Advertising is not just for enterprising anymore.  More and more non-profit organizations are looking to ad companies to get the word out about their causes.  With limited resources, non-profits must fine tune their marketing strategy to reach the right people.

We’ve had the pleasure of working with a few non-profits in Western and Eastern Washington.  Talk about people who have a passion.  Motivations are different between “for-profits” and “not-for-profits”, as are the nuances behind marketing them.  Those that we would market to, i.e. donors, staffers, customers, community, are interested in the people behind the name of the organization.  Therefore, effective strategic marketing will include the human aspect, the journey, and the story.  Successful non-profits incorporate their message and their people into their brand strategy.

Put time into your business strategies.

Treat your idea as a business.  Every business finds a need or pain, and they create a solution.  Non-profits do the exact same thing.  Don’t rely solely on a strategic plan.  The three basic business strategies, as enumerated by HBS professor Michael Porter are focus, differentiation, and cost leadership.

If you’re thinking about starting a non-profit, you already have a focus.  That is the special need or pain, something that cannot be solved by the majority of organizations.  Differentiation determines the unique way your organization will go about solving that need.  Consider Seattle’s homeless population.  Mary’s Place provides crisis response night shelters and programs for families.  WeCount is a free web app that helps people request and donate items to people in need.  These two organizations derive a benefit from their unique style of aid, and they provide benefit in a unique way that suits a need otherwise not met by other organizations.

Ever worked on a shoestring budget?  That is the reality for most non-profit orgs.  Adequate funding does not come easily, and the profits that they make are not retained as revenue.  These realities necessitate good stewardship.  Cost leadership is a common form of competitive advantage for profitable businesses.  Lower your costs of operation, and you will increase your gross profit margin.  Customers like this because this drives price points down, but non-profit leadership also likes this because it results in greater profits for the cause.  Pay attention to the cost strategies of other non-profits.  Analyze what works, and what does not.  Use this information to shape your operations as a for-profit would.

Back off in between the asks.

There are many, many people and organizations looking to support a worthy cause.  A common bit of feedback that we get from the majority of them is that non-profit organizations can be too aggressive in maintaining contact.  Once you have a loyal supporter, there’s a fine line between making sure your supporter is acknowledged and much appreciated versus feeling badgered.  It’s the thought of “oh my gosh, do I really need to have coffee with this development director again?”  Once a loyal relationship is established, you don’t need to be a pest. Have some systematic way of calendaring the follow-up.   Keep in mind: some donors like to feel acknowledged.  They might have a different opinion on pestering.

Brand Momentum

Saffron Key is a big proponent of “the journey”.  The process that it takes to create an organization, build on it, and bring it into operation.  It creates an emotional connection to your organization.  Bring people into your journey.  The more people that join the journey, the more momentum your brand will have.  Utilize the growing technologies at hand to garner a larger audience.  Social media is a great way to create that emotional connection.  Don’t forget that your website is a 24/7 employee and brand evangelist.

We at Saffron Key would love to meet with your organization to help come up with a website, ad, and brand strategy for your specific journey.  Passion is inspiring.  Let us take you to the next level.