4 Steps to Creating Your Marketing Plan

In Fundraising, Marketing by Lisa Selzler

Creating and implementing a marketing plan does not require a business or marketing degree. In fact, you can create an effective marketing plan for your organization or program in four simple steps. Drum roll, please…

Step 1: Define the Goal

Your marketing goal states the results you will achieve within a specific timeframe. Specifically, it describes what you want more people to do for you – give money, become members, visit your nature center, or write an elected official, for example.

A specific goal defines the desired action and the number of people you want to take that action. A strong goal is inherently measurable: either that many people took action within a given timeframe or they did not.

Less useful goal: Increase awareness  (see Shelli’s Five Golden Rules of Marketing).

More useful goal: Attract 2,000 new supporters over the next two years who demonstrate support through at least 20 hours of volunteer time or a donation of at least $50.

Step 2: Identify and Define the Target Market

Defining the target market starts with understanding the scope and context of your marketing efforts. Take stock of the relevant trends, issues, and opportunities that influence your organization and fully understand your external industry landscape, philanthropic environment, and competitors. In addition, assess the organization’s internal assets, competencies, and gaps that will help or hinder your ability to reach and engage a new audience.

Identifying a target market is a “honing” exercise. Consider how people relate to your mission. Categorizing groups of people by basic demographics (i.e. age and/or income) is a starting place, and it is also useful to consider psychographics – values, attitudes, lifestyles, and behaviors. Of the different groups, consider those most likely to act on your behalf, and that is your potential target market.

Deeply understand your target market. Be discriminating and focus, “everyone” is not your target market. Once you have selected one or two target markets, continue your market research so that you understand everything there is to know about that group. Talk with those people you believe fit your target market. The best market research is to listen and to observe.

For many public health programs, community members with low socioeconomic status are the target market. But how much do you know about them, really? What is most important to them? What does good health mean to them? How do they make decisions? What drives those decisions? Where do they get their information?

Analyzing your potential market is a critical step in creating your marketing plan. For more detailed information, see Engaging Your Audience for Success and Sustainability.

Step 3: Design the Strategies

With a deep understanding of the target market, it is easy to define the best, most effective strategies to reach and engage the market to take action on your behalf. It eliminates the endless brainstorming of ideas and is informed by your market research. If you have taken the time to really get to know your target market, the best strategies are obvious.

Strategies to reach and engage a target market may include direct contact through events designed to meet the interests of your audience, in articles in specific publications, or co-sponsorship of association conferences. Strategies are typically a combination of direct contact, earned or purchased social or print media, and promotional and public relations activities.  However, understanding of the audience also informs how you design, place and price your services, and how you define the benefit of your services as perceived by the audience.

Step 4: Test, Evaluate, Adapt, and Implement Your Marketing Plan

Test your research. Always critically evaluate your effort, make any needed adaptations, then implement. Testing is a valuable step in the process and one that can save you time and money. As you implement your plan and more fully engage with new audiences, you will want to hone your approach as new information comes to light.

Contact us with questions or to learn how you can create a marketing plan to achieve your goals and ensure return on your investment.