Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Partnering with not for profit organisations – Should we give free head hours for good publicity?

For most businesses, the biggest objective is to make money. Marketing as the Master of Marketing program puts it, does it’s bit by letting people know about the product, how well it does its job and most importantly, tell them they need it, and why.

For not-for-profit organisations, the more exposure they have, the higher chances they will get donations. Surely their marketing budget is much smaller than international corporations, but somehow we see the “Salvos” everywhere. That’s because not all the work is being paid for.

The Salvation Army has always been one of the most influential charities in Australia and the large amount of marketing and promotional materials they put out plays a major part of it. For our integrated marketing communications subject in the Master of Marketing, we had the honor of speaking to the marketing agency working with the Salvation Army.

They put in a lot more head hours then they got paid for and create extremely effective campaigns. But there are issues associated with that. First of all the Salvo’s is a Christian charity so the team assigned to work with them within the Agency has to be comfortable with that. Secondly, a charity will never say no to sponsorships. A local print shop might offer to do 200 of their posters and the Salvos will ask the agency to print 200 copies less. And because a lot of the ad spaces are donated, it is hard to determine who will see the ad, and therefore had to produce campaigns that are targeting specific markets.

There were also cases where the agency has launched the new campaign, and because some advertising spaces were donated at the last minute with no time to print out the new material, the Salvos decided to put up the old one just so the opportunity isn’t wasted. This type of inconsistency in the message they send out could be counterproductive, but like all things brand equity related, is difficult to determine.

So is going through all these difficulties as well as putting in free head hours worth the good publicity? The agency think so. At the end of the day, they are proud of their work and it is a campaign that will be perhaps more memorable because of the association with the Salvation Army. We as Master of Marketing students are taught an important lesson, we must be ready to make compromises for the good of the organisation. Just think about the damage it could do to the Salvos brand if they rejected donation of free ad spot just because the new campaign posters are not ready. One of the rules of the Salvation Army is to accept all types of donations, no matter how small.

This marks the end of the post. Have you ever worked for any not-for-profit organisation? Feel free to leave me your feedback.

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