The opportunity you have right now is SO big, that it's a bit overwhelming. ... You have a blank canvas of a year in front of you, and the marketing and fundraising actions you take right now will have a huge impact on 2014 results.
So, what are you going to change? And what should stay the same? How will you create a masterpiece with this year of time and opportunity?
Marketing and fundraising have to be more on target than ever, with messages based on right-now data and stories from across your channels, campaigns, and programs. That's the only way to create a unified supporter or participant experience—one that builds on each supporter's or participant's till-now engagement with your organization and is most likely to motivate the next action.
There's just ONE way to create that kind of relevant, memorable, and connected experience: Right-Things, Right-Now Marketing. Get there with this Right-Things, Right-Now Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template.
Here's how you can connect—and build an impossible-to-ignore, unified experience—via right-things, right-now marketing:
1) Center supporters and participants at the heart of your organization, now and forever.
This isn't bright-and-shiny new, but it's more important than ever. Let me put it this way: if you don't shape program and services, marketing, and fundraising around your supporters' and participants' actions, wants, habits, and values, you'll alienate folks who are close now and fail miserably in making new friends.
Volunteers, donors, activists, program participants, and other supporters are vital to achieving your mission. You just can't do it without them, so keep your eye on the prize.
- Focus on no more than three groups of individuals—those most likely to take the actions you need or who represent the greatest risk to achieving your mission if not engaged this year.
- Break these groups into segments by special interest, wants, previous actions, location, or any other combination of selections.
- Get to know them (see #3 below).
2) Listen to and learn from your people in a way that's radically different from what you're doing right now.
- Set your end goal as treating (and communicating with) your supporters and participants as individuals, rather than one-size-fits-all, as much as possible. That means, each person's experience (or segment of folks with like experiences) defines your marketing and fundraising approaches.
To get there, learn everything you can about your people every way you can, on an ongoing basis:
- Develop personas or profiles that typify a member of each audience or segment and surround yourself and your colleagues with persona head shots—it's hokey, but it keeps the people who count at the top of everyone's mind.
- Create an ad hoc marketing advisory group to call on for super-short input when you are uncertain about a certain message, channel, or approach. What you think counts far less!
- Listen to what's being said about your organization and team online, and engage with the speakers human-to-human.
- Survey via brief online questionnaires, motivating participation via e-mail and social media channels, and concrete incentives.
- Collect information on interests and more via every single active transaction (giving, volunteer sign up, event registration) pages, e-mail, social, and conversations.
3) Set up systems, roles, and responsibilities to harvest, share, and analyze data, feedback, anecdotes, and other insights (including the good old gut).
- What you learn about your people is most valuable when you log, share, and analyze it across your organization—instead of for a single program, campaign, or channel—in a way that's easy to access.
- By assessing results across all dimensions, you'll reach the rich insights (a true 360-degree perspective) necessary for truly integrated marketing that blends all channels and strategies—from social media to SEO to e-newsletters—together for a more resonant experience.
- Implement a robust database tool enabling you and your colleagues to build out comprehensive profiles of your current network members and prospects with what you learn about their preferences and actions.
The more coordinated and robust your insight is into each person you're hoping to engage, the greater the probability you'll motivate him or her to act (or realize that he/she's not a likely prospect).
4) Shape rewarding and connected relationships with your people OVER TIME—a cumulative supporter or participant experience.
There's still way too much talking about data and stories among nonprofits, and way too little acting on these insights.
Individuals want, and in many cases, expect, content and programs to be customized to their preferences, habits, and history of action. The Altimeter Research Group has deemed this the me-cosystem: The ecosystem that revolves around "me," an organization's data and technologies to deliver more relevant, useful, and engaging experiences. Supporters will benefit from contextualized experiences (digitally and otherwise), in exchange for giving up personal data.
- Apply your learnings and analysis, and those of your colleagues, to shape marketing and fundraising outreach, and hone programs and services on the fly, mapping what you deliver to your peoples' actions, and
- Ensuring that one experience links to the next for them.
The "days of the one-off marketing project or fundraising campaign are over. Now it's about data and profiles and [a series] of connected experiences," says Dianne Wilkins, CEO, Critical Mass.
5) Get agile to satisfy supporter expectations that your nonprofit is constantly adapting to fit their schedules and lives, including how they interact (or not) with your marketing and fundraising outreach, and your programs and services.
"[Supporters and participants] are insisting that [nonprofits] sew together all of the micro-interactions (between organizations and individuals) in an intelligent way. And when [organizations] disappoint, their people often let them have it, and very publicly," says Wilkins.
- Replace traditional campaigns—based on pre-determined start and stop dates and series of messages—with real-time marketing, based on supporters and participants' actions and schedules.
- Kill the e-mail blasts—sending the same e-mail to everyone at the same time (they're the loudest "who cares" I know; who wants to be blasted?).
- Instead, segment your lists, grouping prospects by shared wants, values, or engagement history to produce more relevant content that's personalized.
- Start to tear down the age-old barrier between program and marketing/fundraising efforts (and views of your participants and supporters).
6) Move toward "all for one and one for all" teamwork to provide a unified and satisfying supporter experience.
I urge you to throw down the gauntlet and tear down your marketing and fundraising ivory tower to excite and empower your colleagues!
In fact, that's the only way you'll build the all-organization relationships, sense of adventure, and satisfaction necessary to drive a speeded-up marketing, delivery, and revision cycle on both program/service and marketing/fundraising fronts.
- Join your colleagues across your organization in shaping ambitious but realistic roles and responsibilities for data and story gathering, sharing, analysis, and action.
- Put your supporters' experience, rather than the data, front and center.
- Dedicate yourself, no matter your role, to making that experience as relevant and resonant as possible.
I urge you to forget whether you staff a program, run the teen volunteer program, do back-end accounting, or have the word "marketing" in your title. Instead, focus on joining forces to produce a satisfying, memorable, and unified supporter experience. It's the ONE thing that will move your mission forward.
Bonus: Reduces your workload, increases your confidence that you're doing the right thing, and sends your professional happiness sky high.
Kick start your ONE thing now, with the Right-Things, Right-Now Nonprofit Marketing Plan Template.
P.S. Thanks to Gary Keller for inspiring me to focus on the ONE thing, as "Success demands singleness of purpose."
I strongly recommend Keller's The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Toward a Relevant, Unified Supporter Experience–What are You Doing Now?
What are you doing to deliver right-things, right-now marketing? What's working, and what's getting in your way?
Nancy E. Schwartz, Strategist-Trainer-Blogger, GettingAttention.org
© 2014, Nancy Schwartz & Company
Nancy Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing as the publisher of the Getting Attention blog and e-newsletter, and as president of consulting firm Nancy Schwartz & Company (NS&C). Nancy is a board member of NTEN and on marketing committees of her synagogue and high school and local PTA. She holds an MBA from Stern School of Business, New York University, and a BA in Comparative Literature from Brown University.