Category Storytelling

Ethical marketing (part III): the transparency trifecta

 

Back in 2015, Seth Godin published this powerful post (The strawberry conundrum): 

“Every grocer has to decide: when packing a quart of strawberries, should your people put the best ones on top?

If you do, you’ll sell more and disappoint people when they get to the moldy ones on the bottom.

Or, perhaps you could put the moldy ones on top, and pleasantly surprise the few that buy.

Or, you could rationalize that everyone expects a little hype, and they’ll get over it.

A local grocer turned the problem upside down: He got rid of the boxes and just put out a pile of strawberries. People picked their own. He charged more, sold more and made everyone happier.

Hype might not be your best option.”

It’s clearer than ever that transparency, and implicitly transparent marketing, is not only a moral imperative; it’s key for building relationships that last. A 2018 survey by Accenture Strategy showed that 66% of consumers think transparency is one of the most attractive qualities in a brand. Furthermore, in a study by Label Insight, 94% of the respondents said it was important to them that the brands and manufacturers they buy from are transparent about what’s in their food and how it is made. 

And we cannot talk about transparency without bringing trust into the conversation.

According to the 2019 Edelman Trust Barometer, 81% of customers need to trust a brand in order to buy from them. In the same study, 67% of people agreed that a good reputation may get them to try a product, but unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying it. 

What does this mean for marketing in the social impact space? Let’s have a look at three key dimensions: product, impact and customer data. 

Product transparency: ‘What’s in the box is on the box’

We’ve all experienced or at least heard of a product or service that caught the eye marketing-wise, yet fell short experience-wise. And we all know this trick never works in the long run. At the core of marketing that contributes to sustainable change and long-term success, there is:

1. A product that consistently (over)delivers on its promise
2. A communication approach that is transparent, authentic and empowering

Whenever I think of product transparency, I always think of Yoni’s (the chemical-free menstrual products company) statement: ‘What’s in the box is on the box’. I find that this tagline embodies the definition of any transparent product or service: showing and continuing to be ready to show what goes into creating that product or service. 

The long-lasting commitment to such an approach is heavily dependent on clear values being championed at every level of the organisation. As I wrote in a previous blog post, when it comes to values, “the real challenge is not in defining [them] but in integrating them into the decisions we make down the road – in making sure that they’re not only a statement plastered on a website or a document forgotten in a folder but a set of principles that inform and guide our everyday actions, the difficult decisions we face, the partnerships we forge, the recruitment choices we make and the culture we create.”

That’s why, to ensure constant transparency, we need accountability indicators and regular reality checks. Because just like a car needs regular maintenance to keep running, transparency needs systematic checks to stay on track. Consider some of the questions below and for a great example of an ethical marketing policy, check out JBMedia.

1. Are we communicating honestly and clearly on everything that goes into our products? No jargon, no inflated data, no exaggerated benefits. Companies like Yoni, Patagonia, Beauty Kitchen, Mud Jeans are examples of companies that give comprehensive and unambiguous information on what goes into their products as well as on their environmental and social impact. They also encourage customers to leave reviews directly on their websites. 

2. If an external person were to join us behind the scenes of product development, would we feel comfortable with that? As Hitesh Kenjale, co-founder of DesiHangover, is quoted in this ethical marketing post by Acumen Academy, “If tomorrow a customer walks in without notice, we’re able to show what’s happening. We invite the consumer to see the person who made the shoe and talk to them directly about the product.”

3. Is there something about the product or service that is not ideal and is hard to change at the moment? Are we acknowledging it and explaining how we’re addressing the issue? For example, check out one of Tony’s Chocolonely posts: ‘Facing up to an inconvenient truth: we’re part of the sugar problem’.

4. Is there any part of our product that we could improve but are lenient about because our good mission compensates for it? There might be a small group of customers who will accept that for a while but amplifying impact often requires a wider reach than that. And for that, a great customer experience is key. 

