March 22, 2011

Marketing Lessons from Grantham Flood Support

Following the flooding that devastated parts of Queensland on January 10, I was involved in a small group that established a charity called Grantham Flood Support. Our mission was to raise money to assist the town of Grantham, which was particularly hard hit, with rebuilding their community.

As of today, Grantham Flood Support has raised $659,996.15 which we are very happy with. It will make a huge difference to the Grantham region.

The underlying reason for the success of this appeal is the nature of the events.

However the Grantham Flood Support management committee has employed a number of Internet marketing techniques that have amplified the success. Today I would like to share some of these techniques so that you may employ them in your organisation.

It is worth noting that we have employed no traditional media advertising (eg. newspaper, radio or TV) however we have received good coverage from some members of the media.

The Website
The primary point of presence for Grantham Flood Support is the website. It is a very simple site, with only two pages: the home page containing information and a credit card donation page.

However despite being a simple, single page with a modest amount of information, it was designed with a specific call to action in mind (donating) and is designed to encourage this. The home page is also arranged to provide the most pertinent information at the top of the page.

The lesson here is that positioning, layout, copy and calls to action are integral factors in effective web design. Just because it looks pretty doesn’t mean it will work.

The Facebook Page
Like most organisations, word of mouth is the primary source of donors for Grantham Flood Support. The Grantham Flood Support Facebook Page currently has 5,789 fans that have all helped spread the word and encourage donations. A number of these fans changed their personal profile picture to raise awareness in the appeal’s early days. Other fans shared media coverage from around the world. Grantham residents are also fans and have shared their stories and feelings direct from “ground zero.”

Three keys to Grantham Flood Support’s success on Facebook are as follows:
  1. We focused on making it interactive. It was not a “news feed” broadcasting to our fans but rather a conversation with them.
  2. We kept it relevant and focused. We didn’t “post for the sake of posting.” We always beared in mind that we are entering someone’s personal virtual space and tried to ensure we were posting things they would find relevant.
  3. We used images, video and audio wherever possible. Standing out on the “feed” page of a fan can be a challenge. Multimedia certainly helped with this. We also employed links heavily to allow fans to find out more information if they were so inclined.
E-mail Marketing
1300 Web Pro has been working on some exciting opportunities in e-mail marketing over the last year. Grantham Flood Support is an excellent example of how effective carefully planned and executed e-mail campaigns can be.

We used our e-mail marketing system to send personalised e-mails to many of the donors, thanking them for their contribution whilst sharing the Facebook Page with them and encouraging them to tell their friends and family about Grantham Flood Support.

We also used the e-mail marketing system to distribute press releases easily to a database of media contacts that grew throughout the appeal.

The e-mails themselves were designed to promote a specific call to action. Using the reports generated from the campaigns we know that this directly increased the appeal’s bottom line substantially.

E-mail marketing is probably the “next big thing” in terms of marketing opportunities for small businesses. Any business not considering this medium is doing itself a disservice. At the very least, businesses should be collecting e-mail addresses and other demographic information to build a database. We can provide some advice on this – just reply to this e-mail.

E-mail marketing is a double-edged sword however. Many organisations are dabbling with it using a DIY approach which is not only going to be less effective but will also hamper future efforts to market to the same database.

Internet marketing is our area of expertise at 1300 Web Pro, and employing these skills to fundraise at no cost was, we felt, the best way we could assist the community of Grantham in recovering.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Anthony Bigby and Tanya Wood.

Anthony owns Aden Lawyers in Toowoomba and has served as general counsel for Grantham Flood Support, also on a volunteer basis.

Tanya owns Avon Lodge, a B&B on Bribie Island, with her partner and has been an invaluable asset.

And I would like to thank our thousands of donors. The outpouring of support has been astonishing.

James Deck
1300 Web Pro