click, and get the most return possible. Simon will share with you the most current tips and tactics for using Google AdWords to their fullest potential.

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David Bullock is best known for introducing advanced testing and tracking and innovation methods that have increased conversion rates for his students as much as 600%. He has been featured in both Direct Marketing News and Black Enterprise Magazine and Entrepreneur Radio. He has been a successful online/offline business owner for over three years after a successful $100,000,000 international sales career in the industrial automation and manufacturing industry.

David will help you to understand your prospects on a deeper level which will help you ultimately convert more targeted prospects into paying customers. Put his scientific selling approach to use immediately for your own business and watch your sales soar to new levels.

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Bob Smith has been responsible for generating more than $1.3 billion in new sales for businesses over the past 6 years. One of his clients produced $24 Million in just 48 days. Bob was recently honored as the single best entrepreneur for marketing on ABC’s Heartbeat of America. In 2006, he was the first runner-up at the Stevie Awards (the Oscars of the marketing world). He will share several high-impact off-line marketing strategies for the 21st century that, until now, have been proprietary and reserved only for his high paying clients. He will show how to out market, out maneuver, and bury your competition using high impact marketing.

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Brendan Burchard is the author of Life’s Golden Ticket and a highly-acclaimed life coach, leadership speaker, and business consultant. Brendon was blessed to receive life’s golden ticket—a second chance—ten years ago after surviving a dramatic car accident in a third-world country. Since then, he has dedicated his life to helping individuals, teams and organizations create and master change. His clients have included Accenture, JC Penney, eBay, Best Buy, Nordstrom, Levi’s, Gateway, Walgreens, Federal Mogul, and thousands of executives and entrepreneurs in speeches and seminars across the country. His media appearances have included ABC World News, CBS-NY Early Show, NPR stations, Oprah and Friends, and other popular programs.

Brendon will share why nonprofit and corporate partnerships are the most important and effective marketing strategy for building your brand and business; how to position yourself so that nonprofits and major corporations will spend thousands of dollars on promoting YOU to their members, customers and communities; how to identify “perfect-fit” nonprofit and corporate partnerships…and how to write the perfect partnership proposal to stand out and win the deal fast; how to incorporate your partnership platforms in marketing materials, loan requests, book proposals, sponsorship requests or any document that can build your business; and what you MUST do to win partnerships and sponsorships.

As I mentioned in my last post, I heard Brendon speak at JVAlert and he is a dynamic speaker with a powerful message. There will also be other speakers to talk about investing, real estate and finance, as well as a panel discussion moderated by a friend of mine, Mark Crowley, who is a former Broadcast Citizen Of The Year from The Colorado Broadcasters Association.

It looks like to me this will be a really good event for anyone in business who wants to learn marketing, investment and finance strategy.

It’s late notice, but they do have an Early Bird Discount, but it is almost over. If you register by February 22nd you get a $400 discount.

Go here, and infuse your business with The Capital Factor.

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Business Development & the Power of Networking – JVAlert Orlando

February 17, 2008

Ken McArthur

Ken McArthur

Whew! Finally catching up from being out of town for five days to write this post. Last weekend, I was in Orlando, Florida attending an internet marketing event called JVAlert Live!, hosted by internet marketer Ken McArthur. This event is unique because it is really set up by Ken to foster joint venture partnerships and allow the greatest amount of interactivity and networking possible between both attendees and speakers. Ken has done a fantastic job of creating the perfect combination of instruction, planned networking and informal networking in a setting that you can really get to know people. I met some really incredible people, made new friends, and heard some very dynamic speakers share business development expertise that I have applied to my own business activities. Here were some of the highlights for me:

