Recently I read a book called “Learn to See” and today I would like to share with you some ways that you can learn to see the billboards and marketing around you.
Why should you learn this?
Because it could be manipulating you and those you love, without you even being aware of it. But you can learn how to use this power for good, once you understand it.
What is the most advanced form of marketing?
This means that instead of just saying “Buy this and you’ll get a little boost in your life” an experience means you “will become a different person”.
You see this a lot with colleges. They market their place of learning as a place where you will truly become a different person.
This is dishonest, because going to a college isn’t going to change who you really are. The college wants you to believe that their price tag makes it worth it to change who you are, deeply.
You can see this con going on in college billboards.
They don’t just say you can choose a career (though they make sure that people in those careers look happy and successful). No, they tell you that you’ll be a deeply changed person.
Things you can do with your degree
Go on a rollercoaster
See far away things
Go to the grocery store
Cook some dinner
What’s behind all this?
Take a look at this leaked internal marketing document from a for-profit college called Corinthian College. Their target demographic? People who are “isolated, impatient, with low self-esteem, who have few people in their lives who care about them, and who are unable to see and plan well for the future.”
They want people who are, in other words, vulnerable.
What does this have to do with your nonprofit?
If your nonprofit wants to market like a fancy, expensive for-profit college, think about how people will be changed once they interact with you. Everyone is looking for greater meaning in their lives.
How can you take these negative examples, and turn them around to do good for your nonprofit?
Getting more volunteers with experience marketing
Consider taking pictures of volunteers in your program when they are having fun.
Ask if you can share these pictures on your website. If you’re looking to attract more volunteers, or even a specific kind of volunteer, this would be a good place to show them what they have to gain by volunteering with you.
Getting more board members with experience marketing
If you’re looking to attract more board members, take a picture of some board members interacting with programs. Show a friendraiser with some board members having a good time. This may show potential board members the inherent networking opportunities that are possible by joining your board.
Getting more donors with experience marketing
If you share profiles of your donors, why they give, and how this adds more value and meaning to their lives, then other potential donors will see this, and think about giving to you. If you show the benefit of giving, which includes thanking and highlighting your most loyal donors, people may be more inclined to share their hard-earned money with you.
Getting more voluntourists
You can even see nonprofits doing this with their voluntourism descriptions. You’ll notice this with Road Scholar. Road Scholar grew out of Elderhostel, where elders (And sometimes their grandkids) could go on different trips and learn about different things, not just play tourists. My grandmother fell prey to their advertising and took nearly all of her grandchildren on various road scholar vacations, including swimming with lemon sharks, doing archaeological digs in Italy, and more. They have really good experience marketing and make over 150 million every year. I’m not sure how much they’re actually doing program-wise, but they are certainly making a lot of money.