Last week We Are Acuity was talking to charity marketing experts Paul Brown and Richard Evens about successful brand implementation and activation in the charity sector. These were the pain-points we uncovered, all of which can have a significant impact on the business and its marketing. It seems nearly all national charities struggle with these challenges:
1. Demonstrating relevance
Cutting through the clutter of 400,000 other charities to demonstrate that your cause is relevant nationally and locally in people’s lives is one of today’s biggest challenges for a national charity.
How do you make your product or service relevant to your audience at that specific moment in time? In today’s world when everything is changing so quickly how do you personalise your message in a way that will truly connect with them?
The pandemic changed everything and digitally enabled charities benefitted, but now people want to connect with more than digital, they want to engage with charities face to face, speak to people and have tangible and meaningful local experiences.
Local intelligence, the authenticity of delivering in local communities is absolute gold dust for national charities right now. Especially when that's backed up by a powerful national brand with credibility, purpose, and a real track record of delivery. And you need the two things, local and national working in a really, really strong symbiotic relationship.
The secret of success for savvy charity brands comes from utilising your local partners to increase the relevancy of your messaging and those insights that only they are able to bring to your marketing, which you would find very difficult to do from Head Office.
2. Building one community
Bringing everybody together so that they feel like a community that are working as one unified team is another challenge for national charities.
Connecting the power of the national brand, the fundraising machine, the communications, the advocacy and the back office functions that come from Head Office, with the action that takes place locally on the ground can be extremely difficult.
Each group will have a subtly different experience of your charity. And while they're pulled together at the highest levels by a common purpose, that purpose then splits down quite rapidly into different and quite distinct purposes. This can create a barrier between two or more groups of people that are actually trying to achieve the same things.
How can Charities prevent a ‘them and us’ culture developing? A great starting point is putting in systems and processes so people in the centre of the organisation are empowered by a really good sense of what's happening on the ground. Regular two-way communication between local and national also means that you can nuance how you speak to local partners and give them a feeling of being an extension of your Head Office.
Improved communication between Head Office and local partners educates both parties that colleagues, branches, or departments are not rivals and they’re really not competing against each other. You create a strong sense of purpose; all pulling together to solve a problem and make the world a better place.
By immersing everyone in you brand they naturally become an extension of your comms & marketing team, creating consistency at every touch point whether national or local, internal or external.
3. Identifying True Success
Identifying and measuring success is a challenge in most sectors, but for charities, having clear objectives as far as what they want to achieve with their marketing is crucial. It’s easy to fall into the trap of measuring outputs and much harder to measure outcomes.
Evaluating and demonstrating the impact of a charity is also a common issue. Joining the dots between the brand activity and what's happening locally is very difficult to demonstrate, and lots of organisations really struggle with that.
Local and national marketing both have a role to play. And if they are joined up with a coherent message, you've got the maximum chance of changing somebody's life, which is what most charities want to do.
The magic in all marketing activity is being able to say the output was ‘this’ but the impact was ‘that’. This requires a culture across the business that focusses on activities that create impact. By sharing and celebrating success as a community it’s possible to enthuse everyone in outcomes right across the business even those who may not naturally think in that way.
Creating a culture of sharing peer to peer with your local partners, measuring and celebrating success together, and having a deep understanding of why they are doing things is important. Your comms and marketing teams will develop a far better understanding of the effectiveness of their activity and the network will also be onside and feeling part of the overall plan.
If you work in the charity sector as a Marketing Executive, Marketing Manager, or Marketing Director and would like to hear more of the conversation, our second Talking Local Marketing Podcast, on the #charity sector is now available. In fact, even if you work in another part of the charity business, or another sector these challenges are all too common. Here's the links to listen. Let us know what you think?
Your local partners, whether branches, retailers, dealers, franchisees, or affiliates they need your support and you need theirs, get in touch with We Are Acuity today for a FREE marketing audit by clicking HERE.
Or if you'd like to read more about Local Marketing have a look at our blog page "Local Thinking': https://www.weareacuity.com/local-thinking-our-blog