Dave Lakhani Christine Comaford-Lynch Kevin Nations Jermaine Griggs

  • Author, marketer and persuasion expert Dave Lakhani defined persuasion as helping people come to their own most logical conclusion which happens to be the one you share. He stated that this is built on developing 1) visibility – making you, your organization, your brand known, 2) credibility – creating trust through proof & third party endorsements, 3) relationship – creating emotional connections and serving the best good for all involved.
  • Author and speaker Brendan Burchard really hit the mark for me when he spoke of the power of nonprofit and corporate partnerships, which is one of the key components of what Mission Driven Marketing is all about. After a near fatal auto accident, Burchard felt like he was given a second chance and wrote the book Life’s Golden Ticket. He asked three questions that he felt everybody consciously or unconsciously asks when they come to the end – Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter? Bringing nonprofits and businesses together to impact communities is one of the ways that he feels that he is able to answer yes to those questions.
  • Christine Comaford-Lynch, author of Rules for Renegades gave out lots of gems on business development like:
  • Make your brand = results. What three adjectives do people think of when they think of your brand?
  • Problems + pain = profits. In other words, if you are solving real problems in your business, profits are the result.
  • Network palm up (offering), not palm down (grabbing). What can you do for others rather than what they can do for you?
    • Glenn Dietzel of Awaken the Author Within gave a riveting presentation on becoming the knowledge broker in your industry through entrepreneurial authoring. He spoke about the “Science Of Reframing” as the ability for you to use the power of metaphors and human experience and deliver customized education to your ideal clients. His words of wisdom included how the marketplace always chooses the top expert in the field, how important it is to not allow your value to turn into a commodity, and that greater sameness will not get results. He also spoke about building laser focus and clarity by asking yourself, “What am I trying to prove right now?” In his effort to “move the free line”, Glenn has tons of great resources at his various websites. There’s a clip from JVALert and I love his driving videos. Check them out.
    • Kevin Nations sought to reshape people’s paradigms about achieving higher profits by asking questions like, “What is your biggest profit challenge?”, “Is that challenge the limiting factor in making profit?”, and “Are you acquiring puzzle pieces, or are you completing the total picture?” He illustrated this by telling the story of seeing his young daughter working on a jigsaw puzzle with the box top propped up as a point of reference. He made the point that people often focus on what he called “means goals” and not the final destination. This especially applies in the world of internet marketing where activities such as list building, traffic generation, and copywriting often become an end unto themselves. Successful businesses begin with the end in mind.
    • Jermaine Griggs of HearandPlay.com is truly the Nitty Gritty Marketing man! He has used very creative and innovative marketing techniques to build a community around playing music by ear. The one that impresses me the most is the way he uses lead segmentation to deliver a highly personalized follow-up process. In a systematic way, he gathers detailed information about each person who opts-in to his offer for free lessons, then leverages that information to plant seeds for paid courses. He has also been very successful at community building by providing a platform for people to interact with one another on the musical learning journey. If you want to delve more deeply into the techniques that Jermaine uses, check out his NittyGrittyMarketing.com site.
    • Ken McArthur also spoke about his upcoming book Impact and his Impact Factor coaching project and membership site. He talked about identifying where your customers are right now. The key is, if you want to know what your stuff can do – ask them how it can help them. What do they need? What problem are you solving? He also talked about not lobbing canon balls, but instead creating landslides. In other words, concentrate on activities and systems that generate widespread impact, not ones that only hit one or two targets. Ken’s book is set to launch on May 1st. To build awareness, Ken is giving away training from over thirty of his hand-picked personal advisors with all kinds of specialties to help people succeed in business on the Internet. Very helpful and interesting stuff here. You can also keep up on his Impact Factor blog.

    Another very cool thing was the creation and launching of an ebook right on the spot called Instant Joint Venture Secrets. Originally, Joel Comm was supposed to do the presentation, but Joel got sick and went home early. His teammates, Eric Holmlund and Dan Nickerson carried on in Joel’s stead.

    Here’s how they did it. First, they handed out 3 slips of paper that asked for:

    1. Your best Joint Venture tip.

    2. A Testimonial.

    3. A Bonus you would be willing to give.

    After the forms were filled out, everyone worked together to compile the material, write the sales page, complete with video and graphics, and put it up live on the internet within 90 minutes.

    It was amazing to watch orders come in for the $7.00 ebook right after everyone mailed out to their lists. And what was really cool, was that the money generated from the sale of the ebook went to Helping Hands, an organization that helps children at risk around the world. Very cool!

