I wanted to share this monthly thrift email newsletter that I sent out this morning. I needed to let our subscribers know when we’ll be closed and that our sale date is changing this month. I kept it fun by updating the top banner for the holidays. Debbie looks good in a Santa hat.
Below is an email that I wrote and designed for Volunteers of America. The email was sent to those who attended our Faces of Hope fundraising breakfast a few weeks ago. This is the second thank you email that they received. We emailed them a few hours after the event to say thanks for coming. I wanted donors to have clear steps of ways they can give back if they felt inspired. I also wanted to use donor centric uplifting language. I tried to keep the tone casual and friendly.
It was sent to 89 people and 28 of those people opened it (34% open rate) and 2 people clicked on the email.
Sent: Friday, November 30, 2018 12:04 PM
To: Debbie Gillum Debbie.Gillum@voago.org
Subject: Let’s keep the momentum going!
You can keep the momentum going from the Faces of Hope breakfast.
• Because of you, Mike, a U.S. Navy Veteran, found a home to call his own and a meaningful job helping others.
• Because of you, Mike exemplified the restoration of hope, in this world that we share.
• And, because of you, countless others have found a home, a support system, and hope for a brighter future.
“You gave me shelter when I needed it. You gave me tools to help me turn my life around. And here you are today, giving more blessings.” – Mike
You are the best ambassador for our organization. Remember, there’s three easy ways you can make an impact:
Share Mike’s story with others to inspire positive change in our community.
Sign up to be a 2019 Table Captain. Contact me for information and a tool kit.
Come take a tour or host a tour for your friends and colleagues. Contact me to schedule a date and time convenient for you.
By the way, don’t forget to keep using that beautiful blue Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana pen. But most of all, thank YOU for giving people in our community the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Debbie, because of your support our community is stronger. Thank you.
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© 2018 Volunteers of America – All Rights Reserved. 1776 E. Broad St., Columbus, Ohio 43203, 614-253-6100
We are designated tax-exempt under section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.
Happy Giving Tuesday! aka That-Day-Every-Nonprofit-Asks-or-Begs-For-Money
TL;DR: I was disappointed that we didn’t see more engagement on Giving Tuesday but now we have a new opportunity to do better with our upcoming End of Year giving campaign.
I admit Giving Tuesday was a bit anti-climatic, what with all the hype starting, back in the summer. I subscribe to a lot of non profit marketing newsletters and I can’t count the number of emails and webinars claiming to spell out the perfect Giving Tuesday strategy. It’s like Black Friday for retailers. (Side note to retailers: Cyber Tuesday is not a thing. Let us have this one day.)
For this year, I admit we didn’t spend as much time as we could’ve strategizing about how to differentiate ourselves among the #GivingTuesday herd. We used a lot of the images that National (voa.org or Volunteers of America, versus the affiliate Volunteers of America Ohio & Indiana that I work at) provided to us. I made a couple of unique images for us in Canva. I didn’t use the copy from National exactly because I felt it wasn’t uplifting, donor centric or on-brand for us. I wrote my own variations.
I spent like half of Monday last week sitting down, and scheduling out in AgoraPulse all our Thanksgiving and Giving Tuesday social media posts. We’ve got two Twitters, two Instagrams, a Facebook page plus 9 thrift store Facebook pages- oh, and LinkedIn, so it’s a lot. By the end, I was really proud of myself. I had laid out and scheduled in advance these important posts across all our channels. And, I did some boosting of posts and events on Instagram and Facebook as well as ran some Facebook Ads. We spent about $100.
In my head, since I put so much time and effort into these posts and thought I did a great job, I naively expected to be overwhelmed with Likes, Comments, Shares and Messages saying “Wow this social media post changed my life!” (Just kidding on that last one. I’m not quite that delusional.)
Alas, it was pretty much crickets. One woman did comment how she didn’t want to donate on Facebook and that she would donate “thru her nank.” I think she meant to say bank. Yeah, not the engagement I was hoping for.
