Shelli’s 5 Golden Rules of Marketing

In Learning Network, Marketing by Shelli Bischoff

As I like to say, marketing is taking all the great work your organization is doing and getting people to care about it as much as you do. Just think about the work you do every day to make our world a better place! As you ponder how marketing can help get others as passionate about your work as you are, consider these five golden rules.

Rule 1: “If we build it, they will come” is not a marketing strategy

Just because your organization is doing important work, it doesn’t mean that you will automatically attract and maintain loyal and engaged supporters. Marketing is not an “add on” or something that’s nice-to-do. It is a core function and mission critical. (Consider: a business without customers. The same applies to nonprofits. In this case, customers are members, donors, volunteers, and partners.)

Rule 2: Good marketing is more about listening than about telling

Marketing is 90% understanding your audience, then designing your marketing strategies to connect with that audience so they take action on your behalf (donate, volunteer, etc.). When you really know your audience’s needs and motivations, the right strategies are not guesswork – they are obvious.

The right strategy depends on the audience. Strategies must be relevant and resonate with the audience. Is social media important? Is working through churches useful? Should we partner with schools? It depends. The most important question you can ask is “who is our audience and what would work for them?”

Rule 3: Creating awareness is not a marketing goal

Awareness is not a marketing goal. It’s a means to an end and a tactic that supports some higher-level strategy. If your organization has identified creating awareness as a marketing goal, I challenge you to go deeper and ask, “what do we want someone to do with this increased awareness?” THAT is your goal!

Rule 4: Everyone is not your target market

The concept of target marketing – focusing on the audiences that are most important to your cause or most likely to take action on your behalf – is essential to any organization. Target marketing is not exclusive. It doesn’t turn people away if they are not in your target audience. It simply means that you want to strategically apply your limited resources for the greatest return on investment to reach and connect with your audience.

Rule 5: Marketing isn’t something separate

Marketing is often seen as something that happens in the communications department – supporting but separate from programs and services. Marketing happens throughout the organization – everyone markets all the time. They tell the story through their actions and words.

We hope these golden rules of marketing will help lead you to success (and avoid potential pitfalls). If you have questions or want to learn more about how we can help your marketing efforts, please contact us.