    NIM Panel

    The cast and crew of the internet’s first reality TV show, The Next Internet Millionaire was on hand for a panel discussion, and winner Jaime Luchuck also gave her first ever presentation at this type of event. Her inspiring story, which is chronicled in her book “Cubicle Slave to the Next Internet Millionaire“, had everyone giving her a standing ovation. I also got a chance to get to talk at length with Alisande Chan and Nico Pisani, chat with Thor Schrock and spend a lot of time with Jason Marshall and his wife Heather. What a great couple! I really enjoyed getting to know them.

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    For me, this was really the best part of the whole event, getting to know lots of really great people. People like The Tool Wiz, David Schwartz, systems guy Brad Semp, of Cashmap Systems, and Life Coach Ruddy Ortiz. I had a great conversation at lunch with Singpore’s leading internet marketer, Stuart Tan and eBay whiz Ben Wee. I had a really nice dinner with Jason and Heather, Jeff Wellman, SEO expert Paul Counts, Ruddy, and Harry Fink of Rising Star Marketing. I had great talks with Margaret Hampton and The Story Lady, Ronda Del Boccio, who also works with Glenn Dietzel. I got to chat with Frank Sousa, co-creator of Traffic Geyser, Dr. Ron Capps, the NicheProf, and successful internet marketer Willie Crawford. And on the last day of the conference, I got some good feedback at breakfast from Ross Goldberg, who’s the only person I know who made thousands of dollars online while in a coma.

    So why am I reporting all this? Because after attending this event, I am convinced now more than ever of the importance of networking and attending events like this for the growth of your business. Social media has opened up a tremendous opportunity to connect with people from all over who who can impact your business, either as partners, mentors, or customers. In fact, many of the people I have mentioned here I was connected with online prior to coming. But there is still nothing like face to face encounters to really create meaningful relationships. I highly recommend it, and would like to thank Ken for helping to make it happen for me.

    For more photos, check my Flickr set.

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    The Best Valentine – A Day for Hearts

    February 14, 2008


    Flowers and candy aren’t the only gifts being given this Valentine’s Day. Dr.Mani Sivasubramanian is giving an opportunity for people to give the gift of life.

    Dr. Mani is heart surgeon who is using his internet marketing business to fund heart surgery for under-privileged children in India. A DAY FOR HEARTS: Congenital Heart Defects Awareness Day is an effort spearheaded by Dr. Mani to highlight to the public the problems posed by Congenital Heart Disease (CHD). He is seeking to bring about increased awareness and demand for CHD issues such as:

    • research funding
    • formation and assistance to support groups
    • education of the general public
    • enhanced standards of care to CHD patients worldwide

    According to Dr. Mani’s CHD Info website,

    “Congenital Heart Defects are a lethal constellation of birth defects of the heart that affect millions of newborn infants and children worldwide; a killer that claims thousands of lives every year. Eight of every 1000 children born alive (0.8%) will have some form of congenital heart defect.”

    Info at his DrMani.name site goes on to say:

    “Heart surgery is expensive. Many of his patients, from poor families, cannot afford the cost of treatment. So Dr.Mani decided to try and help sponsor the operations.This was the simple concept behind an online adventure that started in 1996.

    Ten years later, Dr.Mani’s team has raised over $100,000 and funded heart surgery in 23 children, with many more to follow. He’s well on his way to achieve an ambitious mission – make high quality heart health care accessible and affordable to every Indian child.

    The Dr.Mani Children Heart Foundation is a non-profit entity created to raise awareness about Congenital Heart Defects and to raise funds to sponsor life-saving heart surgery for children from poor families suffering from congenital heart disease.”

    If you’d like to give more than just flowers and candy today, you can donate here.

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    Of Poverty, Slavery & Social Media for Social Change

    January 21, 2008

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    Can $10 bucks make a difference in the life of a child caught in slavery or poverty? The Case Foundation thinks so.

