Don’t waste a moment in reviewing Raising Institutional Visibility, a useful and succinct guide to building awareness and brand, based on case studies of nine preeminent public institutions from major libraries and museums to universities and a community center. When you do, you’ll find:

  • Best practices for expanding outreach, building and maintaining reputation
  • Strategies for promoting scholarship and expertise
  • Case studies on institutional branding
  • Tips on structuring strategic planning to be most productive, market wise.

Key lessons include:

  • All institutions known to be "cultural gems" are reputed to offer a unique or highest-quality resource or service, and make it widely available.
    • How can your nonprofit strengthen programs and services, and broaden the audience without losing focus?
  • Missions and goals are clear, concise and audience-focused.
    • Too often, nonprofit missions don’t relate directly to audiences. Can you bring your mission closer to your target audiences?
  • Brands are used uniformly, and consistently, with institutions with reputations for different aspects of their work (let’s say two very different programs, with distinct audiences) use their strongest brands (for those two programs) to promote the identity of the organization as a whole.
    • How can you direct divergent brands, and audience support, to benefit your organization as a whole?
  • Last, but not least (most important, if you ask me) — Leaders value communications, from the institution outward and the audiences into the institution. Communication as dialogue.
    • You can work to motivate your leadership to understand and support more proactive communications.

I recommend digesting the complete article, which is brief but extremely valuable. And thanks to CommunicationWorks for sharing its research and insights.

More guidance on building understanding and support of marketing initiatives here:

Nancy Schwartz in Arts, Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Nonprofit Communications | 1 comment

On a recent trip to Northern Ireland, as my husband and I returned to the parking lot after crossing the beautiful but death-defying Carrick-A-Rede rope bridge, I spotted the latest and greatest in membership campaigns.

The National Trust (which runs many historical and natural attractions in the United Kingdom) had set up this can’t-missIt's Not Too Late To Change Your Mind, Join Today & Get Your Admission Refunded National Trust Snags New Members at Exit
sandwich board to catch bridge visitors as they exited the park area to the parking lot. As a matter of fact, you had to practically trip over the board to get to the parking lot. Great concept, great placement.

This works much better than getting pitched on the way in. The National Trust pitched me as we entered the Bridge area, but I easily deflected the request. On the way out, I was engaged by the experience and impressed by the Trust’s management of the area. Had I been a local, I would have joined.

This low-cost, high-impact approach can be put to use by any nonprofit organization with paid programming. What’s fabulous is that you’re catching folks just after (we assume) they’ve had a wonderful experience at your play, symphony, historic house or botanical garden. That experience is fresh in their minds when you ask them to join, and the admission refund seems a bonus (even though we all know that admission is, in a way, covered in membership). Much better than a follow-up email or mailing.

For performance-oriented venues, you can offer a partial reduction in the ticket price of that night’s performance, deducted from the price of a series or membership. The more specific you can get in terms of money back — which no one can resist — the stronger your campaign.

I have an email into the marketing folks at the National Trust on how this campaign is working. I’ll keep you posted.

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Nancy Schwartz in Arts, Case Studies, membership, Nonprofit Communications, Unique Approaches | 1 comment

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