Episode 111 – Influencer marketing is happening in nonprofits.

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Episode 111 – Influencer marketing is happening in nonprofits.

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Our guest on the show today is Matt Mundt – the Senior Director of Marketing for CURE International.


Adam: [00:08] 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.

[00:28] My guest on the show today is Matt Mundt. Matt is the Senior Director of Marketing for CURE International. CURE works in developing countries to transform the lives of children with correctable disabilities through surgery and compassionate care for their physical and spiritual needs. Matt, thanks for joining me on the show.

Matt: [00:44] Thanks so much, Adam. Good to be here.

Adam: [00:46] I love the work that you’re doing, working to help kids. Man, that’s a pretty great gig, I got to say. I’m a little jealous maybe.

Matt: [00:55] It is. It’s kind of fun. When I’m meeting people at coffee shops and they ask what you do, I can give them the short answer or the long answer. Both are fun but the long answer is always fun to dive in. As we all know, there’s always more to the tagline to any nonprofit.

Adam: [01:11] I mean, I love the mission. You’re helping improve the lives of children with correctable disabilities. There’s so many disabilities throughout the world that are actually pretty easily corrected with some pretty minor surgeries and yet, a lot of kids just don’t have access to that.

Matt: [01:25] A lot of these countries aren’t set up with infrastructure to get that care. And the thing that I’ve realized, because I’ve been with CURE now about six months and just realizing that the impact of having a disability in these countries, you’re outcast and shunned and there’s just a lot of stigma to it. And so, it’s more than just helping a kid walk again; it’s helping them fit into society and contribute and be accepted. It’s fun to start sharing these stories, all these individual stories that we’re hearing from these kids and families every single day. It’s pretty incredible.

Adam: [01:56] Wow, that’s fantastic. That’s just unbelievable. Well, thank you for the work that you’re doing and I’m excited to chat with you about marketing so let’s dive in. Question number one: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has worked well for you?

Matt: [02:13] I know in digital marketing, influencer marketing is a big thing and it’s not even a buzzword anymore. I mean it’s happening in nonprofits, it’s happening in the commercial sector and one thing that’s very unique that we have here at CURE is we’ve got kind of an influencer of our own who’s on staff and his name is Brant Hansen and he’s got a great social media following, podcast following and it’s not necessarily digital, but we kind of all tie it together. He’s on two hundred plus Christian radio stations across the country. The beautiful thing about this is he’s building a rapport with the listeners every single day on the radio. And so, when we do a giving Tuesday or a fundraiser on these radio stations, we get the benefit of people feeling like it’s a friend asking, you know? That’s been really fun, for me to work with him and just to see these listeners respond so quickly. As soon as he says, “Hey, here’s the need. Share a story, some compelling story of how you get to be a part of the before and after of a kid’s healing,” and they react and they respond. That’s really been working and there’s so much more that we’re working on growing—building a YouTube channel for him and email and all that stuff. But just the basics that we’ve got in place right now, it’s not so basic. It’s really like bringing in a lot of awareness and a lot of new donors to our organization.

Adam: [03:33] It’s a really interesting approach. Obviously you’ve got an influencer actively on staff. There are certainly going to be a lot of nonprofits that don’t but are curious as to how they can maybe engage with an influencer. Would your recommendation for that be maybe identify somebody on staff that you can start ramping up to become an influencer or maybe to go and find an influencer in the space and partner with that person? Or maybe both?

Matt: [03:57] I think both. I mean, with Brant, we’re incredibly blessed. He is so passionate about the work that we get to do that he would do it whether he was getting paid or not. I think I can say that with confidence. He really loves the mission and what we do. Obviously, your staff are going to be the closest to the mission, but the trick is finding someone who can also talk. With Brant, the beautiful thing with him is he’s able to talk about things other than CURE. That’s how he’s building up and he feels like a friend with our audience. Finding someone who has something else to say aside from, “Here’s the work that we do. Can you give money? Can you support? Can you join our team?” That I think is kind of key also.

Adam: [04:42] Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, they’ve got to have a sort of a broad appeal and then have this focal point that is on mission with what you’re trying to do, right?

Matt: [04:52] Exactly.

Adam: [04:53] I love that. I love that. I think out of a hundred plus interviews, you’re the first person that has mentioned influencer marketing. It’s huge, right? It’s everywhere, right? It’s all these people that have all these very small, niche followings in markets all over Instagram. It’s a huge thing even to the point that it’s popping up on sitcoms and things like that as part of character roles. This is something that I think nonprofits are probably not fully aware of and definitely need to become more and more aware of.

