Tapping into better marketing strategies

Kyle Barkins and Joe DiGiovanni stand in their office at The Mill. The duo founded Tapp Network in 2013 and focus on inbound marketing for nonprofits and mission-driven organizations.

Collie Turner believes in the power of gardening as a therapeutic outlet for veterans, particularly those suffering from PTSD. So when she approached the team at Tapp Network for help marketing her nonprofit Heroic Gardens, they agreed. But first, they suggested she think bigger.

Expanding her focus to commercial spaces, opportunities for veterans to land jobs beautifying businesses, and outreach to existing nonprofits that work with veterans could accelerate her growth and her outreach.

“The fun thing about working these guys is they’re helping you think beyond what it’s in your own head,” said Turner.

That’s key for Tapp Network, the Wilmington-based marketing firm that leverages expertise from a core team of 12 full-time and eight contractors to build and market brands for nonprofit and mission-driven organizations across the country.

Joe DiGiovanni and Kyle Barkins founded the agency in 2013, marrying backgrounds in tech application and digital marketing in the health-care and finance sectors.

Their work with first client Tech Impact, a provider of nonprofit technology services, gave the duo a taste of working with the nonprofit sector, where budgets are small and manpower is smaller.

Tech Impact also provided DiGiovanni and Barkins a gateway to more than 500 nonprofits that needed digital and marketing expertise, an opportunity that laid the groundwork for their own strategy to share knowledge and make crucial connections among the nonprofit network.

In the five years since they started Tapp Network, DiGiovanni and Barkins nabbed the first office at co-working space The Mill, built an international following that includes a roster of 12 ongoing clients, and offer a schedule of free workshops on social media for clients and others.

“We come in as an extension of the team so they have digital marketing, social media, and event promotion,” said DiGiovanni, of their work with nonprofits. Much of their focus is on effective inbound marketing strategies to tell the story and drive the audience in the right direction — whether its financial support, event attendance, or volunteering — all for the cost of one part-time employee.

“Nonprofits are small teams. They run lean, they don’t have a huge budget, and they still need to reach the same people,” said DiGiovanni.

“Some of the challenges are that the people tasked with marketing and communication and website development on a daily basis are not coming from that background, but it’s necessary to survive,” explained Barkins. “You have to showcase your impact. If people are looking for donations or to make a difference, then the first part of that is to show they’re making a difference.”

In addition, many small to midsize nonprofits struggle with a startup mentality, said DiGiovanni. Add to that the challenge of budget constraints and little experience, and it’s little wonder they fail to generate momentum or critical funding.

Tapp Network utilizes a growth-driven approach that includes consistent messaging across all web and social media platforms that will generate a faster and sustainable impact. “We can’t just deliver a website and say good luck,” said DiGiovanni.

They also champion a collective impact model of nonprofit support — connecting individual nonprofits to like-minded counterparts for a greater impact.

Just this month, Tapp Network announced it has finalized a joint partnership with Portland-based Cogeo that will access $600 million in fundraising expertise coupled with the latest marketing and technology innovations transforming the nonprofit sector.

“With looming state and national budget cuts and the most recent tax plan in Congress, the ability to generate sustainable funding through annual capital-raising initiatives along with the latest advances in marketing automation and mobile donation technology, this strategic partnership will foster new pathways for Delaware nonprofits and those across the country seeking to scale their growth efforts,” said DiGiovanni.

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