I told my boyfriend Nate about this on the phone today and saying it all out loud helped me realize that I can’t get bent out of shape over people not engaging or responding to my posts. That’s social media, ya’ll. That’s life.
Keep in mind, these were mostly posts about giving, donating, fundraising. These were not the most hilarious, shareable, viral posts.
Thinking more about it, we don’t typically do these hard-asks of “Donate Now!” of our audience. I try to share meaningful and positive posts, celebrating our amazing supporters. I try to do the Jab, Jab, Punch method of sprinkling, or jabbing, helpful content and then here in November and December we do more punching with the Give Back posts.
When one campaign ends, another begins. Giving Tuesday is out and now End of Year giving is in. Okay, in an ideal world of butterflies and rainbows, I’d already have this campaign all figured out, but we merged our affiliate with Indiana this summer, I got a new boss, our team has grown and things have been hectic across the organization. All I can do is focus on the now. Today, I used a Creative Brief template that my old boss, Stephanie, came up with and that we used before. It’s helpful for me to use to spell out the
- Look & Feel
of the campaign. I like to say that it helps me get my ducks in a row (this is my new favorite phrase. I just like picturing a bunch of scattered ducks and me herding them into a single file line.)
Below is the September Thrift Newsletter that we emailed out on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Formatting wise, I promise it looked better in email inboxes, than it does here.
I’m proud of the copy in the opening paragraphs and the blog posts. I wrote the first and third blog posts. I wrote the blog post about upcyling fall decorations last year and the blog post about the truths of a thrift store on Monday.
It’s Debbie, your trusty guide for all things thrift!
It’s a bummer to see the summer months leave but at the same time, who doesn’t love the early signs of fall? Falling leaves, falling temperatures and the regular falling prices you’ll find only at one of our thrift stores.
You’re sure to find autumnal fashions your whole family will love, like jeans, scarves, vests or sweaters. And because our prices are so low, you’re able to buy fall clothing and accessories with money left over. But more importantly, shopping at Volunteers of America helps uplift homeless veterans, families and individuals across Ohio.
Donate. Thrift. Give Hope. Repeat.
As the leaves begin to change color here in Ohio, the holiday decorating season looms ahead. Thrift stores are full of so many things you can use to decorate with around the house. With a little upcycling you can give all your thrifted finds a new life. Learn how to spice up your pumpkin a latte so that you’ll wow all of the trick-or-treaters.
When was the last time you cleaned out your closet? How about your whole home? As the seasons change, fall is the perfect time to finally tackle that overstuffed closet or clear out your cluttered garage. And with Christmas right around the corner, Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio thrift stores are in huge need of donations to fill their shelves.
It shouldn’t be a big secret how thrift stores operate, sort donations and how much they value the clothes and household items donated by community members like you. The proceeds of Volunteers of America thrift stores support life-saving programs for community members in need.
Save 50% on everything next week!
On Tuesday, Sept. 25, everything inside all of our thrift stores will be half-off! This includes furniture, showcase items, new products and miscellaneous items. It’s all 50 percent off!
At work, I sent out this Thank You email today to everyone who participated in Operation Backpack this year and in previous years. I worked with Becky to revise the language and make sure the photo featured diverse kids. I’m proud of how donor-centric this email copy is. After I sent it out, Nicole replied to me saying “My favorite email!” which was a huge compliment. My mom texted me saying “Great Job” on this email and that some of the backpacks the kids are holding look like ones she and her company donated. That’s the reaction I wanted. Like hey, “That smiling kid is holding the unicorn backpack I donated. Wow, look how happy and confident he looks! I love Operation Backpack.”
From: Volunteers of America of Greater Ohio [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, August 23, 2018 9:48 AM
Subject: You deserve an A+ for your generosity!
You deserve an A+ for your generosity.
It’s a happy new school year for more children, because of you!
You’ve helped over 4,000 children across Ohio who are homeless or in-need start the new school empowered to succeed. Because of you, they’re heading back to school this year ready to learn.
