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Episode 32 – Changing approach to marketing in 2018

Episode 32 - Changing approach to marketing in 2018

My guest on today’s show is Brendan HurleyBrendan Hurley is the Chief Marketing Officer for Goodwill of Greater Washington and The Goodwill Excel Center. Brendan is responsible for the developing and executing the marketing strategy impacting Goodwill’s donation supply chain, retail operations, mission services and adult public charter school.

Highlights from this Conversation

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Changing approach to marketing in 2018
      1. No traditional media, all mobile and digital
        1. It’s too hard to measure and track
        2. Better ROI measure
    2. Promoted posts on Facebook, gotten a huge response from the people they serve
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Traditional media on the outs
    2. No benefit from the analytics tied to traditional media
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. More accurate metrics
    2. Tools:
      1. Reports for vendors
        1. Weekly reports
      2. Google GrantsG

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:07] Hi and welcome to the Good People Good Marketing Podcast, a podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better so that good people at good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host, Adam Walker, co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

 

[00:00:29] Today on the podcast I’ve got Brendan Hurley, who is the chief marketing officer for Goodwill of Greater Washington and the Goodwill Excel Center. Brendan is responsible for the developing and execution of the marketing strategy impacting Goodwill’s donation supply chain, retail operations, mission, services and adult public charter schools.

 

[00:00:48] Brendan thanks so much for joining me on the podcast.

 

Brendan: [00:00:51] Thanks, Adam. I’m glad to be here. Thanks for the invitation.

 

Adam: [00:00:53] Do you have anything to add to that bio there? It’s pretty prolific there. I like that.

 

Brendan: [00:00:59] No. I appreciate it. It makes me sound better than I am.

 

Adam: [00:01:03] That’s what all bio’s do, I think. They always make us sound better than we are, right? That’s the goal. That’s the goal when I write my bio. I want to sound interesting and I’m not entirely certain that I always am interesting, so I do the best I can.

 

[00:01:17] Well so on this podcast, as you know, we ask questions, three questions, so I will start with the first one. Brendan related to nonprofit marketing, and I guess specifically nonprofit digital marketing, tell us something that has worked well for you.

 

Brendan: [00:01:33] We’re changing how we approach our marketing strategy in 2018. We dabbled in mobile marketing in 2017 and have been pretty aggressive in our use of social and digital marketing for the past seven or eight years. But in 2018 what we’ve decided to do is eliminate traditional media from our media mix and focus almost entirely on digital and mobile marketing so that’s new for us.

 

Adam: [00:02:07] Wow. I love that.

 

Brendan: [00:02:09] Yeah, we’re excited about it. There is obviously a tremendous opportunity there. One of the things that mobile marketing allows, specifically mobile display campaigns, it provides access to metrics that we couldn’t otherwise get through the use of traditional media. If we’re running a TV campaign or radio campaign, it’s very difficult to accurately measure the number of people that are walking through the front door of your stores after seeing or hearing that ad. Mobile display advertising allows us to do that. It measures those conversions, that attribution.

 

[00:02:42] There’s tremendous value in that to us. It allows us to more accurately measure the impact of our campaigns. We can see how many people are seeing the ad and then walking through the front door of our stores and whether or not those people are coming through more than once, so it allows us to really measure the return on our investment. That’s going to be interesting to see how that works.

 

[00:03:02] When we piloted a campaign in 2017 the results were terrific, which is why we decided to take the dive and really go into this full steam ahead this year. We just got the results back for our first campaign in January and it was very encouraging. We’re excited about what the future holds.

 

Adam: [00:03:22] I really love how bold a move that is to just say, “You know what? This traditional side is not measurable. It’s hard to track. It’s hard to know if our dollars are really being spent well.” You did a test, which is smart. Always do a test first. You did a test. It’s successful and then just go all in. I mean why not? Just go all in and you know that it’s going to be measurable, you know that you’re going to get a better return on your investment. There’s no reason not to. I love how bold that is that you’re doing that.

 

Brendan: [00:03:50] Thanks. It’s about evaluating and understanding consumer behavior and the evolution of consumer behavior and this is where people are having their conversations and getting their information right now. It’s through the use of their mobile devices and through social media. We know that we need to be there, so we’re taking the dive.

