Change Conversations blog

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National Nonprofits: localizing for marketing change

By Tara Pereira on 12/17/15 10:00 AM



In an earlier post National Brands: how to engage and market locally in Vermont, I wrote about the importance of national brands understanding local markets. Marketers' messages are always competing for our attention. We all want to know what is going on in the world today, so much so that it sometimes pulls focus from what is happening in our immediate area. But there is a difference between a national organization’s “national” story versus its local story. Successful campaigns connect universal ideas with the personal.

There is no one size fits all. Balancing the needs of national goals and strategy with the reality of connecting and engaging with a specific region directly or through a local chapter or affiliate can be challenging. Staying true to you over arching message and goals while also connecting with a community is the sweet spot. Many national organizations work with a local agency who has in-market expertise to help them better understand messaging that will resonate with the local region. It can be a complex relationship and for true success everyone needs to play well with others.

Think globally connect locally

We are so globally connected, and at times it can be easier to learn about what is happening half way around the world instead of in our own back yard. This can get in the way of targeting a certain area or region. This is especially true as small media outlets become smaller. You may be focusing on a local market but you want to be sure you're working with a local partner who doesn’t lose track of your national goals and who understands the best way to utilize the POEM framework.

You make choices by doing your homework. Connect with local partners who share your mission, have a successful track record and have intimate knowledge of the region where you need to be communicating. Every area has its own communication needs, even Vermont. The best way to see how a partner works is to look at past projects and case studies. Use the uniqueness of a region to your advantage.

Have set goals to measure

How do you plan to measure the success of your local outreach campaign? To keep everyone on track, have regionally appropriate criteria and metrics to work towards. These are the rails that keep your train on the tracks. A good agency partner will always keep your scorecard in mind with their strategy and recommendations. It is important not to your lose brand’s identity when localizing. Whether your nonprofit has local chapters or even if you are just beginning to launch a campaign in a new region, the best path is always staying true to your brand goals.

Inspire and connect

As you are planning and working with your team to develop a strategy for a specific region, build strong connections between local and national. You main goal may be to inspire behavior change or to generate awareness of a particular cause. Either goal is about building connections to people’s daily lives. Build a story that educates and inspires engagement. How will your national organization connect to a specific region? What will you say, Where will you say it and what do you want them to do.

There are many national and international multi-chapter nonprofits who successfully connect locally and inspire people to support and join a cause. They understand at the end of the day, all effective communication is about people, channels and emotion.


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The Change Conversations blog is where changemakers find inspiration and insights on the power of mission-driven communication to create the change you want to see.


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