Start by Covering the Basics
Start by simply defining what you are doing, what you want to do, and how you want to get there. You'll need some guides to determine whether or not a specific marketing approach is going to work with you. Begin by referencing your mission statement or write one if you haven't already. We often recommend focusing on the ideal experience of the customer or constituent.
Do a Classic SWOT Analysis
SWOT Analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) is a classic quick tool for assessing your business. Define your objective and identify what's going to work and what isn't.
The SWOT method is generally focused on your existing business so it may ignore alternative ideas. Of course, we usually have plenty of ideas – the hard part is achieving them.
Directly Wind Powered, Eco-Friendly
Has a Unique Selling Point (USP)
Great Support, 99.9% Uptime
Requires CartaNova to provide support,
not our favorite thing to do...
Environmental Organization Hosting
A Wind-Powered Email Service?
Cheap / Bulk Hosting Services
Carbon Offset Hosting
The Boston Consulting Group Matrix
The Boston Consulting Group Matrix (BCGM) is another method for assessing your business, but this time from a product perspective. Your organization probably offers multiple goods and services - the BCGM helps you determine which ones to prioritize.
For example, you may be spending 30% of your time providing customer service for a widget which represents 10% of your business (and 1% of your personal interest).
As SEOmoz's Rishii lays out in her post The Boston Consulting Group Matrix - Revisiting Marketing Models, the BCG matrix places products in four categories:
High Growth, High Revenue
A Cash Cow:
Low Growth, High Market Share
A Question Mark
High Growth, but Low Revenue
Low Growth, Low Revenue
Doing a BCGM analysis may help you to identify what to cut and what to focus on within your organization. If you have more dogs than stars, then it is probably time to make some changes.
Establish a Unique Selling Point
If you're already selling products or requesting donations you already have a number of 'selling points' you use - you just might not be overtly aware of them. Figuring out your primary, unique selling point is a big factor in any organization's success. Look at almost any advertisement and you'll find the unique selling point (USP) right away. For example, with Coca-Cola Classic (our italics), the “classic” says to the consumer that Coca-Cola is the same reliable authentic cola that you remember loving as a kid.
Most studies on memory suggest that people remember about (3) main points from any set of information - use that as a natural limiting factor for your marketing argument.
Example of Selling Points in Marketing:
My organization / product / not-for-profit is amazing because:
- One thing that stands out, makes us memorable (our USP).
- Another thing that conveys our passion for what we do.
- And because this is another awesome quality we exemplify.
Marketing guru Seth Godin advises that a unique selling point is key to getting noticed and remembered. If you want to really get noticed, be really unique. The analogy he uses is a Purple Cow – you would stop to look at that, wouldn't you? [video]
In the larger Western economy, we are beginning to move away from goods to services model towards more experienced-based business models. Authenticity is critical. If you propose a unique selling point, you must be able to back it up. Don’t say you have great customer service! if you actually don't. People hate lies and misleading claims – and they will tell their friends and colleagues about their disappointment.
Engage Your Customers
Our final bit of advice: Marketing needs to start with good information, so ask your customers what you should be doing. Too many companies and organizations, whether a small not-for-profit or mega-corporation, make the mistake of being insular.
A respectful conversation with your customers will often give you unexpectedly helpful information. Serving your customers responsibly and responsively ensures that you will have their support even during tougher times (like the current recession). If you have a passion for what you do, this sort of feedback will come naturally.[For further tips on engaging customers, there's a fantastic post on this subject by our client Viktor Tchernikov called Solar: To Sell or Not to Sell?]