Don’t you just love that New Year smell? Everywhere you turn, there is the sweet waft of optimism, eagerness and determination that resolutions bring. There isn’t one treadmill available anywhere. Lunchrooms are full of people obsessively consuming food normally reserved for rabbits. Workplace parking lots fill up just a bit sooner than usual and empty just a bit later.
As for nonprofit marketing professionals, many are still riding a wave of momentum from a great December push, while others wiped out when the calendar turned and wait to be washed ashore like driftwood. Still others have blown the dust off their strategic marketing plans, pinning a copy to a bulletin board and even mustering up enough discipline to follow it perfectly — so far.
Within these first few weeks of the year, there has been a great deal of marketing movement. Some nonprofits have stepped out in search of an agency or individual consulting partnership, while others have decided to take on more marketing responsibility internally and have paused partnerships.
Ready or not, the New Year is in full swing, and many strategic thinkers have already posted predictions about the state of the union.
Each year I look forward to Kivi Leroux Miller’s “Nonprofit Communications Trends Report.” The report is based on direct feedback and provides a clear compass to those in the nonprofit world. This year’s report was particularly insightful:
Carol Cone, managing director/EVP of brand and corporate citizenship at Edelman and “mother of cause marketing,” recently penned a great piece for Huffington Post Impact on the “The Changing Face of Purpose In 2012.” In the article, she categorically lays out predictions for the vast world of “Purpose,” optimistically touching down on some continuing trends and cautiously exposing a few whose time has passed.
One particular point of interest was her prediction that “… behavioral economics has finally arrived." If you are a marketer, especially within the worlds of health or behavioral marketing, behavioral economics is an underutilized and invaluable tool to have in your belt.
Even in a month full of resolutions and predictions, I am still left with questions. Since one of my marketing mentors says, “Always have more questions than answers,” I guess I am entitled. One question I find myself still asking after many years is this: What will it take for nonprofits to realize marketing is the hand that feeds business?
I say that as a career-long nonprofit professional, not as insulated marketer occasionally rubbing up against nonprofits. I understand firsthand the annual and sometimes monthly struggle to keep services alive in communities and keep the lights on in the office. I also understand that underfunding and misunderstanding marketing (they go hand-in-hand) is fatal to an organization.
One of my resolutions is to get better at marketing … well … marketing. I also have a prediction that if marketed better, marketing will be no longer be an underfunded afterthought, but a proportionally funded engine for organizational longevity and community betterment.
Digital communication platforms have leveled the engagement playing field, giving nonprofit organizations and small businesses access to the same tools Fortune 500 companies have. However, one of the biggest differentiators is the utilization of strategy. Heading into 2012, fewer than one out four nonprofits has a marketing strategy. A marketing strategy doesn’t have to be complicated — just doable.
I asked my four-year-old daughter about her New Year’s resolution. After a quick briefing on the definition of resolution, she came back with “I plan to be more loving and listening.”
Now that is the best marketing strategy I have heard all year. Start there and see how people respond.