Marketing Idea #127: Silent Auctions

silent auction

Not only do silent auctions bring in money for your cause, they can also be a great marketing idea for nonprofits seeking new donors. Because you’ll need to do a little pavement-pounding to collect the items up for bid, you’ll have the opportunity to forge new relationships within the local retail community, leading to future revenue.

Get Organized

Putting together a silent auction is a lot of work, but it isn’t as hard as you may think. The first steps are to organize your mission statement, write a letter to potential donors, and create a form through which they can submit donations of merchandise or gift certificates. Set up deadlines on when the items need to be collected and when the auction will begin and end. All this information should be in the cover letter handed out to local business owners and managers.

Recruit Sponsors

Next, you’ll need to take a walk. Have two or three of your employees canvas several retail strips within your community. Make sure they can speak intelligently and passionately about your cause. Widen your search for items by advertising the auction on social media and Craig’s List. In your online advertisement, you’ll have the opportunity to reach out to potential bidders, too. As donations roll in, take a photo of each and share them on Facebook, Twitter, or your nonprofit’s website to further entice the bargain-hunters and philanthropists you aim to reach.

Select the Venue

An essential part of a successful silent auction is finding one high-traffic venue willing to host a board of items for a few days to a couple weeks. Small, locally-owned coffee shops and organic grocery stores are both excellent options. Typically charitable, they’ll also be hungrier for cross-promotion.

Promote, Promote, Promote

Once you have a bevy of items, a venue, and a schedule, continue to promote via print and social media. Customers can register online, receiving a bidding identification number in the process. Set up your auction board with attached photographs and space for bidders to write their I.D. number and bid amount. Don’t forget to supply pencils.

Let Them Know Who Won

Once the auction has ended, collect the bids, and notify all winners by the contact information required for registration. Appoint a time and place to pick up and pay–perhaps your non-profit headquarters over the course of a week. After that week, if a winner has not collected his item, default to the next highest bidder. This part of the process usually takes a while, with winners floating in and out over the course of several days.

Now Go Launch Your Silent Auction

A successful silent auction can bring in hundreds, even thousands of dollars depending on what type of items you receive and how many you collect. While a fair amount of hard work, it’s an excellent way to spread awareness of your cause and pull in revenue at the same time.

Contact us for more advice on how to make your small business or nonprofit a success.

A Review of ‘Killing Us Softly’

killing us softly

Have you ever noticed how an actress or model looks seems to play a more vital role in an advertisement than the message they deliver? In her presentation, Killing Us Softly, Jean Kilbourne elaborates how an ad sells better than the product itself. Why? An ad can convey esoteric concepts, as well as simple product value. Concepts such as love, sexuality, dreams of success or normalcy are underpinning currents carried by most of today’s advertisements.

Advertisements tell us who we are and who we want to be. They define a person in ways that even their own heritage cannot. With every other woman on the television or in the magazines looking fair and beautiful, girls in their teens assume this is the norm by which to conform. The kind of clothes, the shoes, the makeup, the must have handbags and even minor accessories like headbands and gloves attract these young minds easily with their color and glamor.

As Kilbourne points out, lured into believing the airbrushed world of advertising by a young age, it becomes easy for girls to lose track of their identities, growing uncomfortable in their own skins. This has been the case with majority of the models in the past decade. Too many stories tell of models and starlets falling into hospitals or rehab centers, where the worst cases face traumatic disorders—sometimes leading to death.

According to Jean, advertisements carry only one main message these days for women and that is to look good. She illustrates examples where women celebrities have admitted to the high degree of photo retouching in their own advertisements. Quoting supermodel Cindy Crawford, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

sexy peta ad

Most women in cinema and fashion have fallen prey to the post-production effort to make them appear slimmer, taller, bustier or fairer. Kilbourne gives various examples of entertainers and models (Kiera Knightley, Jessica Alba and Kelly Clarkson, to name a few) who have been Photoshopped to achieve magazine-worthy looks. Not all actresses have gone along with this quietly, Kilbourne says. Titanic star Kate Winslet has publicly announced she looks nothing like her image on the cover of the British GQ magazine.

Kilbourne feels this treatment of women is equivalent to an act of indirect violence. To live up to this airbrushed ideal, many women resort to dieting and other fast and dangerous methods to reduce their weight. Prime examples here, she says, are the models who grow thinner and thinner, year after year. A dire example, Ana Carolina Reston died of anorexia after being called ‘too fat’ by a modeling agency. Kilbourne asserts such cases have now become an all too common occurrence in the fashion industry.

