Strategic Marketing Steps
4. Criteria and selection
In this day and age of increased noise in the marketplace, the need for nonprofit organizations to reach out and engage new audiences is more important and more difficult than ever. Increasingly, there is overlap of issues and programs and increased competition for donors and supporters. Organizations can no longer afford to have one audience for fundraising, another for programs, and yet another for membership. The resources are limited and the work is urgent.
To reach and engage new audiences, many organizations find a strategic marketing plan useful, if not essential. The purpose of this article is to:
x illustrate the application of basic marketing principles
x present a step-by-step guide to creating a strategic
x show that defining and understanding the target market
is necessary to effectively reach and engage them
x give an example of how a strategic marketing plan can
be used and applied
Step One: Develop the Goals
The first step in developing a successful marketing plan is to define the specific and tangible marketing goal. What does the organization want to achieve as a result of these marketing efforts? The goal should be long term. A strategic marketing plan is not a quick fix to a funding or image problem. A concise, clearly defined goal will help measure success.
For example, a marketing goal for a project completed with a statewide environmental organization was “to engage citizens who care about the environment to be both financially supportive and/or to visibly and vocally participate in the protection of the state’s environment.” In the case of a human services organization, the goal was to “gain increased recognition, support, and status for the organization.”
The marketing goal helps focus the organization on the purpose of marketing—whether to increase funds, membership, or participation. Commonly, the marketing goal is to increase awareness. It is important for an organization to define why it wants to increase awareness and what it wants people to do once they are aware. Step Two: Situation Analysis
Knowing and understanding
the environment in which a
nonprofit operates is critical
to its success.
An important and often overlooked step in creating a strategic marketing plan is evaluating internal, market, and external
conditions. Knowing and understanding the environment in which a nonprofit is operating is critical to its success. Internal conditions include such things as values, skills, staff, systems, and structures. Market conditions include the funding climate, a comparative analysis of other organizations, and the organizational niche or distinctive competence. Further, an organization must understand the external conditions in which it is working. External factors include social, cultural, technological, ecological, economic, and political factors.
A situation analysis is typically completed through a combination of primary and secondary research. Primary research includes focus groups and interviews. Secondary research involves a review of the current literature related to the organization or its industry. The board of directors and staff play an invaluable role in sharing information about trends and issues. The board brings a broader, more multidisciplinary perspective to understand issues. A good staff offers a wealth of information about what is going on in the field. Organizations will want to pay attention to issues that directly affect its industry, like child welfare laws for human services groups or Clean Water Act enforcement efforts for environmental groups.
Organizations must also pay attention to larger, macro issues, such as trends in the foundation world, the ethics of nonprofits, and general marketing trends influencing...