A Word from Tremana White
In the dynamic world of digital marketing, creativity is the lifeblood of successful brand campaigns. As a Digital Marketing Director, I have witnessed firsthand the immense impact that creative marketing strategies can have on brand awareness, audience engagement, and business growth. When we think specifically about nonprofit marketing, organizations need to remember that they, too, are a brand with diverse audiences looking to donate their money, time, and stories for initiatives they care about. Nonprofits can harness the power of creative marketing to connect with their audiences, inspire empathy and action, and ultimately drive meaningful results for their cause. In this blog post, I will share four powerful ways to foster and maintain creativity in marketing initiatives.
- Harness the Power of Storytelling:
Storytelling is a powerful tool for capturing attention and building emotional connections with your audience. Develop compelling narratives that resonate with your target market’s aspirations, values, and challenges. For nonprofits, storytelling becomes even more crucial as they strive to convey their mission and impact in a way that inspires people to support their cause. A great example of powerful storytelling is through Michael Phelps partnership with Talkspace where Phelps shared his personal struggles with mental health throughout his Olympic career in swimming. By openly discussing his own experiences, Phelps humanized the conversation around mental health and inspired others to seek support. In sharing these authentic stories of individuals or communities being served, nonprofits can create a sense of empathy and connection that goes beyond a traditional marketing message. These stories can showcase the transformative power of their work, and inspire others to get involved or contribute.
Let’s not forget to look internally for support and inspiration in powerful storytelling. Encourage team members from throughout your company to share their unique insights, experiences, skills, and cultural perspectives. You never know who may have an expert skill-level or a deep understanding of a particular product, goal, or audience. By fostering an inclusive environment that values different voices and perspectives, you can tap into a wealth of creativity and produce marketing campaigns that resonate with wider audiences.
- Understand and Be Inspired by Your Audiences:
Understanding your audience is essential for keeping your marketing creative and relevant. Nonprofits need to deeply understand their target donors, volunteers, and supporters. By gaining insights into their diverse cultures, values, and traditions, nonprofits can tailor their marketing campaigns to resonate on a deeper level.
Disney’s experience with “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” and “Coco” provides valuable strategy and messaging lessons for marketers. During the premiere weeks of “Coco,” Disney added a 21 minute short from Frozen titled “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” Keeping in mind that these two films exist in two completely different weather seasons, the release of the holiday-themed Olaf short in front of the culturally significant “Coco” feature film was not well-received by audiences as it didn’t give consideration to the audiences in regards to their age, cultural backgrounds, and expectations. With children making up a significant portion of Disney’s animated viewership, a 21 minute long surprise short before the 41 minute long feature left audiences antsy in their seats. Relaying information about “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” pre-premiere would have prevented unexpected surprises and disappointments.
More importantly, the biggest mistake here was the positioning of “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” leading into “Coco.” Given Coco’s culturally significant Mexican storyline, a first for the production company, Olaf’s lead-in made audiences question Disney’s belief and success in the performance of “Coco.” This questionable and problematic impression led audiences to protest the lead in of ‘Olaf’s Frozen Adventure’ via social media. In Mexico, specifically, the leading theater chain, Cinemex pulled “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” from theaters in response to audience frustrations. Unsurprisingly, Coco became Mexico’s biggest box office hit and rates 94% from US audiences on Rotten Tomatoes! It’s evident that “Coco” is a captivating and visually stunning film that didn’t require the presence of a snowman and White characters to captivate and entertain audiences. Understanding cultural significance is crucial in maintaining the trust of a brand’s audience.
Disney’s critical mistakes serve as a reminder that cultural sensitivity, audience consideration, and authenticity are paramount to marketing campaigns. Messaging is crucial to speaking authentically to your audience and while encouraging them to take action and feel safe in their choices. Avoiding confusion, stereotypes, and assumptions will allow for your messaging and visuals to create positive and meaningful impact. This understanding enables nonprofits to create marketing campaigns that are respectful, inclusive, and accurately representative of the communities they aim to serve.
- Embrace a Culture of Innovation & Data Driven Strategy:
Embracing innovation and data-driven strategies is vital for nonprofits to stay ahead and make a greater impact. By encouraging a culture of continuous learning, nonprofits can empower their teams to stay updated with industry trends, emerging technologies, and new marketing channels. Providing opportunities for professional development, such as attending conferences like ADCOLOR or participating in professional development online courses through National University will keep your teams ahead of the curve.
Additionally, embracing cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) will only enhance your marketing strategies and your brand presence in the marketplace. Utilizing applications like OpenAI’s ChatGPT to analyze vast amounts of data, uncover valuable insights, write copy, and help automate processes will help to free up creative minds to focus on ideation and execution.
Creativity and data-driven strategies are not mutually exclusive as analyzing user data to identify trends, preferences, and pain points synergistically helps to identify key insights to tailor messaging, personalize experiences, and create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific audience segments. By marrying creativity with data, nonprofits can create targeted campaigns that resonate with specific audience segments and drive meaningful engagement and support.
- Take Risks and Think Outside of the Box:
To stand out in a crowded digital landscape, nonprofits must be willing to take risks and think outside of the box. Spending those extra hours learning the inner workings of Google Analytics and Hubspot will only help your nonprofit better understand your marketing efforts, goals, and audiences. Encourage your organization to push the boundaries on guerilla marketing tactics and to explore emerging technologies like digital interactive content so as to create unique and immersive marketing experiences for your audiences. In encouraging marketing teams to embrace unconventional ideas, experiment with innovative approaches, and push the boundaries of traditional marketing tactics, nonprofits can create unique and immersive marketing experiences for their audiences.
One example of this was Rihanna’s groundbreaking announcement for the Super Bowl halftime show. Instead of opting for a traditional press release or promotional campaign, McKenzie Cooper at United Master’s thought of the brilliant idea for Rihanna to announce her Super Bowl 2023 participation with a bold and unconventional social media post. By posting a single image on Rihanna’s native IG account featuring her hand holding one lone football with the date of the Super Bowl and the hashtag #RihannaSB2023, this subliminal and somewhat ambiguous announcement sparked widespread excitement for SuperBowl 2023. This innovative strategy demonstrated the power of embracing unconventional ideas, utilizing ambiguity and surprise to let audiences explore and engage with a brand.
Anyone may have shot this idea down given its risk and vagueness, however, it’s important to remember that it’s the innovative and creative campaigns that capture attention, engage audiences, and ultimately drive meaningful results in today’s dynamic digital marketing landscape. By fostering a culture of agility and experimentation, you can create a space for creativity to thrive.
In a world where consumers are bombarded with marketing messages, creativity is what sets brands apart, especially nonprofit organizations. By prioritizing creativity in storytelling, innovation in strategies, and data-driven decision-making, nonprofits can create marketing initiatives that capture the hearts, minds, and aspirations of their audience. Through creative marketing, nonprofits can inspire existing and potential donors alongside volunteers to build stronger connections with their community, and ultimately drive meaningful change for their cause. By embracing these powerful ways to foster creativity in your marketing efforts, nonprofits can rise above the competition and make a lasting impact on the lives they touch.