The Seinfeld Elevator Pitch Method For Nonprofits

 

Screen shot 2015-02-09 at 2.25.39 PMHave you ever wanted the ability to get someone to emotionally connect with your nonprofit in just seconds?  A few years ago we stumbled across a method to do so, and it’s been a huge help to our nonprofit leaders ever since.  

And it all started with a show about nothing.

The genius of Seinfeld was how quickly he brought you into his world.  During the early seasons, he’d lead into the show with clips of his stand-up starting with, “Have you ever noticed the guy who…” and then he’d mention some funny characteristic.  Watching at home, you’d immediately think of a friend with that same characteristic. 

Invariably, the trait Seinfeld mentioned would lead you into the quirky, crazy over-the-top world in which only Jerry, Kramer, Elaine and George lived.  With one sentence, he connected with you emotionally, kept you hooked, and brought you into his world.

Develop your own “Seinfeld Elevator Pitch”

Read these two sentences and see which one connects with you more:

  1. “I’m with a nonprofit and we help people who’ve been addicted to drugs, come out of prison, or who’ve been in an abusive relationship.”
  2. “Have you ever known someone with a tough background who had trouble getting back on their feet?”

When you read the first one, what popped into your mind?  Was it someone you didn’t know going to help someone else you didn’t know?  Or possibly that it seemed like a well-intentioned list?

But when you read the second sentence, maybe the first thing that popped into your mind was an actual person, a friend or a loved one.  Someone who’d had a tough life and just couldn’t seem to break the cycle.  Once that person is in your mind, everything else you hear will have an emotional anchor.

STEP 1: Write your “Seinfeld” question.

Choose a question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will lead to what you actually do.  

When our leaders started doing this, they saw big results. The elevator pitch stopped being about them and their nonprofit, and it started being about the person hearing the pitch.  It also helped them crystalize what the pitch should be about — connecting people, not about listing facts.

Emotional connection trumps listing facts every time for memory recall.

Why The Pitch Order Matters – The Old-Timey Newspaper Method

Remember newspapers?  Unlike their online progeny, space for an article wasn’t unlimited.  The most important information was first, then the second most important, and so on.  That allowed editors to cut out the end of your article if a more important story came along, but the readers still had the most important information.

The same goes for your elevator pitch.  After your engaging question, put the most important thing someone should know first, then the second, and so on.  Time becomes less of a factor.  If you’re only going from the third to the first floor at least you’re able to get in the three most important sentences.  If you’re going from the first floor to the top of the Chrysler building, too bad for them!

STEP 2: Write down the single most important fact someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third.

This is difficult, but you need to write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then you need to shorten that.  Then you need to figure out the second, and so on.  The more intentional you are about this, the better your pitch will be.

Call To Action

Whether you’ve had time for three sentences or thirty, your last sentence should be a call to action in the form of a question.  It can be anything from “Will you pray for us?” to “Would you like to be on our mailing list?” or “Would you like to donate to our cause?”

Then wait.  Quietly. Do not say another word until the other person says something.  I’m serious.  See how I’m writing short sentences without commas for emphasis.

This is shocking, but some people actually think before they speak!  And this thinking takes time.  If we ask a question and then answer that question for a person, or don’t give them time to think, we’re being disrespectful.  It’s hard, but get used to five seconds of silence.

Communication is a two-way street, so you need to close with some sort of call to action. If you’re just talking at someone and it appears there’s no reason, you’re just blowing hot air.  The call to action gives what you’ve been saying a purpose. 

STEP 3: Create a closing call to action question.

I always consider an elevator pitch a work in progress, but here is the current NonBoardBoard elevator pitch:

“Have you ever been in a position as a leader where you were expected to know everything, but didn’t? (pause)  NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to attend a NonBoardBoard meeting? (wait for response)”

Every time I’ve asked the “Seinfeld” question to a leader, I get a “yes!”  The next sentence tells what we do.  The following sentence tells how we do it.  Then there’s a little bragging, but it helps people to know we’ve been doing this a while and there’s some reach.  Finally, there is a call to action.  

Even if I had to drop the ‘how we do it’ sentence and ‘brag’ sentence, a person would still get the idea based on the lead-in question and what we do.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitches.

