Nonprofit Marketing Unplugged: Rally Founder James Martin Shares His Insights

Kevin D. Hendricks
Nonprofit Marketing Unplugged: Rally Founder James Martin Shares His Insights

Rally founder and CEO James Martin talks with Noah Barnett from Feathr on the podcast Nonprofit Marketing Unplugged about the power of story, making content shareable, and the need to get people to respond in the moment.

The episode, “How to Create Lasting Experiences Through Storytelling,” is a half hour of nonprofit marketing insights. James shares the origins of Rally, the power of storytelling and video, and what’s coming next. 

Here are some snippets of insight from their conversation:

Power of story: “Successful cause marketing is always about creating memorable experiences. And we do that primarily through stories. We buy into stories. We see ourselves in stories.”

Respond in the moment: “When you have someone’s attention, you need to get them to act in the moment. You don’t try to bring them back. You’ve got eight seconds to get the message out there and get them to resonate. If they don’t see themselves in that message, if it’s not easy for them to do something about it, they’re going to bounce. They’ll move onto the next thought. And getting them back again is nearly impossible.”

Shareable stories: “It comes down to story. We buy into story, we see ourselves in story, storytelling is by far the most effective medium. And you look at how does the world tell stories, the reality is they use video. It has to be short and authentic, it can’t be long and drawn out. … Figure out how to put video and shareable stories in the palm of someone’s hands so they can forward to the contacts on their phone or post it on social media and do things with that story.”

Reach them where they’re at: “At the end of the day, we meet people where they are, and they consume content how they want to consume content. It’s tempting as an organization to make those decisions for them, but the reality is we’re biased and we bring into those strategies things that we think are true, based on our experiences personally.”

Moving toward passion economy: “We went through a social economy, and then a gig economy. Many economists now make the case that we’re moving toward more of a passion economy. Those are the folks that have the ability to activate that attention and can really monetize that and do so much better than the rest of the world that’s trying to buy that. Because it’s really hard to buy passion, just like it’s hard to incentivize compassion.”

Data shows texting works: “We deploy text messaging only because it’s the most effective medium to reactivate an audience. If there was a more effective medium out there, we would be doing that. … We were together as a company for 18 months thinking about how we could leverage an audience before we landed on text messaging. I was very resistant to it. But as we looked at the research and the data, we came back with the reality that there’s no better medium than mobile.”

Invest in channels you own: “If the only way we’re getting to our audience is through Facebook, Facebook owns that relationship, not us. We have to figure out how to move people from these other channels into a channel where we can manage the conversation and own the data and can get back in front of them without having to spend another umpteen dollars to do it.”

Book recommendation: Marketing Made Simple by Donald Miller

Listen to the full episode for more nonprofit marketing insights.