What 7 Marketing Gurus Can Teach Nonprofits About Remarkability

Content marketing has a long history.

While a fairly newish trend in its online form, companies have used various types of content to interact with customers for over a century, if not longer.

Content marketing, above all, is still a type of marketing, which is all about how you stand out from the crowd.

But a good primer for beginning content marketers is a trip down history lane to see how marketers of years past have added to our content knowledge.

I’ve come up with seven marketing gurus who will set the tone for your content marketing journey.

Let’s begin!

1. Aristotle

This international man of meaning created the first components of persuasion, a key factor in any marketing endeavour.

These components are:

Ethos: The authority of the person making the argument, through either her own expertise or a connection to an established authority.

Pathos: The emotional side of your argument.

Logos: The logical side of your argument.

Today, these three “modes” still form the bedrock of persuasion, and persuasion is what you need to get people to donate to you.

2. Claude Hopkins

We can safely skip ahead a couple of millennia to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when Claude Hopkins became a pioneer of advertising.

He established “advertising laws” and was more keen on proven facts and results than theories and opinions.

Although Hopkins made a lot of contributions to the measurement of marketing, his cornerstone ideas for nonprofits is that advertising (and therefore marketing) is basically salesmanship in print.

This doesn’t mean your nonprofit has to get all salesy and pushy.

His idea is more that good salesmanship means knowing your prospect so thoroughly that you can understand exactly the benefit of your cause. Knowing your donor is the best salesmanship there is.

3. Rosser Reeves

Rosser Reeves was a preacher’s son who drank his way through college.

Despite his freewheeling lifestyle, he found success as a copywriter and came up with the “Unique Selling Proposition,” or the idea that differentiation is the key to selling.

He didn’t care a wit about creativity or what advertising people thought was good.

He cared about getting at the specific quality of a product that produced a specific benefit for a prospect.

For your nonprofit content marketing, this means that people respond to your cause when they get something out of their connection with you, not because you have a fancy website, a slick brochure, or overly designed annual report.

4. Joe Sugarman

This “Mail Order Maverick” is a guru of direct response advertising known for lateral thinking, offbeat connections, and curiosity-arousing headlines. (To wit: He used the headline “Magic Baloney” in copy for a programmable thermostat.)

Among all of his copy axioms, his best idea is that every element of copywriting must be “so compelling that you find yourself falling down a slippery slope, unable to stop until you reach the very end.”

His approach may seem at odds with Reeves’ no-nonsense ideas, but for your nonprofit content, anytime you can paint a picture–through solid storytelling, descriptions or data–you’ll be more likely to persuade people that you’re the real deal.

5. Seth Godin

In 2003, Seth Godin took the title of his book Purple Cow from the famous children’s poem and updated the unique selling proposition.

For Godin, remarkable marketing isn’t a last-minute add-on. It starts with the product or service itself.

In one section of his book, he laments how companies fear originality because they don’t want to offend anyone.

“When a committee gets involved, each well-meaning participant sands off the rough edges, speaking up for how their constituency might not like the product. The result is something boring and safe.”

So ask yourself: Does your organization’s originality suffer from death-by-committee? Are you afraid to offend people?

The more your nonprofit tries to please everyone, the less it will please anyone.

6. Guy Kawasaki

Guy Kawasaki is a marketing exec who helped launch the Macintosh to its stratospheric success.

He wrote a book called Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions about how to make people fall in love with your brand by “filling them with great delight.”

Although his book isn’t geared to nonprofits, it has great takeaways for effective marketing in this sector.

In his words, “The greater your goals, the more you’ll need to change people’s hearts, minds and actions. … If you need to enchant people, you’re doing doing something meaningful. If you’re doing something meaningful, you need enchantment.”

7. Chip and Dan Heath

One of the most helpful pieces of marketing wisdom for nonprofits is Chip and Dan Heath’s method for creating “sticky” ideas, or ideas that are “understood and remembered, and have a lasting impact–they change your audience’s opinions or behaviour.”

They analyzed a pack of psychology and marketing texts and came up with the SUCCESs model of six principles that make your ideas stick: through Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible and Emotional Stories.

Instead of applying one takeaway, you should really get the entire book, called Made to Stick, which is a treasure trove of how to make your ideas memorable.

Your Remarkable Nonprofit

You don’t need a PhD in advertising, copywriting or marketing to make your nonprofit remarkable.

In fact, you can go pretty far just by sticking with Aristotle, because if we look closely, the rest of these marketing crazies simply riff on his ideas.

Overall, in your content marketing, you need to speak with authority, emotion and logic, but you also need to define what makes special by instilling some special spark into your cause and communicating your ideas in a sticky way.

These are basic secrets, but very powerful ones too.


Next article: The 7Cs of Your Nonprofit’s Remarkable Content Marketing Strategy

Back to Nonprofit Content Marketing Series