5. Do we talk openly about the realities of our sector? Are we acknowledging the limitations and progress that still needs to be made?

6. Do marketing, sales and product development collaborate effectively and ensure an open flow of information? Do marketing and sales fully understand the product, its benefits and its limitations and do they communicate them accordingly? Does product development regularly receive and take on board the customer feedback collected by marketing and sales? 

7. Are our promotional messages in line with the actual content of our offering? For example, is our coming webinar really providing value on the topic we mentioned or is it actually 50%+ sales?

Impact transparency: linking proof to a higher values-based goal

There is no question that impact data and stories are the lifeblood of any marketing, sales, fundraising and business development initiative in the social impact space. Showcasing an organisation’s results is key to growing its community, attracting more funding and ultimately generating more impact. To grow the cause and drive more change, we need to prove the effectiveness of our work. 

But this is where things sometimes get off course. In the pursuit for funding and under the argument that ‘it’s for a good cause’, many organisations start compromising on transparency and engaging in impact washing practices like:

• Exaggerated benefits and inflated results
• Data and stories taken out of context
• Overly doctored testimonials
• Covering up failures through splashy stories

Rejecting such practices is obviously integral to impact transparency and ethical marketing. And then there’s more. There’s the elevated commitment to transparency: a proactive approach in which transparency gets embedded in the organisation’s DNA and drives its every action. What does this mean for marketing?

First, a commitment to accountability – which is about making realistic promises, walking the talk, and when failing to do so, owning up to it. 

Cause CanvasFor example, when using the Cause Canvas marketing framework to define your organisation’s Collective Promise, you are prompted to ask: 

• What do you, together with your Community Partners, commit to doing in order to change things and move closer to the Higher Goal? The Community Partners are the communities at the core of your cause – the people who are impacted by the current state of affairs.
• How will you measure the fulfillment of your Collective Promise?

And when talking about Proof of impact, two of the guiding questions are: 

• What are the results – and how are they linked to the Higher Goal? That is, what are the stories of change and the data behind them and how are they contributing to the new state of affairs you are pursuing with your cause?
• What are the lessons learned – and how will you use them in driving more impact?

By following these guiding questions, the process of proving your impact becomes anchored in the bigger purpose – which is far more important for long-term success than a one-off enhancement to your company image or the addition of an impact statement to a promotional campaign.

For such an endeavour to truly manifest throughout your operations, end-to-end data transparency is key, from determining what data is needed to measure impact to collecting it responsibly, and sharing it openly, consistently and in a digestible way.

A social enterprise that uses this approach is Ecosia, the search engine that plants trees. Ecosia publishes monthly financial reports that ‘show exactly how much money they made from searches, and what percentage of their revenue went towards trees’. Another example is Fairphone’s mapping of their supply chain and showing the path that different phone components take from mines and factories all the way to the consumer. 

Second, a commitment to authenticity which doesn’t only show the good numbers, emotional stories and big partner names, but is equally explicit about sharing lessons learned, owning one’s failures, and addressing issues as they come up.

Everyone knows mistakes are part of the work but how many organisations are brave enough to talk about them, integrate them into the journey towards the higher goal and show how they are going to set things right – now and in the future? 

What’s more, the social impact sector is well known for its complexities and difficulties, so it’s not even credible that it’s all sunshine and rainbows along the way. Big, pompous statements will get questioned and generate a ripple effect of skepticism which on the long term can break the brand.

Stakeholder data: permission-based personalisation

When it comes to marketing and transparency, the elephant in the room is, of course, the use of data. 

According to Statista, the volume of data created and available to companies has increased by more than 5,000% since 2010 and will continue to grow exponentially in the coming years. 

And with technology offering ever more granular targeting opportunities and marketing trends like social shopping, livestream shopping and augmented reality on the rise (and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic), the topic of data was never in bigger need for ethical considerations than today. 