Matt: [05:25] Well, it really makes me tired thinking of it, honestly, because— I’m excited about it but there’s a lot of work there to be done because you’re going to reach out to an influencer who you think is going to resonate with an audience who typically would be passionate about your nonprofit. Well, they’re not going to just take over their entire Instagram or YouTube channel and talk about you once a week, or once a month, even. You may get them to talk about it one time. So you got one shot to get them to do a video or do a blog post or do a podcast about you and that’s going to bring in some new donors and some new awareness. You need to start getting more than one. And so right now, like I said, we’ve got Brant on our team kind of acting as our internal influencer, external influencer, but we’ve been having conversations of, “Okay, who’s on our list that we’d like to reach out to?” Finding out, one, do they even know who CURE is about, are they passionate about it, and what kind of partnership are they looking to do? Because a lot of times these influencers also have other businesses and products that they are talking about on their social platforms. That’s why I say it’s exciting but it’s very daunting and very tiring to think about all the work that it’s going to take to manage a crew of influencers, you know?

Adam: [06:43] You’re right. It takes a lot of work to produce it, it takes a lot of work to manage it and build those relationships. They’re key relationships and each one is built slightly differently. It just takes effort. So yeah, it’s a lot. Well, I admire what you’re trying to do. 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?

Matt: [07:05] I’ll start with this. This one is a little tough for me because I’m still in the honeymoon phase. I’m about six months on the team and so looking at our analytics and just seeing what is and what isn’t, but my background is more just traditional digital marketing and I’ve always been a social media guy from Myspace days. I love and follow social media trends and Facebook advertising. And the nut that I’m trying to crack is, can you create a funnel on social media where you go from awareness to engagement to them giving? I haven’t been able to figure that one out yet. We have a limited budget for social media ads, partly because we put a lot of our resources into our radio and other channels. That’s the one that I know it can be done, or at least I think it can. I guess my big question is, people who are skimming and scanning social media and passively consuming our before and after photos and our stories of these kids being healed, are people looking to find a nonprofit to give to while they’re also looking at friends and family photos and food photos on social media? As of now, we haven’t figured out how to get that conversion to a point where we can justify putting more money into it. That’s the first one that came to mind for us.

Adam: [08:31] I think when you do crack that particular problem, you need to write a white paper on it and an email gator and it’ll just be a flood. I’ll promote it for you. Listen, I’ll let everybody know it’s out there and it’ll just be a flood gate. It’d be great. You get all kinds of emails and that’ll be great.

Matt: [08:48] Exactly. No, I hear you.

Adam: [08:50] No, it’s tough. That’s a really tough one because we always want to figure out, like if we put a dollar in here, can we get a dollar fifty out? That’s always the question, right? And it’s really hard to get it set up correctly and then to measure it to prove the return on the investment and then to see does it scale, and then not only that, but to make sure that it works long term. Because what might work for a month, maybe put in $1,000 for a month and you can get back $1,500 in donations and that’d be amazing but month number two, watch it carefully because it might not work. As soon as you take your eyes off the dashboard, things may go south very quickly. You have to be very careful about that, right?

Matt: [09:30] Yeah. You know, whenever I see someone who’s doing it, or at least I think they’ve kind of figured it out, it’s usually around one piece of content and the reason I know that is I follow a lot of nonprofits and I want to see what they’re doing. When I keep on seeing the same video in my newsfeed, I’m going, “Okay, they probably know that this is going to convert me or someone like me.” That content comes in many shapes and sizes. A lot of it is just us keep on creating content, looking at analytics and when we see something that’s really resonating with people, let’s put some money behind it and see if we can get people into our funnel and build that funnel to conversion.

Adam: [10:11] That’s right. That’s right. It’s always about great content. Great content first and figure out the rest later. So that’s great. All right, so time for the fun question. Question number three: related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that you are excited about?

Matt: [10:24] We’ve kind of already talked about it, but influencer marketing. We’re sitting at a coffee shop yesterday, actually me and two other teammates, and just building a list of who would we like to reach out to. That’s just really fun, to just think of their platform and how we could equip them on telling the story of CURE. But another thing, we’ve had this on our website. We have these hospitals primarily in Africa and people can send get well messages. It’s just a really neat connection to be able to wish a child and their family well. We’ve got storytellers at every single hospital and they print these out or they bring the laptop by and they read these to these kids after they’ve had this life-transforming surgery. We started realizing that, in the terms of like funnel and getting people engaged, it’s a really great way to get people really passionately and more connected to the work that we’re doing. Because who doesn’t want to receive a “get-well” message? And if you get to do that, I feel like that’s just building rapport with what we do so that when we do send an email about, “Hey, can you help us by giving monthly and here’s more work that we’re doing that you can be a part of,” and so we’re just starting to build that out and we call it CURE kids.

[11:38] If you go to cure.org/curekids, you can see every single kid, a photo of them, the before photo in our hospitals, and a little bit of their story. Every day, I try and start my day reading one of their stories and just to kind of understand what would it be like. I’m a father and so it’s easier for me to put myself in those parents’ shoes when they’re taking their kid to this hospital where they’ve been told that there’s no hope for your child and now they’re at this location saying, “Oh yeah, we can heal you.” And so, getting prospective donors engaged on that level and then they get an update. They get an update on when the kid’s going into surgery and here’s a status report and photos and sometimes they can get a message back even from the kid. We’re starting to build out more systems around that so that we’re not having, (unclear 12:26) social media specifically, doing the ask for money. It’s more of an ask, “Hey, can you spend one minute and send a message to a kid?” I’m excited to build that out more.

