- Sun, March 27 2011
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
In trying to convince our audience to act, we are typically tempted to do two things: convert people to our cause and impart vast amounts of information about it. Yikes. Why does this happen? Because we’re not working backward.
Marketers set goals according to the action they want people to take and then work backward from there to make that happen. But good causes attack a social problem by starting with a mission and planning forward, putting the focus on the organization. In nonprofit marketing, too often mission, not audience, is the starting point.
You know what I mean. You go on retreat, wrestle to get consensus on a mission statement, analyze various program options, and then devise a “strategic plan” or “strategic vision” based on a staff-driven understanding of the cause and its goals. The exercise is all about collective reasoning, shared decision making, and group consensus. The group wants everyone to agree on a direction, and so the direction is determined by the perspective of the group. The marketing plan is then an outgrowth of that process.
This process is ultimately an inwardly turned exercise. By contrast, marketing is outwardly turned. Because marketing starts with an end result for a specific audience, it challenges us to dwell in the world of our audiences and their marketplace. Audience actions, not our own ideas, are its focus. To do marketing planning, we have to get beyond our far-off mission (like helping people overcome poverty, increasing consumer access to affordable health care, or strengthening schools) and zero in on specific audience actions that are tangible, achievable, and measurable.
In other words, go backwards.