Episode 123 – Simple is not easy.

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Episode 123 – Simple is not easy.

Simple is not easy | Sideways8 Interactive

Katy Smithy of Greenheart International, a cultural exchange organization connecting people all over the world, joins the podcast to talk about digital marketing and why simple is not easy.

Adam: [00:01] Hi, and welcome to the Good People. Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about digital marketing and how to make it better so the good people in good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency and 48 in 48 a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events to build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours. 

Adam: [00:29] My guest on the show today is Katy Smithy. Katy is a passionate marketing professional and travel addict with over eight years of experience at international nonprofits. Currently, Katy is the associate director of visibility at Greenheart International, a cultural exchange organization connecting people all over the world. Formerly she worked at the American Red Cross in major gift fundraising and event marketing. Katy, welcome to the show.

Katy: [00:54] Hi Adam. Thank you.

Adam: [00:56] I’ve got to ask based on your bio, I can’t help myself. You’re a travel addict so give me your top two places you’ve traveled. Can you narrow it down to two? 

Katy: [01:07] Oh gosh, that is so tough. So I feel like I’m going to be fairly cliche. I lived in Australia for a bit and so I think that that has to be in my top. If you haven’t been to Melbourne or Melbourne, it’s fantastic and then I love Amsterdam. I love the canals. It was the first country I’d ever traveled to abroad so those are probably my top two. 

Adam: [01:29] Nice. My only experience with Amsterdam is the airport while I was running from one flight to another. It was extraordinarily brief experience in Amsterdam, but it seemed like a really nice airport.

Katy: [01:42] Oh, no. I’m glad you had a good experience. 

Adam: [01:46] Alright, well let’s go ahead and dive in. So you know the questions of course. We talked about it a little bit ahead of time, question number one, related to digital marketing can you tell us something that has worked well? 

Katy: [01:58] Yeah, so right now I’d say within our organization we’re really trying to go back to basics and focus on prioritizing. So when I say going back to basics with digital marketing, I mean we spent a lot of time with strategic planning this past year to build a solid foundation. So we’re a medium-sized nonprofit and as you mentioned our mission is to connect people and plan it, which we primarily do through cultural exchange programs, but we also sell fair trade through retail and wholesale, which as you can imagine is totally different. Even within cultural exchange, we have so many audiences and programs from recruiting host families for high school exchange to recruiting attorneys to work with international interns in the US, so we really run the gamut on our audiences. So each different team has their own marketing liaison, their own strategy, their own digital strategy. 

So what we did this past year is we hosted this really great workshop with leadership, with the marketing liaisons to really reflect on their goals as a team, talk about sales pipeline, lead generation and marketing’s influence. And we looked at all of the digital tactics available and then we really sat down and we prioritized what would be the most effective thing for their team, and to give you an example, one of our branches Greenheart Travel, they send Americans abroad so like teaching or volunteering or studying abroad. They spent a lot of time on their Snapchat presence in the past few years and it looks like the ideal audience to a blind eye, you know high school students, millennials but when they started looking at their analytics, while it was great for brand awareness, they just weren’t getting any leads from it. 

[03:37] So they had to make a tough decision and prioritize where they were spending their time and making that data-driven decision to shift their focus. I mean we still recognize the importance of brand awareness. They still have a presence on that channel, but less staff time and resources are dedicated so I think that with digital marketing, prioritizing is just so insanely crucial. 

Adam: [03:59] Yeah, absolutely and really, I mean, you mentioned it, you’ve got to look at the analytics and really understand what’s genuinely working and I think sometimes we just sort of open up Google analytics and go, okay, well we’re getting traffic from Facebook. Well, what does that even mean? I mean are you getting traffic from Facebook videos? Are you getting it because of Facebook live? Are you getting it from photos or photo galleries or promoted our boosted posts? Like where is the actual traffic coming from and why are they coming through Facebook and then begin to break it out from there, right?

