For most nonprofits, marketing strategies that had been carefully planned were thrown out the window when Covid-19 reared its ugly head. Instead of sharing marketing messages on social media, nonprofits in Palm Beach County – and all around the world – turned to social media to announce cancellations and closures.
Here at Rose Marcom, a full-service marketing and communications agency in Delray Beach, we switched gears, too. Doing whatever we could to help the nonprofit clients we serve.
As Rose Marcom President and CEO Andy Rose says, “Road maps that would guide nonprofits through a pandemic did not exist. We drew on our experience in the nonprofit sector to help our clients start forging a path forward.”
Now that the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is behind us here in the U.S., we can all breathe a sigh of relief, but there’s no point in pulling out the plans that guided you in the past. There’s no clear path forward. It’s time for nonprofits to adopt a new perspective on how to regroup and grow their organizations.
In 2020, 60 percent of nonprofits experienced conditions that threatened their long-term financial stability, according to a recent survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. But, as Ben Franklin put it, “out of adversity comes opportunity.”
We like the way Ben thinks and we believe that nonprofit organizations do indeed have exciting opportunities in the post-pandemic period. If you want to capitalize on those opportunities, you’ll need to update your approach to marketing.
Post-Pandemic Marketing Tips for Nonprofits
- Take On an Attitude of Gratitude
With a significant number of the country’s population now coming out of isolation, there are only two words that your organization should say to your loyal stakeholders and they’re not “Give Now.”
They’re “THANK YOU!”
There is absolutely no better way to reconnect with your constituents than to express your gratitude for their past support – not only those who came through during the pandemic, but every single donor, volunteer or patron that you have record of investing their time, treasure or talent into your organization.
Many may, in fact, be revaluating and recalculating what and where they want to put their philanthropic dollars, so it is of utmost importance that you take a step further to provide some substantive information on how you were able to impact those who you help or serve through compelling statistics or story-telling – and how you plan to help in the future.
Start with a letter expressing your appreciation, listing your accomplishments these past 15 months and outlining a few goals and aspirations for the future. Your stakeholders in turn will be thankful to know you’ve not just weathered the storm; you’ve risen above it.
- Don’t Assume Things Will Be the Same
The pandemic has impacted your nonprofit organization, but it has also impacted you and your people on a very personal level.
As Janet Balis who leads consulting professionals in the Americas focused on the customer agenda and revenue growth at EY (formerly Ernst & Young) and is an advisor to the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative, explains in the Harvard Business Review, don’t expect a return to whatever passed for normal at your nonprofit.
Balis cites the EY Future Consumer Index, a study that conducted five surveys since the start of the pandemic. According to the report, consumers can now be divided into five main groups:
- Affordability first (32% of consumers): These are the folks whose family’s finances were probably rocked during the pandemic. They are motivated by a desire to live within their means and budget.
- Health first (25%): If you are primarily concerned with the ongoing threats to your health and that of your family, you are in this group, which prioritizes trust and safety.
- Planet first (16%): This group of consumers is motivated by environmental concerns and wants to see their concerns echoed in the marketplace.
- Society first (15%): As Balis says, this group is interested in, “Working together for the greater good.” They want to connect with organizations they find to be honest and transparent.
- Experience first (12%): For some, the takeaway from their Covid-19 experience is that life is short. They are interested in living in the moment to make the most of life.
If you want to connect – or reconnect – meaningfully with your team, your donors, your volunteers and the folks your nonprofit serves, keep in mind that they have changed over the past year and a half – just like you have.
- Get Personal
Trust is an essential component of a healthy relationship. That’s not news. As any couple who has celebrated a 50th anniversary will tell you, trust has always been key.
Data show that success in the post-pandemic business arena is directly related to the quality of the relationships you have with your clients. And that means trust needs to be an essential consideration when developing your marketing strategy.
Trust has always played a role in marketing. You can think of advertising as a promise you are making to prospective clients. When you then deliver a product or service that meets up to someone’s expectations based on that advertising, you have earned their trust.
That’s a good thing, but in today’s post-pandemic marketplace, you need more.
We may all enjoy watching the ads that run during the Super Bowl, but marketing to a mass audience like that just doesn’t have the power that it once did.
We may complain about the way our online searches are tracked and used to feed us ads targeted to our unique interests, but the trust is that consumers have grown accustomed to personalized appeals to their time and attention. And your customers are no different.
So, when developing a marketing strategy, you need to get personal. Let go of the desire to reach as many people as possible with a single message and seek instead to target your message to a distinct audience.
How do you know enough about your clientele to be able to relate to them on a more targeted basis? By building relationships with them.
In the past, a great smile and a smooth line of banter might have been enough to get your foot in the door, but now you need to show up with something of value to a prospective client. You can think of the first as fodder for a fling, but if you want to have a relationship with a client you need to build the relationship on a basis of trust and understanding.
How do you build that kind of relationship? The same way a married couple gets to their 50th anniversary. You listen to what your customer needs and wants and you respond.
Is your nonprofit using marketing effectively as we all work to build back better and stronger? What digital marketing strategies are working for you? What challenges are you trying to overcome? Let’s keep the conversation going.
And, if you need help, the South Florida nonprofit marketing and communications experts at Rose Marcom, are here for you. Give us a call at 561.945.9356.