As I wrote last week, IMC is not easy. It’s definitely a case of progress, never perfection. And yet nonprofits seem to have grasped many of the components of integrated marketing and are running with it. I thought that was worth a little bit more analysis to see why that would be true.
1. Nonprofits understand the buying behavior of their target audience. Face it, trying to get money out of people for charity is really, really hard. It takes a great deal of understanding of your audience in terms of what pulls at their heart strings. (As marketers, isn’t that what we’re all trying to do?) Good nonprofits know the basic messages that appeal to their targets, how they get their information and how best to influence those decisions via the use of media placements, email, social media and other channels. The Red Cross does this better than anyone else. Sign up for their email newsletter and experience them leading you by the nose through their IMC channels. Brilliant, really.
2. Nonprofits usually don’t have money to burn. Unless you were lucky enough to work on one of the .orgs spawned by the Big Tobacco settlements, for the most part a nonprofit marketer is working on a tiny budget. This breeds creativity and that’s what IMC is all about. Nonprofits jumped on the social media bandwagon (and other brand new bandwagons) as soon as they could. Digital marketing is much cheaper than direct mail, and many have become masters at that genre as well. Nonprofits know how to squeeze the most ROI out of their efforts. I learned this during a stint at the Sierra Club. Those people could squeeze a dollar out of ten cents any day of the week.
3. Nonprofits have volunteers on the ground. Typically they have very excited, engaged volunteers on the ground. Imagine if, as a brand, you had a cadre of free brand ambassadors chomping at the bit to help with social media, spread the message via guerrilla marketing, whatever would help them share the message they are so passionate about. It takes careful planning and education around messaging, but from personal experience hashtags + volunteers + social media = acceleration. At least I think that’s what Einstein said. I learned this firsthand while doing media on the ground after the Boulder floods. Volunteers with disaster relief organization Headwaters Relief did a brilliant job of shoveling mud AND documenting the entire experience. As a result, TV stations were broadcasting their photos from their Twitter feed. If that’s not an awesome example of linked tactics, I don’t know what. is.
4. Nonprofits still have many events on the ground. We don’t have as many in the for profit world anymore, but collections of people in one place for one purpose is another Einsteinian equation for IMC success. The ability to combine traditional and online promotions leading up to a news hook is still the best way to increase a digital footprint and help raise awareness AND dollars. The best tactics are not the “newest” ones. A good old fashioned event with new technology like Snapchat Stories is one of my favorite combinations.
5. Finally, you need passion for your brand to do IMC and nonprofits have passion in spades. I wish my B2B clients had as much enthusiasm as my nonprofit clients. When there is a good plan and the process is explained, nonprofits typically crush it.