Ep 172 | How to Build Your Board's Marketing Team with Sabrina Walker Hernandez

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Marketing is a task that is ongoing for the sustainability of your organization. It helps to bring in donors, volunteers, board members, and awareness to the community you serve. Setting up your marketing committee for success can not only help kep the board motivated, it will also help you get more support from your committee.

What you'll learn:

→ the power of a marketing task force.
→ how to recruit amazing marketing board members.
→ ways to set your board members up for success.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[7:27] Task Force Start by bringing an experienced marketing person onto the board. That person can lead a temporary task force to come up with goals and strategies, and can also help your organization build relationships.
[15:37] Five and Four Build your task force with five people that can help put a plan in place. Schedule to meet with each other four times to create an execution plan on how to market.
[19:50] Executing The Plan Use resources that the people in your task force can provide to help with executing your marketing plan. Collaborate with local schools and businesses to help reduce costs but still be able to get your message out there.

Sabrina Walker Hernandez

Sabrina Walker Hernandez

Founder, Supporting World Hope

Sabrina is a certified consultant, coach, facilitator, & bestselling author that helps nonprofit and small business build relationships that increase revenue. She has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, and leadership. Among Sabrina’s successes is that she increased operation revenue from $750,000 to $2.5M and completed a $12M comprehensive capital campaign in the 3rd poorest county in the United States. She has facilitated numerous workshops with hundreds of nonprofit and business professionals. Sabrina is certified in Nonprofit Management by Harvard Business School. She is an active community leader and volunteer in Edinburg, Texas where she is based. Learn more: https://supportingworldhope.com/ 

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] A well functioning productive board can be a major game changer for a nonprofit. And it can also be one of the biggest pain points trying to figure out who should be on the board, what role should they play? How can we maximize and make them the most effective as possible? And so I'm really excited today to talk through the marketing side of your boards. Specifically, how can you utilize your board for marketing? How can you help create a marketing plan? All the things around marketing and your board. So I have guest Sabrina Walker Hernandez on today to share with you ways to kind of go from start to finish with creating marketing, marketing tasks, marketing reporting, who do you bring onto your board? How do you pull all of that together, so you don't have to do it all by yourself, but you're also not tasking your board members to do all of the things. So I really think you're going to enjoy this conversation that we have. Sabrina is a certified consultant coach, facilitator and best selling author that helps nonprofits and small businesses build relationships that increase revenue. She has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit management, fundraising and leadership. Among Sabrina's successes is that she increased operation revenue from 750,000 to 2.5 million and completed a $12 million comprehensive capital campaign in the third poorest county in the United States. She has facilitated numerous workshops with hundreds of nonprofit and business professionals. Sabrina is certified in nonprofit management by Harvard Business School. She's an active community leader and volunteer in Edinburg, Texas, where she is based. She has some very tactical and actionable things to share with you today on how to really use your board and marketing and why marketing and fundraising are so critical and critically aligned. So take a listen to this episode. Let me know what you think. I'm really excited because we haven't really talked about board management in regards to marketing on this podcast before. So if you want more of this kind of topic, please let me know. But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by the online fundraising virtual Summit. It all kicks off in a matter of weeks, October 24 through the 28th. And I'm so grateful to Do Good Better Consulting and nonprofit boot camp for helping me bring this to you. During this week, we are going to have 20 plus speakers sharing with you their expertise on how to build, grow and expand your monthly donor program. How can you start having a strong, thriving recurring Donor Program that then allows you to turn those donors into major givers and major donors. So it all goes down October 24, through the 28th. So head on over to onlinefundraisingsummit.com to grab your free ticket today. See you there. Let's get into the episode. 

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business. 

