In this week’s episode, I talk to Julia Keller, one of the founders of the Mindful Youth Institute. They are teeing up a lot of great opportunities to address bullying behavior—and to help potential bullies find a different path.
Their organization is fairly new so we had a great conversation discussing every facet of the audience engagement cycle. In particular, we spoke about how their organization can tell their story, build their mailing list, and create engagement and support by Bonding with stakeholders.
This episode is jam-packed with information, including how to build personas, launch your first Google campaign, develop a strong social media strategy, and even foster new relationships with potential stakeholders.
Loved talking to Julia because it reminded me about the importance of relationship-building and leveraging personal connections, creating stories that resonate, and building conversational marketing to better engage new stakeholders when you are just getting started.
This was an information-rich episode, so I hope you enjoy it.
Our website: mindfulyouthinstitute.org
Our GoFundMe campaign: https://charity.gofundme.com/o/en/campaign/help-teach-bullies-compassion
Give yourself time to relax and breathe. Reconnect with the earth. Get grounded.
Listen to the podcast here:
Learning How To Identify And Nurture Your Ideal Audience With Julia Keller From Mindful Youth
Everybody’s got a soft heart somewhere in there, so we try to reach it through images and exercises. It’s like you said if we could teach them how to reach that part of them, the cells on their own, and they find it rewarding and not boring, then we are changing the circuits in their brain, and that’s cool.
My guest is Julia Keller, one of the Founders of Mindful Youth Institute. They do lots of great work or team up to do a lot of great work with bullying. They’re trying to make adjustments to kids’ behaviors, so if they’re exhibiting bullying behavior, they can help those kids get on a different path. It’s important work, great work, and hard work.
They started, so they’re still trying to figure everything out in terms of the audience engagement cycle. We talked about everything from persona development, all the way through to this bond phase where you’re trying to build relationships. If you’ve heard me say anything, it’s that marketing is all about building relationships and this episode is jam-packed with ideas and information on how you and your organization can do that. Julia was a lot of fun to talk to and I hope you enjoy this episode. Here we go.
Julia, how are you?
I’m doing well. How about you, Stu?
I’m doing great. It is a little bit cloudy up here in the high country but it’s nice to get a little extra snow. This episode will be released in June 2021, hopefully, it’ll be a little warmer by the time this shows up in public.
It will probably be a lot warmer in June.
I hope so. Where are you located?
I haven’t been to Pueblo in quite some time but it’s a cool community. My step sister lives down in that area.
Where does she live?
She lives on the west side of Pueblo. She’s in the medical field, so she does X-ray tech stuff, and imaging and I know that she works a lot in Canyon City and some of the other facilities in the Pueblo area.
We live in Pueblo West, so west of where your sister lives. Pueblo West, so this is a pretty nice place.
I’ll have to come down and visit sometime here. I hear the mountain biking down there is good.
The lakes are beautiful and the reservoir.
I’ll have to make a journey down that direction once we’re fully vaccinated and ready to go.
There’s always that.
You are one of the Founders of Mindful Youth Institute. Tell us a little bit about your organization.
We got started at the end of 2019. My husband and I had been wanting to do this for years and so we got together with a group of people who were all interested in helping young people, especially young people with learning problems. I have a passion for that. We’re trying to find ways that are innovative and cutting edge that will make a difference in their lives.
Are you primarily dealing with kids who have learning disabilities? Are they having a hard time in school? Is there a particular segment of that group that you help with the most?
We left it open to any at-risk kid, kids that are at risk of failing in schools for emotional problems or they have trouble learning. We’re starting a campaign for kids that have social-emotional problems and bully other kids as a result.
You’re working with the kids who would be identified as the perpetrators of that behavior.
There isn’t a lot out there that aims directly to help the bully. Usually, stuff like anti-bullying interventions are aimed at helping the victims and the class but we want to try to change the bully’s heart.
That sounds like an interesting place to be spending your time and energy. I don’t know a lot about that space but I certainly do know that I’ve read things that indicate a lot of bullying behavior, stems from a lot of other insecurity and other emotional challenges that kids are facing, even financial and social, etc. It’s cool that you’re taking that approach to it.
What everybody says about it, the research says that bullies lack empathy, so everybody’s trying to develop empathy in these kids and we’ve got some innovative ideas that might be more effective than other ones.
Can you tell us a little bit about those or are they proprietary?
