As the nonprofit sector claims a greater share of the economy, it is clear there are a number of remarkable things they are, put frankly, doing right—and capitalism can stand to ‘profit’ from these things. While, currently, it is more common for nonprofits to focus on top commercial businesses, they are also beginning to implement their own unique strategies that yield considerable results, impressive results, results worth noticing, and perhaps even modeling. In light of such, I have distilled some of their most effective branding approaches to a few key points:
Donate now. Not in a month. Not in a week. Not tomorrow. NOW. While urgency makes more sense for nonprofits considering they are generally reaching out in times of crisis for obvious reasons, that does not mean for-profit enterprises cannot do the same, and by same I do not mean reach out and profit off of crisis, but rather they can increase urgency in their basic marketing. It’s so common for businesses to be far too soft in their marketing campaigns. No one wants to spend money. The tool of impulsivity is a door-to-door salesman’s best friend, and the way they make the sale is by employing urgency.
As cliché as it may sound, “this deal won’t last” works. It’s a cliché for a reason. By establishing a notion of immediacy and producing a reason for why now is better than later, consumers are more inclined to purchase a product or service. While nonprofits implement this urgency mainly because it is necessary for their industry, commercial businesses can do the same—even if the immediacy/urgency is self-imposed as opposed to being the result of some catastrophic failure or disaster.
Many nonprofits have such a successful marketing campaign because they believe in their cause and this passion, this belief, this devotion shines through in even their most basic copy. They are not looking to push some product or service that optimizes efficiency. They are looking to save lives. They are providing clean water to underdeveloped rural nations across the planet. They are sheltering children and giving battered women a home when they have nowhere else to go and no one else to turn to in the world.
This naturally shines through in their marketing strategy and is something businesses can stand to use. By using marketing to tell a story that relates to prospective consumers, something they can believe in, something they can be inspired by, companies are providing a brand that not just makes life easier for customers. It inspires them. It makes them feel good about themselves to use it. It is not making things easier, it is bettering them.
Present Purchasing as a Movement
While tragedy is no doubt terrible, one good thing that does come of it is community. It brings us together to face what will otherwise be an insurmountable obstacle. In the wake of atrocity, nonprofits present themselves as a medium for collaboration and corroboration. They become the venue for a movement of like-minded passionate human beings. Businesses can emulate this same idea to a lesser degree.
By presenting the purchase of a product or service as an initiation into a community, companies are fortifying not just a more sophisticated persona, but they are also fostering customer loyalty, improving customer retention, and making their service more desirable. They create a true relationship with the consumer. One such way to do this is to invite customers into the store to talk about what they liked regarding your product or service. Create a forum where customers/clients (past, present, and future) can communicate with each other to discuss what they liked. This may very well result in a variety of positive reviews across a multitude of platforms. Create a community consumers are proud to be a part of and the benefits can be immense.
Although nonprofits don’t always seem like the right place to find profitable ideas, the simple fact is that their marketing is often leagues above their commercial cousins. Although this is generally because of their devotion to the greater good,that does not mean lucrative companies cannot employ the same tactics.