Tactics To Improve Nonprofit Marketing – Your Anniversary And A Marketing Communications Audit

With revenues at nonprofit organizations increasing by only 0.9 percent, to $298 billion in 2011, according to Giving USA, it is no secret how difficult fundraising has become in today’s environment. Add to that the possibilities of an upcoming fiscal cliff and the loss of tax deductions for charitable contributions and you wind up with a very daunting picture.

Your advisory board, committee members and staff all want to help, and look to organization leadership for direction. Now, more than ever, is the time to focus on the development of a meaningful marketing communications plan to profitably improve your fundraising efforts.

As you develop your plan, and evaluate various directions and opportunities, I suggest you consider two tactics that have proven successful for improving marketing ROI.

Market Your Anniversary
Your anniversary offers a unique opportunity to rekindle enthusiasm and galvanize all of your constituents to the relevance, importance and needs of the organization. It gives you the chance to tell your story, not just about your past, but more importantly, about your plans and goals for the future. And don’t think that an anniversary has to be only in multiples of 25 years. Your 33rd, properly marketed, can be as meaningful as your 50th.

Some communications tactics to consider in marketing your anniversary include creating:

  • An event or events to provide the maximum amount of interaction among existing and potential donors, volunteers, staff, foundations and the local community. But make sure your event doesn’t isolate your various constituencies. They want to talk to one another, not be lectured. Interaction leads to engagement.
  • A special theme and logo. But also consider a historical book and CD, or a one of a kind commemorative piece of artwork (that can also be used on your website). And employ a meaningful mix of both traditional and new media to create excitement.
  • A corporate – nonprofit partnership. Your anniversary can provide the trigger point for new collaborations with business partners, bringing in real rewards for both organizations. And these new relationships can last for many years.

These examples are just a start. But we encourage you to start thinking of your anniversary as a 12 to 18 month marketing communications program and branding tool to improve your ROI.

Conduct A Marketing Communications Audit
As was recently pointed out by Tom Buday, head of marketing and communications at Nestle, the best source of marketing communications leverage in the for profit world is the quality of the messaging. It’s not the media vehicle that does or does not deliver, rather it’s the quality of the messaging.

Applying this to nonprofits means that it is imperative for you to evaluate your program and its elements. Invariably, nonprofits employ a media mix of direct mail, events, newsletters, public relations, social media, emailing and advertising in some combination. A marketing communications audit can help you determine how your program is working as a whole, while also evaluating how each message is performing against your established objectives.

This type of audit will help you determine whether the elements of your creative approach – graphics, tone and manner, and subject manner – are working together with one clear and meaningful message. Ultimately, the results of an audit will not only improve the quality and integration of your messaging but also help you determine how your media mix and budgets should be tailored.

Whether or not you take advantage of marketing your anniversary, a marketing communications audit can make a significant difference to your programs and ROI. Doesn’t it make a lot of sense to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your programs before your commit significant dollars and time behind them?

Marketing Consultants Can Help
If you’re like most nonprofits, the majority of your time, talent and treasury is devoted to your passion for the people, programs and services you provide. The same is probably true of many of your most committed volunteers.

Given that, does your organization have the marketing and marketing communications talent and experience to develop the strategies, plans and tactics that are necessary to help you succeed in today’s environment? Trying to find this among your already overworked and underfunded staff or your volunteers doesn’t make much sense.

Your budgets are tight but can you really afford not to bring in outside help? Look for marketing communications consulting partners to help you and your team develop and execute these programs. Above all, select consultants with broad scope and extensive senior level experience across industries and brands, in both the for profit and nonprofit arenas.

Importantly, they should be media neutral, not selling one particular marketing solution, and willing to “tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. Their fresh eyes will go a long way when it comes to improving your ROI.

Midsized Company Marketing Communications Budget Planning

This is the time of year when most companies, brands and nonprofits are involved with developing their marketing communications plans and budgets for next year. This is not an easy task in any year but, whether you’re already deeply involved in the process, or just starting, the task is even more challenging this year given the continuing global and economic uncertainties.

More than ever, increased accountability and scrutiny of the decision-making process is a necessity for improving marketing communications ROI. Customers, whether existing or new, have a multitude of choices for evaluating and selecting a product or service, so it’s extremely important to be on the same page with them.

What follows recommends a three-pronged approach to help you develop a budget and plan to profitably impact your marketplace.

