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Blogging, Web Content & Optimizing Profit Potential

Blogging, Web Content & Optimizing: What Do I Get?

By Suzanne McDonald

Blogging and developing web content are both time-consuming and/or expensive. An engaged audience at the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Marketing Seminar took notes and asked a number of great questions.

I explained how to save time and money with clear strategies and tactics I used with clients to ensure Designated Editor is as effective and efficient as we can be to boost clients’ bottom line. I focused on FREE resources and tactics to generate content and boost visibility via Google and other Search Engines.

Along the way I threw in some anecdotes about negativity, such as how to respond to gripey Yelpers, for example.  Take a look below and see what you missed at the Rhode Island Hospitality Association’s Marketing Summit.



Philanthropic Marketing Bequests: Tips and Facts

By Suzanne McDonald

Marketing can be an exciting career that covers a breadth of topics.  But, sometimes marketing focuses on more somber matters, such as death and soliciting bequests from such life events.  With appropriate knowledge, understanding, and language, marketing for bequests can be manageable and successful.

According to fundraising communications pro Tom Ahern, 90% of the United States population said they would put a gift to charity in their will, but only 10% do. Why the difference?  Because no one solicits bequests, hence the striking gap in those who say they would give vs. those who do give.

How can marketers learn to communicate properly regarding such a serious matter to increase the amount of charitable giving in wills?

This presentation, “Marketing Bequests: The Delicate Art of Asking for That Final Gift” Ahern focuses on the topics of marketing and death, with a specific look at how nonprofits market bequests.  Tact, understanding, and skill must be employed when one is required to market around such sensitive topics.

Skills needed to solicit bequests

  • Appropriate language use: Don’t talk about death … be joyful … bequests are life-driven
  • Knowledge of your audience & approach them with a message
  • Relationship development with people who leave legacy donations
  • Celebrate bequests while donors are alive: They want to know they will be remembered when they are not
  • Provide a new generation with details on what previous bequestors’ impact has been, works especially well with heirs
  • Add bequests section to websites!
  • Bequests deserve quality: social activities, feeling of belonging, high-quality website, brochure, Facebook
  • Find sympathetic lawyers and estate planners. Also deliver direct mail in the 3d quarter, to follow up on prior interactions/ relationship
  • Mail bequest requests to all supporters, regardless of age
  • Offer site visits and monthly one-on-one meetings with 1/12 of prioritized donors w CEO and 1/12 w dev staff
  • Allow anonymity

Tips on producing donation marketing materials

  • Have pictures on brochure reflect the audience you are targeting (generally middle-class women, according to a sample study)
  • Don’t write too much
  • Design can sink or sell the effort
  • Printed materials are still important: Think sharing and showing off, have annual report on the coffee table
  • People appreciate assistance in doing their wills.
  • Average conversion cycle is 7 years for bequests, and it takes 3-5 prospects to get one planned gift
  • Ads should reflect and reaffirm the relationship the donor has with the organization and be targeted accurately

Make communications informative

  • Share thoughts:  Show that you are aware, you have concerns, and you would like to discuss the cause
  • Add simple bequest language to email and other communication with your existing donors
  • Content quality matters, not quantity!
  • Avoid sunset imagery and death brochures

Target bequest candidates

  • Major vectors: Existing donors, childless, no grandkids, and NOT rich
  • Retired donors may be cash-poor, but they are often asset-rich. Example: $100 annual donor leaves $8.3 million
  • Only 10% of people with grandchildren make bequests
  • Baby Boomers are the target audience for the next 25 years
  • Bad economies are a good time to approach people about making bequests – give when they aren’t dependent on cash
  • Board members should have made bequests to the board they are on
  • Educate potential donors about bequests and then the maintain relationships

A little more information…

  • All it takes is 1 gift: Dead people give more through their estates every year than all US corporations combined
  • Visiting nurses groups and animal welfare generally get money when a childless person dies
  • There’s vast room for growth in US legacy giving compared to UK, Canada, and Australia
  • A $20K bequest will grow to $368K in principle and $300K in grants over 50 years

The art of soliciting bequests, a serious topic in the realm of marketing, is one that must be addressed.  Use Tom Ahern’s lessons to boost nonprofits and charitable giving.  In this industry, always remember to keep your audience in mind and be sympathetic to the emotional weight of such a request.

