5 Ways To Improve Your Digital Marketing Game in 2022


5 Ways To Improve Your Digital Marketing Game in 2022

It’s 2022. We live in a digital age. And when every business uses digital channels for marketing — how do you stand out from your competition? How do you catch the eye of your ideal clients or customers in the crowded online space? How do you create authentic messaging that will resonate in all the right ways, translating into super fans and, ultimately, increased revenue?

Start with strategy. By creating purposeful content, you’re five steps ahead of most of your competitors. Here’s how to do it.

A two-pronged approach: build relationships & boost sales

There are so many people doing great work in the world, solving problems & offering creative solutions. There are a few things you can do to help your business stand out from the crowd & help to move your marketing from good to great: use a two-pronged approach to 1) build relationships and 2) boost sales. 

Relationships, baby

Nobody loves buying from a business whose only goal is to sell, sell, sell. When you start by building authentic, long-term, loyal relationships with your current and potential customers or clients, you set the tone for future sales. Make them fall in love with your brand, your ethos, and the way you do business. Because we all know that making a single sale feels good — but establishing an ongoing relationship that results in multiple sales is great. 

Sell the life transformation (not your product or service)

You can’t focus solely on relationships — you’ve got to sell your services or products, too. Think about problem-solving ahead of dollar signs when it comes to selling. People want to buy a solution. A life transformation. They care about themselves (a lot more than they care about making money for your company). It’s all about positioning. And when you crack the code of how to position your offer, that’s when the magic happens.

5 ways to “up” your digital marketing game

If your digital marketing game isn’t up to par, a complete overhaul can feel daunting. It’s okay to start with baby steps — upgrading one thing at a time — to move toward your goals. By trying one thing at a time, you can test what works best for you and your company — and you’ll have a concrete measurement of success.

Here are 5 things you can do to escalate your digital marketing success.

1. Develop a monthly/quarterly content strategy

Map out buckets of content topics by month or quarter that you’d like to focus on. Organize and build your content strategy into a spreadsheet — and stick to it! Make sure you shoot for a doable volume of work and that you can divide the content into various mediums (more on that later) that can be executed by a pro in that area. Decide who will do what, when, and stay on track. Because having a strategy that you never use is, well, worthless.

2.  Create the ultimate buyer’s journey

Many business owners and executives have a blind spot when it comes to their own customers’ journey. When you’re really close to something (i.e. your services, products, or offers), it can be hard to put yourself in a brand new customer’s shoes and decide if the flow of their journey makes sense. Pretend you know nothing about your brand/business. What would a cold lead want to know? How do you explain your offer? Make sure to be clear over clever or cute. Counter their objections. Provide social proof. Make them fall in love with the life transformation you’re selling — from beginning to end of their experience getting to know you/your brand/business.

3. Vary your content medium (social media, blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.)

The human brain gets bored really quickly. They say that we have the attention span of a goldfish — 5 seconds. We like change, variety, and surprises. Make sure you publish content for your digital audience in multiple mediums to keep your audience on their toes and engaged in your content.

4. Focus on customer service

Don’t forget that there’s a human on the other side of every screen. If you rely on automations or AI to service your customers — news flash – they’re going to notice. And chances are…they aren’t going to love it. Be human. Admit mistakes. Be transparent. Offer to fix issues/problems. Just be nice. It’s highly underrated.

5. Assess, tweak, update, and refine your content monthly/quarterly

After you put your digital marketing to work — make sure you don’t “set it and forget about it.” Ads, websites, blogs, emails, videos, podcasts all need to be tweaked, updated, and refined from time to time. Make sure you’re staying relevant — and conscious of current events and how your marketing might land on certain groups during certain times. Make a plan to review and optimize existing content plans at least bi-annually, if not quarterly. It’s surprising how quickly things can become outdated or appear (even if unintentionally) offensive.

Digital marketing is here to stay. And if you’re looking for ways to improve your digital marketing — you’re already ahead of the game! Remember to start with strategy and build from there. Keep your audience at the forefront of your positioning & language. Whenever possible, put yourself in their shoes and see if your offers resonate with someone unfamiliar with what you do.

Lindsay Hope is a copywriter and marketing strategist with CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.

