- Fri, March 28 2008
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
One of the most common questions that I receive from nonprofits is this:
“Your marketing advice sounds very nice if you’re an organization that does exciting things, like saving children or planting trees or rescuing puppies. But how do you tell a story about a process-heavy organization? What if we’re about coalition building? Or legal processes? How can that be emotional or engaging?!”
Or put more simply: “Help! People think my organization is boring!”
I usually respond by applying the four questions or CRAM to reposition their cause in a new and interesting way to show it CAN be done—but this time, the Case Foundation has done the work for me very well. They took an extremely important but potentially dry topic - citizen engagement and civic participation (people meeting and talking) - and made it engaging and exciting. They did it with their Make It Your Own campaign, drawing on:
1. Good story telling
2. Dynamic messengers that make it feel personal
3. A sense of urgency via competition
4. Giving it some stakes - namely, potential money for their audiences’ causes
5. Giving it marketing juice
Here’s the good storytelling:
And here’s where you can see the messengers, the competition and the stakes. Feel free to vote.
As for the marketing juice - in addition to doing their own work to promote the campaign, the foundation developed mini marketing kits for the cause advocates involved, so they could learn how to amplify their voices.
I can hear you say, I don’t have a video budget or the Case Foundation behind me. But you don’t need big bucks to tell your story better on your home page or in an email. A simple photo of a person holding a sign with their dreams written upon it is not expensive, but it’s powerful - because it’s personal, it’s real, and it tells a story your mission statement can’t.
What have you done to make process come alive? I’d love to hear.
(Full disclosure: I know, like, and work with many folks at the Case Foundation, and they have funded Network for Good before. But I wouldn’t plug this campaign if I didn’t like it.)