Change Conversations blog

5 min read

5 SEO Basics to Make Your Best Content Eminently Findable

By Pat Heffernan on 8/26/22 10:00 AM


Whew! You’re exhausted. You’ve just finished a sprint to get your mobile-first site updated after Google’s latest Core Web Vitals algorithm change. But don’t stop now. Despite the page speed performance and mobile-friendly brouhaha, publishing and promoting quality content means remembering for changemakers there’s much more to SEO (search engine optimization) than responsive design.

SEO only enhances quality content and design

The foundation of search engine optimization is the quality of your content and the technical aspects of the basic website build. If the writing isn’t solid and useful for your customers and prospects, then SEO tweaks won’t help. If your site design isn’t mobile-friendly, nothing here can overcome that basic flaw. But you, dear reader, have already taken care of ensuring writing and technical quality so let’s focus on how to enhance what you’ve already done.

4 min read

Promotional Item or Landfill?

By Dave Bowers on 12/23/21 12:30 PM


Promotional products were a $20 billion dollar industry by 2014, with brands appearing on  everything from award plaques to watches. By dollar volume of sales, wearables and writing instruments are the largest categories. Most companies use promotional items at some time, and your strategy is important because promotional items will represent your brand.

6 min read

Web Accessibility and You: Why It Matters

By Karen Wilkinson on 1/21/21 10:00 AM

There are over 1 billion people around the world with disabilities, who have a combined spending power of approximately $6 trillion. This includes conditions we don’t necessarily think of as a disability, such as dyslexia, arthritis or chronic back pain. To exclude these people from your products or services due to a lack of usability in your website is financially unwise, plus has multiple flow on effects you may not have considered. Here are some compelling reasons to get on board with accessibility, and tools that can simplify the process.

4 min read

Effective Employee Recruitment Marketing for Professional Firms

By Intern Blogger on 4/9/20 11:15 AM

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “7.1 million openings were available in February 2019, but only 5.7 million hires were made.” When there are more jobs available than there are workers, companies have to use effective marketing strategies like inbound recruitment to sell your employer's brand to a job seeker. Applying for and accepting a job is a big decision, so nurturing leads who are interested in your firm is paramount.

6 min read

Should Your Brand Take a Stand?

By Intern Blogger on 3/12/20 11:45 AM

More and more companies are wrestling with the questions: Should your brand take a stand? What are the potential benefits? What are the risks? How do you decide? In this blog post we'll look at these questions.

6 min read

Why You Need a Mission-Driven Blog (+ how to make it better)

By Dave Bowers on 11/28/19 11:30 AM

A company blog helps you connect with customers and prospects by providing useful content that can be found through search and promotion. Its many content marketing benefits include increasing your online presence and engagement with an ROI better than online advertising. Let's look at why (and how) to blog.

9 min read

Tips for Quick Photos (and Common Copyright Risks To Avoid)

By Pat Heffernan on 11/14/19 11:10 AM

How can you quickly and safely create the images you need for your blogging and social media efforts and avoid common copyright risks? Unless your talents include professional photography or graphic design, it can feel like a daunting task to create a steady stream of appealing, relevant images. Yet using visuals someone else made creates a significant risk for marketers because it exposes you to copyright infringement lawsuits and fines. Let’s look at how you can meet the constant demand for fresh, engaging visuals quickly and safely while avoiding common copyright risks.

5 min read

Are Your Branding Colors Web Accessible?

By Karen Wilkinson on 10/24/19 12:30 PM

Consistency is king when it comes to using your branding colors across all mediums, including your website. But designing for legibility and readability across all mediums can be a neglected or unexpected challenge. Have you ever tested your color usage for an acceptable contrast rating for accessibility? Let's look at how to do this, plus some simple steps to ensure your color contrast ratio will always meet accessibility standards.

3 min read

Why Values-Based Communication?

By Pat Heffernan on 10/10/19 11:45 AM

Consistent values-based communication. I believe everyone benefits when a mission-driven business or nonprofit focuses on words, messages, issues, and strategies that emphasize shared values. So when my 14-year old grandniece asked me “Why?” -- the question brought me up short.

5 min read

Small Business Owners: Stop Ignoring Your Audio Brand

By Hiro Soga on 9/26/19 11:48 AM

When you think branding, what comes to mind? Logos, colors, the name of your company, your company tagline — but how about sound or audio? As the popularity of Alexa and Google Home help drive the increasing use of voice and audio streaming, sonic branding is becoming more important. It's an often overlooked part of your business identity and an opportunity to reinforce and extend your brand.

4 min read

Seven important steps to launch your new website [checklist]

By Dave Bowers on 8/22/19 11:00 AM

As the website owner, you want to be sure your investment in developing a new website is going to improve your brand awareness and return on your investment. You don't have to be a tech guru yourself to pay attention and ask your website developer questions. Here are seven important steps you can take with your developer to ensure success.

7 min read

The Why and How to Brand Your Infographics

By Karen Wilkinson on 7/25/19 11:43 AM

The current wave of infographic usage is only gaining momentum. From social media to corporate reports and even the evening news, you’re seeing these information graphics everywhere. They are a visually appealing package of pictures, numbers and words that can tell us the all-important facts in an instant. It’s the perfect content condiment to spice up your message and help your audience digest the data.

6 min read

Content Libraries: Key to Unlock Your Digital Asset Potential

By Hiro Soga on 6/27/19 11:42 AM

Images, videos, sound bites, and other media are great ways to cut through the clutter online for small businesses or nonprofits. But a common mishap we often see with our clients is that all of those assets are only stored on social media where they were first used. On the surface, it may not seem like that big of a deal, but in reality, you’re severely restricting your ability to repurpose that content in the future. You never know when a certain photo could be useful for another medium or campaign — and your mantra is to make the most of your limited resources!

4 min read

How to Remove the Curse of Knowledge from Your Writing

By Pat Heffernan on 6/13/19 11:21 AM

The more you know, the harder it is to remove the curse of knowledge from your writing. After years of education and experience in your field, you may no longer even notice when you’re baffling others with the concepts, obscure language and shorthand of your daily life. But though your prospects and clients may not know something you know, they are smart and sophisticated and they will seek out a professional who’s easier to communicate with if you don’t clean up your language.

7 min read

How to Partner Effectively with Your Website Developer

By Dave Bowers on 5/23/19 1:00 PM

Considering a new website? Your goal is a stunning and hard-working new website in a process as smooth as possible. Miscommunication or conflict with your website developer can quickly torpedo your goal. Here are some questions to ask to make your job (and the job of your web developer) simpler and more effective as project partners. Every unanswered question can add risks and costs to your project.

5 min read

Driving People to Your Cause: Social Currency for Nonprofits

By Intern Blogger on 5/9/19 11:42 AM

You may think your local nonprofit cannot use flashy campaign tools to set your organization apart. You may think those tools are for businesses and big organizations and since you’re a small nonprofit, then these strategies either won’t work or aren’t appropriate for you. But social currency is an often-overlooked asset that can be powerful for small nonprofits.

8 min read

How to Create Video Testimonials for Small Business

By Intern Blogger on 4/25/19 11:03 AM



Do you need a high-quality video for your small business? Don't hesitate because you worry about breaking the bank. If your business has a fan or two that loves your services, you can make a great testimonial video on any budget. Employees who love their job with you are also perfect for testimonials.

Testimonials are a powerful way to build credibility and trust for a mission-driven business, whether you do it yourself or with the help of a production company. Let’s look at how you can get a useful testimonial with good video production quality and not a lot of money.

7 min read

How to Benchmark Your Marketing Performance

By Pat Heffernan on 4/11/19 11:50 AM

Last week in a client meeting I was asked a string of marketing questions that I have been asked many times before.

“Is that a good open rate, a good click-through rate?”

“How much do others spend on digital advertising?”

“How are we doing compared to your other clients?”

What’s behind these questions are deeper issues—questions that everyone who works in a mission-driven organization wrestles with from time to time—“Are our results sweet or just so-so?” “Are we doing a good job?” Or more formally, how do we benchmark our marketing performance?

4 min read

7 Questions for Your Marketing Strategy: A Checklist

By Pat Heffernan on 3/14/19 11:52 AM

It often happens this way. First I hear a book author on NPR talking about an interesting subject, then the issue comes up with friends, and then just before the subject is about to slip from short-term memory, I see the book. So it was recently when I saw The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, by Atul Gawande at my local library. The book got me thinking: Can the secret of marketing strategy be found in a checklist?

4 min read

Creating Quality Video Content on a Budget

By Hiro Soga on 2/28/19 11:38 AM

Here’s the bottom line. If you’re not making online video content for your business, you’re falling behind. Trends have been steadily shifting toward more video, especially on social media. Video is becoming, or in some places has already become, the preferred delivery method for content by people all over the world.

4 min read

Copyright Dangers: Is Your Business at Risk and What to Do

By Pat Heffernan on 2/14/19 11:33 AM


Your business or nonprofit faces copyright dangers on both sides of the copyright law:

  • For violating someone else’s copyright, resulting in hefty fines and a public relations embarrassment, and
  • For having your creative materials used improperly, violating your copyright but requiring extensive time and money for small organizations to enforce legally.

Let’s look at the reasons for the dangers, and at some practical tips for what you can do to minimize your risk.

5 min read

Smart New Year Checklist for Your Website and Blog

By Dave Bowers on 1/24/19 11:40 AM

We’re nearly a month into the new year, so it’s time to put into action a new year’s resolution for your website and blog. Your website is the backbone of your organization’s communications. Seven days a week, 24 hours a day — your website is always available (or should be) to tell the world about you. But it needs a little maintenance now and again or the neglect will be visible. Here is my checklist of suggestions for a happy, healthy new year for your website and blog.

3 min read

Marketing Wuss or Wizard: Which Are You?

By Pat Heffernan on 1/10/19 11:43 AM

Wuss isn’t a word I use often, but during my drive home from the holidays it came to my mind fleetingly as an appropriate self-description. I started driving in second or third gear with my hazard lights on though there was only the slightest visible dusting of snow on the highway — and car after car kept passing my (usually speeding) red roadster. But despite the weather map and my fellow travelers, I had decided I did not like the feel of the road beneath my snow tires.

4 min read

Nonpofit Marketers: Why Podcasts are Your Next Best Marketing Tool

By Hiro Soga on 10/25/18 10:50 AM

So why are podcasts your next best marketing tool? Not only is the number of podcast listeners on the rise, they are engaged in the content. And podcast listeners hit a demographic sweet spot for any nonprofit.

4 min read

How to Save Money Working with a Marketing Agency

By Clare Innes on 10/11/18 11:55 AM

Since making the switch from a public sector marketing department to a private sector marketing agency, I’ve learned a thing or two from both sides of the coin about the value of working with a solid, mission-driven marketing team. Working with a marketing firm is not as much of a budget-busting endeavor as you might think. 