Cows, Colleges, and Contentment… and Capitalism


Cows, Colleges, and Contentment… and Capitalism

I have always been intrigued by the concept and study of contentment and happiness. Northfield, Minnesota’s slogan of “Cows, Colleges and Contentment” lured me in when I was looking at undergraduate schools – it was a sunny day at Carleton College when I visited in the summer of 1982. I am pretty sure that under my college yearbook picture (book was recycled in our last “lighten the load” purge before we recently moved, so I can’t verify), my stated future goal in life was “contentment.” In our divisive times, it feels like we all might benefit from added scientific wisdom on the topic…

A recent article, “Things That Will Make You Happier Than Winning the Lottery,” piqued my interest. In it, Harvard Professor Sanjiv Chopra explores the research and findings. It turns out that money truly does not buy happiness – people who win the lottery lose the excitement soon after: “The research shows that at the end of a year, they’re back to baseline. Some are less happy,” Chopra says.

Chopra also shares Three Keys to being happier people: Purpose (Dharma), Giving, and Gratitude. The findings resonate with me and feel consistent with the hopeful themes of the season!

It is interesting, then, how important having access to the right amount of capital enables Chopra’s three keys. It is difficult to serve your purpose, give, or express appropriate gratitude if you don’t have the funds to do the work.

ESG-driven impact investors attempt to strike a similar balance. Creating inclusive, socially impactful wealth for all people is not possible without the wherewithal to take meaningful steps forward.

The good news is that the purpose-based recipe is working for a new brand of responsible capitalism. The need for evolved ESG-driven models continues to grow, supporting companies actively doing the important work of our time: purposefully helping solve the climate emergency, giving alternative buckets of capital that support entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities, and expressing gratitude through paying fair and equitable wages.

At Carleton, I was privileged to get to know Paul Wellstone in a unique way. Before he served as the Senator from Minnesota, he taught Political Science at Carleton. He was a huge sports fan and former college athlete. We would share a beer (or 2) at Sayles Hill after basketball games – it was a different time and our interpretation post-game carbo loading seemed encouraged… He would always have some interesting perspectives on our strategy and approach. He usually thought we could pressure the ball more on defense and rebound with more effort (he was right – you can always play harder).

As Senator, Wellstone became famous as a voice for communities that had not been well served by the status quo. He was known for the maxim, “We all do better when we all do better.” He believed capitalism had a deep responsibility to be more inclusive while promoting innovation and allowing all entrepreneurs the opportunity to thrive in its competitive marketplace.

The late Senator would approve of the ESG-driven impact investing movement. Howard Buffett, Warren’s grandson, recently tweeted about how the ESG-driven movement needs to be intentional about its growth, and strive for more uniform measurements that all can understand.

Young people are driving the change. Students are demanding change. One of the interesting things about the juxtaposition of colleges and capitalism is that the wealth gap we see in individuals is exaggerated in the university setting between the wealthy and less advantaged schools. For the more elite schools, college endowments have grown with strong returns. The less advantaged schools are in danger of shutting down. Students are seeking transparency and demanding more alignment with the Environmental, Social and Governmental goals of the ESG movement. Chopra’s own school has bowed under student pressure and has announced they will be changing the way they measure returns in a more inclusive way – the good news for Harvard is that ESG-driven business is growing and showing excellent returns.

For me, as I have matured, I know a more inclusive capitalism will lead to a better, more contented world. We need all the help we can get on that front. And, from one of the learnings from our sports world experience, we can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good as we take direct action. Significant capital and innovative models are leading the change, and it is OK to take one step at a time.

I am grateful that we still have some time, however limited, to give our duty some hope.

Craig Jonas is the CEO and founder of CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


The Anatomy of a Highly Connective, High-Converting Email


The Anatomy of a Highly Connective, High-Converting Email

Part of a series on effective digital communication

As the year 2021 comes to a close, there’s a lot of marketing lessons to glean from the extended pandemic world we’re living in. For those of us in the small business digital space, one of the top takeaways is: Never underestimate the power of email. (Contrary to what you might have heard, email is not dead.)

With an ROI of 3,800-4,400% (according to Hubspot), it’s undeniable that email is the channel to utilize and optimize as we turn the corner into next year. Emails solve problems and build connections with your audience. Then, when it comes time to sell your products or services, you’ve already established trust, built authority, and primed your prospects to buy.