Your elevator pitch should change depending on who you’re talking to.  The one above is for a nonprofit leader who we want to come to an NBB event.  Here is one to an ‘influencer’, or a person who might know nonprofit leaders we want to reach.

“Have you ever known a nonprofit leader with a huge heart but who didn’t quite have all the business skills to match? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you be willing to refer (that person) to us? (wait for response)”

You’ll notice that the body stays the same, but the Seinfeld question and call to action change.

Here’s the version for someone we’re interested in having speak or write for NonBoardBoard.

“Have you ever wanted to give back to several nonprofits at once, but without a long term commitment? (pause) NonBoardBoard is a Christian nonprofit that helps leaders who don’t have all the business skill fill in those blanks of knowledge so they can be even more effective in serving others.  (short pause) We do this through a monthly speaker series, online resources like nonboardboard.org, networking and consulting. For almost five years we’ve helped leaders who help others on 5 continents and 16 countries.  Would you like to speak at a NonBoardBoard event, or write an article for NonBoardBoard.org? (wait for response)”

Again, it’s really just the questions that change.  NonBoardBoard always does the same thing, but how people engage with us changes, and this is reflected in the emotionally-connected question and the call to action.

Here are the three steps in review:

STEP 1: Write a “Seinfeld” question that helps your listener put an actual person in mind, and will also lead to what you actually do.  

STEP 2: Write down the single most important thing someone should know about your organization.  Then the second, and third, in descending order.

STEP 3: Write a closing call to action question.

BONUS STEP: Customize your elevator pitch for different audiences.

I would love to see your “Seinfeld” pitches in action!  Can you record your “Seinfeld” elevator pitch, post it online, and share the link with us by posting below?  Thanks so much!

What Taco Bell Can Teach You About Increasing Your Newsletter’s Impact

Photo by Mike Mozart

Taco Bell has a little secret.

In fact, most fast food joints are in on this secret, and you probably haven’t event noticed.

What’s Taco Bell been keeping under wraps? Just take a look at their menu. The majority of the 40+ item menu is made up of only 3 core ingredients: meat, cheese and tortillas. The ingredients by themselves aren’t impressive (probably the opposite), but the way they repurpose the ingredients in a million different combinations keeps people coming back. And it’s a strategy worth noticing.

Now, take a look at your nonprofit. Specifically, your newsletter.

Newsletters have been around forever. They started out on paper delivered to your business or home, now they’ve moved to email and can be delivered with the click of your mouse. They’re an effective tool to keep in touch with your audience — but there’s a catch.

They’re missing one BIG thing.

Newsletters aren’t timeless. You send out the email, your audience opens and reads it once, and then it’s either buried in their inbox or sent to die in their deleted items folder. The shelf life of a newsletter is only a few minutes.

Your audience can’t bookmark a newsletter like they would an article online. The articles aren’t indexed on your site, so they can’t be found by people searching on that topic. And new subscribers have no way to catch up on past issues.

The best fix for this is creative repurposing. It’s time to ask yourself, What content from my email or print newsletters could benefit my audience on my website?

Here are a few ideas:

  • If your newsletter contains news and events, create a “Community” section or “News” tab on your website to include that information.
  • If your newsletter contains industry articles or trends, post them to your blog or “Resources” tab on your website.  This gives your audience a simple way to find the information long after you’ve sent the newsletter.
  • If your newsletter contains new information about your nonprofit’s work, add the content to your “About” pages for additional, and more permanent, reading.

Not every part of your newsletter needs to be repurposed on your website. It’s a great strategy to have exclusive content to keep your audience interested and attract new subscribers. But one rule remains unchanged: Your content needs to be good.

Really good.

When you start repurposing content, you’re not just writing for your audience anymore. Anyone searching online could stumble onto your material. Take each audience member into consideration when using newsletter content on your website.

Start by repurposing your best content. Listen to the feedback you get from core follower’s comments and see what content gets shared by your followers. Use those insights to continually improve your content and watch your audience grow from the names on your email list to anyone searching for your website!

 

How To Connect Your Non Profit with Influencers

Connect Non Profit with Influencers

If you could connect your nonprofit with any influencer in your industry, who would it be? Forget about the limitations for a second. What influential person shares your audience and has the same values as your nonprofit?

