The Value of Marketing
Between the pressure to raise the fundraising game and the impact of budget cuts, organizations are forced to prove the value of their internal teams to the bottom line. As a former employee of a large nonprofit, I recall with great clarity how the executive leadership struggled with the balance of where to spend donor dollars for the maximum return in order to serve people in need. The lion’s share landed in the major gifts or direct response budget lines, of course.
After all, what value does that person yelling at you for using the wrong Pantone color and font in your fancy new brochure actually bring? Well, two crucial aspects to your organization:
Marketing and Sales Performance
According to a study published in Forbes, marketing has a major impact on overall sales performance. I mean, obviously. The interesting part was how marketing impacted sales performance. The valuable insights discovered in this study can absolutely be relevant in nonprofit communities.
During the study, marketing efforts increased opportunities for the company and proved that personal relationships with the sales team actually had very little impact to buyer perceptions related to the product. Translated into the nonprofit world, all the incredible relationships being built by your major gifts staff with your donors may not affect actual dollars as much as you think, provided perceptions and passions haven’t already been built by your marketing team to enhance your organization’s brand.
A perception of overall sales coverage was also greatly impacted through marketing. What could this mean to you at your organization? Those visits with donors, both physically and through your mailbox, can be enhanced and made more memorable when combined with marketing support.
It’s no secret that giving patterns and donor behaviors are always changing. Maintaining relevancy to your donor base is crucial, but how can it be accomplished? In this case study, the final key insight was that the marketing team was able to identify shifts in buying behavior. Because of this, all the marketing collateral and value propositions made by the sales team were able to be updated quickly and effectively in accordance with these patterns. With a team dedicated to keeping up with what your donors care about, trends in giving can be identified and incorporated into your fundraising strategies with ease.
Identity and Reputation
My job as Marketing and Communications Manager is to tirelessly maintain who we are as a company and ensure no one screws that up. (Too blunt, friends?) It’s a personal mission about which I am passionate, and see the value each day. This is the one area of the company that is ultimately tasked with defining who we have been in the past, who we are currently, and who we will be in the future. And, even greater than that, how we can be perceived by others the way we perceive ourselves.
In working with our company partners to identify exactly what that means in our upcoming 25th anniversary year and beyond, I was struck by a quote in a Bloomberg Businessweek article by Steve McKee simplifying the idea of branding.
McKee writes, “French writer Antoine de Saint-Exupery expressed the simplicity principle elegantly when he said, ‘Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.’ That’s how to approach effective branding.”
Not only does your organizational identity affect who you are externally, the internal culture of your company is ultimately built by who you are internally. Steve McKee (I know, him again—but I really like Steve McKee, okay?) expanded upon how easy it is for your overall communications strategy to be derailed with a toxic company culture. It is another wonderful opportunity for your marketing staff to monitor not only your generous donors or customers, but also the impact of your employees on your identity.
Donors and customers alike fall in love with a mission. They fall in love with who you are as an organization, and, much like many other relationships, the feeling they get when you are in sight or in mind. Does that not deserve a team of equally passionate crusaders protecting that sanctity of the essence of who you are?