Using a Grant to Refine, Intrigue, & Activate

When the American Littoral Society received grant funding to help them market their oyster shell recycling program, they already had a few strong elements in place—including their catchy slogan “Shuck It Don’t Chuck It!” and the intriguing volunteer title of “oyster wrangler.” We had provided language for their grant proposal so when funding came through we were as excited as they were.

Based in Highlands, New Jersey, the American Littoral Society works to protect the coast through education, conservation and advocacy. One of their primary activities includes promoting the restoration of New Jersey’s oyster population, which benefits the local economy as well as the local ecosystem. New oysters grow on the shells of old oysters, so the Society’s oyster shell recycling program is an important avenue for bolstering the oyster population.

The goal of the Society’s grant was to enhance the marketing relationship between local oyster growers and consumers, emphasizing the seafood product itself as well as the conservation contributions of participating businesses at either end of the supply chain. In plain language, we wanted people to buy more oysters, to recycle their shells, and to understand just how important oysters are to New Jersey.

Three important strategies underscored our approach to delivering the greatest impact while meeting the objectives of the Society’s grant funding…

1. Refine the audience

The organization’s potential audience was vast—everyone from beachgoers to fisherman benefit from a healthy oyster population, which filters the water, creates shoals that absorb wave impact, and more. Even just targeting restaurants was casting too wide of a net.

In order to get the biggest impact toward the grant objectives in the shortest timeframe, the stakeholder session we conducted led to the decision to focus on a narrower vertical category—restaurants and seafood purveyors already buying and serving oysters, the servers that work in these establishments, and the people who eat there. This category narrowed our focus and eliminated restaurants and their patrons that would require much heavier lifting for a much smaller return, like local burger joints.

2. Intrigue people into action

While the American Littoral Society had a great start with their “Shuck It Don’t Chuck It!” slogan, their approach tended toward education. But sometimes, intriguing people into action is a better way to bring new people into the fold. We employed several tactics to capture the attention of target restaurants and consumers, including window clings for restaurants to telegraph their participation in oyster recycling (and further intrigue patrons), funny fact-filled signs for the doors of restaurant bathroom stalls, an engaging multipurpose infographic, and a New Jersey oyster “localvore” T-shirt for event promotion.

Most notably, we suggested adding bag tags to oysters sold to restaurants, retail stores and direct to consumers with information on shell recycling. A QR code leading to the website highlights shell drop-off locations, participating restaurants and conservation information. We created an audience-focused version for restaurant owners to target one of their top concerns—their bottom line. In New Jersey, restaurant owners have to pay for their trash removal, and oyster shells are heavy. The restaurant version of the oyster tags urged “Don’t throw money away. Recycle shells and save on waste.”

3. Activate the enthusiasts

To enable the Society’s existing enthusiasts to spread the word, we created a social media ambassador toolkit with suggested posts and accompanying graphics. Sharp copy advanced our effort to “intrigue people into action.”

In addition, we facilitating ongoing marketing from the Society’s staff by providing the graphics we created as assets and templates in Canva. This way, different pieces could be repurposed and reconfigured for future marketing initiatives.

Want to learn more about writing a grant to fund your next marketing project? Check out our podcast with Amanda Pearce, grant writer and owner of Funding for Good here. Stay tuned for our community webinar in May with Mandy!