Daniel Burstein

Nonprofit Marketing: What you can learn from B2B and consumer marketing

November 4th, 2011

At B2B Summit in Boston, I was having dinner with MarketingSherpa Research Analyst Jeff Rice, and I asked him, “What question did you receive most often on the LEAPS Certification Email Workshop tour?” I was expecting it would be about relevance or deliverability, list building or list segmentation. What he said really caught me off guard. …

“Our biggest question is from nonprofit marketers. They want to know what B2B and B2C tactics are effective for them.”

Excellent question. Here are a few tactics that B2B and consumer marketers use regularly that can work especially well for nonprofits. …

Mobile – Find them where they are

More people will be using mobile devices to connect to the Internet than personal computers by 2015, according to IDC. But that trend is already true among poorer populations that cannot afford home Internet access or computers. In fact, there are 5.2 billion active mobile phone subscriptions in the world, according to Infonetics, but only 1.2 billion personal computers.

So while mobile might be an equally good choice for nonprofit and for-profit campaigns that seek a simple conversion (donation or purchase), mobile is an especially good choice for nonprofit advocacy campaigns aimed at a disadvantaged audience.

“With the increase in smartphone usage, we now have the ability to reach underserved communities with valuable election information where digital access is scarce,” said Chrissy Faessen, Vice President of Communications and Marketing, Rock the Vote.

“We can connect with young people, provide a voter registration form and send them a text message on Election Day with all the information they need to cast a ballot. Our research has shown anywhere from a 2-4% increase in turnout rates by sending these SMS messages on the day of an election.”

Beyond advocacy, you can tie mobile in to a specific event to drive action or donations. But when you time the call-to-action can be key.

“Using mobile for fundraising is more effective when used at the end of an engaging experience than at the start of an event,” said Dorrian Porter, CEO, Mozes, mobile audience engagement company used by Rock the Vote. “Linking mobile fundraising with an action – vote or inspiring content or prizes – has much more value for consumers than simply a request for a donation.”


Social media – Tap into their passion

When you look passed the technology, social media is really just a mechanism for people to express themselves and connect with each other about things they are passionate about.

So while consumer marketing companies have certainly leveraged these emerging media well, the opportunity is even riper for nonprofit marketers. After all, many people are much more passionate about state parks than, say, State Farm.

That said … that penchant for passion does not mean social media is a slam dunk for nonprofits.

“Success of nonprofits on social media involves more than just daily Facebook wall posts and tweets,” Robert Krueger, Manager, Social Media Outreach & Communications, Urban Land Institute remarked.

“You have to incorporate social media into your overall marketing and public relations plans and find out what specific topics of your mission statement really get peoples’ blood bubbling.”

Once you’ve tapped into those topics, Robert suggests you go beyond simply sending social media updates out and find the most effective way to engage your audience, to turn this passion into tangible action. Some example calls-to-action:

  • Sign an online petition
  • Donate to your organization’s foundation
  • Register for one of your events
  • Volunteer their time to work on behalf of your organization

“With my organization, we found that land use issues such as suburbia, urban open space and transportation infrastructure stir a lot of both positive and negative emotions among our thousands of social media followers,” Robert said. “We have effectively been able to engage our followers and drive them to our related Urban Land magazine articles or crowdsource their comments for future event panel topics.”

A small nonprofit that Robert thinks has done a good job on social media is Free Press. They turned passion into action by channeling strong sentiment about media consolidation into a specific social media call-to-action and acquired 2 million online signatures that demanded the FCC enact stronger net neutrality rules. But they took it one step further. …


Guerilla marketing – Help channel their passion offline as well

Free Press engaged in a bit of guerilla marketing, and was able to solicit volunteers to come meet them in Washington, D.C. and personally deliver batches of those 2 million signed petitions to the FCC.

While digital tactics are great, don’t overlook the fact that nonprofits can drive in-person, physical action as well. While marketers ranging from record companies to software companies have tried to use creative grassroots marketing to stir up some out-of-the-box excitement and grab potential customers’ attention, nonprofit marketers likely have some genuine excitement to tap into in an audience that may be looking for ideas about how they should channel that passion.

Really, that’s the secret behind Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party.

You can leverage technology, from Meetup to Twitter to Facebook to drive that participation, but make sure you look past the technology and understand the people involved as well.

“Keeping volunteers connected to the organization and making them feel needed goes a long way,” said Wendy Wasink, Principal and Strategic Director, Kantorwassink, agency for the Kent County Disaster Awareness Campaign.

“Guerilla tactics like wild postings, local parades and community event booths do double-duty by getting the message out through people who are already connected to the organization, further cementing their relationship.”


Incentive – What’s in it for them?

Saving the world, in all its many forms, should have a pretty inherent value prop. After all, for example, your audience likely has a vested interest in clean air assuming that they have lungs.

But, as with for-profit marketing, when that value prop alone fails to shine you can always turn to incentive. Here’s another area where nonprofits have a leg up due to the vested passion many may have in your cause.

Some in that “many” may be celebrities or giant companies that may be willing to offer a powerful incentive to your audience that they simply can’t get anywhere else. For example, Nike created the shoes of the future to support the Michael J. Fox Foundation’s Parkinson’s research. The only way you could get them was by making a donation to the cause.

So after you’ve done everything possible to get your value proposition across to your audience, take a step back and think about what unique incentive your high-profile supporters can offer to your audience. It doesn’t have to be futuristic; it can be pretty simple … as long as it’s unique.

“For contests, your prize doesn’t need to be material,” said Dorrian Porter. “Offer a five-minute call with your associated celebrity and watch your database soar.”


Related Resources:

Facebook Case Study: From 517 to 33,000 fans in two weeks (plus media coverage)

Social Media Case Study: Facebook plus integrated marketing helps raise $950,000

Online Marketing: Nonprofit enrolls 3,350 new subscribers with integrated digital efforts

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

Categories: Non Profit Fundraising Tags: , , , , ,

  1. November 4th, 2011 at 09:33 | #1

    Some great points above, thanks for the insights!

  2. November 7th, 2011 at 15:11 | #2

    Wonderful lessons here. The takeaways can also be used by small businesses who face similar budget issues but are motivated to think outside the box.

  3. November 18th, 2011 at 05:29 | #3

    Great suggestions. If I may, I’d add one important thing. Nonprofits need to develop a solid marketing strategy first or their tactics may be unfruitful. Why waste valuable human and financial resources if they don’t do the due diligence and identify their objectives beforehand?

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