Can you have a strategic not-for-profit?
I’ve recently been working with a couple of not-for-profit’s that have been looking to increase the uptake of their services. Since the business isn’t actually “selling” anything, we’ve been looking at how the buyer journey can be applied to help them achieve their marketing objectives.
So, can the buyer journey model be applied when your customers aren’t technically buying from you?
It would be easy to assume that the answer to this is ‘no’ but, in practice, the process that people take to “buy into” a free service is essentially the same:
Investing more than just money
A person who is choosing to take up the services of a charity might not be asked for money to access support, but they will certainly need to invest something, even if it is just their time.
One of the charities I worked with wanted to increase the number of people accessing a service that supports victims of abuse. In contacting and using this service, that person will be risking far more than just money. They might be risking their personal safety and potentially the safety of their children; they might be risking their financial and social stability; they might be risking their dignity and self-respect in acknowledging there is a problem that they need help with.
These considerations put the decision squarely in “considered purchase” territory as there is too much risk involved for this to be an impulse decision.
Helping a person buy into a service like this, which could so devastatingly change their life even if it will ultimately be for the better, is not an easy task.
The “buying in” process
When we stopped thinking about the buyer journey as a “buying process” and started thinking about it as a “buying into process”, it suddenly transformed our strategies for increasing the uptake of services.
We then began talking about their buyer journey in terms of their communications at the different stages of the process, making sure that their marketing messages and content were appropriate for the relevant stage in the process.
Volunteers as “buyers”
A second way that we applied the buyer journey within a charity context was using the buying process as a model for how volunteers join the organisation.
Again, the process is the same:
By applying this methodology to the volunteering processor identified that one charity was losing a lot of volunteers at the Buying In and Loyalty stages.
We identified 2 key reasons for why they were losing customers at these stages…
The charity in question implemented processes to ensure volunteers were adequately supported when they first joined the organisation, received regular communications, and were offered opportunities to get back into volunteering if they hadn’t for a while.
I have worked with a number of charities and not-for-profits in my career and have a pro bono budget to support the incredible work these organisations do. If you’re wondering how the buyer journey could be applied to your not-for-profit, then check out my Kickstart Your Marketing workshop. This valuable online workshop is available free of charge to all not-for-profit organisations, simply fill out the form at the bottom of the Kickstart Your Marketing webpage and I'll send you a log-in so you can access the materials for free.
Get strategic advice, tips and ideas straight into your inbox every fortnight.