Think about that ROI stat in a different way: for every $1 spent, email generates an average of $38-44. When you think about the cost of developing an email marketing strategy vs. attempting to acquire customers via social media platforms (which can cost up to five times as much!), you’ll find that there’s no comparison in terms of value.

So, once you’re convinced that email marketing is the way to go, next, you’ve got to learn how to create highly connective, high-converting emails.

What separates a decent email from a super fantastic email that your prospects can’t wait to open, read, and engage with? A few things.

1. An Enticing Subject Line

The NUMBER ONE goal of your subject line is to get the reader to open your email. Create curiosity, urgency, and intrigue — but don’t be clickbaity! Make sure you’re authentic and deliver what you say you will. Subject line length can vary, but as a good rule of thumb, shorter is better (try under nine words and around 60 characters maximum). But remember — there’s no right or wrong way to write a subject line. Your audience might prefer a different format or style than other audiences.

Pro tip: Test, test, test! Use trial and error to find out what works best to get engagement with your audience and for your brand. Try using emojis, title and/or sentence case, and longer vs. shorter subject lines. Most email service programs provide an option to A/B test two different subject lines. This means you can send two options to a portion of your audience (usually around 20%) to determine which one works better/gets more opens. Then the winning subject line is sent to the remainder of your list. Take advantage of this! Test, optimize, and test again.

2. Optimized Preview Text

Never ignore this valuable email real estate! Consider what people will see when they read emails on their phones. This almost always includes at least one line of a preview text. Optimize your email copy for the small space you have after the subject line to sweeten the deal — aka incentive to open — your email.

Pro tip: The first few words of your preview text count the most! Make sure your reader will see the most important information first. Give them the critical information that the email is about — and still, find a way to lure them into clicking it open and reading the rest.

3. Focused Body Copy

Once you’ve earned the open, make sure you provide concise, valuable information in the body of your email! Start with a great hook to keep the reader interested. Get quickly to the point of your email; you don’t want to lose their attention (which isn’t going to last more than a few seconds, trust me). Don’t write a novel here… emails are meant to be concise. Make sure every sentence delivers value. If it doesn’t, delete it.

Pro tip: Focus each email on only one idea. Multiple ideas dilute your message and can confuse your reader, making it less likely that they’ll take the action you want them to take. This leads to the next point…

4. A Killer CTA

Don’t be shy — tell your readers what you want them to do while/after reading your email. Write a call to action (CTA) that they can’t help themselves from clicking. It can be as simple as “Buy Now” or “Book a Call,” or you can try getting creative with it. Within the email is not the time to beat around the bush. Make sure you give the reader a reason to have opened your email!

Pro tip: Use the same CTA throughout the email to give your reader multiple opportunities to take the action you want them to take. You can even add it again in the P.S.

5. BONUS: A Few Additional Important Tips

– Personalization in emails is uber-important. Go beyond adding a greeting with someone’s first name. Segment your audience according to the parameters you deem important — actions they’ve taken, demographic characteristics, or triggers that are relevant to your business. Personalization helps you deliver critical information to the right audience at the right time.

– Optimize your offer. If the copy you’re using in your emails isn’t working, go back to the drawing board and think of another way to build a relationship with them and give them what they want. Think beyond features and dig into benefits. How will your product or service transform their life? For example, the end goal of an alarm clock probably isn’t just to wake up earlier. It’s a trigger that helps them get up early to work out, meditate, or read a business book to help them achieve a result.

– Pay attention to timing and frequency. For many businesses, Tuesdays are the best day to send weekly emails. Is that true for your business? Maybe so, maybe not. Test this too so you can optimize the time and frequency when you connect with your audience.

One of the biggest mistakes you can make with email marketing is waiting to get started.

You don’t need to have an intricate strategy to start communicating with your prospects and customers via this channel. Sure, it’s helpful to build that over time, but don’t let the lack of a robust strategy hold you back from simply saying, “Hello, here’s what we’re all about, do you want to learn more?” to them. Your only regret will be not starting to communicate with email sooner.

