Developing A New Nonprofit Marketing Communications Plan

With another unsettling economic year on top of us, it’s time again to begin developing or refining a new marketing and marketing communications strategy, budget and plan. If you’re fortunate enough to have achieved a good ROI from your current program, along with the data to substantiate the reasons, you’re in better shape than most.

For example, in the for profit arena, only eight percent of Chief Marketing Officers (CMO’s) say they can determine the ROI of their social media efforts. And 93 percent of CMO’s say they’re under more pressure to deliver significant ROI.

A Changing Nonprofit Marketing Landscape

The Giving USA Annual Report presented the nonprofit community with some good news – giving increased by 7.1 percent in 2014 versus 2013 to $359 billion. Individuals again accounted for nearly three-quarters of the total, with foundations a distant second, at 15 percent.

And, interestingly, while arts/culture/humanities increased by 9.2 percent, and the environment/animals by 7 percent, international affairs declined by 2 percent for the third year in a row.

As individuals are leading this growth, the obvious question becomes how to continue this trend? Consumer demographics, income, expanded consumer promotion and politics will impact many marketing communications programs next year. Consider the following:

  • The two largest age groups, Millennials and Boomers, are very different. Millennials are cash strapped, unimpressed with brand names, and socially conscious; Boomers, on the other hand, are brand loyal and projected to account for about 70 percent of U.S. disposable income in 2017 (Quirk’s Market Research).
  • Asians and Hispanics will continue to become even larger and more potent portions of the US population. Many will be courted by nonprofits for the first time, representing a brand new audience (US Census Bureau, 2014 National Projections).
  • Median household income actually declined 8.7 percent between 1999 and 2013 to $51,939 (Census Bureau Current Population Survey). And, while many people care deeply about certain causes, how to dispose of those hard earned disposable dollars rules many spending and giving decisions.
  • At the same time, these consumers are being bombarded with the largest major media and marketing services expenditures in history — $406 billion is expected in 2015. That’s a staggering $1,262 per person (Zenith Optimedia)! Beyond the dollars, that’s a lot of clutter and competition.

The road ahead will be very different than previous years. And, with the onslaught of political advertising driving up prices and reducing media inventory, even greater emphasis must be placed on developing smarter marketing communications plans to deliver improved ROI.

Marketing Tactics To Consider Before Finalizing Your Plan

There are a number of important tactics that can be used to improve ROI as well as brand presence. I’ll focus on four:

  1. Like most managers, you probably think you understand what’s important to your donors, prospective donors, staff, volunteers and even your Board. But, do you really know what they believe about the organization? And, do they in turn understand your mission, or has “mission creep” expanded your core identity? Further, do they see their time and financial commitment rewarding and making a difference? That means employing market research to learn what’s really important and providing focus before committing to a marketing communications plan. It’s prudent, and fact trumps opinion.
  2. Consider conducting a marketing communications audit to determine when, where and how to invest your time and money. An audit will provide an evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of your existing program as a whole, as well as how each individual tactic does or does not meet your objectives. With this information, all of the elements of your program – subject matter, budget allocation, media mix, theming, graphics, tone and manner, new versus traditional media – can all be integrated into a holistic marketing communications program well before committing to the unknown. Look before you leap.
  3. Be sure you’re media neutral. Traditional media such as print, broadcast, direct mail, newsletter, events and public relations still remain important media tools. But, today, so do blogs, social media, online videos, webinars and more. All have value, but learning how to use them is vital. There must be an understanding of the difference between efficiency and effectiveness.
  4. Your anniversary, whether it’s your 5th, 33rd or 50th provides a unique opportunity to rekindle enthusiasm, and to galvanize all of your constituents to the relevant, important and needs of the organization. It gives you the chance to tell your story, not just your history but also your plans and goals for the future. Unify and focus everyone around a 12 – 18 month program to establish your vision.

Marketing Communications Consultants Or Internal Staff

If you’re like most nonprofit leaders, the majority of your time, talent and training is devoted to your passion for the programs and services you provide. The same is probably true of your most committed volunteers, staff and Board members.

Given that, does your organization have the marketing and marketing communications talent and background to develop the strategies, budgets, plans and tactics that are necessary to help you succeed in today’s environment?

If not, consider partnering with established, media neutral, senior level professionals to help your team formulate, refine and, if necessary, implement your programs. Look for people with experience in both nonprofit and for profit arenas, with extensive experience across brands and industries, as well as a willingness to “tell it like it is”, so that candor will flourish.

Most probably, the near future will present nonprofit marketers with a rocky road to travel. Hopefully, some of these thoughts will help, but also remember what Mark Twain said – “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.