For more information on nonprofit resources, check out

Designated Editor Writes a Book | Retreat Weekend

Book retreat weekend Designated Editor

Book writing goes much faster without distractions and some plush surroundings.

Book Writing Requires Retreat Weekend

Room 202 was a second attempt at the ideal sanctuary to remove distractions and stimulate my book writing. With a sliver of a Bay view, the fireplace blazing, and light streaming in the room’s four windows, it’s nearly everything I was looking for.

I knew I had to get away, despite all that needed to be done at the farmhouse.

Hurricane Sandy had created quite a stick harvest – tree debris strewn everywhere – not to mention the house’s 43 windows still need to be cleaned.

And the daylight shining in spotlighted where the floors had accumulated dust, grass clippings, spider webbings, and more.

For sure my husband was going to guilt me about getting away, especially since the roof of the big barn looked like a giant had peeled a big hole back from the tin roof, just like we used to poke a hole in the bottoms of the chocolates when the Valentine’s box didn’t come with a map. No treats inside the barn, Sandy, but thanks for the big hole in the roof. Instead, Bob’s parting words before closing the side door and heading off to work: “Happy writing!”

Instead, the deal I had found wasn’t available for Friday night. I rearranged my Monday tasks to Saturday morning: graded all the papers, set up next assignments, readings, and announcements for my Event Planning & New Media class. Not quite ready to write one of the 4 chapters I’ve tasked myself with, but at greater ease with the decks fully cleared for the next 2 days.

Considering Writing a Book? Dial into Lisa Tener’s Free Teleseminar on March 19.

Bristol Harbor Inn offers staycation deals in November and December. Bob suggested going someplace more interesting, but 30 minutes from home removes the temptation to explore. I’m here to dive into my book. The Saturday-Sunday night stay rang up to just over $200, with gas fireplace, $50 dining credit, and continental breakfast each day.

Room 202 is in the front of the building with 2 south-facing windows and 2 street-facing. The only change I’d make is more of an easy chair, but the chair I’m in is likely better, less tempting to fall asleep in!

No wifi in the room is also a blessing. Only hardwire, and I do have my laptop, although I’m finding writing on my iPad less work-like.

A few of the secrets from Lisa’s class that have really helped

  • Make the space in your life for your book.
  • Let writing your book be a fun activity, not something you dread.
  • Imagine your readers and how your book will resonate with them, change their lives.

The most surprising aspect so far is how easily it’s coming together, if I create the time and space for it.

And, this experience has transferred to other aspects of my life and business. Most surprising example, getting away while there’s so much work to be done. Fortunately, Bob has become adept at fixing barn roofs; the sticks will be there when I get back and feel like being outside; and I’m spending less than I budgeted and will bring the house cleaners in for an even bigger reward.

Designated Editor Writes a Book | Where to Begin

In my quest to share my insights and expertise in a more structured format, I’m working on a book. But not without help! Lisa Tener’s class is helping to keep me on-target for a first draft in 8 weeks.

See my earlier post on overhauling the Designated Editor brand.

I like to say “Websites age in dog years.” Due to styles, usability preferences, and technology they start to look stale after about 3 years. Or, after 3 years you should be planning a makeover, one of the services Designated Editor provides to clients (shameless plug).

But perhaps the same is true for brands? From when I first launched Designated Editor, 4 years and 2 website designs ago, much has changed. First, when I left The Globe, only newspapers seemed to be headed toward a sinkhole. Now we’ve experienced the Great Recession. While the economy was down, I was filling up on knowledge, starting with SEO and then Social Media, always evolving, but I’m evolving with it.

