Instagram Benefits for Businesses in Comparison to Other Social Media Platforms

With billions of monthly users and almost 500 million users who are active regularly, Instagram has been marching towards success since its introduction in the year 2010. There is no denying the fact that businesses are constantly using social media platforms in order to ensure that they have proper knowledge about their competitors. Apart from that, social media marketing has helped numerous small businesses gain success.

In fact, big and reputed businesses are also constantly revising their social marketing strategies in order to stay one step ahead of their competitors. One of the most difficult tasks that businesses face is to choose between the different social media platforms that are there. However, without a doubt, most of the businesses have agreed that Instagram is undoubtedly the best platform currently.

Numerous businesses have not only started reacting more to this growing platform but also, if an analysis is conducted on the topmost brands from different parts of the world, you will get to know that almost 90% of these businesses have Instagram accounts. With this number of businesses as well as brands on this platform, it is obvious that one question is constantly going on your head. This question is whether there is an incentive for businesses that are using Instagram consistently. You need to know that the top brands are capable of generating more leads with the help of Instagram in comparison to other social media platforms.

Instagram is constantly rolling out numerous amazing features that you should definitely take advantage of. Given below is a list of the reasons as to why you should take your business to Instagram in comparison to the other social networking platforms.

Users purchase products online

According to www.lyfemarketing.com, users are responsible for using the Instagram app for purchasing any product that they love, online. It is obvious that sales are the most important thing that a business is looking forward to achieving at the end of the day. If you are asking as to why you should be on Instagram, the answer is that this platform helps in increasing sales by ensuring that you connect with your potential customers.

Instagram has a huge volume of people who are online regularly and it is not very difficult to locate your potential customers. Just like you are on the hunt for your potential customers, you need to know that even they are also looking for the kinds of products and services that you are offering. If they are interested in what you are posting on Instagram, they are going to visit your business website. And, this is exactly where the journey of becoming a customer from a potential customer starts.

Instagram advertisement

You already know the total number of users that are there on Instagram and you are also aware of the fact that this growth is not going to slow down. You also know that once your potential customers come across your business, they are likely to convert into your customers as well. Now, you need to know about Instagram advertising.

Instagram was purchased by the CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, and since this purchase, the capabilities of Instagram started broadening in order to match the capabilities of Facebook. Facebook is currently known to have the best and advanced platforms of advertising on social media. You have the option of advertising to people by understanding their age, behavior, location, interests, etc., on Facebook, and this means that you have the option of doing this on Instagram as well.

This means that you have the option of targeting your target audience with the help of Instagram advertisements and you can be assured that they are going to definitely make a purchase. You can also buy real Instagram likes in order to get more likes from real people on your posts.

Leads and sales can be tracked

You need to know that both your sales as well as leads can be tracked with the help of Instagram. This can sound pretty obvious but you need to know that a number of companies are investing in the platforms without even understanding the effect that they have. Since Instagram makes use of the same platform that manages Facebook advertisements as well, it is obvious that the tracking capabilities are also the same.

You will be able to see almost everything, which includes, the number of times your present or potential customers have clicked on the links, your leads, and conversions, and you will also be able to observe the cost for every result on the ad campaigns that you run. This means that you have the option of viewing the results that you have been achieving consistently. This will also help you to understand whether you have invested money in the right place or not.

Instagram analytics along with the tracking capabilities is responsible for making this platform worth the time of the marketers. It is crucial to understand, which advertisement is drawing in revenue and, which is not. On the basis of this information, you can work on future advertisement campaigns.

Business profiles and personal profiles are different

Instagram allows you to create both a personal profile as well as a business profile. It is obvious that if you are the owner of a business, you cannot run a personal profile on Instagram. You need to switch to the business profile so that you can gain all the benefits, which include, having calls to action, the ability to promote a post and also gaining access to Instagram insights. It is also going to provide the Instagrammers with the idea that the business pages are owned by verified businesses and not personal users. If you are making this adjustment, you can be assured that you are going to get all the amazing benefits that Instagram is providing to the other businesses as well.

Conclusion

Instagram has created an amazing world for both the small as well as the reputed businesses. Instead of hunting for recognition and awareness in the other social media platforms, it is a much better idea to get on Instagram and giving your business everything that it needs in order to spread its wings.

How to Grow Your Nonprofit With Little Budget

It should come as no surprise that devoting time to a cause can be fulfilling. When you start one of your own, you will transform your life.

But establishing a nonprofit to take up said crusade comes with lots of barriers, namely financial. Traditional businesses often must figure out where the money will come from to make their vision a reality, and nonprofits are no different.

For nonprofit leaders with know-how and ideas but scarce financial capital, it’s an uphill battle. But it’s those who recognize their new nonprofits’ non-monetary value and how to translate that into viability who can bring those causes to fruition.

A Little Marketing Goes a Long Way

What nonprofits lack in budget, they more than make up for in positioning and branding. Organizations can mask their financial shortcomings by properly marketing each themselves and spotlighting who they are and what they can do.

That starts with communicating your purpose or company “brand.” Identifying your brand lets people know who you are and what you can do for others, which can go a long way in creating long-term relationships. From there, you want to avoid potential conflicts of interest or even the appearance of one: As owner, officer, or director, you should never personally profit from any transaction with your organization.

Once you’ve settled those things, you can market your nonprofit to its fullest potential. The next step is to take those attributes to events and platforms that feature opportunities to rub elbows with financiers with values similar to your own.

For nonprofits with limited funds, I suggest looking to corporations to sponsor a campaign. Dress for Success, for example, held a “clean your closet week” by asking professionals to donate clothing, and the campaign generated $400,000.

And when you find an actual sponsor, it can be a useful way to find other organizations that align with your mission. Let’s say you connect with a corporation known to work with homeless youth. It’ll have relationships with many other corporations that work with this same service sector, which can establish a ripple effect.

Do Good on a Discount

Outside of knowing how to sell your cause, the following tips are useful to help your growing nonprofit continue to scale:

1. Think intangible. When you’re on a tight budget and don’t have money to involve your nonprofit in initiatives requiring a cash investment, start off by marketing non-financial resources, such as your time and industry knowledge.

Not only will it provide your organization some much-needed exposure, but it’ll also give you and your other teammates a better idea of the work involved and a brief overview of your chosen nonprofit sector. Plus, it’s not a bad way to make connections.

2. Give in to the youth movement. Look for volunteers at area high schools. Talk with the local school councils and ask whether it’d be possible to create a partnership that would allow teens to volunteer for a school credit or as an extracurricular activity.

