Nonprofit marketing is some of the most important, yet some of the most challenging, today. Because the whole idea of nonprofits is that they don’t bring in profits and that they use their funds responsibly, it’s sometimes hard to decide what constitutes a “responsible use of funds.” That’s especially true when it comes to marketing, with so many people complaining that charity donations simply go right back into marketing the charity further.
We say, that doesn’t have to be the case. For one thing, if you choose the smartest possible marketing approach, you automatically have a greater chance of not wasting the money. For another, so long as you’re meeting goals and giving revenue over to the cause, there’s nothing to worry about.
That said, nonprofit marketing still poses challenges. As Classy points out, “Nonprofit marketers don’t have it easy. You need to communicate the value of your mission, raise brand awareness, and draw supporters for your cause. On top of that, marketing trends are always changing, and it’s up to you to stay on top of how donors want to be engaged.”
The good news is, there are answers. By understanding the power of branded marketing and applying that power to your cause, you can hit those stretch targets and build a name for your nonprofit. Here are 11 tips that will help you keep up with marketing trends, communicate your mission and increase the number of people who call you their cause.
Understand the Power of Branded Marketing
Knowledge is power, as Sir Francis Bacon said way back in the 16th century. Since then, humanity has increased its total knowledge by orders of magnitude, with thousands and millions of websites and blog posts dedicated to any and every possible topic. Despite this wealth of info, marketing – especially using promo items – remains relatively esoteric.
The research is very clear, however: Promotional products get far greater numbers of impressions than do media outlets and other approaches. Bags get 1,000 per dollar, while writing utensils get 500 (as much as billboards) and shirts get 200 – more than radio, newspaper and nationally circulated magazines combined.
As Branding Beat explains, “Bags show off your brand to a ton of people because they’re used both frequently and in high-traffic public places. Other high-impression items include anything that gets daily or regular use or wear, such as writing instruments, caps, outerwear, calendars, and shirts.”
So why pursue strategies with far less ROI when you could integrate promos into your marketing plan today? It’s time to integrate promotional items immediately, so make that your No. 1 goal for this budget year. Here are a few ways to get more specific.
Bags Are the Best
Hands down, bags are the best option for any business, nonprofits included. As pointed out above, bags are very visible publicly, which is why they bring in the most impressions of any promotional item, beating out media ads as well.
In fact, did you know that each bag will generate nearly 6,000 impressions in its lifetime? Keep in mind that that’s just an average, too. If you buy well-made and durable totes and bags that won’t break down over time, you have an even better chance of earning massive impressions.
Take It Outside
Outdoor activities are super fun. To market your nonprofit well, make sure to plan at least one activity in the spring, summer or fall. You could even plan a winter skating party, if that’s your thing! Make sure to highlight the event with promotional glassware that holds weather-appropriate beverages: beer in fall, cocoa in winter, light wines in spring and cider in summer.
Outfit the Office
Nothing pleases people like a way to pretty up their desks. Office supplies run the gamut from:
- Business card holders
- Stress relievers
… and more. Just be sure, when you’re marketing with office products, that you buy quality items. Nothing irritates people more than a pen that stops working after two weeks. Now they just have to throw it away, an act that will tarnish your good image in their minds.
Seasonal product marketing tends to produce good results. Why? Because if you match items to the season in which they’re most used, you can guarantee the highest number of brand impressions – which leads directly to more interest and more donations. A few seasonal ideas include:
- Delicate glassware for springtime soirees
- Golf accessories and camping gear in summer
- Convention displays for the busy fall event season
- Candy for the holidays
Don’t Forget the Holidays
Speaking of the holidays, the Season of Giving is one of the best times to solicit donations to your charity. Many people are looking for ways to show their gratitude, and a nice donation is a great way for them to do that. You don’t want to become yet another company mailing out unwanted junk fliers or address labels that become out of date a few months later. Instead, take this approach:
- Set up a seasonal funding drive
- Match donation levels with promotional products for donors to earn
- Put the word out over social media and email
- Set a deadline and a goal to encourage people to give
Holiday drives are a tried-and-true method of earning donations, so don’t miss out by forgetting about the winter season!
Use That Environmental Angle
The environmental angle of reusable promos is a powerful one. People are sick of cheap junk that breaks as soon as they carry it home from a trade show, and in the digital age, paper products are all but unnecessary. Instead of spending your money on massive printing costs or cheap items en masse, take a smarter approach.
Buy fewer, nicer items. Don’t give them away to everyone. Instead, reserve them for special occasions, such as recognizing donor anniversaries or thanking people for holiday donations. Use them as prizes for games, raffles and silent auctions. Give them away along with awards at special dinners or other events.
In other words, use more of your money on fewer items. You will thus produce less trash, earn a greener image, and get more traffic and approval as a result.
Emphasize Your Corporate Identity
More than almost any other business sector, nonprofits must ensure they have a clear corporate identity. Corporate identity is how you convey what you do and why you matter, and it must be both accurate and authentic – it must speak to people.
Before you buy a single promotional product, take the time to flesh out your identity, mission, vision and values. Then transmit these through the types of items you order, the avenues by which you distribute them to customers, and the messages they carry in the logo or branding as well as in any print collateral that accompanies them.
Go Social with Products
It’s not enough simply to buy branded products and tell the world about them. You need to make sure the world tells the world about them. Only when you put the power of social marketing to work for you will you see the skyrocketing results you’re really looking for vis-à-vis nonprofit donations, fundraiser participation and lobbying.
To that end, make sure your social media manager integrates your promotional products into the daily feed flow. On Facebook, talk about recent promotional items that people can win in raffles and games. On Twitter, promote small gifts that people can get in exchange for donations. Use Instagram to stage beautiful pictures of your goods, with your logo prominently featured.
There’s no reason to wait any longer. It’s easy to hesitate, waiting to get approval from this stakeholder or that, or continually trying to perfect the plan when it’s already good enough. But those are just stalling tactics predicated on a fear that you don’t know what you’re doing, or that promotional product marketing won’t pay itself back.
So don’t wait. Call Reusable Promos and start today.