I can tell you about them in general. I’ll give you a little bit of the story about why I’m interested in it if that’s okay.
That’d be great.
A lot of stories come to mind, but the one that’s most in my mind is I went to a school and visited a teacher. There was his child in the classroom who was about seven years old, but he looked like he was ten. He’s a tall kid. He had these pointy cowboy boots on and it turns out, he wasn’t bullying the other kids but he was also bullying all the adults in his life, his teachers, his mothers. He would wear these pointy cowboy boots and kick his teacher with them that left bruises all over her legs.
We know that teachers don’t have a lot of wiggle room about what to do. I was a teacher for a long time, and you can’t restrain kids and you can’t punish them. It’s not okay. The teacher went to the kid’s mom and said, “Could you please not let him wear those cowboy boots.” The mom said she had no control and so he kept wearing them. Unfortunately, this thing is not the first time I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it over and over again where bullies aren’t bullying other kids but they’re also bullying the teachers, the parents, and all the adults around them.
That’s interesting. I assume that partially comes from the idea that you do something and it works, so that’s the thing you pick and you do that for the rest of your life. My guess is there are some underlying emotional and mental challenges that are going on there as well.
It’s about a way to establish power and control over your environment. It’s also a lack of being able to see someone else’s perspective, what it is you’re doing to other people.
There is an empathy component to the behavior.
They don’t feel it. If you felt it, you wouldn’t kick somebody. A normal kid would do it. They’d kick somebody and they’d realize, “This is what I did. I hurt somebody,” and they don’t want to do it again. Bullies or aggressive kids don’t have that component. It’s like the mafia. This is the example I always use. If you’ve watched The Sopranos, or goodness knows how many other mafia shows are out there, if you mess with the mafia member’s family, they take revenge and that’s their way of responding to empathy. You hurt my friend. I’ll beat you up. That’s not the empathy we want. We want to change their hearts so they feel like caring for other people.
Everybody’s got a soft heart. If you could reach that part of them, you will be able to change the circuits in their brain.
There’s a lot of talk about kids who are on the spectrum and how well they receive training in social signals and things like that. It sounds like it’s a similar challenge.
In not picking up signals or maybe not responding to them or maybe justifying it saying, “They deserved it.” What we want to do is we want to use some innovative technology, some virtual reality to help get them to first experience themselves virtually what it’s like to be a bully and try to use techniques to make them feel caring for other people. Maybe these kids don’t know what it feels like to love someone and that it’s a good feeling.
That’s cool that you are bringing technology into play as well. That’s something unique I haven’t heard about. Tell me a little bit more about that.
We’re looking at virtual reality. Have you ever done virtual reality?
I haven’t done it. I’m trying to think. It seems like I’ve done something that had a component of it. I’ve never worn the new glasses and things that are super cool and dropped you into that space. I haven’t tried that out too much.
Kids are doing it. I saw something at the mall where kids can go in and do virtual reality and then you see them acting strange, but they’ve got the goggles on, they’re hitting the things etc. It’s cool. With the little bit that I know about it, it’s cool and immersive. Of course, we wouldn’t have kids hitting things but we would do it in a way that it’s a game for them, it’s fun and it helps retrain their brain so they can learn some self-control, without having to do the breathing exercises and meditation exercises. I’ve done a lot of that too but these kinds of kids will say, “It’s boring. I don’t enjoy it.” We want to make it fun and interesting for them, hook them in that way, and see if we can get them to experience what it feels like to have a compassionate heart.
Is it like rewiring of some of those pathways in the kids’ brains where they’re able to reconnect some things that may have either gotten unconnected at some point or maybe never had the chance to form completely? Is that the physiology of it?
Exactly. The brain is plastic which means it can change based on your activity throughout your whole life, which is pretty exciting. These kids don’t have the self-regulation circuit and so you can train that by getting them to focus and getting them to focus on things like a kitten maybe. Try to break through and try to open their hearts a little bit. Everybody’s got a soft heart somewhere in there, so we try to reach it through images and exercises. It’s like you said, if we could teach them how to reach that part of them, the cells on their own, and they find it rewarding and not boring, then we are changing the circuits in their brain, and that’s cool.
I love that idea and it’s neat that you’ve been able to take this technology that was certainly, originally designed for entertainment purposes a lot. I’m sure there are some training purposes and some other things. You usually hear about VR in that realm of entertainment and recreation, so it’s cool to be able to take something and repurpose it for this important change that you’re helping to facilitate.