SmarterHQ’s survey on privacy and personalisation shows that 86% of consumers are concerned about their data privacy, 79% believe companies know too much about them and 63% say they would stop purchasing products and services from companies that take “creepy” marketing too far. Yet, 72% say they now only engage with marketing messages tailored to their interests and 90% are willing to share behavioural data for a cheaper and easier brand experience.

These stats emphasise once again the importance of a transparent, responsible, secure and respectful approach to data and personalisation. 

Fortunately, regulators are addressing this issue with data privacy laws like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). And soon, Google will join Safari and Firefox in blocking third-party cookies, which will have a major impact on the world of digital advertising.

Despite these efforts, data transparency remains an issue. According to the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), 47% of privacy pros said their organizations were fully compliant or very compliant with the GDPR in 2020. This number coupled with the big fines given for breaching the GDPR in 2021 shows that a lot of work still needs to be done.

On this note, here are a few reminders:

• Ask for explicit consent to store and use the data (ie. including the option to decline)
• Be explicit about the data that is collected and why
• Explain how the data will be used and act accordingly
• Don’t collect more data than what’s needed to provide value to customers
• Only provide the content the subscriber has signed up for – no list switching without consent
• Be clear about how the data can be accessed and removed
• Make unsubscribe links easy to find and use
• Dispose of the data when not necessary anymore
• Make it easy for readers/viewers to distinguish between advertorials or native ads and pure editorial content
• In influencer marketing, make sure it’s clear when a product or service is being advertised by the influencer.

A marketing approach rooted in transparency, accountability and authenticity is key to fostering a more sustainable business ecosystem. Staying ready to listen, showing a deep understanding of our sectors’ complexities and constantly improving the way we do things will help us build lasting relationships and move closer to real impact. 

What other actions do you take to ensure transparency in your marketing? Leave your comments below.

 

Published on 4 February 2022 by Laura Tufis. Updated on 27 September 2022. 

Note: We have no affiliation with any of the companies mentioned above. The information is based on their websites and social media communication and aimed at illustrating some of the principles addressed in the blog post.

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Ethical marketing (part IV): honest and empathic campaigning 


Any conversation about ethical marketing is incomplete without the topic of stakeholder engagement. Having talked about core elements like
values, collective promise and transparency, let’s now dive into the subject of stakeholder interactions and four questions that can help us design more ethical campaigns.

How can you help?

The topic of customer-centricity is on everyone’s lips, with some even talking about customer obsession. We know that for an organisation to survive in today’s hyper-connected world in which customers’ expectations are higher than ever before, a great customer experience is key.

A recent Qualtrics XM Institute report shows that customers who rate a company’s customer experience as good (compared to poor) are:
• 33% more likely to trust that the company will take care of their needs
• 34% more likely to purchase more
• 
38% more likely to recommend the company to a friend or relative. 

Another Qualtrics report highlighted the strong connection between experience management (XM) performance and business results: “Of the respondents who rate their company’s XM as ‘significantly above average’, 89% report better revenue growth than competitors in the previous year.”

Yes, customer focus is paramount. And at the same time, I’d like to argue that the customer-centricity paradigm is limited. It implies a narrow focus most often on profit only while overlooking the other equally important stakeholders operating in an organisation’s ecosystem and beyond.

In a world facing a climate crisis, increasing poverty and growing inequality, organisations need to move from customer to stakeholder-centricity and develop stronger forms of cooperation models that are more compatible with the complex issues that need to be addressed.

In this context, what if at the core of every organisation lay the question: how can we help? How can we help our customers, partners, distributors, suppliers, employees how can we help our stakeholders and the planet thrive? 

Or to quote Thomas Kolster: “‘Who can you help me become?’ is the one essential question you need to be asking and acting on to chart a new course for your organisation, changing behaviours at scale and unlocking sustainable growth that benefits all.” (The Hero Trap)

Being a bridge between the internal world of our organisations and the external world of the people we’re serving, marketing can play a crucial role in ensuring a genuine stakeholder focus and in building partnerships that drive meaningful change.