Katy: [04:29] Yeah, definitely. We’ve been using a lot of UTM codes recently to track with even newsletters or paid advertising that we’re doing, where our leads are coming from and that’s been so successful. With digital marketing that’s the great thing about it is it’s much easier and most channels to track your ROI and it’s tough to make those decisions, but as a nonprofit, you have to trim and you have to make sure that you’re prioritizing appropriately. 

Adam: [04:55] Yeah, and it’s funny that you mentioned the UTM Code so I help run another nonprofit and one of the projects that I did this week to get better transparency into what we’re working on is I use the Google campaign URL builder to build our URL campaigns, and then I set up goals inside of Google analytics to then track those campaigns. And so now I can say, okay, if you’re going to post a video on Facebook asking for nonprofits to sign up. Here is the specific link to use for that video so that we know that a video on Facebook related to this specific campaign is what produced this actual signup all the way through to it to a form filled out conversion. 

Katy: [05:35] Yip.

Adam: [05:35] Which is great. I mean it’s very powerful to be able to say that and so instead of just saying, “Oh, go to the 48in48.org/nonprofits” No, go to this specific link so I can see where you actually came, did you come from Instagram or from Facebook, from Facebook video, from Facebook live, from Facebook photo from a text-only post. We’ve got to really dig into those analytics. It’s really important. 

Katy: [05:57] Oh yes I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, I would say that we’re newly into the UTM codes, but using that link builder is so helpful and it’s seriously so easy.

Adam: [06:10] Yeah, it’s unbelievably easy.

Katy: [06:10] For people who don’t have experience it’s probably one of the easiest things to dive into. 

Adam: [06:15] It really is and I have not yet, but I will be hopefully by the time this episode airs writing a blog post on sidewayseight.com about this specific thing in terms of how to do it, to walk people through it because it is easy. It’s super powerful. It’s almost silly not to use this so I think that’s great. I love, I love that you’re doing that. Love that you mentioned it, it’s perfect timing. We did not pre-plan by the way. 

Katy: [06:39] We didn’t, we’re just in sync today. 

Adam: [06:41] It’s right on it. We’re right on the money. It’s great. So, okay question number two, related to digital marketing, can you tell us something that has not worked that we can learn from? 

Katy: [06:50] Yeah, definitely I think like many organizations we are great at creating silos and which I think can be just so deadly for digital marketing specifically. Everyone is already stretched so thin and we’re just trying to do the best that we can to meet our goals, to meet our revenue goals and there’s just so much to cover in digital marketing and it changes so quickly. You know with bots and voice search and animation and really figuring out, especially for our teams because they are so unique and different, figuring out what works best for their lead generation. So an example of this is one of our teams is amazing with advertising on Facebook and Instagram and building lookalike audiences. 

[07:35] They’ve had a lot of success with that, whereas other of our teams have barely scratched the surface with it or don’t even know about it. So one thing that we have recently done is we recognize this gap and we invested more resources into digital marketing for the parent company and we hired a digital manager to specifically help having a centralized person for digital support. They’ll be responsible for facilitating feedback, peer-to-peer feedback, breaking down silos, teaching best practices, but tactically for social email workflows, Google grant management, advertising, all of those things, having one point person I think is going to be really helpful for us. 

Adam: [08:19] Yeah, well mean that way you can look and say, “Oh, over in this area of the organization, this is working really well. Let’s see if we can apply it over here.” Versus it being in a silo where I mean maybe what’s working over there will work perfectly over here, maybe it won’t, but you never know until you try it out.

Katy: [08:34] Yup, definitely.

Adam: [08:34] I love that and you’re right I talk to a lot of nonprofit marketers that say that exact same thing. We’re working in silos. It doesn’t work. Everybody’s too disjointed. There’s power in bringing this all together and so that’s what we’ve done. So you’re certainly not the first person that’s mentioned that to me.

Katy: [08:50] Yeah, I think silos they’re so common at organization and so common at nonprofits because I think people are just keeping their head down, getting through their day to day and they just have so many things to do. But trying to advocate for resources to bringing them together, it will save time, save money in the long run. Especially for specifically digital marketing which is changing so rapidly having a subject matter expert to help I think is just really beneficial. 

