Why I Donate to the Nonprofits I Work With

By Wendy Margolin, owner

There’s this thing when you’re Jewish that you give back 10% to charity. Kinda like a tithe. Actually, exactly like a tithe.

If that sounds like a lot of money, it’s because it is. Until you realize that you lose nothing and have a whole lot to gain by giving it. 

Literally. 

True story: 

The first time I gave away a lot of my personal money was in college after a road trip with a campus organization. When they dropped me back at home, I decided to give a donation for gas. I’m so old that $40 was equal to a tank for each way, but in the end I decided to give $60. That was a lot of beer and pizza money. I left the car feeling pretty unsure UNTIL I got to my mailbox to find an unexpected check from my Papa. Good old Gramps had dropped $60 and a note in an envelope just for nothing. Coincidence? You decide. 

I’ve been happily giving charity ever since. I mostly work with small businesses, but for the nonprofits I coach, I always think they’re worthy. I give my 10% charity right back to them. I think of my Papa every time.

In addition to the nonprofits I work with, following are a few to consider this #GivingTuesday:

Charity: Water: Nearly 1 in 10 people worldwide live without access to clean water, and many of them walk hours every day to haul water you wouldn’t let your dog drink. $30/month provides one family with clean water. Access to clean water means education, income and health – especially for women and kids. 100% of your donation goes toward clean water projects because some really rich people cover all this organization’s overhead. Sweet!

Holiday Toy Drive: There are so many holiday toy drives this time of year, so be sure to give to at least one of them. My favorite is from my high school yearbook buddy, Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, whose charity work on the side is just as impressive as her Netflix shows.

Make Every Vote Matter: Make Every Vote Matter is an apolitical, nonpartisan movement to promote the election of the president and vice president by popular vote. Currently, whichever candidate gets the most votes in your state gets all the Electoral College votes from your state (unless you live in Nebraska or Maine). That means that, if you didn’t vote for the winner in your state, your vote doesn’t matter to the Electoral College. MEVM is working to change that so that the winner of the popular vote becomes president.

Jewish United Fund: I started my career at JUF News, and I’ve been a big cheerleader ever since. There’s a reason Chicago has the best Jewish Federation in North America and that their Charity Navigator score is one of the best around. There are few I trust more to spend my charity dollars locally and around the world more wisely than JUF/JF.

Plan Your Small Business Online Marketing for 2020

Just because the New Year is around the corner, doesn’t mean you’re too late to get a jump start on planning your small business online marketing content for 2020. And, when you consider that many small businesses plan website and social media content on the fly, you’re pretty much a rockstar right now – waaaaay ahead of the game. So here we go 🚀

3 key steps to successful online marketing

Before you can plan your online marketing, you’ll want to be sure you’re reaching the audience you intend to serve. This means knowing who you are, knowing who they are and knowing the best way to reach them. Let me explain:

  1. Know your core story: We talked about this in an earlier blog. This is your 1-sentence practical and higher purpose explanation of what drives you in your business. Read here how to spark your core story.
  2. Know your audience: Knowing what your audience needs and what they value you for will help you determine what content you should create. Your goal is to provide your audience with exactly what they want so they feel like you are speaking directly to them. This comes from audience research. Read here how to conduct audience research and swipe my Google audience survey.
  3. Show up consistently: This means creating content every week on your website and then sending it out to your target audience’s inbox. On your social media channel of choice, you’ll want to show up nearly every day or more.

Choose Your Content Medium

Now that you’ve determined how to describe who you are and better understand what your audience wants, you can begin thinking about how to reach them. You have three choices for a content medium, and choosing one of them will depend on your preferences and how your audience tends to consume content. We will talk more in depth about the how to’s for each content medium in the future.