Lindsay Hope is a copywriter and marketing strategist with CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


Writing Better Newsletters


Writing Better Newsletters

By Jim Crawford

Five tips to start improving your newsletters

Whether you’re sending daily email blasts, weekly newsletters, or even quarterly reports, communicating with your stakeholders via email is an important skill. Just like any other medium, understanding how your audience engages and digests information via email is crucial to effective newsletters. This is already an audience that trusted you with their email address. They are often a captive and engaged group, so it’s important to provide them real value each time your newsletter lands in their inbox.

Let’s take a look at five tips for newsletters that are simple to pick up to increase reader engagement.

Establish a welcome funnel

A welcome funnel is the email(s) a new subscriber receives when they join your list. This could be as simple as a single, text email welcoming them to the list. When thinking of what to include in your welcome funnel, address common things like: (a) How often users should expect emails from you, (b) what topics are covered in the newsletter, and (c) subscription management options.

Be consistent with the schedule

Probably the worst thing you can do is push out your newsletter on an inconsistent basis. An inconsistent schedule leads to lower levels of engagement and a disconnect between your subscribers and your organization. When followers can expect a consistent flow of information, it helps establish trust and credibility.

Quality not quantity

With the rare exception of a newsletter that is explicitly a collated list of items on a topic, your newsletter should probably be a distillation of the topic, industry, news, etc. The chances a recipient clicks more than three links in your newsletter is basically zero. So, what’s important? Which three things would you actually like them to click? This should be your content. Now give it quality. (My friend Lindsay wrote a great blog on accomplishing this).

This also goes for copy. Quality over quantity. No one is reading paragraphs of an email, but you might entice them enough with a good headline or pull-quote to click, instead of their eyes glazing over. But don’t be click-bait-y (enticing your reader to click without following through on your promise). Be sure your content delivers on what the headline offers.

Mix thought leadership with internal and external news

This one might be a bit subjective, depending on your organization and nature of the newsletter. However, a good rule of thumb, the newsletter should include a nice mix of relevant news about the organization, as well as external information you might want to share with your stakeholders. Yes, the newsletter should celebrate your organization’s news, activities, and staff, but it’s not a sales tactic. It’s information dissemination and sometimes that information comes from another thought leader in the space.

Understand delivery times, mail platforms, data and user interface

Ever notice you might receive multiple list emails right at the same time? It’s probably been deemed an active email time for your part of the world, and many email management platforms offer this insight to users to better engage their audiences.

This is just one example of a type of tool that can be used to improve engagement. Understanding the services and data analytics offered to you, can help increase your effectiveness in communicating with subscribers. Take the time to read through provided documentation and become comfortable with the terminology and layout.

Many of these tips are easy to pick up, but difficult to execute consistently. No single piece will make your newsletter the most effective. It will be a culmination of doing a lot of little things correctly, which result in concise and clear communication that is engaging for your constituents.

Jim Crawford formerly worked with CoPeace in business communications. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


Athletes Are Using Their Brands and Platforms to Effect Positive Change


Athletes Are Using Their Brands and Platforms to Effect Positive Change

Shortly before he died, U.S. Rep. and civil rights icon John Lewis said athletes are the new civil rights warriors.

“They have a great deal of influence,” said Lewis of athletes. “Sometimes history and fate just brings things together. And I think that is happening now.”

For decades, many athletes have started foundations and been active in various philanthropic projects. Recently, several athletes have found another way to make the world a better place: impact investing.

Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns has been one of the most active impact investors. He was frustrated that his pure philanthropic efforts weren’t making the societal impact he was hoping for. He believes “philanthropy can be frustrating” at times.

Paul is one of several athletes, including tennis star Andre Agassi and basketball Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, who have invested in the Turner Multifamily Impact Fund, a type of private-equity fund focused on preserving affordable housing. Other investors in the fund include hedge fund billionaire Bill Ackman, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and actress Eva Longoria.

Paul has also joined fellow athletes Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony in starting The Social Change Fund, which was created to help accelerate social change in communities of color and sustainably build a fair, equitable society. Some significant companies, including Goldman Sachs, are early investors in this fund.

Paul has also joined with fellow NBA players Kyrie Irving and DeAndre Jordan to make significant investments in Beyond Meat, a plant-based food company. Beyond Meat founder and CEO Ethan Brown says Paul’s “willingness to use his platform to make a difference is something that’s been evident to me from the very beginning of our relationship.”

