When the Mega Millions jackpot went so insanely high that their name no longer covered the extent of the possible winnings, I came across a remarkable ad… A boosted tweet that I sped by too fast in the moment, but wished I could find later. Thankfully (I suppose…?), it showed up again in my feed and I captured it:
Take a look at that copy.
“How would you spend all that time?”
Here’s what’s going on here that’s worth noting for anyone interested in crafting messaging that gets your audience engaged and moves them to act.
Mega Millions knows exactly what it’s selling.
They’re not selling lottery tickets. (I mean, they are, but I’ve got a rhetorical groove going on here, so stick with me.) It’s not even selling the $70,000,000 jackpot.
Mega Millions is selling time.
More precisely, Mega Millions is selling a quick fix to the lack of time so many of us feel in this age of glamorized over-extension.
Time, not money.
When you dream about winning the lottery, what do you think of? Stuff, for sure. It would be great to have a decent house (or four, each on a different continent), it would be nice to have a car that doesn’t break down (I’m thinking a Tesla), and a closet of clothes that look good and feel good…
But in these daydreams (which, given the fact that I’ve never bought a lottery ticket in my life, they’re highly unlikely to ever come to fruition, but hey, this is my dream we’re talking about and I get to start it wherever I want), I think of travel. “Retirement.” Projects I’ve been putting off. The money frees up time for me and the people I love to do all the things I think I want to do but don’t because, well, money.
Mega Millions is selling time, and they know it.
What is your nonprofit organization selling?
Here’s an easy way to think about it. Look at Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. It’s not perfect, but it’s useful, so let’s roll with it for a minute.
Now, think about your organization’s work. Where does it fall on the hierarchy? A homeless shelter, for instance, offering beds and hot meals, caters to that most basic level — physiological needs. A tutoring service, on the other hand, speaks to esteem.
Wherever your programming falls on the hierarchy, look at the levels above.
That’s where to look for what you’re selling.
Because everything you do in those “lower” levels opens up tiny windows for your beneficiaries to experience the ones above.
Your organization is does meaningful work on one level, and makes the promise of what’s possible on another level.
I was once presenting in front of a group of nonprofit professionals and touched on this concept and the implications it might have for nonprofit marketing and messaging. A young man raised his hand partway through the conversation and shared the following:
“I work for an organization that promotes worker safety. And I’ve realized that all our messaging is about exactly that — the importance of safety. But that’s not what we’re really about. It’s about all the things that are possible when you take these precautions. You can come home to your kids. You can engage in your hobbies. That’s why our work matters. That’s what we’re making possible.”
So I leave it to you. What are you really selling?