Blog: This, obviously is my content medium of choice. Blogging is a great way to consistently show up for your audience weekly and to keep your content easy to consume. If you enjoy writing, blogging is an obvious choice, but even if you’re only a mediocre writer, I still say go for it. Writing is like a muscle that improves with time. And there are a lot of tips and even online content writing courses that can help you improve tremendously. With time, writing gets so much easier, so put away your high school anxiety and try out this medium if you can.

What’s also nice about blogging, is that it’s really practical to refer back to other content within your blogs. Internal linking is good for SEO, but more importantly, it’s practical for your reader. I listen to podcasts on the go, and I often hear hosts tell me to refer back to episode whatever, and I’m just not going to stop my run to refer back to the one they mention. But in a blog, it’s as simple as a click to dive in more.

Video: Like blogging, video takes some getting used to, but if you’re able to practice getting comfortable in front of the camera, it’s a great way to churn out content quickly. There’s a whole range of what’s acceptable in video content, and you can grow with it as you get more experienced and comfortable. Video blogging can be scrappy, with just your phone, a mic and a ring light. Or it can be as crisp as a TV episode like, Marie Forleo’s Marie TV with a whole crew likely filming and editing it. If you show up on Facebook live or IG TV, you can skip the editing and just talk to your audience on the fly. Or you can pre record and try out some easy, do-it-yourself editing on a site like Kapwing or hire a video editor on a site like Fiverr.

What’s nice about video, is that it’s easy to recycle that content. You can start with the video, but then add just the audio to your website as a podcast. And you can write a blog to explain what’s in your video as well. Trifecta!

Podcast: Podcasting is a great way to show up weekly for your audience, especially if you’re comfortable talking to your audience but don’t love the idea of a video. Podcasting makes it really easy to showcase guests too because you don’t have to be in the same location to be on the show together. Guests can call in from all over the world to join you. With podcasting, it’s also really easy to create a blog post with each episode by writing some of your notes or even pulling and editing the the show transcript. Rev.com is a great tool for this job, for $1/minute, and there are others like it.

Once you have your content medium of choice in place, you’re ready to start batching content. I’ll be discussing content batching next week, so stay tuned. But in the meantime, start jotting down content ideas you come up with on the go and create a running list in your phone or on a notepad.

The Digital Marketing Every Small Business Needs

Small business marketing used to be simple. Choose a name and logo, print up some business cards and post cards to mail out and place an ad in a newspaper. But, before you long for yesteryear, consider this: today’s digital marketing is far more complex, but it comes with far more opportunity. Your small business with a small budget can reach your exact target market instantly.

What businesses used to spend in dollars to reach their target market, you can today spend on time reaching your target market.

Time and money, of course, are limited for small business owners, so make sure the time and money you invest in digital marketing is well spent.

The problem you’re more likely to face today is not the cost of marketing, it’s figuring out a formula for your digital marketing and conquering the technology to get it done. Making sure you have a strong online presence is a basic element of doing business today. It’s the equivalent of an “OPEN” sign on the door of a storefront. Your job is to find out where your customers spend time online and make sure you’re spending time there with them.

How to get started with digital marketing

Here’s the basics of what every business needs to get started with online marketing.

  1. A functional website
  2. Weekly content updates on your website
  3. Daily social media content
  4. Email marketing

Now, let’s break that down.

Website basics

A functional website means that your website is only 3-4 years old at most. Unless you work in e-commerce, most small business websites can be simple and cost effective. Keeping your site up to date with current digital marketing best practices will not only make your business look professional, but it will also save you time. The older your site is, the harder you will have to work in the backend to get the most out of it.

You’ll also need an SEO (search engine optimization) audit and optimization. This is work you need to do on the backend of your site to make sure that your target market in your area finds you online when they are searching. It’s the technical side of how websites improve their ranking on sites like Google.

