Let’s face it: marketing is literally everywhere.
There are ads in your Gmail, on the bus in front of you, in your news feeds, on your news. Companies are constantly coming up with different ways to market different things. It’s why we do what we do. We strive to make sure that social good doesn’t get lost in a world full of many different messages. And although the context is different, much of the work we do is also a form of marketing.
Perhaps that’s obvious. Every organization, nonprofit or otherwise, needs marketing on some level or they wouldn’t have anyone to support them. Whether they are providing a good or a service, they need to reach an audience in order to deliver. As the saying by E.W. Howe goes, “Doing business without advertising is like winking at a girl in the dark: you know what you’re doing, but nobody else does.”
Most of the stories we tell deserve to be seen. That’s why we create nonprofit websites and digital campaigns that help organizations market themselves. But it goes without saying that what works to sell groceries doesn’t necessarily work to recruit donations. Probably because there can frequently be no tangible reward for donors, whereas someone who buys a product almost immediately sees the results.
How can we motivate people to essentially buy things for someone else? There is, for starters, the Tom’s model, where buyers get both intrinsic value and something they can get their hands on. But what about nonprofit organizations that don’t offer a product? What about those that only provide services to others on behalf of their donors? How do they, for lack of a better expression, sell their services to people who may never need them?
Well, data shows that social pressure plays a big role. We’re more inclined to give when people we know do, because we’re pack animals. (It’s also precisely why word of mouth will always be a strong mechanism for marketing.) Some data shows that we’re more likely to donate to organizations that are already doing well. Once they’ve proven themselves successful, we’re more likely to invest in their mission.
Beyond that, most cause marketers rely on one thing. Yep, you guessed it… an appeal to emotions. This, for the most part, is where we begin to dig. We believe in the inherent good of all people and we rely on our work to bring it out of the farthest corners of the world. At the end of the day, we’re all human beings who, at one point or another, needed a little help. So we try to incorporate this fact into everything we do.
So the next time you’re deciding which thing to buy, what story to sell, or where to donate, remember that social good is valuable in and of itself.