5 min read

Seven Signs It’s Time to Update Your Website

By Dave Bowers on 9/27/18 11:43 AM

Your company website is the center of your brand identity, marketing, sales, and customer relations. More than 80% of shoppers do online research before they buy (AdWeek).You spent a lot of time and money to build your organization and develop your website so you don't want to repeat that effort unnecessarily. Let's look at seven factors to help you decide if it's time to update your website — or not. 

4 min read

How to Frame a Powerful Social Change Message

By Pat Heffernan on 9/13/18 11:43 AM

The strategy of framing messages for change has never seemed more important — or more difficult. Never more important because pressing issues like suicides, random acts of violence, air and water pollution, extreme weather events, and opioid addiction are surging and seemingly intractable. Never more difficult because sharing the stories of the individuals affected has never been easier — but stories of an individual’s problem hide systemic approaches and solutions. Never more difficult because inadvertently triggering a counterproductive mental frame associated with one ‘side’ or the other of a polarized debate has never been easier.

Wondering if you can successfully frame a change message today? Let's look at how (and why) to rise to the challenge.


5 min read

Why Pillar Pages are the key to your SEO

By Intern Blogger on 8/23/18 11:50 AM

Generating quality website traffic is critical to raising awareness for your mission-driven business. With search engine companies frequently changing their algorithms and requirements, it can be a challenge to stay up-to-date so your site can be visible to as many people as would be interested in what you offer as possible. I’m here to help by explaining why creating content pillars supported by long-tailed keywords is now the latest best practice for search engine optimization (SEO).

4 min read

Ethical Marketing Research: What You Should and Should NOT Do

By Intern Blogger on 8/9/18 11:37 AM

As a novice to the business world, I had no idea that there were so many marketing research standards and ethics in place. I have learned that research guidelines are designed to protect a company’s workers, its customers, and the validity of the information gathered — but the risk or reward for certain guidelines are not always clear. How can your small business get the cost-effective marketing research you need while still upholding multiple codes of ethics?

5 min read

Reluctant marketers on staff? Here's how to conquer their fear of social media

By Clare Innes on 7/26/18 10:47 AM


Blogging, tweeting, pinning, posting – you know it's essential, but what do you do when you have reluctant marketers on your staff who are uncomfortable making a splash in the social media pool? After all, 55% of charitable organizations using social media say it plays an important role in their marketing efforts. It's time to convince those reluctant marketers to start swimming. Here are some social media starter tips and tools to help them do just that

3 min read

Puzzled by Content Marketing vs Inbound Marketing?

By Pat Heffernan on 7/12/18 11:05 AM

Know that you are not alone. You are definitely not the only one puzzled by distinguishing between the terms content marketing and inbound marketing. It is a question I hear often. Playing such marketing buzzword bingo at your next management or trustee meeting is a waste of time for you as a busy change maker. Let’s piece together the answer to this puzzle.

6 min read

Apps to Help Navigate Social Media for Small Businesses

By Hiro Soga on 6/28/18 9:30 AM

Long gone are the days when you only had a few social media accounts to worry about. Now there’s an ocean of information and options to choose from. It seems like everyone wants to pull you onto a different ship. So how do you know which one will get you where you want to go? You may feel pressured to make your decisions quickly but investing time in researching the right choices will keep you afloat as you navigate toward being a social media marketing pro.

4 min read

How NOT to Use Customer Demographics in Your Marketing

By Pat Heffernan on 6/14/18 11:50 AM


Yes, you read that correctly: How NOT to use customer demographics in your marketing. In an attempt to make research-based marketing decisions, many small businesses and nonprofits rely too heavily on the copious, free demographic data available today. Relying on numbers without context obscures your view because it invites misleading conclusions and implicit bias. Let’s look at two examples that illustrate the 'data fog' problem, as well as tips to avoid making faulty demographic assumptions about your customers, prospects and communities.

6 min read

Green Swag: Tips for Keeping Your Logo Out of the Landfill

By Clare Innes on 5/24/18 11:40 AM



Free swag! There's nothing like it to get people's attention at an event ... and there's nothing like that sinking feeling you get when you see those promo items, touting your logo, filling the trash cans at the exits. Let's take a look at how to keep your logo out of the landfill and still attract the attention of your target audience.

4 min read

Wake Up Communicators: You need a GDPR checklist and guide

By Dave Bowers on 5/10/18 11:00 AM

Later this month, on May 25, the GDPR data protection and privacy law goes into effect. GDPR, or General Data Protection Regulation, is a set of rules protecting citizens and residents of the European Union and governs how companies handle their personal data. Email marketing and marketing automation activities are clearly affected. But many small businesses and nonprofits are not aware that you also need to be sensitive to GDPR if you collect personally identifiable information in any way, including contact us forms and website analytics. There's a forest of GDPR information out there so my goal is to highlight key landmarks for you.

6 min read

How to Attract Young People to Your Nonprofit

By Intern Blogger on 4/26/18 10:50 AM

You know that “big donors” come from older generations. But younger generations are just as important. Your nonprofit needs to invest in the future: young people – those who will hear your message, spread your cause, and champion your mission for many years ahead. Building relationships with young people now will allow your organization to increase its network and gain future support.

5 min read

How to Build a Strong Employer Brand for Recruitment

By Pat Heffernan on 4/12/18 11:00 AM

Mission-driven organizations can be surprised to suddenly find themselves struggling with employee recruitment and retention. (Wasn't it just yesterday that marketing was the challenge?) For years, being in the social good sector all but guaranteed you could attract and keep like-minded employees. But today, you need to support what is known as your 'employer brand' if you want to attract the talent you need to advance your mission. Let's look at why and how to build a strong employer brand.

3 min read

Useful Environmental Paper Certification or Greenwash?

By Dave Bowers on 3/22/18 10:10 AM

If you’re not alert, it’s easier than ever to be snookered these days. You are trying to reduce your environmental impact and so you specify your new brochure should be on certified “green” paper. Environmental certifications on paper products are helpful because they can reassure us that we’re making sound purchasing decisions. But not all certifications are equal.

4 min read

What You Need to Know About Contests & Sweepstakes

By Dave Bowers on 3/8/18 9:58 PM

Contests and sweepstakes are great ways of generating interest and expanding your reach to a target audience. If you want to increase web traffic, reward customers, and gain some new leads to add to your marketing efforts, then you might want to consider having a contest or sweepstakes give-away.

4 min read

On the Power of Words, Labels and Language: Do No Harm

By Pat Heffernan on 3/8/18 10:30 AM

The power of words, labels, language and frames is often a popular topic at the water cooler and lunch table here, but it has been top-of-mind lately. One reason is a recent experience I had when filling out a form to participate in an online forum with people from around the world. The gist of one of the questions was, “How would you describe yourself so other people will like you and want to interact? Explain the social psychology of your response.”  It was a daunting exercise.

6 min read

Storytelling Tools to Help Your Target Audience see WIIFM

By Clare Innes on 2/22/18 11:43 AM

Want to gain traction in the early stages of the customer’s journey? Here’s a tip: Step out of your shoes. Your audience wants to interact with someone who has walked a mile in their shoes. Add personality and customer aspirations to your product storytelling and you can unearth fresh, authentic ways to connect. It’s in there, right next to your passion, mission, and vision. Here's how two companies do just that to make “What’s in it for me?” crystal clear.

5 min read

The Psychology of Words: Revealing more than you realize

By Pat Heffernan on 2/8/18 10:00 AM

Thoughts on the psychology of words, word use, pronouns, and social issues have been scurrying across my brain lately. Not that you can’t find me obsessing about words on a year round basis, but words and their implications have been in the news recently and thus on my mind more frequently.

Language is the most common and reliable way for people to translate their internal thoughts and emotions into a form that others can understand. Words and language, then, are the very stuff of psychology and communication. – James Pennebaker

4 min read

Changing Minds: The science behind visual storytelling

By Pat Heffernan on 1/25/18 11:57 AM

Do you feel that?

That tugging sensation on your heart?

You’re not sure why, but as serious, and as focused, and as grownup as you are, you likely just responded to the photo of a child’s joy.


7 min read

What is the cost of a stunning new website?

By Dave Bowers on 1/25/18 10:00 AM

I wrote about this last in 2010 when unemployment was near ten percent and competition for work was fierce and cutthroat. And while a lot has changed in the past eight years, the components to consider when you want to create a successful new website for your business or non-profit have not.

10 min read

Blogging Tips for the One-Person Marketing Team

By Clare Innes on 1/18/18 12:00 PM

You know your stuff. You could blog about what you do ‘til the cows come home. The problem is that there's never enough time to do it all well. What you need is a simple, step-by-step process for going from idea to publishing quality content without missing a beat.
4 min read

New Year Resolutions and Inspiration for the Digital Marketer

By Tara Pereira on 1/11/18 10:00 AM

At the beginning of a new year, it is natural to want to set resolutions both personally, and professionally for your organization. We all start out with the best of intentions, but trying to do too much too soon can set us up for failure in our marketing campaigns or outreach efforts. And while our marketing to-do lists are ongoing, it is important to review and assess our efforts so they are as effective as they can be. Here are some tips and recommendations for resolution success for the coming year.

5 min read

Mission-Driven Marketers: Are You Focused or Fearful?

By Pat Heffernan on 12/28/17 10:00 AM

I am worried. As I wrote earlier, part of creating a persuasive change message is to document and describe the problem before offering a solution built on shared values. My fear is that the blistering acceleration of focus scarcity, or attention deficit if you will, may soon make effective mission-driven marketing all but impossible.

4 min read

In Marketing, Don’t Mistake a Shiny New Tool for Your Goal

By Pat Heffernan on 12/21/17 8:25 AM

One day as I flicked through a group of RSS and Twitter feeds for a client in education, I came across a sketch that made me chuckle in recognition. Bill Ferriter, a.k.a. @plugusin on Twitter, posted a reminder for educators: “What do You Want Kids to Do With Technology?” I chuckled to myself because several of the wrong answers listed for educators also regularly bedazzle small businesses and nonprofits into confusing a new tool (or shiny object) with a marketing goal.

5 min read

Want your social video to be thumb-stoppingly good?

By Tara Pereira on 12/14/17 10:00 AM

"71% of internet users will access social networking sites regularly this year."  source

One of the great challenges and great truths of social media is the quick speed at which everything changes. Whether it is your Twitter feed, the social news cycle or the speed at which each network grows, we can all count on everything changing and changing often. And the latest change is the stong push and focus on native social video by major social media channels.

6 min read

How to Optimize Your Website for Mobile

By Intern Blogger on 12/7/17 10:05 AM

As a business owner, you most likely already know how critical it is to be active and visible online. Google prioritizes mobile friendly sites over sites that aren’t mobile friendly when listing search results. Considering the oversaturation of websites online, having a mobile optimized website can make your business stand out. Let’s look at exactly why and how mobile optimization will improve your business.