Position the volunteer opportunity as a way for teenagers to prepare for the future. After all, volunteering improves not just communities, but also participants’ social and communication skills. In fact, they often reap better advantages at college and on down the line.

3. See how the pros do it. Follow the activities of larger nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations. Check with international organizations like the United Nations; you may find opportunities for involvement and gain access to their funding pool.

Take NeedsList, for example. The online platform was created to help small grassroots groups connect with NGOs across the world in need of shoes, SD cards, and other supplies. Donors can choose to donate goods, money, or time, which brings us full circle.

As the adage goes, it’s not what you know but whom. No other sector exemplifies this more than nonprofit. For foundations on a shoestring budget, make connections, think about what you have to offer, and deliver on your purpose each step of the way. Then, you can let your personal transformation begin.

Social Workers: The Untapped Hub of Entrepreneurs

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In what many might consider the most unlikeliest of places to look for entrepreneurs, social work is actually a hub of entrepreneurial thought leaders.  Residing in this place of ideas for change with little to no funding, social workers are constantly grinding out creative ways to progress human and societal conditions.

Being kind and doing good are now viewed as intelligent and necessary traits to have in the professional world.  However, let’s remember social workers were kind even when it implicitly was taken as ignorant and the reason they were doing good was because of compassion, empathy, resilience, commitment, and determination, so essentially they are trailblazers and natural entrepreneurs.

Social workers have been “doing good” before doing good was cool.

Below is a list of 5 entrepreneurial skills that social workers embody in their everyday work.

Ability to Raise Money

Many social workers work within the nonprofit sector or within the public sector, both of which see little working capital and funding cuts.  Due to this consistent lack of cash flow social workers are constantly figuring out how to come up with funding for their clients, communities and programs.  Due to social workers being committed and determined they are brainstorming different ways to raise capital just like an entrepreneurial venture would do.

Many sectors like to think of social workers as not being financially savvy however in a world where one has to figure out how to best advocate for their clients and communities with the least amount of money, they have learned how to get very creative with fundraising.

Branding/Marketing

Much of what lies behind social work theory is psychology.  Additionally, much of what lies beneath effective and efficient branding and marketing is psychology as well.  Thus, when social workers are attempting to brand or market their program or organization they have a leg up as they can easily analyze what their audience might want by knowing the different psychological theories that already exist. Additionally, social workers are generally speaking, natural empaths.

Yes, some have to work harder at empathy but social workers don’t go into their profession by monetary motivation, they generally go into social work because they are empathetic and compassionate individuals wanting to solve worldly problems.  The ability to empathize with your audience gives you an advantage when branding and marketing because you can easily put yourself into your audience’s shoes to figure out what they need and want.

Self-Care & Resilience

If you research anything about social work, you will most likely stumble upon self-care and compassion fatigue such as Mindfulness, Self-Care, and Wellness in Social Work: Effects of Contemplative Training, Caring for Ourselves: A Therapist’s Guide to Personal and Professional Well-Being.  Once again, social workers were developing and taking trainings and discussing the importance of self-care before all the mindfulness coloring books, meditation helmets and such started appearing in popular culture.  Social workers realize how incredibly important it is to take care of yourself so you can be a more effective professional and person in all areas of life.

Additionally, resilience is something that social workers have to recognize, assess and teach within many of their client populations such as mentally ill, abused and neglected and impoverished. Due to consistently working with the most disadvantaged in our societies and seeing and teaching that resilience, it has become an innate trait for any professional social workers to embrace.

Social workers experience many failures with clients, programs and organizations but it’s that compassion, grit and resilience that keeps them doing their job everyday waiting to change even 1 person or 1 community. The Lean Start-Up by Eric Ries addresses many entrepreneurial obstacles and how to overcome them, one of them being failing fast and failing often to get to success.

Building Cohesive Teams

One thing that many social workers have to develop or at least review is called a strengths and needs assessment for individuals and/or communities they are serving.  Many decades ago social workers started realizing that only identifying and treating needs of persons and/or communities wasn’t treating the issue as a whole and in the most viable way. By identifying the strengths of the person, organization or community you can then more effectually address the issues.  Many entrepreneurial articles (Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Inc.) talk about the need for building effective teams as one of the most important steps in a successful venture.

Due to that being a skill set already learned by social workers, as well as some of their background training in psychology and their ability to empathize as spoken about earlier, social workers can build some of the most empowered and potent teams out there.

They realize the importance of different learning styles and how to communicate your message.

Ability to Sell

Last but certainly not least is the ability to sell.  Most everyone would think that sales could not be further from social work.  However, if you have ever read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie you will quickly realize that empathy and sympathy are 2 of the most effective traits to have in order to be successful in dealing with people. Additionally, having that grit, determination and resilience are other characteristics that social workers have that help them pick themselves up and keep forging on after a failed “sale”. Many social workers may not even have thought of themselves in sales before, however they actually have to “sell” themselves to their clients quite a bit.

In social services you have many untrusting people due to things such as life experiences or mental illness.  Social workers usually use the terminology “gaining people’s trust” however it is a matter of semantics because the social worker is essentially “selling” themselves or services to someone.  You have to make them believe that you are trustworthy, dependable and honest in order for clients and/or organizations to open up to you. Gaining people’s trust is one of the traits social workers have that help them “sell” their service and or product just like in entrepreneurial ventures.

So next time you are out looking for a founder, co-founder, partner or for investors looking to invest in social impact products or services; don’t look past the social worker.

Gone are the days of social workers “just” being a bleeding heart or “just” being kind…like kind implies ignorance?

Many entrepreneurial ventures that are solely motivated by money will fizzle out because they don’t have many of the other necessary skills that make a venture succeed.  Social workers naturally have these skills in them by virtue of the profession, so take a look and see what social workers have and are still accomplishing these days that could help your entrepreneurial venture out.

Periscope: The Ultimate Tool to Become More Visible

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The new wonder in live streaming apps is called Periscope! You’ve probably heard of it. I don’t exaggerate if I call Periscope the ultimate tool to make yourself and your work visible. Periscope offers you an immediate access to your network to bring them live broadcasts. But let’s start at the beginning.

What is Periscope?

Periscope uses the camera on your phone to share in a livestream whatever you want. Your phone becomes a TV studio, and you’re the TV host or the reporter. You can even do your own talk shows. It’s magic! I love it!

Periscope is free and you can get it in your app store. You start making your account and your first broadcast can go live in no time. It works super easy.