With the question ‘How can we help?’ at the heart of the business, a wide range of marketing practices can start being questioned, challenged and transformed:
• Strengthening stakeholder cooperation: investing resources in truly understanding the needs and aspirations of all stakeholders and ensuring an empathic and collaborative way of doing business.
• Remembering that leads are people looking to solve a problem: lead generation numbers are important but not without being underpinned by a human-centered approach that’s focused on helping audiences address a challenge and meet a goal.
• 
Providing value at every interaction: each touch point in the stakeholder journey is an opportunity to help customers, partners, suppliers etc solve a problem and cultivate meaningful relationships that last.
• 
Developing content, products and services with the users’ needs in mind: think about the content you publish and the functionalities you develop as an answer to the needs previously expressed by your users.
• 
Ensuring transparent messaging in all offerings: we’ve all seen bait and switch tactics like ‘freebies’ that turn out to be product brochures, webinars that turn out to be sales pitches, headlines that lead to vaguely related articles or newsletters that only try to sell. Being honest and clear about what’s in an offering or content piece is crucial for ethical brands that are here to stay.
• 
Asking for permission to communicate: respecting data privacy and informing your audience about what they can expect to receive from you is not only about regulations but also about building a community of people who trust you and want to hear from you.  

You mean it’s really free?

Lead magnets like whitepapers, ebooks, trial subscriptions, product demos and free consultations are essential for building email lists of qualified leads that can be nurtured into customers and partners. In exchange for the so-called ‘freebies’, many companies make the sign-up to their lists mandatory instead of offering a separate opt-in for other communications. But we need to remember that these ‘freebies’ are not actually free considering that data is one of the biggest currencies of our society. 

Plus, gathering contacts who aren’t actually interested in anything else than the offer at hand and who’ll most likely unsubscribe from the list quickly after is great for short-term vanity metrics, not for building a valuable database that drives long-term meaningful results. 

My suggestion is: create content that solves your audience’s problems, give the resources without mandatory sign-up, provide consistent value, and trust that people will come back and want to hear more from you because of the amazing content you offer. 

Why the rush?

Scarcity and urgency campaigns are widely used marketing tactics. The scarcity principle refers to consumers placing a higher value on products or services that are scarce than on the ones that are abundant. Perceived limited supply and urgent deadlines tend to increase appeal and consequently sales. 

‘Buy now or cry later’ 🤨, ‘3 seats left’, ‘1 item left in stock’, ‘5 people looking at it right now’, ‘50% only for today’ are statements we’ve all seen. The problem is that the language is unnecessarily pressing, with statements often not being entirely true, only taking advantage of consumers’ FOMO and loss aversion. 

It’s true that we all tend to sign up for events right before the deadline or postpone the decision of an acquisition until we desperately need it. However, using this knowledge to create campaigns that push consumers into making rushed, uncalculated decisions based on fake information or ‘now or never’ language is not only unethical but also damaging for the brand. If the next day, the event registration that was supposed to be closed by midnight is still open, the trust will break and the word will spread. 

So if you do make any urgency or scarcity statements, make sure they’re based on real data, placed in context and unchanging. Check out the Ethical Move for some great ways to ‘flip’ such tactics into fully transparent ones. 

Is it for real?

The environmental degradation, social inequities and political instability around the world make consumers think more and more about their choices, which in turn raises expectations from organisations across the board. As a result, companies experience increasing pressure to prove their commitment to a purpose that goes beyond profit. For example, Deloitte’s 2022 Global Marketing Trends report mentions purpose as a beacon for growth and states that “globally, 57% [of consumers] indicated that, in general, they are more loyal to brands that commit to addressing social inequities.”

And while many companies take the meaning of purpose seriously and make it an integral part of everything they do, many only take advantage of the ‘purpose trend’ to increase their profits while continuing business as usual.

