Visual Brand Storytelling Tips to Power your content Marketing

Interruption advertising as we know it is dead, consumers are in charge of content they now consume through their mobile phones. In India the fall of prices of smart phones and cost of data is driving up usage. As consumers now turn to consume entertainment and information on their mobile devices, advertising will become the entertainment.

Across Facebook, Instagram, YouTube consumers now consume visual content that tells a story and engages them. The new marketing is visual brand storytelling.

With that in mind you need to come up with content that’s well worth engaging with for an extended amount of time.

The question then is how can your content break through the noise?

Visual Storytelling is a powerful answer that results in greater engagement, traffic and sales.

  1. Photos and images are most important element in optimising social media posts.
  2. 93 percent of most engaging Facebook posts include images.
  3. Videos on Facebook are shared 12 times more than text posts
  4. One-third of online activity is spent watching video
  5. 51% of marketing professionalsworldwide name video as the type of content with the best ROI.
  6. According to a report published by Forrester, including video in an email leads to a whopping 200-300% increase in click-through rate.

Visual storytelling technique to gain social media traction

  1. Tell your Story with video : Stories are remembered 22 times more than data. Translating stories into videos is like making mini blockbuster movies that people love to share and comment on . Every story has a hero and it is not the brand .

In a classical emotional story telling of how Hyundai cars are long lasting and carry happy memories this video has gathered millions of views . check this out.

  1. Authentic Story Telling : A brand visual story cannot claim something that it is not .  Visual story telling needs to be authentic and connect with the world view of the target audience.

BlendTech is a good example of simple video story telling that went viral and sold the blenders. ‘Will it Blend’ is a classical success story , the blender is powerful what better way to tell the story then demonstrate it can blend anything from marbles to ipad , capture it on video and just put it out there.

Check this

3.Add Value : Content that adds value to your target audience will be  consumed and will keep them engaged . The length of the content is not as important as it’s ability to add value . It is now seen that people watch long form videos on social media as long as it keeps them engaged.

With no fancy videos and marketing Dr Pramod Tripathi has been sharing videos that help diabetes patients to reverse their disease and he gathers a good amount of viewership

4.Protagonist :  Do you have a protagonist , case studies of real people who have experienced your brand and are now your brand ambassadors ?

Land Rover found that there is a city ‘the place where all roads meet’ deep in the Himalayas, and discover why this remote village in the sky is known as the Land of Land Rovers.

Check out the video

  1. Connect Brand Storytelling with Good :

People like to see stories of hope and these stories are shared with friends and family. Stories that touch the heart can get people to open up their purses.

Here is an example of video story telling , Dick’s sporting goods did short movies around coaches that were making a difference , the result has been spectacular . You can check out

Visual Brand Storytelling is the future of marketing and is happening now !

Building Compassionate Leaders My Lessons at Mastek

In a world that is driven by ‘Greed’ and focus on ‘Self’, I was fortunate to work in an  organization and under leaders who are driven by values and ‘respect for individual’. I got an opportunity to co-found Mastek Foundation along with Ashank Desai a stalwart of the IT industry in my very early days in the organisation. One of the objectives of creating Mastek Foundation was to sensitise and engage Mastekeers with the community. Over the past 18 years I have learnt a few lessons on Compassionate Leadership at Mastek which I would like to share.

  1. It All Begins at the Top.

I have had the fortune of working closely with Ashank and Sudhakar and also interact with Sundar and Ketan. All four founders are first generation entrepreneurs and IIM graduates. The values Mastek holds flows directly from all four of them, the simplicity, the humbleness, the respect for people and values of honesty and ethics flows from them. Mastek has a deep and unique culture which is people friendly and there is a term referred by Ex-Mastekeers ‘Once a Mastekeer , Always a Mastekeer.’

One cannot impose culture and it does not begin at the bottom , culture flows when leaders walk the talk ! 

  1. Support for the Community is not a Tick Mark 

Long before the CSR act came into place we had Mastek Foundation and we were engaging with the community. Recently when based on the CSR act we could have reduced the annual budgets of Mastek Foundation I got a message that the board took a call to continue supporting the community at similar levels irrespective of the funds mandated by the act.

We continue to invest is supporting initiatives like ‘IT for NGOs’ supporting capability building at NGOs though not part of CSR act. We continue with initiatives in the campuses to mentor youth to build IT solutions for non profits through ‘Project Deep Blue’ again not part of the CSR act.

Community engagement at Mastek is not a tick mark activity it is part of the culture of who we are.