It is. A couple of years ago, I found out that it was a game. It was called, Please Don’t Kill the Zombies. It was a zombie killing game and we didn’t want to do anything like that, but in the game, they were hooked up to some biofeedback monitors. When they were able to calm themselves down, they were able to do cool things like walk through walls or be invisible, whereas when they were losing control, the screen would shake and turn red and all kinds of things. It was a way to motivate them to self-regulate and breathe. That’s what we’re trying to do except use it in a way to show what the victim’s experience is like and what it’s like to do nice things and things like that but have it be motivating and game-like.
Are you building this technology now or have you developed it and you’re trying to get the word out? Where are you in your lifecycle?
We are trying to get the money so that we can start developing it. We’ve got a person on our board that knows a lot about tech and about VR. We started our first fundraiser, a GoFundMe, and that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to raise the money for the equipment and then develop the intervention and see if it works.
How much money are you trying to raise and how close are you to that goal?
We’re not close at all. We only launched this. We are starting and that’s why it’s so great that you invited me and our organization to be on the show because we want to get the word out. It’s exciting. We launched our GoFundMe campaign and we’re looking into other campaigns to get the word out and to get this going.
Have you looked into Google For Nonprofits or Google Grants at all?
I have filled out Google For Nonprofits and I am still waiting to hear from them.
Perfect, so that’s a great place to start and they keep changing the names of these things, so I’m going to call it Google for Nonprofits because that’s the latest iteration of it but it’s a great set of tools that Google provides for nonprofits free of charge. Also, they make available up to $10,000 a month of free advertising. If you set things up correctly, you can drive to a page on your site that then talks about your GoFundMe campaign and links back out to GoFundMe.
My understanding, at least last time I checked, was that there were some things that you had to do to jump through the Google For Nonprofits’ hoops in order to promote an offsite campaign like GoFundMe. As long as you have a page setup that talks about it, and then links back out to it, you should be in good shape.
Let me ask you this because I saw that about the ads and I thought it said, “In kind,” which to me means we’ll give you $1 if you’ve got another dollar from another donor. A dollar for a dollar, is that what that is?
The last I checked was that they’re giving you $10,000 worth of advertising free of charge, so they’re not giving you $10,000 to go spend however you want to spend it. They’re giving you $10,000 of their in-kind services to enable you to run ads but they may have changed that. I don’t think they have but I could be incorrect. I’ll have to go check that.
That would be cool. We’d love to spend $10,000 on advertising.
My understanding is that’s the way that the program has historically run. It hasn’t changed. Double-check that but that is my understanding of that program.
Would Google Ads be the best way to go? I’ve also heard about Facebook ads.
When we talk about advertising, we tend to look at what your target audiences are. Depending upon who you’re trying to reach, this still holds pretty true that right now, in the nonprofit world, the most lucrative or the most giving from a $1 figure standpoint are still the Boomers. Figuring out where Boomers go to get information and where they go to engage with things like this is where you’re probably going to have the most success.
These days, bullies aren’t just bullying other kids. They’re also bullying the teachers, the parents, and all the adults around them.
Given that, Facebook is still a pretty good venue to do some advertising and promotion in order to reach that audience. A lot of Boomers are still pretty active on Facebook and it’s a good place to get in front of that particular demographic group. If you’re looking for someone a little younger, Facebook is still a good place to go. Facebook is still the elephant in the room of social media but as your audience changes, you need to start looking at where that type of person would go to get information and engage with an organization like yours.
For example, if you’re reaching out to Gen Zs or Millennials, then you might be wanting to play a little bit more solidly in Instagram, TikTok, or one of the newer platforms. Typically, when platforms start, they have a younger audience that tends to age out as the platform ages. Keep in mind who your target audience is and make sure that you get in front of them, where they go for information. Speaking of elephants in the room, Google is the big elephant in terms of search. The reason why Google For Nonprofits is so important, valuable, and amazing, is that they’re sponsoring those ads.
Depending upon what ad you run and how well you segment and target that ad, I would expect your performance to be less through Google but at the same time, those ads aren’t costing you anything. That’s why it tends to be a good go-to place where you can at least test the messaging and do some things like that. If you were paying for it, I might recommend sticking with Facebook or something like that but since it’s something that’s coming to you in the form of a grant through Google, it’s essentially free advertising, it makes sense to go ahead and use that service.
