Adam: [00:09] Hi, welcome to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people and good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways8, a digital marketing agency and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.
[00:29] My guest on the show today is Cheryl Kohs. Cheryl is the Director of Marketing for Samaritas, one of Michigan’s largest nonprofits. She has twenty-five years of experience in marketing, public relations, sponsorship, activation events and promotions. Her specialties in particular are marketing and public relations. Cheryl, thanks for joining me on the show.
Cheryl: [00:48] Thanks for having me.
Adam: [00:49] This is going to be fun.
Cheryl: [00:51] I think so.
Adam: [00:51] I interviewed one of your other coworkers before; love what you’re doing with
Cheryl: [01:00] I wish.
Adam: [01:02] Well, I will not talk to you about the weather in Atlanta today.
Cheryl: [01:05] Oh, please don’t.
Adam: [01:08] But I’m sure there is lots of fun things to do in the snow and cold. But anyway, let’s dig into it here. Thanks for being on the show. I’m really excited to chat with you. Like I said, love your mission, love what you’re doing and I really want to hear more about it. So let’s dive in. Related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has worked well for you?
Cheryl: [01:28] Well, to be honest, Facebook is really an area that we do really well in. I would say that for a lot of our services that we provide, our audience is women, ages about forty-five to sixty-five, and that’s the sweet spot in Facebook. And we have really done a really purposeful job of connecting with our potential clients on Facebook, our referral sources on Facebook. We’ve had good luck recruiting employees on Facebook. We spend a lot of time there and we love Instagram and Twitter and we do Snapchat filters and we really try to stay up and relevant in those areas, but we can’t ignore the referral power of Facebook for us.
Adam: [02:17] Yeah, that’s fantastic. And you mentioned the demographic is women forty-five to sixty-five and you feel like that’s the sweet spot in Facebook. And I got to say, I’ve sort of been seeing that trend as well, where Facebook tends to be an older demographic; younger demographics are migrating more towards Snapchat, Instagram… I don’t know if you have gotten into Tik Tok at all yet. That’s got over a billion downloads now.
Cheryl: [02:41] That’s coming.
Adam: [02:44] Officially, it’s a billion downloads now, so it’s going to be a big thing and already is a big thing and it is silly. I mean, it’s—
Cheryl: [02:54] Really, it’s okay.
Adam: [02:55] It’s a great way to waste some minutes, just scroll through random videos and I can spend way too much time on there. I need to start figuring it out, leveraging it as a marketer, but to your point, I guess you’re seeing a lot of engagement in women that are forty-five to sixty-five, is that right?
Cheryl: [03:13] Yes, absolutely. That would be correct.
.Adam: [03:16] And I’m curious about your approaches on Facebook and how you’re seeing that engagement. Are you seeing a lot of use with Facebook stories? Are you doing a lot of targeted promotion? Is there any specific sort of magical thing you’re doing for that particular age group to get connected?
Cheryl: [03:34] Well, right now we are launching our Senior Moments and we are a very big player in the senior living community. So we have assisted living, independent living, and then we have affordable living for seniors as well. So we’re very big in the senior market, but we’re a nonprofit and we compete in that space against for-profit companies, and it’s really hyper-competitive. New communities are going up all the time, the aging of the population, people are getting older, we have a lot of people that are looking for communities where they can live, so we’ve got to compete with companies that have a lot of money to spend on marketing and a lot of money to spend on advertising—and we don’t. Quite honestly, for our entire state and our entire company, Marco and I are the two marketers. So we’re it.
[04:29] So we have to be clever and we have to be a little bit frugal about how we spend our dollars. And Marco, who you interviewed previously, is a great storyteller with video. So we have found that little vignettes, little videos really work well for us. So we’re launching a new program called “Senior Moments” where we’ve interviewed some of the senior residents in our communities who are incredibly funny and just full of life and vim and vigor and have wonderful stories to share and are still really active and engaged in their community. So we filmed them and then we post them up like little TV shows and we’re seeing a lot of engagement with that right now, and we’re really excited to keep doing that throughout the year.
Adam: [05:14] I love that.
Cheryl: [05:15] So it’s things like that that we try to do to be just a little bit more clever and a little bit more engaging rather than just in your face promotions all the time.
