Your organization was founded on the principle of doing good. Which is great! Er, I guess it’s just good?
So how do you go from ‘good’ to ‘spectacular?’ Or even to ‘great?’ Let the countdown begin.
Bill McKendry of Do More Good has been in the nonprofit branding world for the last 17 years. And he’s gained valuable experience along the way. From number 14 all the way to number one, these are the keys to nonprofit branding that McKendry wants your organization to understand.
14. Recognize the problem.
The recognition process goes a little something like this. “We don’t need marketing. It’s just another expense. We’ll be fine without it.”
Sounds like denial, McKendry says. Then, the panic ensues… “We NEED funds!”
Next comes the, “What do we do?” A lightbulb goes off and you get the idea that you need to talk about your organization at an event. Finally comes the stage of accountability, where you realize your NPO needs to fundraise.
Sounds stressful and unnecessary. Save yourself the trouble and recognize the importance of marketing from the beginning. It’s easy.
“Realize that fundraising starts with marketing,” McKendry said.
13. Never say this… “We’re the best kept secret.”
If your organization is so great, why are you a secret? Saying “we’re the best kept secret” makes it sound like you haven’t properly marketed your business (because you probably haven’t). Plus, not every organization can be the ‘best kept secret.’ It’s a phrase that has lost its meaning. Make sure to avoid this nonprofit branding blunder.
12. Marketing is an “investment,” not an “expense.”
“Marketing and innovation are the only two things that make revenue for an organization,” McKendry said.
Our thinking has been all wrong. A majority of nonprofit organizations have been sitting here asking how much money we should be allocating to the marketing expense account. And there’s not much money to be given. But you’re thinking about it all wrong. If $50 of marketing could get you $150 dollars in donations, would it be worth it? What if it even got you $60? That would be $10 more than you had.
McKendry’s point exactly. Measure your expenses and results. In the end, see if your investment was worth it.
11. Nonprofits DO have competition.
But… we’re all in this together. There shouldn’t be competition with nonprofit organizations.
It’s a valid point, but the enemies probably aren’t who you think they are. It’s not that nonprofit in the same city that has a similar mission. Think of all the other places people are spending their money. McKendry pointed out that your local mall is probably the competition in this case. How can you get people to take some of the money they’d normally spend at the local mall and instead give it to your organization? Think of the bigger competition.
Remember these words from Anna Lappe: “Every time you spend money, you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.”
10. Everything starts with awareness.
It’s a simple concept. The less awareness about your cause, the fewer supporters there are for your cause. Not as many supporters means not as many donations. Do you follow?
Marketing = awareness, which = more supporters and more fundraising dollars in your organization’s bank.
9. Every brand contact counts.
“But we don’t have any money for advertising.” (It’s just another excuse.)
Let’s take a look at one of the most recognizable brands in the world for coffee. Starbucks built their brand off of virtually no advertising.
Advertising is just a small piece of the contact as a whole. McKendry points out that you should be focused on ALL of the other touchpoints too. For example, are you focused on events, employees, communications and every interaction your nonprofit has? There are other ways to raise awareness. From the types of employees you hire to media coverage and events you host, focus on all of it as a whole.
Howard Schultz, founder of Starbucks, says branding is an easy concept. “Understanding branding is easy—everything matters.”
8. Talk about what you mean.
Too often we’re caught talking about what we offer or provide. Instead, we should be talking about what we mean, McKendry says.
7. Ask yourself, “Why?”
We get so caught up in the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of our marketing plan that an important aspect gets lost along the way… “Why are we doing this?” Answer that question first and keep it in your mind as you start talking about the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of the operation.
6. Make a habit of knowing media habits.
You can’t market if you don’t know where people are going for their information. And 90 percent of interactions are screen-based (meaning smartphone, tablet or desktop computers). Go where your audience is at. And if those numbers aren’t enough to convince you, check out these 13 reasons nonprofits need to go mobile.
Plus, McKendry pointed out that 50 percent of media consumption is peer-to peer. That means you’ve got to get your nonprofit constituents excited about your organization, and get them to spread the word. People trust people they know, so get them to spread the word.
5. Content is the new 30 (seconds).
It’s a world where we want our content in an easy-to-digest form. If you can’t get to the heart of the subject fast, you’re going to lose your audience’s attention quickly.
Make it compelling. Make it regular. Make sure it varies.
4. Get emotional.
You can persuade with reason, but you need something else to get people to act. It’s time to get emotional. People are motivated to act when emotions are involved. Think of the last time you were compelled to act on something. What motivated you to buy or donate? Something probably triggered your emotions, combined with reason.
3. Be a brand, not an organization.
You’re thinking of it in the wrong way. Of course you’re a nonprofit organization. But that’s not how you should be seeing yourself. You’re selling a mission and a lifestyle, McKendry says.
Remember, nonprofit organizations are in sales. Whether you like to admit it or not, you’ve got to be a salesperson. Check out how your role at your NPO is actually a sales job in the article.
2. Don’t leave money on the table.
Like we discussed earlier—you’re not spending money, you’re investing it (see point #12). If you’re kicking your feet because you don’t feel like you should be spending money on marketing, you’re mistaken. When you think of it as an investment that will have a return, you wouldn’t leave money on the table. It’s as simple as that.
1. Frequency wins.
Finally, McKendry’s number one point. It’s the reason you can finish the statement, “15 minutes with Geico can save you ____ percent or more on car insurance.” Pick something that’s recognizable and stick with it. Repeat it, breathe it in, live it. Frequency wins with branding.
And there you have it. The 14 keys to nonprofit branding you need to Do More Good in 2014. What’s your favorite from the list, or what would you add?