Growth marketing for Not-for-profits

As “growth marketing” becomes a hot topic, I have put together some tips for not-for-profit organizations that will help you most effectively capture your audience while optimizing time, money, and man hours.
1. Define what you want from your audience. 
Recently, I heard a talk given my fellow USF alum, Jared Fliesler (of Square, Google, and Matrix Partners) about growth marketing (growth hacking for startups who are trying unconventional and cheaper marketing tactics to grow users). He started with asking, What do you want from your users (aka audience), what makes them “a quality user”? It’s usually one of these:
1. Money
2. Engagement
3. Content creation
4. Recruiting

Here’s my take on this from a not-for-profit standpoint. When engaging with your audience, both corporate sponsors and individuals, consider what they can offer that is most valuable. Though you want their donations (Money), does that make them quality?

Let’s say that you’re working with corporate sponsors who have a cap of 2% for charitable donations and you received every last penny. Now what? Even if they don’ give you a cent, you can get so much more from them.
Engagement? Not-for-profit is all about tugging on their heart strings. So yes, you definitely want them engaged. If they are long time ticket holders, but their daughter is not in your after-school program – let them know. You want to touch multiple points in their life and be seen as an asset rather than just another charity. Next thing you know that 2% gets bumped up to 3%.
Content Creation? Have them post their interactions with you. If your corporate sponsor is open to it, they could really make a difference. With both corporate and individuals, ask them to “donate a tweet.” It’s free marketing. I’ll actually be posting more on content marketing next week.
Recruit others? Ok, so you’ve tapped them out. They gave their 2% or 25$ for the year – but what about their friends? Maybe you host a “BOGO 50% theater tickets” night. Or a “girls’ night out” package in which a local restaurant gets involved (utilize those partnerships).
In the end, clearly define what you want most. Focus on that. Your tactics may overlap; Twitter works for both creating content and getting friends involved. However, don’t get derailed – know what you want.  But, before you can do anything else, you must do one thing.
2. Define how & when you’ll measure.
Before even dreaming up a landing page for your BOGO event or a tweet-a-thon, think of what success means. How will this campaign/event/tactic be measured? Write it down.
This campaign/event/tactic will have been a success because it resulted in _______.
If you don’t define success, what happens? You won’t know what to do next. Do you try that tactic again? Why not? Was it worth the money/time/manpower? One person says yes another says no. 10 years and thousands of dollars later somebody finally asks, “WHY?!?”
 3. Analyze and Test
Proper analysis and testing is vital for every type of marketing. What’s the point of doing anything if you won’t learn from it? You know that measurement you put in place? Figure out why it did or did not work. And if it did, see if it’s recreate-able.
For events, you can’t experiment too much – it gets costly. Costly to implement and potentially costing you donations.  Keep the changes small and have a backup plan. Perhaps you’ve introduced a new way to bid, but nobody’s bidding… great, make an announcement and bring out the good old pad & paper. (on your letterhead).
Test cheaper types of marketing, like email and social. Heck, all we do in email marketing is test and grow. While working with one client – we learned that using her personal email address gave us an open rate of 4-7% higher than normal. Then we tried to figure out why some days it was 4 and other it was 7. It was like solving a riddle.
And for heaven’s sake – get some tools. You don’t have time to cull through all the data and create pivot charts, nor do you have the money to hire an analyst. But people write code for these things every day. Find an app, download some software, tap into the cloud – whatever it takes to get some usable data.
Go forth. Define.  Grow. 

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