Periscope is a product of Twitter. If you own a twitter account, your twitter followers will also be your audience, and Periscope will notify them when you start a broadcast.

Periscope looks like making a video, but there is one big difference. With video, you can edit your video, and do this over and over again. It makes me feel uncertain: will it be good enough or shall I take another shot? Do some more editing? But, Periscope is live and raw with no editing. There’s no time for feeling uncertain. Of course it’s scary to be live but just take a deep breath and go for it.

Periscope is interactive. You can chat with your audience, ask questions, and answer questions. Your audience can also chat with each other. This chat can make a broadcast a bit chaotic but that’s all part of the fun.

A replay of your broadcast is available on Periscope for 24 hours, but you can also use katch.me to archive your broadcasts and keep them available for as long as you wish.

Periscope is still so new that everybody is still experimenting. It’s a playground and you can jump in without being afraid to not knowing the rules. But why should you?

The ultimate tool to increase visibility

It’s a great tool to be visible, and that’s exactly what we need! Show our faces, tell our stories, provide your expertise, or show the results of our work. I’m using Periscope myself for a while now and I discover huge possibilities as a result. I’ve brainstormed a list for you:

  • Share your knowledge: about parenting, abuse, loneliness, health
  • Give a sneak peek at activities in the community center
  • Managers and lecturers in Social Work can share their vision on the profession
  • You can announce a contest
  • You can ask for some input on a project you’re working on
  • Share the weekly activity agenda with the neighborhood
  • Answer questions from clients in a Q&A
  • Broadcast series like a cooking series with recipes of your clients
  • Give a tutorial on how to fill in a difficult form
  • Give a yoga lesson

I’ve decided to do more Periscope broadcasts beside my blogs and webinars on a regularly basis. It will be a regular part of my marketing mix. I’m working with schedules and topics like: marketing tips, social work tech tips, stories, inspiration, share my failures, my insights on social work and much more. You can use a hashtag to announce your broadcasts and mine is #socialscope. Join me for some social work fun and inspiration.

Hearts     ❤     

One more thing: Facebook has likes, and Periscope has hearts. Who’s doesn’t like little colored hearts? If you watch a broadcast and you like what you see you can tap on your screen to share some hearts. So cute!

Now I’m curious about the possibilities you see to get visible with Periscope. Please share them here. And if you’re on Periscope, share your account and let’s connect. Mine is @annekekrakers. Hope to see you soon on Periscope!

Evenlyn’s Journey: Every Social Worker Needs a Red Carpet Dress

Evelyn is a kind of woman who has never worn a red carpet dress.

Her whole life she has been in service of others. As a child she played with the kids who were bullied. As a teenager she volunteered in the animal shelter. When she became a social worker, she found her mission in helping disabled children. You could find her at the office even after working hours because of an emergency.

red carpet dressEvelyn’s sister made other choices in her life. At school she was a luminary in mathematics, and she got a well-paying job at Apple. Her working agenda was filled with parties, retreats, and conventions. Even on several occasions, Evelyn’s sister wore a red carpet dress.

Evelyn was a bit jealous. Just a bit, but at the same time she was proud of her choice to serve needy people instead of making money. Who needs a red carpet dress anyway?

Since Evelyn became unemployed two years ago, she started longing for a red carpet dress. Her desire to be successful grew every new day of her unemployment.

Sitting on her couch looking for a job on Linkedin, she felt more and more invisible. Her own shiny moment, walking the red carpet with a glamorous dress and killer heels, seemed farther away then ever.

As Evelyn’s frustration got stronger, a new thought came up in her mind which initially made her feel anxious and uneasy. This thought came right out of her heart and was so strong that she couldn’t hide from it.

There was this tiny voice, smooth but crystal clear,  “you are a social worker, show up and share your passion, there are needy people out there waiting for you”!

But I first need a job!’ Evelyn said. Do you? Do you really need a job to help others? Have you ever thought of creating your own job? Have you ever thought of becoming a social worker entrepreneur?

Evelyn had never heard of a social worker entrepreneur. Sure, she knew some social workers with a private practice, but she never ever considered herself as an entrepreneur.

Suddenly, Evelyn started dreaming again, and her heart started bouncing as it did before. In her imagination, she saw happy clients, her own website, a lovely office, and a good income. She also thought from her first paid invoice she would buy a gorgeous red carpet dress!

But, this thought also made her feel anxious and uneasy. ‘How do I get clients? How do I make a living? Who will pay me? How do I get the money to start my business? Can I do this on my own? Will there be support?’.

Evelyn realized that becoming a social worker entrepreneur was something she didn’t learn at school. On the other hand it might be the solution to living her passion again, to be of service again, and contribute to a better world.

One day, Evelyn made a very social worky decision. She decided the only way to find out if this would truly work is to do some research.

From this point, Evelyn’s journey became really exciting! She discovered a whole new world of marketing, branding, selling, and even the red carpet dresses every social worker needs.

More about Evelyn’s journey in my next article.

The Business of Social Work Practice

Over the last decade, certainly in Australia, funding for human services organisations has undergone significant change.  The days of filling out an annual evaluation report and expecting to be automatically re-funded are gone. Simply ensuring you meet the objectives of last year’s funding is not enough. A competitive tendering process is now a harsh reality in the realm of community services. What implications does this have for social work practice?

CompetitionFirst of all, we need to get comfortable with the notion of “competition”. It’s a word that doesn’t seem to feel comfortable with most social workers.  And yet, in the tender process, that is exactly what we face.  May the “best” organisation win. No matter what your values and passions may be as a social worker, no matter how much you abhor the thought of competing with another well-meaning, non-profit agency, no matter how much you talk about collaboration and partnerships, the bottom line is that you have to provide evidence that your organisation deserves a portion of limited funding more than another.

Secondly, we need to become acquainted with the word “business”. Traditionally, funding in community organisations is prioritized to the grass-roots workers – those who deliver service to the client group. The rest of the “business” is expected to be run by volunteers. Or the coordinator of the service works double the paid hours to ensure everything is running smoothly at a business level. At times a small portion of funding is reluctantly allocated to a bookkeeper or administrative assistant or allocated to the social workers who are already overloaded meeting client needs. Besides being an unrealistic addition to workload, most social workers do not have an effective skills set in business practice.

