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Lion Clubs are service based organisations providing members with opportunities for community service.  The Lions Club of Vermont holds regular business events with the aiming of linking these businesses with the Club and its activities.

This morning I was invited to speak to the Lions Club of Vermont, discussing marketing and my experiences in developing marketing strategies and executing campaigns for businesses and not-for-profit organisations.

My presentation covered the fundamentals of marketing, guiding the audience through the initial development of a marketing plan.  I began by discussing the importance of consistent messages and understanding the needs of your customers or stakeholders.

Businesses support community organisations through workplace volunteering programs.

Businesses support community organisations through workplace volunteering programs.

There are common similarities in marketing for businesses or not-for-profit organisations, but there are some differences that make not-for-profits unique.  Businesses will typically have a defined target market, knowing their current and potential customer base.  This is somewhat true for not-for-profit organisations, but often there’s a need to target not just clients, but also volunteers, funding bodies, business partners and other organisations.  The need to cover a wider range of stakeholders provides unique challenges for not-for-profit organisations and it is important that each of these target markets is considered when developing a marketing plan.

Knowing the characteristics of the target market will assist in knowing how best to reach these potential customers and stakeholders.  Customers may respond best to a particular medium and it is important that messages can work across marketing tools.

Marketing tools, regardless as to to whether they are brochures, advertising, websites or social media should have a clearly defined call to action.   The call to action is what you want someone to undertake when they respond to the marketing messages.

Often a combination of tools is required to generate awareness and to prompt someone to recall the messages when they are able to respond to the call to action. This is why major advertisers, such as large retailers, use a combination of TV, radio and print – they want potential customers to think of their store when they are ready to make purchases.

Smaller businesses and many not-for-profit organisations have limited marketing budgets so it is imperative that marketing is utilised as efficiently as possible.  Understanding your target markets and knowing the most effective methods of communication to reach these potential customers is essential.

Use the right tools to reach these target markets and ensure a consistent message to prompt recall and action.  The need for consistency is particularly important when there is a long lead time to generate sales, such as booking holidays or purchasing furniture.

Marketing is an essential activity for any business or not-for-profit organisation.  This is particularly true in difficult economic conditions, where there is a need to foster ongoing customer loyalty.

Questions included a discussion on marketing volunteer opportunities, particularly for service clubs, where I discussed the need to focus on projects and the outcomes that volunteers can achieve through their efforts.

Business Breakfasts help businesses develop networks and gain valuable insights.  It was particularly pleasing to see a large number of businesses participating in today’s breakfast.

View Presentation: Marketing Essentials for Businesses and Not-for-Profit Organisations

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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