Hence the question: Is it for real?
• Is the proclaimed ethical purpose manifested in every action and every interaction?
• Is sustainability just a buzzword or is it truly embedded in the organisation’s DNA?
• Are promises grounded in reality and being kept along the way?
• Is there an accountability framework in place to keep track of the real progress?
• Are mistakes openly shared, owned up to and used to learn from them?
• Is impact shared as it is: no exaggerated benefits and inflated results; no data and stories taken out of context, no overly doctored testimonials?
• Are all products and services delivering on the promise?
• Is any offer presented like one of a kind when in reality it’s only packaged that way?

At the core of all these questions lies a commitment to transparency, accountability and authenticity; a genuine dedication to not only talking the talk but also walking the walk, to having a set of values rooted in a higher goal and to manifesting those values at every single step of the way.

For more on the topic of transparency and values, check out these two blog posts: ‘Ethical marketing (part III): the transparency trifecta’ and ‘Ethical marketing (part I): driven by values, rooted in a higher goal’.

What else do you do to ensure ethical campaigning? Leave your comments below.

 

Published on 29 June 2022 by Laura Tufis. Updated on 27 September 2022.  

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Ethical marketing (part I): driven by values, rooted in a higher goal

 

Ethical marketing - Driven by values, rooted in a higher hoal

Traditionally, the main role of marketing has been to promote and sell products and services with the sole goal of maximising a company’s profit and the wealth of its shareholders. This approach to business has led to widespread disregard for external impacts, playing a key role in stoking social inequalities and being a major contributor to alarming environmental degradation. And while some companies might have overhauled their practices to mitigate negative impacts and contribute to positive change, too many have held firm to the status quo and employed greenwashing or bluewashing strategies instead.

Add to that the misuse of personal data in (microtargeted) advertising and political campaigns, it is no wonder that the word ‘marketing’ often conjures up associations with manipulative practices and plain distrust. Purpose-driven organisations that are genuinely dedicated to making a social or environmental impact often feel they enter tricky territory when developing their marketing strategies. And rightfully so – the skepticism has legitimate foundations.

At the same time, we know that marketing is key in expanding the reach of a cause, bringing people on board and generating crucial action.

So how do we navigate a territory marked by all these issues and do so ethically and responsibly?

Widening the scope of business goals to include people and the planet is, of course, a key step in that direction. Sustainable, purpose-driven and people-planet-profit marketing are all familiar concepts that have gained increasing attention and commitment in the past decade.

But as old practices are being challenged and new models emerge, it is important to also stay critical about the nature of the building blocks used in the mix. Constant reflection, evaluation and openness to change are a must as we turn the tide toward a more ethical discipline that drives sustainable results for all.

Real change lies in the details of daily actions. This is why, in this blog series, I’d like to discuss how we, purpose-driven marketers, and fellow changemakers can keep improving our practices so that the marketing we engage in is invariably anchored in ethical standards and in line with the impact we’re looking to create.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be zooming in on various aspects that I find important when striving to ensure ethical marketing practices in socially-minded organisations. And I’d be happy to hear your views, comments and suggestions.

By no means do I claim to have all the answers surrounding the topic. Nor do I intend to claim the moral high ground. This series is a set of reflections based on my experience in impact-driven organisations as well as an invitation to an ongoing conversation that keeps us open, candid and alert.

Marketing is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for a variety of goals across a large spectrum. It’s up to us to create an environment in which the good side of the spectrum shines bright. And what better place to start than at the core of our organisations?

Marketing driven by values, rooted in a higher goal

The importance of having clear organisational values driven by the impact we want to make in the world cannot be emphasised enough. And although the values exercise is not an easy task in itself, the real challenge lies in integrating those values into the decisions we make down the road – in making sure that they’re not only a statement plastered on a website or a document forgotten in a folder but a set of principles that inform and guide our everyday actions, the difficult decisions we face, the partnerships we forge, the recruitment choices we make and the culture we create. Ultimately, clear values keep us focused when things get hard.

