o you have a nonprofit marketing strategy? If not, you’re not alone. According to Content Marketing Institute, "A recent report from Blackbaud and the Nonprofit Content Marketing Institute reveals that only 25% of nonprofit professionals have a documented content strategy." While this statistic focuses on content marketing, I believe it's safe to assume that the number is even lower for having a documented overall marketing strategy."
The key to successful marketing overall is a well-thought out and executed marketing strategy. One of the challenges with creating a successful nonprofit marketing strategy is actually having the time to sit down and draft out the plan. It's not easy. However, if you have the basics of a strong marketing strategy, you can then add more elements as you see fit.
A strong marketing strategy has the following components:
Together these components will form a marketing plan that will bring you success.
Your marketing strategy will be irrelevant if you don't have your goals established. The reason being that your marketing plan helps your goals come to fruition. It provides the framework to make the goals happen. Your goals should be written in the SMART format (Specific Realistic Attainable Relevant and Timeline). Another thing to consider when creating your SMART goals is making sure they are in alignment with your strategic goals for the organization.
S = Specific
It's not enough to say, "I want to receive more donations this year than I did last year." The goal is to be as detailed as possible. Try stating your goals like, "I want to raise $50,000 more than we did at this time last year." Or, "I want to increase our donations by 34% more than we did at this time last year." Did you notice a date was added? When you are creating your goals you always want to add dates to them as well.
M = Measurable
When creating SMART goals, the measurable part means being able to quantify something. Having quantifiable goals makes the process for accomplishing this goal easier because you can start with the goal and break it down into smaller chunks. You will also notice that when you make your goals measurable you can assign a timeline to them. If the goal is to grow your volunteers by 500 by June of 2018, then you know each month you should be attempting to recruit "X" amount of volunteers.
A = Attainable
Are the goals you are attempting to accomplish actually attainable? Do you have the capacity to reach those goals? Think about it. If your organization is brand new and you've never done a year end giving campaign before, is it safe to say that you can raise $100,000? I'm not saying that you can't. I'm asking you to think about your capacity and resources.
R = Relevant
Are the goals you are creating relevant to your organization? Will these goals help your organization grow and make an impact?
T = Timeline
Can you implement a time frame with deadlines, due dates, and responsibilities? Often, many plans fall through the cracks because there isn't a timeline to follow that can be easily implemented.
Check out our video on how to craft SMART Goals here.
The SWOT analysis is a tool used to give a holistic assessment of your current marketing. SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The SWOT is used to identify gaps, holes, and successes in your marketing plan.
What do you do well with your marketing?
What is working the best with your marketing?
What do you need to continue to do more of?
What isn't working with your marketing?
What do you need to do less of?
Where are you struggling the most?
What is causing you the most frustration?
Where can you improve?
What can you incorporate to make your marketing better?
What skills/tools do you need to go to the next level?
What can hinder your marketing from going to the next level?
What are factors outside of your control that could make an impact on your marketing?
What are factors inside your control that could make an impact on your marketing?
The SWOT Analysis should be completed at least twice per year (the middle and the end of the year are great times because six months would have passed in between).
For some reason, when the word competitive analysis is used, people tend to think it's about identifying competition from a negative standpoint. And it's not. The competitive analysis allows you to know who is doing similar work as you in your nonprofit industry, the services they offer, the clients they serve, etc. It's also a great tool to utilize when thinking about potential partnerships and collaborations. Some of the things to include with the competitive analysis are:
Social media statistics
What do they do well with their marketing?
Where do you think they can improve marketing?
Once you complete the competitive analysis you can also identify holes in their marketing and include those in your marketing strategy.
Target Audience Profile
The target audience profile is the bread and butter of your marketing strategy because if you aren't talking to the right people, then it doesn't matter how well-crafted your messaging is. The target audience profile is an avatar you develop to plan your marketing. This avatar is used to ensure your social media posts are engaging, your messaging will be well received, and the activities your organization plans will be marketed towards the right people. For nonprofits, two avatars are recommended: one for clients and one for supporters. When creating your target audience profile be sure to include the following:
A name. This will make your avatar come to life.
The biggest problem they need solved or what they are most passionate about
How much money they make in a year?
What social media platforms do they frequent the most?
How do they get their information?
What makes them excited?
What are their biggest fears?
If you have never created a target audience profile before it can feel a little uncomfortable because it feels like you're making this person up, and in an essence you are. Craft your marketing plan with the person you created in mind. If you find out that you are attracting another kind of audience, then you will pivot your target audience profile.
Unique Value Proposition
Your unique value proposition is what sets your organization apart from others. Remember when you read about the competitive analysis? This is why. In order to articulate why your organization does what it does and what makes it different, you need to know what is unique about your organization.
What channels will you use to market your organization, publish content, and connect with others? This should be based on your target audience profile and where your organization will get the most engagement. If you don't have this data on hand, you will have to do some testing. But, for the sake of having a well documented plan, you should identify your marketing channels.
Aside from your target audience profile, the marketing tactics are equally important because this is what you will actually execute on to make the goals of the plan happen. There are many ways that you can draft your marketing tactics. If you need a framework to start with, I recommend breaking it down like the following:
Identify the tactic.
List the goal it supports.
Write the details of the tactic (what is it, what does it entail, etc).
The timeline for the tactic.
Additional information (key stakeholders, potential partners).
This portion of your marketing plan will look a little something like this:
What about content and social media marketing?
That’s a great point.! You can always draft those separately and add them in. Try working through the basics first.
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Aleshia Patterson is the Editor-in-Chief of Nonprofit Marketing Magazine. She has served in the nonprofit sector for almost a decade. She currently works as a Marketing and Communications Coordinator for a local nonprofit in Saint Louis, MO. In her spare time, Aleshia loves to travel, binge watch Netflix, and go on Office Depot excursions.