Chris Barlow’s career started in cold calling and sales. Surprised that he liked these roles and excelled in them, he still knew in the back of his head that he wasn’t going to retire in the for-profit sector.
The disconnect was with the overall mission. To him it felt lacking in purpose. The mission was to make money to make money. It felt stuck and a lot like, “we exist to exist.”
With the time he had outside of work, he taught himself about the Google Ad Grant and began to work with a local nonprofit to see how he could expand their audience and donations.
Barlow said, “Being able to combine your vocation and values — even if it’s just a little bit — adds a lot of meaning.” So this is exactly what he did.
After running many successful campaigns for nonprofits, Barlow knew it was time to make the leap. He launched Beeline Marketing to help nonprofits attract and retain donors through coaching and marketing management.
One of the many success stories from Beeline comes from a recent partnership with a local Jewish food bank. Like many nonprofits, they needed to expand their donor base. Beeline surveyed their audience and began performing research on keywords to capture.
Barlow said, “We have to assume that people aren’t going to come to us. We have to meet them where they’re at. And where they’re at is they’re going online and they’re going to social media or they’re going to Google and they’re looking for an answer to their question, a solution to their problem, or a cat video.”
If you serve them, they will come
Underlying much of Barlow’s marketing philosophy is — in his own words — “If you serve people, they will be attracted to you.” So he’s invested in offering his nonprofit clients real value, but the best way for him to do this is by offering their audiences real value too.
By working with big-name Jewish influencers, he collected Jewish recipes that Beeline compiled into a recipe book that was easy to access digitally. This was something that the Jewish food bank could offer its ideal audience for free while including a call to action to donate.
And through the partnerships with larger influencers, he had an organic distribution channel that would get the message out to new people that have a large chance of being a part of the food bank’s ideal audience.
Service is about value
At the heart of this strategy is Chris’s focus on service. By doing the research necessary to understand his client’s communities, he was able to build a strategy that met them where they were and offered them real value.
Building a brand is about taking the time to care for your clients, supporters, and community. And there’s really no way to sidestep the hard work that goes into service. It costs something for you and your team, but it pays off in sustained and deep connections between your nonprofit and its supporters.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all strategy. Your nonprofit serves a different community than every other nonprofit out there. Are there some best practices to follow? Sure. But don’t get stuck following someone else’s game plan, because you’re the actual pro when it comes to knowing and serving your community.
Giddens said, “When you start to say, I don't know, it opens up this whole new world. You can say, ‘Hey, I don't have to be an expert anymore. Now, not having all the answers. I get to be an experimenter.’”
We hope you’ll become marketing explorers with us, trying new things, which will allow you to learn new things, and then we hope you’ll share those findings with us. Because we’re all trying to use marketing to make the world just a little better!