Ep 140 | Breaking Down the ASPCA Commercial Strategy

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When you see commercials like the ASPCA, WWF, and St. Jude Children's Hospital have you ever realized how similar they are to each other? There is definitely a formula that they use to engage, convert and retain their donors that are viewing the commercial. This episode breaks down the formula and gives you ways you can use this in your own campaigns.

What you'll learn:

→ what the formula is.
→ how to make a specific ask.
→ why creating urgency can convert more donors.
→ ideas for offering a takeaway for those that give. 

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[3:27] Why the ASPCA commercial works. Building on their formula they include an heart tugging story, make a specific ask, creat urgency, tell you where the money is going, offer a reward.
[4:23] Create a specific ask. I know there are multiple things your organization does, but by making your ask specific you're making it easy for them to say yes. Think about what is at the core of what your organization does.
[7:28] Offer a benefit to your donors. The ASPCA offers a tshirt and some materials to those that sign up. That makes the donor feel special and also helps to provide materials that help them dive deeper into your organization and can also provide additional marketing for your organization.
[9:19] Adding Urgency Mentioning that you have timliness makes it more enticing for people to take action. This could be a limited number of bonus gifts or a timeline for when the money needs to come in to fulfill the need.
[10:40] Creating a separate landing page for donations. By having a separate landing page for this type of campaign allows you to really track the effetiveness of what you're doing. It also allows you to make the donation form super specific.

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So the other day, I was just in my kitchen downstairs doing some work around the house, and I had the TV on, and I think I heard the ASPCA commercial at least a dozen times. Now, if you're unfamiliar with it, just Google it, or look it up on YouTube, you can watch it, but I know they really started off and used to have Sarah McLachlan song playing in the background. You have all these images of these dogs and pets that have been abused, that they're rescuing, and it's just really an emotional commercial. It got away from some of the songs now, but I, you know, really wanted to break down why this commercial is successful. They've been running a version of this for years, and it's geared towards helping you become a monthly donor for their organization. So I thought I'd break down today, what, what elements of it work, why they do it in a certain way, so that you can duplicate some of these things into your campaigns. Now, it could be video campaigns like they have, but this could easily be replicated in your email marketing, in your social media, wherever you show up, and however you engage with your audience. So even if you're not ready to do video, and definitely probably not ready to do commercials on national television, there's going to be some great stuff in here that will help you break down kind of the messaging behind the campaign and how you could take some of their elements, make them your own, and hopefully increase the effectiveness of the campaigns that you're running. So stick with me, that's what we're going to discuss in this episode.

But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our patrons, our patrons are incredible, and for as little as $5 a month, you can join our community and get access to a workbook that gives you worksheets, templates, checklists, all the things to go with the episodes that are coming out on the podcast. Now, this is great to help you take action and keep the ball rolling. So I'd love it if you would check out the first click.net/patreon to see all of the different levels, and all the different perks, and I hope that you'll join me there so that we can continue to help you move forward and building success for you and your organization. Let's get into the episode.

[Canned Intro] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern, and each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So if you haven't seen the ASPCA commercial, I definitely recommend checking it out. You might want to head on over to YouTube, or just Google it, and watch some of the commercials that they have done. They're a little bit different every time, but the formula is always the same, and this would be similar to some of the campaigns that you see on TV, as well with St. Jude's, and things like that. Now, the way that this works is that they have a very specific message, they have a very specific ask, and they have a way to draw you in to get you wanting more. They also have some timeliness to it. So, let's just start at the top.

So, the ASPCA is an organization that rescues animals that have been abused, or being neglected, and helps them find their forever homes. Right. So right off the bat, you've got a mission that is going to tug at the heartstrings of a lot of people, and they use the visuals really well. So at the very beginning of the commercial, you hear the mission and what they do. It's very specific, it's very concise, and it's mirrored with images of not just the animals that are being neglected, but also the team. Their team that's out there that is doing the work, so you can kind of put the whole picture together in your head. Now, if you're not doing video, you could still really drive this message home with imagery with photos.

Making sure that you have those impact photos to go with that impact story. 

So, the first thing you're going to want to do is really drill down what it is you're asking for. I encourage you to watch it, and watch it a few times, and then create kind of that call to action yourself. I shouldn't say call to action, but that message. They talk about how it's winter, and while animals need support year round, winter is extremely extra tough because they're outside, the weather is crazy, and more animals are going to lose their life because of these harsh conditions. Now what they're doing there is also setting you up for the ask that's coming later, and the timeliness of it, and why the urgency is now. The urgency is now because it's winter, and while these animals need your love year round, right now is when they're living in the harshest conditions and where you can make your biggest impact. The next thing I want to call out is, they have a specific ask. So they're not just saying, Hey, make a donation. They're saying your gift of $19 a month, right? So they're being very specific. They even break it down later on in the commercial to say, just 63 cents a day. So, really making it easy for me to say, okay, like, I can afford 63 cents a day, that's no big deal. And they also make a point to say we need, I might get this number wrong, I think it's like 3,000, or 30,000, I can't remember exactly what they said, but we need 3,000 donors in the next 30 days to support our mission. So they're being very specific, and very clear, you can be one of the 3,000 people at 63 cents a day, that's going to make this huge impact and allow us to get this work done to support all these animals in the winter. So keeping it specific, and now you might be saying it's not worth running a campaign for $19 a month. Why would I do that? That's not going to get us to our goals. But, remember that our monthly donors are the ones that are giving month over month, and oftentimes are the easiest ones to ask for additional donations, or to walk up that ladder into a larger gift. So $19 a month is a significant amount of money, and if you can get multiple donors that are doing that, that's income that you're generating every single month. So don't be