In getting an ad campaign started, what do we do? You’re talking to someone who’s been in education all her life and doesn’t know much about marketing.
The first thing I would do is set your goal and have a good understanding of what it is you’re trying to get people to do. For this one, it may help fund this organization’s growth and success to help teach bullies compassion, for example. That seems to be your tagline for the GoFundMe campaign.
I didn’t tell you how much. You asked me how much. Right now, we’re looking at $275,000.
That’s a great goal and it’s achievable for sure. The first thing to do is to have a great understanding of what you’re trying to do, in terms of, what the end goal is. Funding the campaign or funding the GoFundMe campaign would be the end goal of your advertising. With that in mind, working back from that, think about what messaging you might need that engages people’s feeling center. It gets people to have an emotional response to the situation.
What you can do is if you can craft your ad so that it leads people to say, “Yes, I resonate with this and I’m passionate about helping to create change in this space,” in creating your landing page that the ad points to and have that landing page be closely tied to that message. Make sure that there’s no disconnect between the advertisement and the page that people get to once they’ve clicked on that advertisement and collect as little information as possible in order to drive people to take that action.
I don’t believe Google will allow you to link directly to the GoFundMe page. In order to get the grant, they will ask you to go ahead and send people to a landing page on your site. On that landing page, the thing that you need to create is what our friends over at NextAfter call their value proposition. That is this idea that most people don’t wake up every day trying to figure out how to give away their money. You have an uphill battle as a nonprofit to get people to give to your organization versus a different organization or not at all. In this situation, there’s a three-way pull that’s going on there.
If you can create your value proposition that tees up the understanding and gives the messaging around why your organization, above all the others out there trying to do similar work, deserves this person’s investment and/or why they shouldn’t keep the money in their pocket. That’s what that messaging needs to be on both the GoFundMe campaign as well as on the landing page on your site that then links out to the GoFundMe campaign.
Since you’ve heard my story a little bit, what do you think would resonate with people the most about what I’ve told you?
There are a couple of things to me that are probably good places to start. One is engaging people’s fears and concerns for the children. Whether their children are bullies or are being bullied, there are a couple of powerful emotional pulls that you can leverage that you can pull there to make sure that people have a good understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish. Why is this important? What’s in it for them? Typically, on a website, one of the things that we recommend is having messaging that captures the answers to a couple of questions within about seven seconds.
When you go to a well-optimized page, you’ll see this pop-up, which answers the questions of who is this for? How does it make their life better? How do they get it? On these landing pages, we certainly would want to facilitate that question and answer in terms of giving people a good understanding of why they’re here and what it is you’re hoping to accomplish that makes everybody’s life a lot better. Trying to engage with that feeling, most of us have either been bullied or have been a bully, probably in our lives. There are probably not a lot of gray areas there.
It’s trying to tap into the emotional state that occurred when either your kid was being bullied or you remember being bullied or tapping into that empathy in terms of, “I feel bad for these kids who are going through life with this attitude or this emotional state. They aren’t able to feel empathy and things like that.” Tapping into those emotional feelings would be one of the first things that I would do with your copy and your content.
When I told you my story, did it happen? Any feelings?
Certainly, it immediately threw me back into junior high, where a lot of people feel like they have experienced bullying in that phase of one’s life. I don’t know if it’s all of the hormones that start to develop at that phase in people’s lives or if there’s something else going on. It certainly put me back into that seat where I can remember being bullied as a kid. It also tapped in for me, in terms of this idea, when we were talking about empathy about how sad that is for kids whose minds aren’t wired in a way that allows them to feel empathy because I get a lot out of my ability to empathize.
I put myself in their shoes a little bit when you were telling me the story and thinking about how sad that would be and how amazing it must be for these kids to be able to experience empathy. Also, understand how other people might feel about either their behavior or other things that would affect them. It seems like it’s such a life-changing experience if you were able to transform someone from that position of being a bully to not being bullied. That’s probably an amazing transformation that someone would be able to experience.
It’s been hard to do. I’ve looked at a lot of research and it’s not successful in changing bullying behavior. It’s a mystery. Your story makes me think of the television show Shameless. Do you know this show?
I watched a little bit of it. Yes.
Are you familiar with Carl on the show?
Carl is one of the younger boys on the show.
Boomers tend to be the biggest donor class right now. People tend to donate more money as they get older.
