“In these trying and uncertain times”—oh my god, shut up!

As marketers scramble to respond to coronavirus, everything is starting to feel a bit repetitive. You can picture the ads, right? Empty streets, soft music, an empathetic voice-over reminds you that [fill in company name here] promises to be there for its customers in these “trying and uncertain times”. There’s even a compilation video out there that (disturbingly) shows how every Covid-19 commercial is identical.
We get it. The approach is understandable when you digest the ads individually—hell, we even wrote a helpful blog when this all started happening that used the word ‘uncertain’ three times (sorry, Alan). The problem is when all these messages pepper your inbox and TV screens for months on end, the intended sincerity comes off as hollow, corporate rhetoric.

Conversions aren’t gained from acting concerned

It’s time to move beyond the initial empathy we all resorted to and offer practical solutions. According to Morning Consult, a data-intelligence company that conducted a survey of 2,200 Americans this past March, folks would prefer marketers to cut the sympathetic PSAs and only 10 percent wanted companies to even acknowledge the situation. Most consumers just wanted companies to communicate how they’re solving problems. How are you helping those in need? How are you keeping me safe? How is my rate or bill going to change? You’ll notice the next round of marketing from the big boys steers in this direction.

What does this mean for non-profits?

There is a huge opportunity for nonprofits to move past the somber, emotionally manipulative tones of these initial campaigns and provide real value. What are you doing to help? How can you use your resources for good?

“Nonprofits have an enormous role to play in both crisis response and in recovery while serving the vulnerable from a position of vulnerability themselves. It’s critical to think through how your organization can help not just each demographic you serve, but really meet them where they are in each search and interaction with COVID specific messages. You have to be there when your constituents are looking for answers.”

– Michelle Hurtado, head of Google Ad Grants

Less Competition = More Reach

With traditional advertisers pulling budgets the past few months, nonprofits have the opportunity to connect with potential donors and volunteers that were formerly out of reach. This is especially true in any marketing platform that uses bidding to decide when or where ads are displayed (e.g., CPC (cost-per-click) and PPC (pay-per-click). Less competition on search leads to lower bids allowing nonprofits to build brand awareness and email lists in ways that were previously too costly.

Spring and Summer Events Canceled? Let’s Brainstorm

Fundraising events bring in the bulk of the capital needed for many nonprofits to stay afloat. If your event has been pushed, here are a few ideas that can help boost your fundraising.

– Virtual Events: Upaya Social Ventures just wrapped up their four-day virtual gala which raised well over their $200k goal. Here are some great tips on how to transition your in-person event to a virtual one.

– Auctions and Raffles: Consider an online auction or raffle to raise some money. Check out this list of charity auction and fundraising tools we dug up.

– Initiate a Subscription: Monthly giving programs provide predictable revenue and have been shown to increase donor giving and retention.

Time to Revamp?

With a slow summer season approaching this may be the perfect time to prepare for when things pick back up in the fall. Here are a few marketing projects you could revisit with your team over the next Zoom call.

– Audit online donation process: What’s preventing supporters from giving online? What steps can we take to make this process easier and more secure?
– Analytics review: What pages are hanging your users up? Where are they losing interest and what campaigns do we need to ramp up in the coming months?
– Messaging audit: When was the last time you revisited your boilerplate copy? How about your mission and vision statements? Now is a great time to consider updates to how your nonprofit is positioned.

Some parting words and additional resources

By the way, we realize that many nonprofits are on the front lines of the response to the pandemic. They don’t have the time or resources to make major shifts to their marketing strategies and approaches. The rest, however, should be looking at what they can and need to do in order to capitalize on the new way of life when everything gets back to “normal”. So, during these trying and uncert—ha! Nope. How about we skip the rhetoric and just supply you with some more helpful links?

– A master list of guidelines, HR planning, communication best practices, event management, fundraising help, learning tools, and state-specific information can all be found here.

– Also, here’s a bunch of additional resources from Google.