How the Role of Marketing Needs to Change to Thrive in the Nonprofit and Public Sectors

In the public sector and nonprofit communities, marketing has traditionally been viewed as a “money pit” where you constantly feed money, but nothing ever comes out.  There was never any real accountability for driving results for the organisation. Senior executives didn’t understand marketing’s role, nor how it was tied to its organization’s visibility in the marketplace; the program or business development team viewed marketing as a waste of dollars where it had little impact on increasing business transactions, and the finance department thought marketers were simply strange aliens from another planet that didn’t speak the same language. If it was based on achieving specific goals, they were fairly loose at best, with ambiguous objectives like “increased visibility” or “public outreach” or “awareness”.

The year 2017 is when marketing will finally take a foothold in these organisations as the smart ones realise that they need to go beyond being great product or service organisations and become great marketing organisations. The world is simply too fractured now and customer loyalty is at an all-time low. Marketing is needed more than ever and in order for organisations to achieve their goals, they need a laser-type focus where marketing performance is measured against objectives and where there is continuous improvement.

In 2017, marketing will be measured on its ability to drive growth for the organisation. Whether it’s driving qualified leads for new members, increasing attendance at an event or delivering new fundraising dollars, it is aimed at achieving an organisational goal. Smart marketers are doing a better job at showing how their efforts are contributing to the goals and success of the organisation.

Here’s what I see as the big roles of marketing in 2017:

  1. Understanding better than anyone, who the customer is and how best to reach and communicate with that individual or community;
  2. Driving clarity and articulating the organisation’s brand and value proposition, both internally and externally;
  3. Managing the end-to-end customer experience;
  4. Integrating communication channels so that money is being spent on the right mediums and messages are consistent and support the brand;
  5. Tying marketing activities to the goals of the organisation and the customer sales cycle, and measuring the role and effectiveness of marketing in achieving these goals.

By clarifying the role of marketing and how it connects to the organisation, it can be elevated to a higher state of existence where it becomes an essential part of the organisational “mix” and a key contributor at the senior leadership level.

Later, BC

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