A Mid-Market Company Marketing Communications Audit Could Improve ROI

Whether you’re a B2C, B2B or nonprofit marketer, developing your new marketing and marketing communications plan is always a challenge. And today, despite some glimmers of improvement to the economy, the world in which you operate is probably still a precarious one.

As you move forward in your planning process, one of the difficult questions you face is how to allocate your precious resources – money, time and people – among the various disciplines under consideration – social media, traditional media, content marketing, PR and events – as well as what message to deliver across them

Maybe now is the time to consider an audit of your marketing communications program to determine what is and what isn’t working. Look before you leap!

Developing A New Marketing Communications Plan

If you haven’t recently (or ever) conducted a marketing communications audit, now is the ideal time to do so, before committing your already stretched resources. Like a financial audit, this process will provide an independent picture of your current actions; in this case, it will help you determine the strengths and weakness of your marketing program as a whole, as well as how each communication tactic and message does or does not contribute to your objectives and strategy.

This review should include a thorough analysis of all of your internal and external communications tactics, creative approach, media mix, subject matter, budgets and market research. Interviews with key personal may also be necessary.

Benefits Of A Marketing Communications Audit

An audit can go a long way toward helping you through your planning to maximize ROI. It can provide you with:

  1. An understanding of where improvement is needed in your outbound and inbound messaging, so that a more holistic approach can be developed;
  2. An understanding of what is registering with your customers, prospects and employees versus what they really want to know about your brand;
  3. Knowledge of the connects and disconnects of your current theming, graphics, tone and manner of all messaging across all media – both traditional and new;
  4. Help in determining what subject matter should be communicated and what messages should be minimized or eliminated;
  5. An improved budget allocation, resource distribution and media mix to maximize your marketing communications ROI.

The results of the audit will provide you with an actionable and coordinated road map of message and message delivery, media mix and spending allocation across traditional and new media communications tactics. It will also provide you with peace of mind, knowing that you’ve developed your plan with increased rigor and professionalism.

Marketing Communications Consultants Round Out Your Team

All B2C, B2B and nonprofit marketers face increasing scrutiny to prove the value of their programs, as well as to demonstrate improved ROI. As you face this scrutiny, one thing is certain – your constituents, be they customers, prospects or donors, know a lot about your brand well before beginning a dialogue with you, or meeting face to face, much less buying.

Having the skills, time and budgets to build favorable awareness of and attitudes toward your brand among these constituents in advance of buying is a significant challenge. If this strikes a chord, now may be the time to tap into established, experienced and media neutral consultants to help you with your marketing communications audit.

Select consultants with broad scope and senior level experience across industries and brands, who are willing to “”tell it like it is” so candor will flourish. This apolitical objectivity can be a significant value to the profitable improvements of your brand. So don’t go it alone.

5 Ways To Determine If Your Online Marketing Community Is Good Enough For You

An online marketing community is where marketers belonging to the same company or group, interact with each other. It is also in this community that they share the same valuable facilities (training, marketing system, sponsorship and so on) to achieve their goals. Your community may be a MLM or an internet marketing education company.

However, they are all working towards creating the right conditions for you, as an affiliate, to succeed online. So, they must possess certain characteristics in order to help you through. I have briefly explained below five(5) qualities that I know a good community must have.

1. Leads Follow-up Support: A good online marketing community must provide leads follow-up support for you as a member. Imagine having one thousand(1000) leads in a day, you can’t single-handedly get in touch and interact with them effectively. This is where your community can help you convert those leads into sales. It (community) must have an online leads follow-up support system in place to put the contact calls through for you.

2. Internet Marketing Education: Your community must provide a consistent and workable internet marketing education for you. If you are a struggling marketer or just coming online, then you need good internet education to help you succeed. Unfortunately, many online marketing communities lack workable marketing education for their affiliates. As a result they are left with no option but to fight it out themselves. So, does your community provide you with this important tool? If your answer is no, then it is not good for your business.

3. Interactive Marketing Events: An interactive marketing event is one organised by your online marketing community for members to meet at a point for days. At this event, if you are a new member you can meet successful marketers in your community. Then you’ll have the opportunity to hear their experiences first hand and get a lot of motivation from them. So you see, marketing events pump new vigor into you. It also helps you to relate better with other members because you have met them in person. If you don’t have this in your community then I’m afraid you are missing a major aspect of your success online.

4. Online Marketing Set-up Team: You know, everybody comes into internet marketing with various degree of background. So you may not be comfortable with some parts of your online home business set-up. This is where your community intervenes to give you the technical help that will solve your marketing or account set-up constraints.

5. Internet Marketing Credibility And Mission: Your company must have a mission. It may be to create twenty(20) millionaires in the next five(5) years, or make five(5) thousand people self-employed. It is clear that if your company does not have any mission then it has no vision. It must also have a proven track record of success that distinguishes it from other online marketing communities.