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Storytelling and Nonprofit Marketing: Invisible People's Mark Horvath Talks to Marketing Smarts [Podcast]

Hosted By:
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone
Wednesday, August 20, 2014
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Mark Horvath is a nonprofit marketer and activist. He developed to give people experiencing homelessness a voice, chronicling their stories with an iPhone, a laptop, and social media. Mark was the first representative of a nonprofit to speak at Twitter, Inc.

In 2011 Mark was commissioned by the Canadian government to travel to 24 Canadian cities and help champion the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness. The Huffington Post has named Mark one of 11 Twitter activists you should follow.

I invited Mark to Marketing Smarts to talk about brand storytelling, nonprofit marketing, and what brands can learn from his grassroots fundraising and low-production approach to creating video content.

Here are just a few highlights from our conversation:

Don't wait for perfect conditions before creating video content (05:46): "Really, the first lesson that I learned was [to] look at the solution and not the problems. I almost didn't do this. My laptop would not edit video, and I'm a video producer by trade. So, video's supposed to have B-roll and graphics and music. It's supposed to be this nice, pretty edited thing, but I couldn't do that. So, for about a week, I was looking at my laptop (it was a junky piece of junk), and saying 'Oh, my gosh, I can't do this. I can never do this. I've got this great idea, but I can't edit the video.' And one day I just said 'You know what? I"m just going to put these videos up,' and that was the magic. Authenticity has replaced production value."

Help to promote a cause your audience cares about, and don't make the content about you (18:38): "I do this campaign every December with Hanes [handing out socks to the homeless]. Most of the time brands ignore homelessness or some of the different causes. We reached 132 million people in a short period of time last December, and that's because Hanes didn't make it about socks. Didn't make it about them. We didn't make it about me. We made it about the issue of homelessness, and because of that, it just went viral. It was just really amazing."

To start conversations, give everyone a voice (not just social media "influencers") (19:45): "Often, we look at these major influencers, and they're great, but everybody influences in some way... I don't look at it as how many Twitter followers do they have, or what's their network. I think everything communicates and everybody matters... There's a lot of power in the little guys. Empower them to tell their own story and you'll see great conversations happening that will just spread brand awareness."

To learn more about Mark and Invisible People, visit, or follow Mark on Twitter: @HardlyNormal.

Mark and I discussed much more, so be sure to listen to the entire show, which you can do above, or download the mp3 and listen at your convenience. Of course, you can also subscribe to the Marketing Smarts podcast in iTunes or via RSS and never miss an episode!

This episode brought to you by...

Music credit: Noam Weinstein.

Image of Mark Horvath courtesy of Chris Walter.

This marketing podcast was created and published by MarketingProfs.

This episode features:

Mark Horvath, nonprofit marketing expert, social activist, speaker, and founder of

Kerry O'Shea Gorgone is a lawyer, podcaster, speaker, and writer. As Director of Product Strategy, Training, she oversees sale and distribution of MarketingProfs' premium training products. Kerry also hosts the weekly interview show, Marketing Smarts.

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  • by Kerry O'Shea Gorgone Wed Aug 20, 2014 via web

    Thanks for a great interview, Mark!

  • by Dan MacInnis Tue Aug 26, 2014 via web

    Awesome interview Kerry. Lots of lessons for us about our why and being authentic like Mark.

  • by Kerry O'Shea Gorgone Tue Aug 26, 2014 via web

    Thanks, Dan! Mark has such an incredible story.

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