5 min read

How to Use a Creative Brief for Effective Collaboration

By Dave Bowers on 11/30/17 10:30 AM

Marketing, like many other worthwhile activities, is a team venture. And every effective team needs a coach, rules of the game, and a common goal. Think of your creative brief as a team playbook with a description of the goal, objectives and rules for a specific marketing project that involves more than one person. Maximizing the talents and expertise of your marketing project team will be much easier with a collaboration built on a shared understanding of the rules and a common goal. 

3 min read

How Inbound Marketing Metrics Will Save Public Relations

By Pat Heffernan on 11/23/17 10:00 AM

Rich metrics are one of the delights of implementing an integrated inbound marketing program. Inbound’s ability to track the history of an individual’s interactions along her/his customer decision journey makes documenting the ROI for various marketing activities a possibility for small businesses and nonprofits. For years the Achilles’ heel of public relations (PR) has been its lack of metrics directly linked to business outcomes and the subsequent inability to document ROI. Inbound marketing is the answer.

3 min read

Design Project Management Tips and Tools to Implement Today

By Clare Innes on 11/16/17 10:00 AM

Time is funny. It flies. It can be saved and wasted. When you’re working on a design and content project with lots of moving parts and people, time is also money. In many mission-driven organizations, time and money are often both in short supply. In an ideal world, every project begins with a creative brief that stakeholders within your organization and outside partners have signed off on. But for those seemingly inevitable, unexpected or rush projects, here are some time-saving tips for success I’ve hammered out on the anvil of experience on both sides of the design project management window.

6 min read

Conquer Your Website Design Accessibility & Inclusion Challenge

By Pat Heffernan on 11/9/17 10:05 AM

Making sure that your website reaches and communicates effectively to everyone requires attention to many factors—design, language, search optimization, and adherence to accessibility guidelines and regulations. I’ll look specifically at website design for accessibility in this blog post and address inclusive language and other factors in a future post.

6 min read

Changing Minds: Frames Matter More Than Facts

By Pat Heffernan on 11/2/17 11:42 AM

Language shapes the way we think, and determines what we can think about.
Benjamin Lee Whorf

I can no longer count on my fingers the number of times I've searched fruitlessly for the perfect, convincing set of facts for changing minds to advance an issue. Really, I should know better. Facts are not what change peoples' mindsets. Frames are.

2 min read

How to conduct effective video interviews

By Tara Pereira on 10/19/17 10:04 AM


Do you know the secret to conducting a good video interview? Whether you are gathering video testimonials for your website or developing an informational video series for an outreach campaign, conducting your first video interview is about preparation and understanding human communication.

2 min read

Why Your Nonprofit is a ‘Best-Kept Secret’ and How to Fix It

By Pat Heffernan on 10/12/17 10:00 AM

If ‘best-kept secret’ is a phrase you’ve ever heard used to describe your nonprofit, you are not alone. Perhaps it’s just the popularity of the Best-Kept Secret book, but it seems as if a larger-than-usual number of reluctant marketers self-described as a ‘best-kept secret’ have crossed my path lately. Yet knowing you are not alone does not ease your concern about knowing you cannot advance your mission if no one knows you exist.

4 min read

Seven Things a Brand is Not (and Two It is)

By Pat Heffernan on 10/5/17 2:30 PM

Brand and branding are terms you hear used and misused daily in marketing and advertising. Once terms used only by those working in the field or by business people in large corporations, it’s now commonplace to hear in everyday conversations: “My favorite brand is…” or “XYZ has a really good brand.” Perhaps it began with the popularity of Mad Men on TV, or maybe the proliferation of new technologies and media channels, but misuse and confusion about brand terms keeps growing. Yet as a business owner or nonprofit manager, you want to understand exactly what you’re paying for when buying a brand property or branding your product or services for growth. Let’s look at two things a brand is, and seven things a brand is not.

3 min read

Logo, Corporate Identity or Brand — What’s the Difference?

By Brad Pettengill on 9/28/17 10:00 AM

Logo, Corporate Identity or Brand — What’s the difference? When a company begins to consider ways to visually represent themselves, their product, service or idea, these terms are sometimes used interchangeably. There are significant differences though, and building a solid understanding of these three terms is valuable for every marketer.

4 min read

Video Strategy: Which online video style is right for you?

By Tara Pereira on 9/21/17 10:00 AM


Saying you need video for your business is kind of like saying you need a website. Both are general terms for an essential tool that can mean a lot of things. Websites can range from a simple and very basic informational microsite to an extremely complex fully integrated customer portal with an eCommerce back end.

Think of video styles in a similar way. You can have a quick ten-second video clip shot on your phone of a favorite client talking about how much they love working with your organization, or you can hire professionals to produce a 15-minute company video that involves multiple shoot days, multiple set ups, extensive post-production, and  animated graphics. Knowing which video style is right for you isn’t a simple matter.

5 min read

Change Strategy: Avoid Bad Words and Message Mistakes

By Pat Heffernan on 9/14/17 10:00 AM


Do you worry about saying bad words? I know sometimes I feel as if I spend an inordinate amount of time thinking about how to avoid bad words and message mistakes. For change strategists, bad words are the ones that trigger bad frames — frames that run counter to the positive social change you want to see.

3 min read

Google Demands HTTPS Security: Is your site ready?

By Dave Bowers on 9/7/17 10:00 AM


If you have a website without the HTTPS protocol, you should have received an email recently telling you that Google Chrome will show a security warning to your site visitors starting in October. Uh-oh, and now what do you do?

6 min read

Basic Quality Control for your Brand Image

By Brad Pettengill on 8/31/17 10:00 AM


It’s a familiar problem. You have invested a great deal of time and money to create a strong visual identity for your mission-driven organization. But the stuff that’s out there in the public eye representing you is not consistent: colors don't match, your logo is stretched or fuzzy, or your promotional materials appear disjointed and don't speak with one voice. So your brand is compromised. Which can lead to doubt, distrust and lack of confidence in the quality of your service or product. How do you prevent it?

1 min read

Nonprofits: How to Master Video Marketing

By Tara Pereira on 8/28/17 10:18 AM


More than ever before, nonprofits need to integrate video content into annual marketing campaigns. Every day there are new opportunities and increasing demand to produce video, enagage with your community, and strengthen the effectiveness of your nonprofit marketing. 

5 min read

How to write an effective nonprofit video script

By Tara Pereira on 8/24/17 10:00 AM


No nonprofit can afford to produce a video that is not inline with its marketing goals and outreach plans. The more your nonprofit team can lay out a a tight mission-aligned script and creative plan prior to production, the more likely your reach and engagement will increase with your target audience.

3 min read

Why you can't just use the image you just found

By Dave Bowers on 8/18/17 10:00 AM


We build websites. It’s not all we do, but it is a big part of the services we offer to clients large and small. Often during the process we complete a review of what content a client already has, what they need, and how to get what’s missing.

6 min read

5 Reasons Why Ephemeral Content will Keep your Audience Hooked

By Intern Blogger on 8/17/17 11:00 AM

Ephemeral content, which lasts only a short time before disappearing, is on the rise and being led by the popularity of Snapchat. Other platforms like Instagram and Facebook are following in Snapchat’s footsteps, so now more and more platforms are providing a similar service for distributing short-lived content. Ephemeral content is fleeting, and novel, which is the appeal for many (especially younger) users. Live streaming videos, and Snapchat Stories, are a few examples of ephemeral content. Is it worth investing your limited time and money to develop content that disappears in moments or within 24 hours?

4 min read

Recycling Green Without Greenwashing

By Brad Pettengill on 8/17/17 10:56 AM

As a boy scout in the early seventies, I walked door-to-door soliciting support for S.O.A.R., Save Our American Resources, in the form of money pledged per mile of an upcoming 25-mile bike ride. I drew the ecology symbol on my school notebook and remember being moved by the iconic “Native American with a tear” commercial on broadcast TV. I pored over the Whole Earth Catalog, grew up among hippies, was fascinated with solar power and Buckminster Fuller, participated in roadside trash cleanups, and dreamed of a litter-free future devoid of air and water pollution. Arthur C. Clarke and other forward-thinking science fiction authors inspired me to think of worlds where starships roamed the galaxy in perfectly controlled environments and human greed and carelessness were a thing of the past. You could safely label me “green.”

6 min read

Changing Minds: Social math, stories and framing

By Pat Heffernan on 8/10/17 4:45 PM

While officially this is the second in a series of posts about changing minds and message framing, you may be interested because it can also be considered either a confessional about numbers, a bias for whole-brain thinking, or a how-to use social math to illustrate the need for change.

4 min read

Why your nonprofit website and CRM want to be integrated

By Dave Bowers on 8/3/17 10:00 AM


Relying on spreadsheets to keep track of your organization's donors, volunteers, and other contacts gets tiresome and ineffective quickly. But many nonprofit managers with strong websites shy away from integrating tools like CRMs (Customer, or Constituent, Relationship Management) software that are designed to help you manage contact lists or databases of members, volunteers, donors or subscribers. Why?

4 min read

Avoid Sustainability Language Disconnect: Show Don’t Tell

By Pat Heffernan on 8/1/17 10:04 AM

Signs abound of a growing sustainability language disconnect between marketers’ communications and what consumer and business customers understand, or care about. If sustainability is core to your mission, you can ask yourself a few questions to avoid a disconnect in your message framing for sustainability.

6 min read

A Vermont designer’s marketing observations in Morocco

By Brad Pettengill on 7/27/17 10:00 AM


For her recent birthday, my wife wanted to wake up in an exotic location. She wanted to experience Morocco, despite the warnings from friends and family about "that part of the world" in this current geopolitical climate. Nevertheless, she persisted, and soon we were poring over printouts from Google Earth, planning the route that would take us around the entire country in seven days.

3 min read

How to make your content work harder: Atomization

By Pat Heffernan on 7/13/17 10:00 AM


Yes, it takes a lot of work to create a stellar piece of content today. And there are no shortcuts. You need to develop the content strategy idea, do the topic research, do keyphrase research, check what your competitors are doing, write the piece, develop complementary graphics, refine, proof, optimize, publish, and promote your content. Phew! Rinse and repeat isn’t very appealing for any mission-driven organization right after such an effort. How can you make that epic content you worked so hard to produce work even harder?

3 min read

How to Answer WIIFM or “Do I See Me Now?”

By Pat Heffernan on 7/6/17 10:00 AM

I expect What’s In It For Me (WIIFM), to be crystal clear. And your customers do too.

9 min read

How to work with your designer to get the best logo design

By Brad Pettengill on 6/29/17 10:00 AM

4 min read

Do Nonprofits Need a Creative Brief for Behavior Change?  