  1. Engage , Engage, Engage

Over the past 18 years we constantly worked at engaging Mastekeers with the community , we call community leaders to talk to Mastekeers , we organise fundraisers , we mentor students at campuses , we help Non Profits build IT solutions , we have an active payroll giving . There is no short cut to engaging employees with the community.

The result is over 80 % of our employees are part of the payroll giving program compared to the industry standard of 15% to 20%. This has taken time and effort, but it produces results.

  1. Put your money first

When we ask Mastekeers to give we at many times run a 100% matching contribution from Mastek . This motivates employees to give when they know that their contribution would have a multiplier impact.

Adding a matching grant from the organisation always works.

  1. Contribute skills

For a software engineer, it is best that he contributes his IT skills. We have a unique mentoring program for college students this is called ‘Project Deep Blue’. Every year students are mentored over a period of 4 months by Mastekeers to build real life working solutions for Non-Profits. This is a win-win solution on all sides , last year we had over 800 students from 18 colleges participate in ‘Project Deep Blue’.

Rather than volunteer for feel good it would make sense to volunteer for real impact. Contributing skills leads to real impact. 

  1. Build solutions for a busy executive 

We work in an industry where there are tough project timelines, we explored the possibility for busy executives to contribute from wherever they at the time of their convinience . The idea of ‘Social Champions’ was born. In todays connected world every Millennial has a Facebook and Instagram page, it is time they have a ‘Krama’ page.

On this ‘Karma’ page an individual can choose the cause/ NGO they wish to support and declare a goal for fundraising. They can then use their special days like birth days , anniversaries or any special occasion to fundraise for their chosen cause. They can customise the page , their message , share on social media even invite their friends to volunteer for projects they are supporting.

GivNow a division of Benow a digital payment start-up incubated by Mastek launched a low cost fundraiser and donor engagement platform for NGOs during Daan Utsav in Oct 2017.  In a short span of time over 300 NGOs are already on the platform.  Now leveraging our employee engagement experience at Mastek and digital payments experience at Benow we are providing the platform free of cost to all Corporates.

Our vision is that even if 1% of the employees at corporates takes up to becoming Social Champions we would help create more compassionate leaders in the corporate world. This in turn will help to grow retail giving in India which is the need of the hour.

Compassionate leaders make business sense as they have a quality ‘empathy’ and they go beyond ‘self’ they are able to inspire teams around them this has a positive impact on the organisation culture and performance.

7 steps to build retail donor community for your NGO.


Many NGOs that I have interacted with mention that they do not have any retail donor database. It looks much easier to put in efforts on a few HNIs or CSR funds. The problem is most of the CSR and HNI funds are focused on a few large NGOs and many Organisations have their own foundations which are directly supporting communities. A large number of small but good NGOs thus get starved of funds. The other problem is if there is too much dependency on a few large donors if anyone suddenly shuts the tap for any reason the NGO program is left in lurch and this has adverse impact on beneficiaries.

Unlike in the US where a large percentage of donations for NGOs comes from retail donors in India it is the reverse. This needs to change. The question is, how does one go about this? This looks like a lot of effort and there is no dedicated person for retail fundraising / marketing communications in many NGOs. Investing in fundraising is viewed as like an unnecessary expense rather than an investment as this is not backed by the large donors.

Yet with some very simple steps every NGO can build a community of retail donor base (I would like to call them friends of the NGO)

1. Build a community

Retail donor base is essential as a community connect, even if a few large donors can take care of most of the funding requirements it is essential for every NGO to build a community of like-minded supporters for their cause. Every problem that exist in a community whether it is slums, education, poverty or environmental issue is a community problem. The community needs to own the problem. The attitude to building a donor base is to involve and build friends and supporters community around your cause and the NGO.

2. Start with the founders, board members , staff and trustees

When an NGO tells me that they do not have any donor database I am surprised. If you open the contacts on anyone’s phone today, there will be at least 100 close acquaintances in the list. One can start there, start by telling them what you do. Every staff member, trustee, board member is a first connect for building the friends / supporter donor base.

3. Structure your donor base for engagement

Everyone who has ever donated to your NGO is a potential life-long donor. How do you stay in touch? do you know the birthdays, special days of your donors? Do you reach out to the donors at regular intervals? Think of every donor as a lifelong community member and supporter for your NGO. Then structure an engagement program around that.

4. Use platforms and technology

There is no way you can build a donor engagement program without the use of technology. Start with Excel sheets if you cannot afford a CRM, today there are many open source CRMs available for free, you could use anyone of them. You can use free tools like mail chimp for emails.

