Mar 30, 2010

Marketing in a Tough Economy II

#4) Outsource projects – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an Executive Director sitting in a conference room stuffing envelopes. The thought process goes like this: “We can’t afford to hire a company to do this so I’d better pitch in and help. In three days, all of this mail will finally be gone and I can focus on my other work.” Wouldn’t it have been better to spend three days reviewing that grant proposal for $50,000 or meeting with a top donor than stuffing envelopes? Think about it. Sometimes saving a few dollars in the short term can really cost you in the long term. What other projects can be outsourced so you can spend valuable time on revenue generating tasks?

#5) Revamp your press strategy – Talking to the press to tell your story is often times one of the most under-utilized marketing activity a business uses. When was the last time you sat down and thought about what’s new in your business or organization? I’m sure there’s something interesting, local and new going on in your organization that the community or the world would like to hear about. Coming up with a good hook and pitching an idea to the media is a great, cost-effective way of communicating to your constituents. With a good imagination and some creativity you could save yourself hundred’s of dollars on marketing.

Bonus Tip #6!) Shop around – There’s never been a better time to get a deal. From printers to web developers and designers to consultants, everyone is looking for work. Spend some extra time researching vendors and getting quotes. You will never know how affordable some of these once extravagant services can now be.

Good luck saving some cash and best wishes on getting through the tough times!

Mar 21, 2010

Marketing in a Tough Economy I

When money is tight, a business owner’s first instinct is to cut back on marketing. After all, saving dollars is a priority, right? Maybe not. It’s important to keep your product or service in front of your customer at all times.  Otherwise you are leaving the door wide open for your competitor to swoop in. Here are a few tips to consider when times are tough:

#1) Track everything! – Tracking is ALWAYS important but never more so when every penny counts. If you are using lists or placing ads, it’s imperative to know what kind of response you are getting from every marketing dollar spent. All marketing activity can be tracked in someway (websites count hits, collateral has inventory and a distribution channel, ads have 800 numbers, etc.). I know it seems like common sense but you would be amazed at how many businesses don’t track a thing!

#2) Utilize economies of scale – Now is the time to consider making collateral (i.e. brochures, reports, postcards) with a longer shelf life. Take out time sensitive information so you can print larger quantities. You might even consider removing individuals’ names from material in the event the person is no longer with the company, rendering the pieces outdated. Printing larger quantities helps you save money as your cost per piece goes down.

#3) Move communications online – If you haven’t already done so, consider making your quarterly newsletter an email blast. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on printing four times per year, develop an interesting and creative e-newsletter to send to customers via the web. Post it on your website and let people know it’s there for their viewing whenever they like. Start building a good opt-in list and you will save significant dollars. Instead of reinventing the wheel, lots of printed material can even be used for your own blog. What other communications can you email to people or post online instead of mailing?

Mar 7, 2010

Avoid Common Marketing Mistakes III

Last in the installment of things non-profits should NOT do when marketing their cause:

Inappropriate messaging:  Some non-profits do a good job of marketing their mission. Other non-profits don’t talk about it enough. In either case, you might want to target your message specifically to your audience. Consider what message donors, customers and volunteers need to have to understand the goals of the organization.

Rather than simply regurgitating a mission statement, these audiences need to hear the emotionally compelling impact a non-profit is having on the people it serves and the community.  Reframing messages to talk to a specific target audience and using language that will connect to supporters will have a greater impact than talking in generalities.

Not understanding what motivates donors: It’s extremely important to know your constituents. Audiences consist of community advocacy groups, policy makers, major donors, volunteers, board members and those you serve…just to name a few. Take the time to learn how to best connect with donors, volunteers and others. Figure out their values. What drives them to action? Most individuals get involved to make a difference. Instead of making assumptions about why they’re involved, ask them. Find out as much as you can about them so that you can make them the driving force behind the organization.