By Tara Pereira on 6/22/17 1:00 PM


Having clear communication and a solid creative process between agency team members and your nonprofit management team is imperative.  It is important to get it right so that everyone can move toward the same project goals, especially when resources are limited. We’ve written about developing a plan for your next video and preparing for your next print project. We’ve also discussed marketing consistency. All of these have one thing in common - the creative brief.

4 min read

Message Framing and Your Brain: Formula for change

By Pat Heffernan on 6/15/17 10:00 AM


If you’re like most change communicators I know, you spend quite a bit of time keeping up on what’s known and what’s new in communication, persuasion and cognitive bias. I know our team certainly does. But a spate of new brain science research is advancing understanding of how our brains work — and raising new questions about how to apply that knowledge to change minds.

2 min read

Quick Tips for Effective Landing Pages

By Dave Bowers on 6/8/17 10:30 AM


What is a landing page?

A landing page is simply the website page where your visitors land after they type in or click a link. The link can be on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) or from an article or from an advertisement. The purpose of any landing page on your website is specifically to prompt a certain action or result. Here are a few quick tips for effective landing pages to keep in mind.

3 min read

When should you hire a marketing agency?

By Tara Pereira on 5/25/17 10:00 AM


Is your nonprofit embarking on an outreach campaign focused on a new community? Does your government agency need message training on a new subject, or a social media plan that can be sustained by current team members? Should you hire a marketing agency?

For many smaller businesses and nonprofits in Vermont, there can be limited time, resources or expertise available for existing team members to commit to these critical activities. Time spent on marketing may be viewed by some as time spent away from the greater mission. I would say that your marketing or outreach communications is an essential part of advancing the greater mission you are working towards.

4 min read

Paid, Owned, Earned Media: Are You in the Right Place?

By Pat Heffernan on 5/18/17 12:00 PM


You may have heard the terms "paid, owned, earned media" bandied about recently and been curious. You want to know more—understanding where and how your communication appears is as critical for those committed to social change as it is for major brand managers. eMarketer is a helpful start: "paid media is advertising inserted next to another’s content; owned media is brand-created content; and earned media is getting someone else to provide content about a brand." But these definitions are blurry in practice and not everyone is using them in the same way. It seems it's time for this marketer to share my view of how to use the paid, owned, earned media framework for your marketing strategy.

3 min read

Prepress File Preparation: Your Print Production Checklist

By Dave Bowers on 5/11/17 10:00 AM


Good prepress file preparation takes time. In the era of digital design, prepress work looks deceptively easy, but making sure your files are print ready takes time to do well. Integrated marketing campaigns that combine traditional and digital materials can be ruined during their launch by poor quality print work or an error. Unlike a digital design, your sloppy printed piece is time consuming and costly to correct, reprint and ship back out for distribution.

4 min read

A 3-Step Guide to Message Triangles

By Pat Heffernan on 5/4/17 10:00 AM


For many years the message triangle has been one of the tools I use most often for clients and for myself. Whenever a major speech, news event or media interview looms, developing a message triangle is my starting point. Here’s why — plus a three-step guide to developing and using a message triangle effectively for your next speaking opportunity.

5 min read

Video Marketing on the Nonprofit Buyer's Journey

By Tara Pereira on 4/27/17 10:00 AM


Video is a very effective form of communication and can be especially powerful in nonprofit marketing and impact storytelling. One third of all online activity is spent watching video, and as a communication professional you want to use that to your advantage in telling your story. Let's look at a few examples of how to use video storytelling through your nonprofit's buyer's journey.

4 min read

How to Select the Best Typography for Your Infographics

By Intern Blogger on 4/20/17 10:00 AM

You sit down at your computer to develop an infographic and couldn’t be more excited to share it with your mission driven audience. Then you suddenly remember you’re not a designer. Not to worry. In the online world today, nearly anyone has access to free graphic design software and tools to create an infographic. Unfortunately, the increase of free design tools has created an increase in badly designed infographics, and poor typography is often the reason. Your goal is to reach the right audience with the right message at the right time — a poorly designed infographic will be a big fail.

4 min read

How to Keep 'Dark Social' From Hurting Your Nonprofit

By Intern Blogger on 4/13/17 1:45 PM

In a 2016 study conducted by RadiumOne, it was reported that 84% of online sharing was now being conducted via ‘dark social,’ with Facebook coming in second at a mere 9%. At this point you might be thinking, ‘What is dark social and why didn’t I know about it until now!’ And that’s exactly the point.

3 min read

Collaboration versus Consultation: What’s the difference?

By Pat Heffernan on 4/6/17 10:00 AM


We were ‘talking shop’ over breakfast recently, as business people are wont to do. After several mentions of ‘collaborative this’ or ‘collaborative that,” one of the group remarked that he wasn’t interested in collaborating with his professional advisers – what he wanted (and was paying for) was a consulting expert. It was a casual comment by a friend and fellow business owner, but it made me pause.

4 min read

Image Resolution and Quality: What you need to know.

By Dave Bowers on 3/30/17 10:00 AM


Why do you need to know about image resolution? If you are ever going to print something, put a graphic on the web, or create a PowerPoint presentation yourself, you want to know about resolution and why it matters for quality.

If you are partnering with graphic design or website development professionals, you need to know what resolution is needed from your digital asset library so your deliverables can be top quality.

5 min read

Vision Changes: Typography for Aging Audiences

By Brad Pettengill on 3/23/17 10:00 AM


A reader recently responded to my blog post Typeface Choice: Ask yourself Three Questions, by raising an important series of questions on changing vision, information accessibility and type readability for an aging population. The reader works for a nonprofit community support agency that is developing outreach materials for rural seniors, adults with disabilities, caregivers and potential volunteers, and wanted advice on the best typeface to use to “keep the printed conversation going with our target population.”

3 min read

Don't let your social media feed become a snowstorm

By Tara Pereira on 3/16/17 10:00 AM


It is always interesting to me to watch the ebb and flow of major events on social media. It is natural to see themes on our Facebook feeds as the news of the days becomes relevant in our daily lives. We’ve all seen news stories take over our feeds. It can be done well and it can be done in poor taste. The organizations who do it best make sure their shared or original content is relevant to the larger topic and is consistent with their overall mission.

6 min read

Forget Saying Climate Change: Words activate frames

By Pat Heffernan on 3/9/17 10:00 AM


When you believe in a cause, it becomes your baby, and one of the hardest things to do is let go of its name.

For decades now I have been writing, speaking and working with others to create change on issues — issues with names you’ve heard — like climate change, gender equality, protecting the natural environment, and universal access to educational and economic opportunities.

But just when it seems the pure volume of words will make them all but meaningless, I am struck again by the impact of words and their potential to be counter-productive. The way we talk affects the way people think. If you don’t use words well, then you're denying yourself potential supporters, sponsors, donors, and even values-driven paying customers.

Here’s why I stopped using the names of causes I believe in, and what to do instead.

3 min read

Your Buyer Knows More Than You Do

By Dave Bowers on 3/2/17 10:00 AM


The sales dynamic continues to change, and today's buyers are better informed and further along in their decision process before they first reach out to a company or sales person. With information so readily available to buyers in every industry, your buyer is often 50% or more through their journey before you even know they exist. Your buyer knows more than you do about their journey at that point — putting your sales team at a disadvantage. If you want to change the situation, inbound marketing offers a solution by proactively attracting and nurturing prospects at every stage in their journey. 

4 min read

Which works best for changemakers—Illustration or Photography?

By Brad Pettengill on 2/23/17 10:00 AM


You need visual impact for your upcoming, mission-driven campaign or promotion. Which will work harder for you— illustration or photography? The short answer is, whatever your marketing professional’s research shows will appeal most to your target audience. This research can include customer age, income, education, nationality, gender, political leanings, lifestyle, buying history, and more. There are many other factors, though, such as the look and feel of your campaign, your brand story, the specifics of your marketing efforts. Every situation is unique, but here are some guidelines.

5 min read

Video Marketing Success for Nonprofits in 2017

By Tara Pereira on 2/16/17 1:00 PM


It has been the “year of video” for at least 6 years now in the marketing world. But 2017 really might be the year when nonprofits should take note when developing their outreach and communications plan.

By 2017, video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic. source

Of all time spent on online activity, 33% is spent watching video. That is an amazing number. Clearly video communication and storytelling is here to stay, which makes it an even more important tool that needs to move to the top of your tool kit. Nonprofits can really take advantage of this and look for opportunities to use video to connect and communicate with your community for both outreach and fundrasing efforts.

5 min read

Message Framing & Your Brain: Why repetition and focus matter

By Pat Heffernan on 2/9/17 10:00 AM


If you are seeking positive change, you know your language choice matters. Your nightmare is to inadvertently use a word that triggers a frame in opposition to the change you want to see. Worse yet is to witness a counter-productive frame or an outright lie being repeated over and over again. Let’s look at why repetition matters, why what changemakers focus on matters, and what you can do to be sure you are advancing your mission rather than hurting it.

3 min read

Can your website audience hear you now?

By Dave Bowers on 2/2/17 3:30 PM


You know your business or organization needs a website. And, you probably have one (or maybe more than one). But does your website reach your audience? So now you’re probably thinking, “But, we have more than one audience.” Your website needs to speak to all of them. 

3 min read

Design for Activism

By Brad Pettengill on 1/26/17 10:30 AM


Whether you are marketing a product to improve the environment using triple bottom line principles, working on a campaign to increase awareness of your socially responsible community service organization, or rallying support for your ideas for change using grass roots activism, impactful design will play a critical role in your success.

2 min read

All email marketing is personal

By Tara Pereira on 1/19/17 11:15 AM


Email marketing can be more effective than social for nurturing and engaging your base. We’ve written about the value of a clean email list, succeeding at email marketing, and the email rules to break, but there is another type of email that should be used to extend your mission and connect with your community. Personal email.

5 min read

How to Create a Fantastic Infographic for Your Nonprofit

By Pat Heffernan on 1/12/17 10:00 AM


You’ve read the statistics about the power of visuals (especially infographics). You know visual content is more likely to have an impact, to be shared, and to be remembered. But for you and many nonprofits, creating an infographic can seem like a fantasy when just keeping up with day-to-day demands for written content and photos is a challenge. You can do it. There are five things you need to know to create a fantastic, hard-working infographic for your nonprofit.

2 min read

Your Favorite Changemaker Stories: Top 10 Blog Posts 2016

By Pat Heffernan on 1/5/17 10:00 AM


Which Change Conversations blog posts were most popular in calendar year 2016? The numbers tell us what readers liked, and shared, and commented on, and viewed the most in the past year. In 2016, our marketing blog for changemakers covered topics ranging from mission-driven event planning and video storytelling to collaborating on creative production and effective design principles. Here are the top posts of 2016.