He’s the one that thinks guns and violence are cool. Speaking as a psych person, he’s a psych nerd. He’s an antisocial person. He thinks all these things are cool and then he ends up going to juvie, juvenile detention and he gets the cornrows in his hair. The actor did a marvelous job. It looks exactly like a young kid in the juvenile diversion. He’s perfect. He’s like a street kid. He comes out, he’s selling guns in the school, selling drugs on the corner and everybody predicts he’s going to be in prison for the rest of his life. He’s one of these kids that we’re interested in helping.
One day, he had a not so good experience. He sees somebody killed, a child, and it changes him. It transforms him. He’s saying, “I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to see kids get dropped anymore,” to use his language and he decides to use his energies to become a police officer. For me, I love watching this kid. He’s a bully at school too, by the way.
He slams kids’ hands and all these things in lockers. Because this show is a long show with eleven seasons, to watch him change and have it believable from someone who didn’t care, a real tough kid to somebody who wants to do good. I love that. That’s the vision that I have of reaching these kids that are so hard to reach, yet they’ve got things to offer.
It’s trying to tap into that. I talked about audiences a little bit. Those can be called avatars or personas but essentially, it’s a creation of a semi-fictional representation of who you’re trying to reach. You have a good understanding of what their motivations are, what might inspire them, what challenges they face, etc. That’s typically one of the first steps that we take when we’re engaging with a new organization, or a new client is to help them help us get a good understanding of who we’re trying to reach. In that regard, you could think about the parents of the kid like this.
You told the story of the young kid who was kicking his teacher with cowboy boots. A child isn’t going to make this decision for themselves. It’s tapping into somebody who might be able to either recognize their kid in that story or see how this could help them overcome some challenges that they’re facing in their lives.
For example, if their child is a bully, it’s helping to fund this research and this programmatic system that helps people transcend that type of behavior. It’s framing those asks from that position of, “How does this make their life better,” and framed in that position of what are their challenges and what are the problems that they’re trying to overcome.
You’re doing that to determine your audience.
We help our clients and other organizations figure that out, if they haven’t done so already or we help them tell us who those people are so that we can make our best recommendations in terms of who or where we might recommend that they spend their time and energy. Also, invest their revenue and their dollars to reach out to different potential users or potential donors, etc.
I get that. It’s the age group. Our audience is parents directly. Why would Boomers be interested in this, you said they’re the biggest donor?
The Boomers are the biggest donor class right now, in terms of your group that donates the most money because that tends to be the case. People tend to donate more money as they get older and a lot of them tend to have a little bit more disposable income in terms of, they’ve built up a certain amount of wealth and they’re trying to do some good with it.
A Boomer might resonate with this, if they have a grandchild, for example, who is being bullied. That might be something that would inspire them to say, “I want to participate in this.” If they are thinking back about things that they regret in their lives, perhaps they feel they might fit that bully type that they might want to be trying to make amends. Those are a couple of different motivators that might be able to be accessed in order to encourage someone of that generation to participate in a GoFundMe campaign to help you guys get farther down the road.
If you think more in the parent’s perspective, you’re still thinking about how the person’s kids are probably affected or if they recognize bullying behavior in their own child and are interested in funding research that might help either their kid or someone like that kid live a better life. Those would be some of those challenges that they would want to overcome.
This might be a little bit of a switch-up of a subject but I was also looking for small business grants or small grants in Colorado. I went up and I looked at the Colorado Nonprofit Association thinking, “I’ll look up grant guides because it looks like they’re out there to help Colorado nonprofits.” You probably heard of it, Colorado Grants Guide. That sounds like a great resource and then you open it up, and they want a subscription for $100 a year or the foundation wants $100 a month, which seems ridiculous. Do you know of a better place to find out about Colorado people, organizations, and businesses that want to donate?
There is a lot of money out there available and grants are certainly a great place to start playing in terms of attempting to access some of those funds. In terms of a list, I’m not sure. I’d have to do a little bit of research on that. The Colorado Nonprofit Association is a pretty great organization that has a wealth of information for people in the nonprofit space to be able to access training. Also, potentially gain access to vendors or people who could help out with grant writing or helping to do that research.
We’re a member of the Colorado nonprofit association, so there are certainly dues involved when becoming a for-profit member of that organization but I haven’t looked into what the costs are for nonprofit and what resources open you up to be able to access. When I try to make those decisions, I start to look at how much potential upside is there to an investment in that system. Also, there’s an opportunity to join for a month and try and glean as much information as you can and then join again later once one’s revenues increase. It’s looking to be pretty flexible.