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming Sabrina Walker Hernandez to the podcast. Sabrina, thanks for being here.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Thank you for having me. I can't wait for this conversation.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and we haven't actually had board member conversations as it relates to marketing on this podcast yet. And we're like 170 episodes in so this is super exciting for me. Because you are all things board and board magician.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yes, I am. And I think that, you know, I have this little foundation, like a pyramid that I use for nonprofit. And the base of that is board. And then the sides are marketing and fundraising. And when you have all three of those components, you'll have a thriving nonprofit, but a lot of people don't spend a lot of time on the marketing. And it's so critical to have a brand that people trust. Because if you have a brand that people trust, it will make fundraising so much easier. And we know that fundraising is one of those things that you say to a board and they get the shivers. And so if they understand, let's invest in marketing, it will make the fundraising easier. I think that that will be well worth the investment. And a lot of times what happens is nonprofits just don't invest in marketing.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. 100% It's kind of like the whole shift in the for profit space of the sales and marketing teams working together. I think that shift needs to happen as well in the nonprofit space of fundraisers and marketing professionals working more closely together.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yes, yeah. Yep. Now, and sometimes it's about finance. And I tell nonprofits to be smart, when I ran my nonprofit, every grant, because we get grants, but every grant that I wrote, I put marketing materials in there specific to that program. So they say, Well, it's a program grant. So I can't put marketing dollars in there. Well, yes, you can. So for example, I ran a youth organization, and we got grants for mentoring, let's say, and so in order to mentor, you have to recruit mentees, you have to recruit mentors, you have to do all of those things. So you need to put money in there for recruitment. And as a part of that recruitment, is going to be some marketing collateral. And so for every grant that I did, I always put in there some marketing collateral.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That's a good hot tip right there.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yep, it is, and just get your board, I always say get your board on board with marketing. And I think, to get them on board, sometimes, you know, I always say, it's always great to have one marketing board person, like one person that is in marketing for on your board of directors, whether that is marketing for, you know, for me, it was a marketing for our elect local electric company. But every corporation, every entity has a marketing person or marketing department and ask yourself, Who are you targeting within that corporation? Whether it's a car dealership, whether it's a hospital system, whether it's an electric company, whether it's a bank, all have those corporations, and let's not, let's not forget, you're running a business. And all of those businesses have a marketing person. And so as a nonprofit, you are a business. And you need a marketing person. So recruit for your board, someone from those marketing departments.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. And um, I guess, you know, let's kind of dive deeper into that conversation. And like, yes, it's always great to have a marketing person on your board, for sure. Right? Just like you want to have somebody in legal, somebody in finance, right? Like, that's part of a robust board. So once you kind of have that key person, how do you kind of go about creating your marketing committee within your board? Like what kinds of things might people want to think about? Because the the other side that I see is, everybody has marketing ideas, and everybody brings them to the table, and everybody wants their market that I've got the next big thing, and we can do this, and it can kind of get overwhelming and figuring out what to do, what not to do, how to continue to move forward. So how do you kind of craft that marketing committee that can really be the voice for your team and your organization?

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Well, let's say in crafting a Marketing Committee, this is what I like to do. And this is my approach, does not mean that is right, is just one approach. And so I've served as CEO of my organization, I've served on several boards, and particularly a startup board. And the way that I approach marketing is, again, have someone for marketing on your board, right. But when it comes time to marketing, execution, or developing a marketing plan, so that you're not all over the place, what I like to use is a good old marketing Task Force. And so with the good old marketing Task Force is your marketing person from your board is the, you know, chair or a part of that task force. But they help you identify other marketing personnel in the community that can come together for a task force. And we know that as a task force, Task Force means it’s temporary. And busy people like temporary. And so with that marketing Task Force, you bring them in, and it's a minimum of four to five meetings, right? And you go through that process of brainstorming with them. That process of coming up with the goals and some of the strategies. And you draft up at the end of that task force, the whole goal is to have a marketing plan that you, that task force, looks at and finalizes and makes a recommendation to the board. I love a good old marketing task force because we get the people on that task force who I would love to have on my board, right. But maybe they don't quite know my organization well enough, or perhaps they are too busy themselves. And so I use that task force as cultivation for a pipeline for next Board members, or also use it as a cultivation for pipeline to receive donations for your next event, or donations for your next endeavor, because you're asking them on the task force for their time and their talent. And so imagine you're on that task force. Okay, so let's review the mission. This is what our mission is, this is what our vision is, this is where we're trying to go. You're educating them about your organization, as a part of that task force, you're introducing them to your organization. So even if they are not wanting to serve on the board, or you put them on the list, but you are starting that relationship with them again, so that when you do have an event, or you do have something that you're looking for sponsorships for. It's not a cold call because they've served on the task force. So that's how I like to approach it.

]Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, no, I was gonna say, there's so many things in there that you said that I think are just blowing my mind right now, which makes complete sense and opportunity there. Because I'm thinking if I'm apart, if I'm saying, Okay, I don't have time to be on the board, but I have marketing experience to lend, I love this cause, I'm going to be on this task force, I think I'm maybe will be much more likely to join that board or become a more active volunteer, because now I know you've got a plan in place, like you're not just like throwing spaghetti at the wall, right? Like you're consciously thinking about your marketing activities, and how it's gonna get you to be, which, you know, to your point, most nonprofits don't invest in marketing. So there's also that piece of then security, knowing Oh, my gosh, these people are being responsible with their dollars, they're thinking thoughtfully about longevity and sustainability.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yes, and it just lends so much to that cultivation process, to that process of building relationships, and lending, you know, sustainability. If my wholehearted recommendation is to have Yes, have a standing Marketing Committee, but the way to go is to have a task force, when you don't have a plan in place at all, have a task force to get that plan in place, and then your board can approve that. And then you're going to have a committee that makes sure that it gets executed.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, and then how much easier is it for you to then at that point, recruit the correct board members to help fill some roles or hire the correct staff to fill those goals. And then also, when people come to you and say, Oh, we should try this new thing, or we should do this, or I just heard this is really working, you can come back to them and say, Well, yeah, that's a great idea. Let's put it on the list for the second half of the year, or it doesn't fit into the objectives we're doing right now, then it makes all of those conversations so much easier, because they're attached to kind of a path forward.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] They're attached to a path forward, they are attached to a plan. And so you can always, you know, like you said that way where a board member that comes on, you can say, yeah, that is great. It just doesn't align with the plan right now. And here's a copy of that plan. And also having the marketing chair be able to report status at the board meeting. Yeah, you know, here's where we're at with it. And that, that keeps everything online and on track and gives people a purpose. Because there's nothing worse than serving on a board and coming back and talking about the same things over and over again, you feel like you're just wasting your time. But when you have that plan and you've converted it into a one sheeter and you're the marketing chair, and you can go through that and say, This is what we've accomplished this month with this plan. And this is where we're at, or this is where I need your help Susan, as a board member, to get this executed, it's just a better conversation, and you just feel more productive.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. And we want to set our board members up for success because that's how we retain them and that's how we get the best out of them. When they feel like they, you know, can provide value and that value is showing positive impact on the organization.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yeah, I think that's the quickest way you can lose a good board member is just not be structured and not have a flow and an agenda to your meeting, and not have the topics that's going to be discussed. And all those things, including marketing, you know, most people that you want on your board are probably type A personalities, right? And I'm a type A personality, and what I value the most is efficiency. You know, I value efficiency. So to have a marketing plan to have, you know, to really come to a meeting, and have it be productive, you're going to engage your board more. And that's what most people want, board engagement.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So how, okay, if we're going to put this taskforce together, because maybe we haven't really thoughtfully put together anything in our marketing, like how many people is kind of that sweet spot, because you don't want to have too many cooks in the kitchen. But you want to make sure you have a good, you know, amount of ideas. So kind of what's that sweet spot there.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] The sweet spot is five is what I've discovered. I like to have about five people on the Task Force. And then the other formula number that I like to have is four meetings. Five members, four meetings to get the plan together, and really using the tools like doodle to align everybody's schedule. So they can vote on what day and have that consistent meeting on this time. The third Wednesday of whatever it is, of course, you ask that taskforce, do you want to meet consecutively? Or do you want to meet, you know, once a month, give them that option to see how, you know, what works best for them, but four meetings is what I found to be the sweet spot and five members is good, because even if one member can’t join that particular day, you know, you still have four, and if two can’t join, you still have three, and it's a great way to move forward. You don't have to have all five on the call at one time. And the other thing that I like, since the pandemic too, this is something that can be done via zoom. People appreciate it, they don't have to leave their office, they don't have to get in a car and drive to a meeting, it could very well facilitates the process via zoom, we meet four times via zoom, you prepare the agenda, send it out in advance, I can't stress that enough. Here is the agenda, send it out in advance, and be efficient with people's time. And they will be very appreciative of that whole process. And when they think of your organization, they would think of professionalism. And that's what you want. You want them to think that you know, you want to be professional, but you also want them to think that you are professional.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I know, when I started my first nonprofit right out of college, I was very fortunate to work with a seasoned graphic designer to create all my stuff, because she just helped me pull everything together. And I felt the same way. Like whether you're just a startup or whatnot, act as if you are a multimillion dollar nonprofit organization that has everything pulled together, it doesn't mean you won't make mistakes. But yes, you add that just trust immediately when you don't just say, well, we're new. So we can't do this, we can't do that, you can do all of those things. And then professionalism in setting the agenda, setting meetings correctly, it doesn't cost you money, it just, you know, takes a little bit extra effort to make sure you're doing all those things. So I love that you said that.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yeah, I will say people's time matters. And you want to be, time is money, and people’s time matters, and you want to make sure that you're using their time in the best way possible.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and I think that's why the four meetings is so great, because you know, especially with marketing, we can sit and have fun and brainstorm and talk all the things for months and months and months. Like that's fun stuff. But you want to get down to the execution and actually making a difference in the organization. And I also love the Zoom piece also, because you can record it, you can have transcripts to review later. Like it gives you so much more flexibility to kind of go back and say okay, well, somebody said something at that last meeting. I want to go back and review that because I kind of forgot to take that note, right?

