On the first ever episode of Marketing for Good, Erica shares insights about how marketing can and should be done from a place of internal alignment and for the good of the entire organization, inside and out. She shares how her love for language and marketing started at an early age and the journey it has taken her on. Lastly she shares her desire to help those of you who want to help make the world a better place, make the most of your mission.
This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!
marketing, strategy, mission, thinking, strategic choices, motivation, target audience, mistakes, success
Erica Mills Barnhart 00:05
You’re here at the marketing for good podcast. I’m your host, Erica Barnhart, and I am so glad you’re here with me. For the past 20 years, I have taught research, consulted, coached and spoken about marketing. I am beyond excited and honored to have the opportunity to share everything I know with you through this podcast. So, what do I mean by marketing for good? That’s a great question. I define marketing for good as an exchange of ideas, information, goods or services that is mutually beneficial for all involved. So, marketing of good causes companies and products, yes. But here’s the twist. Also marketing that is good for your employees, your volunteers, your customers, your clients, truly for everyone involved in the process of marketing, that’s the essence of marketing for good. It’s about internal alignment and happiness, especially for folks working with and for you, as much as it’s about external engagement and results. Results are important, results are great. But the people getting the results are equally, if not more important. I’m recording this while sheltered in place because of COVID-19. Depending, you may be listening to this, while, you’re sheltered in place. What we know, we don’t know anything’s right now, but what we do know is that the world will never be the same. We will need to be doing so many things differently on the other side of this, and that includes marketing. It’s why I decided to launch this podcast now is because the things that I’ve been seeing and really, to be honest, the mistakes that I’ve seen, mission motivated organizations and people leaders in particular do I’m just saying seeing them amplified and accelerated now, and it concerns me. And also the other reason for doing it now is the world needs goodness, more than ever we need goodness, we need positivity. Sure, we need to stay grounded in reality and be practical, I’m super practical by nature, you will learn that. And, I believe in the power of good, and so it felt like the right time to launch a podcast that addressed some of these issues that have been happening, and these mistakes, coupled with an opportunity to just spotlight really wonderful things that are happening in the world. But the thing is, before you start doing marketing differently, you have to think about marketing differently. I have worked with hundreds of organizations and here’s what I see time and time again: too much focus on tactics and not enough on strategy. And like I said, I’m seeing all of these things more now than ever and it really does concern me. So let me tell you a little story. Go back up. That was bad. That was rocky. I have worked with hundreds of organizations, and here’s what I see time and time again, too much focus on strategy. One more time. I have worked with hundreds of organizations and here’s what I see time and time again, too much focus on tactics and not enough on strategy. Now, some of the some of you may be thinking like, Oh my gosh, Erica, you just acknowledge that we’re, you know, we’re in crisis COVID-19 or, you know, on the other side of it, and you want us to talk about strategy, strategy is a luxury, no, my friend, it is not. Strategy is essential. Right, we go to tactics and especially in times of crisis or concern when we’re anxious. We go there because our brains go into reptilian mode, right? That reptilian part of our brain. It just goes into overdrive, and reptiles are good at many things, but marketing is not one of them. So let me let me tell you a quick story to sort of illustrate what I mean about why it’s unfortunate when tactics drive strategy or those lack of strategy. I got a call, so it’s, it’d be 2010, and I get a call from an organization who I’d worked with prior, and they urgently asked me to ring them back, which I do that day. And they say, Erica, we have a very urgent question. And our question is, should we be on Twitter?
Erica Mills Barnhart 04:34
And I look at them and they look at me because I know it’s coming because they’re former clients. And I said, you know, what’s coming, what does success look like? Who’s your target audience? Or who needs to be involved? And then how are you going to reach them? Twitter’s a how e-newsletter is a how Facebook, Instagram, annual reports, your website, blog, podcast. They’re all has messaging all how’s. You can’t make strategic choices about how to engage your audience if you don’t know what your goals are, and you don’t know who your audience is. And that’s all I mean by strategy, you know, at its simplest, in essence, it is what does success look like? And who’s your target audience? Can you go way deeper and broader on strategy? Heck, yeah, you can. And sometimes you really need that, like, if you need a total reboot on those things, you know, go to ClaxonUniversity.com and you can do that. But what I want to offer is this initial shift away from thinking about marketing and marketing strategy as being a luxury and really shifting into it doesn’t need to be laborious. And if I want to be smart with my resources, I need to do this little bitty strategy, which is just the what, the who and then the how. That’s it. That’s what I mean by that. So I heard somewhere that motivation is for the mind and inspiration, actually want to go right back to that last section.