The next time you see a child walking confidently to school, or a school bus of smiling faces driving by, know that you helped put smiles on some of those faces. You’ve given hope and confidence for a better tomorrow to children who need it the most. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Thank you for your support!
A special thank you to our wonderful sponsors.
You deserve an A+ for your help with Operation Backpack too!
I attended my first Columbus Startup Week yesterday. I’d heard others tell me how neat this event was and the price of the conference was right. It’s all free! It was an inspiring day with a diverse group of people who all shared a love for both Columbus and innovation. I just attended on Thursday which was the Marketing and Technology day. I’m grateful that I work at a company that believes in professional development and allows me to take time to attend events like this.
I love to take notes and so during the day I jotted down points that I found interesting in my notebook and typed them up. This process of reading over the notes again helps me better process what I wrote down. These are my notes:
How to Use Data and Research when Building Your Brand
This was the first session of the day and it was a panel of four guys who each own their own business and talked about their career journey and got a little side tracked by also talking about how much they like traveling. I appreciated their stories of what it took to get them where they are today.
- A lot of brands are using colors effectively in their names and identity
- Orange Barrel Media, Purple Mattress
- Creative and emotional content is best
- Netflix tracks every click someone makes so then they use that data to craft hit shows. Data is so valuable.
- One of the panelists, a photographer, met a hotel owner, stayed in touch, sent messages back and forth which led to a life-changing gig photographing a luxury hotel in Costa Rica
- Making money and helping others aren’t mutually exclusive
- A creative filmmaker took a gig out of grad school shooting commercials for Wal-Mart and while he wasn’t thrilled at the opportunity it turned out to help his career and he made the best of it.
Every now and then you meet a presenter who makes you want to bow down and say “I’m not worthy.” Barry Enderwick really understands branding and impressed me with his passion for transforming companies.
- A brand is everything a company does and how the world perceives the company
- Every company has a brand
- It’s shaped by news, employees, scandals, products, etc
- Brand Promise is the problem that a brand solves for a customer
- Netflix 2001 brand promise: Best Way to Rent DVDs
- This is too transactional. Makes them seem like just a vending machine.
- Later revised brand promise to: Movie Enjoyment Made Easy
- Brand Attributes: tone of voice, persona
- Instead of “customer service phone lines open 24/7” they phrase it “Call us anytime”
- Brand Story: how the brand came to be, what problem the founder wanted to fix
- Netflix used to require customers to call to cancel subscriptions but that was a hassle for customers and employees so they switched to an unheard of at the time, 2 clicks to cancel model online. This led to increased customer satisfaction and customers more likely to return.
- Brand Advertising: No call to action
- Nike Just Do It
- Can be expensive, requires existing brand awareness
- Create a customer survey to better learn about what your customers want
- Netflix partnered with DVD manufacturers and put a free trial sticker on DVD boxes and gave DVD manufacturers a cut of the profits.
- InstantPot sent their product to bloggers, optimized their Amazon listing, and chose to focus on grassroots influencer marketing
- Diesel’s brand is about letting people express themselves so they opened a pop up shop in New York City with a knock off Deisel brand.
- Do not talk about your competition in your marketing materials. Why would you give them free advertising or exposure?
- Netflix 2001 brand promise: Best Way to Rent DVDs
Alaina from Women in Digital spoke about her career journey, Cement Marketing and Women in Digital.
- Don’t create the same content as competitors
How to Create Marketing Partnerships That Grow Your Business
This session was after lunch but trust me when I say nobody was dozing off in the audience. The panel of local business rockstars was very knowledgeable and open to speaking about their marketing partnerships. Claire Coder of Aunt Flow struck me with how she’s only 21, is incredibly extroverted, talks up the brands she works with and is killin’ it. #Goals
- A marketing partnership could mean samples, trials, etc. It doesn’t have to be an exchange of money.
