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Volunteer Power News - Number 118
Author: Thomas W. McKee
"Volunteer Power News" Monthly Newsletter

© 2013 Advantage Point Systems Publishing

A warm welcome to all volunteer managers-those of you who recruit, motivate and mobilize volunteer workers.

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Featured Article: Got Volunteers?
How Successful is Your Volunteer Marketing – Your Posting for Volunteers?

Is that even a good question? The question assumes that posting for volunteers will generate volunteers. Will it?

Let's look at one of the most successful marketing campaigns ever, "Got Milk?" and see what we can learn about asking for volunteers.

Two small unpretentious words, "Got Milk?" scrawled above celebrities and animals with milk mustaches caught the nation's attention. From its first TV ad in 1993, "Got Milk?" has been one of the longest-lasting and most imitated marketing slogans.

Like many groups that are desperately struggling to find volunteers, the "Got Milk?" campaign was born out of desperation. The dairy industry was spending millions on milk is "good-for-you" advertising, but consumers were not buying milk. Milk sales were declining as the public preferred the taste of soft drinks over milk. The dairy industry desperately needed to change this trend.

Enter Jeff Manning, who was the executive director of the California Milk Processor Board. In his frantic drive to sell milk, he created a totally new marketing campaign based on a different advertising assumption, and he was soon tagged the "godfather" of "Got Milk?" What began as a risky, offbeat statewide campaign became one of the most recognized and award-winning marketing campaigns in history. What can we learn from "Got Milk?"

Three lessons from "Got Milk?" that we can apply to our posting volunteer opportunities.
  1. You just can't dunk Oreos in Pepsi-the deprivation strategy
  2. Cereal without milk is like marketing without sales-the sales strategy
  3. You don't drink milk alone-the partnership strategy
Lesson One: You just can't dunk Oreos in Pepsi-the power of deprivation

It's time that we ask ourselves this question: "What are the assumptions that frame our current announcements for volunteers?"

The dairy industry in California assumed that people would respond to the "good-for-you" motivation to buy milk. The basic assumption was correct since 96% of U.S. consumers already believed that milk was good for them and that they should be drinking more. But a significant aspect of the assumption was flawed. The hypothesis that that milk is "good-for-you" would motivate people to buy milk was not correct. People believed that they should be drinking milk, but they just weren't motivated to buy. Sound familiar? Many believe that they should be making a difference, but they just aren't motivated to take the action to volunteer. So what did the milk industry do? They developed a new "buying" supposition. The key question that Jeff had to answer was, "What will motivate people to buy milk?" We need to ask the same question, "What will motivate people to volunteer?"

Typical volunteer marketing assumptions include 1) volunteering will be good-for-you, 2) it will be fun, 3) and you will meet lots of people. Some even use the "guilt" assumption-If you don't volunteer, children will starve. Although all of these assumptions may be true, they are not effective marketing strategies to motivate people to take the action to volunteer.

What is a better assumption that will motivate people to volunteer? Let's look at what the milk industry did. They changed their strategy based on a new assumption called the "milk deprivation strategy." They realized that more than 90% of milk occasions are with "codependent food" such as cookies, desserts, chocolate syrup, and cold cereal. People aren't even thinking about milk until they load up a plate of Oreos and on route to the T.V. go to the refrigerator only to find out that someone has put an empty milk carton back in the fridge. "Got Milk?" was born. The "milk deprivation strategy" led to innovative, humorous advertising that people loved. And the message was clear. You need milk. The motivation for buying changed from milk is "good-for-you" to "you can't dunk Oreos in Pepsi."

What motivational assumption motivates people to volunteer?

The most effective marketing assumption for volunteers is the "awaken passion" strategy.

Awaken Passion: Effective marketing should awaken the dormant passion in potential volunteers so that they will be motivated to respond with a "yes, I have the specific experience and skills that I could do something about that need." The key word is passion. I can fulfill my passion by volunteering.

And this assumption has two benefits that are also effective
  1. Affirmation: Effective marketing will affirm your volunteers. They will feel great about their involvement when they see your advertisements about what you are doing. Your volunteers will say, "I'm a part of that." It's a feel-good affirmation that says to your volunteers, "I am making a difference."

  2. First Date: An effective marketing campaign can and does get numbers of episodic volunteers for an event. We call that the first date. (See the dating method of recruiting). The marketing piece invites people to be the part of a one-time event such as a fun-run or community project.
How does this work?

