Why is it that so much of the marketing materials that come from associations and non-profits are so boring?

Just look at your email inbox. Which items stand out? I would bet that few are from any non-profit groups.

Marketing is what motivates people to do something. And if you are still sending out the same boring convention, meeting, membership and even government affairs alerts, then, duh, no one is going to do anything except hit the “delete” button.

But it does not have to be that way.


Spruce up your marketing copy by instilling as many of these different marketing tips into your next pieces:

  • To get a response, have a specific action or purpose in mind. Make it clear what you want the reader to do.
  • Grab attention. Make the recipient want to read what you have to say with a headline that pulls the reader in.
  • Make the value proposition easily understood. State what you providing and how will it benefit the person reading it.
  • Personalize what you write. Make it about the reader and tell a story to show how acting will benefit personally.
  • Provide an appealing idea that motivates the recipient to respond. Show how responding is the best thing to do.
  • Be ready to respond to inaction. Detail why not participating is not in the reader’s best interests.
  • Ask for the sale…or in this case, a response. Set a deadline and have multiple ways to act such as email, telephone, website, etc.

You may not be able to use them all, but certainly use this list as a guide.

Other things to include are guarantees (after all, if you are offering something, why wouldn’t you be willing to guarantee it?); bonuses if receiptants respond early; and testimonials which provide validation to your offer and organization.  Story telling is another super way to market and here are some ideas how to get started: 

Finally, start a file of those emails, mailings, brochures and the like which catch your eye; especially email since that is the primary way communication takes place nowadays. Look at what motivates you and see if you can break it down to use with your non-profit’s communication

Huffington Post is talented when it comes to putting together teaser headlines to catch your attention. Try to emulate it by testing different headlines for the same item.

When I have a meeting coming up and I am sending out repeated emails over a period of time, I use different headers and track to see which ones get a better response so I can use something similar in the future.

Finally, be genuine. Readers can tell when the marketing is too good to be true. Be honest to yourself, your organization and to your readers.

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