Continuing her argument, Kilbourne points to the growing objectification of the female form. Many of today’s advertisements are more focused on certain physical attributes of women, further contributing to the not-so-subliminal emphasis given to an unhealthy, unrealistic ideal. The direct impact this has on a woman’s self-esteem is often neglected. This objectification of women has evolved into a form of social violence, Kilbourne says. It has become a public health issue that threatens every female around us and it places upon us the responsibility to hedge our daughters against it.

In today’s world advertisements market the women and not the product. You see nudity in everything. From a simple CD cover to a beer advertisement, women are portrayed in varying levels of nudity. What once was a crime is now a trend. So the most important question asked here is, what is being marketed to women? What does she think when she goes to an agency and is asked to strip off her clothing along with her dignity? In the age where money is paid for any kind of service, most women do not really understand the repercussions of their actions. Either they are too desperate and in need or they simply are not educated enough to look for a better job.

sex in advertising

Jean Kilbourne has done a marvelous job hitting the right points to convey the depth and seriousness of the issue at hand. Her inspired determination to enlighten us about the imagery we are allowing at the newsstands is a wake up call.

As a father of two daughters (and two sons—not to overlook them in the whole self-image crisis,) I have a keen interest in sheltering my children for as long as possible from the damaging effects of “news-stand beauty.” Jean’s message in Killing Us Softly is loud and clear. I pray it takes us by the throat and gives us the good rattle we need to wake up and break out of our dive.

Matt

big data

Update: August 8, 2013

Dove has done it again. This time, they’ve taken their argument for natural, untouched portrayal of beauty straight to the creatives holding the smoking gun. This time, it’s in the form of an Easter egg–a hidden message or feature in software. When the guilty, image-enhancing creative attempts to apply the skin glow effect advertised by a free Photoshop plugin, they get a message meant just for them. Brilliant.

Enjoy!

Big Data and the Future of Digital Marketing

marketing big data

It’s no secret that the world of marketing has become increasingly sophisticated in the ever-evolving world of digital media. This new complexity is derived from marketing data becoming exponentially more massive and fueled by today’s discerning, fluctuating consumer base. Big data is here, and it’s changing everything.

What is Big Data?

We produce and consume roughly 2.5 quintillion bytes of data daily, and 90 percent of the world’s data has been generated in the past two years alone, according to IBM. Whether we like it or not, all of the data we’re dealing with and managing in the web marketing space is big data. In a nutshell, big data is information that is gathered from social media, GPS, photo sites and general Internet browsing — pretty much anywhere that thousands of users congregate to post and download information produces massive data sets referred to as big data.

Big Data: The Future of Marketing

Five years ago, the idea of web marketers leveraging big data to deepen their understanding of potential customers was laughable. The cost alone of backing up terabytes upon terabytes of marketing data on a daily basis was almost overwhelming. But now with the advances of storage, managing big data in the marketing environment is easier than ever. Many companies are taking advantage of online backup comparison sites that help ensure realistic and affordable prices for online data storage.

Beyond the lowered cost of managing big data, big data-centric social businesses have received a lot of interest from investors over the past few years. Many of these social businesses — Facebook, LinkedIn, Vitrue, Buddy Media, etc — are all resources that marketers use on a daily basis. This is all outstanding news for the marketing community. Never before in advertising and marketing have millions upon millions of users all congregated in the same place. But the big problem with this social business trend, according to Business Insider, is a lack of effective measurement.

This is where big data analytics come into play. It allows marketers to gain sophisticated data on millions of users and social impressions in a single, unified big data analytics dashboard.

Big Data in Healthcare

One of the major industries benefiting from big data technology is healthcare. Big data technologies are making it easier for healthcare professionals to manage data that both helps increase the efficiency of mission-critical healthcare processes and makes it easier to help patients of all kinds. With the right systems in place, healthcare facilities can easily understand and deliver data to patients and other professionals throughout the facility. Big data streamlines these healthcare processes through a combination of virtual administrative assistants (not unlike Apple’s Siri), data mining and analysis, data collection and market analysis, as TechTarget notes.

Big Data in the Entertainment Industry

Big data is even reaching its way into the marketing sector of the entertainment industry. Take the film industry for instance. The film industry needs to embrace this new era of big data to keep up with the growing demands of tomorrow’s moviegoers, opines Steve Canepa on Business Insider. This idea of big data and entertainment industry marketing even trickles down to the video game industry. As more games become social and rely on sophisticated user data, the only way to keep up is through the use of big data technologies.

big data

Guest post by Sarah Phelan, everyone’s favorite IT gal. She does tech reviews on the latest in virus protection software and web hosting.

