Mon, January 27 2014

What you can learn from the Grammys

Caryn Stein's avatar

VP, Communications and Content, Network for Good

Filed under:   Marketing essentials •

Beyond the usual celebrity antics and costume changes, the acts that stood out at last night’s Grammys were ones that delivered favorite songs in unexpected ways. But what does a musical awards show have to do with marketing your cause?

When you have the opportunity to grab your audience’s attention, it’s important to rise above the background noise and deliver your message in a way that will stand out. How do you express your core mission in a way that people will remember? Here are three lessons from music’s big night.

Try an alternate melody.
One of the best parts about live performances is that you get to hear familiar tunes performed in a unique way. Rare is the musician who will play a song exactly the same way twice. Hearing a favorite song in a new way moves the experience from the background of our minds into focus, challenging us to pay closer attention to understand each nuance.

If your outreach is becoming less effective, it may be time to find new ways to express your key points. To catch the attention of your long-time supporters, avoid sending out carbon copies of the same missives that you send year after year. One easy way to do this is to leverage the different stories from all parts of your organization. Testimonials from staff members, donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries can give you the opportunity to tell your story from different, and often refreshing, angles.

Tap unexpected—yet relevant—partners.
Last night’s show relied on carefully constructed pairings. While longtime singer-songwriter Carole King’s duet with younger counterpart Sara Bareilles felt like an obvious no-brainer, teaming classical pianist Lang Lang with the heavy metal icons of Metallica may have seemed like an odd choice. However, the intensity of the song they performed was a perfect match for shredding guitars and booming piano, creating a memorable mash-up.

To add interest to your next campaign, consider recruiting new spokespeople for your nonprofit outreach. Not just any pairing will do—your messengers still need to make sense in the context of your work and your brand. You’re not aiming for pure novelty or shock value. Potential partners should have a connection to your target audience, cause, and local community.

Deliver it with style.
As usual, the Grammys’ producers took it over the top with pyrotechnics, aerial stunts, and a mass marriage ceremony officiated by Queen Latifah. While these tactics aren’t realistic (or recommended) for your nonprofit outreach, it probably wouldn’t hurt to add a little surprise to your next newsletter or appeal.

Look at your communication plan and identify ways you can change it up a bit. Do you always send an email newsletter? Try creating a short video that includes the same information. Thank you notes printed on your organization’s letterhead are nice, but a note printed on the back of a photo that illustrates your work is more likely to stand out and be shared.

How do you plan to jazz up your nonprofit’s outreach? Share your ideas and keep us posted on the results in the comments or give us a shout on Twitter.

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