Adam: [12:37] I love that. Because it’s touchpoints, right? It gives you the opportunity to reach out and say, “Hey look, we want you to engage. We want you to improve the life of this child, even for just a moment, that’s across the world,” and it gives them that opportunity to feel like they’re doing something of value other than just giving money and then I think the giving money obviously follows that, right? They become more passionate about it. They see the impact that even their affirmations are having and then that obviously flows to, “Well, what’s the next step? What’s the next logical thing I can do to be helpful?” And of course, it’s to give some dollars, right? Man, that’s fantastic. I love that. It kind of reminds me of like—

Matt: [13:13] Go ahead. Sorry.

Adam: [13:16] I was just gonna say it reminded me of the Compassion International model where you’re like writing letters to this kid you’re sponsoring. It’s amazing.

Matt: [13:22] In a way, this is just a great way to get email acquisition. As we were trying to think of what are ways to get email acquisition, do a pdf one-sheet about the impact that hospitals in Africa have on the country. But nobody’s going to do that. There’s no emotion to that. I couldn’t think that one sheet or that carrot that we’re dangling in front of people to give us their email address. You get to do something really cool for someone and it’s going to be the highlight of their day. And we do it tastefully too. They’re not getting an email immediately back from us saying, “Okay, now do you want to give?” We’re getting an email back going, “Here’s some more stories. Here’s some more kids that you can learn their story about.” That’s where we got to build out. What’s the timing of this all look like? And make sure that we’re not violating the trust. We’re not trying the “bait-and-switch” on them either. If they just send messages and prayers to our kids, awesome. That is so valuable and so important to every child in our hospital who’s going through the recovery process to know that there’s people praying for them and thinking about them and just sending them a get well message. Sometimes, like I said, they’re coming out of villages where they’ve been ostracized and looked down on and now there’s people who are showing them love and in massive amounts.

Adam: [14:42] Man, that’s amazing. Wow, that’s really, really profound. I love, love, what you’re doing. I’m going to have to go send a message. It’ll be great.

Matt: [14:49] Yeah, do it. I encourage your listeners, if you have children, you’d log online and just look at the photos and pick one out and either type it for your kid. My daughter, she’s eight years old, and we did it one time and the next day, “Daddy, can we send another message?” Because kids get it. Kids really get what it means to be the underdog and to be left out. They see that happening with these kids who are in our hospitals. And now to have someone send you that get well message? I mean, you can’t put to words what it means, you know?

Adam: [15:21] Yeah, yeah. Wow. That’s fantastic. Well, Matt, let me see if I can recap what we’ve talked about so far. So question one: related to digital marketing, what’s worked well for you? You said influencer marketing has been a huge thing. You’ve got an influencer on staff. He’s got a social media following, podcasts followings on two hundred plus radio stations and you’re actively working to build a YouTube channel and email for him. But more importantly, he’s able to kind of talk about a broad range of topics, of which your organization is a primary one, but because he’s able to kind of talk at a broader range, he is able to appeal to a larger audience, be able to connect with people, and really engage with them where they’re at.

[16:59] For question number two, for what’s not working well that we can learn from, you just mentioned that creating a funnel on social media to go from awareness to engagement to giving is really, really difficult and it’s hard to do well and it’s hard to do well over time. I fully agree with that. It’s a very, very difficult process to figure that out. And, like I said, when you do, please write a book on it; that would be great.

[16:21] And for question number three, what are you excited about? You said influencer marketing because it’s working well and why would you not be excited about that? And of course push it further to move further and grow and gain more audiences. And then also you mentioned get well messages to kids where we can log on and send a message to an actual kid that is sick, encouraging them to get well. I think you said the link for that, if I’m not mistaken, was cure.org/curekids. Is that correct?

Matt: [16:47] That is correct.

Adam: [16:50] In the recap, did I miss anything? This is my first question.

Matt: [16:53] No, I think you covered it.

Adam: [16:55] Fantastic. Man, this was great. Do you have any final thoughts you want to share with our listeners before we part ways here?

Matt: [17:01] No. I think encouraging them just to send a get well message just to see what the process is like, and think about what’s unique about your organization and why would someone be passionate about your cause and build something around that to just activate them and engage them. Because people are so busy day in and day out; there’s so many things on our to-do list. Make it an experience and make it something that they can connect with on a personal level.

Adam: [17:27] That’s right. I love that. I mean, that approach is so brilliant. I don’t even have enough words for it. It’s amazing. Matt, thanks so much for being on the show, man. I really enjoyed it. I’d love to do it again sometime.

Matt: [17:37] Yup. Thanks for what you’re doing.

Adam: [17:41] 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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