If you’re marketing an organization, the temptation might be to rely on old tactics in order to get new members: use flyers and direct mail in print, rely on social avenues like Facebook and Instagram for digital promotion (etc.). However, when it comes to growing your group and communicating with those already connected, there’s a danger in getting stuck in a marketing rut and only focusing on traditional techniques. In fact, it can be incredibly useful to think outside of the box and experiment with new approaches.

Thinking Broader for More Effective Marketing and Outreach

An example of a company who learned that non-traditional avenues can pay off when it comes to marketing is Lego. Rather than rely solely on Google for paid search ads, the company turned to Amazon, and they were not only able to reach more people who wanted to buy their products, but they were also able to have better control over the brand image and target people where people actually shopped.

Amazon is not exactly the first thought that comes to mind or a conversation about advertising strategies in the nonprofit community.

If you’re trying to grow your organization, it’s time to leave behind your old techniques for promotion. Just because they’ve worked before, it doesn’t mean they’re the best ones to use now. Clinging to old approaches results all to often in binary choices (do A or B, because that’s how we’ve done in the past). That creates a binary choice, which we think is more often than not going to result in a lose-lose proposition.

Instead, think broadly: are there hidden / less thought of platforms and opportunities that your community gravitates around? Get creative thinking about the places where you can reach the people you want, regardless if they have been used for these purposes in the past.

Reach Your Community Where they Are

In order to reach your community, you need to reach them wherever they actually spend time. Invest time and resources in understanding them—members and prospects alike. Create personas if you want to better see how potential members behave. Digitally, there is a huge roster of options where people can lurk: from social media networks to news sites to search engines, and more. So, you should do some work and some research to figure out where your people like to browse. Set up strong listening posts to keep track of how they interact in the digital space.

Also, remember that thanks to the often short life of Internet trends and the fast pace at which the digital world moves, your targeted list of places should always be in flux. You won’t know and be able to take advantage of all of the options at one time, so it can pay to regularly reevaluate and test new options.

At the end of the day, utilizing the web to reach prospects and members is a multi-dimensional chess game. If you want to master it, it’s important to leave behind binary thinking and to start playing the game that in a new way, starting with a blank canvas.

What are the most out of the box way you’ve seen for reaching a community? We’d love to hear your best stories.