    To prove it, the foundation is awarding a total of $750,000 through the Giving Challenge, an initiative designed to inspire greater philanthropy and introduce new ways to give through simple online technology. Case launched the two-pronged challenge in December by partnering with Parade Magazine to give $500,000, and with Causes on Facebook for $250,000.

    The Giving Challenge is not about who raises the most money, but instead the awards will go to the charities and causes that draw the greatest number of unique donors. The minimum donation to qualify is only $10.

    With less than two weeks to go in the Challenge, here are a couple of ways to help.

    America’s Giving Challenge – Route Out of Poverty for Cambodian Children

    The Sharing Foundation helps meet the physical, emotional, educational and medical needs of orphaned and seriously disadvantaged children in Cambodia. Thousands of Cambodian children grow up illiterate, with few educational options. The Sharing Foundation’s Khmer literacy school helps farm children learn their native alphabet and numbers well enough to attend elementary school. Its English Language Program offers village students, ages 8-18, the opportunity to learn Cambodia’s language of commerce, allowing them to obtain jobs in tourism and word processing. These students are so dedicated that some meet on their own to study on weekends

    Here’s a video that blogger Beth Kanter did with her son about the project:

    You can help Beth raise $50,000 by donating to this cause, and at the time of this post, that’s looking like a real likelihood.

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    Not looking nearly as successful at this point is a cause I’m supporting on Facebook:

    Causes Giving Challenge – Not For Sale Campaign to End Modern Day Slavery

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    Did you know that 27 Million people are enslaved today and that over 50% of them are children? Many are forced into hard labor or prostitution against their will. Not For Sale (NFS) is a campaign of individuals, musicians, artists, people of faith, businesses, schools and sports teams united to stop human trafficking. This drive will help 130 children, ages 4-17, all victims of human sex trafficking, build a new life. Funds will help to build a village for Tawainese abolitionist Kru Nam and her kids. The village, Buddies along the Roadside, will have five dormitories, an arts and education center, and plenty of land for the kids to grow their own crops. The village is now over half done, but Kru Nam needs to raise another $60,000 to complete the project.

    Back when the Challenge began, I saw the posted item in Facebook about the Challenge from Steve Case. I contacted David Batstone, founder of NFS and author of the book of the same title about some ideas I had for Challenge. Unfortunately, he was in China at the time and I had pretty much given up doing anything when I heard back with only 16 days left in the challenge. There are a couple of NFS causes that were already in place, but to qualify for the challenge I had to create a new cause. So I put out a message to the creators of those causes and some NFS groups to promote the challenge cause. Apparently, there was some confusion with people donating to the original causes which don’t count for the challenge. Plus, when I sought to enlist the aid of 12 stellar social media Facebook friends, the overly lengthy message I sent didn’t show as sent and I ended up sending it three times! Ouch! Understandably, that didn’t go over too well. The last thing I want is a reputation as a spammer!

    However…I’m not giving up! There are almost 8,000 supporters in the various NFS causes and groups on Facebook. If even 10% of those people donated to the cause, there would be more than enough unique donors to win the challenge. I’ve spread the word within Facebook without much movement and I think I know why. Causes is the most popular app on Facebook for fundraising because it’s so easy for anyone to start a cause. This means that there can be hundreds of causes with only three or four people supporting them, including duplicates of the same cause. And just because they join the cause doesn’t mean they donate to it. It’s a great concept, but it seems like most Causes I’ve seen in the past have raised very little support. I think people associate with a cause because they want to say something about their own identity, but up until now it doesn’t seem like any major fundraising has been going on. The Challenge does appear to be changing that.

    So my question is this: If Facebook is a “walled garden”, how viable is it to create a non-profit fundraising presence within the walls, and then motivate people outside the walls to come in to check it out? In other words, what would happen if enough people are motivated through other social media channels outside of Facebook to check it out? Could Not for Sale could still come from behind to win the Challenge?

    My humble request to you is, would you be willing to help spread the word about this Cause and the Challenge? Blog about it, Twitter it & encourage others to do the same. I think it would make a great experiment and who knows? Maybe we can sweep in from out of nowhere and get enough buzz going to vault Not For Sale to the top to win the Challenge. What do you think? How about $10 to Beth’s cause outside Facebook, and $10 to my cause inside Facebook. Poverty AND slavery dealt a blow with a click. Donate here.


