What we learned about pens and digital strategy

Let’s be honest: the best part about going to conferences is the swag. Candy, notepads, tote bags...once I won an iPod in a raffle at the Nonprofit Technology Conference (during those good ol’ iPod days).

And the PENS. I can’t remember the last time I actually purchased pens, because my desk is overflowing with ones I picked up at conferences.

See3 gave out the same exact pens for years. They looked pretty cool: 100% recycled material, clicky, bright red. I’m sure you have one of these stuck between the couch cushions of your sofa or sitting at the bottom of your purse right now:

See3 Pens

Unfortunately, a lot of those pens were total duds. Despite looking awesome, they couldn’t do the one thing they were created to do: write on paper. I can’t even guess how many we threw away (or gave out to innocent conference attendees...really sorry, guys).

But while our team noticed that a lot of our pens were crappy pretty quickly, we kept trying to use them and hand them out at events anyway. “Maybe this one is ok,” we thought, “maybe no one will notice.” But as much as we tried, those pens kept continuing to fail. This summer, we finally dumped the last of the bad pens (good thing they’re 100% recyclable!) and started fresh with new ones.

I’m not telling you this story just as a promo for the new, reliable See3 pens coming your way. But to also point out that our commitment to making dud pens work, despite the fact that they clearly weren’t working and would never start working, is very similar to how a lot of organizations hold on to bad digital strategies and tactics. We hold onto these practices for way past their expiration dates because they’re safe and we know what to expect from them. Which is usually nothing. But if you don’t take risks and try something new, you can’t fail. Right?

Here’s the hard truth: you’re not going to get a medal for making a crappy digital strategy work. If your digital strategy isn't working for you or your organization, and you can't figure out a way to turn it around, don't be afraid to start over. Taking the time to think critically about things like your organization’s goals, alignment between teams, staff capacity, innovation and implementation will ultimately pay off. Your audiences will be happier and more engaged, you’ll reach your fundraising and advocacy goals, and you won’t be tossing and turning all night thinking about stuff like dry, stupid pens.

So let that useless strategy or tactic go, welcome in some fresh ideas, and start creating digital campaigns, content and other resources that actually work.

Need some help planning out a new digital strategy? See3 is here to help! Apply to our upcoming Strategy Summit on August 31 in Chicago, where you’ll get the spend the day with our team and some awesome nonprofit professionals, and leave with the foundations for a plan that’ll help your organization effectively achieve all its digital goals. And the application deadline was just extended to Friday, July 28!

Questions? See3 Director of Engagement Miriam Brosseau has answers. She can be reached at miriam@see3.com.

Author: Briana Kerensky
  • digital
  • Strategy
  • Content Marketing
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