Yes, you can generate broad interest in your Biomedical Nonprofit’s specialized cause.

July 22, 2014

The Island Institute’s 3-pronged approach demonstrates how.

While the Island Institute is not specifically a Biomedical Nonprofit, it is a science-based nonprofit dedicated to helping sustain Maine’s year-round islands and working waterfront communities. I chose to highlight the Island Institute this month because it faces a challenge shared by many Biomedical Nonprofits: They have a very specialized cause that doesn’t impact most people directly. The Island Institute uses smart Leadership Marketing tactics to overcome this challenge with a 3-step communications approach:

Building Broad Interest
The Island Institute’s initial challenge was to make a wider audience aware of how climate change is impacting lobster fisheries along the coast of Maine. To do this, they created an in-depth communications piece entitled A Climate of Change that combined donor development, community development, and stakeholder development into one tool. This piece was designed for ease of use in the field, making it simple for representatives to share their story.

The Island Institute’s work is so regionally specific that it might have been difficult for them to get a larger audience involved. So, the content of the piece focuses on a passionate community of people who are already working to address the issues of climate change and establish next steps. By sharing the work currently being done, the Island Institute gives readers something to connect to and makes them feel that they have a stake in the outcome, too.

Take-away: Highlighting a community of people who are already working on solutions to a cause can facilitate connection, build legitimacy, and help your mission gain momentum.

Invite Further Engagement
A Climate of Change was created to provide talking points in the field, but it also lives on the Island Institute’s website so that anyone can download the full PDF. To ensure that people did just that, the Island Institute created a direct mail piece with a QR code that routed those who were interested to that specific section of the Island Institute’s website. The addition of the QR code let potential supporters know there were more resources available to them, and made it simple for them to quickly locate those resources.

Take-away: Creating bridges between communication touch points can help sustain interest. Rather than relying on “donate” as a call to action, consider using such bridges to foster an ongoing engagement.

Bring The Challenge to Life
In addition to offering the full version of A Climate of Change on their website, the Island Institute posted an engaging video ( to further support the cause. The video gives voice to community leaders and lobsterman who are personally concerned about climate change and feeling its impact firsthand. Allowing them to speak candidly, rather than having the Institute speak for them, keeps the mission at the forefront and acts as a platform for others to learn more.

Take-away: Staying focused on the urgency of your cause is more likely to engage and inspire large groups of people. Allowing those who are most deeply impacted to speak for themselves can help your institution connect with people on a deeper level.

Many Biomedical Nonprofits struggle with trying to communicate the importance of their work to those it may not impact directly. What the Island Institute shows us is that helping “others” feel like insiders can fuel interest and garner more support for a cause.

I would love to hear your thoughts or ideas about other Biomedical Nonprofits that you think I should highlight in future issues. Please send your thoughts and comments to or call 866-960-9220.

Sharing the Story of Your Biomedical Nonprofit

July 15, 2014


3 Reasons Adobe Voice can be a Powerful Leadership Marketing Tool

Leadership Marketing means sharing your Biomedical Nonprofit’s expertise and/or mission with a broad audience. These days, that often means online. While some larger institutions can create big budget videos to engage Internet audiences, most Biomedical Nonprofits don’t have the resources to follow suit. Now there’s another option.

Adobe has created an Ipad app that allows users to create a persuasive video inexpensively. It’s called Adobe Voice, and it’s an amazing tool for Biomedical Nonprofits that want to tell their stories, share their missions or help others understand specific areas of research. Here’s why:

The App Is Flexible
Adobe Voice allows users to set still images to music and add a voice over. If your team focuses on using compelling assets to create it, the result will be a well-crafted video. How your team uses Adobe Voice is only limited by your imaginations. For instance, you could create a mission-oriented video that helps your development team turn from pitching to storytelling when they meet with potential major donors. Or, you could promote new research or thought-leading content online the moment you decide it is relevant. The options for sharing your institution’s stories are endless.

Voice Simplifies the Process
Adobe Voice is extremely user-friendly because it is designed for everyday people who want to create videos quickly and easily. A word of warning: This does not mean that just anyone on your Biomedical Nonprofit’s staff should be creating videos on behalf of your brand. Leadership from your communications team, development team, and/or advertising agency should drive the project to ensure that the right staff and assets are available to deliver the right message. Once your team has gathered compelling content and outlined your messaging, Adobe Voice helps put the pieces together for you. The app will ask, “What’s Your Story About?” then prompt you to pick a narrative structure. After that, your team can simply add photos, clip art, music, and other supporting graphics to build your Biomedical Nonprofit’s story.