Most of these kinds of programs do have a different fee structure for actual nonprofits. It’s probably worth exploring some of those opportunities, but I’ll do a little more research into where to go to find grants. There’s probably quite a lot of money out there available for an entity such as yours to get into that grant space.
That’d be great. I have experience writing grants, so it’s not a problem. I knew that Walmart has a program and you go through some steps to answer questions about your nonprofit and your mission. They use a separate vendor, business, or whatever to verify that information and then you can apply for up to 25 times a year. We’re going to give that a try and see because we would like to use it to try to get some advertising. I’ve done the Google For Nonprofits and we’ll see what they have to offer. I like to write a little bit so that we have maybe some money for Facebook advertising.
Facebook would probably be a pretty good place for you to play. There are certainly a number of groups on Facebook that you could join. I don’t have kids, so bullying isn’t top of mind for me, in terms of stuff I’m researching all the time, but my guess is that there would be groups on Facebook that would talk about that. It’s getting active in those kinds of groups or being able to target ads to those types of groups, would be a place that I would start to play. One thing that’s nice about Facebook advertising is it does give you a ton of granularity in terms of who you’re targeting that ad to.
Can you explain what that means?
Engaging with people through social media is a way of free advertising.
You can get specific in terms of your audience. If you wanted to target, for example, school teachers, which might not be a bad group to target, Facebook tends to have a lot of information about their users including, how much money people make and the types of things that people buy. Also, the types of groups that they’re active in, age, location, etc. There are ways to hyper-target ads against a certain group on Facebook. What tends to happen is, as you get more and more specific in your targeting your cost per reach, your cost per click tends to go up for Facebook.
One of the tactics that we have deployed in the past is to start out broad and get an ad that is good enough. Don’t spend a whole bunch of time or energy trying to fine-tune your ad. Get something that you’re like, “That’s worth a shot. Let’s give that a whirl,” and then distribute that to a fairly wide audience. For example, if you were looking for just people in Colorado or if you were looking for people in Pueblo, you might try and toss that ad wider, so cast a wider net because your cost per view is going to go down. What you’ll find is you’ll get some data out of the performance of that ad.
Let’s say it gets sent out to 100,000 people, and 1,000 people either click on it, view it, or whatever metric you’re looking for but let’s say 1,000 people click it. You have good targeted information about that 1,000 people so you can start to look for similarities within that group. Now you can hyper-target that same ad to cast a wider net around that specific group target.
Maybe you can expand that to outside of Colorado but with those specific demographics. You have a higher level of confidence that the same ad is going to resonate with that group outside of the state as well or outside of the Pueblo area, for example. It allows you to leverage the advertising itself to get data on how your ad plays with a certain demographic.
That makes sense.
Google has the ability to drill down quite a bit too. They tend to cast a much wider net. You’ll probably be able to see improved performance with Facebook ads but the cost is a lot lower when your advertising is free on Google.
I’ve also gone into social media. A lot of people do it as a way of free advertising but I’m learning to engage with people so that I’m able to ask questions that people answer. I’ve started learning that but LinkedIn and Instagram are the main two that I’ve got right now. I haven’t ventured into Facebook yet.
I love to hear that’s how you’re approaching social media. We wrote a blog post about this, but so many people see social as a one-way street, so they tend to use it as getting out with a bullhorn and shouting one’s accolades or whatever you want to say. Social media is all about relationship building and the best relationships, at least, tend to be a two-way street.
It’s making sure that you’re engaging with people on their pages, asking questions, answering questions, being curious, going out, and trying to expand your network from a more manual standpoint, as opposed to assuming that people are going to somehow find you and join in the conversation but they’re trying to engage with people that you think might be good people to have in your community. It’s leveraging social to harness the power that it has built into itself, in terms of conversation-starting is important. A lot of people miss that mark. They go out and, and put out their latest press release, and think that’s the way that social works and it isn’t an engagement avenue or channel.
It’s interesting to watch how people try to engage with me. For example, some people will try over and over and I find that annoying. To me, it seems like a bad strategy. People don’t want to answer you the first time you let it go but to keep pestering someone seems a bad tactic.
