Cost effective promotion for charities and social enterprises
Social enterprises and mission driven businesses, like many startups and early stage companies, have to keep a tight lid on costs. Promotion has to show clear ROI, and the best opportunities lie within storytelling and marketing that has the potential to be shared.
While 92% of non-profit professionals use content marketing, only 26% believe their marketing strategies are effective. To the extreme, 3% believe their strategies are highly effective. GiveMeTap is one of these companies.
Five years ago, Edwin Broni-Mensah, then a Manchester university student, started GiveMeTap as a social enterprise remembering that his parents in Ghana had lacked clean water. For every bottle of water that customers buy, GiveMeTap outfits another community in Africa with water pumps. As of 2016, GiveMeTap has sold 57,724 bottles and completed 20 water projects across Africa, helping 16,199 people gain access to pure water!
We interviewed Sanum Jain, GiveMeTap’s former Head of Operations to find out more. Here are her tips on how to successfully and cheaply market your nonprofit organization.
1. Teach yourself
You can save a ton of money by teaching yourself the necessary skills, instead of hiring professionals. Of course, this has its limitations. There are some skills, such as web programing that it may save you time and money to hire staff or freelancers.
When it comes to marketing campaigns, however, essential skills, such as writing, sales, or core marketing skills, can be picked up from books or from the Web.
The GiveMeTap team decided to go the self-educating route as much as possible.
Sanum said: "Until today, almost every marketing campaign has been designed and created by ourselves. This involves us learning … also the skills of designers and copywriters. For example, we learned how to use Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign, so that we could design our own posters and edit our own artwork."
Sites like Udemy can help with learning technical skills, Lynda for business and creative. Learning the finer details of software gives the ability to tweak and refine your brand and value propositions without resorting to an agency at every turn.
“This,” reflected Sanum, “is a continuous learning process on the job as and when we need”.
2. Friends make the world go around
Sanum credited friends for GiveMeTap’s success. Their website, indirectly, tells you why.
Each team member is given his or her affectionate nickname. Edwin, for instance, is called the “Water guy” since “I aim to spread the gift of water to everyone!” Sanum is called the “Chatterbox”, since “Edwin realized after my first week at GiveMeTap that I cannot stop talking”. The interns are called “awesome”.
Long ago, Dale Carnegie pointed out that friendliness can get you anywhere in life. GiveMeTap shows how it can save you money, too.
“We help each other [i.e. people from other nonprofits] improve our marketing and also help lower the cost as this is an exchange of skills and services, for example: one of our close friends filmed our documentary in Ghana to celebrate our 5th birthday and helping over 15,000 people gain access to clean water.”
Networking with peers and competitors in your industry is another way to save money, as you can utilise strategies, products and knowledge which have been built up over time by others.
3. Let your product do the talking
“Instead of just focusing on marketing your existing products, keep on improving your product and make it the best it can be. This way, your customers will feel valued and stay excited about what you are doing.”
Not too long ago, GiveMeTap decided to start customizing their products. More orders flowed in.
Improvement means thinking of your clients and buffing your product so you make their lives easier, or more enjoyable. Little money is involved, but profits can be huge.
Sanum gave the example of 2014, when they used feedback to discontinue one lid type and to improve another. Buyers found the improved lid easier to easier to screw on and off. The company attracted more partners as a result.
4. Lead the game
The most effective non-profit professionals use, on average, 11 different content marketing tactics, with videos, blogs, infographics, online articles, and podcasts or digital seminars being the most common.
It is interesting to note that GiveMeTap follows that rule and publishes articles on popular sites to gain free promotion.
According to Sanum, “I started off by writing pieces for the Guardian and attended events to talk about what we do.”
The trick here was to focus on the 'Why' rather than the product. So, Sanum spoke about water poverty across Africa and the the impact of installing pumps in communities where they were lacking. Doing good through a simple purchase is a powerful incentive for readers - they receive a useful product and at the same time contribute to the welfare of people they might never meet.
One of the cheapest and most powerful tips is simply connecting with others. Leading an online nonprofit organization can be agonizingly lonely when you're cooped up in your bedroom over your chromebook.
GiveMeTap promoted themselves, almost for free, by working from co-working spaces such as Google Campus and Central Working. These entrepreneurial hubs not only helped them meet others, but also gave them opportunities. In 2013, they were filmed by the BBC. Two years later, they chatted with President Obama about “doing well by doing well”...
The company had come a long way - on a shoestring budget.
Thanks to Sanum and GiveMeTap for showing how it’s done!