 

Adam: [00:04:10] In taking this dive, I’m sure you’re using a multi-channel approach and there’s a lot of different strategies related to each of those channels. Is there one specific channel that that has been working the best for you, that’s really paying off the most for you at this point .

 

Brendan: [00:04:27] I think that depends on the nature of the metrics that we’re analyzing, right? First of all let me back up, for those who are listening who don’t understand the Goodwill model. Goodwill is a social enterprise, right? Unlike most nonprofits, we generate the vast majority of our revenue that funds are free job training and employment programs for people with disabilities and disadvantages, we fund that through the revenue that’s generated by our retail stores. Most people know Goodwill is the place where they donate their household goods. Once we get those goods, we sell them in our retail stores. The profits we make from the resale of those goods than funds our mission services.

 

Adam: [00:05:05] Nice, right.

 

Brendan: [00:05:05] But we have to recruit people to participate in those programs, so we still need to go out and find people that are in need of job training programs and other supportive services. From a recruitment perspective, promoted posts on Facebook has actually been our number one referral source for both our job training programs and for our adult public charter school. The goodwill Excel Center is the first adult public charter school in the District of Columbia that awards a high school diploma rather than a GED. There is a high demand but, nonetheless, people still have to apply for it. We still have to create awareness for it. Promoted posts on Facebook has proven very valuable to us.

 

[00:05:43] Earlier in the year we had, as I said, piloted a mobile display campaign for a couple of our other retail stores, which proved very successful, so we decided to see whether or not mobile would work as a recruitment tool as well. In December we piloted a mobile display campaign in partnership with traditional media and social media to see if we could drive the applications for adult public charter school. Within the first forty-eight hours the number of applicants had exploded. It was among the strongest campaigns that we had ever conducted. I’m inclined to believe that we found the magic combination, knock on wood, to really have an impact on our recruitment efforts.

 

Adam: [00:06:30] I love that. Are you concerned about the new updates to Facebook’s algorithm at all?

 

Brendan: [00:06:37] We are keeping an eye on it. Yes, we are definitely keeping an eye on it.

 

Adam: [00:06:40] It’s like a trick question, really. Everybody in this business is concerned about it, right?

 

Brendan: [00:06:46] Yeah, like most people I suspect, we still don’t know what to expect. We’re monitoring it. We’re going to continue to look at the analytics and see whether or not it’s having a dramatic impact on our reach and level of engagement. Our hope is that it will not, but that remains to be seen. So we are monitoring it very closely just like I assume everyone who’s listening is doing.

 

Adam: [00:07:08] Yeah, I think the lesson there too is that these things change constantly. I mean every platform changes constantly and we have to move and shift and change our approach with each one to be sure that we’re maximizing our value, maximizing our dollars as we go into these things, so that’s smart.

 

Brendan: [00:07:23] That’s right. I think everyone knows Google changes its algorithms on a regular basis and we rarely know when that happens until we look at the analytics and see some aberration in the numbers or some anomaly in the numbers and wonder what’s going on and then we learn that they have changed their algorithm.

 

Adam: [00:07:38] Exactly. Okay. That’s great. That’s great. Can you share with us something that has not worked well that we can learn from?

 

Brendan: [00:07:49] Well, I think I touched on it. I think our use of traditional media, while I am still a fan of traditional media and if I had a million dollars to spend, I would probably still invest it in TV, but we have not been able to benefit from the analytics tied to traditional media.

 

[00:08:05] One of the things that we are trying really hard to do here is to eliminate the human element when it comes to measuring impact, at least in our retail operations. Up until now, if we did a media campaign and wanted to measure the direct impact of that campaign, first of all we had to look at all the external variables and internal variables that might impact that campaign. But we also needed to rely on the associates in our retail stores if it was some sort of a direct response campaign and it simply never proved to be effective. The results were inconsistent. I don’t think that they were truly valid.

 

[00:08:44] That’s one of the main reasons why we continue to look for new opportunities, new strategies, new approaches that would allow us to generate more accurate metrics to measure our campaigns. While I’m still a fan of traditional media, I think it has its place in our media mix when appropriate and for the right message and for the right purpose, but it has not really benefited us in terms of measuring the impact of our spend.