As Acumen’s founder and CEO, Jacqueline Novogratz, writes in her book, ‘Manifesto for a Moral Revolution: Practices to Build a Better World’: “Statements of values can guide actions and reinforce bonds of community – if they are lived. […] To unite any group, let alone the world, in common purpose requires role models and business models that demonstrate values made manifest.”

Marketing creates a bridge between the internal world of our organisations and the external world of the people we’re looking to serve. And it is our duty to constantly assess how we’re tuning into these two worlds so that we can ensure moral ways of tackling the tensions and disparities that arise in the process.

In the Cause Canvas – my proposed marketing strategy framework for purpose-driven organisations committed to inclusive growth – the Higher Goal lies at the centre of the framework as a constant reminder that it’s not only the first step in defining a social impact strategy but also a driving force influencing the decisions around it. The Higher Goal refers to your organisation’s dream for a more just and sustainable world and to distil it, you’re encouraged to ask questions like:

• What is the new state of affairs you imagine?
• Why is it important to pursue a new state of affairs?
• What do you think needs to change?
• What are the values that will guide your work?

Cause CanvasAs marketers, we tap into and influence multiple aspects of an organisation, from the resources we use, the stories we tell and the way we show our impact, to the people and organisations we attract as partners, ambassadors, donors, investors, customers or members.

When we commit to aligning these aspects with a set of values rooted in a higher goal, we allow for other equally important objectives to co-exist with the pursuit for funding. For example, a set of values focused on respectful relationships and rooted in a higher goal of human flourishing will help reconcile the financial needs of the organisation with the needs and aspirations of the community partners at the centre of the cause as well as those of the employees. Such an approach leads to:

• Developing products and services that don’t only sell but really fulfill the needs of the audiences they are aimed at. As Acumen’s CMO said in an event, “the product is the marketing”, marketing shouldn’t be an afterthought.
• Attracting partners, donors or investors that truly support the cause and not only the potential gain in profit or reputation.
• Crafting stories and calls to action that attract funding and respect the human dignity of the people involved.
• Pursuing projects not only for the numbers to be shown to donors or investors but also for the good that they put out into the world.
• Hiring marketing teams that are truly dedicated to the cause and have an empathetic ear for all the stakeholders involved: customers, communities, partners, donors, investors etc.
• Employing marketing practices and systems with permission and data privacy at the core.

In a nutshell, when marketing decisions get blurry, the core values and focus on the higher goal will help us lift the fog.

Stay tuned for my next post in the ethical marketing blog series and leave your comments below.

 

Published on 17 September 2021 by Laura Tufis. Updated on 27 September 2022.

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11 storytelling tips that will fuel your NGO’s fundraising

 

Storytelling for NGOs

Every NGO has powerful and urgent stories to tell. Good stories evoke emotions, connect us, make us embrace different perspectives and trigger us to take action. Are you looking for ways to bring your NGO’s story closer to your donors’ hearts? Here are 11 storytelling tips that will help you boost your marketing and fundraising efforts.

1. Have a clear purpose

Before even thinking of your storyline, stop and ask yourself: what exactly do I want to achieve through this story? Do I want to attract new donors, show existing donors the impact of their donations or maybe raise awareness about an issue and influence policy-making? Make your goal as tangible as possible, define your target audience and the rest will follow.

2. Focus on one message

Whenever we are passionate about a subject, we want to cover all the details. And in the non-profit world there is generally a lot of passion. So we often want to communicate everything. And it makes sense. It is serious, important and urgent. But exactly because it is serious, important and urgent, it needs to be clear and powerful. And mixing more messages can have the exact opposite effect. It can become confusing and blurry, especially for an audience who doesn’t know the ins and outs of your cause. By emphasising one message at a time, you can channel energy, bring focus and drive more impact.

