Members and affiliations of a nonprofit organization make powerful brand ambassadors because they're passionate about their cause. Many consumer brands want to harness this viral marketing capability to boost sales.
The trick is not just to find the right partnership, but to create campaigns that turn your partnership from warm fuzzies into hard sales.
We asked Jaime Berman Matyas, VP Internet & Cause Marketing for National Wildlife Federation (NWF), for three proven tactics to make non-profit and consumer brand partnerships work better.
-> Tactic #1 -- Don't settle for one single message
Multi-channel campaigns get significantly stronger sales results than single channel ones.
So, push your non-profit partner for ideas and data on every single way you can reach out to their members. Do they have a newsletter? Do they do in-person member gatherings? What about inserts in membership renewal mailers?
For example, when the NWF and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters formed a partnership to promote shade-grown certified organic Fair Trade coffee, the NWF promoted the coffee in eight places:
a. NWF Web site talks about the conservation benefits of shade-grown coffee. (http://www.nwf.org/coffee/)
b. NWF annual meeting. They structured a deal with the hotel to serve the coffee during the event. By kicking the campaign off in a public way, telling attendees what they were sampling and why, and giving them a promotion code for 5% off their first order, they created hundreds of ambassadors for the brand.
c. Coffee break breakfast at headquarters for about 200 people. They served the coffee and provided the same discount.
d. Promoting shade-grown coffee in an article and follow-up in the NWF print magazine which goes to about 700,000 people
e. Articles in Wildlife Online, a biweekly email newsletter to 250,000 readers.
f. Monthly packets of print materials to state affiliates. These include news about the program which affiliates can pick up and run in their own newsletters or magazines at the state and regional level.
g. Annual conservation summit with 500 attendees. The new coffee will be served. "You may say 500 people is not a lot, but they are influential people who are taking their vacation time to spend with their family and the values they care about," Matyas says. "They will share it."
h. Ads on the e-nature Web site (an NWF-owned company which appeals to people who may not be ultra-conservationists but who love the outdoors.)
-> Tactic #2: Add the non-profit's brand to your own campaigns
Instead of relying on the non-profit to do all of the promotional work, leverage its brand across your own packaging, advertising and marketing.
For example, Green Mountain features the NWF on:
- point-of-sale retail promos
- inserts in the coffee-of-the-month program
- a two-page spread in Green Mountain's print catalog
- on Green Mountain promotions at selected gas stations.
Results: Together with the NWF's own campaigns, these tactics helped Green Mountain's new coffee launch this Spring achieve *triple* the sales that their previous year's product launch got.
-> Tactic #3: Involve your PR department in the campaign
Get the media to spread the word about your campaign even further.
Example: The manufacturer Briggs & Stratton needed to raise sales of their lawn mower tune-up kits. So, they partnered with NWF for the month of March and cranked on the PR to get the most out of the month.
First, their PR announced that March was "Tune up your motor month."
Through news releases, media relations, and posters, Briggs & Stratton's PR team got the word out that consumers could significantly reduce the harmful aspects of lawn mower emissions with an engine tune-up.
But they didn't pitch the media on just mower tune-up. "It had a story behind it," says Matyas. They told reporters that NWF, the largest conservation organization, is supporting them because it’s an important initiative."
Results: Sales on the tune-up kit almost tripled; and, the campaign won the Cause Marketing Forum's Halo Award in the environmental category.