Your nonprofit marketing plan is an important first step to creating the face and voice of your nonprofit. All of your collateral, from your website to your brochures, to event flyers, to social media, to emails and everything in between, creates a first impression for your important audiences. Understanding the importance of this crucial first step and knowing where to start with nonprofit marketing can be challenging. However, if the marketing strategy is set up correctly in the beginning, it will be one of your most valuable tools for growth in the future.
It’s equally as important to understand that marketing alone won’t grow a nonprofit. Marketing defines the mission of the nonprofit, shares who is doing the work and how, and makes various promises to your audiences. The nonprofit team has to make good on those promises for the nonprofit to succeed. Otherwise, marketing quickly turns into false advertising.
So, how do we help the team keep our promises?
The answer is to use Integrated Nonprofit Marketing, a holistic approach to nonprofit marketing. Integrated Nonprofit Marketing ensures consistency in messaging and message delivery throughout the business, and involves team development as part of the marketing process. Below, is a ten-step process to effective Integrated Nonprofit Marketing.
Where to start? 10 Steps of Integrated Nonprofit Marketing
1. Define the nonprofit’s business goals. Marketing efforts must tie directly to one or more business goals. The nonprofit’s business goals are the foundation of the marketing plan.
Example nonprofit business goals:
- Increase annual revenue by a specific dollar amount by 12/31/20.
- Secure two to three business partners to sponsor a program expansion by 09/01/20.
- Identify three possible new revenue streams and choose one to implement by 12/31/20.
2. Define Marketing Plan goals. For each business goal, identify two to three measurable marketing goals that will support the business goal.
Increase revenue by a specific dollar amount by 12/31/20.
Marketing Plan goals that support the above business goal:
- Increase donors by 25% by 12/31/20.
- Create two new donation opportunities that raise a minimum of $10,000 for new donors by 08/31/20. (special event, networking event, webinar, etc.)
- Develop one new sponsorship opportunity by 6/31/20 to raise a minimum of $12,000 for the year. (webinar series, special event, email marketing)
Both the overall business goals and the supporting marketing goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-sensitive.
3. Conduct research to create your nonprofit baseline. It’s time for a nonprofit health assessment. If you want to get better, you have to know where you need to improve. To move forward, we need a clear picture of how we are performing today.
In this step, gather data about how the organization is performing internally. Look for areas where departments are aligned and where they are working in silos.
How is this impacting your marketing?
Then, look at the external environment of your sector (competitor analysis, audience research, evaluating regulations, or laws that affect our nonprofit operations). If you are an established nonprofit, include auditing all current marketing and communications assets. It’s important to conduct an organization-wide audit looking closely at every way the nonprofit communicates internally and externally.
4. Identify key audience(s). When applying Integrated Nonprofit Marketing, audiences are divided into three different segments (Organic, Business Partners, and Revenue Generation). Generic marketing messaging will never work because each segment is different, and the audiences in each segment have a different relationship with the nonprofit.
5. Develop messaging for each audience. By segmenting our audiences, we can identify our business goal for the audience, identify our marketing goals, and then look closely at what type of messaging will be most impactful for each audience. Our messages should be tailored to the audience’s informational needs.
6. Develop a content strategy. Now you’re ready to develop the content strategy! A content strategy is essentially a buyer’s journey, and we need to develop a journey for each audience. When a nonprofit asks someone to invest or make a donation, attend an event, or just to get involved, the person being asked will go through a decision-making process. In marketing, this is called a buyer’s journey.
There are specific steps on the nonprofit buyer’s journey, such as awareness, engagement, conversion, and advocacy, and each of the steps needs content to support it. The content should address any concerns the audience may have when they are on that particular step. We also need to determine the best marketing channel for delivering the content and precisely when to deliver it.
7. Identify marketing resource needs. Look at the information that was revealed in step three. It’s now time to find the resources needed to carry out the marketing. Consider the following questions to guide the process.
Is the nonprofit capable of carrying out a content strategy?
- What resources do you need? Conduct a broad search for free nonprofit marketing resources.
- What technology platforms are other nonprofits using? Is there free technology available?
- Do you need to train your staff on content development?
- Would it be more cost-effective to outsource any of the content development?
- Do you need a funder or sponsor to help with these operational needs?
8. Create a marketing plan.
The work you have done so far will provide the data you need to create the marketing plan. We recommend the Academy’s easy two-page marketing plan which is perfect for sharing fundraising and marketing results with board members, donors, sponsors, and others interested in the nonprofit’s finances. The two-page plan can then be broken out into a tactical plan that provides the tactics and activities needed for each campaign. Learn more about our two-page plan and how to use it in this free training.
9. Train staff, board members, and volunteers. We want our team members to advocate for the nonprofit at every opportunity, but do they know about and understand the Marketing Plan? The Marketing Plan and all its content are resources everyone on the team can use to support the nonprofit’s marketing goals. Schedule training sessions to get everyone on board. Educate them about the plan and how they can contribute.
10. Measure the Plan’s success and Modify the plan. Marketers can manage and measure a plan so that the nonprofit only spends money on marketing that is working. Plus, what’s even more valuable with having accurate reports about marketing outcomes is that this data is especially attractive to funders, foundations, donors, and other investors.
Don’t forget to modify what you are doing! Business goals change. The external environment will also change, and the nonprofit will have internal changes. Additionally, some marketing tactics won’t produce the desired outcome, while others will exceed outcomes. For these reasons, we need to evaluate the plan regularly and modify it based on the outcome measurements and other business changes.
How to get started on the right path with nonprofit marketing
Is your nonprofit ready for lift-off? If you’re like many nonprofit leaders, time and cost are two big factors with holding you back from creating a professional marketing program.
Here’s some good news. The Nonprofit Marketing Academy has developed an online, self-paced course that walks nonprofits through the entire set up process. We connect you with all the tools and technology you need. We help you identify your important audiences, write your messages, and create your marketing strategy. Time is no longer a factor because you can work on your plan a little each day.
The cost is not a factor because the entire program is $97 (with a 30-day money-back guarantee) and includes access to all training and materials for one full year. Plus, you have a membership to a private peer network for help anytime you need it.
Ready to stop the madness and streamline your marketing efforts?