community house Archives - Syneka Marketing

The Not-For-Profit Sector and Marketing

By Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Government No Comments

As a strategic marketing agency, we have been advocating to the Australian Marketing Institute (AMI), as the peak body representing marketing in Australia, on the importance of marketing within the not-for-profit sector.

With few exceptions, the marketing industry has been largely absent from the not-for-profit sector. We are aiming to change this by raising the level of discussion.

Our thoughts were recently published in the Australian Marketing Institute’s Marketing Matters Journal:

Australia’s not-for-profit industry is at a crossroad. Government funding, the most substantial contributor to the sector, is decreasing, yet demand for services continues unabated. Not-for-profit organisations need to take control of their future direction and marketing is essential as part of this strategy.

Why have marketers ignored the not-for-profit sector?

There is a need for marketing agencies to understand the not-for-profit sector and the value it provides our community. The not-for-profit sector contributes $48 billion in GDP and delivers essential community services.

Similarly, there is a low level of understanding in the not-for-profit sector about marketing and what it can achieve. Most not-for-profit organisations are not in the business of marketing and, as such, the function is often relegated to administrative staff rather than specialists. This view is changing due to funding reforms and an increased understanding that not-for-profit organisations need to be outwardly focused.

How do Marketers add value to the sector?

Marketing is undertaken to achieve outcomes, and we need to demonstrate the positive impact that is created through this transformation. We have been fortunate to work with not-for-profit organisations and charities where we have seen the positive social impact from reconnecting organisations with their communities.

Marketing lets us conceptualise products that create new industries, or disrupt established concepts. Internal marketing can lead to higher morale and reinvigorate processes to provide a higher level of customer service and direction.

There is value for marketers in the not-for-profit sector

There are many examples of how marketing has created sustainable change in the not-for-profit sector.

Programs, such as Governance Mentors, is an example of a not-for-profit organisation creating new enterprises and opportunities. Marketing also enables organisations to leverage their strengths, the Inner North Cluster of six neighbourhood and community houses, has fostered collaboration and shared resources, providing not only efficiency savings, but also the creation of new revenue streams.

We have a $43 billion market that needs innovation and marketing to ensure its ongoing success.

Increasing the level of interest in the not-for-profit sector will raise the profile of marketing and the discussion of how our profession can offer value. There are opportunities for both marketers and the not-for-profit sector, which also leads to improved social outcomes.

North Ringwood Community House

North Ringwood Community House AGM

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities No Comments

North Ringwood Community House is a community learning centre, located in Ringwood North. I was a former board member of the organisation and today I was invited to speak at the annual general meeting to discuss volunteering and community participation.

North Ringwood Community is the only community house with registered training organisation status in Maroondah. The house provides a range of classes, including courses in Certificates III and IV, providing employability skills in a community based environment.

Similarly, North Ringwood Community House also provides a range of social, arts and craft courses providing social interaction and support. Community houses support an inclusive community through pathways into education and social connections.

One of the avenues of furthering an inclusive community is through volunteering and providing opportunities to gain and develop skills. I discussed the activities of Eastern Volunteers and the role the organisation undertakes in placing people in other community organisations.

Community organisations can extend their outcomes and reach through working with others to complement their services.

National Volunteer Week at the Healesville Living and Learning Centre

By Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, Presentations One Comment

The Healesville Living and Learning Centre is an adult education provider offering nationally accredited training in Healesville. The Centre also operates an Opportunity Shop, with proceeds supporting the operations of the Living and Learning Centre. The centre, which is managed through a committee of management and staff, is supported though volunteers that assist with administration and with the opportunity shop.

This afternoon I was invited to speak to the volunteers to discuss how volunteering is changing and the need to clear roles and responsibilities. It is becoming increasingly evident that governments are reluctant to provide ongoing discretionary government grants that support community organisations. The trend instead is for governments to support project based funding with the increased expectation that these projects will become self-sufficient. As a result community organisations are increasingly dependent on independent sources of funding to complement their operations.

The opportunity shop serves as a significant fundraiser for the Healesville Living and Learning Centre which supports its operations and the delivery of classes. In this regard it is critical that volunteers are aware of the purposes of the Shop and its role as a fundraising initiative. While volunteers are donating their time, it is important to recognise that they have rights and responsibilities. Policies are required to provide certainty for volunteers and guide their actions, likewise position descriptions can help in clarifying volunteer roles and requirements.

The Healesville Living and Learning Centre has a significant role in the community providing courses that deliver new skills and qualifications. It is great to see the organisation supporting its volunteers and extending its fundraising initiatives through the planning of its Opportunity Shop.

Effective marketing for Community Houses

By Advice, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News 2 Comments

Community Houses provide educational opportunities within their local communities, including fitness, health, computers, languages, arts and other courses. Some community houses also offer accredited courses through being a Registered Training Organisation (RTO) providing opportunities for gaining new skills and employment.