An influencer could be anyone who’s gained a large following from the content they share. For example, Michael Hyatt is an influencer in the leadership space. Dan Miller is an influencer in the entrepreneurial and career space. And our own Brian Lord is an upcoming influencer in the nonprofit space! 🙂

Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of incredible influencers. In this post I’m going to give you a few strategies to help you do the same.

Why is it important to connect with influencers?

Your nonprofit does not exist in a vacuum. I believe in surrounding yourself with people who constantly help you grow, challenge you and hold you responsible to your goals.

It’s easy to get distracted, though. When we get too busy, proximity often beats quality of people, and we lose sight of expanding our circles. But you can use proximity to your advantage. Start by discovering influencers right where you are. These are influential people who live near you and automatically have something common with you. This gives you an excuse to reach out to them and a great way to start the conversation.

Another reason to reach out to influencers is to ask for help in promoting your nonprofit with a blog post or interview. I use this strategy when working with authors during their book launch. We help them identify blogs that share their target audience and would benefit from a guest post that’s related to the person’s blog, NOT about the author’s book.

The Top Reasons to Contact an Influencer/Blogger

  • Guest Posting on their blog
  • Invite them to guest post on your blog
  • Build Relationships
  • Strategic Partnerships
  • Permission to use content
  • Interviews

There is a right way and a wrong way to go about this, and it’s all in the execution and intent. Enter into every guest posting opportunity looking for a win-win-win outcome. A win for you to make it worth the effort, a win for the blogger to make it worth their time, and a win for their audience to find value in the post.

How can make sure it’s a win for everyone? Start by personalizing your outreach email (or any other type of communication.) Make sure the influencer knows the message was written specifically for them. Also, be sure to have a goal in mind before you start. Don’t reach out “just because” or you’ll be wasting valuable time.

How do you find influencers online?

Here’s my secret: The most interesting people often aren’t the most popular people.

Just because someone has a huge following doesn’t mean the quality of the audience is there. Many times, a bigger audience just means they are less targeted. I’d rather have 100 super targeted and engaged readers who take action after reading, rather than 500 un-targeted readers on a blog that specializes in five different things.

One way to quickly find influential people in any industry is to let others do the work for you. Here’s what I mean. Head over to Google and type in “top + your industry/location + blogs” For example, “Top nonprofit blogs” or “top nonprofit bloggers Nashville”.

Someone else has already done the work to scour Google for great blogs in almost every industry. Why not start with them? Use the results to start making a list of influencers to contact.

Questions to Ask Before Reaching Out

Now that you’re finding more bloggers than you know what to do with, how do you qualify them? Which ones are good quality and which ones aren’t a good fit for your nonprofit? Ask these questions:

  • Does the influencer have a history of guest posts? If not, they might be less open to a guest post.
  • What is the consistency of their monthly traffic?
  • Do they engage with their audience through comments and social media?
  • Are they active on other social channels?
  • Do they provide a way to contact them? Do they even want to be contacted?

If you have a positive answer to those questions, you’re ready to start connecting with influential bloggers in your industry. Remember, increase your chances of a positive response by personalizing your outreach email and have a specific goal you’d like to accomplish.

What questions do you have about reaching out to influencers? Let me know in the comments!

4 Ways Your Nonprofit Should Respond to Facebook’s News Feed Changes

4 Ways Facebook Changes Ries Bar StoolIn January, Facebook will begin limiting the number of promotional posts people see

in their feed from Pages. This won’t reduce the number of ads people see; just what

Facebook deems as overly promotional posts – that aren’t paid posts.

“The idea is to increase the relevance and quality of the overall stories — including

Page posts — people see in their News Feeds,” said Facebook on their blog.

