Definition: “Marketing” is a much-used and often-abused term meaning very different things to different people. For some people, marketing equals little more than a logo. Their idea of a marketing campaign is to ensure all the brochures adhere to the style guide. How quaint. However it’s a lot more than that. For our purposes we’ll define “marketing” as all the ways you communicate to the marketplace about what you are and what you have to offer. If you have difficulty thinking of your clients, participants, donors, prospective staff, policy makers, volunteers and other groups as “markets” you may opt for “audiences”. If neither of those terms ring true to you, you’re in trouble and so is your organisation.
1.Your brand – what you stand for, your position, the reputation you want.
2.Your audiences – who are they and what do they think? What are their perceptions about you and your issues?
3.How to best reach them. (Which marketing and communications options you will choose to execute your marketing.)
Cynical about marketing? Here’s why it’s worth the bother
1. It separates you from the pack.
2. Folk won’t care about you, support you or use you if they don’t know you exist.
3. Marketing makes you more than just another service provider.
4. Good marketing is the best revenge – it can level a playing field against opponents with more power and money but less marketing savvy. Well-marketed organisations punch above their weight. How do makers of sweet fizzy drinks become ubiquitous? Marketing. You can all name peer organisations which unfairly occupy more hearts and minds than you. That’s marketing.
5. People important to you will be impressed. Stakeholders, shareholders, suppliers, government, sponsors and staff want to know your organisation counts. They want your brand recognised in your marketplace.
6.Good marketing strengthens organisations by attracting more and better donations, staff, vollies and opportunities. A solid marketing operation puts bums on seats and dollars in coffers with less effort.
7. Marketing makes everything else work more smoothly – recruiting of paid staff and volunteers, filling events or gaining support.
Umbrellas and channels
Marketing types like to talk about the “marketing umbrella” which implies that marketing is an overarching term under which many different marketing options (or “channels”) can be used.
It’s a horrible piece of jargon but under the umbrella are your marketing or communications options including: website and eMarketing, social media signage, media relations, publications and marketing collateral, public displays, lobbying activities such as letter-writing campaigns by your members, public speaking, events – from open days, guest speakers to conferences and yes – advertising. Every channel is a way to communicate; persuade, influence.
And that, dear citizen, is why so few organisations get their marketing right. Each of the elements above is a world unto itself. You could spend a career exploring the possibilities offered by any one of them. There are so many options, so many skills required, so many pitfalls and so few hours in the day that most of us do a patchy job at best. The more complex your cause, the harder it is. Eg: flogging an energy drink is simpler than pushing a safe injecting room. (Pun intended.)
And of course the use of these channels should follow a planning process to decide what you want to achieve and through which means you will accomplish your goal. Not to mention a process of deciding what ‘personality’ your brand will have. (More on that later.)
No wonder marketing campaigns fail to launch, go awry or leave behind exhausted workers and resentful volunteers for little gain. Oh dear – continuing on regardless – read on.
Note to bosses: Marketing is NOT one thing such as an advertisement or an event. Clients often refer to their “marketing campaign” which amounts to just one thing – a street fair, art auction, launch, publication etc. A new logo!
Such activities are not marketing campaigns in themselves, just single channels through which you market.
If you are a boss ask; “Is this going to make a big impact with our key audiences?” Not, “Have you spell-checked the brochure?”
Want to read more on this topic? Read this post about Marketing bridges you need to cross.
And if you have read this far how about sharing the wisdom?