Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Online Marketing for Non Profits - 6 lessons from PETA

Full points to the marketing folk at PETA. It's amazing how often you encounter them in various places. We came across PETA quite a few times in the last month, and while thinking about each of those 'encounters', pieced together these marketing lessons any non profit (or 'for profit') can learn from them:

1. Be super active on Social Media

OK, this one is a no brainer but must be mentioned nevertheless. PETA's website mentions  a Facebook, Twitter, You Tube & MySpace presence. We were also expecting a Flickr channel - showcasing their famous print campaigns. All social media accounts are regularly updated. Numbers? Over 700,000 facebook fans and over 75,000 twitter followers.

2. Leverage current trends

This is what prompted this post in the first place - PETA's blog post on the Old Spice Guy. The current Old Spice campaign is fantastic, viral and nothing short of genius. If you don't know anything about it, drop everything and go here now. Then, see PETA's blog post on the subject.

3. Leverage 'present continuous' news

Don't reach for your grammar books yet! The BP Oil Spill is a piece of news that's 'present continuous' - first the spill, then the impact, followed by Obama's scathing remarks, the PR mishaps, the spoofs, the web app spoofs, then the solution - they've plugged it, they've not, etc. It just refuses to die from the public consciousness! No one knows that better than PETA - of course, since it impacts animals, it's also right down PETA's alley. Here's their advocacy campaign.

4. Beautiful sells. Pictures sell.

PETA has the most good looking people tripping over themselves to be featured as PETA models. Those pictures of gorgeous women wearing next to nothing speak more than a 1000 words - of course, for a purpose :-) If you're curious, here's a NSFW link from PETA's blog

5. Contests, Polls & Opinions

Remember all those 'Sexiest Vegetarian Alive' articles? They're all from PETA. Needless to say, they involve elaborate pre and post voting hype - and a fair amount of interactivity. Most PETA campaigns do that - get you 'involved'.

6. Catch them young

PETA has different approaches to different audiences. In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking that their kids' websites are from a different organization. See for yourself - at PETA kids & PETA Dishum. There's great benefit to this approach of avoiding strait-jacketing the PETA kids initiatives by the templates & approaches of the parent site. It also involves a fair amount of letting go - of brand identity guidelines & manuals. Hats off to PETA for having the guts to do that.

All the 6 points mentioned here lend themselves beautifully to viral transmission- and that's at the core of everything they do. There's obviously a lot more they're doing - and doing right. Feel free to 'pitch in' in the comments.

PS: since this post focuses on online marketing, we've steered clear of mentioning the many activation campaigns and on the ground activities that PETA does. We're saving that for another post.


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