 

Adam: [00:09:15] Right. So no Super Bowl ads in the near future then (09:18 inaudible). A little late for that right now, but still we can think about it. We can dream, right? We can dream. That’s great. That was kind of the answer that I certainly expected based on our conversation so far. I think, again, it really makes sense to be moving into digital, where you can measure every dollar spent and know exactly what the precise impact of that dollar is. I think that’s great for nonprofits to really be thinking about.

 

[00:09:43] Then also related to nonprofit marketing, nonprofit digital marketing in particular, tell me something you’re excited about.

 

Brendan: [00:09:52] Well interestingly enough, you just kind of touched on it. I think ability to generate more accurate metrics. As a non-profit, we have a very heavy burden in that we have to be responsible for every dollar that we spend because we need to be good stewards of the money that is donated to us, of the goods that are donated to us with the purpose of benefiting the mission or supporting the mission. By investing in marketing strategies that provide us with an ability to measure the direct impact to help ensure that we are spending our money efficiently and effectively, helps ensure that we are being good stewards of the money that is being given to us with one purpose to impact our community.

 

[00:10:40] That’s what I’m excited about. I do think this provides us with that unique opportunity to really show our investors, those people who are interested in helping our community by investing in Goodwill, it gives us the ability to show them that we are spending the money that they are giving to us or the products that they are giving to us, that we’re investing them wisely.

 

Adam: [00:11:02] I love that. And related to accurate metrics tell us what tools are you using for that, obviously there’s kind of the Old Faithful, Google Analytics. Are using anything in addition to that we should put on the radar of our listeners.

 

Brendan: [00:11:18] Well the analytics that we get back from the companies that we are entrusting with our mobile display campaigns. They send us monthly reports up till now, but as of the first of February those reports are going to start coming in weekly. That shows the standard metrics. What is the click-through rate? What is the open rate? But, again, looking very closely at the attribution, which is the real key for us.

 

[00:11:40] One of the challenges that mobile display still needs to overcome, at least from a retail perspective, is the ability to measure transactions. While from a marketing perspective, we can argue that our job is done once we get someone to cross the threshold of the retail store. At that point it becomes more of an operational issue. Do we have the merchandise on the floor? Is the quality of the customer service being handled? Are the lines long? There are a variety of variables that we can’t impact directly at least at our operation that’s all really managed by the retail team.

 

[00:12:15] Right now mobile display will not integrate with the POS system, the point of sale system. Matter of fact, I went to a presentation a couple of weeks ago with representatives from Google and I pointed that out to them and said “This is still one of the weaknesses of mobile display. Are there any plans in place to better develop the technology so that it integrates with the POS systems so that we can measure direct transactions as a result of the campaigns?” They said that the plans are in the works. They’re presently studying it but it’s nothing that’s going to happen in the very near future.

 

[00:12:45] I’m glad they’re looking into it, but I think that will truly measure the impact because what we don’t know is once we convert someone who views the ad into a shopper and they walk into a store, what we don’t know is whether or not we’re converting them into a buyer. That’s really the strongest possible metric that we can use.

 

Adam: [00:13:03] Yeah all the way through the entire sales funnel from understanding who you are and what you are about to making a purchase. That’s the magic right there for sure. I love that. Are there any other tools? I know you said you’re getting weekly reports from vendors. What about any kind of tools related to any of your work in the AdWords space or in some of the social spaces?

 

Brendan: [00:13:27] We have a Google grant for SEO. Of course, the spend there is capped, so it’s helpful but we have never maximized our spend through our Google grant because it’s very hard to do with the spend cap. I think we have a $10,000 cap, if I’m not mistaken. The best we’ve ever done is about $70,500. But it does give us the opportunity to use almost an unlimited number of keywords.

 

Adam: [00:13:53] Yeah, it’s great.

 

Brendan: [00:13:53] We’re using somewhere in the range of a thousand now. We’ll just keep adding them as long as we can.