An increasing number of today’s more socially-aware athletes are expecting their investments to lead to meaningful societal progress towards positive environmental, social and governance (ESG) outcomes – and they are willing to help lead the way.

At CoPeace Sport we help athletes (and coaches and sport organizations) maximize their ability to positively impact society. One of the tools we use is VIBE™ (Valuation of Impact Brand Equity), a proprietary tool designed to place a value on an athlete’s positive impact on society (e.g., efforts to address social and environmental problems).

An athlete’s VIBE™ score is only one aspect of his/her brand, but it can significantly impact an athlete’s brand equity as a whole. The VIBE™ score is based on publicly available information regarding an athlete’s socio-cultural and environmental impact on society, for example, ESG investments, impact activities on global/societal issues, philanthropic work, endorsements, athlete-produced content via traditional and social media, etc.

Impact investing has positively impacted the VIBE™ scores of the NBA players mentioned in this blog. The following are the players’ VIBE™ scores and their overall VIBE™ ranking among NBA players:


Paul has embraced impact investing because he likes the idea of positively impacting people and the planet while also earning a competitive financial return.

“That’s the fuel we need to bring in investors and reach even more communities and families,” says Paul. “When you combine a positive financial return with positive social impact, you can make a huge difference for people.”

Ken Reed is a Senior Communications Advisor at CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


Marketing Funnels 101


Marketing Funnels 101

How To Build a Funnel That Works

No matter what your business sells or provides or what role you have in your company, one of the essential areas of knowledge you can gain to ensure your business’ success is understanding your customer’s journey. It’s always a good investment to spend time studying how leads find you and what turns them into loyal fans and paying customers. Understanding the customer’s journey helps you develop marketing that resonates with them, builds connections, and gets you the end result you seek. It’s how you create marketing that works.

If you don’t come from a marketing background, the idea of a marketing funnel may not be one of your core competencies. However, once you get familiar with how a funnel works — and what to consider to make it work — you’ll elevate your ability to make decisions not based on what you want and need but what your customers want and need. See the difference?

The Stages of Awareness

All businesses are created to solve problems. When you put on your “marketing” hat, it’s important to understand that depending on the stage of your customer’s awareness about their pain or problem, possible solutions, and YOUR solutions, you’ll present your offer (or solution) using different techniques, and with different messaging.

There are five stages of awareness that your prospects might fall into.

Unaware. When prospects don’t even realize they have pain or a problem, they’re considered unaware. FYI – this is the most challenging group of folks to market to. 

Pain Aware. If a prospect has identified that they’re having a pain or a problem but haven’t started thinking about solutions to remedy that pain, they’re considered pain aware.

Solution Aware. Prospects that have felt pain and also discovered that solutions exist for it are solution aware.

Product Aware. If prospects know that your product is one of the solutions to their pain or problem, they’re product aware.

Most Aware. When prospects know that your solution is not just one of the solutions, but the best solution to solving their pain or problem, they’re most aware.

If you think about these stages of awareness like a funnel, generally, people who are unaware and pain aware are considered to be near the top of the funnel, where people who are most aware are at the bottom of the funnel.

The Top, Middle, and Bottom of The Funnel

Depending on where you’re finding your leads and their stage of awareness, you’ll want to introduce them to your brand at different stages in the marketing funnel. Each stage of the funnel exists for a different purpose — with the ultimate goal of converting leads into long-time fans and paying customers of your business.

Top of the funnel. When creating materials for the top of the funnel (unaware or pain aware prospects, typically), you’re establishing credibility and starting to build trust. Top of the funnel marketing pieces include blog posts, infographics, events, webinars, direct mail, and social media posts. Content for these pieces is informative, grabs your audience’s attention, and teaches them something — piquing their interest and luring them in to learn more about you, your company, and your product or service as they move into the next stage of the funnel.

Middle of the funnel. The middle of the marketing funnel engages your audience and introduces them to your product or service and perhaps more importantly — your positioning. Nurture them in this stage by providing valuable information and targeted content. What sets you apart from your competition? How does your product or service differ and outperform that of your competitors? Content for the middle of the funnel includes emails, targeted newsletters, classes, case studies, free trials, and more.