This reluctance to allocate funds to the business side of the organisation exists because traditionally, community organisations are “supposed to” spend allocated money on client service delivery. This has been perceived to mean “direct service”.  But tell this story to any small business, or a corporate organisation and they’ll ask “how does your organisation (business) run effectively and professionally without business and marketing expertise? “ Every business knows, to compete effectively in the market place, you need people with both business and marketing skills. Private businesses are born in a tough, competitive market place so this notion is simply accepted as part of business life. Community services however, were born in a “charitable, gentle, cooperative” market place.

Time to wake up – things have changed. As many of the larger community organisations have proven, allocating funds to the “business” side of an organisation enables growth. These large community organisations have whole departments allocated to “operations”, “marketing and communications” and “fundraising”. Those employed to deliver client service are able to focus on just that – their clients. The business side of the organisation is fine-tuned by those with specific skills in those areas. The ultimate result for those organisations is that they’re highly competitive in the tender process. And the more tenders they win – the more their client needs are met.

So how would a small community organisation start the process of being competitive in a business sense when funding is so limited? First of all do what you’ve been taught to do as social workers: look at the big picture.  Empowering your clients is not just about casework and running groups. The stronger your organisation is, the more chance you have of gaining the funds you need to initiate or expand service provision. Then question the status quo. Just because it’s always been done this way, doesn’t mean that’s what works best.

Perhaps the well-meaning volunteer, or the overworked caseworker are not the best people to be focussing on business operations or communications strategies. Where there really is no funding to employ more people, start placing some priority on business practice. Think of ways existing staff and volunteers can be up-skilled so that they understand and possibly assist in strategic planning, fundraising, marketing and business operations. Talk to some of the larger organisations and ask them how they raised the funds to break away from the traditional charitable approach to a solid business approach. They also started out small.

Then ask yourself these questions: How many social workers know how to write up a business plan? Or understand that a marketing plan is an integral part of a business plan? How many social workers understand that innovation and creative thinking are essential elements of any successful and sustainable business?  Or at a smaller level, how many social workers understand how to promote their services to their client base?

Social workers traditionally are not business oriented. Social workers want to see all human services as affordable. But in a world where values change, where government priorities become unpredictable and outcomes are consistently measured according to standards set by external assessors, isn’t it time social workers took on some business sense?  We’re not the traditional “do-gooders” anymore. We’re agents of change. It’s time to look inward at our profession and take some responsibility for the lack of funding to critical operations funding in our organisations.

After all, we continue to accept and work under the premise that our organisations should only allocate funding to direct service, not to administration. Ironically we do this because we’re used to another kind of tender – being gentle.  Ultimately, this quiet acceptance significantly reduces the chances of community organisations gaining momentum and successfully competing for effective client services.  Which tender are you aiming for in your social work practice?

Using Twitter as a Comment Box: Week One Wrap #SWHelper Twitter Study

Does anyone remember the wooden comment boxes positioned conspicuously at places of business? Customers would use these comment cards to either praise or complain about their service interaction. The majority of the time, consumers would not have any idea if there was any action taken on behalf of the business as a result of their comment card.

Some consumers who felt strongly about their service interactions would follow-up with corporate headquarters via snail mail or email. However, the response time for feedback could easily take months to reach the consumer. Week One of the #SWhelper Twitter study looked at using Twitter as a comment box in the scope of social work policy and practice.

suggestionboxWhen you think about it, how often do you see comment boxes in today’s society? They are rare if not extinct because corporations have learned to respond fairly quickly to consumer likes as well as their dislikes to prevent small issues from trending on various social media outlets.

Businesses have learned to harness the power of social media not only as a marketing tool but as a way to provide customer service and improve public relations. In the scope of nonprofits, social policy and practice, these entities have not spent an equal focus on the power of social media from institution to consumer (B2C) or from an institution to institution (B2B) perspective.

In my opinion, it appears most of these institutions tend to view social media as a digital bulletin board with little to no engagement. However, it must not be forgotten that aspiring students, currently enrolled students, and practitioners are consumers, and associations, academic institutions, continuing education organizations are the institutions of services when we look to measure and analyze interactions through social media engagement. It is also must be acknowledged by the nonprofit and public sector that consumers of services can still become brand advocates or brand haters which can affect funding and outcomes.

Marketing departments in these institutions are acutely aware of the necessity for social media interaction from a marketing perspective in order to promote their respective programs to increase enrollment or drive fundraising goals. Corporations have learned the hard way not to ignore dissatisfied consumers’ social media mentions as it can correlate to declining profits and create a public relations crisis. Can this same dynamic correlate to decreased social work enrollment or influence policy decisions?

Week One: Evaluation of an Emerging Issue

On March 11, 2014, I saw an awesome tweet about free #socialworker T-Shirts being given away at the SXSW 2014 Interactive Tech Conference in Austin, Texas. The same day, I sent a tweet to them expressing concerns once I realized it was social marketing firm using the #socialworker hashtag, and I received a response from them a few hours later.

“Hiplogiq, the Parent company for Social Compass, developed a marketing campaign using the hashtag #socialworker to attract industry leaders to their booth. They also provided free #socialworker T-shirts to visitors, and it appeared to have been a huge success. The company tweeted out pictures of the Hootsuite and PepsiCoJobs Teams taking pictures with their #SocialWorker T-Shirts. My first reaction was how awesome for Social Workers to get some publicity at a major Tech Conference. Then, it dawned on me that this company has successfully branded #SocialWorker as a marketing campaign for their social marketers.”

Ultimately, Social Compass agreed to participate in our live #SWHelper tweet chat on March 16th as a way of engaging the social work community and identifying concerns within the community. Not only did they agree to participate, the Co-Founder of the parent company, Hiplogiq, felt it was important enough to engage us directly and not designate an appointee.

Methodology

There appears to be some confusion on the measuring metrics of social media as well as how it translates into the social sciences. Until recently, likes, shares, retweets, follows, and faves in the context of Facebook and twitter respectively were seen as the primary metrics for measuring engagement.  However, when businesses designed campaigns and developed products based solely on those metrics, they begin to realize this data may not be aligned with the general populace. Due to social platforms, such as Facebook limiting organic reach in an effort to sell ads or obtain pay for promotion, this data alone does not provide access to accurate organic traffic and spontaneous feedback when needed.

On the other hand, the duality of Twitter in both its simplicity and complexity is what makes this tool a researcher’s dream. Although Twitter has incorporated a pay for promotion within their structure, it has not instituted any barriers limiting users reach or potential reach. Twitter has very few rules without any limitations on who you connect with or who you can tweet. Just this past week, I was contacted by OWN, the Oprah Winfrey Network, because they liked one of my tweets during #Lifeclass social lab.

