Friday, February 11, 2011

Don’t make digital last

Oh, no! Digital last again!
We live in a digital age, but many us don’t think digitally. That’s a problem for non-profit marketing.

I don’t have to tell you what you can already see all around you. Your reading this on a blog, either on your computer or your smartphone. Your non-profit likely has a website. You might have Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. We’re all connected and all online. We’re living a digital life and working in a digital world. And all our stakeholders, funders, donors and volunteers live there, too.

But there’s a problem. We don’t all think digitally. Research has shown that digital channels are still an afterthought in too many marketing efforts. The reason, I suspect, is that most marketers think along traditional lines. They dream about a campaign, an ad or a communications plan in terms of the print newsletter, or the TV spot or the direct mail campaign. They bring in the digital stuff after the fact, and that’s why many digital offerings under-perform. They are “add-ons”.

Old timers like me can shoulder some of the blame. I enjoy telling my kids that when I was growing up there were no iPhones, no video games and my TV was black and white (this puts me in the same category as the dinosaurs). We were brought up to think in certain ways, and today’s digital world requires a different way of thinking. Not all of us have made the leap. But before you dump all over my generation, you should also likely consider another obvious reason – this stuff is complicated. Most non-profit marketers wear many hats. They don’t have time to figure out the latest app or compare Facebook metrics. Digital, to them, is not the lowest hanging fruit.

The place to start is on tying all the pieces together. Integration is the most powerful weapon you have. Don’t think about your challenges in terms of the different output platforms. Instead, think about the idea that will drive them all of them to the same end point. Perhaps it’s a single message, or a brand or maybe a shining goal. Find it and then think how it will flow throughout all your marketing channels, not just the easiest one or the obvious one. Instead of managing one channel or another, plan out how each channel can operate at maximum capacity.

Thinking differently works. And when you think digitally, you’ll have better, more effective non-profit marketing.

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