I am absolutely convinced that nonprofit marketers have the potential to beat out the big-time corporate PR guys in the quest for the public’s hearts and minds. Whether you’re trying to raise money, recruit volunteers, or get the public to support a change in legislation, you have the power. Repeat after me: “We have the power!” Really? Really.
Don’t believe me? Check out the “Make a Lifelong Difference” video from the nonprofit CASA. Powerful stuff. And then read on...
Consider this: The American public tunes out most of the advertising it is bombarded with. I’m not sure why corporate execs still waste money on billboards, TV ads, computer pop ups, etc. Maybe it works somewhere, but when was the last time you saw an ad and immediately ran to the phone to dial the toll free number? Our brains have a highly-calibrated info sensor that can tune out the irrelevant. Corporate advertising falls into that category. Enter the nonprofit marketer.
What’s different about nonprofits? Why would folks tune out corporate ads and pay attention to your message? Two important things set you apart from your for-profit counterparts:
1) Your work is authentic and human. The American public wants to hear what’s happening with real people. Think about the success of American Idol, Jersey Shore, House Hunters International, the Biggest Loser, and a host of other reality TV shows. Nonprofit work is like reality TV, but better. You help real people deal with real changes in the real world, and not because the camera’s rolling somewhere. You have soul.
2) You’re not in it for the money. There’s a lot of distrust in corporations and politicians lately. This isn’t really new, but greed is definitely top of mind for the public, as many struggle to make ends meet and the recession grinds on. Nonprofits aren’t interested in earning profits, satisfying shareholders, or winning the rat race. You are motivated by positive change in people and society as a whole. You are altruistic by nature.
Finally, this is not unique to nonprofits, but could work in your favor:
Your work is vetted by real people. Word of mouth beats advertising any day of the week. Your organization touches numerous people -- clients, volunteers, community partners, and other stakeholders -- who can help you spread the word. What if you set up a rating system like travel booking sites, online booksellers, etc.? What if the people you interact with were able to rate and comment on your work, the same way they did about their most recent stay at a Hampton Inn? I imagine you’d get some pretty fantastic testimonials.
Over the next few months I’ll be posting tips on how to better connect with your publics in a meaningful way. In the meantime remember -- you don’t need the infinite resources of the big dogs to reach the public. You have the power.