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5 Things Movember Can Teach Us About Growing Marketing Impact

Molly Ambrogi Yanson
November 21, 2019

4 minute read

Men across the world are facing a health crisis. Globally, 9.9 million men are living with prostate cancer, and another 577,000 are estimated to be living with or beyond testicular cancer. The latter disease is the most common cancer plaguing men aged 15-39 years old. Even more sobering, nearly one man dies by suicide every minute. These largely preventable health issues contribute to men dying on average 7 years younger than women. But no one is talking about it. Except Movember.

Movember is the only global charity focused solely on men’s health. Founded in 2003, they are best known for their fundraising campaign that encourages men to grow a mustache every November. To date, there are over 5 million Movember supporters around the world, and the nonprofit has raised over $911 million – thanks to their small-yet-mighty marketing team.

Like many nonprofits, the charity’s success is a result of its ability to deliver personalized and targeted communications. But it hasn’t always been easy to do so, admits Meaghan Bilinski, Movember’s Digital Marketing & Automation Director. Movember has experienced the same challenges that many small businesses, startups, and nonprofits face, and we sat down with Meaghan to learn from her success. She offers the following five tips to marketing teams looking to grow their impact.

Tip #1: Don’t be afraid to challenge the status quo.

“In small organizations, it can be tough to question existing processes when you’re busy enough just getting things done,” Meaghan recognizes. “Keep an open mind and don’t overlook ways to find efficiencies, especially in the digital space.” According to Meaghan, Movember runs email campaigns in 20+ countries which historically required the creation of 39 standalone templates. The nonprofit needed to simplify, and replaced its marketing automation tools for a cloud-based solution. Now, Movember is able to create one intelligent template, saving hundreds of work hours.

As a result, Movember increased its donations from email by 48% over the year before. That’s the equivalent of $850,000 AUD, according to Meaghan! This free time has also allowed Meaghan and team to develop dynamic content–based on consumer context and behavior–with their partner Movable Ink.

Tip #2: Get noticed by being relevant.

“We’re not your parents’ charity,” Meaghan states. (If you don’t believe her, check out their Know Thy Nuts campaign.) Movember’s brand is unique in the nonprofit space. It’s edgy and fun. The charity provides a remarkable experience, but it’s not just for laughs. To talk about health issues with a global audience, Movember’s copywriting team has an intimate understanding of its audience, and how their language and cultural differences impact messaging.

Additionally, according to Movember, its marketing department is 60% female. Yet 90% of the charity’s participants are male (thanks to their natural ability to grow a moustache). Thus, Meaghan and team have learned to speak to men in a way that they want to be spoken to. “We did a lot of research in this area, and we use language that focuses on taking action, rather than seeking help,” Meaghan notes. “Encouraging men to get checked or to do a self-evaluation resonates best and avoids any implications of weakness.” By recognizing these communication nuances, Movember stays relevant to its global audience.

Tip #3: Empower your ambassadors.

Movember’s fundraising model is unique. According to the charity, 95% of its donations come from men and women who sign up to fundraise on the organization’s behalf. Whether they are growing mustaches, hosting a Mo-ment, or committing to moving 60 miles during the month of November, the organization empowers participants with the resources, tools, and information to get it done. These Mo Bros and Mo Sisters are the biggest champions for men’s health, and Movember has given them a platform that extends its own marketing efforts.

“See where you can empower your audience to bring their personal stories and experiences to life and help raise awareness for your organization through their own acts,” Meaghan suggests.

Tip #4: Invest in the channels that work for you.

“Marketers love to say that email will soon be dead, but it’s not going anywhere,” Meaghan argues, “it’s actually getting better and better for us.” A few years ago, email was an announcement tool for Movember. But just as Movember grew in needs, the channel evolved as well. Email is Movember’s secret weapon for personalization. By relying on their own data and agility to adapt and grow, the nonprofit didn’t let email doomsayers stymie their efforts. Instead, they made them better. By investing in intelligent email tools, the organization saw a 40% increase YOY of participants who re-committed to growing mustaches this fall, according to Meaghan.

Tip #5: Justify the data you have now.

“Marketers are hungry for data,” Meaghan admits. But data privacy regulations are changing the way Movember collects and uses that information. “GDPR was a hurdle for us last year,” Meaghan explains, “but we turned that challenge into an opportunity.” By working with outside council and experts, Movember had to justify every piece of information they collect about their donors and participants, noting how they would use the data across their organization.

This helped the charity streamline data usage, focusing only on what was deemed important and ensuring it was integrated into their marketing efforts. By going through that exercise, Movember is well-prepared for future changes and regulations that are likely to come.

Molly Ambrogi Yanson
Montana-based, Molly is an outdoor enthusiast and never too far from a mountain peak or river. At Oracle, she works with PR and customer advocacy teams to shine the spotlight on innovative brands who’ve successfully transformed their customer experience.
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