This is a guest post written by Caitlin Quinn, Director of Operations at HeARTs Speak. Read her previous post, “How lessons from 2020 can inform your marketing efforts now” here.
When it comes to marketing, we can’t forget that everything we do — from our messages, to our campaigns, to the images we use — is based on our strategies and goals. And for many organizations, those goals boil down to making connections. Connecting with more supporters, more adopters, more fosters, and more families. As the work of animal services continues to evolve alongside our communities’ needs, the following tips can help us continue to build those connections we seek.
Get the word out
Too often we think of marketing and communications only in terms of social media. But the community is much more robust than those platforms allow us to reach.
- Avoid chasing the algorithms without intention. Are we on social media just for high performing posts? Of course not, but sometimes we get fixated on metrics without thinking about the larger implications.
- Reconnect with WHY you’re using social media. Does your social presence reflect our organization’s mission and goals? Are you truly connecting with the community and seeing results from our efforts in the way people take action?
- Make messages easily actionable by including clear call-outs, links to learn more, and reducing barriers to understanding.
Challenge bias and remove barriers to inclusion
Marketing presents an opportunity to tell the stories of your work and your mission to new audiences. But if we’re always using the same platforms, language, and imagery to tell those stories, we may be hampering our own reach, impacting the support we have in the community. Removing these hurdles includes analyzing how we’re reinforcing exclusivity and barriers to participation.
- Familiarize yourself with existing research and tools, and realize this will be an ongoing process of learning and removing barriers. Start with the results of the CARE / Harvard’ Project Implicit survey results then take a look at these resources specifically for marketing:
- Chapter 3: Effective Marketing & Communications | Pets for Life Sustainability Guide by HumanePro
- Decoding DEI for Marketers | American Marketing Association presentation
- Ethical Storytelling for Nonprofits | Nonprofit Quarterly
- The DEI Imperative: Fundamentals for Marketers | American Marketing Association presentation
- Put a critical eye toward making all your materials more accessible:
- Have you taken the time to translate your resources & promo materials into prevalent languages spoken in your community? Can you use a translation plugin to help make your website more welcoming? Read about the other ways you can communicate in a multilingual world
- Make your content accessible with captions on all videos, and alt-text on photos for websites and social platforms, and make images more impactful with inclusive design.
Diversify methods of connection
One of the most valuable things we can do to build connections is throw away “We’ve always done it this way” thinking. If we let go of our fears and invest in possibilities, we can suddenly uncover new solutions to old problems!
- Go low-tech with some of your marketing and communications. You can do this through creative partnerships and cross promotion and by evaluating use of traditional marketing in print, or even radio and tv (this doesn’t have to cost you anything! Look for donated space or pro-bono partnerships with media)
- Build your relationships with local media by following these tips!
- Ask your community partners what they’d like to see more of, and what’s missing. If all our marketing efforts are based on our guesses, but don’t include input from the very clients and community members we’d like to be reaching, we’re bound to keep missing the mark. Good marketing is informed by the audience and simply asking for feedback can be eye-opening!
Want more? You can watch an early recording of this presentation from the Association of Animal Welfare Advancement Learning Center.