Nonprofit Marketing Strategy: Getting Started

March 26, 2015

This article is the first of a three part feature on nonprofit marketing tips, tools and resources. 

Everyone knows by now marketing and social media are important to the work of an organisation, whether it’s selling a product or promoting a cause. But how many organisations know how to create a marketing plan or are using tools to improve social networking? This article will answer how to start building your marketing strategy and what to get out it.

In truth, many organisation aim to create a big impact with their marketing strategy but this requires lots of time and resources. If your organisation is just starting out, there are some simple steps to help an organisation get the most out of their marketing.

Step 1: Quickly Read a Book

There is a lot of literature on marketing, and less dedicated to nonprofit marketing strategies. I would recommend that you read either of these excellent books The Nonprofit Marketing Guide by Kivi Leroux Miller or The Networked Nonprofit by Beth Kanter. Both authors focus on social marketing in the charity and voluntary sector, as opposed to brand marketing. 

In social marketing, the use of messages and strategies are intended to create a change in behaviour or action for a consumer. The reason social marketing is more effective than traditional approaches is because of its emphasis an audience’s behaviour, attitudes and values for a specific cause, issue or campaign.

Step 2: Start a simple marketing plan

Most of the time organisations will be using social media networks, like Facebook or Twitter, but may not have an plan or an agreed course of action on hows messages are communicated via these networks. When organisations ask “how do I know if my social media is working?”, I respond by asking “what is your organisations’s marketing objectives and goals?”.

The point of a marketing plan is to articulate your organisations’s objectives, methods and tactics to realise the short-term and long-term actions to achieve success. Like any other area of an organisation’s work, marketing requires investment, strategy, monitoring and evaluation to succeed.

Here’s are five steps to building a simple marketing plan:

  1. Set Goals – Think about your organisation’s marketing goals and objectives. What is the purpose of your organisation’s work? What change in behaviour or action do you hope to create?
  2. Consider situation – What are the internal and external resources and conditions needed to achieve success? Do you need support or advice before committing to a plan?
  3. Know your audience – There is no point is communicating with everyone so think about the specific groups of individuals that your organisation should target and understand more about them.
  4. Create messages – This involves working out specific message that are going to interest your audience. What messages will make the most sense? What will they ignore?
  5. Select your channels, methods and tactics – Consider what is best approach for delivering your message, and make sure that it is received correctly? There are lots of tools and resources that can help an organisation in this area.

The trick for creating a good marketing plan is starting with a straightforward methodology and gathering good information about your target audience from the beginning. From my experience, the more information and learning you can achieve at the start, the faster you can communicate with your audience later on.

Step 3: Managing cost and time with social media

My approach to building an organisation’s capacity with marketing and social media focuses on learning about an organisation’s goals and their audience. Nonprofits do not need to invest in purchasing technologies or training workshops to succeed. The truth is marketing takes time – to give your methods a chance to work, to communicate messages through different channels or to develop good relationships with your target audience – meaning that marketing can be cost-effective, but may take

A list of social media platforms used by charities and nonprofits

A list of social media platforms used by charities and nonprofits

Here’s a few tips that will help your organisation to jump start your learning social media:

  • Use resources and templates to organise your ideas and plans about social marketing
  • Save time by using free tools to schedule and organise your social media
  • Work with your supporters and partners to improve your social media profile
  • Don’t forget the value of word-of-mouth and informal conversation in marketing

Try downloading our one-pager on the best social media and digital marketing tools and the best resources, toolkits and videos.

Next Time

Setting your organsation’s goals and objective. Undertaking a situational analysis of your organisation’s marketing needs. Simple approaches to market research. 

About the author

Philip Isard is a Project Specialist at Quality Matters. Philip’s main interests are research, communications, social media and design.

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