Sharing Is Easy
The beauty of creating an Adobe Voice video is that it can be embedded on web pages, shared over social networks, or emailed to contacts. Consider the impact of linking a QR code to a persuasive video and printing that code on your monthly Newsletter. Not only would it help your institution further engage current contacts, but it would likely be shared with dozens of people who may or may not be aware of your mission. Posting Adobe Voice to your social network is also easy. Just tap “Share,” to post it on Twitter, LinkedIn, via email, mobile, or anywhere else you can place a web link.

If you have questions or comments about using Adobe Voice as a Leadership Marketing tool, please contact me by calling 866-960-9220 or emailing You can also email me links to any Adobe Voice videos you have successfully created. I’d love to share them!

10 Ways to Ensure Your Biomedical Nonprofit’s Website is a Leadership Marketing Machine

July 9, 2014

Shiny clock gears close up
Creating valuable content to earn trust and build brand loyalty

We’ve talked a lot about how biomedical nonprofits can show thought leadership by sharing quality content, so we’ve pulled together 10 content ideas to help ensure your institutional website is a robust marketing machine.

Brands that publish valuable content regularly online (i.e. content marketing) to a specific audience will continue to generate more qualified leads, earn trust and build greater brand loyalty. And regardless of which content marketing channel you are using, the most effective campaigns connect readers back to your institutional website.

According to Forbes Magazine, content marketing is the #1 online marketing trend this year.

Content marketing allows your biomedical institution to steadily establish authority in specific disease areas, and build a trusted rapport with audience members where they spend time. Whether you are connecting with fellow researchers, donors, potential students or employees, industry partners or publishers, typical content marketing channels for biomedical nonprofits may include your blog, eNewsletters, videos, social media, trade journals and organic search, to name a few. Done well, each piece will connect readers to the most important component of your content marketing strategy – your institutional website.

The quality of content on your website is directly linked to your institution’s reputation as a thought leader. Following are ten ways to ensure that your biomedical nonprofit’s website is a robust Leadership Marketing machine:

1) Publish and update essential FAQ’s regularly
FAQs include your institutional facts and figures as well as those that relate to individual products, services, courses and conferences. Here’s a simple example FAQ page from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory.

2) Include more video: YouTube is #2 search engine today
Testimonial-style videos from key donors and trustees go a long way towards establishing credibility for your biomedical institution and help you gain trust from other investors. JAX trustee emeritus Dan Tishman talks here about why biomedical research is so important.

Product video tutorials can help drive sales and alleviate service calls like this one highlighting the efficiency of Lonza’s Flash Gel System. Global life science corporations like Lonza also use video to offer greater connectivity between employees, and, of course, to showcase their facilities and capabilities.

Thanks to sites like YouTube and Vimeo, video content is easily sharable which is good for new biomedical ventures like Novo Biosciences. Here, co-founder and CSO Voot Yin, Ph.D. introduces a breakthrough compound, ZF143. In doing so, he tells viewers first-hand why his work is important. This testimonial offers a personal connection to their work, which builds trust and also helps translate research complexities into real world solutions.

3) Package new or existing programs into online content
Video or pod-cast based programs like Sloan Kettering’s Cancer Smart Talks make your events and content accessible to the world, and help your biomedical nonprofit establish a leadership position in a specific area of research.

4) Host a webinar in a particular area of research
Webinars allow your biomedical institution to serve as an authority in a specific area and connect others that share your space.

5) Update your events, courses and conferences monthly
Be sure your events are current and provide links to online content from past events. (Publish video recordings, media coverage, etc. for enhanced SEO.) Tip: when you have a lull in events or lack of content, post simple news articles covering your most recent happenings to keep this section fresh.

6) Create a podcast
Sound alone helps listeners develop a deeper connection with your biomedical nonprofit and your research. Here’s a series from JAX® Mice and Services.

7) Publish important publications online
Post your printed publications, such as newsletters, annual reports, case statements, etc on your website and in a place that is easy for users to find from your home page. PDFs contribute to search and they also make your materials available to a wider audience when available online. Again, be sure they are obvious. For in-depth materials, certainly dynamic publications offer added value online, but a PDF flipbook will contribute to search and creating one is a quick and inexpensive alternative. Check out the latest issue of Connections from Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory.

8) Review key articles in your industry
This is one of the simplest ways to start building a relationship with writers and others at key publications where you may want to have your work featured – which leads us to #8…

9) Invite and encourage guest participation
Invite a key member of your industry to co-write a blog post around a critical topic. You’ll both benefit from the process and gain additional online exposure to a qualified audience.

10) Showcase the significance of a location
This in-depth virtual tour of Genzyme Center was a simple way for the Cambridge-based company to highlight their headquarters, commitment to sustainability and support public tours. The independent website connects to their corporate Sanofi site, and uses still imagery and text to detail important facts.

