Youth organisations around Europe are using various strategies to promote their projects. Some may use social media; others may use traditional media to buy ads or use billboards to promote their activities. However, what usually happens is that youth organisations and other NGOs don’t have enough financial resources to pay for marketing efforts. Therefore, in this article, we will talk about the importance of marketing for youth organisations and the strategies you can use to get free space to advertise your causes.
According to Decker, 2020, marketing for organisations is important for several reasons:
Using marketing in your organisation can also help in driving social and political change (Sheikh, 2020). When your cause is familiar to a wider group of people, you can use pressure or advocacy techniques to make a change in legislation or another act. For example, the GOOD initiative from Croatia has gathered wide support from citizens as they were protesting for the quality implementation of school curricula. Two years in a row, 2016 and 2017, protests were held in which more than 70,000 people participated. This is a result of the advocacy work and public outreach of the GOOD initiative, active since 2008. Thus, their presence and the identification of important issues for Croatian citizens were drivers of social and, later, political change. They used marketing techniques, especially social media, to spread awareness of quality education. More information on the protests is available here and here.
So, using relevant marketing strategies, your organisation can become more recognised and respected in the local community. In order to create a successful strategy, you should define your goal, which should be written using the SMART format for writing goals (this means your goal needs to be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based).
After mentioning some of the benefits of marketing, it would be good to think about what your organisation can do in order to reap the benefits. Even though budgets are small, there are some effective techniques you can apply to create better brand awareness.
This is one of the most widely used marketing strategies. It is cheap (or completely free) and can reach out to a significant amount of people. There is the possibility to personalise the messages sent out via email marketing (e.g. entering the name of the person at the beginning of the email). Also, try to avoid selling your products or services with the first email: it’s always a good idea to think about the value you can bring to the people you are contacting (Sheikh, 2020). For example, if you work in a youth organisation and send out emails to youth workers, firstly it would be good to welcome people and explain the purpose of the emails and how they can unsubscribe if they are not interested (remember GDPR rules). Afterwards, you can offer resources for them to work with young people, promote your own activities or invite them to participate in some special events.
One of the tools which can be useful is MailChimp, with which you can build your own mailing list and send out highly customisable newsletters depending on the needs of your organisation. This tool also allows you to see how many people opened your email and gives you detailed statistics so that you can improve your marketing efforts in the future.
Do not forget to include information about your email marketing or newsletter on your webpage, where interested people can sign up.
One of the most useful marketing strategies involves creating your own original and creative content. This is what content marketing is all about. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is a strategy ‘focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience’.
So, one of the best ways to do content marketing is to start a blog for your organisation. Even though blogs seem outdated, they are still relevant and are important for specific target groups (e.g. youth workers, trainers, educators, teachers).
One of the most important reasons to become a blogger is that it can educate target groups and other stakeholders about your cause. Blogs can also help bring new subscribers and visitors to your website. It’s important to note that they can also create some free promotion – and what is more important – content can be reused for other purposes later on, helping to save human resources and time, which are always important in the non-profit sector (Decker, 2020). When writing your blog posts, it is recommended to focus on topics revolving around the cause you promote – some of the ideas you can bring to your blog are:
Starting your organisation’s blog is not an easy task – it takes time, but it can bring significant success in terms of your visibility and recognition in the local community.
Read more on how to create interesting blog content here.
Social media is all around us and we use it daily. Some estimates show that more than half of the world uses social media every day; organisations should therefore build their presence on a variety of platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok or Twitter.
Besides sharing stories of your projects, photos of activities or infographics or videos, it is good to use the free marketing options available on social media to promote your activities.
The following are some examples for Facebook:
If you are using Instagram (owned by Facebook), you can use similar options for social media marketing. You can apply for a donation button or give people permission to add donation stickers to their Instagram stories. More information is available on the Instagram help page.
Don’t forget to use your unique voice, choose hashtags that can be easily associated with your organisation and post regularly. Follow what other users have said about you (user generated content). You can use applications to do this, such as Hootsuite, where you can monitor hashtags that include your organisation. For example, if you are celebrating International Human Rights Day and use the hashtag #HRD2020, you can use the application to follow what was published by other users who have included the same hashtag in their posts. Sometimes, thinking about a suitable hashtag can be challenging – luckily, there is a tool that can help you with that: Hashtagify. Be sure to try it out.
The three strategies above are quite useful, but there are several more tips and tricks your organisation should follow and be aware of when implementing promotional activities. Those tips and trick are as follows:
When thinking about videos, according to the 2019 Video in Business Benchmark Report, you should definitely think about the lengths of the videos. Around 52% of viewers will watch the video all the way through. It needs to be short and concise; therefore, 73% of videos were two minutes long or shorter. Definitely consider the content of your videos – the most published videos consisted of webinars, demos and videos for social media.
Sometimes, creating a video can be intimidating and quite stressful, especially if you want to make it in a quality way. You will likely have little or no budget to hire a film crew for shooting your videos, but there are some good tutorials that can help you navigate the video world. Be sure to check out this blog with several basic tips on creating high-quality videos.
All in all, there is no formula or recipe that fits all youth organisations. We recommend that you think about a marketing plan that will include your target groups, cause, activities, channels and resources. Think about success metrics as well. See what is suitable and manageable in your own context. In the end, we encourage you to try out most of these marketing strategies and see which ones fit you best. It’s all about experimenting and learning. All of this being said, may the marketing force be with you!