Bottom of the funnel. Once prospects have moved through the stages of awareness and understand that your business can solve their problems better than anyone else’s, it’s time to help them make their final purchasing decision and convert them to paying customers. They’ve already evaluated the competition, so to move them to purchase, demonstrate social proof (reviews, testimonials) and the benefits — over the features — of choosing you over your competition. Your offer at this stage can make or break your conversion rates, so be sure you’ve thought about the best way to present your solution and wrap it up and tie it with an irresistible bow.

The Bottom Line = Research Matters

Throwing things against the wall to see what sticks is not a strategic marketing strategy. To build a marketing funnel that works, understanding your customers, what motivates them, and creating language that resonates with them as a solution to their problems is invaluable. Before creating a marketing funnel, be sure to study what matters most to your prospects. That way, creating effective materials that are in line with their stage of awareness will move them through your marketing funnel with greater success = higher conversions.

Lindsay Hope is a copywriter and marketing strategist with CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


It's All in My Head!

Ed Tepper COO & CFO

It's All in My Head!

One of the brightest and most talented people I ever worked with was so smart and quick-minded that she could tell you anything and everything about her business off the top of her head at a high level.  I will call her Elise (not her real name) so as not to disclose her identity.  Elise could drill down into the details in response to the most challenging of questions, generate excitement, and garner true interest from prospective investors, clients, bankers, and other stakeholders.  The business case was strong and Elise as an entrepreneur had all the right stuff.  Then, when asked to follow up with a pitch deck or a plan, she became paralyzed.  Yes, there was tremendous knowledge and experience, and incredible ideas inside Elise’s head, but when asked to put it into a tangible presentation on digital paper (saving trees here!), the momentum stalled.

When investing in a young and growing business, entrepreneurial leadership team is the most important piece of the puzzle.  Company founders are visionaries.  They boot strap their businesses and put it all on the line.  When it comes time to bring in outside funds, family, friends, and trusted advisors validate the founder’s vision with financial support, advice, and make introductions to potential investors, clients, vendors, and other stakeholders.  Much of this can be accomplished on the strength of the entrepreneur’s vision, passion, and personal relationships.  Then, there comes a point when outside help is needed to fuel the growth of the enterprise.

Re-enter Elise.  You can’t help but get excited when you hear Elise talk about her business, the vision, and the pathway to an impactful and important place in her industry.  The challenge was, how do you take that excitement and translate that into something that potential stakeholders will understand, appreciate, and buy in to?  After empathizing with Elise’s angst, she said to me, “it’s all in my head…I just can’t get it out onto [digital] paper!”

An entrepreneur wears many hats and must take on certain tasks and responsibilities outside her core competencies.  Elise knew how to get things done, but she was stuck.  The thing is, while that was hard for Elise to admit and address, she knew she needed help.  Thankfully, I had a lot of experience in this area and was able to take enough “dictation” from Elise, where she could just relax and tell me about her business in detail, and I was able to construct a pitch deck and projections, which she was able to use to tell her story to prospective stakeholders.  Numbers, graphs, flow charts, infographics galore came out of Elise’s stream of consciousness, and she delegated that seemingly insurmountable task to a trusted friend in me to take her vision and translate it into a cohesive set of presentation materials that illustrated her story.  The end of the movie is that Elise went on to raise substantial amounts of capital and built a very successful business with a leadership team that has the necessary skill sets to continue to scale the enterprise profitably.

Why does a business need projections and pitch materials? There are many important reasons:

  • In the early stages of a business, investors bet on the founder and the leadership team. The performance of that team will hopefully translate into positive and impactful results.  While one can appreciate and acknowledge a skilled leadership team, the business must translate that vision into numbers and projected future returns to attract investors, particularly when raising capital outside of family and friends.
  • The process of creating projections has tremendous value to the founder and the leadership team, and it compels them to look at the business critically to understand their costs, scalability, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. It’s a healthy exercise to prepare and update projections periodically as the business model evolves and proves out in practice.  Business and economic conditions always change.  It’s healthy to incorporate this as a periodic team review of what worked, what didn’t work, and where things are headed.
  • As a business evolves, projections are also helpful in attracting new investors, vendors, industry partners, clients, banking relationships, and governmental interest on many levels.
  • A solid set of projections with clearly articulated assumptions, an engaging pitch deck, and cohesive and consistent company messaging are essential to building the credibility and brand equity for an enterprise.

