― David Foster Wallace, The Pale King
I hear nonprofits use the word “outreach” frequently. We are doing an “outreach.” This can refer to everything from mission-driven programming — to marketing to fundraising. They may even have an “outreach” department.” And many have even made it a verb. “We are outreaching across the globe.” But this brings to mind a sort of broad, cast-the-net-style effort, as opposed to a more targeted, precise, systematic approach — focused on engagement, conversions and revenue generation. It’s like using the term email “blast,” versus “campaign” or “appeal.”
Recently, when I was working with one of my “heart” projects, I had one of those light-bulb moments. I really think there might be a more useful way to think about marketing for nonprofits — specifically digital tactics. And, actually, I suspect this can be applied across the board to other enterprises.
Ending the Silence is an important and powerful new program designed to help begin the conversation with adolescents about mental health and diminish the stigma that is so often a barrier to treatment. The National Alliance of Mental Illness of Dallas (NAMI Dallas) is launching this region’s program in high schools, community centers and churches with high-impact, resource-rich presentations on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and potentially life-threatening conditions, such as bipolar disorder, depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, schizophrenia, and others.
The dedicated volunteer team is passionate about creating a solid foundation for growth — and is recognizing the value of building a sophisticated digital lead-generation engine. To underscore this importance, I proposed a mental flip. “Let’s think about outreach as INREACH.”
In reality, when we use targeted marketing tools effectively, we are actually attracting suspects, prospects, and clients/donors based on their terms and interests. We are simply opening the door— allowing the momentum of their needs to flow— satisfying their unquenched desires for life-changing experiences — inside. It’s just a different way of looking at the process.
Feeding the Beast
Consider SEO and SEM – the alchemy of Google — great examples of “inreach.” They are both cottage industries and sciences in their own right that intertwine. Basically, Google is hungry beast; it’s favorite food is content — (and, of course, paid advertising.) But we as content producers want to create content Google craves — and that’s content that allows us to be FOUND when people search. SEO best practices (and white-hat tricks) help us do that. Keywords give us the clues we need to tell us how our prospects are looking for us. As digital marketers and humans, really, we would probably be better served if were more focused on “inreaching,” in general, as opposed to outreaching. If we think more about how we can frame our missions in ways that satisfy the needs of our donors/partners/clients—instead of how that donor (or partner) will satisfy us, we will be much further down the success highway.
After all, when you think about it, we are all merely facilitators of desire . . .
What are you reaching for on the outside that has been inside — all along?
“If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard. Because if it isn’t there, I never really lost it to begin with!” — Dorothy