Ever look at other organizations’ strategies, get tempted to copy it but end up with less success? In this episode, Kerstin Heuer, a nonprofit marketing consultant and founder of Nonprofit Today, teaches us how to improve our marketing and branding so we can stop comparing and start seeing results in a way that’s easy and practical.
What makes you…you?
Often, we find ourselves wanting a better brand or feel as though we’re not marketing enough. Do you find yourself trying every and all the different kinds of technology available and yet…no traction?
In order to create a really great brand, it’s not about technology at all – it starts with your values, your mission, and the way that you operate. It starts with what makes you…you!
Without this important piece, your audience won’t resonate or understand the messages your organization puts out there – or worse they won’t understand what your organization is all about. Kerstin recommends asking your audience how they see your organization and what they hope for and care about. Ask them what role your organization plays in the community. Then, you can figure out what your organization can do for them and how to best reach them. (Bonus: this is also great insight for your fundraising strategy too!)
Your goal is to align your organization’s key messages with your purpose. Reflect on why you do what you do, who your audience is and what they value. As a nonprofit, the focus should be more than just asking for a donation, but rather, how can we help them become who they want to be? You need to create an emotional connection – especially since 95% of our decisions are triggered by our subconscious and by our emotions.
It all comes back to your audience
Another way to frame your communications around your audience is to come up with some “personas.” Kerstin suggests creating two or three characters that embody your audience. You can give them a name and think of the different characteristics they typically have – then think about how they would react to various key messages and what would resonate best with them.
Try interviewing current and potential audience members on a one-on-one level to understand these characteristics and pay attention to the kind of language they use. This uncovers any blind spots and also helps you cut down on any marketing or industry jargon. You copy what they say and basically say it back to them with confidence that it will resonate with them – this becomes your organization’s voice in your marketing strategy. Also, this helps you connect with them emotionally so that they become more invested and willing to support your cause.
Marketing = Dating
When you go on a first date, would you ask them to marry you?
Chances are, the answer would be no and it would definitely feel too soon to ask in the first place. The same idea goes for your marketing or fundraising. Why should your audience be expected to give all of their time and attention to you when they don’t know you?
The key is to build trust. Whether it’s online or in person, there are certain steps you must take before asking them to do or commit to anything. You need to get to know your audience, engage with them and build a strong relationship with them.
Creating your content
Once you’ve built up all your key messages, it’s time to create content using stories.
Think about how you want to deliver your story – perhaps try a video or Facebook Live video series where you interview donors and how they make a difference with the organization. You can also choose to make blog posts out of these stories as well.
You can also take your video or blog post and make little teasers on your social media posts to promote it. For instance, one blog post can provide you with about 10 social media posts – making it so much easier to streamline and minimize your work but maximize the impact. Don’t forget to link it back to your website where potential donors can find more information about you and how they can become heroes too!
How to collect emails without relying on the old newsletter route
We all collect email addresses as a means to stay in contact with our audience – but just how meaningful is this? It’s common to think that simply getting someone to sign up for your newsletter is enough – but it isn’t! You need to use this to keep in touch and get to know them better. Instead of spending most of your time and energy on social media, why not connect, build and own your own group of supporters?
Or you might face the other issue…getting people to share their emails in the first place! So how do we get people excited about giving us their email addresses?
One creative way to do this is to provide free resources to download or send a thank-you card for a donation in exchange for their email. This is a great way to incentivize new email collection.
Another option is to gain their email in order to sign a petition. This way they can also receive emails to keep track of the progress of your campaign AND continue getting to know your organization.
The key is to make sure that you communicate how much value they can get if they share their email address, otherwise, they have no reason to!
Just like donor-centred fundraising, your marketing needs to reflect back to what they care about. Really understanding your audience, in their words, unlocks the opportunity to create more meaningful content online and offline.
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Cindy Wagman spent 15 years as an in-house fundraiser at organizations large and small before founding The Good Partnership – a boutique fundraising firm focused on small nonprofits. She has worked in social justice, health, arts, and education organizations. She has overseen and executed everything from annual campaigns to multi-million dollar gifts. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from Rotman at the University of Toronto in 2013.
With more than ten years of experience in development, staff and stakeholder management, strategic thinking, partnerships, board governance, and program development, Aine McGlynn is a diversely talented, self-starter committed to finding creative solutions in unexpected places. Aine holds a PhD from U of T and has a history of academic publishing, along with her decade of nonprofit sector experience. She is a practitioner-scholar focused on how to help nonprofits build their capacity to be successful at fundraising.