Editor’s note: Dana and I connected after Alexis Grant published a post, encouraging readers to share guest blogging opportunities. I’m thrilled to feature her on my blog today, and you can find out more about Dana on her website.
Have you ever been approached by someone with a clipboard on the street?
“Excuse me, ma’am, do you have a minute for the environment?” their pitch begins.
And you usually DO have a minute, don’t you, but you don’t usually stop, do you? You don’t know what they’re about to talk about, but you know you don’t want anything to do with it.
That’s the result of bad marketing, even if we don’t want to associate that dirty word with nonprofits and social activists. I’ve been among the canvassers, the cold-callers, the fundraisers, the petitioners, you name it. Trying to get the attention of strangers to help out with some good cause or another, a worthy cause, a cause I truly believed in. It’s a really tall order.
But then, so is marketing your brand. Trying to get someone, anyone, to take a look at what you’re selling, care about it, maybe even buy it. Though the goals and motives may be different, the methods used to rally volunteers and funders behind a cause can be applied to enrich and deepen the effects of marketing your brand.
Getting a signature or donation from someone is really about more than that one action. It’s about getting them to believe in the cause. By taking this kind of approach, you can get customers on board with a lot more than the purchase of a single product. You can get them to rally behind your brand.
Take these tips from the nonprofit world:
No one cares about you.
People care about themselves. Of course, you have to illustrate your brand or product for them, but what they really want to know is: What’s in it for me? A good canvasser opens with a line about how their cause affects you, not how you can help their cause. When it comes to sales and branding, think of it in terms of focusing on “you” phrases, and not “I” phrases. Instead of “I’ve got a great product for you,” say, “You’re going to love this product.”
People are driven by goals and success.
When I worked with student organizations, we were constantly talking about measurable goals and objectives, drawing thermometers on cardboard posters, and celebrating achieved and surpassed goals.
On the business end of sales, companies have this down pretty well. Sales reps are given goals or quotas to work for, and rewarded for meeting or exceeding them. But you can get customers involved in your goals, as well. Numeric goals usually aren’t the way to go here, but rather, share and involve your customers in helping you achieve your brand’s aesthetic or altruistic goals. By getting customers in behind-the-scenes of product development early, you can help them share in the product’s success.
People want to be recognized for good deeds.
Major funders have their names on plaques or even entire buildings. Enthusiastic volunteers receive certificates at the end of a major event or season. These small gestures make people feel good about what they did, fostering goodwill with the organization.
When people buy your product or support your brand, reward them! If they sign up for your mailing list, offer them something for free. If they fork over money and purchase something from you, offer bonuses. Customers will notice this kind of generosity, and they’ll want to give back to your brand in the long run.
Urgency is KEY.
Have you noticed when a petitioner is at your door, and you simply ask for them to “leave some literature” or direct you to a website, how reluctant they are to do so without saying one more thing? It’s not necessarily because of that thermometer waiting back at campaign headquarters for their quota of signatures — it’s because they know you won’t look into the cause after they leave.
Urgency turns on something in people’s minds that makes them act. Give your audience a reason they can’t wait to buy your product, sign up for your list, etc. Is there a discount that’s going away in two days? Are you offering bonuses for this week only?
So is follow-up.
I’ve been among volunteers whose only job was to call or write thank-you notes to people who made donations to an organization. When you make a point to recognize and thank someone who has helped your organization in any way, you’re fostering a relationship with that person, making them more likely to remember and return to your brand.
The follow-up is also an opportunity to offer one more action step to your customers. Don’t overshadow your gratitude, but offer them an action step: leave a product review, tweet about it, recommend it to a friend, check out your blog, etc.
Dana Sitar is a freelance journalist and indie author. Her latest book, A Writer’s Bucket List, is a launching point for all of the possibilities of being a writer, a kick-in-the-butt for those who don’t know what to do next, and a simple guide to help writers forge their own unique career/life paths.
Photo credit: MoneyAware on Flickr