If you are a biomedical nonprofit that is new to content marketing, or you have limited social and online marketing budgets, start with the small stuff here. If you are a veteran content marketer, we’d love to hear from your success stories. Email me at or contact me with questions at 866-960-9220.


Using Leadership Marketing Strategies to Build Public Trust

June 30, 2014

3 creative ways Biomedical Nonprofits can connect with the larger community

Biomedical Nonprofits are regularly challenged to translate their scientific missions into something the general public—and potential donors—can understand. Hosting community activities, lectures and other educational events can help demystify your institution’s work and turn passive interest into active support.

To inspire you, here are 3 marketing tactics that can help you show leadership and get more people involved with your institution:

Donor-Hosted Events
Hosting events for the public is a great way to build support in the community. Involving current donors in those efforts will make them even more impactful.
When avid supporters of your institution participate in or host an event, it shows potential donors a level of loyalty and passion that is impressive in its authenticity.

How to do it:

  • Host a non-ask, donor-run event or ask a supporter to hold a fundraising event in his or her home.
  • Invite the general public and/or ask donors to invite their own friends and colleagues.
  • Ask donors to give a short but heartfelt presentation about their motivations for supporting your institution.
  • Have a representative of your Biomedical Nonprofit there to thank supporters.
  • Find a creative way to collect contact information for everyone who attends, and then follow up with cultivation efforts later.

Open Discussions and Debates
Get people talking by hosting an open-forum discussion led by one of your Biomedical Nonprofit’s thought leaders. Science Cafés are a great example. Create a Science Café that highlights a particular area of your research by having one of your scientists give a short presentation in everyday language about his or her progress, and then open the floor up for discussion or questions.

How to do it:

  • Invite the general public to come and learn about a topic related to your institution’s research. Consider hosting a themed event in order to keep the conversation focused.
  • Provide a comfortable, inviting environment and refreshments to encourage creative thinking and collaboration.
  • Be sure the scientist leading the event is able to interject with facts, but also willing to sit back and listen.
  • Encourage lively, respectful debate.
  • Ask participants to follow up with your institution and learn more about your work.

Connecting with Kids
Children may not be able to support your Biomedical Nonprofit with funds, but they can help build community-wide enthusiasm for your work. The Whitehead Institute’s forensic camp for kids offers a wonderful example of how to engage kids by making science fun. Here are some things we can learn from their program:


  • Create a fun program that showcases your Biomedical Nonprofit’s scientific capabilities.
  • Ensure that the program or workshop is interactive.
  • Set up a series of real-world challenges so that participants can put their newfound knowledge to work.
  • Give kids a chance to present what they’ve learned to their parents.

If you’ve found other fun or effective ways to get the general public excited about your Biomedical Nonprofit and its work, please comment here or email me, so I can share your ideas in a future post. I may also feature your institution in an upcoming issue of my newsletter, Leadership Marketing at Work.

Contact me,Karan Cushman, by calling 866-960-9220 or by emailing





Distributing Your Biomedical Nonprofit’s Leadership Marketing Content

June 24, 2014

Social Media Concepts
8 ways to get serious with Social Media

You can create all of the thought-leading content that you want, but it won’t be effective if you don’t have a plan for distribution. Social Media is hands down the most efficient way to disseminate information to interested audiences. That’s why it’s time to take the steps towards creating a healthy social media plan.

Bring in Internal Team Leaders
To define the true value of social media for your organization and begin to formulate a strategy, get your department leaders together. Remember this is about being social, positioning your brand as a thought leader, and breaking down those pesky silos. Whether it’s through group brainstorming sessions or private interviews, understanding the goals of your Development Director, C-level Executives, Marketing/PR Directors, Sale Managers, Educational Director, etc. is key. Are there specific areas of research you want to grow? Are there educational opportunities that you want to bring more awareness to? Does your biomedical nonprofit have specific recruitment goals? These answers will help you formulate tangible goals that you can bring into a realistic social media plan.

Dedicate the Proper Resources
Those doing social media well have dedicated staffing resources and created a daily plan for how social media benefits their overall marketing efforts. So, whether you have one person or a team, to be effective it’s important to create formal social media positions and responsibilities, rather than adding them on as a side dish to someone’s full plate.

Review Your Social Media Approach
If you’ve been on the social media scene for a while take a look at your efforts. What activity stands out? What are your strengths/weaknesses? Did you have set goals in the past and, if so, were they attainable? What platforms proved to be most effective? If you are new to social media, take a look at similar or competing nonprofits. Use the information you find in your research to help form possibilities for your strategy.

Reconnect with your SEO
Social media drives online activity to your website and blog where hopefully targeted conversions are taking place. Review your online analytics as well as your specific keywords to see how well your intentions are working.

