Do you really – really know your audience?

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 “Getting to know your supporters, volunteers, clients and other participants in your mission is easy, if you build that listening and learning into your everyday work.”  Kivi Leroux Miller

There’s no question that knowing your audience is the 1st rule of nonprofit marketing. The idea of building a beautiful marketing campaign that isn’t specific to your nonprofit’s audience just doesn’t cut it!

Just last week I joined a dynamic conversation on LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Marketing Group. It would have to be considering that two of the voices in the conversation were Dennis Fischman, chief communicator at Communicate! Consulting and Brian Brown, principal of Narrator, a social fundraising consultancy that helps nonprofits raise money with their online presence..

Brian started the conversation by posting “There are lots of tips about email technicalities, but I don’t see much literature that challenges nonprofits to think about the different psychological strategies involved in email vs. direct mail. Have you tried any of these strategies? Any best practices?”

And, that lead to his blog post 6 ways to improve your email numbers. I was intrigued, especially when I realized that although he was speaking about email vs. direct mail, he was really speaking about truly knowing your audiences (or at least I thought so!).

Brian identifies four stages to nonprofit and campaign communications:

  1. Stage 1 is about infrastructure (we have a Facebook page).
  2. Stage 2 is about developing content to send out via that infrastructure (posting regularly, sending emails).
  3. The third and fourth stages are about refining your content, refining your audience, getting more interactive, and building a two-way relationship that reinforces and empowers your audiences’ identity relative to you.

Unfortunately there appears to be consensus that most nonprofits do not get past the first two stages. As both Brian and Dennis noted, it takes commitment and work to really know your audience.

So here are my suggestions to gain that knowledge. If any of this sounds familiar to my readers, it’s because these are the foundation questions that I use when applying the POST MethodAs with all communications initiatives, people, your audiences come first.

  • Who must you reach to meet your communication objective?
  • Why this target group? Are they clients, volunteers, donors, sponsors and/or prospects?
  • What attracted people to your organization in the first place?
  •  Is this a target group identified in your organization’s communications plan?
  • What do they know or believe about your organization or issue?
  • What type of content is important to them?
  • What will resonate with them?
  • What key points do you want to make with your audience to develop conversations & actions?
  • What new & traditional media tools are they currently using?
  • What are they talking about in relation to your brand/goals/issues/competitors?
  • What additional research do you need to do to learn about your target audience’s behavior or understanding/perceptions about your organization or issues?

I like to think of gaining this knowledge as a journey. It won’t be completed in a day. You’ll discover new insights by looking, listening, and being sensitive to clues along your path.

I know it sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. It does, however, take commitment and work.

If you’re interested in getting a copy of my POST Template, just let me hear from you – deborah@creative-si.com.

Livestrong Foundation Shows Importance of Nonprofit Marketing

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Shame on Donors Who Want Their Money Back wrote Elaine Fogel on her blog Totally Uncorked on Marketing.

I couldn’t agree more!

With all the noise about Armstrong and his fall from grace in competitive cycling, one would expect Livestrong.org the cancer fighting Foundation he founded to suffer. As Elaine pointed out, there are some donors who want their money back.

Livestrong is succeeding and the donations are growing. Whether or not this continues in the long run is yet to be seen.

However, according to Charity Navigator, a prominent charity watchdog, it appears that the foundation has “successfully distinguished its mission from its founder’s woes.”

My suggestion to all nonprofits is to see your organization through a marketing lens.

What is Nonprofit Marketing?

“Marketing is so basic that it cannot be a separate function. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final results, that is, from the stakeholder’s point of view.” Marketing Guru Peter Drucker

I see marketing as – the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with your donors, members, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders that result in value for both your organization and your stakeholders.

Creative Solutions & Innovations’ principles for guiding your nonprofit through a marketing lense:

1.    Always market your mission, not your current services. The ability to adjust its services to suit client need is key to ensuring the organization’s survival and its financial support.

2.    Carefully define whom your mission serves. You need to meet the needs of your  stakeholders.

3.    Measure your constituents’ needs. Research, research, research to ensure your programs & services resonate with your target audiences.

4.    Evaluate the success of programs & their relationship to your mission.

5.  Communicate regularly & consistently.

6.  Craft your messages to reflect how your mission effects your different audiences.

7. Develop an integrated marketing communications plan to ensure message integrity across all communication channels.

8.  Communicate in terms of your ROI even when it is not in monetary terms; quantify your economic impact.

9.  Celebrate your successes. Show how your ‘market diversification’ creates the funding to provide your services.

10. Know your organizational elevator speech so you can articulate your vision & Competitive Advantage Statement.

11. Keep a “face” on your marketing initiatives

12. Evaluate often & be prepared to refocus your efforts.

Any thoughts? Please let me hear from you.

 

 

Why branding is important for your nonprofit

What, you might ask, does Pascha’s eye have to do with branding?

