Citizens of Hootville will know that we detest the boring and the bland. We despise copy that fails to acknowledge that your audiences have other (though not better) things to do with their time.
We regularly witness boring and bland headlines, eNewsletter subject boxes, merchandise copy and organisational slogans. This leaves us cold – Nicole Kidman cold.
Good copy is infused with the spirit of your organisation – and it ought to be a spirit worthy of attention: one that inspires, empathises and distinguishes.
At the heart of most nonprofit communications is a desire to gain support of readers – membership, donations, assistance to lobby, volunteer and the like.
We don’t know about you but we are rarely inspired to help some bland organisation, which may be why we don’t go out and volunteer for a bank.
Volunteer? Hell; we fail to switch banks or even use the extra services of the bank we do use*; despite the billions spent on advertising. Why? Because they rarely reach us on an emotional level. Emotions are key to inspiring action so aim for them.
You need to write copy that makes punters feel something. Put into words the feeling might be: “They know how I feel. They get it. These people are onto something. These are people I want to help. These are people who can help me.”
Professional sports teams understand this. They live and die on membership and thus invest hugely on recruitment and retention. The vibe is jocular, exciting, militaristic, missionary. Everything is infused with: “We’re in this together. Get with the strength. There’s strength in numbers. Let’s be a part of something together. Non-members aren’t part of the family.”
It’s not quite: “You are with us or you are a big fat loser,” but close.
It’s hard to argue with a nonprofit membership marketing campaign that gains 70,000+ people willing to fork out hundreds a year. In no small part members join to feel a part of something bigger. The marketing understands this. Everything is aimed at sparking an emotional response leading to an action.
So are ‘real’ nonprofits aiming at our hearts and minds? Two positive examples come to mind.
We think this Amnesty t-shirt is a fine example of a nonprofit presenting itself less like a worthy issue and more like a team worthy of support. It displays humour, pride and plays on dozens of corporate slogans that use the same structure: [Company name] [doing something] since [enter year]. Eg: Hootville Communications. Grumpily self-promoting since 1999. Amnesty is aiming at our sense of justice. Bravo.
“Yeah – we need to fight the bad guys. Thank God someone is. Go Amnesty.”
We also like Environment Defenders Office Victoria’s slogan. They are a band of lawyers aiming at better environmental outcomes by fighting for law reform and occasionally taking bad guys to court. No one else does this. The slogan? EDO Victoria: The Environment’s Legal Team.
We like it – again it’s confident, battle ready, explains EDO’s point of difference and plays on a phrase we know, ‘legal team’.
“Yeah - at least some of the smart lawyers are on the environment’s side. I’m sick of the big guys hiring the best lawyers and screwing the environment. Go EDO!”
Good slogans and good copy all display chutzpah. (Look it up Christians.)
If you’ve read this far you should read this.
*Hootville uses Coutts and the Reserve Bank of Australia.