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IJM: When Marketing Meets Story

By Jenny Rain
April 22, 2016
IJM: When Marketing Meets Story

International Justice Mission (IJM) has long been a brand that effectively uses stories to inform, educate, inspire, and engage. But when they rolled out their new website, the team underpinned engaging story with a strategic marketing structure that is a textbook application of GB’s four goals of all communications.

Goal 1 - Design around business goals (vision)

IJM’s vision is to rescue thousands, protect millions, and prove that justice for the poor is possible and the way that they accomplish this is through donor education, engagement, and funding.

Education:

One of the biggest obstacles IJM faces is helping our world understand the decimating impact of violence. If people don’t understand that violence leads to a host of other evils, then they won’t be prompted into action. 

So rather than place “the problem” in some obscure place, IJM built their site around it.

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It is the first menu item and it is at the top of several of the pages that explain how they work. By leading with “the problem” IJM tells a compelling story that encourages a visitor to become emotionally invested and actually “care.”

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Not only does IJM tell the story about the “other” person who is suffering across the world, but they follow on to that by then reducing the distance between the other-and-us by asking 3 simple questions:

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Since emotion is the fast track to the brain (and the wallet), IJM’s strategy of establishing and explaining the problem first, reducing the distance between the “other and us,” and buffeting that with fast facts, like those that follow below, is a highly effective viewer engagement strategy.

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Engagement and Funding:

It’s hard to stay emotionally disconnected from the stories and the issue thatIJM is presenting us with in “The Problem.” So their savvy marketing team does not allow the viewer any chance to emotionally distance. At the bottom of every panel on every page the viewer is taken to one end-game — Join Us in this fight.

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Goal 2 - Position yourself as important/confident/and a leader AND Goal 3 - Use charts, maps, tables and diagrams to deliver subsequent content

IJM was one of the first to position themselves in the anti-trafficking and sex-abuse, anti-citizen’s rights, and anti-land-grabbing spaces as rescue + justice + aftercare + systemic restoration partners. Many other organizations have one of these elements in their portfolio (rescue, or justice, or aftercare), but no other organization has the level of IJM’s systemic approach.

Their biggest conundrum was figuring out how to explain to the public their “four-pronged approach.” So instead, they ditched the words in favor of pictures:

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After they explain what they do, they explain that they do it relentlessly and effectively by providing proof points. Their website is replete with compelling statistics that demonstrate “what we are doing is working, so join the leader, and make a difference.”

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But what seals the deal on these proof points is hearing from the survivors themselves how IJM has transformed a life, a village, or a nation because of their work.

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Goal 4 - preview what it’s like to work with you

IJM has humanized their offering in so many ways. They tell stories, they show pictures, and they give demonstrable proof points. The entire site invites the viewer into the overarching story IJM is telling and gives the viewer a place to “join the conversation” in fighting violence: 

  1. There’s a problem in our world called violence. It is decimating individuals, communities, and nations. Yes, the problem really is as bad as we say it is. Let us show you the impact.
  2. We are working diligently to try and solve that problem and we want you to be a part of the solution. Here are a myriad ways to get involved.
  3. What we are doing is working! Let us show you our successful work. These are the individual stories of people who have benefitted from our work.
  4. Still not sure? We have some helpful resources to help you get to know us, get involved, and get updates so you can eventually join us in this fight!

But perhaps the best part of the IJM site, and why I chose it for the SOTW is because they manage to accomplish ALL of this without trendy or expansive and shiny UX that is all the rage right now. They do use fresh and engaging design principals, but more importantly, IJM builds their online design experience upon a foundation of solid marketing strategy, and this is, why I believe, their site is so powerful. 

Bravo IJM!