5 “Musts” for a successful nonprofit ad campaign

A while ago we offered a blog post entitled, “Dear Coyote, here’s how to catch the road runner.”  The gist of the post is that the coyote always ends up as a spot on the road because he doesn’t fully plan out his attack.  This is true of all coyotes isn’t it?  They’re so fixated on the promise of road runner stew that they neglect to cross the “T’s” of their plan of attack.  In the end, even with the best of intentions, the results are the same – failure.

What we see in our line of work is the same thing happening with nonprofits.  Everyone is so fixated on the need to raise funds, the need to recruit volunteers, the need to network, the need to “get the word out” – that they get a marketing or advertising idea they are so excited about that they jump out there and start “doing” the deal – all the while, not devoting the necessary time to planning out a comprehensive, “no rock left unturned” ad campaign.

So, if you want to win, here are 5 “musts” you need to check off before you start your ad campaign:

1.  MUST determine your time and treasure

Do you (personally) have the time to launch a successful ad campaign?  This is important because often (as with anything else) you get out what you put into something. Do you have adequate funding to launch and complete an ad campaign correctly?  And, guys, treasure isn’t just money – it’s also your in-house resources.  Do you have the knowledgeable staffing necessary to execute all the parts of a winning ad campaign or are you just “winging it”?  If you are, it might be wise to consider an outside marketing firm (like The Winn Group).  Be sure to take inventory of time and treasure before moving to the next step.

2.  MUST choose your tactics

This is where knowing your time and treasure before hand makes sense.  This is the step where you choose which tactics you will employ with your ad campaign.  Social media, eBlasts, internet advertising, direct mail, radio, print, billboards, etc. Some tactics are more costly than others (direct mail for example – with postage and print and design costs vs. launching relatively inexpensive Facebook Ads and Google AdWords).  Be sure to balance the cost vs the reach of your tactic too.  If your budget is $1000, a direct mail campaign might not be the best use of that money.  Determine what you can support financially and craft your campaign tactics around your time and treasure.

3.  MUST craft your ad campaign with measurable goals

Now that you have determined the time and treasure required, you’ve chosen an ad firm to work with and you’ve wisely listed your advertising tactics, start crafting your campaign strategy.  Using creative messaging (see our blog entry on The Art of Creative Messaging for “how-to” tips on this), craft your ad campaign.  Be sure start with a measurable goal in mind.  Believe it or not, setting goals is an often overlooked step.

4.  MUST identify your measurement of success

It makes no sense at all to launch a campaign and not be able to say if it worked or not in the end, does it?  Nope.  Here are some suggestions on how to work success measures into your plan.  Use unique URLs if your ad sends them to a landing page – make that URL unique ONLY to your ad and tactical pieces (mailer, email, Facebook Ad, etc.).  You can also use unique 800 numbers or a texting response with short codes (i.e. “Text JUMP to 98765 for x,y &z”).  As a general rule of thumb (unless you have a lot of cash to blow), you don’t use a tactic to advertise unless you can track that ad’s success.

5.  MUST list out tasks and create a delivery calendar

This is simple house keeping.  Take your finely crafted, “no rock left unturned” ad campaign and break it up into little pieces.  Assign ownership to your team or to an outside firm to complete all the parts necessary to build the campaign (the design, the printing quotes, the copywriting, etc.).  Then, put a due date to each one in the logical order necessary to launch all the pieces of your campaign on time.

So be sure to check off all 5 of these points before you do anything.  If necessary, look for a marketing firm that focuses on nonprofits (like The Winn Group) to help you in your efforts.  In the mean time, check back into our blog for more tips along the way.

Here’s to a flawless ad campaign and a huge return on the back end!

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