- We’re in the midst of a digital revolution that’s changing the way our constituencies (and potential constituencies) connect with us. We can’t afford not to jump on the social media train if that’s where our constituents are. And many of the ‘close in’ folks are there as well. Marketing (which nonprofits used to call ‘development’) is now very much an “outside/in” proposition. It’s not about a gun… blast… our any outward-bound messaging. It’s about inbound dialogue and engagement.
Example: Imagine asking your constituents to pin visuals from your website of the programs they most value onto your Pinterest board; then imagine other folks repinning these visuals. You get valuable research regarding your constituents’ priority interest, plus you begin a virtual dialogue that may engage new potential supporters. Red Envelope engaged in a powerfully interactive Father’s Day sweepstakes contest that used this principle.
- Our constituents have the tools to push out to us and change the entire rhythm of marketing. They’re defining our brand for us. They can ‘unfriend us’ and let all their friends know. They can leave a bad review on Yelp. They can put up an unflattering You Tube video. They can send out negative tweets. They can post unflattering visuals on Pinterest. If we’re not in those channels actively, we’re not poised to respond and do damage control.
Example: Some years back Susan B. Komen took more than 24 hours to respond to consumer compaints; it took them quite some time to recover.
- What our constituents value begins with them; not with us. If we really want to find a need and fill it, then we have to listen to and engage with our constituents to learn what they believe they need. People today are very informed. It’s not about us informing them anymore. They want to inform us. And they want to tell us when and where they want to hear from us. The growth of permission based marketing is testimony to this trend.
Example: How are you going to encourage folks to subscribe to your email list? You must offer something of value. Don’t just say “Subscribe to our list”. What’s in it for them? Ask them to sign up for something specific (e.g. news, advocacy alerts, behind-the-scenes happenings, recipes, recommended readings, etc.). Then… make sure you deliver on your value-based promise.
- It’s all about the customer experience. Rather than designing programs and products and promoting features we need to think in terms of designing customer (donor-investor) experiences and promoting benefits. Think: What’s in it for them? What do they value? How can you give it to them? How can you help them?
Example: Blog about something useful (e.g., “How to Keep Seniors Safe at Home”). Send helpful tweets with links to useful articles ( e.g., “Make Sure Your Kid Has a Great Summer”). Post recipes created by clients on Pinterest. Share beautiful, compelling images on Instagram.
- You encounter potential constituents in multiple marketing channels so must pay attention to every place they’re coming into contact with you. You can’t simply focus on pushing your message out in one or two forums.
Example: Send a survey to find out which social media channels your constituents frequent. Then go to the virtual party, and give your guests gifts they’ll value. Don’t make them go somewhere they don’t like to meet you. Don’t pick something you like; pick something they’ll like.