Those working for a nonprofit organization may seem to have a never-ending to-do list, and unfortunately marketing may fall to the bottom of that list.
This should not be the case.
Organizations must promote their causes to attract potential donors and volunteers. A well-thought-out nonprofit marketing plan is essential to help build awareness and to ignite the passion of the public.
A strategic marketing plan defines how an organization will effectively communicate its mission and goals, and drive its target market to action.
5 Steps for Creating Your Nonprofit Marketing Plan
1. Define your target market
If you try to reach everyone, you won’t successfully appeal to anyone. Determining your target market will allow you to tailor your message appropriately and chose the right channels to reach them.
Start with what you know. Research similar organizations and their marketing efforts. Take a look at your current donors and discover as much about then as you can. Identify general characteristics (or demographics: age, income, education level, marital status. Also determine their habits (or psychographics): how they spend their free time, what makes them happy, etc.
Once you identify your target market, determine how you can segment them so you can reach them more effectively. A market segment is a group of people with similar wants, needs, and desires. By dividing your target market into buckets you can more effectively communicate with them.
2. Set goals and objectives
Marketing goals provide the direction and desired outcome of your overall marketing plan. Your goals should easily relate to your mission statement, the reason for your organization’s existence. Goals should address what you want to do, why you want to do it, and what you desire to achieve. In addition to setting long-term goals, short-term goals are helpful in determining whether or not you’re on the right path.
Objectives are more focused and specific. They clarify the goal with measurable, attainable, and realistic components. They should identify a specific target audience, state a measurable outcome, and set a time frame for attaining your goals.
3. Identify communication methods
Your marketing plan should outline how you will communicate your message to your target market. This is where psychographic information comes into play, since choosing the right method for your audience is key.
Knowing what magazines and newspapers they read, websites they visit, and social media sites they frequent can help you develop a strategic plan. While some of these require a budget, many tactics cost time, not money to deploy.
The most common communication methods/tools that are beneficial to nonprofits are:
- Social Media
- Email Marketing
- Direct Mail
- Special Events
4. Craft a message
Creating compelling content is the first step in catching your audience’s attention. Your message should communicate your organizations mission and values. It should clearly state what you do and how you are different.
Make sure your message connects to the things your target audience cares about (think psychographics). Keep your content interesting and easy-to-digest to hold your audience’s interests. Have a clear call to action that’s specific. Most importantly your message should be consistent across all communication methods.
5. Monitor and react
The capability to track and monitor your reach and the response is crucial to determining the success of your campaign and deciding on a course of action moving forward. This is why short-terms goals are so helpful.
Every few months you should evaluate your results to verify that your goals have been met and determine if new strategies are in order. Being able to adapt your strategy will help your organization meet its long-term goals.
Your Map for Success
Think of a marketing plan as your map for success. Following these 5 steps will help develop a strategy that’s right for your organization. Whatever your plan is, remember that it’s ultimately important to stay true to your mission, and represent your organization honestly.