- It does have to be mutually beneficial and elevate both brands
- Approach big corporations with a shower of love and appreciation for them. They don’t need you, you need them.
- Aunt Flow partnered with Ask Pattie (a company that certified auto dealers as being female friendly) because they are similar businesses, like-minded “Give your bathroom a tuneup!”
- You can find marketing partnerships all around you, with the people you meet. Just ask them and message them.
- Big companies like working with smaller companies because they have passionate followers and trustworthiness.
- Come to the table with a specific ask. Do not say “Do you want to collaborate?” Do the work if you’re asking and propose an idea with a specific set of dates.
- Be careful of politically charged partnerships (Ex. If you work with Planned Parenthood, then Catholic churches might not work with you in the future.)
- Have a dedicated contact person at the company you’re working with. If shit hits the fan, who you gonna call? Ghostbusters?
Marketing Without A Lot of Money (My favorite session!)
This session was packed! Man, this guy is the real deal. He knows how to break through the clutter and stand out. I love presentations that tell stories rather than rattle off statistics next to stock photos. He was honest, real, and friggin’ human. My biggest takeaway from his talk: Don’t be a turd. (I loved how he looked to the audience and was like “Some of you are turds. I know it, but like don’t be. Sometimes I’m a turd, yeah, but I try really hard to not be a turd.”)
- To stand out at SXSW, his emerging marketing agency handed out scrolls, not business cards. It was an ice breaker, memorable and made follow up calls easier “We’re the guys with the scrolls.” Budget: $135 Don’t steal his idea. No seriously.
- To advertise an Homage clearance sale, they held a carnival where people could spin a wheel to win a prize. They started out knowing they wanted to do something with a carnival and spinning a wheel and decided Facebook Live would be the best medium for this idea. They told their fans in advance and then on the specified day, every hour on the hour, they did Facebook Live, spinning a giant wheel, giving out prizes to commenters and having inside jokes. They just used just an iPhone on a tripod. Budget: $400
- Message before the medium. Who’s the audience? What’s their language?
- What freebies can you offer?
- How can you lighten up?
- What can I do to listen to my customers?
- How can I gamify my services?
- People want to win something and they like free stuff.
- To move Hot Chicken Takeover from a takeout window in Old Towne East to the North Market they needed to keep it authentic and please their loyal fans. They chose to hand make everything, like hand painting the menus, using pallets on the walls, chalk board signs etc. Budget: $610
- Listen to your customers, store managers, people on the ground floor. They know best.
- Show your personality in Instagram Stories
- Barter for your services. You can do marketing for a lawyer to pay for your legal fees
- Send handwritten thank you notes (amen!)
- Join the chamber of commerce
What the top CMO’s have to say about Marketing
I learn best when I hear from people who are on the ground doing marketing. This was a panel of CMOs from big local companies. They didn’t say a whole lot that I found to be earth shattering. Yeah, I know that data is important and voice is an upcoming trend.
- You can’t fix what you can’t measure
Vlog like a Boss: How to Create Video that Gets Attention
Man, this was not her first rodeo. Amy Landino was an experienced presenter who knew how to keep the crowd awake and listening. I’d heard her speak before at a Columbus Young Professionals event and again was struck by how much of a boss she is. She’s good at what she does.
- Make videos of frequently asked questions. People like customer-service style videos that will help them.
- Your video will last on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for about 24 hours but will be on YouTube for years.
- Video making process
- Idea, research, outline
- Upload and optimize
- Make a custom thumbnail
- When doing a tutorial or vlogging, show the end result first. This adds trust and keeps the viewer watching.
- At 8 sec, people decide to keep watching or leave
- Keep their eyes moving, use B Roll, text on screen, different angles
- End your video with one CTA that you say out loud
- Don’t link to YouTube videos on Facebook. The platforms don’t like each other and don’t want traffic leaving their site. If you need to share your YouTube video also on Facebook, natively upload a different and shorter video to Facebook.