When I was in graduate school I remember being encouraged to “show not tell” in my writing.  In the case of a growing enterprise, I believe it’s important to do both SHOW and TELL.  Nobody tells the story better than the company founder, like Elise!  But you can do Show and Tell on a whole other level with a well thought out set of projections, pitch deck and other materials that help articulate the story.

The moral of the story is:

  • It doesn’t need to be all in your head, let it out!
  • Ask for help from trusted sources and take a load off.
  • This can turn out to be a case where 1 + 1 is greater than 2.
  • Show and Tell is time tested and proven from grade school, to grad school, to building a successful business.

Ed Tepper is the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Finance Officer at CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.

Whats Holding You Back

Investing: What’s Holding You Back?


Investing: What’s Holding You Back?

If you’ve never dabbled in the world of investing, even the thought of talking about money, financial returns, and building wealth can be intimidating.

For many people, investing is a foreign concept and one that might even bring doubt and uncertainty. From an early age, we’ve been taught to “save money” whenever possible. Unfortunately, all too often, investment strategies weren’t part of the conversation.

What if there were relatively simple solutions to help us ease into the investment world? Let’s start by asking ourselves, “What’s holding me back?”

I don’t know enough about investing. 

The vast majority of us can relate to this. We didn’t study finance or economics in school. We’re not financial advisors, and we’ve never worked with one. Perhaps our parents or partners have always handled the finances, so we’re not in the trenches in our own budgets. Whatever your situation, it’s never too late to empower your inner investor by educating yourself. Start simple, do basic research. There’s a world of information available on the internet; start by mining through well-known and trusted websites. Talk to people you trust who have investment experience. Formulate a list of questions and seek answers. Consult with a professional advisor.

I can’t afford it.

There was a time in history when this might have been true — when only high-net-worth individuals could get into the investment game. This is no longer the case. There are now a variety of investment vehicles available, including crowdfunding and beginner investment websites. The entry point for investments can be as low as a few dollars!

It’s too risky… I’m scared to lose money.

Talking with a financial advisor will greatly benefit anyone new to investing. During this meeting, your trusted partner will talk with you about risk — they will assess your current financial situation including income, assets, age, and also get a feel for how much risk you are willing/want to take. It’s different for everyone, and you can set yourself up for success with the right plan based on your risk assessment. After you complete a professional risk assessment, you’ll have a much better idea of where to invest and how much money you should invest.

Investment options don’t align with my values.

Investment opportunities have changed for the better. We’re no longer limited to funds that support fossil fuels, tobacco, guns, and companies with unfair labor or trade practices. Driven by factors like sustainability and positive societal impact, mission-based investors can select ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) impact investing — which allows everyone to put their money toward causes they care about, while still earning financial returns.

Don’t let any of these hesitations prevent you from taking the leap into the investment world! As you can see, there are options for everyone.

Meg Masten is the Chief Relationship Officer at CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


Using PR to Win the Battle For Your Target’s Mind


Using PR to Win the Battle For Your Target’s Mind

“Once it (positioning) is accomplished and the company establishes share of mind, it will be translated into share of market.  Therefore, positioning is really sales and return on investment.”

--Andy Marken, marketing and communications consultant

I’ve long believed — and continue to believe — that psychological (aka brand) positioning – the position you own in your target’s mind relative to competitors – is the critical success factor for marketing success.

This is especially true for new and early-stage companies.

Positioning is one of the 6 P’s of Marketing.  Historically, there were 4 P’s of marketing (product, price, place and promotion).  Most marketers believe there are six today.  The fifth P is positioning and the sixth P is public relations.

The fact is, you can’t build a company/brand if you can’t win the battle for the mind.  A company or product has to build a distinct and differentiated brand vs. competitors in the target’s mind.  You have to stand out as unique in some way.  If you’re not standing out relative to customers in the customer’s mind you’re not positioning – at least effectively.  Ideally, your company or product will own a word, phrase or concept in the target’s mind.  That’s what positioning — when done effectively — does.  