2 min read

Media interviews: Pro tips for beginners

By Tara Pereira on 12/15/16 10:00 AM

 Being interviewed by the media for the first time can be nerve wracking. Whether it is a print interview or a broadcast interview, you are being asked very specific questions that you need to answer is a way that reflects well on your organization and you as a representative of that organization. Both print and broadcast have their own unique challenges but overall there are similarities to any media interview. Experts and beginners alike can benefit by keeping the following tips for media interviews in mind. 

4 min read

How to Use Facebook Live to Connect with Your Community

By Intern Blogger on 12/8/16 10:00 AM


In today's social media marketing world, it's hard to stand out.  It's even harder to stand out and connect with your community at the same time. One opportunity for social media marketing made its debut this year, Facebook Live.

5 min read

How to Start a Podcast for Your Mission-Driven Brand

By Intern Blogger on 12/1/16 10:00 AM


With the current podcast boom brought on by the likes of Serial and This American Life, it seems like there is a podcast for everyone and every brand is podcasting. But before you go out there and grab some equipment like the bright-eyed go-getter I know you are, you better take a look deep inside yourself and answer some questions.

3 min read

Top #Inbound16 Takeaways: It is all about the audience

By Tara Pereira on 11/10/16 10:00 AM


This is my second year attending Inbound, the annual HubSpot extravaganza (also known as a conference). The workshops I attended last year focused on the importance of storytelling and really connecting on a deeper level with your audience. This year is a good reminder that, content marketing is all about audience, personas, and community.

3 min read

How to fail at email marketing (or not)

By Dave Bowers on 10/27/16 10:00 AM


You know email can be an effective marketing tool. Email marketing averages an ROI of $38 for every $1 spent. (DMA National Client Email Report 2015) And you've heard auto-response and other marketing automation tools can make email marketing easier and increase success. Then again, you see a lot of lousy email messages in your inbox. Successful email campaigns require strategy and consistent planning. (Lousy email campaigns don't.) Let's look at the differences.

6 min read

How to Achieve Marketing Consistency in Your Materials

By Brad Pettengill on 10/20/16 10:54 AM


So you’ve decided to invest in a multi-faceted, multi-channel marketing campaign. Your presence, message and branding will appear in many channels—online ads, a website, a video on your website, newspaper ads, magazine print ads, signage, brochures, etc. Wondering how you will achieve a consistent look across all these iterations, and what just exactly is "marketing consistency" anyway? 

3 min read

Choosing the Right Visual Content for Your Story

By Tara Pereira on 10/13/16 10:00 AM

I just returned from a trip to Italy. (A little envy is understandable.) Travel can be a great way to see another country’s view of design and imagery. As I talk to my friends about my time away, I notice that I have been framing my story and the pictures that I share according to who I’m speaking to. It occurred to me that with some of my friends I spent more time talking about art and museums while other conversations focused on food and drink. As I thought about my trip as a story I realized I could take it in many narrative directions, which is similar to what we do everyday as marketers. You can use this same concept of varied narractive directions for communication with your community.

Visuals Matter

Yes words matter but does visual content matter more? Science tells us 65% of the world’s population are visual learners. By connecting and using certain images my trip can take on many different stories and focuses. The same can be said for your brand. Make sure the visuals that you use reflect the message that you are trying to communicate. It all depends on the image you choose to show and the message you choose to share.

One trip = 3 stories

I’m rather food focused so I’m often enjoying, reading, researching, and taking pictures of food. If I wanted to tell the story of my trip through food, I can. Art also played a large role in my trip. Using certain pictures, I can share a story about my trip about food or art.  

4 min read

Crisis Communication Priorities and Protocols

By Pat Heffernan on 10/6/16 10:00 AM


Crisis communication is not something I really want our clients to gain experience with. But no matter what your industry or sector, you have at least one potential crisis lurking. (What if your manufactured product failed and caused a tragedy? If you are a nonprofit, what if an employee harmed a person in your care?) Even if you have recognized the need for crisis communication planning and developed your plan, you may find implementation challenging when you are in the midst of a crisis.

4 min read

Why should your nonprofit invest in good design?

By Brad Pettengill on 9/15/16 11:00 AM


Why should your nonprofit invest in good design? Your mission is pressing, the needs are great — why spend money on design when it seems like it would be better spent on something that has a more direct effect on your customer. Here’s why. Good design is universally understood and people respond to it.

Good design sells. Whatever you’re selling or promoting.

2 min read

Get an A+ with these 5 blog tips

By Tara Pereira on 9/8/16 11:00 AM


For a lot of us, back-to-school means change. Change of schedule, change of traffic patterns, but I like to think of September as an opportunity to start over and assess. I last wrote about the back-to-school season in B is for Blog. With every new year, it can be nice to step back, review and then move forward with intention and planning.  It is time for you to level up to the next grade and update or change the way your team has been thinking about the company blog. Over the last year, I’m sure you have all been taking the advice of B is for Blog, right?

5 min read

21 Inspiring Quotes from Changemakers

By Pat Heffernan on 9/1/16 11:00 AM


Much as we love the warm, natural tones of the stone wall framing Marketing Partners’ open office, its greatest value is as a daily reminder of the barriers to creating change for good.
We share these 21 inspiring quotes from changemakers to help you break through your own walls.
2 min read

Why You Want Both Advertising AND Conversation

By Dave Bowers on 8/25/16 11:00 AM


Ok, I’m a big fan of advertising. When used correctly advertising is a good way to promote your brand, service, or product. But advertising can’t do it all. 

This is the age of always-connected, ever-searching, information at your fingertips. Companies (and yes, nonprofits too) need to do more than just throw messages out there. You need to engage your prospects, clients, and influential audiences in active conversation. Content marketing is what you need.

3 min read

Repurpose your nonprofit video content for a new perspective

By Tara Pereira on 8/4/16 11:00 AM


If you think about the time and resources needed to develop and produce a fantastic video for your nonprofit, it makes sense to repurpose and leverage your video content through other content channels. By recycling your raw footage into other types of content, you can extend the value of what you thought might have been an investment in a one-time project.

4 min read

Top Secret: You Get Results with Strategic Advertising

By Dave Bowers on 7/28/16 11:00 AM


Advertising works. Businesses get results with strategic advertising. Why else would so many businesses spend so much money if it didn’t? And big businesses have the proof it works. They track everything from views, clicks, calls, mentions (social media), and especially sales. Using this data, advertising messages and channels are honed, tuned, tested, retested, and refined.

7 min read

10 Effective Design Principles You Need to Know

By Brad Pettengill on 7/21/16 11:00 AM


Whether you’re creating a new page design for your website, an online ad, print brochure or an infographic, many of the same design principles apply. Color choice, use of shapes, and page layout or composition can make or break your marketing’s effectiveness. The difference between putting information on a page and actually making it visually appealing and effective so it works well for your marketing, is a singular focus on visual hierarchy or eye path.

3 min read

Capturing the Event: Don't forget your visual checklist

By Tara Pereira on 7/14/16 11:00 AM


You’ve been planning your next event for a while now — finding a location, building a schedule and making sure your speakers are ready to go. A lot of preparation goes into making an event go smoothly, but don't forget to record it. Part of your pre-planning should include an event visual checklist. At any fundraiser, product launch, or forum there is great opportunity for event visuals that can tell a story.

3 min read

Effective Marketing Strategies: Do You Know When to Do What?

By Pat Heffernan on 7/7/16 11:30 AM


The other day, as we pondered our (heavy) work plan together for the upcoming six weeks, a startup mission-driven client asked if there were guidelines for deciding when to do what first for your marketing strategies. I quickly sketched out the axes and curves for the three horizons of growth.

Thinking of growth horizons was helpful in this instance as it has been many times before. So with due apologies to McKinsey, who originated the three horizons framework based on research into how companies sustain growth, I will dive into how to maximize your most effective marketing strategies today without cannibalizing your opportunities for tomorrow. My focus here is on the short-term versus long-term marketing trade-offs faced by nonprofits, professional services firms and triple bottom line companies interested in sustainability.

1 min read

Events: How to master the art of the mission-driven plan

By Tara Pereira on 7/4/16 10:00 AM


Summer is the perfect season to plan an event or fundraiser for your mission-driven organization. Who wouldn't want to spend time outdoors for a good cause, right? In honor of the Fourth of July when many of us are enjoying community events like parades, 5k races and family parties, here are our top five blog posts that celebrate mission-driven marketing and the joys of event planning done well.

5 min read

Marketing with Color: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

By Brad Pettengill on 6/30/16 11:30 AM


Last week I ran across a New York Times article detailing one marketing research company’s process to determine the ugliest color in the world. The winner, Pantone 448, was voted ugliest color in a survey of 1,000 smokers. As the article reports, “It was described as looking like death, filth, lung tar or baby excrement…” The purpose of this was to use that color in a social marketing campaign against tobacco—to get people to associate ugliness with tobacco use, to reinforce its detrimental health affects in a visual and subconscious way.

Yet some people have positive associations of "chocolate candy" for any dark brown color. How can you and your team decide on the best combination of marketing with color and effectiveness for your next project?

2 min read

Understanding the Creative Production Process

By Dave Bowers on 6/27/16 10:00 AM

Every business or non-profit needs smooth orderly processes to be successful. Lean manufacturers make a science of refining every process. The big chain businesses work on their processes all the time – training employees to provide consistent and predictable service or to move goods in an efficient, predictable manner. It is widely recognized that the more critical a process is to the organization’s success, the more important it is that the process work well and contain quality control checks.
3 min read

For the love of social media: How to optimize your photos

By Dave Bowers on 6/23/16 11:00 AM


You’ve got the photo you want, so just post it – right? Not so fast!

2 min read

Are You Marketing for Good Effectively?

By Pat Heffernan on 6/16/16 10:00 AM

 It is easy to feel conflicted when you're marketing for good. Many nonprofits and public agencies feel the tension. On one hand, you know your organization’s sole purpose is social good rather than personal gain or profit. On the other hand, what you know of effective marketing and advertising is, to put it gently, not so good. You are what we refer to as a "reluctant marketer." There is an antidote for your discomfort — and it is called “social marketing.”

3 min read

9 Writing Tips to Help Readers

By Sally Kieny on 6/13/16 10:00 AM

The changing media landscape and time spent on the web has turned us into consumers of bits and bytes of information. We often don't have time (or want to take time) to wade through volumes of information. Your readers want quick takeaways and will give you only a fleeting opportunity to grab their attention.

3 min read

How to clean up your email list & engage your subscribers

By Tara Pereira on 6/9/16 10:30 AM


Email marketing is a a great way to engage and to nurture your community and contacts. But you need to take care of a very important anchor that is the foundation of any email marketing program — your contact list.  This is important because it is likely you will lose one third of your contacts every year through attrition or “churn.”

2 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved May 2016

By Pat Heffernan on 6/2/16 1:00 PM


With the trees in full leaf on the hillsides, lush and green are the signs of May in Vermont. Abundance is an apt term for the fodder published last month for thinkers and leaders of change too. Here, ICYMI, are our top picks from what we were reading (and watching) in May.