Pascha is a Dutch Warmblood. The breed is known to be very versatile. They excel in top level completion – dressage, show-jumping, eventing and even carriage driving. Calm and even tempered they are always willing to give us as much as possible.

So, when I first met Pascha and saw his brand I had expectations of his brand promise. The brand helped differentiate him from the other horses I met at the same time.

Yes, I am a strong believer in branding, especially in nonprofits. A strong nonprofit brand is essential to raise awareness and cut through the ever- increasing noise.  

A brand means owning a position in a person’s mind. According to Marty Neumeier, author of The Brand Gap, a brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product service or organization.

A nonprofit’s brand is a source of a promise to the clients, donors, volunteers & other stakeholders. Everything the organization does should be focused on enhancing delivery against its brand’s promise.

Branding creates strong relationships, loyalty and an awareness of a nonprofit’s good works. A brand differentiates an organization from others, communicates commitments, establishes a distinct position in the mind’s eye of target audiences and builds equity.

What are the elements of a good nonprofit brand?

  • Uniqueness – what sets your organization apart from others in your niche?
  • Authenticity – does your organization stay true to its core values?
  • Consistency – is there consistency in your messaging and your visual elements?

What are the benefits of branding?

  • Connections to donors, sponsors and your community.
  • ‘Leg-up’ in securing your place in your niche
  • A sense of unity and strong morale within your organization

The branding process needs to be participatory with a cross selection of staff, board and consultants or volunteers versed in branding initiatives.

Want more information on conducting brand research? Please email deborah@creative-si.com. Request the CS&I branding template.

PS – Pascha fulfills his brand promise every day!

The importance of marketing your nonprofit

 

 

I was asked to write about the importance of nonprofit marketing for CharityChannel, a professional online home for nonprofit colleagues. This post grows from that article.

I am sure by now that we all agree that marketing is essential for your nonprofit’s survival.

A recent study Branding Forward: Navigating a Branding World in the Midst of Transition  found a significant number of marketers believe there is still a need to understand the fundamentals of marketing, even while embracing change.

After all, nonprofits are a business; they have customers. Marketing consists of the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with “customers” – donors, members, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders.

These relationships result in value for your organization and its stakeholders. I will go so far as to say that without these customers your nonprofit could not fulfill its mission and make an impact in the community.

At the heart of marketing is positioning. As described by Philip Kotler, marketer extraordinaire, positioning designs an organization’s image and value offer so that its customers appreciate what the organization stands for in relationship to its competitors.

Marketing is known to “pull” the audience from where they are to the nonprofit to create a desired action. Communications “pushes” out messages. Positioning is the linchpin between the two. 

Positioning flows from your nonprofit’s mission. Positioning guides your organization into the future and works to build its reputation with your key audiences.

Positioning is strategic. Can you think of anything more valuable than your nonprofit’s reputation? And, in this changing landscape where nonprofit’s must be nimble and quick, positioning takes on even more importance in competition to be loved “or be out.”

You can find more details about The Power of Positioning in an earlier post.

Loud & Clear: Successfully Marketing Your Nonprofit is a PowerPoint presentation I developed for GCN’s Nonprofit University. If you’re interested in our Marketing Communications Template, please contact me at deborah@creative-si.com.

 

 

Major Principles for Guiding Your Nonprofit Through a Marketing Lense

Marketing Strategies and Tactics

Recently I was speaking with a prospect and I mentioned the importance of nonprofit marketing. “Well, sure,” he said. “I know that ads and PR are important.”

That was not exactly what I meant! I soon realized we had verydifferent definitions of marketing.

What is Nonprofit Marketing?

“Marketing is so basic that it cannot be a separate function. It is the whole business seen from the point of view of its final results, that is, from the stakeholder’s point of view.” Marketing Guru Peter Drucker

I see nonprofit marketing as – the strategies and tactics used to identify, create and maintain satisfying relationships with your donors, members, volunteers, clients and other stakeholders that result in value for both your organization and your stakeholders.

Below are 12 principles for guiding your nonprofit through a marketing lense:

  1. Always market your mission, not your current services. The ability to adjust its services to suit client need is key to ensuring the organization’s survival and its financial support.
  2. Carefully define whom your mission serves. You need to meet the needs of our corps stakeholders.
  3.  Measure your constituents’ needs. Research, research, research to ensure your programs & services resonate with your target audiences.
  4. Design programs that meet needs.
  5. Evaluate the success of programs & their relationship to your mission.
  6. Communicate regularly & consistently.
  7. Craft your messages to reflect how our mission affects your different audiences.
  8. Communicate in terms of your ROI even when it is not in monetary terms; quantify your economic impact.
  9. Celebrate your successes. Show how your ‘market diversification’ creates the funding to provide your services.
  10. Know your organizational elevator speech so you can articulate your vision & Competitive Advantage Statement.
  11. Keep a “face” on your marketing initiatives
  12. Evaluate often & be prepared to refocus your efforts.

Want a template for creating a nonprofit marketing plan? Please let me hear from you at deborah@creative-si.com