Understand Your Customer Target Audience
Like most managers, you probably believe you fully understand the wants and needs of your customers, as well as their knowledge of your brand. But with so many new methods available to customers for comparing your brand to competition, are you really sure?

Is it smart to plan and commit your precious marketing communication dollars to what you think you know about customers? Maybe it would be a lot smarter to learn directly from them what they want, and how you stack up to their needs.

Ultimately, that means market research. Whether you’re a B2B, B2C or a nonprofit marketer, now is the time to learn from your customer.

  • What attributes or qualities are important to them in selecting a brand? Beyond price, what other factors influence their purchase decision?
  • How do they rate your brand versus competition? What are your strongest and weakest attributes, and what do you need to improve?

Wouldn’t you feel more secure in your decision making if you had concrete answers to these questions before you develop, much less commit to, budgets? And don’t forget about making sure you understand your employees or distributors. They’re your first line of brand advocacy. Their beliefs may not line up with your customers’ beliefs, and could lead to lost opportunities or lost sales. Look before you leap.

A Marketing Communications Audit Can Sharpen Your Message
Once you completely understand your customer, the next step is to focus on your message. The single greatest source of leverage you have is the quality of messaging, whether it’s a television commercial, a post on a Facebook page, your website, articles, blogs or whitepapers. When messaging fails to deliver, it’s usually not the platforms that fail, but rather the lack of integrated focused brand communications.

A marketing communications audit, conducted by outside consultants who don’t have a vested interest or an ax to grind, can – like a financial audit – be an enormous benefit. It will tell you whether all of the creative elements you employ – subject matter, graphics, copy, and tone and manner – are working together with one clear and meaningful message to your customers, as well as your employees.

An additional benefit of a marketing communications audit is its ability to help determine your communications mix and resulting budgets. For instance, based on customer needs, perhaps more should be spent in content marketing, with articles and blogs, and less in paid advertising, consumer promotions or coupons. Just make sure all of your messaging is saying the same thing to meet those customer needs. It’s a matter of reinforcing the image you want to convey and trust in your brand.

Consider Marketing Communications Consultants
No one is doubting that smart, dedicated people have been involved in developing your marketing communications budget and plan. But, if you’re like most midsized companies, your people are probably stretched to the limit.

Consider partnering with an established, senior level consultant to help your team develop, refine and, if appropriate, implement your programs. Above all, make sure a consultant has extensive experience across disciplines, industries and brands, and isn’t trapped by “this is the way we’ve always done it” thinking. An apolitical team, with a willingness to “tell it like it is”, with fresh eyes can be a major asset to your profitable growth.

In today’s unsettled environment, an upfront focus on developing budgets and plans can go a long way to improving marketing communications ROI.

How to Write Marketing Communications Plans

Marketing Communications are “all strategies, tactics, and activities involved in getting the desired marketing messages to intended target markets, regardless of the media used” (MarcommWise, 2006). Tony Yeshin (1999) defines marketing communications as “the process by which a marketer develops and presents stimuli to a defined target audience with a purpose of eliciting a desired set of responses” (Yeshin, 1999). Marketing communications are: adverting, sales promotions, personal selling, PR and direct and interactive marketing (Fill, 1999).
Consequently Marketing Communications Plan is the marketing plan which promotional plan incorporates two or more integrated marketing communications mediums aiming to reiterate the same goals and objectives. Marketing Communications Plans are considered by many professionals as an excellent way to effectively communicate with target audience.
Marketing Communications Plans are generally based on two different frameworks: Marketing Communications Planning Framework and SOSTAC (Fill, 1999).

Marketing Communications Plans consist of the following vital elements:

Context analysis

Promotional objectives

Marketing communications strategy

Promotional mix (methods and tools)

Budget schedule

Evaluation and control (Fill, 1999).

