Nonprofit on the Rocks - Laurel Mintz - Elevate My Brand

Season 3, Episode 2

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“If you're trying to build a new relationship with a serious donor that you want to last the test of time with your nonprofit, you've got to build a really smart, healthy, two-way street conversation with that person on so many different levels. That's what marketing is.” -- Laurel Mintz, Founder and CEO of Elevate My Brand


Matt talks to Laurel Mintz, Founder and CEO of “Elevate My Brand,” a digital and experiential agency that helps corporate and nonprofit businesses alike to, as promised, “elevate their brand.” 

Laurel dishes up her “secret sauce” to our listeners, helping them recognize the importance of setting a marketing budget and strategy, planning for events early, utilizing cross-promotions and multi-channel marketing platforms,  and avoiding the dreaded “rubber chicken” gala dinners. 

CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHT:

Matt:

Okay. I want to talk a little bit before we get into events. I want to talk a little bit about marketing for nonprofits. As a whole, as an industry how are we doing? What grade would you give us?

Laurel Mintz:

You know the answer to this. I think it's gotten a little bit better especially during COVID because all these nonprofits are like, "Oh, shit. We don't have our big fundraising galas. We need to figure out another path forward. Oh, that's digital," which is what we've been telling them for a freaking decade. They finally have gotten on the bandwagon. I think prior to COVID it was probably like a D. Now during COVID it's probably like a C, C+.

Matt:

What would get us to an A?

Laurel:

Understanding and having a digital budget. I can't tell you how many nonprofits post the same shit on every single social channel, don't have a conversion tool on their website, don't understand why their numbers aren't growing on social channels, and have zero understanding of how to define, let alone allocate a real marketing budget. They think that marketing and social is like a game.

Laurel:

It might have been early days, and one that you could game and win, but it's not that way anymore. It's a pay to play environment and everyone who doesn't have a consistent spend budget in mind is going to lose, period full stop.

Matt:

Let's say I'm running a homeless shelter right, and I want to figure out a budget for marketing for digital, for social, all that good stuff. Are we talking mailing too, or are we just talking like online stuff? What are we talking about?

Laurel:

We talk about a holistic budget because you need to understand what you're going to do. I would say start with digital if you have a smaller spend because the out of home stuff, the hard mail stuff, is a lot more costly. Start with understanding your digital footprint because on digital you can test and iterate through your messaging, your positioning, and your targeting and your creative so you can get to a place of really understanding what delivers.

Laurel:

Then you can take those lessons, it should be a scientific approach, and use that copy, creative, targeting, et cetera in and out of home or a direct mail campaign. That way you'll be more successful.

Matt:

I know that there are people listening who are like, "I have no idea what you just said." I know right? If you would be so kind, I know people pay you for this, but if again I'm running a homeless shelter, can you walk me through what it is that you just said in a real example?

Laurel:

Well, I'll do you one better. I'll give you the formula to figuring out your marketing. How about that? Or your marketing budget I should say. We call this marketing math 101. It goes like this. For an established brand, one that feels that they have taken up as much market share in their category, which is pretty much nobody in nonprofit, the number that they should be spending on marketing services holistically is between 6% and 12%.

Laurel:

For most brands who do not have a foothold in their market or are who are looking to grow into a new space, grow their audience, grow their viewership, grow their donor base, whatever, that number more than doubles to 12% to 25 plus percent. Now this is very different for nonprofit as it is for for-profit, but even if you get to the 10% number which would be on the super low end... I would be shocked to hear any of the nonprofits you work for have a 10% marketing budget. That would make me so incredibly happy. Most of them have like a 4% or a 6% marketing budget. This is of gross, not net. I want to reiterate that.

Matt:

Okay. If I have a million-dollar budget, then you want me to be spending $100,000 on marketing? Wow. 

Laurel: 

Yeah.

Matt:

Wow. Wow. By the way, every single nonprofit executive just fell on the floor, like every one.


Elevate Your Brand podcast | Elevate My Brand Laurel has her own podcast. Check it out!

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About Envision Consulting

With offices in Los Angeles and New York, Envision Consulting works exclusively with nonprofits all across the country on executive and supported search, strategic planning and partnerships, and other organizational transitions, with diversity, equity and inclusion integrated into all of our practices.