spoke at the NC Center for Nonprofits conference today, which I was completely thrilled about for two reasons: (1) because it was a sure bet that she’d have great tips I could pass on to you, and (2) because it meant that I got to have coffee with one of my blogging buddies face-to-face. Katya didn’t disappoint in either case!
Katya started teaching before she even put on her microphone. In the minutes leading up to the session, she walked up and down the aisles, personally introducing herself and speaking to people one on one. What was she doing? Getting to know her audience by actually talking to them as individual people. It’s a lesson that all of us in nonprofit marketing preach (know thy audience, know thy audience) and Katya showed us what that means before she even officially got started. As she moved through her points, she was able to refer to the people she had met in the audience, turning your typical staid concurrent session into a more friendly and personable workshop atmosphere.
You can find her slides here on her blog, along with a new white paper from Network for Good called “Wired Fundraising: How Technology is Making Fundraising ‘Good to Go’” so I’m not going to cover her advice point by point. Do go view the slides, because she has four easy questions you should always ask and three actions you can take to delve into Web 2.0 if using social media is a new or scary idea for you.
Instead, let me recount just a few of the examples from Katya’s talk that drive home her points about reaching your audience based on their EXISTING values.
Take Katy’s employer, Network for Good. Their old home page was the typical “about us” text heavy home page. Their new home page is all about the audience — donors who want to give online to nonprofits through a single site. And nonprofits who want to be listed in their directory simply need to click on the bright orange “Are you a nonprofit” button to get to the info they need.
The AWARE Foundation wanted to reach teenage girls about health issues. Instead of creating the typical sterile, doctor’s office health site, they created a site that immediately appeals to teenage girls at TeenHealthTalk. The design is casual and a little messy (not unlike a teenager’s room) and by using the word “talk” in the domain, they’ve picked up on the #1 hobby of teenage girls. The language is also very casual and teen focused. Something tells me that “Why Are My Boobs Lopsided?” isn’t wording you’d find so prominently featured on most health-oriented sites. For example, it’s not on the AWARE Foundation’s main site. TeenHealthTalk goes where teen girls are, so they’ll be in a comfortable spot, and thus much more willing to receive the information the organization is giving.
CARE’s donor base was people in their 70’s, and the nonprofit wanted to move that average age down by a few decades. To appeal to women in their 40’s, CARE latched on to a value that many women in this age group are familiar with: wanting to feel like you have some control over your life and the power to do what you want with it. So rather than pitch all the merits of their programs, CARE is pitching that feeling of power. Donors are powerful, and the people donors help through CARE are also powerful. Poor people have the power to change their world and you have the power to help them do it.
Kiva (which was also mentioned yesterday) is another shining example of an organization getting out of the way and making it all about the people they serve, in this case, people who want to lend small amounts of money and the entrepreneurs in developing countries who use that money to lift themselves out of poverty. Kiva could have a home page all about the merits of microlending programs, but that’s deeper down in the site. The users are front and center.
In closing, here are a few great nuggets of wisdom from Katya:
–When you hear yourself saying, “if people only knew about our issue . . .”, stop right there. People don’t need loads of information. They need a personal connection to the issue. It’s your job to find that connection.
–“Marketing” is not slimy, so get over your fear of the word. Marketing is about being persuasive, which all nonprofits need to be. Marketing when done right is actually very respectful of people, because it’s about a conversation, understanding your audience’s perspective and speaking to it.
–If you are trying to make a new friend, you don’t run up and get in their face, introduce yourself, tell your entire history, and ask “Will you be my friend?” That sends people running away. Instead, you engage in a conversation where you get to know each other over time. You guide your choice of topics and words based on what this potential new friend is saying back to you. Use the same approach when seeking new friends (donors, volunteers) for your nonprofit.
–The values of your donors that you choose to use to connect with them (like CARE using power) will often have nothing to do with your cause. This is perfectly fine!
And my favorite tip of the presentation:
–Have a general idea who your audience is, but not a clue what their values are? Do some Robin Hood Marketing and buy a bunch of magazines that your audience reads. Tear out all the ads and paste them on the wall. What are some of the common themes? How are these advertisers trying to make the readers feel about their products? What emotions and values dominate? Those are the values you should try to link your organization and its issue to. Madison Avenue spent millions figuring it out and you spent $30 on magazines!
Thanks Katya for a great presentation and a great chat afterward!