11 Ways to Market Your Fundraiser Offline

ways to market your fundraiser

If you are intending to raise funds through a charity event, there are marketing techniques that can help greatly both online and offline. Depending on your desire and budget, you can try a number of promotional activities for your charity event. If you have taken care of online marketing and are now looking for offline marketing ideas, then read ahead for tips to keep your momentum building. There are many offline ways to market your fundraiser effectively and without spending much money. The best advice is to be creative, enthusiastic and passionate towards your goal of raising funds for your charity. However, if you are still stuck on how to market your fundraiser through offline techniques, then you can include any or all below given offline marketing ideas to promote your fundraiser in the most effective way.

  1. Build a team: A team — i.e. your battery of friends, some volunteers from your fundraising campaign and family members — can contribute towards promoting your fundraiser. A big team like this can create a good buzz about your charity event. Marketing of your fundraising event can be done by knocking door-to-door and telling them about your cause and campaign as well as by word of mouth publicity. The more number of people know about your charity event, the higher are the chances of increasing funds for the cause.
  2. Posters: Posters have always been a very effective offline marketing idea. Get your poster done from a person who will charge you nominal or do it for free. Keep the posters attractive with the message written in bold. People looking at the poster will get the message clearly and instantly. Also try and stick your posters at strategic locations, i.e. where people are more likely to see. Posters can be stuck near schools and churches. You can also ask your local shopkeepers and medical stores to stick it in their premises. People coming to buy groceries and medicines can definitely have a look.
  3. Flyers: Just like posters, leaflets or flyers can also help a great deal. You can either give flyers door-to-door (which requires efforts and time from you and your team), or ask your local newspaper vendor to include your leaflet with every newspaper they drop. This can help promote your fundraiser quickly and to a lot of people at once.
  4. Announcements at other events: Official and unofficial functions and events keep happening every now and then. You can take advantage of such events to promote about your fundraising event. School sports days and annual day function, church meetings or congregation, an event organized at your local club, etc. can all serve this purpose. You can talk about your fundraising campaign to event organizers and include a short announcement about your charity event and your intention to raise funds to a large group of people present there, at the end of the event. This way you have a great chance of marketing your fundraiser to a group of distinct people in a straightforward and easy manner.
  5. Phone calls and direct speaking: If you feel that your offline marketing efforts like distributing flyers and sticking posters are not being seen by people, then you can make a direct call. Get a list of all previous donors and make them a phone call. You can also stand in front of a school or church and tell passersby about your intentions to raise fund for a noble cause. This is a direct way of spreading message about your fundraising event. While speaking to people, use emotional, strong and persuasive words. It works best.
  6. Public Service Announcements (PSAs): PSAs are a good way to market your fundraising event. Radios, magazines and even newspapers are effective in putting your message across to a large section of people. You can speak to local radios and get yourself included as a guest. You can discuss about your intentions and persuade listeners to donate generously. Similarly you can have a small section in a magazine or newspaper where you can advertise about your charity event.
  7. Hold contests: A wonderful way of marketing your event and get people interested is by holding contests. You can hold quiz contests, kite -flying contest or any other contest that involves minimal spending on your part. You can keep a sponsored prize for the winner to make the contest more engaging and competitive. This is also another good way of promoting your fundraising event.
  8. Get in touch with associate groups and clubs: As an independent volunteer and as a frequent fundraiser, you can get in touch with other affiliate clubs and groups that are known to make generous contributions or considerably help fundraisers through their unique ways of promotion. Find out about them and get in touch.
  9. T-shirt fundraisers: This is another very popular charity event marketing technique. If you have a social cause and want to seek funds then you can first get your and some of your friends t-shirts printed with the cause of your charity. Leave an e-mail ID beneath. T-shirt fundraisers are not only a popular idea, but also help you communicate your thoughts to a number of people, without actually conversing with them.
  10. Contact local businesses: There are many local businesses who would love to contribute to a charity. If they donate funds, then it would not only help them save money in tax but also showcase their responsibility towards the community. You can first try contacting established businesses, as they have a wider reach and can promote your cause effectively. If the business is very keen on helping, without donating funds, then you can move a step higher in promotion by including your message in their product. You can then try contacting lesser-known local businesses. Tell them it is not necessary that they donate funds, but they can be of great help if they promote the fundraising event through any ideas that are feasible for them.
  11. Try to convey your message through public speakers: There are many orators who know how to weave magic through words. If you feel that your persuasion powers are not that effective, then you can definitely seek help from a public speaker. Get in touch with someone who often visits schools, clubs and other events to speak on a given topic. Talk to them and ask them to make a message supporting your charitable cause and the need to collect funds to sustain good work in the community. This will help immensely.

These are just 11 offline marketing ideas to promote about your fundraising event. Now you know ‘how to market your fundraiser’ through offline techniques. With creativity and a bit of elbow-grease, you can certainly come up with more unique marketing ideas to promote your charity event and make it a success.