Civic Hall Labs had acquired funding for a new program to run from Fall 2017 to Spring 2018. It was envisioned as a "Civic Accelerator" for everyday citizens who had a civic tech idea but didn't have experience to create it. We wound up calling it "CivicXcel". Here is some of the copy that described it:
CivicXcel is designed to help the next generation of civic innovators create a more just, equitable, and democratic society by turning their concept from an idea in their head, to a solution in someone’s hands. It is a rigorous, six month, hands-on program designed to help you or your team create a viable, tested proof of concept.
In the first phase of the program, participants work side by side with experts in design thinking, ideation, and prototyping to create well-researched and tested prototypes. In the second phase, participants will work alongside successful entrepreneurs to identify a revenue model for a start-up or a strategy for a proof of concept, determining if they'll work best as a stand alone organizations, or as an internal project of an existing organization.
The problem? It was slated to start in September, and in mid-July, we hadn't even put up the applications form yet. It became my job to create the copy, application, and marketing around it in order to gain enough applications to run the program on time. Success meant getting 35-40 good team applications for the program in three short weeks.
1. Creating the Splash Page and Application
The first order of business was creating the copy for the web page and application. After a whirlwind two days we settled on copy we were happy with for the page that hit our target demographic. In addition, the process led us to a realizing we needed additional recruitment options, including the ability to let people recommend candidates for the program. After engaging our designer to create a few specific pieces for the webpage, we put it up. You can click here to view the finished web page.
2. Creating the Marketing Plan and Collateral
While grueling at first, creating the splash page gave us lots of copy to pull from for our marketing materials. Given the tight timeframe we were on, the marketing plan was going to have to be a quick and dirty affair. Within two days we created a full marketing schedule with content posts for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, ListsServs, Slack Channels, several Newsletters, and more.
The finalized plan involved a combination of social media posting and advertising, email reach outs (both hot and cold), and partner meetings. You can click here to view some of the content pieces on the side.
Every digital comms channel had a link to the application under a different bit.ly so that we could easily determine which channel was leading to the most click-throughs, and eventually, to the most finished applications.
3. Pushing People Along
As the applications started coming in, we noticed that many people would get halfway through the application only to stop. To push them through, I created a drip email campaign to encourage them to finish--either by emphasizing the deadline, how much they'd already completed, or with helpful tips if they seemed to be stuck at a certain portion. Out of the people who'd completed only half of the application, 65% of them went on to finish it.