Digital marketing content basics

Once you have your website set up, it’s a working asset. You’ll need to regularly post new content to your site so that you drive traffic to your website, stay top of mind for your target marketing and continue to improve your search engine ranking. Content can come in the form of a blog, a podcast or videos. All of them work well, so the choice is yours. It will depend on what is easiest for you and how your audience tends to consume content. For example, if you’re trying to reach young men, videos on YouTube and then embedded on your site might make the most sense. Or if you love giving advice and chatting, a podcast might be really doable for you. What’s important is that you choose your medium and be consistent.

Daily social media content

Social media is the next layer of a robust digital marketing plan because this is how you can promote your content, your website and your brand story. Social media is the public marketplace of today, and like it or not, every seller needs to show up. You don’t have to focus on every channel, but figure out what your audience prefers and make sure you are there joining the conversation. Better yet, create great content to drive the conversation. Posts on each social media channel have a different lifespan and you’ll need to post regularly to stay relevant in that space. We’ll talk about each channel separately here in future blog posts.

Email marketing

What’s that you say? You day email marketing is dead? Think again. Consider these stats from Wordstream:

  • 80% of retail professionals indicate that email marketing is their greatest driver of customer retention
  • Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind only colleague recommendations and industry-specific thought leaders.

It’s true that no one wants your email newsletter, unless you’re sending out awesome deals and great buys to customers who want it. But there are better ways to do email marketing, and we’ll talk about them in an upcoming blog post.

Be patient

The most important part of your digital marketing plan is to be patient. Your online presence is built brick by brick, and it’s not all or nothing. What’s great about digital marketing is that it’s easy to make changes later on as you adjust your plan or gain more wisdom. Start at the beginning and keep pushing forward. And when you have a question, send it our way. We always write back.

Join our digital marketing group on Facebook for digital marketing tips, tricks and to find answers to all your qs.

3 Questions You Should Ask a Prospective Marketing Manager in 2020

So, you’re ready to hire a new leader for your marketing team this upcoming year. Or perhaps it’s the only member of your marketing team.

How do you know what marketing skills to look for?

The answer to this question becomes less obvious as the field of marketing and communications becomes more specialized. There’s branding, SEO, analytics (no, those aren’t always one in the same), bloggers, content specialists, social media specialists, graphic designers, videographers and more. With so much to know in marketing for 2020, it’s impossible for any one marketing specialist to have deep knowledge in every area. And even if someone managed to master most of the latest marketing tactics, everything is likely to change tomorrow.

Still, there are some basic, core characteristics that can make some marketing professionals stand out.

Following are 3 questions to ask candidates for your next marketing leadership position.

  1. What’s your core story? Your brand’s story–how you were founded and what you stand for–is instrumental to your success as a brand. You MUST have an origin story, preferably one that’s as short as one sentence, to succeed in today’s competitive marketplace. (Think Apple starting in a garage or Facebook launching from a Harvard dorm room.) Your story is one that you should know well, your employees can describe and your customers understand. If you’re hiring someone charged with getting that story out into the world, they should understand the importance of an origin story and have one of their own prepared from their own life.
  2. What’s the best piece of work you ever published? This can be a blog, a lead magnet, a social media ad or a sales letter. It doesn’t matter what the medium is, but if your marketing candidates cannot write, they aren’t the best fit for your job. Writing is instrumental to telling your story in blogging, on your website and on social media. Digital tactics can be learned with a Youtube tutorial or a coach, but writing is a skill that takes time and patience. Find a pro.
  3. What blogs do you read or podcasts do you subscribe to? There is so much to learn about marketing today, and it changes every week. There are marketing influencers keeping up with all of it, and anyone paying attention can learn from them for free. Be sure that someone you hire to lead your team is passionate about learning and spends time doing it already on their own.

Once you narrow down your candidates and find the right fit for your company, consider finding ways to support them by outsourcing the areas where they don’t excel. Some easy tactics to outsource include graphic design, video, social media ads and social media event coverage.

Marketing in 2020 is too much work for one person, but too often small businesses can only support one salary. Consider a marketing coach to support your new hire as they determine what to prioritize and the best strategy to get it all done.