distracted, or kind of nervous, about that $19 a month amount, and make sure it's something that makes sense for you and your organization. They clearly tell you where the money is going and how many animals it will support, also, so you have that very connected piece of my donation is supporting this many animals, or my donation is helping rescue this many animals, which is also really important at tying that emotion to the donor, that retention, and making sure that their gift keeps coming month over month and that they don't cancel. 

Now, they also offer a benefit to their donors. So for this campaign, they're giving you a t-shirt, and they're giving you, I can't remember exactly everything that was in it, like they will mail you some stuff. So you might also be thinking like that's eating into my margin. I also saw a WWF, Worldwide Wildlife Federation commercial talking about polar bears. They follow the same formula as well. If you sign up to be one of their monthly donors as part of this campaign, they'll send you a polar bear plushie. Well say that five times fast. So again, off the bat, you might be thinking what's eating into my margin, but what you're doing is creating those raving fans and providing value and keeping them sucked in and really a part of your mission. It's also a great conversation point, like when they're wearing that shirt, or they have that plushie out, or whatever, they can give it to a friend or somebody’s kid. It's allowing them to have another conversation with other folks that might potentially become donors, as well, that maybe didn't see the ad, but because somebody who did, who participated, has that, it's a marketing expense. And remember, these donors are giving to you month over month, so it might eat into that first month’s margin, but then those gifts continue to come every single month. So I think that that's really important in really bringing people in, you know, we've done podcast episodes about welcome sequences, about ways to engage and retain your donors, and this is a great way to hit people with the mission that you do with a specific ask, with the way that that money is going to be utilized, and then giving them a gift to allow them to kind of really feel like they're being taken care of and you care about them, and it's not just a donation. 

The last piece, and I kind of alluded to this a little bit, is they add some time to it. They add some urgency that they need these donations within this period of time. Call within the next 15 minutes to make your donation in order to get this pack of information, and this t-shirt and a plushie. We need X amount of donors in this time period to make it happen. All of those things help to make the donor make that decision now. So it's not okay, I'm going to get to that. It's no, they need this money now, so I'm going to contribute this money today. I'm going to go ahead and pick up the phone. I'm going to go ahead and hit the website. Then they make it really easy and clear as far as how to give that contribution. So they list a phone number, if there are operators standing by, they leave a website address, make it something super simple. It could just be your website, but it could be something that's your website forward slash donate. So people can go directly to that donation page and make a quick and easy contribution. The thing I want to add about that, oh, sorry, before I forget, they also had a QR code. So you could also put a QR code on there, which makes it easy for people to scan and pop up on their phone for the information. 

I want to mention, if you're running a campaign like this, even if it's an email, or if it's in social media, with these graphics, or if you can do it in your local TV station, whatever it looks like, maybe you have this as a video that goes up on YouTube. Maybe you include this in some of your podcasts, if you're writing podcast episodes or on your blog posts, right, you could have this information in multiple places. But it's really great, especially for something like a print ad, or a TV show or something that's somewhere else that you can't track, click through rates and things like that. Create a separate landing page as your donation page. So all they see when they land there is what you asked them to do as part of this campaign. So then when they land there, they're going to see the $19 a month donation, they're going to put in all their information, done, easy. They don't have to think about it, they don’t have to fill out a ton of stuff, and then you know exactly where that money came from. So then, you know, if people are landing on this page, we only included it on our TV commercial. So if they're landing on this URL, then that means that that is leading to the success of that ad or that print ad. And you could also do it for your social media campaigns. However you want to set it up. You don't want to have a ton of them out there, but make sure for one campaign, you have one landing page, so you can really kind of check on the ROI that that campaign is generating. Might all get lumped into your operating expenses or your general fund, and that's totally fine, but for tracking purposes, it's nice to really see how the money is coming in and what campaigns are really successful. So that's it. So go watch the ASPCA Commercial St. Jude, World Wildlife Federation, they all have ads on TV that follow a similar formula. They tell the story and the mission briefly about their organization, they make an ask, they let you know how those funds are going to make an impact on your organization. They have a pace of urgency with the number that they need to hit within a certain timeframe and or call or make your donation within the next 15 minutes in order to get this goodie bag of swag that we have for you. And then make it really easy for people to make those donations. And of course, always tie it to your current donor campaign so that you can continue to nurture them and walk them up the ladder. I hope that this was a helpful episode for you. Thank you so much for listening. I really, really appreciate you all. I hope that you'll subscribe wherever you listen and make sure you check us out on YouTube at the first click.net/YouTube. I look forward to seeing you there and I will see you in the next episode.

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