Adam: [09:18] Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree. That’s great. That’s really, really smart. Okay, now question number three. This is a fun one related to digital marketing, can you tell us something you are excited about? 

Katy: [09:28] Yeah, we really have a renewed focus on our messaging being incredibly authentic and showing, not telling so instead of telling people that we’re a fun organization to work with because we are, we have started to create blooper reels for some of our videos. We have a videographer in-house to really show the personality of our organization and our staff, which is so important for a primarily service-based organization. So we’re going to be rolling that out soon and then also just instead of telling people what it’s like, that it’s life changing to host a high school exchange student, we have ideas to connect mom travel blogger with one of our host moms and to talk about you can travel the world with your family, but you can also bring the world to your home by hosting an exchange student and really connecting those like-minded individuals to create content that’s interesting for their audience as well and could be potential leads for us. 

Adam: [10:30] I love that. I love that. Yeah, that’s great and I like that you’re fun and that you want to show that you’re fun. That’s great. I think more organizations should do that. I think I’ve been very intentional about that for my digital agency Sideways Eight, but not as intentional about that for our nonprofit 48 in 48 so it could be an interesting sort of angle for me to start thinking about there. I like that a lot. That’s great.

Katy: [10:53] Yeah. I think with service-based industries taking out the fair trade component of our organization, I mean we’re selling a services so our organization is primarily our revenue comes from program fees and we want to showcase to people that we do, we provide 24/7 support and insurance and all that stuff, but it’s with someone who you want to hang out with. They’re real people who are empathetic, who are also fellow travelers who understand what you’re going through and bridging that connection and being super authentic I think is how we’re going to get there. 

Adam: [11:32] Yeah. I love that. I love that. Okay, well, Katy, this has been great. Let me see if I can recap just a bit of our conversation thus far. So related to digital marketing, what has worked well for you? You mentioned going back to basics and just prioritizing, coming up with a strategic plan that is going to be the strong foundation with which you’re going to move forward from everything else and sort of getting everybody on the same page. And in particular, in that conversation, you mentioned Google analytics and beginning to use UTM codes in order to track campaigns in more depth and know what goals are sort of assignable to those campaigns? 

[12:06] For question number two, what has not worked well that we can learn from? You mentioned that organizations are really great at creating silos and that’s probably not a great thing and it’s kind of deadly for digital marketing because digital marketing moves fast and people get very focused on specific niches. And it’s really hard to sort of pull yourself up from that sometimes and so you mentioned that you hired a digital manager for centralized digital support across all elements of the organization and that’s giving you more uniformity in your digital marketing so that there’s not the silos that are popping up.

[12:36] And for what are you excited about? You mentioned that you’re excited that your messaging is authentic, that you’re showing and not telling, that you are showing fun, that you’re running blooper reels, that you’re just sort of being who you are in the space and showcasing the personality of your organization. Did I miss anything in those notes? 

Katy: [12:56] Oh, it was perfect. I will say my team is probably going to laugh when they hear me say this, but simple is not easy. 

Adam: [13:04] That’s right.

Katy: [13:04] I think it’s really easy to create something incredibly complex, but focusing your digital marketing efforts and really trying to roll something out that keeps in mind that simple is not easy and to work to it to make sure that what you’re creating is what you need and what will have the best ROI.

Adam: [13:24] That’s right. I totally agree. Simple is not easy, but it is important. That’s fantastic. Well, Katie, this has been really great. Do you have any final thoughts that you’d like to share with our audience here? 

Katy: [13:35] No, Adam, thank you so much for having me. This has been really great. I love knowledge sharing and your podcast is just wonderful, so keep up the great work. 

Adam: [13:43] Well, thanks. Well, I will and I love to even have you back on it again sometime soon. Thanks for being on the show. 

Katy: [13:48] I’d love to. Thanks, Adam. 

Adam: [13:50] 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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