For the purpose of Week One’s Twitter study, I wanted to use the live twitter chat as the format for engaging the social work community to gain organic feedback and insight on the use of the #socialworker hashtag by the Social Compass software company. For quantitative data, I asked questions then provide responses to participants to RT the response best in line with their perspective. As qualitative data, I asked participants to comment on each question like an open-ended question in order to gather responses. Then, there is the organic retweets and faves of commentary made during the chat. In the detailed study, I will be looking at other variables such as reach, influence, and potential reach.

Best Tweets of the Week

Takeaways

Challenges, Barriers, and Limitation

Within the confines of the study, participants who had not read the article on the subject matter had difficulty contributing as a spontaneous participant who happens to see tweets from the chat in their timeline. Additionally, participants who are not familiar with the construct of social media may base their assumptions and expectations on real-world ideology and not within the confines of the virtual space.

If social marketers want to hold live twitter chats using the hashtag #socialworker, does title protection laws legislate the virtual space? Also, is there a need for social workers to understand how marketing works in the virtual space in order to elevate awareness and market the profession? Essentially, Twitter is like the Wild West where people race to stake their claim on a piece of land. In the present case, hashtags are the real estate and the individual/entity with the most successful social media campaign viewed by users…Win.

5 Ways to Help You Segment Your Communications

Why Segmentation is Important

The whole idea of market segmentation is to attract the right customer (or donor) using the right methods. When you send out that annual appeal, you’re targeting a large number of individuals who have different reasons for supporting you. You can’t use the same message and same images for all of them. They want to see a buy-in that fits their expectations and reasons for supporting you.

Case Example: No Kid Hungry

NoKidHungry
No Kid Hungry uses statistics to identify the problems.

For example, it might be helpful to target new donors using the statistics on the number of people you’re serving, and how that looks in their community. This first No Kid Hungry ad campaign is targeting people who need to be aware of the problem in their community, so that they have a reason to support it. Using statistics and ‘sad children’ pictures works well for this initial buy-in grab.

When targeting existing donors, however, you have a bigger challenge. They’ve heard your pleas. They know that children are hungry. They know that $1 will buy 10 meals at the local food bank. Why should they keep donating to an organization that isn’t solving the problem? That’s where segmentation comes in.

This second photo is one of many visual and text-based stories that show how donated funds were directly used to improve the lives of children and communities across the US. It’s important that they focus on a broad range of topics, and use a broad range of mediums to disseminate this information. It’s attractive to a wider audience.

No Kid Hungry Impact
This photos shows a direct impact that No Kid Hungry has had on a community.

No Kid Hungry’s entire website is built so that it tells the right story for the right supporter. It’s separated into 5 categories- The Problem, The Solution, Our Impact, Take Action, Give. I use this organization as an example because their marketing campaign is effective and easily recognizable. They even have a privacy disclaimer on their site that tells you how they track your personal information when browsing the site- talk about keeping up with the times!

There are plenty of other organizations who do a great job at this, as well. Even small organizations can use these methods to increase visibility and have a stronger call to action.

5 Ways to Make it Easier

There is a lot of software that will make your segmentation process simpler. Here are a few that are commonly used in the nonprofit world (in no particular order):

MailChimp

MailChimp allows you to segment your campaign lists so that you can easily send the right communications to the right people. You can even do this with the free version.

SPSS

SPSS is a common evaluation software that lets you put your data collection to work for you. It even helps you segment that data to look for common threads and characteristics. While not directly a communication’s based tool- the information should be used to inform your marketing.

Salesforce

Salesforce lets you run all kinds of reports on your donor, consumer, volunteer, or whatever person-type you track. You can use this information to create segmented lists to target the right people. You can run a report with the correct parameters, export those addresses/phone numbers/emails into your mailer of choice-and bam. You’ve got a campaign. Here is one method of doing this (Warning: non-Salesforce site)

Raiser’s Edge

Raiser’s Edge is well known for its use in donor management in the nonprofit world. It can also include targeted marketing analysis to help you identify donors who might give more with the right kind of messaging. Bonuses include integrated direct mail, email, and social media resources.

GiftWorks

Giftworks is another popular donor management platform that includes targeted analysis, segmentation, data importing from other platforms, and communications tools. It can be a little pricey, starting at $90 a month.

Next Steps

You’re probably wondering what is this segmentation thing and how do I even start using it? That’s a whole other topic that has been talked about by people much smarter than myself. Here is some good reading material:

The Accidental Fundraiser – Roth & Ho

The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause – Kivi Leroux Miller

Tell Your Story or Someone Else Will: Child Welfare’s PR Problem

Ones’ opinion regarding the field of child welfare is largely influenced by what they have read or viewed in the media. Less often, it is influenced by their interactions or experiences with ‘the system’.  In either case, it is generally the testimony of the more vocal dissatisfied observer that draws attention. In child welfare, case workers are often perceived as child-snatchers or uncaring public employees whose inexcusable failures result in child injuries or deaths. Foster parents are often accused of ‘being in it for the money’. Administrators may be characterized as over-paid paper shufflers who rarely do any ‘real’ work, and advocates are perceived as whiners who want more money to fund this dysfunctional system. This is not far off from the general impression one gets from reading news reports about child welfare.

This was the advice of a marketing professional during a chat on Twitter: tell your story or someone else will. So who is telling the child welfare story and what story are they telling? Using the key words ‘child welfare’ and ‘foster care’, a search of Google News yielded the following stories:storybook

Former Foster Kids Protest RI Funding Cuts

Cases Highlight What Many Consider a Broken Child Welfare System

Arizona CPS’ struggles mount as abuse, neglect reports rise

Minnesota’s child-protection system is inconsistent and underfunded

Oregon’s $40 million child welfare computer upgrade has glitches, some serious

Now, Russians protest against Norway’s child services

Death of Dominic James led to changes in foster-care system

These are just a few of the thousands of suggested pages. They were all in the top 15 matches.  What I did not find were stories about successful reunifications, adoptions, guardianships. I’m sure that if I had worked my way through pages of links using my search words, I would have found some. I know they exist. I follow several incredible foster and adoptive parents on Twitter who are living proof that they exist. And I have been fortunate to have worked with hundreds of dedicated foster and adoptive parents as well as committed, hard-working case workers, administrators, and advocates over the years. So why do their stories not show up on the first pages of an Google search?