Of course, you must translate your word or words into action to fully support the position you’re after.  EVERYTHING a company does must reinforce the position it wants to own or create.  As an example, if your desired position is “The city’s friendliest bank,” then you must not only have friendly tellers and loan officers, but friendly ads and be a friendly corporate citizen in the community, etc.

You can never FAKE a position.  If a brand promise isn’t true, you not only won’t earn a position in the consumer’s mind, you’ll alienate him/her, developing negative brand equity.  For example, if you claim to have the “best service in town!”  You better walk the talk!

Traditionally, advertising has been the communications tool of choice for establishing a position in a prospect’s or customer’s mind.

But there are two significant problems with advertising when it comes to positioning for start-ups and young growth companies:

  • Advertising is very expensive.

  • Advertising lacks credibility in most consumers’ minds. You can control the message but the fact advertising lacks credibility lessens that advantage.

So, what is a company in its embryonic-stage of growth to do?  Use PR.  Public relations is a powerful positioning tool.  It’s actually preferable to advertising except in the rare instance.  Why?  PR has two important advantages over advertising when it comes to positioning strategy development and execution:

  • PR is significantly less expensive than advertising.

  • PR provides third-party credibility that advertising can’t.

To get a new company or brand started from scratch, the validity that third-party stories or endorsements can bring are critical in establishing psychological positioning relative to competitors.  That’s why a well-planned and well-executed PR campaign should be a high priority for new and early-stage companies.

And it all starts with a strong positioning strategy.

Ken Reed is a Senior Communications Advisor at CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.


Giving Gifts with Purpose


Giving Gifts with Purpose

Happy Holidays!

December is a special month, and we have so many holidays to celebrate in December. We have Hannukah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa. All these festivals believe in peace, joy, and unity all over the world. With all the craziness going on in the world currently, these holidays are awaited so eagerly.

With holidays comes the gift-giving. We need to be mindful of giving gifts to our loved ones. Sometimes, the gifts we give are returned or not liked. A unique and different way of gifting is financial gift-giving, which includes contributing to college costs, giving charities, cash, stock and impact investing.

Gift as Stock
Many parents and grandparents like the idea of ushering their children or grandchildren down the path of financial literacy and financial responsibility. Giving kids a financial gift starts the conversation of how much to spend on something for myself, how much to save toward a major goal, and how much to share with others in need. You can give by purchasing stocks, bonds, mutual funds, or ETFs as a holiday gift to children. It helps if the stocks are in companies, such as Apple, Disney, or Facebook, that they know, understand, and get excited about. Stockpile is one such company which allows you to buy gift cards that recipients can redeem for fractional shares of stock in over 1,000 companies and ETFs.

College Savings
If you have younger children on your list this year, but you still want to give the gift of education, look into opening a 529 plan or contributing to an existing account. These are tax-advantaged accounts specifically designed to help families save for education costs.

Student loan debt
While saving for college can make a great gift, paying off student loan debt is also a worthwhile approach to holiday giving. There is company called Gift of College which has its gift cards available to make the payments for the student loans.

Job skills
Help your friends and family sharpen their skills or expand their knowledge base this holiday season. You never know; it could lead to a promotion or a better paying job in the new year. Online learning websites like Udemy, Coursera, and LinkedIn Learning provide gift certificates to offer someone to take courses.

Charity as a gift
The season of giving is upon us, and this year especially, the need is great. Consider giving a donation or making a charity as a gift this year — it’s a great way to give back to others. It also demonstrates how well we know our loved ones by supporting the causes they care about. In addition to charitable giving being a rewarding experience, it comes with tax benefits.

Impact Investing
If you’re currently assessing your budget and have extra dollars you’d like to spend this year investing in your family’s future…Or if you’re looking for a fresh, new idea for how to spend your EOY budget allocation for investments…
Right now *might* just be the perfect opportunity for you to invest in CoPeace before the end of the year. Investing now is an opportunity to use your dollars for good — by supporting causes you care about and earning financial returns.

I believe, there are so many ways to make gift-giving in a real sense meaningful and purposeful.

Aarti Karnik is the Director of Web Development with CoPeace. As a forward-thinking holding company, CoPeace is building a portfolio of carefully selected for-profit companies with measurable social and environmental impact. To learn more about impact investing, check out CoPeace’s Intro to Impact Investing.