Non-Profits are businesses like all others.
Yet their needs are different from their for-profit counterparts.
Non-profit marketing schemes are different as well. From Advertisements to their Events, non-profits occupy a different type of attention in consumers’ minds. Therefore their non-profit marketing techniques should vary.
Here is a list of things to pay attention:
- Social Media
- First it is important to remember that a non-profit bases its demand on people’s needs for Ethics, Love, Sympathy, Obligation – 2nd level products. These are a level higher than a person’s regular consumption needs: food, gas, home improvement, tuitions – 1st level products. People who are looking to ‘shop’ for 2nd level products have mostly taken care of their need for first level needs. They are not struggling in life, and take personal measures to reach out and find second level products.
- A for-profit company has its heart in its products. As long as the beverage isle is stocked with Cokes, Sprites and Fantas – Coca Cola is doing its job of informing the consumer it is still in business. For all the consumer’s know, Coca Cola (the company) could be filing for bankruptcy up in its headquarters, but as long as its product is present on the shelves, everything is in order for the consumer. A non-profit is different. For a non-profit consumers look less at the non-profits product and more at its center, ie organization news, organization web-page, organization newsletter. As long as there is information coming out of the center of the organization, the consumer knows the organization still stands, and believes in its efforts. A non-profit’s products do offer some significance for its state of being (a pet shelter, a soup kitchen, a donation center, a church), but without reassurance from the organization’s heart, the consumer tends to forget why she is investing in an organization.
Just like a for-profit sells material products and services, its products and services are the ones who do the speaking. Just like a non-profit sells non-material services, its non-material assets need to do the speaking.
- Most profits hold all their glamour in volume of products sold, and their wealth and share of market, share of people’s demand. Most non-profits hold their glamour in the strength of their supporters, and how broadly their spiritual understanding is shared. Basically its strength is the number of like-minded people.
Coca Cola shows its power by selling 38% of all soft drinks. A church shows off having 500 members (not the amount of donations it collected).
- Finally, consumers of non-profits interact differently than consumers of for-profits. It does Coca Cola no good if 2 people who both like Coke become friends. Relations between two consumers of a product don’t necessarily help the relationship between the product and the consumer. If I drink Coke, and I make a friend who also drinks Coke, I will not necessarily start drinking coke more. If I use Empire carpet installers, and my friend does too, I am not going to invest into Empire carpet installers more than I have to for my home. Now I am not talking about recommending, I am talking about two people already using the same product.
A non-profit is different. If 2 people are members of a cat-shelter organization, and they become friends. Chances are, they will get more involved with the cat-shelter organization. That’s just the nature of non-profits. There is that non-material social human factor -that only ads strength to the organization. Relationships between consumers aid non-profits.
Just a church.
Having said all that. How should a non-profit approach each type of previously-listed marketing strategies?
- Ads: Since people who demand 2nd level products have already satiated most of their 1st level product needs, they will reach out themselves to find 2nd level products. If you are listing a non-profit event in a newspaper, don’t place it among for-profit ads. Don’t place it in the working-areas of the newspaper, such as business, listings, economy. Place it in the sections that go above everyday needs, such as arts, newspaper magazines, non-profit. People who look there, look there for a purpose. They want to choose which 2nd order product to buy.
- Web-Site. A non-profit’s main way of communicating its health is by spreading news from the non-profits center. Newsletters, magazines, events, announcements. That is why it is key for an organization to have a center. It helps to have a physical center, such as a club house, a building, or a shelter. But in this day and age, most important is a central online presence. A web-site for a non-profit is like a water source for the African ecosystem. It’s the easiest means of delivering the spiritual message of the organization. Remember, people in demand for 2nd level products will search for these products, so it is key to have a watering-hole for these people to find. You could start as cheap as a Facebook page, and build membership there.
A non-profit has to have a center for communications (a web-site), because that is where its message comes out of.
- Events. In order to promote a for-profits product – samples are given out, and merchandise and physical objects bearing the product’s/company’s name. In order to promote a non-profit’s product – 2nd level product samples need to be given out. These are ideas: importance of Love, Faith, Ethics, Obligation. To spread these ideas means you have to make connections with new people and make friends.
The focus of non-profit events needs to be on making new connections, new friends, or at least new acquaintances. Old members need to relay to new members why they believe in such-and-such 2nd level products. That’s how you give out ‘samples’ in a non-profit.
- Social Media. Interaction between consumers of a non-profit product is the non-profit’s product. So it is very important to create a platform where interaction can take place. It can be a web-site, it can be social media, it can be a club house. Facebook advertising through friends will be very effective, and also cost effective, since you can control exactly how many ads get posted/seen. In print advertising, it can’t just be about the shelter, the church building, the donations, it has to be about people. Which of your friends have joined our cat shelter volunteers? Do you both volunteer together at the same time, in the same place? What do you think of your most recent volunteer experience? Tweet at us, and at your friends!
So that’s that.
Non-profits are all about the non-material product. Non-material product is only found within humans.