Articles | Strategies and Campaigns | Turning Tickets and Invites into Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing Tools (Case Study)

Turning Tickets and Invites into Low-Cost, High-Impact Marketing Tools (Case Study)

I recently returned from a trip (part work, part pure play) to San Francisco. I grabbed a cable car ticket before jumping on and found myself enthralled by a strikingly effective marketing tactic – The San Francisco Cable Car Collectors’ Series.

Here goes:

• The Tactic

My ticket featured a 1914 photo of two cable cars stopped at a famous San Francisco intersection with an overlying headline naming the cable car lines. Three small photos illustrating how the cable car system works were placed under the main photo, along with the attribution “San Francisco Cable Car Collectors’ Series.” So there’s a series of cards, which serves as an incentive to ride the cable cars to collect them all.

I noticed a detachable stub and, when turning the ticket over, saw that the flip side was designed to serve as a postcard.

So, after my ticket stub was torn off, I read the educational content which enriched my ride. Later, I jotted down a few highlights from our trip, stamped the card and sent it off to my Dad, who loved it and propped it up on his kitchen counter.

• The Four-Way Impact

I obviously responded very positively to the piece, as did my Dad. He didn’t want to give up the card when I asked for it back so I could write about it.

Not only did the ticket serve a dual function as an ticket and an educational “brochure,” it provided cable car riders with an opportunity to become collectors and provided them with a natural viral marketing opportunity (sending the postcard to friends or family).

Absolutely brilliant and very low cost. No fee for distribution, media relations or postage. Just modest design and printing costs.

• Putting This Approach To Work for Your Organization

I encourage you to get busy now — before you forget about this technique — to figure out how to put it to use in your nonprofit. Here are some ideas:

  • Raffle tickets.
  • Special event invitations or tickets.
  • Entrance or performance tickets (this is a natural for cultural organizations).

Remember, the card should look like a postcard you’d like to send to a friend or family member. The photograph should engage the sender and the recipient so that they read the text blurb you include on the card and want to find out more.

Don’t forget to include your web address in the blurb. It’s the quickest way to drive audiences to more information on your organization.

Nancy Schwartz in Strategies and Campaigns | 0 comments

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Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing. Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to nonprofit organizations and foundations nationwide. She is the publisher of the Getting Attention e-update and blog. For more nonprofit marketing guidance like this, subscribe to her e-update at

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