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Knights of Veritas: Marketing Overhaul Nets Nonprofit 279% Increase

“Knights of Veritas” Increases Revenue & Impact with Strategic Marketing

Customer Background

Knights of Veritas is one of the outreach programs of Kron, Inc., an educational non-profit that specializes in providing programs to the public about the historical knights, arms, and armour of the middle ages. Established in 2004, Knights of Veritas partners with other educational organizations like libraries, museums, and schools to fulfill their mission of increasing literacy and promoting the Code of Chivalry as a character-building model.

To fulfill their mission of increasing literacy and promoting the Code of Chivalry as a character -building model, Knights of Veritas uses targeted marketing with strategic copywriting to build partnerships with for-profit companies and non-profit organizations to increase their reach.


Sometimes you know you have a great product or service. There’s no doubt you blow the competition out of the water in terms of quality, professionalism, and service. But when you’re new to an industry, lacking contacts, or operating without a clear marketing strategy your business can be left for dead in the water while inferior offers get the attention.

Inability to Stand Out in the Market & Show Value

William Slyter, Communications Director of Knights of Veritas, will never forget the frustration he felt at watching hobby groups gain traction in his niche by providing amateur-level programs free-of- charge for the clients he wanted to serve.

“We created entertaining, fact- based presentations for schools, libraries, and museums about the middle ages. We had museum- quality replicas and programs which reflected top-notch research. Our vision was to use the exciting image of the medieval knight to provide education and inspire kids with a character- building framework in the Code of Chivalry while inspiring them to read. But we couldn’t convince our ideal clients to invest in our services or distinguish ourselves from the hobby groups in the park.”

Ineffective Marketing Strategy Wasn’t Generating Leads

Slyter and Knights of Veritas tried to get business by sending cold e- mails to the companies and organizations they wanted to work with. Some were sent to general e -mail addresses and others were more targeted to specific individuals. It seemed like their messages were disappearing down a black hole.

They built a website to showcase and describe what they offered, their approach, and what made them different from their competitors. The conversion rate made them question the investment.

And, they tried a newsletter. But it never seemed to develop traction and the subscriber list wasn’t growing. Developing relevant on-going content was a never-ending problem.

They had some clients. But they never got the results they needed in order to grow. Something had to change.

The Solution

In 2008, William Slyter found Rebekka Van Der Does online while he was looking for someone he could bring in to help with Knights of Veritas’ marketing. He, and Knights of Veritas, had tried to tackle all the messaging and marketing tasks by themselves to bootstrap their efforts. But they weren’t getting the results they needed.

“We needed to bring in a new set of eyes to review our marketing and identify where we were falling flat,” says William Slyter. “We were too close to what we were doing, and our messaging wasn’t working.”

He needed a person who could understand their mission and services. And, he needed someone who could show their value to their prospects in words they’d relate to and understand.

When Rebekka was brought in, she got straight to work. She looked at all of Knights of Veritas’ existing marketing and did in- depth research into the target demographic which was the most responsive: libraries. She even talked to librarians to learn more about what they looked for in their hiring decisions for presenters, programs, and outcomes.

Much to the surprise of Slyter and Knights of Veritas, she proposed completely rehauling their marketing strategy to take most of the focus off their programs. She told them to reframe their outreach marketing around their clients’ priorities and pain points first. Using the character-building mission and quality of the artifacts and education could then become supporting factors to support the buying decision.

Then, Rebekka went further to recommend abandoning some of their primary outreach methods to focus on direct mail and conferences/tradeshow materials. She suggested dropping the newsletter until a clear plan and target audience were developed. And, she proposed using e-mail for follow-up, after a point-of-contact had been established with any specific partner organization.

The Implementation

The implementation of Rebekka’s suggestions for Knights of Veritas’ marketing changes were slow and completed in stages. Of the process, Slyter says, “We were nervous about the new direction. We didn’t want to pivot everything overnight, and we were operating on a limited budget, so we put small changes in action gradually and tested the results.”

They started with direct mail campaigns to individual libraries and districts throughout Washington. Long-form letters focused on the librarians’ priorities and pain points. They discussed how exciting sword- fighting programs could increase patron attendance and attract demographics (boys and fathers) often underrepresented in their numbers. And, they covered how outcomes, such as increasing distribution to promoting literacy, could be used as measurable results to determine program success. Genuine antiques, faithful historical replicas, and education quality became supporting factors to support the librarians’ buying decision.

As their number of contracts increased, Knights of Veritas chose to implement similar changes to their website content on their own, based on Rebekka’s recommendations.

Later, through trial and error, Knights of Veritas saw increased success in their revenue as they tested their in-person marketing efforts at assorted trade shows and conferences with targeted brochures, white papers, and other printed materials with a professional table display.

“We weren’t always sure exactly what event would get us in front of the decision-makers we were trying to target. When we chose to use the materials she created for one target audience on a different demographic, we never saw the same results. We learned Rebekka was right when she said our materials needed to be focused on the audience we were going after for the highest return on investment.”

The Results

Over the next ten years, while working with Rebekka, Knights of Veritas experienced continued growth despite the dwindling budgets of schools, libraries, and museums. “We branched out into offering new programs, events, and services to our clients. We were able to break into new markets and expand our geographic range,” says William Slyter. “Beyond that, we were able to increase our staffing, expand our holdings, and reach more people.”

When asked about measurable results, Slyter responds, “We made the mistake of not tracking our improved response rate from the beginning. But, over the years as we implemented more of Rebekka’s marketing strategies, we saw an increase of 279% in outcomes from our marketing. That number was ultimately capped by our ability to meet demand, not by the number of responses. We were turning away clients!”

“After we were doing so well, we no longer thought we needed to keep up with using the marketing outreach, materials, and strategies we had Rebekka create for us. From then on, we saw a marked reduction in our booking. The level of our success, in any given year, could be directly traced to how much we used her copy and strategies in our continued marketing efforts.”

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