If you think about it, non profits by nature are “needs-based”, and they are also “target audience-based” – two of the most fundamental marketing principles. You might even say they are the ultimate marketers, because they start with the basics – a target audience with an unfulfilled need – their “raison d’être”.
I was struck recently by an evolution in the “product/service” offering of a non profit, Camp Oochigeas, which is in part funded by the Tour For Kids cycling fundraising event that I participate in organized the Coast to Coast Against Cancer Foundation.
The Camp was created so kids living with cancer could simply be kids and attend summer camp, even while undergoing treatment…meeting an unfulfilled need of a very specific target audience. What’s particularly brilliant is that over the years it has extended this basic offering to include in-hospital (Ooch on the 8th at SickKids Hospital in Toronto) for those who are not able to leave the hospital – bringing camp to them. And, most recently, it has extended this further to include Ooch Downtown and Ooch in the City, an in-community offering.
This last evolution is particularly interesting because it is in part, I believe, based on a recognition that their target audience has changed, and that a Muskoka camp offering isn’t for everyone, especially with the diverse “new to Canada” ethnic as well as inner city populations it is now serving, for which a Muskoka wilderness “camp” environment is not familiar, or perhaps even desired, and therefore simply not appropriate – in other words not a need for these segments of their target audience.
Kudos to Camp Oochigeas for recognizing the changing nature of the target audience they are serving, and the corresponding changing need they must fulfill – a great example of keeping a pulse on the market and responding to it. They are an excellent example of the opposite of “if you build it they will come” – marketing at its best don’t you think?