I believe it is because child welfare, as a field, has been content to let other people tell their story. There are many reasons for doing so, including what is probably at the top of the list: confidentiality.  Yes, there are laws and restrictions regarding making public information about children and families involved in the child welfare system. However, there are ways to address this issue. Obtaining releases of information, de-identifying information, redacting or ‘sanitizing’ reports, or changing minor details to protect the confidentiality of individuals or families are possible solutions. These are all approaches that have been used when the press covers a story that includes sensitive information. They are used by the health profession in conducting medical research and in dozens of other fields dealing with sensitive issues. So why is it that the field of child welfare does not employ these strategies more often?

I suspect that the second reason or excuse is time and/or resources. People who work in this field generally are overworked, underpaid, and their programs under-resourced.  This usually is not a line-item in child welfare budgets. Maybe it should be. Maybe there should be a concerted effort to improve the image of the field in the media. Other fields have figured this out when addressing anything from environmental issues to employee satisfaction. If one thinks about various professions, it is easy to find good and not-so-good examples.

The railroad industry has successfully improved public perception through advertisements highlighting their essential role in the economy and energy-efficient transportation of valuable resources. At the other end of the spectrum, we all are familiar with the expression ‘going postal’ which describes a public perception that working for the postal service somehow is associated with unpredictable and sometimes violent behaviors. However, many people believe this statement holds some validity, and it pains me to even repeat these sentiments.

The child welfare stories we should be sharing are successful reunifications, adoptions, guardianships. We should be sharing outcomes for children forming attachments when it was thought impossible. What about sharing the success of newly created families with siblings, loyal friends and protectors, or youth finding the guidance needed to prepare for adulthood through college or a career? Should we not help share the stories of adult children who overcome child abuse and neglect with the support and love from their foster parents? Until we make it a priority to tell these stories, the press about Child Welfare will continue to be dominated by stories told by someone else using their lens.

Interview with Gary Wexler: Former Ad Executive Turn Nonprofit Activist

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Gary Wexler who is a former Ad Executive that has helped to create television commercials for products such as Apple and Coca-cola. Now, Gary uses his powers for good to help nonprofit agencies maximize their marketing strategies instead of wasting donor dollars on ineffective tactics. Also, Gary Wexler is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Southern California teaching marketing in the Annenberg School of Communication. Later in the article, you will also be able to view a short video on “Way Beyond Branding” by Gary Wexler who possesses a wealth of knowledge, and I would like to share with you our conversation.

SWH: Tell me a bit about your background and your passion for the Nonprofit Sector.

Gary: I became involved with nonprofit causes in high school joining a student club where we traveled as tutors, working with grade school kids in poverty areas of Los Angeles. It captured my soul and began a lifelong involvement with the sector as an activist, volunteer, board member, donor, and finally as a professional. In my 40s, I left my career as a successful ad agency copywriter and creative director, creating award winning television commercials for Apple Computer and Coca Cola because I realized my passion was with the nonprofit sector. My passion for the sector lies in the fact that the nonprofit sector holds the soul of our society.

SWH: How do you define Nonprofit Revolution Now and what is it mission?

Gary: The world has changed. We are living in a new era, dominated by new thinking.  Yet, the nonprofit sector is in many cases stuck in old-thinking and fearful of making the drastic changes needed in order to survive and thrive. The Revolution is leading the way for these new changes and methodologies using what we call “Seize the Conversation” marketing as the engine of positive disruption within the sector. Seize the Conversation is integrated with Human Centered Design Thinking which is a way to bring people into collaboration to create the big new ideas that will give the sector a powerful verve. This is the purpose, goal, and methodology of the Revolution.

For the organizations who read the Revolution, the other purpose is to lead them to realize that nonprofit marketing is about helping create three results—fundraising, advocacy and participation. It’s results are not a branding or social marketing campaign. Those are mere tactics, along with many others, in the battle. But, this is a battle for ideas that penetrate the hearts and minds of the donors, activists and participants.

SWH: How did this new project come about, and what types of issues do you focus your writing?

Gary: It came about from my teaching. I am the Professor of both Nonprofit Marketing as well as Advertising in the Masters in Communications Management program at USC/Annenberg. In nonprofit marketing, my students were sent out to work with real nonprofit clients, armed with knowledge they gained in class on how to focus and ask invasive questions and then bring the client participants into consensus.

When they return to class each semester after meeting their clients, the students all say the exact same thing. “You taught us how to focus, ask questions and bring consensus and these nonprofits can’t do it.” That’s when I knew I had to begin writing about the issues of the sector and what I believe the solutions are. The focus of the writing is on big ideas as solutions created through Seize the Conversation strategies.

SWH: What is the Nonprofit Revolution Now Manifesto?

Gary: The Manifesto is the weekly blog…soon to be called the “Blog-ifesto.” The new site will be up in the next few weeks which will be exciting, powerful, informational and controversial.

SWH: What kind of information and content do you highlight on the blog?

Gary: I grab the most important conversations that need to be circulating in the nonprofit sector and then translate them into how to create results using big ideas to deliver the goals of fundraising, advocacy and participation.

SWH: How does someone become a part of the Revolution?

Two ways. Either sign up for the blog. Or bring us in to create the Revolution within your organization, helping you reach your fundraising, advocacy, or participation goals.

Wanting more of Gary Wexler? You can visit him at http://www.garywexler.com or Nonprofit Revolution Now. You may also want to follow him on Twitter at @garywexler.

 

 

 

Managing Your Consulting Business (4th in Series)

The social worker will certainly be skilled in connecting with and informing clients. The social worker as consultant will also need to manage a business. Social work tends to attract persons whose primary concern is not money, who do not typically publicize their achievements, who favor trust-based relationships, and who are uneasy charging directly for the good they do. The social worker as consultant will need to face these tendencies in the context of business and consider an approach in four areas: legal structure, marketing, contracts, and consulting fees.

Legal Structure

Deciding on a legal structure for your business is important for taxation, expensing, liability, and partnership reasons. It is a decision that should not be made without professional consultation from your tax preparer. After all, your tax preparer will be the individual either praising your planning or lamenting your tax position.

Many social workers have long dreamed of starting a non-profit, but I do not recommend this legal structure for the social worker as consultant. Of course, make your own decision, but make it based on your proposed activity, whether you want a board, the application process (and fees), your ownership concerns, and your reporting preferences.

Non-profits are not the only way to secure grant funding. Partner with 501c3 organizations like universities or community agencies to gain access to grant funding. Partnering also allows those with the proper expertise to administer the grant budget.

