Non-commercial communication must also convert

 Information sign

Do you communicate to inform rather than to sell? Are you working for a non-profit organization or a public entity? Not all types of marketing have profit as their top goal. However, it's still about selling a message.

To inform. Engage. Recruit. Mobilize. Chances are you will use one of these verbs when describing the goal of your communication, no matter what type of organization you work for. The cause may be good and the message important, but for communication work to create real value, there is one thing that matters: Conversion.

Communication with purpose and meaning

We often talk about "conversion" when working with content marketing, customer journeys, and sales processes. It describes whether we succeed in getting target groups to take action and commit to our content. This way, we can measure the extent to which we convey the message, even without involving a real sale.

Furthermore, the word "conversion" may feel alien to communications professionals who don't have profit as their top goal and who distance themselves from the commercial marketing world. Some work on facilitating public information or making complex knowledge available, while others communicate with the aim of achieving political success or advocating for vulnerable groups to create engagement and secure funding. Nonetheless, no matter how important or noble the purpose is, they all depend on converting to succeed.

What does "conversion" mean?

So, whether you're communicating on behalf of a shoe store, a directorate, a university, or a non-profit organization, it doesn't matter in this context. Conversion means to transform, convert, or reshape and has nothing to do with money at its foundation. If your goal is to recruit regular donors for an organization, you want to convert passive recipients of the message into active participants in the organization's work. If your job is to recruit students to an educational institution, your goal is to convert those who had planned to study elsewhere, or who had given up the idea altogether. If you work on providing public information, your goal is to transform those who are unaware of a topic into informed and enlightened stakeholders.

Therefore, no matter what you call yourself or who you communicate on behalf of, to create value for the organization or people you represent, you must allow yourself to think commercially. To achieve what you want, you must sell your message and get your target groups to convert.

The fight for funding and media coverage

Non-commercial actors are just as much dependent on using commercial methods to sell their message, even when their overall goal is not to make money.

Therefore, public servants, or organizations that do charitable work, should take an extra look in the mirror before publishing their message. Even though there is much to learn from a commercial mindset, it will pay off to have two thoughts in mind simultaneously and not forget who you represent. Or is it the case that you can allow anything in the fight for funding and media coverage? Can you push a good cause in front of you because the end justifies the means?

Create value for your target audience

The answer to this question is, of course, no. No one who works in communication will fail to think about whom they communicate on behalf of. It is important to have a thoughtful tone of voice to build identity, and to establish long-term relationships with customers, members, volunteers, or partners, you must appear as a serious actor with solid expert knowledge.

The communication should be something target groups can identify with and trust. It doesn't matter whether you call your target groups students, members, patients, citizens - or customers. The information should be easily accessible and easily understandable so that the message is conveyed and generates value. Here, the art of combining SEO and plain language comes into the picture.

Every serious actor, regardless of industry or field of expertise, must base their communication on real knowledge and facts. So, whether you work on recruiting students, informing about labor law, selling shoes, or conveying research on the practical use of AI - and whether you choose to call it communication or marketing: Work to create real value for your target audience. If you are really good, your content provides answers to what people don't know they're wondering about before they have a chance to ask.


Meet Stine, one of our content producers and consultants at Frontkom. With over 10 years of experience in written, verbal, and visual communication. She also has a Master's degree in Scientific Media Studies and Communication from the University of Oslo. Stine is passionate about clear language, precise messaging, and credible sources.

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