5 Nonprofit Marketing Innovations for Tough-Times Results (Case Study)

Marketing your way through times like these is gritty, sweaty, get-your-hands-dirty work. Your challenge right now is to step-up with a sense of adventure, a bolt of courage and persistent innovation. It’s the only choice. And those are the attributes Tracy Mitchell, Executive Director of Sag Harbor, NY’s nonprofit Bay Street Theatre, brings to her marketing responsibilities every day. (Note: Full case study here)

The Challenge: Diverse Audiences Hard to Reach and Engage, Much Less Build into a Loyal Community of Supporters
Even with a successful 18-year run under its belt, Bay Street Theatre was threatened by the challenge of serving its diverse base as well as by cuts in funding and in patrons’ expendable income. Mitchell knew she had to find a “way beyond traditional marketing and programming to expand the theater’s role in residents’ lives.”

The Strategy: Putting New Programs, Hours and Outreach Campaigns into Play to Engage More People, More Regularly
Recognizing that the disconnect between residents’ habits, preferences and wants and theater offerings (summer-focused, closed January through March, not cheap) was the heart of the problem. Mitchell delved into refining programming to close that gap, and into marketing those changes more effectively. Changes ranged from starting to host community events (some at no charge) to keeping the theater open through the winter months. Here is the full account of the changes she made.

The Results: Broader Awareness, Increased Engagement, Diversified Income Streams
Bay Street’s hard work paid off in generating a much larger network of supporters and patrons within a year.  And, because the theater continued to nurture relationships with its core supporters, those relationships are stronger than ever.

The Takeaway: 5 Marketing Innovations for Tough-Times Results
Here’s the beating heart of Bay Street’s tough-times marketing model. Follow these steps to generate marketing results for your organization, at minimal risk and cost:

  1. Launch free or low-cost activities to reach new audiences. Attract people in a belt-tightened world.
  2. Partner with new groups and people. Every organization is challenged now, and many are more open to new ways to make things work.
  3. Strengthen your ties with your community or base. Double-down on your relationships during tough times.
  4. Gingerly expand your definition of your target market to explore possible new synergies.
  5. Expand service offerings, if even only around the edges: e.g., food or bar service, children’s programs.

Dig into the complete case study here to harvest ideas for innovating your marketing now. Thanks, Tracy!

What marketing innovations are driving your results in this tough era? Please share them here.

P.S. Get more peer guidance on strengthening your organization’s marketing impact with the free Getting Attention Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz in Strategy | 0 comments
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