Getting people to support a cause is tough. With so many different charities and organizations vying for attention, time and donations, it’s impossible for people to spread their goodwill around evenly. The organizations that thrive are the ones who’ve figured out what we’ve been preaching about sustainability and energy efficiency marketing for years: understand what your target audience actually cares about and promote that.
A great example is an organization I’m actually a member of: Ducks Unlimited.
Originally founded in Washington, D.C. in 1937, Ducks Unlimited was created to preserve habitats for waterfowl. Its mission, in fact, is to conserve, restore, and manage wetlands and associated habitats for North America’s waterfowl. Sounds pretty tree-huggery, doesn’t it? In fact, what their members care about is duck hunting. And the construct Ducks unlimited essentially works under is: “without wetlands, waterfowl won’t have a place to live, nest and breed – which means no ducks, and no duck hunting.”
DU has swelled its ranks to around 600,000 members who all volunteer their time and money in the promotion of wetlands conservation – or at least that’s what DU proudly promotes. And, sure, the DU volunteers collect money, volunteer their time, sell baked goods, and auction items in the name of protecting precious wetlands. But if you ask them WHY they do it, they’ll tell you the real reason:
“I volunteer with DU because they’re making sure I can hunt waterfowl this season, next season, and more seasons down the road.”
Ducks Unlimited understands that though their mission is to save wetlands, what their members actually care about is duck hunting. So their marketing efforts play to that. “Save the wetlands” might appeal to do-gooder Actives (our greenest consumer segment), but that group is already tapped out, supporting lots of environmental and social causes. “Make sure you can go hunting with your grandson one day” appeals to a specific group of Skeptics who are highly invested and interested in making that vision happen. As long as Ducks Unlimited keeps promising their target what they actually care about, they’ll continue to thrive.
And that’s a great reminder for us all.