Notes on What Non-Profits can Learn from Coca-Cola

I just watched a short talk by Melinda French Gates, too a few quick notes, and added a short commentary at the end. Here’s a link to the video.

What Non-Profits can Learn from Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola is everywhere


Real-Time Data is Immediately Fed Back into the Product

  • minimal gaps in feedback loops

  • evaluation is ongoing, not at the end

general idea: constantly analyze traffic & content; set up a network where this is transparent and comes to you.

Tap Into Local Entrepreneur Talent

  • worked with (not against) local distributors

  • local people know local conditions

general idea: people’s own space often overlaps with intermediary space (ie: in blogs, on social media), and this can serve dual purposes.

Incredible Marketing

  • good product

  • aspirational – associated with the life people want to live (localized)

  • need and want are not the same motivation

  • understand what students/users want, not what you want

general idea: be humble and try to not know what you know when you observe.

I worked my way through undergraduate school working for Coca-cola, and they were a fantastic company to work for. There was something different about coke compared to any other company I’ve known or been a part of. They worked well with smaller companies and independent distributors, as Melinda mentions, and this one one of the things that surprised me, and could also be observed daily. They also were always so clear, and even downright fair, in their policies – even though they were completely focused on profit, they never tried to hide it. This was the most important thing, I always felt, they knew what they were doing. They never hesitated about small set-backs, either, I think because they always had that firm grasp on the bigger picture. I learned so much working there.


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