3 min read

How to Avoid 5 Common Image Mistakes on Your Website

By Dave Bowers on 5/26/16 10:00 AM


"Use a picture. It's worth a thousand words."- Arthur Brisbane, newspaper editor 

Images are a must. They draw interest, convey emotion, and amplify your message. But it's easy for busy changemakers to overlook essential quality checks so your images don't work as hard for you as they can. Here are the 5 common image mistakes made on websites and blogs (and how to avoid them!)

5 min read

Make a great impression at your next tradeshow

By Brad Pettengill on 5/19/16 10:00 AM


The last time you strolled through a tradeshow you probably made a mental note about those booths and displays that were really engaging and those that looked a bit weak or boring. Here are a few ideas about how to showcase your brand in the best possible light, for the price that fits your budget.

4 min read

5 Myths That Can Sabotage Your Next Video

By Tara Pereira on 5/12/16 10:00 AM


Video seems to be everywhere these days, but not all of it is great quality. Look out for these five myths that can sabatoge your next video before you succumb to the pressure to "just add some video" to your content marketing mix.

2 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in April

By Pat Heffernan on 5/5/16 10:00 AM


April showers found us seeking a higher proportion of fresh, new and fun links than our usual mix of substantive fodder for serious thinkers and change makers. Here, ICYMI, are our top picks from what we were reading (and watching) in April.


5 min read

Why Every Tweet Matters For Your Brand Identity

By Intern Blogger on 4/28/16 8:00 AM


The Change Conversations blog has covered how to make Twitter work for you in previous posts, but today I want to look in more detail at how each tweet reflects on your brand identity. The smallest difference in how you approach messaging on social media can change public perceptions in big ways — and Twitter is the first (and fastest) to reflect any change.

3 min read

5 Tips to Foster Motivation in Your Organization

By Intern Blogger on 4/21/16 8:00 AM


study conducted by Harvard Business Review about inner work life and performance found people are more productive and creative when their work lives are positive. It is probably no surprise to you to hear employees are more motivated when they are happy with the work they produce and when they have a positive view of the organization they work for. But how do you translate values, ideals and beliefs into action to motivate your team and grow your socially responsible organization? How do you take a concrete set of shared values and create a workplace enviroment that will foster motivation day in and day out?

5 min read

Powerful Image Selection for the Mission-Driven

By Intern Blogger on 4/14/16 12:30 PM


When you are given a document to read or you are emailed a newsletter containing information to keep you up-to-date, what is going to keep you reading and scrolling? Certainly not never-ending text! That’s what images are for. We need to keep our materials visually relevant as well as informative. But how do you know if it is the right type of image to help you tell the story for your mission-driven organization?

3 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in March

By Pat Heffernan on 4/7/16 1:28 PM


Spring has been doggedly stubborn about arriving this year. The rollercoaster weather finds us swapping winter coats for garden rakes within a twenty-four hour period. Our five favorite posts for change makers and communicators reflect the wild swings of the season with a touch of green mixed in with high-voltage transmission lines and an experiment in storytelling. Here, ICYMI, are our top picks from what we were reading in March.

4 min read

How to request a website proposal for your nonprofit

By Dave Bowers on 3/31/16 10:00 AM


You know nonprofit organizations need websites just as small businesses do, but you may be surprised to learn nonprofit sites can be more complex and challenging to plan and build. Unlike most business sites, nonprofit websites need to appeal to multiple and diverse audiences: customers (the users of your services), prospects, donors or funders, employees, and sometimes influential audiences such as government officials. Each audience is different and each has its own interests and needs. And in comparison to most companies, your new website budget is likely to be severely limited in terms of both available staff time and money. Let's look at steps you can take to minimize your risks of a very visible failure, and maximize the probability your nonprofit website project will be a stunning success.

6 min read

Photo style guidelines: Seven tips for your public sector agency

By Brad Pettengill on 3/24/16 10:00 AM


You're considering an image for your upcoming campaign, but you have an uneasy feeling about its content, tone and style. Perhaps establishing guidelines for creation of new images didn't seem that important for a public sector agency, but now you have more and more calls for images, in a variety of contexts, social media, print advertising, website sliders, etc. You're starting to see the importance of consistency in feel, color, subject matter in your communication, so let’s fall back, regroup and establish photo style guidelines that tell your story, support your mission, and save you time as you move forward.

3 min read

How to build a social content library for a rainy day

By Tara Pereira on 3/17/16 10:00 AM


We all can agree that social media marketing can sometimes seem like a beast that is always hungry. Sure it can be a lot of fun and it is always great to put an image out there that instantly connects. We all looooove the likes, the shares, and especially the comments. But even with a solid editorial calendar and extensive rss feeds, regularly providing thoughtful information and visually rich content can be a challenge. So what do you do? Easy - be prepared and plan. Stock your content library like a squirrel grabbing acorns and getting ready for winter.

4 min read

Why Your Content Strategy Desperately Needs Serendipity

By Pat Heffernan on 3/10/16 11:00 AM


It is every marketer or writer’s nightmare. After years of carefully planned and executed content strategy, your recipe for creating content is falling flat. Matching mission-driven keywords to audience social media sharing stats and website traffic reports is starting to lead to utterly predictable and b-o-r-i-n-g content.

3 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in February

By Pat Heffernan on 3/3/16 10:00 AM


It’s just about sugaring season — the annual Vermont ritual when the sweet sap of Sugar Maples warms and runs out of the taps, a time for learning about the sugaring process to see where maple syrup comes from. Our five favorite posts for change makers and communicators taps into a sweet mix of subjects. Here, ICYMI, are our top picks from what we were reading in February.

2 min read

Video Storytelling: How to structure your testimonial

By Tara Pereira on 2/18/16 10:00 AM


Video storytelling can be incorporated into your nonprofit's marketing strategy in many ways. Testimonial videos and case studies are based on the simple idea that word-of-mouth storytelling can be quite powerful. 

4 min read

How to Use the Social Media Rule of Thirds

By Intern Blogger on 2/11/16 10:00 AM


Maintaining a successful social media presence can be a daunting task — juggling your profiles on multiple platforms while keeping pace with the ever-changing social media world is intimidating. Fortunately, there’s a ‘golden rule’ of social media strategy that involves a simple formula, but one that is often overlooked: The Rule of Thirds.

3 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in January

By Pat Heffernan on 2/4/16 6:09 PM


This is a little bit of a cheat because our five favorite posts for change makers and communicators were actually published over a six-week period rather than a month. But we’re guessing that like many of us, you missed a few things between the end of 2015 and the start of the new year. So this is your first not-to-miss ICYMI for 2016.

2 min read

Why inbound needs to be part of your marketing

By Dave Bowers on 1/28/16 10:00 AM


Inbound marketing is no longer a new concept. Even marketers and other business leaders not currently practicing inbound or content marketing tend to be at least somewhat familiar with the methodology. At the other end of the adoption spectrum, a healthy number of marketers have gone all in on inbound marketing, and learned valuable lessons along the way.

2 min read

How to Use Digital Storytelling for Change

By Tara Pereira on 1/21/16 10:00 AM


Lately, I’ve been thinking about using digital storytelling for change and how we think about connecting and promoting behavior change using storytelling techniques. In the digital world, storytelling is informed by audience, tool, and style.  You always start with audience.  And then decide on the best tool for communication. Once you know your tool, you can decide on a style.


4 min read

Brand management for nonprofits: An oxymoron?

By Pat Heffernan on 1/14/16 10:00 AM


Much about the way we work with nonprofits and mission-driven organizations has changed in the more than two decades I have been leading this firm.

An allergy to the "M" word

In the beginning, marketing, the “M” word, held a nasty connotation among most of our nonprofit clients and seemed downright unspeakable to the rest. Internally, we talked about the "allergy" our nonprofit clients had to anything marketing related. To “market” the institution meant selling out, nothing less. And the concept of branding? Forget about it. Not even on the radar.

3 min read

5 Tips for Creating Perfect Nonprofit Promotion Packages

By Sally Kieny on 1/7/16 10:00 AM


Fresh off the season for pretty packages, I thought I’d share some tips for creating nonprofit promotion packages that will help you build awareness for your organization’s cause, product or service.

4 min read

Best of 2015: The Top 10 from the Change Convos blog

By Pat Heffernan on 12/31/15 10:00 AM


Our readers have spoken. These 10 blog posts were our most read and most shared blog posts of the past year. Here's what you thought was awesome in 2015. Take another look to make sure you didn’t miss any good stuff.

9 min read

Your marketing photography: how to hire a professional

By Brad Pettengill on 12/24/15 10:00 AM


There will always be a place for snapshot-quality photos, typically in testimonials and/or social media where professional polish can work against your messaging. But if you are a change agent — a mission-driven business or nonprofit trying to effect change in the world — strong images, professionally produced and on-target, are essential. Here's how to go about hiring a professional for your marketing photography.

2 min read

National Nonprofits: localizing for marketing change

By Tara Pereira on 12/17/15 10:00 AM


In an earlier post National Brands: how to engage and market locally in Vermont, I wrote about the importance of national brands understanding local markets. Marketers' messages are always competing for our attention. We all want to know what is going on in the world today, so much so that it sometimes pulls focus from what is happening in our immediate area. But there is a difference between a national organization’s “national” story versus its local story. Successful campaigns connect universal ideas with the personal.

5 min read

5 Strategies for Nonprofits to Use Instagram More Effectively

By Intern Blogger on 12/10/15 10:00 AM


The U.S. Census Bureau reported in June of 2015 that Millennials are now the largest generation, outnumbering even the Baby Boomers. Thanks to the Millennial Generation the social media revolution has a large army of foot soldiers.

3 min read

Change Convos Monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in November

By Pat Heffernan on 12/3/15 10:00 AM


Let's give thanks for our five favorite posts for change makers and communicators from around the web in November. And read on to discover the top five stories from right here on the Change Conversations blog.

3 min read

Keeping “the love” in your customer relationships

By Sally Kieny on 11/26/15 10:00 AM


It doesn’t matter what type of business or sector you work in—nonprofit, for profit, consulting, B2B, B2C, government, you name it—maintaining a positive relationship with your customer is vital to your organization.

2 min read

How Much Will It Cost? Start at the end.

By Dave Bowers on 11/19/15 10:00 AM


Of course the short answer to your question about the cost of an important new creative project is “It depends.” But that’s not a particularly helpful answer, so instead I like to suggest starting at the end.

4 min read

Marketing Musings from an American in Ireland

By Brad Pettengill on 11/12/15 10:00 AM


Recently my wife and I traveled to Ireland for our son's destination wedding. Here are a few observations made with my marketing, design and photography eye.