In the past two months I have spent significant time with AARP and their leadership core of 300 staff who are specifically responsible for volunteers engagement. They are on a mission to recruit and lead a generation of 50+ and are an example to all of us who are trying to recruit, motivate, and lead the growing number of baby boomers who are retiring. In my preparation for a workshop with AARP, I came across this marketing piece for AARP Pennsylvania. Notice how this marketing piece appeals to the boomers' passions: " share your life experience to make a difference in the lives of others, and by the way--have some fun in the process." This has the potential to awaken that sleeping passion of a potential volunteer.

As an AARP volunteer you will:
  • Share the benefits of your life experience.
  • Help achieve the goals AARP Pennsylvania members care most about-health and financial security, independent living, protection from consumer and investment fraud.
  • Benefit from high quality training and education.
  • Enjoy stimulating new challenges.
  • Partner with others who share your commitment to improving the quality of life.
  • Have fun.
  • Know that you are truly making a difference.
A boomer will read this and that little inner-voice will say, "I ought to volunteer for that organization. I could really have an impact and could meet some really cool people while sharing my expertise." Some will respond to an event, and they will get involved and become a part of a team for a few hours-a first date. (I encourage you to read an excellent AARP piece, "Making your Volunteer Opportunities Stand out-- tips from AARP on posting volunteer opportunities-dos and don't see."

But many will do nothing about it. An awakened passion needs to be followed up with recruiting. Which leads to lesson two: the need for sales.

Lesson Two: Marketing without sales is like cereal without milk.

The "Got Milk?" campaign has been credited with greatly increasing milk sales in California but not nationwide. And even though the campaign was a huge success, there came a point when all it was producing was thousands of imitators such as "Got Trash?," "Got Soccer?," and "Got Pie?" One CEO of a mid-western dairy management organization said to me, "What good is it if we have the best known and copied marketing campaign if we aren't selling milk?" Then went on to say that he needed to motivate his sales team to get out and sell milk.

Perhaps one of the reasons the campaign was such a huge success in California was Jeff Manning. He was a sales person who just wanted to sell milk. As the "godfather" of "Got Milk?" he didn't just expect people to buy milk. He was always selling. One day as he was roaming a local produce department at the grocery store, Jeff noticed those little stickers found on every Dole banana. He got an idea and sold it to Dole. In a short time "Got Milk?" stickers could be found on 100 million bunches of bananas. What a brilliant idea. Imagine picking up a Dole banana to put in your shopping cart and staring you in face is a little sticker reminder with the question, "Got Milk?"

Marketing without sales is like cereal without milk. Marketing is arousing our passion, but we cannot depend on marketing alone to recruit volunteers. We have to ask the potential volunteer to get involved. Recruiting is asking. Recruiting is inviting, one on one. Recruiting is saying to a particular individual, "With your professional skills, you would be a huge help to our team." Let's face it--we are all in sales.

Last month I talked with an AARP state director who had just read the chapter in our book, The New Breed, "the Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting." He was so energized as he shared how he incorporated the principle from Sin Number 4, "Assume that ‘No' means ‘never.'" He got a "no" from a person he thought would be perfect for the position. When she said, "no," he didn't drop it. He asked her, "Do you know someone who might be able to fill that role?" She told him that she would have to think about it. The next day she called back with a person she had recruited. And a week later she had another recruit. A month later she was still recruiting. He told me that this was one of the most productive "no's" he ever had.

Recruiting is the dogged, persistent, tenacious work of asking and asking and asking.

There is one more insightful lesson from the "Got Milk?" campaign, and we often forget this important opportunity. Are you missing this effective way to exponentially expand your number of volunteers? Read on to lesson number three.

Lesson Three: Don't drink milk alone.

Since the new marketing strategy that showed people gulping and guzzling milk with food was so successful, why not take it to the next level and partner with food industries such as cookies and cereals? That is radical idea-a partnership of "good-for-you" milk with high-calorie foods. Will it work? Did it ever as new partnerships were formed. Nestlé put "Got Milk?" on Nesquik boxtops, and Pillsbury allowed the California Milk Processor Board to use its cherished doughboy in a TV commercial. The list of creative partnerships goes on: Oreos were introduced in 2004. Cereal characters such as the Trix rabbit and Snap, Crackle, and Pop (the Rice Krispies mascots) helped sell more of their cereal along with milk. As the partnerships expanded, they even connected with nonfood brands, such as Sesame Street's Cookie Monster, Barbie dolls, and the Girl Scouts of America.

When the dairy industry partnered with other products, they experienced an explosion of coverage. It was a win/win for all of the products and what is true for commercial marketing is also true in posting for volunteers. Who can you partner with to expand your volunteer base?