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yep, it is. It's just a win-win. And, you know, if I have to find a silver lining in the pandemic anywhere, it has been this ability to connect via zoom and via, you know, these platforms, it's made people's ability to engage in nonprofit easier, I think and we just need to see that as a advantage and take advantage of that opportunity.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So we've got the taskforce done, we've come up with our marketing plan. Like you said, you know, our marketing person chair is there reporting on all the amazing things that we're executing on. Things are moving smoothly, as we kind of build our marketing committee for our board. If it's not full of marketing people, are there other kinds of skill set things that we might want to think about when it comes to asking particular people to be on the Marketing Committee that you think kind of stand out? That might just be things we would want to include, like in the job description, or the board description for kind of that role.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Yeah, I think that, so then it becomes about executing the plan, right. And that's when you get very tactical. And what I found to be successful in getting some of these things done, is really twofold. One is, once you get that task force involved, right? Sometimes, they will lend their tools that they have to execution. So for example, if they have a videographer, they will lend that tool to your organization to get some of those things accomplished. If they, one of the most successful things that came out of a task force for me, was being able to be in a commercial. And this is how it went. Remember, I said we had someone from the electric company? And you would think, okay, what does an electric company have to do with the nonprofit? Well, they actually happen to be our electric provider. And so during this task force, we pitched the idea, like, you guys, you do commercials all the time. And so have you ever thought about spotlighting, you know, local businesses that you power, right. And so that turned into this whole series of them coming on to our nonprofit, recording the commercial, with our logo in the background, taking footage of our building, and saying, you know, that this electric company powers youth development in our community. Not only did they do that with our nonprofit, they also did that with local businesses. So it turned into this whole series of commercials that we did not have to pay for as a nonprofit, that is one. And so getting those people involved and planting those seeds and having those ideas, then they can lend their resources to you. And it can turn into something that's far beyond what you ever thought it could be. So yeah, it was really cool. Two, in the execution, is if you are able, and you have a college, in your back yard or near you connecting with the marketing or by graphics, the communication department, all of those departments, and speaking with those professors, is going to be another way that you can get things designed, and done for you. Because that was one of my greatest partnerships, was with the university. And it wasn't with, when you say University, it sounds like oh, man, you had to go through all this bureaucracy to get to, no, it was reaching out to that professor and saying, you know, we just developed this marketing plan, and it has a lot of design elements in it, you know, and we don't have the bandwidth for that. Would you consider it being a class project? They have a whole class. And so what they did, this particular professor, she assigned four students per graphic project. So one of the things that came out of our plan was we had buses for transportation and vans for transportation for kids, but they weren't wrapped. So they designed the wraps for the buses. They designed, you know, pop up banners for this and all, you know, and they made it into a competition actually. And so they had to pitch it to me as the CEO, and then I got to pick which one, you know, I liked. Now, that's one way if you have a university, you cannot do everything yourself as a CEO or founder of an organization. You do have to reach out for collaborations and partnerships. So now I have the marketing task force who has developed the plan. I'm working with certain members of corporation to make some of those things happen. I'm working with the local university to get graphic designs and make some of those things happen. And then you still have to pay to get it wrapped or pay to get it, you know, do all those things, right? There's still going to be some costs, but there is still potential opportunity for partnership. And I will say, Yes, as a nonprofit, you do have to pay for some things you do. I don't like that scarcity mentality that we have in the nonprofit community. You do your business, and you have to pay for some things. But there's also something to be said for leveraging the fact that you are a nonprofit, and partnering with people. And so for example, I take that van wrapping, and bus wrapping circumstance, when we did the wrapping, what we did was, it was a sponsorship opportunity. So you go back to the members of that task force, and you say, you've executed this, we're ready to get the design, here's design, wouldn't it be awesome to have a mobile billboard around the community that has your logo on the back of the vehicle, and you shop that around, but it's not a cold call, right. And so if you have four vehicles, in a blessed world, we had four vehicles, and I realized that we were blessed. Even if you got one sponsor, that's still going to save you some money. Right. And so that is how you, it's a series, it is not an overnight process. It is a series of laying brick by brick by brick. And that's what marketing is.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I think there's a lesson here too, for just all committees and teams that you have on your board, because you work with people, the board puts in all this time and effort or the task force to give you the ideas to come up with a plan. And then I think so often the plan doesn't get executed. So just kind of like putting a nice bow on everything that you said here is like you've worked with this team, you've made this plan, then you execute on the plan with the you know, with the talent that you have, and the people that you can recruit now to fit that specific need. And then you have a reason to go back to these players to say, hey, yeah, we need something from you. But look at what we're doing. Like you put this plan together with us and look at what we've already done. You're showing them that you have the dedication, the drive and the you know, mental capacity, not mental capacity, but like you are putting it together, you're putting the plan in place, you're executing. So like that whole conversation becomes so much easier, you're not then going back to those same people six months later and being like, well, we didn't do anything, we took your time, but we didn't do any of that. But now we need money for this. So could you help us with this instead? Like that's a very different conversation.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] It's a very different conversation. And they have already bought into it. They were there from the beginning. They understand what you're trying to do. They see action, they see momentum. And what I do know is people will follow success, and they see success.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, I love that. Well, so many amazing things that you've already shared in this episode. But if there was kind of one last takeaway that you would like to share with either board presidents or founders or leaders of nonprofit organizations, as they kind of think about marketing in their organization, you know, kind of what would you say to them?