3 min read

Change Convos Monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in October

By Pat Heffernan on 11/5/15 10:00 AM


Let's recap our five favorite posts for change makers and communicators from around the web in October. As if to keep up with the vibrant colors of fall foliage, the web offered a wealth of captivating posts last month, which made narrowing down to five monthly top picks an unusual challenge. And read on to discover the top stories from right here on the Change Conversations blog.

5 min read

5 Ways to Research Your Potential Customers

By Pat Heffernan on 10/29/15 10:00 AM

Everyone tells you that you need to research your potential customers, but no one tells you much about how to do it. Whether you are in a small organization or at a large company, you need good prospect research, and you may wonder where to begin and how to add useful details to that shadowy group known as 'potential customers.'

3 min read

Event planning 201: What’s happening before, during and after

By Sally Kieny on 10/22/15 10:00 AM


In previous posts, we’ve shared the basics of event planning: how to make your event newsworthy and a top 10 list for every event. In this post, we’ll discuss some of the before, during and after details that can make or break any event.

2 min read

Quick Tips For SEO Writing

By Steve McIntyre on 10/15/15 10:20 AM


I've ben around long enough to remember when terms like "SEO" and "writing" didn't appear together in the same sentence. This is one of the hallmarks of modern marketing and the rise of the Internet –– the necessary marriage of technical knowledge (coding, SEO, digital editing...) with creative skills (design, writing, photography, video...). Whether your strategies include a full-blown digital marketing or inbound marketing campaign, or simply getting your latest blog post read by more people, your success will rest on a foundation of effective SEO writing. Here are five quick tips for writing with search engine optimization in mind.


3 min read

5 Best-in-Class Marketing Lessons for SMBs [New Data]

By Pat Heffernan on 10/13/15 9:00 AM


In today’s world of big data, actionable data remains rare — especially for the small and midsize businesses (SMBs) whose limited marketing resources make gut-based decision making most risky. Which is why the wealth of actionable data in the just-released seventh State of Inbound Marketing 2015 report is such a resource. (Do not be misled by the term inbound marketing in the title; a wide range of marketing tactics is covered.)

3 min read

Podcasts: Building community with sound

By Tara Pereira on 10/8/15 1:27 PM

Lately, whenever I have free moment I’ve been listening to podcasts. Just like any other type of media content, digital audio segments can be funny, sad, interesting and informative, all at the same time. They can be a source of education and of creative inspiration. They can also be a great way for your organization to produce additional content for your community with a quick turnaround.

4 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in September

By Pat Heffernan on 10/1/15 10:00 AM


Fall in Vermont (or should I say autumn?) is chock full of delightful distractions, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out on special treats. Here are our monthly top picks from around the web in September, plus the top five stories from the Change Conversations blog.

3 min read

#Inbound15 Takeaways: Content Marketing pro tips

By Tara Pereira on 9/24/15 10:00 AM


Going to a Hubpot marketing conference for the first time can be be pretty exciting– the disco lights, the vibe, the 14,000 creative smart people all in one place, and of course the many  presentations by smart creative people. This year, I focused my agenda schedule on content marketing, strategy and storytelling. Here are my top takeaways.

3 min read

Inbound Marketing 101: Lead (Don’t Push) Your Prospects

By Sally Kieny on 9/17/15 10:00 AM


I had the opportunity to take off my “marketing hat” this summer as I took a leave of absence from work. But in reality, we marketers never really remove our marketing hats whether we leave the office for the day, a week or a few months—that’s because marketing lessons abound and always seem to find us even in our ordinary lives as consumers.

1 min read

Opportunities for Your Website Using Analytics: A Clear Path

By Dave Bowers on 9/10/15 10:00 AM


In my last post, Seeing Opportunities for Your Website Using Analytics, I showed a few key reports from Google Analytics to see how traffic enters, travels through, and leaves your website. We also sketched the path we’d like traffic to follow. Now our job is to to make it easy to see the behavior we want by showing our visitors how to follow the path.

3 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in August

By Pat Heffernan on 9/7/15 10:00 AM

Even in Vermont it can get sizzling hot as summer ends, but thankfully cooler evening temperatures return just as the annual back-to-school/work/reality rituals begin. To help you re-enter after summer vacation, here are our monthly top picks from around the web in August, and stick around to check out the top five stories from here on the Change Conversations blog.

6 min read

In Marketing, Like Gardening: You Reap What You Sow

By Brad Pettengill on 9/3/15 10:00 AM


A few weeks ago I spent the day in our garden, playing catch-up. After 9 straight hours of weeding, clipping, digging, mounding and watering, I realized that work in the garden has similarities to the marketing efforts you use to grow a business and build a brand. From the day you decide what to grow and when to start, to the first harvest when your kitchen table is covered with tomatoes, the entire process of gardening has remarkable parallels in the marketing world. There are many metaphors for life in gardening, but they all seem to come down to the same basic thing: tend to your garden and you will be rewarded. Reap what you sow.

8 min read

Are You a True Digital Marketer? (Oops, not yet?)

By Pat Heffernan on 8/31/15 1:00 PM


Yes, it may be time to raise your game as a digital marketer. Oh sure, you’ve probably developed some form of the trifecta of website, email list and social media presence, but I’m guessing you haven’t had a lot of extra time to match your mission, your marketing channels and your paid-owned-earned-media (POEM) strategy to today’s ever-more-digital audiences. Because board members and donors may not realize the time and effort necessary for you to evaluate the latest, greatest digital options, let’s look at a digital strategy checklist for evaluating your next steps.

2 min read

B is for Business Blog: 5 tips for success

By Tara Pereira on 8/27/15 10:00 AM

This week my kids went back to school and I started thinking about the importance of writing fundamentals in school and more specifically in business blogs. Nurturing your community by offering them story and content to make you a valued part of their tool kit is something that should be at the very basis of your blogging.

4 min read

Social Intrapreneur: The Future of Business?

By Intern Blogger on 8/20/15 12:00 PM


Vermonters have always taken the disruptive, “beat the band,” approach, or so we believe. The small, motivated, Green Mountain State prides itself on setting the example for legislation transformation and always remaining a step ahead. But how does such a small state have such a large influence on national political and environmental issues? A friend once told me, “it’s not about the size of the dog in the fight; it’s about the size of the fight in the dog.” It takes a passionate group of people with resilient voices to create change and that is something “we Vermonters” have done for many years.

6 min read

Top 10 Things to Remember for Event Planning

By Pat Heffernan on 8/17/15 10:00 AM


Planning an event can be a daunting effort. Any missteps can have critical repercussions for your mission and your brand down the line, so it is important to develop a strategic checklist while you are in your planning phase, and then refine the details later. As the expression goes, you want to have your "ducks in a row" before you begin any active preparations.

I’ve developed a top 10 list of the most important items to remember when planning an event. These things will help ensure your event runs smoothly and will lessen the chance of your hitting any pitfalls along the way.

8 min read

The Stress-Free Guide to Making Twitter Work for You

By Intern Blogger on 8/13/15 3:30 PM

Is your business using Twitter? Maybe not, because you've heard tending to a business Twitter account takes lots of time or money. Finding links, creating amusing posts, and keeping up to date with hashtags and industry news can seem like a job on its own, which is a major drawback when your business has other priorities. But did you know there are ways to grow your Twitter following with minimal effort and without any cost to your budget?
2 min read

SEO FAQs: So what is a canonical URL tag & what does it do?

By Steve McIntyre on 8/6/15 11:30 AM


Canonical. The fact that I had to look up how to pronounce it, rather than the definition, is a little comical, which is how it’s pronounced, (albeit with an extra syllable). From the root word canon, which is defined as “an accepted principle or rule,” canonical means in this case, authoritative. For search engine optimization, you want this.

2 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in July

By Pat Heffernan on 8/3/15 10:00 AM


Summer in Vermont is chock full of outdoor distractions, but that doesn’t mean you have to miss out. To help you catch up, here are our monthly top picks from around the web in July, plus the top five stories from here on the Change Conversations blog.


5 min read

Instagram: Your Best Visual Marketing Tool?

By Intern Blogger on 7/30/15 12:00 PM


It’s frustrating to be a small business advertiser or nonprofit advocate today, especially if yours is a visually driven world. The return on your promotional tools just keeps getting smaller. Television is weakened by DVRs that let your audience record shows and fast forward through commercials. There has been a 25% drop in newspaper readership for ages 18-24 from 1999 to 2014. In fact, there isn’t a newspaper readership age group that hasn’t dropped at least 20% in that time frame. And the “banner blindness” audiences have developed in response to website banner or pop-up ads has been well documented for years. But Instagram may be your best visual marketing tool ever.

4 min read

How to Emotionally Engage with Your Community

By Tara Pereira on 7/23/15 10:00 AM

Helping your community emotionally engage with you is a great indicator of marketing success. Building an emotional connection can take many forms. And because of one company’s success in connecting, I recently found myself in a position that would never have occurred to me. I had to explain to my eight-year-old son that the president of his favorite company passed away. My husband and I actually had to sit down and discuss how we were going to handle it before “the talk.”

3 min read

The Five Worst Photography Mistakes

By Brad Pettengill on 7/16/15 10:00 AM


You need strong images for your marketing campaign and you've decided to use photography as the best way to evoke an emotional response, build your brand and effect change in the hearts and minds of your audience. Whether you're creating images for your blog or website, social media, or shooting high-end product photos, here are 5 common mistakes you'll want to avoid.

3 min read

See Opportunities for Your Website Using Analytics

By Dave Bowers on 7/9/15 10:00 AM


As marketers, we strive to drive traffic to your website where a wealth of information about your company, organization, products, or events is just waiting to be discovered. You want visitors to find you, learn more about what you offer, and then move on to take some type of action – like buying, calling, or donating. But sometimes barriers or friction seem to disrupt the visitors' path and they leave your website prematurely. How do you find and fix the problem?

7 min read

15 Fascinating Podcasts You Don't Want To Miss

By Pat Heffernan on 7/6/15 12:30 PM


Last year may have been declared the “Golden Age of Podcasts”, in no small part due to the run away popularity of the weekly NPR podcast Serial but it wasn’t until 2015 that the President of the United States appeared on comedian Marc Maron’s WTF. Today there are 285,000 podcasts up and running, heard by an estimated 39 million Americans a month, many of them affluent and highly educated[1]. Whether or not you’ve been hooked since 2005, as I must confess I’ve been, now is the time for communicators to explore podcasts. As the Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi noted: “Opportunity? I certainly think so.”

3 min read

Change Convos Monthly Top Picks: 5 links we loved in June

By Pat Heffernan on 7/2/15 1:30 PM


It’s summertime in Vermont. Time for sunny days and warm weather. And time to catch up with friends over a great meal for lively conversation. Here are our monthly top picks for conversation starters this month — a recap our five favorite links from around the web in June. And read on to discover the top five stories from here on the Change Conversations blog.