It’s about creating value, exchanging value, and building trust. We like to say that marketing is all about relationship building. Whether that’s convincing someone to buy a $0.75 widget or trying to get somebody to donate $1,000 to your campaign, it does start with this idea that we need to develop a relationship. If you think about the majority of the relationships that one has in one’s life, they rarely start with, “Hi. My name is Stu. Can you give me some money?” There’s usually a back and forth of, “What’s your name? How are you today?”
It’s creating those opportunities for back and forth. What we recommend is when you start outreaches, temper your desire to jump to the ask immediately and invest some time in building that relationship and building that trust. A lot of times, that’s about value exchange. One of the things that you would be able to do pretty effectively and immediately is developing some materials.
They are materials that help people who maybe have a kid who is displaying some bullying behavior or have a kid who’s been the victim of that behavior. Give them some tips on how to manage that and how to deal with either of those situations. Essentially, you could create a 1 or 2-page document, a PDF, or something that gave some tips for handling. Let’s use the child who’s displaying bullying behavior as an example.
Create a PDF that gives some tips to parents who suspect that their child might be a bully. Put the ask out there, say, “If you’re interested in this, go to this place on our site.” When they get to that place on the site, explain what the thing is that you’re hoping to share with them and ask them to say, “Where can we send your guide?” That tees them up for the understanding of why you’re asking for their email address and maybe asking for their first name and email address. When they provide that information to you, send them to a landing page where you then get that material. Have the PDF on the landing page and at that same time, ask them to support your GoFundMe campaign or to donate in some other fashion.
You’ve created the opportunity where they have a little bit of a feeling of indebtedness to you and so it’s a good time to do what we call an Instant Ask for donation. At the same time, you’ve now collected that information and they’re in your email list. Send them an email immediately that says, “In case you missed it on our site, here’s that guide about how to handle your child, if you think he’s a bully.”
You can either ask them if they’d like to participate more to help out or you can also now email them in a week or something and say, “I wanted to check in and see if you had any questions about the guide that we sent you.” Now, you’re on that path of relationship building. You’re creating back and forth opportunities and you’ve demonstrated that you want to help them. That’s a good way to start to build that list and build those connections that are going to provide you the ability to succeed long term.
I’ve been trying to start a business working with coaching kids. I don’t want to get sidetracked on that, but I did use MailChimp. I had questions about whether their kid was anxious or not. It wasn’t effective. I had a lot of trouble with MailChimp getting it started. MailChimp does one free and you have to pay for it. There were a lot of technological problems. Do you use MailChimp or do you use something else to get a mailing list going?
We have used MailChimp in the past internally and then an awful lot of our clients use MailChimp because, at least the last time I checked, their policy was a certain number of sends per month and so let’s say that was 1,000 or 2,000 sends. You had a list that had 2,000 people on it, you could send to that list one time where if you had a list of 500 people, you could send four individual messages to that list or any permutation of that led up to a couple 1,000 sends per month. At that point, they do start charging for that service.
If people don’t want to answer you the first time, let it go. Stop pestering people. That is a bad marketing tactic.
If you’re talking about email, I have had good luck with MailChimp. The other big guy in the room is Constant Contact, which is another service. Constant Contact may charge earlier than MailChimp or maybe not even have a free service. I can’t remember. Both are fairly reasonable in terms of costs for bulk mail sends particularly if you’re using the system. If you’re talking about surveys, asking people questions, and filling out a survey, there are a couple of different platforms that we would recommend and the first is Google.
When you signed up for Google For Nonprofits, I’m sure they gave you access to their suite of apps and tools that you can use as a nonprofit to do things like create surveys. It’s called Google Forms, is what they’re still calling it but it’s a pretty straightforward mechanism to allow you to create forms that let you ask questions, collect data and get analytics on those data. The other option is called SurveyMonkey and I don’t know the costs of Survey Monkey but they probably have either a nonprofit program or some free engagement opportunity there if you’re looking to do surveys.
They do. I use SurveyMonkey in my dissertation. They have a nice free part of it but how do you get people to answer these surveys? If I see a survey, I skip it. How do you get people to answer?
That goes back to relationship building. When you have a relationship with a person, when you’ve provided value to that person, they want to go out of their way to help you out, particularly if it’s not a heavy lift. We’re looking for experiential information, and we’d love to get an understanding of your experience with bullying or challenges that you’ve seen either in your students or with your child, in terms of learning challenges and things of that nature. Once you’ve established that relationship, once you’ve started to build that trust, usually you start to see a group of people from the whole group come out and raise their hands and say, “I want to help.” It’s consistency and trying to create value exchange.