Adam: [05:25] I think there’s a huge amount of value there because I would imagine—and I speak very ignorantly on the subject—that with senior living, one of the things you want to promote is how much you value seniors and if you’re able to promote seniors and their stories across your platforms, you’re showing that value instantaneously and you’re building rapport with potential audiences that’s going to help them to engage, right?
Cheryl: [05:49] Absolutely.
Adam: [05:50] I think that is so, so smart and it shows the heart of your organization. You are in it to help and benefit and support seniors among other things, but that’s a part of it—seniors. And I think that shows through in your marketing. It tells that story and then it helps you to grow from there.
Cheryl: [06:07] Absolutely. We are all about promoting people’s dignity. We deal with a lot of very vulnerable populations, so I think we have to be very mindful that we don’t exploit any of that on our digital channels, that we don’t show people in a light that you pity them. We want to make sure that people understand that we deal with persons with disabilities, we deal with women who have been trafficked and are coming out of the penal system or who have been victims of abuse, we deal with homeless families… We deal with a lot of vulnerable people in our population and we want to make sure that we show through our digital engagement that we appreciate them, that we think everybody is wonderful and they’re people, they’re human beings and we want to promote that in everything that we do. So you’re never going to see us having any pity parties for our clients. We are going to celebrate everything they bring to the table.
Adam: [07:05] I love that. I love that. It’s a great approach. It’s really smart, it’s very kind and caring, and I think that’s fantastic. So question number two: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked well that we can learn from?
Cheryl: [07:22] I’m going to go back a couple of years—actually, almost three years now—when we rebranded. We were formerly Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and for a lot of reasons, we decided to rebrand, become a little bit more inclusive with our name. People were thinking that, “Oh, if I’m not Lutheran, I can’t use you. I can’t go live with you. I can’t use your services.” So we wanted to make sure that we were poised to move into the future with a new name, and that was my big job, was rebranding the entire organization. And we found that in going out and trying to consolidate all of our social media platforms— And you know how this works. I mean, everybody kind of went out and created a Facebook page and got a Twitter feed and got involved with Instagram when it came around because they felt like they had to as a business. Maybe they didn’t have a strategy, just, “I have to have a Facebook page.” And so a lot of our different communities— And frankly, they were all called different names. It’s one of the reasons we decided to rebrand, is so that we could all be under one big umbrella name. All of our skilled nursing facilities all had different names, all of our senior living communities had different names like “Maple Creek” and “Maple village” and it was all very good at the time. It’s just made our marketing so fragmented. Nobody knew who we were, nobody knew we were all one part of the same organization. So we basically had to go out and kind of rein people in.
[08:45] One of the things that I feel doesn’t really work for us is having each individual community have their own Facebook space, because it doesn’t bring in the power of a statewide organization, and quite frankly, I’m a firm believer that yes, I’m happy if you want to have a Facebook page, but you have to be engaged. You have to be active on it. You have to build an audience. Because if people who are on your Facebook page and they see that you haven’t posted in six months and you have five followers, what does that say about you as an organization? So we had to do a lot of cleanup and Marco was very helpful in this regard for me. We have to police a little bit. We can’t just let people kind of run rogue with their Facebook pages. It’s not necessarily that Facebook doesn’t work for us in that capacity, but we just feel like we have to have more control over it. And we have to make sure the messaging is consistent, the branding is consistent. We spent a lot of time and effort and funds to rebrand, so we want to make sure that we don’t erode that by having people do their own thing on Facebook too much.
Adam: [09:54] Absolutely. So related to that—I’m curious—do you have or have you created some kind of Facebook playbook that everybody sort of goes by and sort of sets the standards for each interaction?
Cheryl: [10:05] We do. I’m a firm believer in the 70:20:10 rule of Facebook, which is 70% good, original entertaining or engaging content, 20% shared good stuff—experts in the field, other posts, other videos, other community partners or corporate partners if we share their information on our page—and then quite frankly, 10% shameless in-your-face promotion. So that’s kind of the rule that I kind of expressed to people, that if you’re going to have your Facebook page and you want to be engaged with it, make sure you’re at least trying to follow that 70:20:10 rule.
Adam: [10:48] I love that. That is probably the best summation of that I’ve ever heard. I’m going to write that down. I’m going to create a poster and I’m going to give it away to nonprofits, and it’s gonna be amazing and I’m going to create (unclear 10:59)—
Cheryl: [10:59] It really helps.
