- Mon, October 30 2006
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
No, not my boss. Thankfully he agrees with me that marketing is one of the most powerful tools for nonprofits, as well as the center of the universe. Right, Bill?
Actually, “Help! My boss hates marketing!” is one of the most common comments I get from people who speak to me after my presentations, and today will be no exception. I’m in Kansas City presenting at the Midwest Philanthropy Conference. Since you’re not here with me, I thought I’d share my response. In fact, this week, I’m going to devote my blog to the most common questions I receive, and I’ll share my answers.
Let’s launch into today’s topic.
Q: How do I get my boss to value marketing? (or why won’t she let me do marketing, hates marketing, won’t fund marketing, won’t listen to me, doesn’t appreciate me, etc.)
A: You don’t. Instead, you do the following six things.
1. Don’t call it marketing. Call it something else.
I typically ask people what they are saying to their recalcitrant boss, and the answer is instructive: “I tell my boss why marketing is important and why he should care about it. I tell him we absolutely must do X, Y and Z because marketing is so valuable.” What’s interesting about this approach is that it’s basically a sermon on why our boss should value marketing. That is not walking our talk as marketers! We should be asking our bosses what THEY care about rather than informing them that they should care about marketing.
2. Show how your “initiative” (which is really marketing) meets their agenda.
Don’t position your agenda as a marketing campaign; frame it as your initiative to support your boss’s goals, in your boss’s language. Show how you are going to help make that fundraising goal, audience behavior change or front-page newspaper story happen.
3. Make it about the audience.
A good way to depersonalize different visions for “marketing” is to make it about your audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and said boss. A little audience research is great fodder for advancing your agenda. For example, “Mr. Board Member, I loved your suggestion to put a quote in Greek on the cover of our brochure! I even created a draft of it and showed it to a group of our donors. Can you believe, they didn’t get it? For this piece, we’re going to take their suggestion about what they understood and prompted them to give.”
4. Report every wee step of progress.
Every single time anything good happens, be sure the boss knows it. Identify some early, likely wins toward your boss’s goals and report victories.
5. Give your boss credit and put him or her in the spotlight.
When good things happen, give credit to your boss. Create a dashboard that shows progress against your boss’s goals and let your boss show that progress to the board. Your boss will like you for it. If you pitched your organization’s story in a completely new, marketing-savvy way to reporters and that yielded your boss’s photo in the paper, all the better.
6. Seek forgiveness, not permission.
If all else fails, just do what you want to do anyway, quietly, and tell your boss about it when something good happens. People don’t get fired often in this sector anyway.