Thursday, February 17, 2011

5 ways to make digital part of your non-profit marketing

Facebook done wrong
Last time, I talked about digital’s role in marketing. Now, I’m going to show you how to do it.

That’s a big step for many non-profit marketers. Digital is still a mystery to them. It’s a big category. They might understand web, but not social media. They may understand social media, but not mobile. And the list can go on and on. It’s complicated.

Here’s how you should frame digital in your plans.

Inspirational. Most non-profit marketing has an inspirational message. Many times, especially in fundraising, that’s the key to the entire messaging platform. Many years ago, inspiration could be conveyed in a newsletter or a direct mail piece. Now, that job is harder. The multimedia that we are exposed to every day has set a new standard for the sad story or the one that inspires hope – it now has to be one that we can see or hear for ourselves. It has to be real. And the best way to show that is through digital products, such as online video, photos or even audio.

Hub. Many years ago I went for a job interview and when asked about what role the web played in my thinking I told them that it had to be the centre of everything in the marketing program. The people interviewing me didn’t get that. To them, a website was just another tool. They were way, way wrong. Then, as now, all marketing campaigns have a “centre” – a centralized place where the main effort is made. That can be a website or Facebook or even Twitter. The idea is that your marketing program needs a hub. Everything should point to it.

Multiplier. There’s no doubt that digital channels can really make your marketing go further. The classic non-profit example is the quarterly newsletter. I tell my clients to keep it, but reduce its frequency. I then tell them to take the money they saved and plough it into an email newsletter that comes out more frequently, but with a smaller footprint. The effect is to increase overall engagement. The email multiplies the print newsletter. The same applies to other digital offerings.

Measurer. There are no better metrics than digital ones. They are easy to generate, easy to understand and they are true. By that, I mean that they paint a very clear picture of the results. Let’s face it. Many of the measurements used in non-profit communications don’t amount to much. I still find people who say what they spend is a measurement of their success. I find others who count press releases issued or number of impressions from ads. But all of those can be misleading. Spending is really about allocating. Press releases are nice, but do they really lead to news items? And if so, are they where people can see them or on some lonely back page? Impressions are nice, but we all know that we can read a newspaper and ignore the ads in them. Impressions don’t equal attention. Things like web traffic however show action. They tell us about customer behaviour. That makes digital a powerful measurement platform.

Interactive. Today, marketing is a conversation. Until now, that wasn’t possible. Digital has put asking for and listening to the opinions of your customers into your hands. You can ask for comments, roll out a survey or do a contest. The place to do that is online.

Five simple digital strategies. You can use one, use two or use them all. Whatever you do, make sure you put digital into your plans from the start.

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