USP? BOM? WTH?
Unique selling proposition … benefit-oriented messaging … brand management — sounds like a bunch of advertising execs talking strategy, doesn’t it? Could be. Or it just as easily could be a bunch of development professionals. At least it should be!
As a marketing professional who’s spent more than two decades in both the commercial and nonprofit sectors, I’ve discovered that these two worlds are more closely aligned than many think.
The unique selling proposition
Take “mission” for example. Many committed development professionals would have you believe that the only mission in the commercial sector is to separate consumers from their hard-earned dollars. They’d be surprised to discover that in the commercial world, before any advertising is crafted, there’s lots of discussion about mission — they just call it something else. Commercial advertisers talk about the product’s unique selling proposition: what makes the product they’re promoting different from all the others. Their product must fill a need or help their customer solve a problem; in essence this is their “mission.”
There are thousands of nonprofit organizations out there. What’s the USP of your organization? How are you communicating that message to your “customers” — your donors?
If you’re an animal-welfare organization, think about your competition. You’re not just competing with your potential donor’s entertainment budget or the rising cost of gasoline — but also other charities, even other animal-welfare organizations.
Think about laundry detergents. Their advertising pits one product against another. This is how the advertiser communicates its USP. What makes your animal-welfare organization different from others? Are you clearly communicating those differences in your appeal letters?
Since we’ve already stooped to comparing our altruistic, imaginary animal-welfare organization to the likes of mere laundry detergent, let’s take a closer look at the advertising that features those detergents, the circulars that are stuffed in your mailbox every week. What can we learn from them?