Marketing 3 1Marketing is too important to be left to the marketing department.” ~ David Packard

How Get it All Done Without Doing Yourself In

Reinventing the wheel is a common occurrence in small nonprofits, particularly if there’s not a lot of transference of institutional history and knowledge.  On the other hand, a lot of activities we’re engaging in to get the word out about our organizations are relatively new – blogs, social media, in-house video, website, etc.  Watch and learn from others who are doing these really well and model their activities; don’t plagiarize, of course, but do emulate best practices and mirror success.

Develop a Plan

In order to be effective in the nonprofit marketing realm, you’ve got to get yourself organized, even if that means just adopting the “basic marketing plan” discussed in the first segment of this three-part blog theme.  That will help you keep you moving in the right direction.

The basic marketing plan had three elements:

1) Who is your audience, very specifically –who are you trying to reach?

2) What do you want them to do with the information and knowledge they get from you? (aka, the “call to action”).

3) How and where do you deliver your message?

Marketing 3 2Once you have the answers to these keystone questions,  the next step to make sure that you have all of your marketing elements accessible in one central location – mission statement, logos of various size and colors (black and white, four-color, etc.), program and volunteer photos, testimonials, interviews, staff and board bios and photos – all of the marketing pieces that you use over and over should be kept in a central location.   You shouldn’t have to constantly hunt it down – it wastes your valuable time and is frustrating.  If you have a file-sharing system at work so that all staff members have access to these items, even better.  You can also use programs such as Dropbox.

Keep Learning and Get Great Help!

Even if you’re Superwoman, you have to be efficient and continually developing yourself – so get out there and continue to build your skills!  Don’t tell yourself that you “don’t have time”.  Give yourself a few minutes per week or a couple of hours per month to take an online webinar or attend a presentation at your local Center for Nonprofit Excellence or Community Foundation.  It’ll pay off in the long-run; for example, if you can’t hire a graphic designer to design a nice-looking newsletter, you might be able to spend $50.00 for an on-line course and then do-it-yourself, saving your organization time and money and developing a new skill in the process.

Marketing 3 3Who else can help you? 

Who’s on your marketing team?  Everybody – your board, social media fans, volunteers, and staff.  Everybody can be a storyteller, and some will even have special skills that could help you.  Try to be as specific as you can in terms of what you need, though – from graphics designs, photographs, event planning, and media relations, I’ll bet you have a wealth of experience and skills right in your immediate sphere of influence that you don’t even know about.  Ask around!. . . you’ll probably be very pleasantly surprised.

Nonprofits today face greater challenges than ever – particularly small shops.  With organizations competing for diminishing resources and a crowded field of ‘issue space’, nonprofits must continually find innovative and effective ways to differentiate themselves among their peer organizations.  Nonprofits that lack a clear and focused strategy for marketing themselves are clearly at a disadvantage.  I hope that this three-part series on nonprofit marketing has been helpful in serving as a primer on the subject.  Particularly for those nonprofit professionals without formal training, marketing can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be.  When thoughtfully planned and implemented, a marketing plan actually be  fun!

Cheryl M. McCormick, Ph.D., Founder and CEO, Ascend Nonprofit Consulting and Executive Coaching,


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