Get Ready for 2014 – Creating a Marketing Plan

Marketing and communications often take a backseat to fundraising, even though they are closely related. You can’t raise money without clear messages and a good strategy to communicate those messages.

You need a marketing plan

Some organizations don’t have a marketing plan or they have one that’s sort of piecemeal.

If you have never created a marketing plan, you may want to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis or some other kind of organizational analysis to help you get focused. (See links below for more details.)

At the very least, you should create a plan that covers how you will communicate with your audience(s). Ideally, you should be looking at more than one year and your marketing plan needs to be consistent with your strategic plan.

If you already have a marketing plan and have been measuring your progress (Gold stars for you!), you can incorporate what’s worked in the past into your 2014 plan.

Don’t make the mistake of not taking your marketing and communications seriously. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you put together your marketing plan.

Who are you?

What does your organization do and what makes you unique? What is your message platform? If you’ve never created a consistent set of messages, you need to do that. How To Get Everyone In Your Organization To Be Consistent In Messaging

What are your needs and goals?
Each nonprofit has different needs. Everyone needs to raise money, but perhaps you also need members, clients, or volunteers. Come up with categories and goals and create a strategy for each. For example, if you need tutors or mentors, you need to come up with a recruitment plan.

Think about going beyond raising awareness. You need a call to action, such as donating, volunteering, attending an event, or contacting your legislator.

Who is your audience?
It’s not everyone. Sometimes it’s people who know you well, such as donors, and sometimes it’s not.

Craft your messages with your audience in mind. What would entice someone to donate, volunteer, or attend your event?

Communicating with your supporters
Reaching out to donors and other supporters is a huge part of your communications. Throughout the year you need to update them on how they are helping you make a difference. In my next post, I’ll write about creating a communications calendar to help you with that.

Communicating with an external audience

Here you want to reach out to people and groups who will be most receptive to your message or call to action. Sometimes you don’t need to look far. For example, you should have more luck promoting your event by asking your social media followers to share your announcement with their friends than you will if you post an event listing in the paper.

All nonprofits want media coverage, but plan carefully. Target the right publications and choose the right stories. Pitch something newsworthy.

Measure your progress
At least once a quarter look at your goals and figure out what is working, what isn’t, and how you can make improvements.

Use this dashboard to monitor your progress. Scroll down a bit for the marketing section.

Library of Sample Dashboard Indicators

Take some time to put together a well thought-out marketing plan. It will be time well spent.

Photo by Plantoo47 via Flickr

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