Volunteer partnerships

This is not a new concept-but often overlooked. In 1994, an Arkansas public school nurse noticed some children arriving at school listless and hungry. When she discovered that their school lunch was their only meal, she contacted the Arkansas Rice Depot to see if they could help. A partnership was formed and the Food For Kids program was launched, sending hungry children home with backpacks filled with food every night. One nurse couldn't do it alone. One school couldn't even do it alone. But because of a partnership hungry children are fed. The program now feeds 35,000 children in over 600 schools in Arkansas and Food For Kids has been replicated nationwide. To see how to develop effective partnerships see: Building Successful Partnerships: The Exponential Explosion of Synergistic Partnering

So I ask again, "How successful is your marketing in getting volunteers?"

Will it generate volunteers? It begins with awakening passion. A great speech at a service club, a wonderfully crafted website announcement, or a newspaper article should awaken passion, affirm your volunteers and perhaps even enlist some episodic volunteers for an event. And significant partnerships will even expand your volunteer base. But marketing must be followed up with sales. In sales terms, great marketing and partnerships should generate leads, but it is not recruiting. Marketing without sales is does not "Get Volunteers."

Other Helpful Tips on Marketing for Volunteers:

Take a look at these articles on marketing for volunteers. Print them, copy them and pass them out to your staff for discussion as you evaluate your posting for volunteers.
  1. What's Wrong With This Picture?
  2. "How to develop your marketing piece or speech for volunteers."
  3. Why People Volunteer-the Top Three Reasons

Volunteer Power Key-Notes, Workshops,
Or An Education Day
Unleashing the Power and Passion of
A Whole New Breed of Volunteer

A Volunteer Power Workshop
Recruiting and leading the 21st Century volunteers who want to do it their way

Volunteers are passionate and the strategic challenge for leaders of volunteers is to know how to awaken this passion for our cause, and then mobilize passionate people for our cause. This is difficult because passionate people are often a pain.

These three workshops are filled with learning activities, case studies, and short video clips for discussion.

Keynote Presentation: The New Breed of Volunteer

The New Breed of Volunteer is very different from the 20th century volunteer. In this keynote presentation you will discover what the 21st century volunteer expects and what you must do if you want to recruit and lead the new breed of volunteer. We can't expect them to change, so we must know how to adapt our leadership style. Some of the characteristics of the New Breed of Volunteer are:
  • Are passionate
  • Are episodic
  • Are slacktivists
  • Are knowledge workers -don't want to stuff envelopes
  • Are a busy
  • Are in a hurry
  • Are often either technologically dependent or technologically hopeless
But I do not leave you wondering what to do. I will demonstrate how to recruit and lead the New Breed of Volunteer, by showing you the best practices that groups are using to take advantages of these seismic shifts in volunteer engagement.

Follow-Up Workshop: The Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting Volunteers

When we wrote the book, The New Breed, recruiting and leading the 21st Century Volunteer, in our research (and over 60 combined years of experience in leading volunteers), we identified the biggest mistakes that volunteer leaders are making in recruiting volunteers. In this workshop we will learn how easy it is to fall into the temptation of these traps, and what we must do to have a successful recruiting and screening process. The top mistakes were the following, which we have now labeled the Seven Deadly Sins of Recruiting:
  1. Expect announcements to get volunteers (The difference between marketing and sales)
  2. Ask for marriage instead of a date (How to awaken the passion of a future volunteer for your ministry)
  3. Think that "NO" means "NO" (how to turn a "NO" into a "YES" without sounding like a high-pressure sales person.
  4. Go it alone (Building a recruiting network)
  5. Ignore the book-end generation (Gen Y and retiring boomers)
  6. Fall into the BIC syndrome (I need ten volunteers today)
  7. Use the four words that volunteers hate: Oh, By the Way
Follow-Up Workshop: Unleashing the Passion of the New Breed of Volunteer

The content of the workshop focuses on how 21st century leaders must mobilize the unlimited power and passion of volunteers. Participants of the workshop will learn how to focus the energy of passionate volunteers. It's less about "management" and more about "empowerment." The participants will probe these topics:

Leadership strategies to unleash the passion
  • What is passion?
  • What destroys passion?
  • Why is passion not enough?
  • How to you keep the passion alive?
  • Coaching: The four phases of performance coaching
  • Coaching tools: Direction and trust (how to use these tools)
  • Empowerment; The five steps of empowerment
Contact us to book a workshop, key-note presentation.



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