Facebook defines promotional content as:

1. Posts that solely push people to buy a product or install an app

2. Posts that push people to enter promotions and sweepstakes with no real

context

3. Posts that reuse the exact same content from ads

This comes on the heels of several Facebook news feed changes that may are

pointing to the demise of organic reach on Facebook. How does this change my

nonprofit’s Facebook strategy? What tactics can I use to respond to these changes? Read More

Attachment-Based Leadership-Part II

Attachment Based Leadership Promo PicIn the previous blog, Attachment Leadership (Part 1), we introduced the 4 S’s of attachment and began to explore how these can be applicable to the workplace. The 4 S’s defined were:

  • Seen– not just seeing with the eyes, but perceiving another deeply and empathetically
  • Safe- avoiding actions and responses that would frighten or hurt the person we are in relationship with
  • Soothed– helping the other person to deal with difficult emotions and situations
  • Secure– helping the other person cultivate an internalized sense of well-being

This language may be very foreign in many business settings. These words may not be built into the company culture. However, there are practical ways to begin to “live out” these concepts and foster an attachment-based leadership culture. Here are a few tips for getting started:

Read More

9 Simple Goal-Based Marketing Metrics To Keep Your Nonprofit On Track

nonprofit marketing goals

It’s difficult enough to keep up with your nonprofit’s marketing before even considering how to make sense of it all. But measuring the ROI of your online marketing is the only thing that’s going to save your time, money, and sanity in the long run.

By carefully measuring your marketing ROI, you can apply the Pareto (80/20) principle and determine which 20% of your marketing efforts are producing 80% of the results.

I’ve outlined a few examples of nonprofit marketing goals below and the metrics to measure each one. Use the sample goals as a reference to measure against what you’re currently tracking. It’s a quick and simple way to find holes you need to fill or see if you’re on the right track!

Read More

Can Development Directors Save The World?

Screen shot 2014-11-05 at 12.08.14 PM

When I was younger, I had dreams of saving the world. Correction, for a short time I had dreams of being a night nurse because I knew that meant I would be able to stay up past my bedtime. However, once I realized that as a grown up I could set my own bedtime…I wanted to save the world.

My world saving career didn’t begin with a cape or a cat suit, but started when I was seventeen in a domestic violence shelter where I volunteered twice a week. Then, I went to college and majored in social work. World saving was still the goal. I vowed to never do anything but direct service. (Spoiler alert: I would eat those words.)

Read More

Attachment-Based Leadership-Part 1- Amy Alexander

Screen shot 2014-10-27 at 11.05.11 AMWhen you hear the word “attachment,” what comes to mind and what does it mean to you? Does your mind go to ideas related to having an infant? Perhaps you have visions of “baby-wearing,” “co-sleeping,” “breast-feeding on demand,” “responsiveness to crying” etc. Or, did you mind go toward relationships, recalling the Tom Cruise quote from Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.” This idea is one that suggests attachment means an inability to live without the other person –   “I cannot live without you. I would simply die if you weren’t in my life.”

You are not alone if you share the above first reactions upon hearing “attachment.” Read More

Simple 6 Point Guideline For Grant Writing

Screen Shot 2014-10-26 at 4.00.09 PMTo simplify your grant writing, use this simple guideline to collect and prepare your information.  Foundations and organizations often have specific formats they desire, but if one has the essential information, it should be easy to complete the applications.

1) Who:

is in need of this project-program

is to benefit

is to do the work

is to help pay  — matching $ etc.

is to manage and report back (accountability)

is ultimately in charge of the project-program

2) What:

is the reason that this is so important?

is the location of the project-program?

is the short term and long range outcome for the society?

is the benefit that makes this so important?

is the priority that distinguishes this effort?

is plan B if this request is not granted? Read More

How to Stay Focused on Your Nonprofit’s Goals

What did you do last week that moved your nonprofit forward?

I mean something big, something you can truly measure.

It’s funny, but those huge accomplishments usually start with something very small. The difficult part is knowing what to concentrate on and having laser-like focus to get it done.

I’ve found the best way to complete these goals is to measure what I do each week that moves me closer to them. How do I do this? I track my time.

In this post I’ll give you three reasons to start tracking your time, even if just for a week. I’ve also included a video at the end of the post that will make it even easier for you to get started. It shows you exactly how to start tracking your time in just five minutes.

Here are 3 BIG benefits of tracking your time:

1. You Can Set Boundaries for Yourself (And Others)

Tracking your time can help you set beneficial boundaries for yourself and others. By tracking in real time you can start identifying patterns in your day and determine what restraints to put on yourself and others.

Pay attention to interruptions that happen throughout the day and the reasons for them. Could you have prevented some of the interruptions with a quick conversation, outlining when you needed uninterrupted time?

Read More

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