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    Measuring Intangibles – Making Impact the Bottom Line

    January 19, 2008

    Beth Kanter

    While checking in at Facebook the other day, I got into an interesting dialog with Social Media Consultant Beth Kanter. Beth is also a professional blogger and writes about the use of social media tools in the nonprofit sector for social change. I saw a status update that said “Beth Looking for resources and info about ROI and Tech.” Earlier, I had read her blog post about measuring return on investment (ROI) for intangibles where “love” was used as a tongue in cheek example. So I zipped off a link to a white paper recommended by Chris Brogan called Distributed Influence: Quantifying the Impact of Social Media from the PR firm Edelman.

    After getting the link, Beth asked, “What piece of information or insight in this report struck you most? What was the most important learning?” This was my reply:

    “I think what struck me most was just the whole idea conceptually of quantifying and measuring an intangible like influence. While I recognize the importance of measurable objectives, I have always had a problem forcing something that is organic by nature into a mechanical straightjacket. I mean, they’re not called “intangibles” for nuthin’!

    That said, I realize the importance of discussing ways to measure intangibles. I appreciated this insight from Peter Kim that influence and attention are different. He said that influence is fiscal and long term whereas attention is monetary and short term, and I agree with that. Clicks and page views don’t tell the whole story. Influence is about IMPACT.”

    As far as the most important learning, I think Jeff Jarvis and Keith O’Brien made similar statements that it matters WHO we are talking to not how many. Not just who is influential, but who is carrying the conversation, those who are more easily influenced. This includes understanding and possibly even tailoring the message to the influencers, the spreaders, adapters, commentators and readers.”

    After Beth posted some of my comments on her blog, I got to thinking a little more about my reply and why I said what I did. Back when I was a community outreach point person at REI, one of the things that I discovered was that the connection between the outreach activity and the bottom line was not that clear, but that the impact was obvious.

    We had an educational program that taught basic outdoor skills to customers to introduce them to activities like rock climbing, backpacking, canoeing, cross-country skiing and bicycle maintenance. The idea is, you inexpensively educate your customers on the use of the products you sell and they will want to buy from you, right? One of the classes that always did very well was a course on avalanche awareness. This is an essential skill for people wanting to cross-country and telemark ski in the backcounty, and we often found many beginners taking this course. For a nominal fee, they got a book, an in-store session, and a field session in the mountains with avalanche beacon rental. Now the cost to get outfitted to backcountry ski ($300 -$400 for skis, boots & poles, $200 for beacon, maybe another $100 to $200 in clothing) starts to add up. To measure the effectiveness of our programs, we would track the purchases of each participant in the class for one week before the class and four weeks after the class to determine the associated sales. Though we could not make a direct connection between their involvement in the class and their purchases, it was obvious that the class was having impact because we could see the spike in their buying history.

    However, many questions arise when you cannot make a direct metrical correlation between a marketing activity and a purchase. Did they, in fact, buy those skis, or that beacon because they took the class? Would they have bought them anyway? How can we prove definitively, with precise data that the class influenced their decision to buy? The answer, of course is that you can’t. It is only by inference that the class impacted their purchase. And was always clear that it did.

    So what does all this mean for marketers, advertisers, and in particular, mission driven organizations? Has the issue of measuring intangibles changed for them with the advent of the internet with it’s clicks and page views? Should they avoid engaging in certain activities, such as social media, because they are not easily quantifiable? Should they only embrace initiatives that can be measured out of fear of not being able to prove their value? That would not only be ridiculous, but it would be bad business. REI’s educational outreach program is the right thing to do. They are educating their members and customers in the safe and environmentally responsible use of the gear that they sell. And they sell a LOT of gear. You gotta make money, but doing the right thing cannot always be measured in dollars and cents. Focus on the mission, measure what you can, and the money will follow. Impact is the bottom line.


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