4 min read

National brands: How to engage and market locally in Vermont

By Tara Pereira on 6/25/15 10:00 AM


For national brands and organizations, marketing locally and engaging a target community can be challenging without extensive preparation and research.

When you look at this picture what do you see? Soft serve? Vanilla ice cream with chocolate sprinkles? A creemee with jimmies? There is no wrong answer, but how you answer depends on where you live. And if you were to include this image in a Vermont print ad and call it softserve, many locals would know right away that you weren’t a local company.

3 min read

How To Help Your Team Keep Up With Marketing Change

By Pat Heffernan on 6/22/15 1:55 PM


Trying to help your team keep up with the incredible rate of marketing change? And keep on top of your daily work, and keep your brain open to thinking in new ways, and model continuous learning, and get the amount of sleep recommended for optimal brain performance? It’s tempting to say: “Good luck with that.” But the reality is there are known strategies and resources that work for high performers across sectors and in businesses of all sizes. Let’s look at core strategies and a few top choices for resources.

2 min read

When you say it better with pictures: 3 examples

By Brad Pettengill on 6/18/15 10:00 AM


"A picture is worth a thousand words" has never been more relevant. Cave paintings thousands of years old got a simple message across, but now you need to decide daily when or which pictures to use, from a myriad of sophisticated visual methods, so you can communicate complex messages quickly and persuasively in an attention-deficit world.

3 min read

How to Create Image Rollovers Easily with CSS3

By Steve McIntyre on 6/11/15 10:00 AM


Image rollovers have been around since the days of the Flying Toasters, but back then it took some moderate skill in JavaScript to get them to work. If you had a copy of Dreamweaver, it could spit out the code for you. Now with CSS3 doing a simple image rollover with a link is easy using only HTML and a little CSS3. There are other CSS3 tricks in the same vein, but I’ll save those for a different tutorial.

5 min read

Collaborating for Social Good? Try these 7 useful tools

By Pat Heffernan on 6/8/15 10:00 AM


Large-scale social change requires a lot of collaboration—with multiple nonprofits, values-led businesses, and public agencies. And the bigger and bolder your goal, the more likely your broad cross-sector, public-private partnership includes organizations with widely disparate resources and technical skills. Collaborating for social good isn’t easy!

Effectively collaborating for social good requires key players have the ability to review, comment on, find and act on an enormous amount of material[1]. And everyone involved wants that information to be easily accessible, readable, and actionable on a 24/7 basis, regardless of their hardware, internal protocols or staff skill levels. I’ve found web-based software tools can bridge geographic and technical distances and unite collaborators for collective impact. Here are my favorite 7 useful tools — and why they work.

2 min read

Change Convos monthly top picks: 5 links we loved in May

By Pat Heffernan on 6/4/15 10:00 AM


June is here and that means that summer will soon be officially in full swing! Summer means our indoor-outdoor time allotment shifts, but there’s always time to check out what’s new on our radar. Let's recap our five favorite posts from around the web in May. And read on to discover the top five stories from right here on the Change Conversations blog.

3 min read

10 Tips for Success: How to conquer a video interview

By Tara Pereira on 5/28/15 10:00 AM


When you think of being on camera and getting the word out about your mission, you may think initially of public relations and participating in a media interview. But don't limit yourself. In marketing and outreach today, there are many different ways video can be used in promotion. Preparing for media interviews and messaging can become a core part of your marketing and content strategy. And while preparing for a media interview and preparing for a testimonial video or promotional video are similar, there are a few slight differences. Let's look at both what's the same and what's different about the most common video interview types.

6 min read

Is Your Communication Bias-Free and Inclusive?

By Pat Heffernan on 5/18/15 11:45 AM

Think your communication is always bias-free?

Think that you are equally respectful, inclusive and welcoming with a diverse range of people — those similar to you and those who are different — women, men and transgender people, different nationalities and ethnicities, LGBT community members, varying age groups and even socioeconomic levels?

Think again.

3 min read

Website Security and Maintenance: What you need to know

By Dave Bowers on 5/14/15 10:00 AM

If you fall behind on your website security and maintenance, you're all but asking to be hacked. (Most hacked sites are behind on publicly announced security updates.) If you use the ever-popular WordPress platform or follow any type of web-related news, you know there are seemingly endless updates and upgrades, many of which are related to some security issue or vulnerability. Keeping your website and its components up to date and secure is an ongoing maintenance task that you cannot afford to overlook —— however confusing it can sometimes seem. Here's what you need to know.

3 min read

Social Media: No longer a choice for your business

By Intern Blogger on 5/7/15 10:00 AM


Over the course of my internship at Marketing Partners, I’ve learned about a variety of different topics and acquired some important real-world skills. Working with a mix of clients has exposed me to all sorts of different industries, but here’s one of my biggest takeaways that applies to all of them – social media isn’t a choice for your business anymore – and, as we’ve written about before, using social media for business is very different from personal social media use.

3 min read

How to Grow Your Own Triple Bottom Line Marketers

By Pat Heffernan on 5/4/15 10:00 AM

Skills can be taught; values cannot.” That old saying rings true, but growing your own skilled marketers takes lots of time, energy and money. That’s why I, like most small and midsize business owners (SMBs), look to bring in skilled talent when the workload suddenly swells. Nowhere is this more likely then when you’re seeking an in-demand skill like inbound marketing. It’s a challenge to add versatile inbound skills to a triple bottom line values match, so I‘m delighted by a new option. Whether you’re hiring or you simply want to offer valuable choices for your existing marketing team and interns, here’s how you can grow your own triple bottom line marketers.

3 min read

Visual Storytelling: How to complete your puzzle

By Tara Pereira on 4/30/15 10:00 AM


The power of visual storytelling can be compelling and immediately engaging. In today’s marketing world, strong visuals are a necessary element in a successful marketing program. People often say let's take a look at the big picture. In marketing the big picture is like a lot of little pieces that make up a big jigsaw puzzle. And in this puzzle, every little piece is important because it connects to the next one to create the finished whole.

3 min read

How to Use Gamification for Social Change

By Intern Blogger on 4/27/15 10:00 AM


"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.

Are you interested in what happens in the next sentence?

4 min read

How to Optimize Photos for Your Mobile-Friendly Site

By Brad Pettengill on 4/23/15 10:00 AM


Knowing how to optimize photos for your mobile-friendly site has never been more important. Accessing the Internet with mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, has increased dramatically in recent years. So much so there is a growing Mobile First movement in website development to focus on designing for mobile devices before accommodating the traditional desktop environment. And Google recently changed its SEO algorithm to favor sites that are mobile-friendly, either by being designed as mobile-only sites or by utilizing responsive design. To assure our clients' audiences have the best possible user experience, we have been offering and promoting responsive website design since 2012 as we saw mobile access skyrocket. But photos can be a special challenge for a mobile-friendly site.

1 min read

It's time for mobile friendly! Is your website responsive?

By Steve McIntyre on 4/16/15 10:00 AM


If you’re wondering whether your website is mobile friendly, Google made a Mobile Friendly Website Testing Tool that you can use to find out. The tool will list the problems the website has, and suggest corrective measures you can take to pass the test. It’s pass or fail.

Everyone needs a mobile friendly responsive design

The importance of having a mobile friendly website is about to skyrocket.  Later this month, Google will be making a change to their algorithm that will affect websites that are not “mobile friendly”. 

5 min read

How to Create Change for Good with SMART Goals

By Pat Heffernan on 4/13/15 10:00 AM


You’re not Alice. You couldn’t be more different. You want to create mission-driven change, to change minds, motivate action, build a movement. You're not like Alice…

"Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?"

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.

"I don’t much care where--" said Alice.

3 min read

Social Media Use by Tweens and Teens

By Sally Kieny on 4/9/15 10:00 AM


While we often write about social media in this blog and how businesses and organizations can use it strategically as part of an integrated marketing plan, it's not often first-hand field research on social media use by tweens and teens can be shared.

5 min read

Is Sponsored Content Good for Values-Led Business?

By Pat Heffernan on 3/9/15 10:22 AM

Are you thinking like I’m thinking that it is getting murky out there? My fog meter is registering an increase in befuddling language about sponsored content (aka native advertising), which makes it unnecessarily difficult to evaluate your options. Major traditional publishers such as The New York Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and the New Yorker have joined Business Insider and Forbes so now each offers sponsored content in some form. Seems like it is time to revisit the basics and the latest guidelines for paid media for values-led businesses.

2 min read

Reluctant Marketer: Why the triple bottom line norm?

By Pat Heffernan on 7/28/14 10:15 AM

It’s a scene I’ve lived over and over again. Deep into a positioning work session while I’m probing for what you believe distinguishes your triple bottom line company from others, you start to become uncomfortable. It’s as if you feel — this is not a conscious response I’m observing – it’s as if you feel viscerally that you will be dirtied just by contrasting the marketing claims of traditional competitors with what you are trying to do. Suddenly, a reluctant marketer appears. Why?

5 min read

Is There Gender Bias in Your Communication?

By Pat Heffernan on 7/21/14 10:55 AM


In my mind, words and language have always been important. (No surprise.) I delighted in the increased attention to inclusive language in communication over the years because it reflected a growing awareness that language does not merely reflect the way we think: it also shapes our thinking.

3 min read

Social Marketing: Hope for the Future?

By Pat Heffernan on 7/14/14 11:00 AM

This may not be going where you think it is. That is, it’s not going there if you’re thinking I’m referring to social media marketing or so-called social business marketing. Instead I want to share the latest developments in a field of critical importance to anyone who cares about positive, lasting change for good. (That means just about all of you regular, dear readers.) It is signs of hope from a larger trend toward adopting the audience awareness and accountability long practiced by those who use a classic social marketing approach.

3 min read

Inbound marketing and more: Marketing-speak defined

By Sally Kieny on 6/5/14 12:00 AM

Inbound marketing could be considered part of the new marketing-speak. We’ve written before about the importance of keeping your communications jargon-free—no inside acronyms, no technical language (especially when writing for a non-techie audience), keep it simple. Every industry has its own language it seems and sometimes it’s easy to forget that you need to communicate with those outside your world — assuming you want them to buy your products or services.

3 min read

Social Norms: Harnessing Positive Peer Pressure for Change

By Amy Riley on 2/17/14 12:00 AM

At Marketing Partners, we’ve worked on dozens of social awareness and behavior change campaigns. (Secretly, they are my favorite kind of campaign!) Our social marketing programs are created to help people make better choices like quit smoking, avoid underage drinking and practice diabetes self care and prevention. The overall goal of a social marketing campaign is to improve society (pretty great, huh?). AND the campaigns are research-based – what’s not to love?

Check out our Guide to Inclusive Language to help you communicate
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The Change Conversations blog is where changemakers find inspiration and insights on the power of mission-driven communication to create the change you want to see.


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