Nonprofit Cross-Marketing and 'The Bachelor'
Yes, I was watching "The Bachelor." I can lie and try to tell all of you that I was "doing research" or "my TV got stuck on that channel" or "I only watch it for the commercials" — but you all would probably see right through that, eh? No, I will simply embrace my inner reality TV love.
What does all this have to do with nonprofits, fundraising or marketing?
Last week on "The Bachelor," the show obviously wanted to do some cross-marketing for the upcoming new movie from Disney coming out in 2015, "Cinderella." Granted, ABC (the network that is responsible for "The Bachelor") and Disney are connected. But, I just think this was creepy, and it felt forced. Here was my perspective:
- It wasn't a commercial — it was "forced" into the script of the show.
- It lasted through several scenes (not a bad thing if it makes sense).
- The theme of that night's "date" on "The Bachelor" was "Cinderella-based" (again, not bad since the show is about romance and finding true love).
- Here's where it became forced: Cinderella in the movie wears a blue dress; the woman on the show going on the date was able to try on lots of stunning dresses, but guess what? She ended up in a pretty normal-looking blue dress.
- The "primp and polish" crew getting her ready for the date all of a sudden happen to have a tablet nearby and uncomfortably says something along the lines of, "Would you like to see clip from Disney's new movie?" OF COURSE THE ANSWER IS NO!!! She is drinking champagne and trying on jewelry. Poof: snap to a shot of them all crowded around the tablet looking interested while the entire screen for us as the TV viewers is now the equivalent of a preview of the movie.
- It didn't end there. On the date, we all know sometimes the couple has a solo dance in front of live music that appears to be played just for them. Well, for this date, there was a wonderful orchestra playing beautiful music and the couple was dancing on a small, raised platform — but what begins to be projected on a building-size screen is the dance scenes in the movie Cinderella
Don't get me wrong. I am all about cross-marketing. In fact, I harp on our industry for not doing more of it, but this just felt so forced to me. Watching it, I felt like saying, "Yep, they were told they had to act really interested in this movie," and "Yep, clearly ABC and Disney are connected." By the way, I looked on some of the social media sites afterward, and it appears I was not the only one who thought it didn't feel natural.
So, the message I'm trying to deliver today is that, in my opinion, cross-marketing only works if it is a relevant offering for the target audience. I'm sure ABC and Disney have some of the top agencies involved so I cannot speak to whether "The Bachelor" audience is demographically and psychographically the right audience for the new movie, but even it is, it sure didn't feel natural.
For nonprofits, here are a few pointers on making it feel "natural":
- First, don't be afraid. If you are cross-marketing multiple opportunities within your nonprofit brand, realize your constituents have already indicated that they like what you're doing. Think of it from the perspective of, "Why wouldn't they want to know about other ways to support the cause?"
- Respect the initial engagement. If you have a new relationship with a constituent, make sure you communicate your appreciation for her engagement and take the time to actually build the new relationship. That doesn't mean you have to wait a long time, but before you offer something else, make sure you have communicated about what the donor has already done for the organization.
- Don't treat this like a 99-item salad bar. You need to do some work. Pull your data, analyze how people engage and by all means attempt to develop a profile of the people who are engaging across multiple areas. Believe it or not, everyone is not interested in everything, and you should not approach this from the standpoint of offering everything to everyone.
- No one expects you to be able to read the minds of your constituents so when we say "make sure it is relevant," it is more about messaging than you choosing one "product/offering" over another with your organization.
- It is your responsibility to communicate to your constituents in a way that continues to tell the story of your organization. If they are engaged in one area and you want to promote another way for them to be involved with the brand, you need to help make the connection about why this might also be of interest to them and how this continues to support the mission (similar to their current engagement).
- You can offer additional opportunities through a solo communication, or you can combine with others. But, along the same lines as the "salad bar" mentioned above, don't make it feel like a menu. Explain to your constituents why this matters and how they might enjoy/appreciate this other opportunity.
In other words, you can't just force a connection. It's not like just finding a way to "work into a script" like the folks at "The Bachelor" did with "Cinderella."
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.