Non-profits are also not immune to profit motives. Any business must sustain itself by creating revenue that exceeds expenses. Consider that other options exist for the social worker as consultant to express “social good” as a motive. B-Corporations are one option.

I am in favor of the sole proprietorship structure for occasional projects. If this is your structure, be sure to secure a credit card that will be solely used for business purchases. A mileage log is another tool you may want to consider.

A Limited Liability Company (LLC) is useful when you are signing contracts and taking on some form of liability for project success or failure. It is also a good idea if you are producing a tangible product. An LLC separates your personal liability from your business liability. If something goes to suit, only your business assets are in jeopardy.

Marketing

Marketing for the social worker as consultant draws on a strength: social skills. But, the most effective social worker as consultant does not engage in social relationships for the relationship alone. Social relationships are external motivation to produce content. This is sustainable marketing in a nutshell. Create a vicious cycle of content creation that engages potential clients, which informs you about the  client’s content desires.

Social media can be a great way to operationalize this cycle. A weblog is the minimum implementation. Use a blog to create a record of your credibility and competence. Organize the entries by your areas of expertise. Include stories of your consulting experiences, and put your skills on display. Schedule your posts to provide at least weekly updates. Utilize automatic posting capabilities. Understand your audience to know how long or short you can make your postings.

Social media tools can be managed for client interaction as well. Understand from the outset that tools like dot coms Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, and Kickstarter must be managed actively and responsively. Other tools that can aid awareness and calls to action include change.org for petition services; madmimi.com for formatting email blasts; and goo.gl for URL shortening.

Contracts

A well written contract is critical to success in consulting relationships. It makes sense because contracts detail the measurement of success among other things. Include clear information on liability, insurance, and deliverables/outcomes.

Liability. Detail the responsibilities, level of authority, and scope related to the project being contracted. Responsibilities can be as simple as locking up when you leave or as complex as ensuring that e-commerce transactions are tracked in a daily accounting review. Level of authority refers to the role of consultant as leader, manager, or advisor. Leaders implement autonomously. Managers implement what they are instructed. Advisors review data and give suggestions. Scope can be limited to a single event, offices in a region, a recurring program across years, or innovation in the full enterprise.

Insurance. Detail how cost overruns, delays, and other complications will be handled. The point is to provide the client with some assurance of your professionalism. This can be handled in a number of ways. Some consultants only accept 50% of an agreed payment up front. Some consultants include language in the contract ensuring a flat fee no matter the cost overrun.

Deliverables/Outcomes. Detail what products will result from the consultation. Include the schedule of outcomes if the deliverable has multiple components. Consider communicating the targets in financial terms as a way to track the progress and efficiency of the consultation. As you gain experience, explore calculations of return on investment (ROI). ROI can be a way to separate your productivity and efficiency from other consultants or potential client investments. The beginning of good ROI is an understanding of the measures of success that represent value to your client. More than just the deliverables themselves, your client may value positive press, new relationships, or increased staff morale.

Consulting Fees

The social worker as a consultant must switch from a mindset of pay based on the job market to payment based on the market value of expertise. As a rule of thumb, I suggest beginning with the following amounts:

  • Bachelor Degree/5 Years Experience = $50 per hour
  • Master Degree/15 Years Experience = $75 per hour
  • Doctoral Degree/20+ Years Experience = $100 per hour

Consider that special or unique expertise may support higher fees. Your services are worth what you get paid for them. Of course, notoriety and demand also impact your fees.

Many consultants prefer the simplicity of flat contracts. Typically, a flat contract is a calculation of the amount of hours a consultation will require. Estimate the total number of hours you will need to complete the project. Multiply that number by 3. Propose this total to the client. The multiplication recognizes that projects always have unforeseen time delays including revisions as the client better communicates his/her vision. You may consider reducing the multiplication based on how well you know the client and their needs. Familiarity usually means fewer revisions and therefore less time.

Keep in mind that beginning consultants may need to complete pro-bono work. That means working for free! In return for pro-bono work, ask for written recommendations or agreements that the client will act as a reference.

Generalist Practice and Expertise

Consider one final perspective on your consulting business. Social workers are trained generalists. This means that they develop a breadth of knowledge across multiple systems. This generalist training can be a great asset. The social worker as consultant will know systems and have contacts in various community posts.

Yet, this asset needs to be managed in the context of building a business and a brand. Consider that your expertise, though benefitting from breadth of knowledge and contacts, must be distillable to a brand. Expertise is the specific knowledge and skills applied by the social worker as consultant along with specific practice contexts and tools employed. Your brand is the communication of your expertise in a way that potential clients can remember, recite, and relate to. It will not function to say, “We do whatever you need.” It is more functional to advertise, “We are experts in city-level elder care and gerontology data mapping.” Maintain your generalist base, while you practice communicating your brand.

Consulting with Start-Ups (6th in Series)

BUSINESS PLAN

The first and most important task for any start-up is a two-page executive summary outlining your business model. In two pages, you need to be able to summarize the market, operations, management, and financial projections of your new company. It must have real information (not fluff and wishes), and it must build logically. The sections of the executive summary are the same for the lengthier business plan. They are as follows:

  1. Business Name and Legal Status
  2. Market Analysis
  3. Key Objectives
  4. Financial Objectives
  5. Market Opportunities
  6. Market Threats (Competition)
  7. Operations
  8. Personnel & Staffing
  9. Management Team & Governance
  10. Pro Forma Targets (Financial Projections)

“Real information” speaks to the need to gather actual community data toward the representation of your market, logic of your objectives, and efficacy of your financial projections. Census data, consumer research, commerce data, and even verifiable observations made over time can provide a foundation of reality for your projections. Do not express what you think. Communicate what you can support with data

“Build logically” reminds you to connect each part of the summary in a logical chain of support for the business. By the time the reader gets to the Pro Forma Targets, he/she should consider the projections justified by the preceding discussion. While you write, continually ask yourself, “What does the previous section support?”

DON’T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB

There is a reason some of the most successful companies started in basements or garages: Low Overhead! Consider the financial swing from having a job and income of $2,500 per month to quitting the job and hiring a building at $1,200 per month. My advice is to keep your current employment situation while you build your business plan, secure capital, and develop your brand.

Yet, when planning to launch a business while working at another business, keep in mind the policies of your current employer. Policies regarding competition, secondary employment, and intellectual property are of the utmost importance.