Erica Mills Barnhart 06:10
Right. So let me tell you a story that will illustrate what I mean by tactics driving strategy or lacking a strategy. I got a call in 2010 from an organization that I’d worked with prior. And they said, we really need we need to urgently speak with you, Erica. And so I rang them back right away. And they said, Erica, our urgent question is, should we be on Twitter? I look at them and they look at me because they know what’s coming because they’re a previous client. And I looked at them, and I said, What does success look like? Who’s your target audience and then how are you going to reach them? Because they had asked me they lead with a how, how Twitter should we be on Twitter. You know, you can insert anything. Annual Reports, your website, blogs, podcasts, Instagram, Snapchat, all of those are hows. You can’t make strategic choices about your hows, if you don’t know what success looks like and who your target audiences is. The kicker of the story is they were a Senior Services Center, right? So hear me when I say your mission is too important to make that mistake with your marketing. So I was talking about shifting your thinking before you shift your doing, and this first shift that I really want you to make is away from thinking of strategy as a luxury, and towards strategy being essential, but defining strategy is not something that has to be super laborious. Can you go deeper on strategy, of course, but just as simple as the pause and saying, all right, what does success look like? Who’s our target audience? How are we going to reach them? What, who, how? May not be a full blown strategy, but it’s a strategic approach to marketing for good. Now, I heard somewhere that motivation is for the mind and inspiration is for the heart. I love that so much, I instantly had to look up the history of the words motivation and inspiration. Looking at the history of words, otherwise known as the etymology, it’s not uncommon for me because I, I love knowing the history of words. But part of what I love about it is what then tells you about those words in the context of how we think of them today. And so sometimes they really offer tremendous insight and different way of thinking and approaching words. That’s why we will talk about words and their meanings and where they come from a lot on this podcast for that reason. So it turns out motivation hasn’t changed very much when it came into being it meant a process or system that results in action. So like, be motivated to run your first 5K or learn how to bake the perfect chocolate chip cookie, put out a newsletter, those are all action. inspiration, though, originally meant to breathe in. I just love that right and when you see those two meanings, side by side, inspiration and motivation, you see why we need both because any action requires breath. You can’t run, jump, skip, you can’t even nap without breathing. You certainly can’t market the heck out of your amazing mission without breathing. Which means you need both inspiration and motivation, and that’s why in this podcast we’re going to look at marketing from every angle you can think of, and really balance marketing, motivation stuff for your mind, with marketing inspiration, which will be stuff for your heart.
Erica Mills Barnhart 09:34
We will look at super practical things like why was the Got Milk campaign so darn sticky and successful? You’ll hear interviews with experts in psychology, neuroscience, thermodynamics, leadership, what else linguistics, social media, virtual reality, you name it, we’re going to talk about it and how it relates to marketing. Some of these episodes we’ll be doing lessons about the good, the bad, the do’s and the don’ts of marketing for good, and I’m also going to do marketing makeovers. So live coaching sessions, which I’m really excited about. I love coaching and I love it for the same reason I love teaching and speaking, which is seeing lightbulbs go off and clarity snap into focus for people and the confidence that follows from that. That for me is pure joy. Each episode is meant to change up your thinking so you can kick butt on your doing. Now with so many podcasts out there, why go on this journey with me? I just read earlier today that there are 700,000 podcasts and that’s probably dated information already. That’s so many, why this one? I, I love marketing I really do, I’ve been kind of a little bit obsessed with marketing in general and messaging and words in particular most of my life and definitely my entire career. I’ve been trying to you know, pieced together like why a love of words why such a deep abiding love of words and I think this might might come with a fact that I’m Camerican, born in Canada to American parents, and but the summers between grades two and three, we moved from Vancouver to Seattle, or the Seattle area, which it was, it would be no problem except there was one actually super big issue, which is I didn’t know how to read or write English, I spoke English, but I didn’t know how to read or write it only I only knew how to read and write French because in Canada, I did the French Immersion program and up until through grade two, you only everything was in French. So I knew that being the new kid probably wasn’t gonna be easy and also felt like it was gonna be worse if I didn’t whip my English into shape. So, with the help of my Mum, I did that in that summer. And that experience lit a fire in me around the power of words that has just stuck with me ever since. Now, I run a marketing firm Claxon Marketing, where you can also find information on Claxon University, and I also teach at the University of Washington at the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, and there I teach courses on marketing, social impact, social innovation, nonprofits and philanthropy. So I get asked a lot, I mean, I have this huge marketing focus, I get asked a lot. How do I get into marketing? And I don’t know if I found marketing or marketing found me. I didn’t mean to become a marketer. I have no marketing degree, I don’t know. But I’ve ended up working and doing marketing and message development in particular, with everyone from the Gates Foundation of Microsoft to local food banks and regional opera houses and I have learned so much along the way, and I really am just so excited to share it with you. We’re going to kick off this podcast with a series of episodes that will lay the foundation for everything else we cover on the show. Most folks kind of beep-bop around listening to podcast I definitely do. But if you’re up for it, I’d invite you to listen to the first episodes in order. They’re essentially an audio book about the biggest missteps and mistakes mission minded people make when it comes to marketing, and how to avoid those, so that you can make the most of your marketing. Definitely, absolutely share them with your team and really anyone else you know who’s on a mission to do great things in the world. We live in an era where marketing is essential. Now for some of you, you may be like ahh marketing I don’t know makes me feel queasy. It’s extra, I don’t know. Will you stick with me at least through Episode Two? marketing is not a dirty word. Sitting with that episode. Give it a listen and see if you still feel that way. And if you like what you hear there, then you can listen to episodes three through five and voila you have gotten a free audio book out of the deal. So just I invite you to do that. If you’re listening to this, and you’re on any sort of mission that will leave the world a better place, whether you love marketing or not, this podcast it is for you. Maybe you’re on a mission to protect wild lands, celebrate art, make sure all kids are great readers, maybe it’s creating the first trillion dollar social enterprise, or maybe it’s making organic baby food, the world needs all of it. So whatever your mission, if you want to make the most of it, this podcast, there’s something here for you. Every Monday because marketing and Monday, some nice together, a new podcast will come your way and you’ll be able to listen to it wherever you enjoy your podcasts. I encourage you to subscribe now so you will never miss an episode, and also share liberally with your mission minded friends and colleagues. We are going to have so much fun on this podcast. We will absolutely laugh. We all learn better, it turns out research tells us when we’re smiling. So that’s going to be really important, right, laughter and levity. We may on occasion shed a tear two, somebody once told me that tears make room for joy, and I have felt much better about crying ever since. We will here’s what I know. Here’s what I know to be true about this podcast, we will definitely figure out every single way to unleash the power of marketing to power your mission and make our world a better place. How cool is that? I think it will be amazing. So download the next few episodes, again it is like a free audiobook. See what you think of this new way of thinking and doing marketing. Thank you. Thank you for what you’re doing in our world to make it a better place.