3. Zoom in on the problem

Powerful stories start by immersing the reader or viewer into a new world. Describe the context and state the problem in order to help your audience dive into your world. You can show the multiple layers of a situation by zooming in from a global or nation-wide perspective to community and personal level. To make the context more tangible and illustrate the magnitude of the problem, use facts and figures; and to make it more relatable, explain what it means for one specific person. To achieve this in your visuals, you can offer a bird’s eye view of your focus area with drone shots and slowly zoom in on your main character(s).

4. Establish a personal connection

Once you’ve zoomed in on your main characters, give a vivid image of their lives, environment, everyday experiences, struggles and joys. Personal stories can break walls, build bridges and conjure up the strongest of emotions. Science shows that stories don’t only activate the language processing parts in our brain but also any other area in the brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story. This is why personal stories can have such an impact on our emotions; we tend to relate them to our own experiences and imagine ourselves in those situations. And even more so when powerful imagery is involved. But as you build your narrative, make sure to respect the dignity of the people involved and always challenge the stereotypes (for more on this topic, see this post on reframing the message in international development).

5. Introduce the (possible) solution

So there is a problem and there is someone or something being affected by that problem. You have a solution and it’s proven to work. Or maybe you haven’t used it yet but you have the evidence that it can work. The important thing is that there is a way to solve the problem. To get your donors/supporters on board, you need to explain your approach in a clear, concise and engaging way and highlight its unique selling points. No jargon, no industry lingo. Just ask yourself: if I weren’t working here, would I grasp the concept right away? Would I get excited about it? Would I support it?

6. Show (possible) impact

Show your (potential) donors what impact your work has generated or can generate with a little bit of help from their side. For existing donors, it is important to see how their donations are being put to use and for potential donors it is important to see what their donations could turn into. Showing impact builds trust and brings hope.

7. Don’t forget the call to action

So you’ve wrapped up your story. And it’s powerful. People are engaged and ready to do their part. This is the moment to ask them to take action. No call to action is a missed opportunity. Remember tip no. 1: have a clear purpose? This is where it all comes together. Get people to click, donate, download, sign. If they love your story, they will follow through.

8. Put your heroes in the spotlight

Every NGO has its heroes, the people in the front line, working hard every day to make a change in their communities or in their environment. These are the people driving your organisation’s impact. Your champions. So make sure to put them in the spotlight. Think video interviews, portrait photos, event speeches.

9. Use new tech for an extra edge

Let emerging technologies get your creative juices flowing. Why not try some virtual reality to better immerse your donors into your story or some drone shots for a different perspective of your projects? All this, combined with live video and powerful photography can give an extra edge to your NGO’s story. Start experimenting and you might discover some totally new angles in your storytelling.

10. Quality is key

This might sound obvious but it cannot be emphasised enough. No matter how good your storyline, if your videos are shaky or have bad sound or poor lighting, your texts have typos or grammar mistakes, your photos are blurry or the tone does not resonate with your audience, well, the story will not be received well, that’s for sure. So make sure you invest in a good editor, a good photographer, a good video crew and a good designer and you’ll soon notice the results.

11. Promote and re-purpose

The same story can take multiple forms, from a journal or a blog post to a photo story, a video, an animation or even a presentation. But regardless of the content, the essence will stay the same. Remember the focus on one message in tip 2. It really comes in handy when you start re-purposing your story. Why re-purpose? Because your donors might be using content in different ways depending on their interests and demographics. And because you can extend the life of your story and ensure a good bundle of content for a while. It’s good return on investment. And once you have your story in various formats, make sure you keep promoting it on various occasions. Don’t forget it in a corner. You’ve worked hard on it.

What other tactics do you use in your storytelling? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

Struggling to tell your NGO’s story in a way that engages your donors and prompts them to take action? Let’s work together to create a value proposition and key messages that resonate with your audience. Get in touch for a consultation. 

Published on 15 December 2017 by Laura Tufis. The post was initially published on Beyond Borders Media.

Photo credit: Anastasia Zhenina, Unsplash

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