Blog Archives

Audience-specific marketing

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Brett is delivering Marketing Savvy 101 workshops to volunteers from the CFA at the moment. This has got him thinking: nonprofits should target specific groups with a specific marketing initiative, more often.

CFA marketing training

Brett's preparation is legendary.

For example when investigating likely audiences worth targeting as prospective CFA volunteers, the workshop came up with a strong list: shift workers, under 30s, stay- at-home mothers. All groups were seen as likely volunteers and audiences that were able to be targeted effectively, as they tend to gather together. This was good news as marketers love audiences that gather, as it makes them easier to reach.

Shift workers gather at certain factories and businesses, youth are to be found at secondary schools, TAFEs, sports clubs and bars; mothers might be found via schools and women-only gyms. It doesn’t matter if the ‘gathering’ is physical, online or via some media outlet – if they gather, they can be targeted.

However the CFA brigades represented could not recall designing a specific marketing initiative aimed at a specific audience. For example no postcard / flyer had been designed to target women and distributed in a way to reach them – say at women-heavy workplaces. No event aimed squarely at young people had been created and marketed accordingly and no outreach to factory workers had been undertaken.

When marketing resources are tight it is easy to try a scattergun approach hoping to connect to as many people as possible in one fell swoop. This is not marketing orthodoxy.

It may be worth making one important audience your be all and end all means that everything is orientated to one audience – the choice of marketing option, the creative, the copy and the distribution.

If you’ve tried this tell us how it went.

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Testify or risk WTWSTWT

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Here’s one thing we see too few of: testimonials.

What’s so special about them? Well for one thing, they minimise WTWSTWTWe live in a time of endless claims from endless sources. Most claims – we’ll save you time, make you money, we are worthy, we can lower interest rates, I never sexually harassed that staffer, we will turn back the boats, this tax will save the planet – are met with WTWSTWT.

WTWSTWT = “Well they would say that wouldn’t they.” You want to avoid that response.

nonprofit marketing advice

Young folk can be pretty quick with the WTWSTWT, though not in so many words.

The more marginalised your audience, the less likely they are to take the word of an institution. (AKA: you.) Generally speaking, a socially excluded audience displays lower trust and greater  cynicism.

They might however take the word of a peer – which is where testimonials come in. Think of them as a substitute for word-of-mouth.

nonprofit advertising advice

It can be as simple as this.

Here’s a series of simple example and damn good ones at that; from Break Thru Employment Solutions.  

Use testimonials every chance you get. On your site we try using testmionials from donors, bequestors, volunteers, employees, clients, family of clients, patrons, stakeholders, the Minister – whoever . Use them early and often. 

We think that if you can orchestrate testimonials on video they will be more powerful still. Testimonials also allow you to show, not tell, your audience about your values. 

nonprofit marketing

Good marketing distinguishes the brand and connects to your targets.

We trained a group of adult education providers in 2011. They struggle to engage one key audience – middle aged men returning to study, after a short formal education and long term unemployment. Talk about WTWSTWT! Testimonials from their tribe might be a small way to break down the barrier.

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Differentiate or die. A values-based discussion.

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Background briefing: a category is a type of good or service; say canned soup. Within the canned soup category are brands or products, say Campbell’s Soup.

selecting brand values

This soup is like no other. Truly.

Here’s a thought: corporates spend their whole life offering extremely similar brands within a category but claiming that their brand is vastly different and preferable. Think of categories such as toothpaste, credit cards, three door hatchbacks, air travel, funeral insurance, butter, professional sporting clubs or trainers. Most brands within each of these categories are very similar, especially if you compare similarly priced brands. 

Each brand in each category has very few tangible qualities or values to differentiate itself with its competitors. Thus these brands spend millions giving the impression that they have unique values or attributes. They mainly point to insubstantiated claims – this brand will make you happy, sexy, respected, close to your family. These brand values are rubbish of course but they work.

Differentiation means that each brand stands out in the marketplace and can attract its share of punters. Punters often fall for this and develop strong affiliations based on little more than spurious advertising claims. Suckers!

Nonprofits are largely the opposite. Many work hard to develop tangibly different approaches to similar problems such as youth homelessness, disability employment or providing foster care to children. Yet few nonprofit brands concern themselves with differentiating themselves from other brands in the same category. (Forgive the marketing jargon.)

Does this hurt nonprofits? Yes. Too many brands which deserve to be leaders in their category market in ways that promote the category as a whole. It also hurts consumers because they deserve to understand that one mental health brand or service is different to another and how – but they assume that they are all more or less the same.

When ruminating over your brand’s values consider that the wisest brand values:

  • differentiate you from others in your category.
  • aren’t generic or obvious – few airlines boast about being safe – that is a given. Unless maybe you’re a Russian airline.
  • are based in reality – don’t claim to be something you are not.
  • can be displayed in everything you do – the tone of your copywriting to the names of your programs.
  • resonate with your audience.

These are not the same as your mission, vision and values – they are something else entirely; we don’t what.

selecting brand values

The whiskey, behind the man, behind the bar.

A long time ago whiskey Johnny Walker recognised that differentiation was a problem for them and adopted the tag line: “Ask for it by name.” Smart move. They didn’t want to waste their money encouraging people to drink whiskey. They wanted their brand drunk. You should too. 

Maybe it’s time for a Marketing Savvy 101. Ask for it by name.

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