Day 26 – Career Benefits

November 6, 2010

Explain to a young person the benefits of pursuing a career in nonprofit marketing.

One of my most satisfying career ventures was teaching at Rockhurst, Kansas City’s well-respected Jesuit university. For several years I taught the class Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations.

Although I’ve earned my master’s degree in marketing, the classroom where I learned the most was the one where I stood at the front as the adjunct professor. I say that not to extol my talents as an educator, but rather to underscore the intrinsic value of explaining something to someone else. As Joseph Joubert said, “To teach is to learn twice.” I certainly understood marketing much better as I taught it to inquisitive college students.

Likewise, one of the best ways to appreciate my chosen career path has been to explain its benefits to a young person considering his or her career options.

Here are several things I would like for a young professional to know about a career in nonprofit marketing:

  1. Marketing is more than a job. It is a career path, a high professional calling.
  2. A marketing career can be a life-long pursuit and not necessarily a springboard to becoming the CEO or something else.
  3. Nonprofit marketing should be a stand-alone profession that is not subjugated to fundraising.
  4. Not everyone can do marketing, even though most people believe they are pretty good marketers.
  5. The best marketers combine their natural talents with formal training. There’s no substitute for a solid education.
  6. Don’t quit learning. Although marketing principles will remain unchanged, the tools and technology you’ll be using in10 years probably haven’t been invented yet.
  7. A good mentor can help you learn and grow. Find one.

By the way, later this month I have the privilege of returning to the university as a guest speaker. The invitation to speak came from the class instructor, whom I’m proud to say, was one of my star students in the very first class I taught.

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Day 24 – Social Media Plan – Business

November 4, 2010

Develop a social media plan that integrates new and traditional media.

Some people are so obsessed with social media technology that they overlook their communication strategy.

They are so focused on gadgets, applications and tactics that they completely miss the obvious:  These are only tools!

Tools are used to create or build something. Tools, technology and tactics are all a means to an end. The “end” is often defined in a well-written marketing goal. A goal articulates what success will look like and offers a clear, measurable definition of the desired outcome.

A communications plan should 1) target a specific audience, 2) define key marketing messages and 3) select the appropriate channels to deliver the right message to the right audience.

These communication channels should include a mix of traditional and new media. I define the two this way:

Traditional media primarily push information outward from a centralized source. They “broadcast” information in one direction. Examples are television, radio, newspapers, direct mail, newsletters and brochures.

New media (sometimes called social media) work best when the content is user-generated. Rather than broadcasting outward, new media rely upon interactions and conversations. Examples of new media are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, WordPress and other social networking platforms.

Traditional and new media must be integrated if you want to build a strong and effective marketing communication program.

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Day 23 – Impact of Marketing

November 3, 2010

Define what would be lost without a marketing program.

Valuable insight can be gained by asking, “What would be lost to the organization or to the community if the marketing department were downsized or even eliminated?”

A mission statement focuses on why we exist, our raison d’être. Sometimes, though, it helps to understand our mission by looking at things from a negative vantage point.

I always love watching the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. As you may recall, George Bailey (played by Jimmy Stewart) hit rock bottom. In his despair, he was given a glimpse of what his small town would look like if he had never been born. By examining his life from that perspective, he could clearly see his inherent value. He realized how much others really needed him.

Occasionally, I will mentally create my own version of the Wonderful Life movie. I visualize what the American Red Cross would be like without an effective marketing program. How would the organization be less effective in fulfilling its mission? What would go missing if there was no marketing? What would be the measurable impact upon the bottom line? Would revenue be lost, either directly or indirectly?

The questions can drill even deeper:  What intangibles would be lost if current donors were uninformed because of a lack of communication? Or if prospective donors were never made aware of the impact they could have? Or if potential volunteers did not know the needs they could fill?

I am convinced marketing helps to make a more “wonderful life” for the thousands of people who rely upon the humanitarian services of the Red Cross. As a nonprofit marketer, I find that to be professionally rewarding and personally rejuvenating.

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Day 22 – Marketing’s Unique Role

November 2, 2010

Differentiate marketing’s unique role from that of fundraising.

The better I define marketing’s niche within my organization, the more effective I am in producing results.

To help clarify my unique role as a marketer, I regularly ask myself, “What do I do that no one else can do as well?” On a departmental level, I also ask, “What contribution does marketing make that cannot be made as effectively anywhere else?”

Too often in nonprofit organizations, marketing and communications are relegated to be subordinate to fundraising. In my opinion, such an organizational alignment weakens marketing’s effectiveness and ultimately hampers the organization’s success in fulfilling its mission.

Granted, marketing must support fundraising, but the two are not one in the same. Marketing is a unique profession separate from that of raising money. Kivi Leroux Miller, in her excellent book The Nonprofit Marketing Guide, says:

Although you can have successful long-term (nonprofit) marketing campaigns that don’t involve fundraising, you cannot have successful long-term fundraising campaigns without marketing. Marketing and communications are how you talk to your donors in between those times when you ask for money.

My efforts as a professional marketer can result in donors being more engaged, volunteers giving of themselves in more meaningful ways and customers making better purchasing decisions.

As I think about the unlimited potential of a differentiated marketing program, I find renewed energy. I am professionally rejuvenated.

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Why Do We Need a Marketing Department?

November 10, 2009

As a marketing professional, I often ask myself why my organization needs marketing. Why does my marketing department exist? What impact do we really have?

Sometimes I think it would be fun to remake the classic movie A Wonderful Life so we could see what the world would look like had we never come into existence. What would the company look like if marketing never appeared on the organization chart? What would be lost if my marketing group “went out of business?”

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