Digital Marketing and The Trustees Hike 125

Dave IngallsDigital Marketing Consultant

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As a 30-plus year marketing veteran, know what I love most?  When I read about a promotion by a non-profit and go, “What a great idea!”, then realize that I’ve just been “marketed”!  And it’s even better when that promotion includes a significant digital/online marketing component.

That’s what happened to me recently when I watched an episode of Chronicle, a local TV show about all things Boston and New England.

That episode was about great outdoor activities in Massachusetts and had a significant segment about the wonderful work done by The Trustees, Massachusetts’ oldest and largest non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the state’s most treasured natural, scenic and historic sites for public use.

What caught my attention was the promotion The Trustees created in 2016 to celebrate the 125th anniversary of its founding and is still being run annually thru at least the end of 2018.

The promotion is called Hike 125.  It’s an ingenious promotion to get both existing Trustee members and potential members to visit trustee sites throughout Massachusetts, especially to visit sites that those folks have not visited before.

Here’s the part I love the most!  Remember, it’s 2016 with the Fitbit craze in full swing, so the folks at The Trustees decided to have an online Fitbit-like component as the center piece of this promotion. Here’s how Hike 125 was described in the original 2016 press release (italics are mine):

“Hike 125 invites residents and visitors to explore The Trustees’ over 350 miles of trails and 75 miles of coastline now through December 31, 2016. Visitors can log their adventures on Trustees trails at thetrusteees.org/hike125 where they can also create their own Hiker Handle and be entered to win special prizes for different levels of achievement. There will be prize drawings for mileage achievements at 25, 50, 75, 100 and, of course, 125 miles, with prize packages provided by Trustees partner REI Co-Op that include tents, sleeping bags, backpacks, binoculars and more outdoor recreational items. Prizes also include a stay at Trustees properties, Trustees memberships and merchandise. Those who reach the zenith at 125 miles will be entered to win a Grand prize package of REI merchandise valued at $1250! Details to be announced soon.”

I didn’t find a final results press release for Hike 125, but I bet visits to The Trustees sites went thru the roof!  And since non-profits like The Trustees are very dependent on word-of-mouth advertising, I also bet that thousands of peer-to-peer emails included a link to Hike 125 being sent to folks who probably had never heard of The Trustees before!

That’s the way to market non-profits to folks in the 21st century – well done!