I’d like to introduce Susan Kamins to the Marketfix community. Susan is a remarkable public speaker, and I am very excited that she agreed to guest post about public education as marketing. Susan is known for helping nonprofits gain support through media outreach, with a particular knack for building alliances between stakeholder groups. I had the privilege of working with her at the Glen Helen Ecology Institute, where she taught me the basics of getting my voice heard.
– Motyka Johnson, a.k.a. Marketini
Public Education Is Marketing
By Susan Kamins
Usually the term “public education” conjures up images of school desks and lectures, or if you are fortunate, perhaps an experiential education program. If you are a non-profit or public outreach professional, you likely engage in a different kind of public education as well to raise awareness about important public issues.
Issue-awareness programs contain at least an implied call to action: “Dogs in Austin deposit 60,000 pounds of poop every day.” In its simplest form, that’s just information. You hope that your audience realizes that the point is to “Scoop the Poop!”
, but they might get it wrong and think it merely means “Watch Out – Don’t Step in the Poop!”.
Because you educate to motivate (i.e. get a conversion), you will experience the greatest success by thinking of your issue-awareness program as a marketing campaign with the “sale” being the behavior you wish to engender. Rather than simply putting out the facts in detail and hoping constituents get the point, you will get better results by considering the audiences you want to reach and the best mediums for your message, then designing message content and look and feel accordingly.
Sales funnel design is also an important consideration:
1. A “coming soon” poster on a city bus registers in awareness and primes your audience; soon after an email or utility bill insert using language and images from the poster is sent inviting citizens to visit your table at an event.
2. Ambassadors at your table deliver a more personal call to action and offer a sign up for kits to aid constituents; those who sign up receive their kit in the mail a few days later complete with instructions demonstrated at the table.
3. Kit delivery is followed up by a call from a volunteer to see if the recipient has any questions. A link on your program’s website and/or Facebook page invites participants to share tips and comments, coordinate with other participants, fill in surveys, and score points so that participants are acknowledged and results and “buzz” can be tracked.
This is a linear approach; in reality multiple channels can be simultaneously leveraged to reinforce the message and engage “customers” via several entry points. Conversion metrics are analyzed throughout and the campaign adjusted to maximize effectiveness.
As nonprofits and even municipal governments re-envision themselves as social action corporations, the usefulness of business marketing techniques such as marketing mix analysis and branding is becoming increasingly apparent. If you stay true to your vision and sell what you believe, you are sure to reach and convert your constituents (i.e. customers) by infusing some strategic marketing savvy into your public education campaign.