Competition

Many employers, recognizing the demand for experienced professionals, now require some form of non-compete clause to be signed as a condition of employment. These contracts usually specify an amount of time that you must wait before engaging in an enterprise that could be seen by your employer as competing. Notice that most contracts allow the employer to determine whether the activity is a competing activity. For example, the employer may ask you to sign an agreement not to accept their former clients as your clients for a period of 2 years after separating from the company.

Some states outlaw the use of non-compete clauses. Employers in these situations may require strict, periodic reporting of your “outside” activities. This could include the amount of compensation you obtain from outside sources and a mandatory conflict of interests review by a risk assessment officer. Realize that not all levels of the human resources chain make this apparent during the hiring process. Read your entire contract and personnel policy documents to know what your employer allows, discourages, and seeks to monitor.

Secondary Employment

Most often, the concern on the part of the employer is to ensure that your business start-up does not infringe on your ability to complete your duties as assigned. You can satisfy this by submitting documentation that your secondary employment occurs during hours that you are not expected to work. For example, if you are employed 9am – 5pm Monday through Friday, you may carry out secondary employment from 7pm – 11pm. If you are on-call during the evenings, you can engage in secondary employment during weekends.

Another concern could be potential conflicts of interest. A conflict of interest exists when your interests compete with the interests of the company. It is important to make your employer aware of potential conflicts of interest and the steps you have taken to ensure that the conflict does not impair your performance, damage the company, or run afoul of ethical conduct. The existence of a conflict does not necessarily mean that the activity is unethical. Many companies have procedures for reporting and monitoring potential conflicts.

Intellectual Property

It is hard to believe that there once was a time when employers did not have specific policies for the inventions and advancements created by their employees. Generally, when you produce something for hire, the entity that pays you owns all the rights to that product. But, this has become an important point of concern, and sometimes litigation, in certain instances.

Many employers now have a thoughtful policy covering intellectual property rights. Intellectual property is essentially the question of rights to your creation—who owns it. It could be unique ways to prop open a door. It could be a line of programming code. Some have argued that it could be a process for checking out in an online store.  Before you produce anything beyond your job description, familiarize yourself with the intellectual property rights of your employer.

Typically, your employer will claim explicit rights to anything you produce with their support. This means that if you use their computers, Internet connection, materials from the break room, copiers, or meeting room space, your employer may claim rights to what is produced. Employers also claim rights to what you produce while you are clocked in or reasonably expected to be “engaged in work for the company.” Be sure to complete paperwork detailing your entrepreneurial work as secondary employment. Do not use materials (even paperclips or recycle-bin bottles) in your inventions. Produce what is yours away from the employer’s offices.

BUILDING YOUR BRAND

When consulting with a start-up, maybe the most challenging task is to assist the entrepreneur to build a brand. A brand, in the sense of branding, is more than the logo or the product or service the business is known by. A brand is a warm feeling that the public gets from the smells, sites, or sounds that your business practices create. It is the association of your company with your product along with some amount of positive regard.

Once you have developed a solid business plan, you must consider your brand. The brand will be built over time, but it is wise to outline its trajectory. Considerations of your brand will influence strategy in hiring, priorities in production, emphasis in marketing, and targets for growth.

First, consider your product. Second, develop the infrastructure for production. Third, create a schedule and mechanism for communicating your impact. To launch you in this process, consider whether your start-up is producing expertise, service, or a product.

Conceptualizing Your Expertise

Experts come in many flavors. Your first task is to specify the outcome to clients who hire your expertise. Articulate the brand of expert you seek to be: Grant Writer, Evaluator, Producer, Subject Matter Expert, Blogger/Copy Writer, Trainer, or Motivational Speaker. Many more options exist.

If the product is expertise, credibility is of primary importance. Credibility can be communicated through degrees, affiliations, or experience. The greatest of these is experience. If you can effectively communicate your experience, you are closer to securing a contract.

Infrastructure for the expert will include a method to capture and present experience in an easily accessible form. For example, a motivational speaker may set-up recordings of presentations she gives and post clips to a promotional website. A blogger may track unique visitor and interactions data among readers to demonstrate the value and influences represented by the blog.

A press kit detailing your credibility will be an important mechanism. In addition to a website listing contact information and examples of your work, a printed press kit is also desirable. As much as our world relies on digital copy, many still enjoy a well-developed printed presentation. Be sure to engage a print designer to take your skills and accent them visually.

Developing Your Service

When you launch a service, your primary concern is to provide the highest quality experience for the client. Consequently, this should be the first process you consider when developing your service. Create a process map, also called service plan, which details the process each client will experience. The process map is a flowchart that utilizes specific symbols to communicate decisions, documentation, and other processes. Include all elements of the process including early exits, disciplinary actions, referral options—any procedures that any client may experience.

A curriculum or mechanism is the infrastructure in a service venture. It answers the question, “How will clients reach the goals your start-up has for them?” It should be specific. For example, if your service is training provided over 8 weeks, you must outline what each of the weeks will entail. Resist the common urge to simply write the topics that will be presented each of the weeks. At least describe the content, the activities, and the resources involved in each week. Other infrastructure for a service venture include policies & procedures, board development plan, accounting plan, insurance & licenses, zoning considerations, and fundraising plan.

I recommend that you keep these items in an organizational compendium. An organizational compendium is my phrase describing the storage place for program and organizational documents. The key feature of the compendium is that the items are centrally housed, digital when possible, and updated regularly. The compendium should be such that everything needed for a grant proposal, press release, or an annual report can be easily accessed.

Constructing Your Product

If you are thinking about launching a tangible product, your primary concern is your market. Your market describes the clients who will purchase your product. You must identify a need and a way to engage the clients with the product satisfying the need. Before you move forward with the considerations of production, calculate whether the market can support your product. That is, figure out if there are enough potential customers to at least break even on the expenses of production. Consider adjusting your price point to increase the pool of customers.

The primary infrastructure for production of a product is your development cycle. The development cycle details your contracts with suppliers, development of content, packaging, distribution, billing and client engagement. You will also want to plan for inventory storage, distributor requirements, support of products, marketing and social media monitoring. Connect with the department of treasury in your state and local government to learn what sales and use taxes you may be required to pay on the sales of your product. Even states that do not require sales and use taxes may require that you report your sales activity.

Financial planning is an important consideration of impact when launching products. Calculation of the break-even is one task. Another is calculating what you need to make the venture worthwhile for you in comparison with other activities. Rather than a vague hope to “make money,” consider the lifestyle you desire. Calculate the amount of income required for that lifestyle. Reflect on the market calculations you have completed. If your market can bear your desired amount, set this as your target and plan your growth and investment accordingly.

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