Marketing Your Organization Starts with Your Own Words - and Deeds
Bono, the lead singer in the rock group U2, once stated that the band and their manager made a conscious decision from the beginning that they would be "the greatest rock and roll band in the world." The other day, while listening to the radio, I heard a D.J. say, "Now here is a song from the greatest rock and roll band in the world - U2."
U2's marketing genius really isn't that brilliant, but it works. The first rule in marketing your organization is to be able to answer the question, "How would we like others to view our organization?" From there, you must develop a plan that supports that image. Then you make statements about your organization that create the image you wish to project. In other words, you define your organization, and you make sure your organization lives up to that image. U2 produces consistently high quality music that sustains the image they wish to project. Not everyone appreciates their music, but they are universally admired. They labeled themselves as "great," and that's how they are perceived.
Your organization's mission is vital, and you fulfill it well. That's important. Do people know that about you? What if, for example, you want your organization to be viewed as "caring and compassionate?" Remember that everything you do should support the vision of how you want to be viewed. How do your programs and activities emphasize how caring and compassionate you are? And, how have you communicated about your organization's caring and compassionate character?
P.S.: For those of you already thinking it, YES, Madonna also had a very interesting marketing approach - we won't go there!
Bang for your Bucks - and Time Marketing Your Organization Starts with Your Own Words - and Deeds
CommUlinks of Colorado developed this short list of creative ideas to help support your marketing (and fundraising) efforts:
"The Non-Event" - is an event where you send an invitation to stay home (you can even give them reasons not to attend). You can distribute invitations via the Internet. Here are some themes that support the way some organizations wanted to be viewed:
·"Help Us Make Domestic Violence a Non-Event in Our Community."
·A picnic in the middle of winter (Homelessness and Hunger: feel what it is like to be left out in the cold)
·Voices of Our Children (Abused and Neglected Children)
Community education forums/speakers: Your organization can provide inspiring speakers who will be invited to speak about your organization's mission and project the image you want to convey.
Create your own "Day of…": This is a "world day to recognize _____". Everyone goes to your website at a certain time on a certain day to recognize or remember the importance of your mission. Put a great picture or run a video there on that day.
Others include protest marches, vigils, "stamp-out" days, benefit concerts, etc.
The Role of Advocacy in Marketing
This article is especially important for those who don't believe there is room for advocacy in their organization's mission.
Nonprofit missions are proliferating at an amazing rate in Colorado. "Since CANPO reported on the sector in March 2003, the number of reporting charitable nonprofits in Colorado has increased by 11%. " The CANPO report states that over 15,200 501(c)(3) charitable organizations and nearly 2400 501(c)(4) social welfare nonprofits are registered in Colorado.
There are many reasons for this explosive growth, but certainly Colorado's budget slashing and post September 11th economic woes have contributed to the rapid escalation in need. The pressure is enormous for nonprofits that are competing for attention and resources in an incredibly competitive environment. How can you get your message noticed amidst the background noise of over 17,500 nonprofit messages?
Nonprofits stand out from the crowd when they engage in advocacy. Advocacy educates others about your issue, and makes them care. It's time to tell the world what you're fighting for!
Advocacy takes many forms. Here are just a few:
Protests on the capitol steps;
Lobbying the legislature;
Speaking to the Chamber of Commerce;
Editorial press releases and letters to the editor;
A success story: By effectively portraying the plight of helpless, abandoned or abused pets, animal rights activists have advocated effectively for their cause. So much so, in fact, that animal rights organizations are at the top of the list for funding and support in Colorado.
Nonprofit organizations are working for important causes: hunger relief, children, housing, education, health issues, human rights, historic preservation, community services, neighborhood improvements, environmental issues, and many more. In almost every case, your cause was born out of a need to solve an important fundamental problem, right a wrong, or help those in need.
Success in your mission may not come simply by quietly toiling away. Hard work and dedication have their limits. Often, it's the "fight" that captures public attention and inspires support. Advocacy is the battle that captivates and engages those on the sidelines. It's the soap-box from which you can be heard.
There are numerous tactics for capturing the attention and support your organization's mission deserves. Five senior citizens standing on the capitol steps with signs can attract enormous amounts of public attention to seniors' issues. Armed with a clear, compelling message, these protesters can achieve more public education and apply more pressure for legislative change than years of lobbying. Combined with a lobbying effort, advocacy is a powerful tool for change.
There are numerous other tactics. Here are a couple examples. Twenty hand-written letters to a US Senator can garner more support than a massive email blitz. A well-timed editorial press release in response to current events that are relevant to your organization's core issue can educate the media about your cause and cultivate media relationships that will pay off with outstanding publicity for your mission.
Advocacy is the cornerstone on which to build any social justice communications and public education effort. Advocacy can be a key mission priority, or you can simply rely on advocacy to help generate some buzz for your organization. Either way, the rhetoric of advocacy is your organization's platform, and your advocacy efforts are the soap-box from which you deliver your message. Integration is the key. By weaving advocacy messages throughout your organization's public education, marketing, PR and fundraising communications, you energize and focus your organization's outreach.
Let CommUlinks help you build and execute an advocacy effort that will build funding and support for your organization.
Boomer Vote Up for Grabs
A recent RoperASW survey for AARP The Magazine reveals that "Baby Boomers" are an increasingly inscrutable demographic for political parties. Many of this group of about 77 million individuals are disenchanted with the two-party system. According to the survey, more than half believe that the nation needs a strong third party, and "the Boomer vote is up for grabs."
The survey goes on to portray Boomers as having fragmented views on issues. Individuals frequently hold an eclectic blend of liberal and conservative viewpoints, often embracing seemingly disparate positions such as supporting abortion and the death penalty. "Boomers evidently like their politics a la carte - a position from here, a position from there," says Hugh Delehanty, Editor-in-Chief, AARP Publications. "The Boomers' seemingly contradictory ideological convictions make it increasingly difficult for politicians to pin down the demographic."
In a split with older generations, Boomers appear to place issues above personalities of political leaders. The AARP story goes on to compare and contrast the Boomer generation with the GI generation (age 70 and over), and the findings are very informative.