Suzanne Cleal, founder of Marketing for Impact, shares her top tips on marketing communications for charities and social enterprises.
Have you or your charity or social enterprise ever spent hours creating a direct marketing campaign, spent more than you wanted and then sent it out and got no response?
Or worked hard to pull together your recent news and interesting stories about the people you help to create a newsletter, which you sent out but heard nothing from the recipients?
Or ran an email marketing campaign and been disappointed with the open rate and even more disheartened by how few of those who did open it clicked through to your website?
It can be frustrating when you spend lots of time, energy and money on your marketing communications and don’t get the results you want. Your financial sustainability and the reach of your organisation depends on your marketing being successful.
The good news is there are a number of simple things you can do to make your marketing material more effective and better value for money.
Use the seven ways below to improve the response you get to your direct marketing campaigns, advertisements, newsletters, emails, leaflets, social media campaigns or any other form of marketing communication.
1. Write every communication with one person in mind
The first step to ensure success is to write all communications with your target audience in mind. The most effective way to do this is to imagine you are writing directly to the one person who is most likely to respond.
This one person does not necessarily exist but if they did they would be the one person who is most likely to support your cause, most willing to donate, most likely to become a member or most wants to buy from your social enterprise and most willing to pay the price you are asking.
Write all your marketing copy with this one person in mind.
Talk to them as if you are having a conversation with them.
A wide range of people are likely to read your communication but what you say will be far more powerful if you write with just one person in mind.
Top tip: how to stay focused on your ‘one person’
Spend time describing your ‘one person’ and then find a picture or photo of a person that represents them and have it in front of you when you write your marketing material.
2. Open with an attention-grabbing headline
The purpose of a headline is to grab the attention of your target audience so they go on to read more.
The easiest attention-grabbing headline to get right is one based on the benefits or outcomes your supporters or customers will get by responding to your communication.
Your headline should use active language and be short, specific and relevant.
Avoid being too clever or cryptic – you want your audience to get the point the moment they read the headline.
3. Demonstrate you understand their needs and motivations
When they read your communication you want your audience to think 'Wow! This person really understands me.’
You can do this by directly describing their need, connection to your cause, or motivation to donate. Alternatively, you can describe a scenario or tell a story relevant to their situation to which they can immediately relate.
4. Communicate what’s in it for them
The most powerful way of doing this is to talk about the benefits your reader will get as a result of responding.
You may also want to talk about the benefits to your beneficiaries, but this should be as well as how responding will enrich the lives of your customers and supporters, not instead.
Top tip: how to draw out benefits
Before you start to write any marketing communications, spend some time drawing out the benefits.
List all the features of what you do and ask yourself what each feature does not only for your beneficiaries but also your target audience. What's in it for them? Keep asking yourself 'so what?’ over and over to draw out a long list of benefits. You can then use this list to distil the key benefits to use in your marketing.
5. Explain why your target audience should ‘do business’ with you and not your competition
What makes you different? Why would people want to donate to your charity or buy from your social enterprise? Why would someone want to support your cause?
How would you answer these questions?
One way is to share what's really important to you. You can outline your values, share your story or explain why you do what you do the way you do.
The objective is for your target audience to read what you have said and think ‘I can see myself ‘doing business’ with this organisation’.
6. Use testimonials to increase credibility
You can reinforce your own message by sharing what customers, supporters, donors, members, volunteers or the people you help say about you.
Ask them to write about what they have achieved by doing business or becoming involved with you and share this with your readers.
Include a name, role and organisation (if relevant) and photo with all testimonials for added credibility.
Top tip: how to get meaningful testimonials
Don't just ask people for 'a testimonial’; ask specific questions so they share the outcomes they achieved or how they felt as a result of their interaction with you.
7. Make your call to action stand out
Tell your readers exactly what you want them to do by including a call to action. Be clear that you want them to call, email, buy now, donate, join, volunteer, sign up or request more information (or whatever else you want them to do).
Make it as simple as possible for someone to take the action. For example, if your communication is online and you want people to email, make sure you provide your email address in a clickable format.
Make your call to action stand out by making it large, bright and bold. Include only one call to action but don't be afraid to include it in several different places.
If you take these simple steps I believe you will get the response you want from your marketing communications. It will help make your marketing more effective, ensure you get value for money and help your charity or social enterprise make a bigger difference.
About Suzanne Cleal
Suzanne is the founder of Marketing for Impact and runs marketing workshops, training and coaching programmes to help social entrepreneurs (in social enterprises and charities) make a difference by getting their marketing right.
She has many years’ experience in marketing, is a trained business coach and now runs her own social enterprise (a member of Social Enterprise UK). She volunteers at the School for Social Entrepreneurs as a tutor and workshop leader.