Develop Your Social Media Strategy
Elements of a successful strategy can include: list of tangible goals and a plan of action for how social media can help your biomedical nonprofit achieve those goals; team members who are responsible; schedule of activity; frequency of posts; where content comes from; platforms used; types of posts; blogs/organizations will you follow, contribute to, and share; and, most of all, a general philosophy for how your institution will be “social”, interact and grow your followers.

Get Your Internal Team Onboard
Once you develop a plan, share it with department leaders to help them take ownership and encourage internal participation. This should be a fairly easy task given that you included those VIPs early on. You may also include them in your quarterly review process and make adjustments as their needs have changed.

Review Your Progress Regularly
Quarterly reviews are a smart way to see if you are still on track. Don’t hesitate to make adjustments. The organic and immediate nature of social is part of its beauty.

Happy Trails!
Sure, at the very least social media can simply continue to reinforce your marketing efforts and enable your biomedical nonprofit to grow interest from potential donors, research investigators and the media. It is a more personal and immediate vehicle for keeping your circle informed and excited about what’s happening right now.

Imagine where it could take you if intentionally built your own road map.

Have questions? Contact me at 866-960-9220 or email

4 Reasons Biomedical Nonprofits Might Need to Evolve Their Brands

June 16, 2014

And why marketing leaders should learn to embrace those changes

The world around us is constantly evolving. The economy shifts. Competitors leave and enter the marketplace. Political views go in and out of fashion. Biomedical Nonprofits that stay aware of and open to such changes are more likely to thrive. But, how can you ensure brand consistency and stay flexible? Leadership Marketing teaches us the importance of being innovative while maintaining the trust of our audiences. That means evolving your marketing  in subtle ways that shift how your brand is communicating without altering its core.

Here are 4 reasons you might need to evolve your Biomedical Nonprofit’s brand, and how to recognize the signs:

Your Internal Mission Has Changed
There are a lot of reasons why your institution’s mission might change, and there is nothing wrong with that. What is important is that your marketing reflects that change. For instance, your researchers may make a discovery that affects your Biomedical Nonprofit’s overall focus. When this happens, consider how your Mission Statement communicates your institution’s new goals. Are there keywords that might need to change to reflect the evolution? If so, how will that affect other messaging platforms? Taking the time to review your Mission, and ensuring that it resonates both internally and externally, can prevent the need for a full rebranding down the road.

The Marketplace Has Changed
There is no way to predict how outside events might affect your brand. Perhaps another research institution makes a discovery that changes the way the whole industry operates. Or new regulations could change the way your Biomedical institution must talk about its work. Whatever the cause, addressing those events head on will help your brand stay relevant and  assure your audiences that you have your finger on the pulse of what’s happening outside of your 4 walls. If possible, engage in online discussions and other social conversations to stay connected to your current supporters and uncover the ways in which your brand needs to evolve to maintain their loyalty.

The Needs of the Public Have Changed
Great branding is a balance between how an institution views itself and how it meets the needs of its market. When the needs of the market change, your brand must be able to respond. To be sure your institution is still relevant to your audiences, make a list of the 4 main ways your brand is meeting their needs. You may even want to provide a questionnaire to donors and other influencers to request feedback about how your institution is doing. If you find that there are inconsistencies between your list and the results of the questionnaire, you will know it is time to make changes.

The Competition May Change
Many of your brand’s key messages and other assets may have been developed in response to the position of your competitors. If their positions change—or your competitors change—without you knowing it, your brand may be undermined. As an example, your Biomedical Nonprofit may promote itself as the first and only institution researching a rare disease. If a new facility suddenly begins doing the same or similar research, your messaging must change. But, first, you have to be aware of your competition’s platforms to respond to them. Doing a regular brand audit is a good reminder to reassess the competitive landscape and your position in it.

Evolving your brand is not the same as rebranding. Evolution rarely means making drastic changes to key elements of your brand like your logo. Instead, it is about developing a mindset of awareness and being willing to alter your brand’s tone, messaging or strategies in response to industry changes. Doing so will keep your team on point and help ensure that your marketing is as compelling as possible.

If you have questions or you need help doing a brand audit, please contact me, Karan Cushman, by calling 866-960-9220 or emailing










Are Infographics an Effective Leadership Marketing Tool?

June 10, 2014

Surprising statistics for biomedical nonprofits to consider

Infographics provide a visual representation of complex processes or concepts, which make them a highly effective marketing tool for biomedical institutions. Infographics attract attention through visual appeal, and they facilitate understanding with simplicity. Infographics can also help establish thought leadership for a biomedical nonprofits by allowing institutions to easily share expert insights on trending topics, give top-level explanations of scientific research, or demonstrate brand success stories.

Not convinced? Here are some surprising statistics about the effectiveness of Infographics that might change your mind:



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