Adam: [11:01] It’s the 70:20:10, is how you’re promoting.
Cheryl: [11:03] Yup.
Adam: [11:05] I’ll get 702010.org and try to help them out. It’d be great. All right, so last question: related to digital marketing, can you tell me something you are excited about?
Cheryl: [11:16] Well, as I mentioned, I’m really excited about Senior Moments. I’m excited to see if that really moves the needle for us. We’ve done similar things, but they’re usually videos that are embedded and they’re a commercial. They’re basically a promotion to try and get people to live in our communities. This is strictly entertainment, and we kind of want to develop a little bit of a following and we kind of want to be known in the senior living space as fun, family-like, a community, because, like I said, we compete against for-profits. And to be honest, we don’t have the money to go put granite countertops and bistro pubs and Olympic swimming pools and state-of-the-art movie theaters in all of our communities, and those are the kinds of places that they’re building right now.
Adam: [12:07] Wow, that’s crazy.
Cheryl: [12:07] Oh yeah. Some of them are… I want to move in, like now.
Adam: [12:12] I believe that.
Cheryl: [12:12] Because they’re absolutely gorgeous. But for us, we have to promote a sense of family, we have to promote a sense of fun, and that’s what we’re trying to do with this. So it’s a little bit of a different take for us and I’m really excited. And then we also have every May— May is Foster Care Awareness Month and we’re the largest private foster care agency in Michigan, and we do our May Blitz. And so we’re really trying to do some different things, create hashtags, and what we really want to do is— Our color is purple. That’s one of our logo colors. That’s kind of our signature color. And so we’re kind of trying to paint the town purple in May, and so we’re doing a lot of digital engagement. #ItTakesAPurpleVillage—that’s kind of one of our hashtags that we’re going to be (inaudible 12:58).
Adam: [12:58] I love it.
Cheryl: [12:59] So we’re excited about those things.
Adam: [13:01] I love it. That’s fantastic. Well, Cheryl, let me see if I can recap sort of what we talked about, what we learned so far. So related to digital marketing, what has worked well, you said Facebook. Your primary audience is women forty-five to sixty-five, and that’s the sweet spot on Facebook. You’ve even found team members there. You’re also launching Senior Moments there, which are senior living community short videos that are TV-like shows in nature that are really content and almost entertainment pieces. And you said short videos in general are working well, which makes sense as to why you’re launching a sort of TV show.
[13:37] For question number two, what has not worked well that we can learn from, you mentioned that consolidating social media platforms across all your communities was very difficult, and just trying to wrangle that was not an easy process, but a necessary process considering your rebrand. And you mentioned the 70:20:10 rule—70% original content, 20% shared good stuff, and 10% shameless in-your-face promotion, which I loved that that’s the way you described it, because that’s exactly how it ought to be. I mean, listen, you’re nonprofit. Shameless in-your-face promotion is where it’s at. So that’s great.
Cheryl: [14:08] We need funds, we need clients… We have to do it.
Adam: [14:12] I know. Let’s do this. That’s fantastic. And for question number three, what are you excited about, you’re excited about Senior Moments, because it’s totally different than other ventures you’ve taken in that it is strictly entertainment and trying to build a following and you’re excited to see where that’s going to go. And you mentioned that May is Foster Care Awareness Month and so you’re working on your May Blitz for that. Does that sound about right? Did I miss anything from our conversation?
Cheryl: [14:35] No, that’s a great recap.
Adam: [14:37] Well, Cheryl, this was great. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with the audience?
Cheryl: [14:43] We love digital media and we love all the social platforms and for myself, it does get a little overwhelming sometimes and so I think we kind of like to dip a toe in the water and see what works for us. And so far, that methodology has worked pretty well for us.
Adam: [14:59] I think that’s really smart. I talked to a lot of nonprofits that do the same thing. They begin small, they test, they iterate, they grow, and that’s the way to do it. That’s really, really smart. Well, Cheryl, this was great. Thanks for coming on the show. I’d love to have you back some time and until then, thanks for being here. Appreciate it.
Cheryl: [15:14] My pleasure, thanks for having me.
Adam: [15:18] Thanks for listening to the Good People, Good Marketing podcast. To get more resources about digital marketing, make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, your host, you can find me on Twitter @ajwalker, and on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the craziness of having five kids. Thanks, and tune in next time.
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