Probably this is the final question. If a person writes to me, they want to talk to me about their kid, their kid got in some trouble at school, I’ve made the mistake of jumping directly to the ask right, and then I don’t hear from them, what do you recommend? This is through social media and messaging. When do you ask? When do you know?
Paying attention is the first step to that. As you have more conversations, you’ll see, “If I asked before the third time we’ve gone back and forth, then people tend to go away.” You’ll get a feel for it. It’s different for every organization. There’s not necessarily a magic number, in terms of you need to have sent seven emails before you asked him for a donation there. A lot of times, people are ready more quickly and some people are never going to be ready. What I would do is to try to figure out ways to scale or streamline the information that you provide.
I bet that you probably get some of the same questions over and over again. Creating an FAQ or creating materials that answer those specific questions, whether those be blog posts or PDFs, a little bit longer form, but creating materials that you can share fairly quickly tends to help. Not only is it scalable because you get the same question five times a week, so you probably don’t have to type it out five times.
You can type it once you create something that answers that question and the next time someone says, “How do I handle this?” You say, “We wrote a blog post about that. Let me send you that link.” You follow up with them and say, “Was that helpful?” “What else can I help you with?” “Is there any other information I can provide?”
Essentially, you’re positioning yourself as someone who wants to help. From there, you can expand that into, “I’ve helped you. How about you helping me?” Certainly, not every person is motivated in the same way. Not everyone is going to become a donor, even after you’ve provided them with a valuable resource, tool, or information.
Embracing the idea that you’re there to help and am coming at it from that position of, “Would you more help with that?” “Would you like to know how I can help more?” Getting yeses to things before you provide that information or maybe before you provide an ask, that’s the hard ask like, “Donate to us. Hire me to be a consultant.” Getting buy-in that people would like your help first can be super effective as well.
That’s helpful. You have given me a lot of ideas. Thank you.
It’s my pleasure. I can’t believe it’s been an hour. It seems like we started our conversation. It’s fun talking with you. How can people find out more about your organization?
They can go to our website, MindfulYouthInstitute.org. That’s the main place. I would go there or to my LinkedIn if you look me up. You can look up Julia Keller Mindful Youth Institute and you’ll find me. We also have a company page on LinkedIn called Mindful Youth Institute.
We were talking about a little bit of a touchy subject with bullying but are there any other resources that you would want people to be aware of if they needed help with bullying?
Off the top of my head, no, I like your idea to write a little sheet with information about how to handle it. That’s something I want to do.
I have enjoyed talking with you. One of the things that I like to do on all my shows is not just talking but giving people something to act upon. If people were to take any action, whether that’s going to give your mom a hug, get outside to enjoy the sun, or whatever it is, what would you want people to do after listening to our show?
I like your idea about having some time for yourself. That’s relaxing where you can breathe and reconnect to the world around you, to the earth. Something that I like to do when I go for a walk is to feel my feet on the ground. My head’s all whirling and swirling and how it is. I think about my feet on the ground and I feel grounded. I’d recommend that for all of us, busy people.
I’m going to take that to heart and see how I can do that for the rest of the day-to-day. I appreciate you being on the show. That was a super fun conversation. Julia Keller, thanks so much.
Thank you, Stu.
There you have it, another great episode of Relish THIS. Thanks for reading. If you would like to learn more about how to apply the Audience Engagement Cycle to expand your organization’s mission, there are two things you can do. Right now, you can go to MissionUncomfortableBook.com to download a copy of my book. While you’re there, you can get your purpose-driven marketing score to see where you can unearth some gold for your organization. If you’d like to listen to back episodes of the show or sign up to be a guest, go to RelishStudio.com/podcast. That’s it for this week. I’ll be back next week for another great episode of Relish THIS.
About Julia Keller
Julia has 20 years of experience working with children who have learning disabilities as both an educator and a researcher. She has been the Principal Investigator on four school-based intervention studies looking at the impact of mindfulness training on the development of attention, working memory, emotion regulation, and academic progress in elementary students. She also designed and administered a study looking at the effect of mindfulness training on increasing creativity in adults. She is passionate about helping young people find ways to be more mindful, joyful, creative, compassionate, generous, and productive at school and at home. She is an expert on stress management for kids; for more information go to her website: drjuliakeller.com. Julia received a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of New Mexico. Contact Julia at mindfulyouthinstitute.org.