Part of that evolution is taking my insights and creating a guide to jump-start brands’ new media efforts. The book takes a holistic view of new media, not simply social media. If you’ve been a regular Designated Editor blog reader you’ll find several themes, among them:

  • Search and Social are morphing
  • In-person interactions and social media complement each other
  • Search should be – and is increasing so – about fulfilling user needs

All is not without controversy: Years ago an SEO expert left a comment that challenges my downplay of link-building. Since then search experts know: It’s not about building links but building reputation.

In the Designated Editor brand overhaul, I’m relying on key folks for support, Lisa Tener being first and foremost as I eagerly put my thoughts to paper. If you’re considering writing a book, or completing any major project, here are a few recent tips from Lisa’s workshop that you may find helpful:

Book-writing tips from Lisa Tener

  • Put the book first
  • Beware of new must-dos that may crop up
  • Delegate more
  • Let go of your ego: focus on what you can give, not how others will see it.

Considering Writing a Book? Dial into Lisa Tener’s Free Teleseminar on March 19.

Another tip from a classmate: Don’t get hemmed in by technology. It’s OK to write on your iPhone or iPad and email yourself the document. I write on the sunporch with my iPad, far from my desk, which prohibits interruptions like checking email and answering calls.

Engaging Followers on LinkedIn | HootSuite University Presentation

With more than 160 million users on its platform, LinkedIn is a strategic digital platform to connect with top decision players in your industry. A newer addition to LinkedIn, the “Company Page,” allows you to add your company to the professional networking site and stay on top of industry news. The Company Page allows you to establish strong social relationship with other companies, and gives you the capabilities to connect with the movers and shakers in your industry to drive your business objectives.

What is the best way to use the Company Pages to grow your business?

HootSuite University hosted Mike Grishaver and Andrew Kaplan from LinkedIn with best practices on how to grow your business using LinkedIn’s Company Pages in their presentation, “Relationships that Drive Results: 5 Key Steps to Engaging Followers on LinkedIn.”

Use LinkedIn Company Pages to

  • Optimize and drive traffic to your page
  • Effectively communicate and amplify your business
  • Update your status using strong content

HootSuite even allows you to add your Company Page their site, providing greater control of all your digital efforts. Do not hesistate to take advantage of the LinkedIn’s Company Page and HootSuite’s services to connect with top professionals and grow your business.

LinkedIn audience characteristics

  • Largest professional community
  • Highly educated, well-paid, high purchasing power
  • Social, yet business oriented
  • Great lead generation
  • Driven


  • Consumers are in complete control online
  • Build interest: Give members exactly what they want, relevant content
  • Target followers: How can you make members even better professionals?
  • Connect using similarities, provide industry trends, leverage audience

5 Step Approach

1. Establish company presence

  • Write your story
  • Fill in all your pages’ fields
  • Strong description: Lead with unique content
  • Recruit co-workers to help: Crowd-source!
  • Fill in product & services page

Best practices: Customize content for each audience

2. Attract followers to your page

  • Ask people on your personal page to join your Company Page
  • Add a “follow” button on your site
  • Announce your Company Page in a newsletter
  • Create reasons for people to follow YOU
  • Join Company Groups similar to yours & interact: Become an influencer

3. Engage followers

  • Message followers with great content
  • Status update interaction; keep brief, but get point across
  • Target your status updates on LinkedIn

4. Amplify users: Make your followers brand advocates

  • Ask your follows to like, share, and comment on your content
  • More follows =’s more followers … Social proof!
  • Use this

Best practices: Call-to-action, link to lists, product recommendations, videos, ask questions

5. Measure & refine approach

  • Set goals & track progress
  • LinkedIn provides statistic tracking on Company Page:  Look at these and track growth
  • Optimize page to generate more leads
  • Generate meaningful content with relevant conversation

Content creation tips, master these

  • Unique content: Blog posts, videos, webinars, white papers
  • Linked content: Industry news, expert research, news coverage
  •  Sourced content: Educational posts by guests, polls, testimonials

The Company Pages on LinkedIn help grow your business, if used wisely!  Add your company to LinkedIn’s Company Page, join the largest professional network, and start engaging with key players in your field.