5. Integrate fundraising campaigns and website donate button

It is important that all databases get centrally stored for better and systematic engagement in the future. GivNow was built to integrate fundraiser campaigns and website donations with ease on a single platform.

6. Invest in social media marketing

One can reach potential donors through social media marketing, this is a powerful tool that needs to be leveraged. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, WhatsApp each one of them offers a way to reach out to potential donors. You need to have a plan backed by investment ,this is where retail donations help as they are not tied to specific projects.

7. Leverage volunteers

Building a strong volunteers network helps to build community connect. Provide platforms and tools to volunteers to champion for the NGO and raise funds. GivNow is investing in building online platforms for NGOs to leverage their volunteer network to do fundraising for NGOs.

Building a donor database needs effort and focus, if one has a long-term approach to building a community of friends that supports the NGO this is not an impossible task. It is important to start with investing in a dedicated resource if one needs to succeed in building a retail community of friends network.

Fundraising for your NGO ? Think Story !

You stay in a remote part of India, it monsoon time , it rains for a couple of hours and you are cut off from the world and you need to reach the only doctor who is miles away but there is no transport. This is reality in Melghat, a tribal area at the northern extreme of the Amravati district of Maharashtra, on the border of Madhya Pradesh. Dr Ashish Satav and his wife Dr Kavita Satav  have dedicated their life to work full time for the heathcare of tribals in Melghat.

I experienced the difficult conditions in which the doctors operate, a few years back when I planned a visit to Melghat I had to return back as the area got cut off during the monsoons. On the way back I decided to do a fundraiser for an ambulance for Mahan Trust the NGO run by Dr Satav.

When I returned back to Mumbai I shared the story of how I was unable to reach Mahan trust at Melghat with Mastek employees , I shared the pictures and I shared the extreme sacrifice of the doctor couple to serve poor tribals , I asked them to join in contributing to help Dr Satav in his work by raising funds for an ambulance . It took only 3 days and over 500 employees contributed Rs 7.5 lacs ! All I did was share the story as it was with pictures of water flowing over the only connecting road.

1.Connect to the heart 

Over the years I have learnt that when it comes to giving we need to move from connecting to the head to connecting to the heart . And I have also learnt the most powerful stories that move come from the field , from close to the ground, from beneficiaries. Every beneficiary has a story to tell.

2. Connect with Visual Storytelling

We also know that one picture is more powerful than a thousand words , in a busy world people have short attention spans. In the digital world video is the most powerful medium of telling your story , over 80% of the online traffic today is videos. Real pictures/ videos ,not stock shots that tell the story are powerful tools to cut through the clutter on social media.The above picture of river overflowing was all that I needed to share my story . No fancy camera just clicked on my mobile phone.

3. Hire a good Communications Specialist

Visual storytellings is critical for retail fundraising for NGOs, unfortunately many NGOs lack resources with this skill. In case an NGO cannot employ a full time communication specialist It would be advisable to seek external freelance professional help for the same. Story sharing is important not just for fundraising but to build communities of supporters.

4. Have a clear defined ask

A fundraiser story needs to close with an ask , unless you ask you will not let the reader know what is expected of him/her. Make the ask specific , like I did with the ambulance . Make it easy so most donors can contribute, so we had defined amounts like Rs 500 , Rs 1000 or any amount of choice.If the ask is too big it will miss out on most of the donors. At the same time do not give too many options as this confuses the donors.

5. Share your stories 

Beyond just fundraising stories need to be told and stories need to be shared to build a network of connected individuals who relate to the cause of the NGO. This is the first step to building champions for the cause.Champions can support future fundraisers.

6. Work to build a connected community 

I have heard many small and even some large NGOs share that they do not have a retail donor database .”We are very small ” , “Can you get us donors?” is the question I face many times from Non Profits. What needs to be understood is that unless individuals do not relate they will not connect and they will not contribute to the cause. And there are no short cuts, one needs to put in sustained efforts to build a connected community of supporters for the cause.

7. Have a plan, stick to the plan

Even if there is no database one can start sharing stories that connect within personal networks of family , friends , trustees , board members and volunteers and ask them to share within their networks. Prepare a plan and work to the plan, should this be done weekly, monthly , build a schedule.

8. Leverage Social Media 

Technology must be leveraged to build a connected community for the cause , this is not sustainable as a manual process. An NGO must have a Facebook page and promote it to build online community. This takes time and effort which is well worth investing , you want to engage a community , build your Tribe.

Internet and Social media has made it possible to reach out globally to Your Tribes , those who believe in your Why every non profit must make use of this opportunity.

For any cause it is important to build a network of good, those who can relate will join the network . It all starts with sharing your story.