A charity copywriter, editor and communicator that I respect and admire, Gideon Burrows, is starting a new adventure away from his business, ngo.media. I think his ideas and approach will be missed and I wanted to share one of the things he shared about how to find inspiration for great copy, that has stuck with me for several years.
Sounds counter-intuitive doesn't it? Surely our selfless motivations, if we really believe that "we are all in it together" should prompt us to ask "where can I help?".
But we're not all altruistic to the point of self-sacrifice because increasingly we can't afford to be. Perhaps the most realistic expectation is to ask "what's in it for us?" where "us" means our nearest and dearest as well as our broader community and associations.
Why am I talking about this philosophical stuff, you may ask...? Because if we as organisations want anything from other individuals or organisations, I believe we need to understand the distinction between the above positions very clearly. There is a tried and tested marketing concept called the value equation which suggests that in order to elicit the action we want from target audiences, we have to offer something commensurateand meaningful to them in order for them to perceive value in doing it.
On holiday in Devon recently, I visited the famous Donkey Sanctuary (yes really!). Two things struck me. Firstly, entry was free – a great way to attract new donors from around the country. Secondly, on the walls around the site were huge boards naming their legacy donors, year by year - and I mean huge! They were unmissable and listed the many hundreds of people who have remembered this charity in their wills. So what can we learn from this?
Do you want to know how to easily write the ideal case study? So would I.
Unfortunately, in my experience there are too many variables for it to be ‘quick and easy’.
I’m not going to name names here but in the last fortnight, in the process of helping charity clients to write case studies I’ve come across many articles, e-books and blogs that all suggest a magic formula to what should be included in a good case study. To be fair, lots of what I found makes sense in that they should be succinct wherever possible, outcomes-focused and in today’s multi-media world should contain images and even video links to show your work or outcomes in action.
I found some particularly sound advice over at ngo media - if you appreciate an experienced view overlaid with common sense, this is a good place to start.
But here’s why I disagree with those who purport to having THE formula for a great case study – and it’s really obvious if you think about it...
Not all audiences want to see, hear or know the same things about us or our work.
Being a bit harder-hitting in our marketing can be a powerful way to create an emotional trigger to encourage action. That said, it’s also at the riskier end of communications techniques because there is a greater potential to shock or offend recipients rather than inspire them to action.
Anti-fur clothing campaigners like PeTA famously use shock tactics (and lots of stripped off celebrities) to get across their point about animal cruelty and appeal to the audience’s raw emotion. But, as we know, this doesn’t always work in their favour as even sympathetic audiences can be turned off by communications they deem have simply gone too far.