When writing marketing communications plan it is important to:

1. Set corporate, marketing and marketing communications objectives, which would support and integrate with each other.

2. Develop segmentation, targeting and positioning strategies

3. Develop creative message with which Marketing Communications Plan with communicate with target audience

4. Select and justify one or combination of marketing strategies (push, pull or profile)

5. Develop well-rounded and creative set of promotional mediums and allocate appropriate budget for each medium.

6. Create contingency planning strategy (in case something goes wrong)

7. Set strict set of evaluation and control mediums which would include milestones and continuous evaluation

References

Fill C (1999) Marketing Communications, 2nd Edition, Prentice Hall Europe
Yeshin T, (1999) Integrated Marketing Communications, The chartered institute of marketing, Butterworth Heinemann, Oxford
http://www.marcommwise.com/glossary.phtml?a=m&s=0

Please find below links to excellent Marketing Communications Plans:

C/M/315. INTEGRATED MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS PLAN FOR ROYAL CARIBBEAN CRUISES LTD

S/M/162. Marketing communication plan: Philips SatinIce UK, and current marketing communications strategy analysis

S/M/158. Marketing Communication Plan for British Airways

S/M/158. Marketing Communication Plan for British Airways

E/M/14. Marketing Communications Plan for Pizza Hut

C/M/180. Internet music search engine Promotion Campaign

C/M/171. Analysis of the 50+ customer group for M&S and brief outline of a promotional campaign

P/M/311. Marketing communication Plan for Direct Lines the breakdown service

S/M/77. Project Management for Marketing Communications Campaign

P/M/289. Marketing Communications Plan for ROYAL DUTCH/ SHELL

S/M/69. Marketing Communications Plan for British Airways (BA)

P/M/269. Marketing Communications Plan for Shell

P/M/262. Marketing Communications Plan for North West Valley Sailing Club

C/M/117. Marketing Communications Plan for Hugo Boss

P/M/252. Marketing Communications Plan for the Introduction of New Product: Smoothie

P/M/139. Marketing Communications Plan for Haagen-Dazs

P/M/130. Marketing Communications Plan for the new degree programme

P/M/133. Marketing Communications Plan for Marks and Spencer

P/M/134. Analysis and development of Marketing Communications Plan for Adidas (US)

http://www.coursework4you.co.uk/sprtmrk28.htm

Marketing Communications Professionals – Customer Communications Management Heralds a New Paradigm

Marketing Communications professionals should develop a vision for enterprise marketing communications before rushing into inviting Customer Communications Management Suppliers to demonstrate how their products could help your company.

A new vision has to be developed because marketing communications professionals now have a completely new way of working.

Gone are the days where a companies direct mail and transactional mail need to be separated and handled by different company functions or different suppliers. Gone are the days where large project teams have to be formed to make simple changes to documents. Gone are the days where the task of making a change to corporate positioning are a huge and expensive task and gone are the days of fragmented customer messaging due to disparate customer communications processes.

Companies have always tried to derive a corporate vision for customer communications, a grand plan and a grand scheme to give the markets it serves clarity of brand understanding, but the issue of complexity has always been a barrier to this plan.

Now, the opportunity that unified Customer Communications Management offers is one of fulfillment of vision, of an ability to execute and of an ability to drive business advantage.

It is because of this opportunity to execute that the marketing communications professional should focus on a new vision first and not a rehash of the old version made easier. The scope is now broader.

Now, it is possible to communicate across a diverse set of channels with ease, to deliver coherent meaningful messages into differing market segments but to retain an appeal in each of those segments. It is about the opportunity to interact, to learn and to deliver value, a value that is meaningful to each customer as an individual.

The vision should come back to marketing basics. Segment the market, identify a product, service or overall company appeal and learn to drive value in those communications. It means that a company can drive its brand values in a fashion that is adaptive to changing market conditions.

In doing this, we don’t just communicate differently, we create a new kind of company, a company that is adaptive, that is continuously learning, that delivers its key objectives in a measurable, proven fashion.

Marketing communications professionals have new power in their hands. A way to reach the market that was previously impossible. It is only in very recent years that this has become possible. It means that a product does not have to be marketed with common brand values across different segments. Companies can continue to focus upon core segments but can become much more adaptive to emerging segments, segments in which it would previously have been a very difficult, length and costly environment to compete.

We call this marketing agility, the ability to take reasoned, measured analysis and quickly deliver a response to that analysis, to test the credibility of the analysis and to improve on the next iteration, bringing market segments into focus not on the basis of a hunch or, just a historical analysis (this is important still) but on live events, events to which the changing response can materialise faster than ever before.

This is in our view, a new paradigm for marketers and one whose impacts much be considered carefully before jumping straight into the focus of technology and process decisions – this can come once the vision for the agile marketing communications organisation has been established.

Avoid what you used to do but just a little better, take hold of this new agility, embrace it and define it. This is how Customer Communications Management can be utilised to deliver marketing excellence.