"Do more with less!"
"Make it happen with your piddly budget!"
"Can't give you more resources!"
We hear these tiring phrases all the time, but it's a fact of the corporate world today and the norm for most nonprofit organizations.
Previously, Gail asked our readers about creating a big splash with little cash.
Making a product a household name for less
I work at a nonprofit organization that is establishing a for-profit sideline—selling a line of silver jewelry, the design of which has been exclusively licensed to us. The nonprofit serves women, and they (and their family and friends) are the target market for the jewelry sales. I have been selling the product through our Web site and programs to our members and constituents.
I want to expand our market beyond this small number—preferably to like-minded nonprofits in other states, and women business owners everywhere. I want to start small, gain success and experience, and then grow big. Some ideas: find an organization already identified with women (Avon, for instance) and see if they'll promote our product through their Web site; find local retailers (women) and ask them to promote our product through their stores (preferably not on consignment); find other nonprofits that cater to women (women's healthcare, for instance) and see if they'll sell the product as a fundraiser (their selling price covers our manufacturing cost, a mark-up for us and their profit); find a larger than life public figure (Oprah), give her a set of the jewelry as a gift and hope she'll plug it.
Of course, there's a limited marketing budget, so I need to choose and follow a course of action that is most likely to result in the most sales. What works best for this type of product and/or taking a small endeavor and making it a household word (like the LIVESTRONG bracelets)?
—Gail, business development manager
Your responses provide four ways to build a household name at a low cost. In almost every column, we mention "know your target market" because it's a marketer's mantra. But readers offer ideas on how to do it for Gail's situation. News releases are a cost-effective option, but not always successful because reporters get flooded with them. Try cross-promoting with a product complementary to yours. And, fourth, one of the newer approaches involves working with bloggers.
1. Explore the target market
They're everywhere: yellow, blue, pink, green and white bracelets. What started it all? The yellow LIVESTRONG bracelets sell for $1 to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The campaign was wildly successful and launched hundreds of copycats. Maybe not hundreds, but bunches. Barry Vucsko, creative director at Dentsu Inc., says a direct approach will fail for a product like Gail's:
Discover who your target market aspires to be—no matter how small this target is—and do what you can to get the jewelry in their hands. Your bigger target will follow in due time and in droves.
Margaret shares her thoughts on what made the LIVESTRONG bracelets a hot product:
I think the LIVESTRONG bracelets are a huge success for a few reasons—they represent a positive, empowering approach to battling difficulty in one's life because of the association with Lance Armstrong and his story; they're inexpensive and nearly everyone is affected in some way by cancer, so there's buyer identification.
So, I'd like to know what your not-for-profit does and how does the jewelry tie into that? What is the focal point/angle for your promotion? Also, is there consistency with the not-for-profit and the price/look of the jewelry? I'm thinking that if the not-for-profit helps homeless women get back on their feet, for example, there would be a disconnect with expensive jewelry. I think the angle would lead to audiences that would lead to how/where to promote the jewelry.
Once you know your audience, you'll better know where/how to promote the jewelry. Just thinking that you're promoting to "women" isn't specific enough. For example, the cause of homeless women might strongly appeal to women entrepreneurs because they're "do it yourself, start from nothing and build up" minded. In which case you could look into opportunities with women, entrepreneur associations, like having a presence at their conferences.
Let's take Margaret's advice a step further. If the target is professional women, then perhaps the jewelry could be about confidence and success. Their buying the jewelry helps them get that "take charge" mentality while it helps other women who have challenges in their lives—or whatever the issue is that the nonprofit addresses.
2. Use news releases
A basic news release takes no time; it's as simple as doing creative writing that catches the reporter's attention. But blanket news releases or those focusing on your organization's latest and greatest accomplishments head straight for the recycling bin. Leonard Lim of Kao Malaysia believes PR is a great way to generate excitement, build buzz and establish credibility for the product and organization:
Find a niche and a platform you can leverage. Remember to differentiate. Some suggestions would be advertorials in magazines, product placements, editorial features in fashion sections, etc. A well-thought-out value proposition and a compelling cause surrounding your product can get the media talking about it.
Leonard recommends trying PR before any advertising, which costs mega-bucks. We also recommend Joan Stewart's The Publicity Hound newsletter and Free Publicity authored by TV news reporter Jeff Crilley.
3. Do a joint venture
When you look through the coupon pages that come with Sunday's newspaper, you see some that say "buy two packs of soda and get free bread." This promotion combines products from two companies in an effort to boost one another's products and increase visibility.
Leonard Lim suggests jewelry would complement fashionable clothes. So that opens cross-promotional opportunities with clothing and department stores, both online and off. "Show the target market how good they would look by complementing such clothes with your line of jewelry. Accessories always complete the picture," he says.
4. Connect with bloggers
Blogs have grown to include products and advertising, most notably through Google's AdSense. The hot blogs rely on sponsors whose ads or logos appear prominently on the blog. Depending on the blog, some do it for free in exchange for a link or a reduced rate.
Andrea Learned, president of Learned On Women, advises connecting with "niched" blogs as opposed to any old blog: "I know of one blog that is written by a nonprofit marketing expert, for example, so that may be a good start."
Read the bloggers' entries before contacting them. Get to know their styles and determine whether they're a fit for your products and organization. Do a test with one and see how it works out.
Now that you've learned how to create buzz for a product on a mini-budget, it's time for our next case.
Current Challenge: Can You Help Solve This One?
We're working on plans to launch a Web site targeted to teens. Sounds cool, eh? We gotta get down with the program and figure out how to reach them— because like a nonprofit organization, they have a limited budget. What are the most effective ways to launch a Web site for teens while considering they have little spending money?
—Shelby, marketing assistant
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