The third sector is having an especially difficult time right now because of coronavirus. It’s hard to get donors to part with their money when they are worried about their own families and economic futures. But even before Covid-19, NGOs faced challenges of marketing themselves.
· Challenges of differentiation. Some causes are rather over-crowded with similar charities so that it’s hard for the public to tell them apart.
· Challenges of understanding donor motivation. In the private sector, brands are obsessed with consumer need. But where is the equivalent need in a potential donor?
· Challenges of communication. Sometimes the marketing communications of an NGO are intended to say one thing but actually communicate something else to the public.
In recent years, a new form of research has become very popular with marketers. Its name is semiotics. It improves on traditional survey research in a host of different ways. Some of its key features are as follows.
· It’s very cost-effective. Because it doesn’t usually involve asking consumers direct questions, you can do it for a fraction of the cost of a normal market research project.
· It’s accessible. Semiotics is a craft skill that can be acquired by anyone who is motivated to learn. You don’t need specialist software or a degree in statistics.
· The solutions it delivers are based on more than the preferences of individual donors. They arise from a deep understanding of mass culture. Donors aren’t all different from each other, their attitudes and opinions are formed by their membership of various cultural groups. With semiotics, you can address large audiences with culturally appropriate messages.
Dr. Rachel Lawes is the author of “Using Semiotics in Marketing” (Kogan Page, 2020), the very first book which provides a practical, step-by-step course in semiotics for marketers. In this webinar, designed especially for us, she passes on some techniques from semiotics that any NGO can start using right away to get donors on board and keep them there through difficult times.
Live webinar 13 May 2020, 17:00 CEST