Welcome to the second edition of "my marketing class fills me with immense anger and sadness and I express it to strangers on the internet."
Today in class we talked about how instead of marketing, you should be doing the *actual* work of the nonprofit's mission. Talking about a problem is not enough to solve it.
I almost exploded. Of course talking about problems doesn't make them go away, but having a nonprofit that no one knows about also doesn't solve any problems.
I really love marketing, I have been doing it for years and really love build a connection between nonprofits and their communities. It
However sometimes I really hate marketing, because I don't know why I have to beg organizations to take it seriously or help them understand it's true value. Don't worry, this won't be an angry ranting vent session, instead these are some ways to help you help me (or whoever your marketing person is).
Dear nonprofit organization and project leaders,
I love you, I really do, but sometimes you drive me crazy. So please, when you hire a marketing person (maybe me), please keep the following things in mind.
Take marketing more seriously.
Marketing is the way you connect your vision and mission to the community. It does not matter how amazing your nonprofit is if the world does not know about you. This goes for several aspects, donors, audiences, staff, and who you serve. Your marketing is potentially the first time you connect with someone. Make that first impression count and matter. While yes it can be discouraging in a digital age to have to keep up with appearances, but it matters. You can still be true to your mission and vision, while having a somewhat active Facebook presence. Otherwise how will people know they can trust your organization?
It is so much more than just posting on social media and sending email blasts. It's building relationships with your audience and building sustainability for your organization.
Bring on a marketing person as soon as possible.
Marketing people should be part of the team, not just a random accessory to the show. They are part of the creative story telling process, as how you market the show is just as important as the show itself. It is the first time your potential audience is going to interact with this production, make sure it makes a right first impression.
This is easier when the marketing person can take some ownership of the project itself, so they need things like the script and the cast list. They should be there for the meet and greets and first rehearsals. If your marketing person is telling the story of the production, well they need to know what the story is.
Set realistic expectations and goals.
Gaining 1,000 Instagram followers in a month isn't going to help you. I can buy Instagram followers. What are your real goals? Increase ticket sales? Increase brand awareness? Re-brand before a big fundraiser? You have to actually think strategically when it comes to marketing. Communicate that with your marketing person, there should be a bigger conversation than "we need marketing!" Actually sit down and figure out what that means.
Trust them and listen to them.
Since they are part of the creative team, just like your designers and actors, the marketing person is a creative individual that wants the show to succeed. While a lot of companies don't or can't have an in-house marketing person (which I will talk more about later) you need to make sure you trust them to represent your company and production.
I understand it's easy to think "it's social media, I can just do it myself" but what if you did that to the other parts of your team? Would you want to hang all the lights by yourself too? Marketing is a collaborative effort. You will want to work with your marketing person to make sure they understand the vision and purpose of the project, but that doesn't mean you should micro manage them to death.
Please know this letter is not addressed to anyone in particular, and I love you all so much. But please, for my sanity and the sustainability of your organization, send a little love to your marketing people. It's a lot harder than it looks.
P.S. If you like my marketing rants/tips please sign up for my newsletter (that's right, I am marketing myself, practice what I preach).