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Marketing Your Strengths – Presenting at Connecting Up 2012

I was one of the presenters on the second day of Connecting Up 2012, where I led a session covering marketing and how not-for-profit organisations can develop a marketing plan around their key strengths.

While understanding one’s strengths is important in most contexts, it is particularly important in not-for-profit organisations where there are competing demands and limited resources.

A strength is something an organisation does well and typically does better than others, providing a unique attribute that differentiates the organisation in terms of receiving clients, volunteers, supporters, donations or grants from funding bodies.

Marketing Your Strengths outlined the process required to develop a marketing plan looked at how a not-for-profit organisation can frame its key messages and reach its target market.

It is important to remember that not-for-profit organisations have multiple target markets. The concept of a target market, is broader than clients, but extends to other stakeholders, including volunteers, donors, business partners and Government.

Understanding an organisations’ strengths, enables the ability the form key messages that can be used to reach each of these target markets. While aspects of the message may alter slightly, it is important that there is consistency between the messages and the aims that an organisation wishes to achieve.

Our presentation explored Eastern Volunteers as a case study. Eastern Volunteers is a volunteer resource centre based in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Eastern Volunteers embarked on a building fund to enable the purchase and fit-out of a new building to end a transient history of being relocated from one building to another.

Core strengths of Eastern Volunteers included its strong governance and networks, namely the ability to reach community organisations, volunteers and its clients. Understanding these strengths enabled the formation of partnerships with businesses who could see value in aligning themselves with Eastern Volunteers.

Key messages were identfied, including the benefits of ongoing service delivery and accessibility improvements. Eastern Volunteers was formally located on the first floor of a building, creating accessibility implications. A ground floor location enabled the organisation to become more inclusive and accessible.

Once key messages were identified it is important to consider how to reach the identified target markets.

Every time someone contacts an organisation, the impression they receive is a form of marketing. It is important that all aspects of organisation, from brochures and newsletters, through to telephone and email responses, are consistent and that they reinforce the key messages of an organisation.

It is also important that the right marketing tools are used to reach the identified target markets. For example, the quarterly newsletter was the best method to reach the transport clients of Eastern Volunteers, while social media was effective in reinforcing relationships with businesses.

The broader community was also important and was reached through local and social media. In particular, a media campaign was formed around donating $500 to purchase a piece of Eastern Volunteers future. The jigsaw campaign ensured a significant number of donations that were worth at least $500 and helped generate ongoing media interest.

Measuring progress is an important aspect of marketing and metrics are needed to evaluate performance. The success of the Building Fund was measured through donations and in-kind support, as well as media coverage.

It is critical that success is celebrated, particularly in the not-for-profit sector where policy change or advocacy is a goal. A marketing campaign should have a defined conclusion with an opportunity to celebrate success and to reflect on how the campaign progressed.

I would like to thank the many people who attended our presentation and also the people I met during the conference. I hope you enjoyed your time at Connecting Up 2012.

View our Presentation: Marketing Your Strengths

Alex Makin

Author Alex Makin

In a career spanning over fifteen years, Alex has been instrumental in transforming, reinvigorating and growing the capacity of businesses and not-for-profit organisations. He is a visionary who understands the big picture. Alex's expertise is a Certified Practising Marketer and as Chair of the Victorian State Council of the Australian Marketing Institute. Alex is also an accomplished speaker, author and mentor and former Mayor and Councillor for the City of Maroondah.

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