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] I would say to them that marketing is one of the cornerstones to fundraising. And it's something that should not be overlooked. If you are trying to raise money, you need to invest in marketing.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, well said, and I agree. 100%. Well, Sabrina, if people want to learn more about you and how you support nonprofits and how they can learn more from you, how do they do that?

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Well, you know, they always say do one call to action, because people get overwhelmed. So my one call to action is visit my website, which is www.supportingworldhope.com.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love it, short and sweet. Well, and we will link all of that up in the show notes as well as some of the resources that Sabrina talked about today. You can check those out at thefirstclick.net/172. Sabrina, thank you so much for being here today.

[Sabrina Walker Hernandez] Thank you for having me. I enjoyed the conversation.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I can't thank Sabrina enough for coming and sharing her words of wisdom with you all. That was such an amazing episode. I love the idea of a taskforce and how that might be able to be a strategy that you employ with some of the other areas of your board management. And what a great fun and easy way to recruit new board members across the board. So, I hope that you enjoyed this episode and got a lot of key takeaways. You can check out the show notes like I mentioned at thefirstclick.net/172. But for now, I hope you'll subscribe wherever you listen so that you don't miss out on a single episode. Make sure you leave us that five star review so that more nonprofits can see this amazing podcast and learn and grow in their world as well. And if you want to catch video versions of this, you can go to thefirstclick.net/YouTube. I'll see you in the next one.

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