 

[00:14:00] While it remains to be seen how the change in Facebook’s algorithms are going to impact our promoted posts, that continues to be a very strong marketing tool for us. We hope that that will continue as we grow as an organization. I encourage organizations to look at that. The investment is still pretty inexpensive. We can make a huge impact on our region with an investment of only a few hundred dollars. I think there’s opportunity there for people who are looking for new and inexpensive ways to reach targeted audiences.

 

Adam: [00:14:38] Yeah, totally agree, totally. I think Facebook promoted posts and even just kind of the whole suite of Facebook ads has a lot more power than a lot of nonprofits are aware of. If you are a nonprofit marketer listening to this who are not actively advertising on Facebook, I would encourage you to look at the different options. There may be more than you think and they may be more targeted and less expensive than you think. It’s definitely worth looking into.

 

Brendan: [00:15:01] Right. We’re doing more and more video. We’re starting to research more the use of influence for marketing. We have two blogs that touch key communities of ours and so that’s also an avenue that we’re exploring further.

 

Adam: [00:15:17] I love that. I love influencer marketing. I love videos, love storytelling. I think all those things are going to play a huge role as digital marketing continues to move forward in its growth. Sounds great.

 

[00:15:30] Well, let’s see Brendan, let me see if I can recap our conversation and some of the lessons that I’ve jotted down to date here and then you can fill in anything that I missed. How about that?

 

Brendan: [00:15:42] Great.

 

Adam: [00:15:42] I asked what’s worked well for you, and you said changing your approach to marketing in 2018 over 2017. You’re not doing traditional media but instead you’re focusing all of your emphasis on digital because you can measure it and you know what the return on investment is for every dollar spent, so it’s a better use of your money overall. In particular, related to what channels work well for you, you said that Facebook post, Facebook promoted posts in particular, has gotten a huge response for getting people to sign up for the services that you offer. Anything else to add there?

 

Brendan: [00:16:15] No, you hit the nail on the head.

 

Adam: [00:16:19] Okay. Number two what hasn’t worked well, again, traditional media hasn’t worked well. It is on the out, primarily because there’s just not enough benefit from analytics and you just don’t know how the dollars that you’re spending are really serving your organization. I think that’s really smart.

 

[00:16:34] Number three what are you excited about, more accurate metrics and we talked about that, how you’re going from monthly reports from your vendors to weekly reports, which I love that you’re doing that because that means you can tweak and make adjustments more quickly, you’re more agile in your thinking and your marketing, and you’re able to really optimize everything rather than once every thirty days or something, you’re optimizing once every seven or even less than that, which I think is really, really smart.

 

[00:16:59] Then you mentioned Google Grants in particular and how that’s been helpful to you. If there are any nonprofits listening that are not aware of Google Grants, you can apply to get up to $10,000 in Google AdWords per month that you can then use for your nonprofit, which is super helpful and actually really easy to apply for. Anything that I missed or that you’d like to add there Brendan?

 

Brendan: [00:17:20] No. You know what? Goodwill is a great organization that does wonderful things for the community. For those people who are unfamiliar with Goodwill, again, understand when you donate items to Goodwill how it is having a direct impact on the community. We’re reselling those items and the money we generate funds free job training and employment services for people with disabilities and disadvantages. We’re helping to put people back to work and help them become self-sustaining.

 

Adam: [00:17:46] I’ve got to tell you I’m a big fan of Goodwill from at least two angles. One is my family’s been on this purge, simplified living, minimalist sort of kick lately, so I’ve taken several truckloads of various items and a lot of clothes to my local Goodwill. Then also I love to shop there because you can find all kinds of cool stuff there that you just wouldn’t expect, like I’ve gotten states for my kids and all kinds of great stuff there. It’s been really amazing to have one just right down the road from us. I’m a big fan.

 

Brendan: [00:18:15] Great thank you. We appreciate it.

 

Adam: [00:18:17] Thanks for the good work that you’re doing. That’s great.

 

Brendan: [00:18:19] Thank you very much.

 

Adam: [00:18:20] Well thank you for being on the podcast and thank you to our listeners for listening to Good People Good Marketing. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts blogs and other fun resources.

 

[00:18:34] Also, if you want to find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership, productivity, habit building, and the insanity of having five children. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.

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