- Talking head videos don’t work on Facebook. Not engaging to people scrolling thru news feed
Interviewing for a job can be tough. You want to be honest but still show yourself in the best light. It’s a nerve-wracking process! Learn about the best strategies to approach 10 common interview questions.
- Tell me about yourself.
This is where you can give your elevator speech. Make sure what you say aligns with how your qualifications match the job description. No need to give your life story from birth or go into personal matters. Focus on the meaningful job experience you’ve had. Bonus point if you throw in a fun fact that highlights your personality. I like to mention I was President of my college Quidditch team because that shows my leadership experience and shows I like Harry Potter. It usually causes the interviewer to ask what Quidditch is or gawk that it’s real sport.
2. Why are you leaving your current role?
Never bad mouth a former employer. Don’t talk smack about co-workers, the company, the role, anything. Keep it positive. If currently employed, you can say that you’re looking for career growth. No one can fault you for wanting to grow your career. I like to say I’m looking for a new challenge or a place where I can use my strengths.
3. Why should I hire you?
I’m always tempted to smart-ass this question and answer “Because.” Something tells me that answer would be frowned upon. When answering this interview question, mention your relevant skills. You should be prepared for this question because it’s honestly what the whole interview is about and everyone knows you should prepare before the interview. You can’t stammer or hesitate on this one. Think about what the company and the interviewer needs and show them YOU are the solution.
4. Why do you want to work at our company?
This question translates to “Do you know who we are? Have you done your research?” Try to invest an hour or so researching the company’s website and their LinkedIn profile. Try to read their annual report or latest news release. Every hour of an interview = 2 hours of research. Bonus points for researching who will be interviewing you. Do you have anything in common with them? Subtly bring that up in the interview. “You went to Denison? I also went to Denison!” or “I couldn’t help but notice you used to work at Disney World. My family has gone there every year since I was born. What a magical place!”
5. Why have you been out of work for so long?
Ick, this question just plain sucks and feels rude to me but you gotta answer it. Try and mention any volunteer experience you’ve done, any freelancing you done and frame caring for your family as the full-time demanding job that it is. Admit that you’re taking time to reflect on who you are and what job would be best for you. Talk about how you read the book What Color is Your Parachute or did some personality tests to better understand how you can best serve a company.
6. Tell me a situation when your work was criticized.
Tell a story. Paint them a picture that they will remember after the interview. Admit that you were at fault or failed somehow but give it a positive spin. Show the resolution and emphasize that you welcome criticism and how it helps you grow. (Pro tip: Avoid mentioning your tendency to cry every time you’re criticized).
7. Could you have done better in your last job?
Always. Point out hindsight is 20/20 and very carefully give an instance or tell a story of something you would’ve done differently or would’ve liked to have done. Mention you’re a lifelong learner and always improving yourself. This question could quickly turn south, so approach with caution.
8. What are your goals?
Mention 1-2 specific work-related or professional goals. Don’t say you have no goals or list vague goals. State a SMART goal that relates to your professional career. Or, you can talk about a personal goal.
9. How much money do you want?
Oh geez, I think people have written entire books about how to answer this question. There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there about this question too. I vote to ask “Do you have a budget or pay range in mind?” but then again I’ve heard that the first person to throw out a number wins. I don’t like to say my current salary because I’m not applying for my current role, I’m applying for a new role, so it should have a new salary. Do you research and know what you’re worth and state your range from X to Y. Keep in mind the company’s benefits and what those are worth to you. If it’s an hourly job you’re looking at, take the hourly rate and multiply by 2080 to find your annual salary.
10. How old are you?
This is an illegal question that I’ve been asked before and answered. You certainly don’t have to answer illegal questions about how many kids you have, religion, sexual orientation, birth control use, citizenship and marriage. You can reply with “How is this relevant to the position?”
Interviewing is hard! It can be tough to brag about yourself or show that you are the best candidate for the role. With experience, you’ll get better and it will hopefully start to feel more like a friendly conversation than an interrogation.