While community houses tend to not compete with other community houses, they do face competition from other education providers, particularly if they offer accredited courses.

It is worth noting that the target market for participants of accredited courses is distinct to traditional community house courses. As a result, the catchment for accredited courses tends to be broader and focuses on upskilling and employment skills. In comparison traditional courses, tend to attract people form the local community who are learning for recreational purposes, as well as social interaction.

In either case, community houses need an integrated marketing approach to reach their target demographics.

Given the local demographic of community houses, there is merit in traditional forms of communication, such as leaflets and newspaper advertisements. Newsletters can also be useful, particularly for course participants.

The Internet also has a role, through ensuring a seamless approach to course information and enrolment. Community houses need to expand their Internet presence beyond a downloadable brochure and offer regularly updated course content. This content should be easily viewable on a website with information on the contents of the course and enrolment details.

In addition, it should be possible for someone to enroll online, this ensures that someone is able to easily enter a course and saves time for both the community house and the person interested in enrolling. Some courses may require confirmation prior to enrolment. If this is the case then it should be possible to pre-enrol in the course, so that the community house will be able to receive contact information and finalise the enrolment process.

An automated enrolment process makes it easier for both the community house and prospective students, through saving time and providing instant confirmation of details. Furthermore, a web presence can be extended to include online subject materials and integration with social media, this enables a community house to reach a wider target market and compete effectively with other education providers.

The importance of interactivity in website design

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News 2 Comments

Once you have identified the aims of your website, it is important to consider how people will interact with your site.

Where possible, visitors should be able to undertake a transaction with your website and receive immediate benefit. For example, Syneka has been developing a website for a consultant, who has written several books. While her paper-based books have been readily available on the site, it is her new range of e-books that have proved immensely popular.

Since e-books can be purchased and acquired instantly on-line, it ensures that a visitor is able to receive immediate benefit from their transaction. The e-books also ensure that that the author is able to provide new content relatively quickly providing an opportunity to quickly meet new demands.

Sometimes it is not always possible to complete a transaction entirely online, such as services which require off-line interaction. In this case, it is important to secure a commitment from the visitor so that they do take the next steps and complete the transaction.

An example of this is a migration agent who needs to undertake a detailed assessment of their clients. While this detailed assessment will require further interaction with the client, pre-qualification can be undertaken online.

Syneka developed a website for a migration agency and included an interactive interview to help qualify prospective clients and provide an initial understanding of their needs. The interview helps create a commitment from the visitor to undertake a full assessment, while also providing the migration agency with initial details to understand the needs of this prospective client.

The interview process has been extremely well received by prospective clients and automatically sends an email to both the migration agency and the client, stating that further contact will be undertaken to complete the assessment. This interactivity creates a commitment for the client and thus encourages them to complete the transaction and secure services through your organisation.

While the Internet provides the ability to reach new markets, it also enables prospective visitors to quickly find your competitors. Interactivity and creating commitment provides a method of securing new prospective customers, while minimizing the tendency of seeking competitors.

This equally applies to the not-for-profit sector, where an organisation is often competing for someone’s time. In this case, Syneka created a website for a community house, which includes an interactive online enrollment form providing the ability to register interest in a class. This creates a commitment and means that the community house is able to secure the registration and attendance of a visitor that completes the enrollment process.

This interactivity means that a visitor is able to transact with the site and achieves the organisation’s aim of using their website to secure enrollments. While an online version of their brochure would advertise the classes they have available, it doesn’t necessary create a commitment for someone to enroll into a course. The online enrollment form achieves this aim and provides quantifiable metrics in measuring the success of their site.

Likewise, the migration agency and the author are able to quantify the success of their respective websites through the transactions that are undertaken, ensuring that they can measure results and determine the effectiveness of their on-line marketing strategies.

How to create an effective web presence

By Advice, Advice for Businesses, Advice for Not-for-profit Organisations and Charities, News 2 Comments

While many organisations and businesses may have a website, a successful web presence is only achieved when the Internet is viewed in the context of a broader marketing strategy.

In particular, too many organisations fail to provide the same rigour for their website that they would provide for printed materials. Just as a brochure or letterhead should be consistent with an organisation’s theme, style and colours, so should its website.

A website functions as a virtual storefront and will often be the first point of contact for prospective clients, members or volunteers. A brochure, or other printed material, will often be produced with clear aims in mind, such as recruiting volunteers or increasing sales, and a web presence should be no different.

It is therefore important that an organisation has clear objectives for its website to ensure it has a basis for measuring the success of its online presence. The target audience for the website needs to be identified and suitable content needs to be produced to relate to these visitors.

While a website’s homepage will often serve as a convergence point, clear navigation and text should assist your target audience in finding the content that is relevant to them.

While an organisation’s homepage might serve as an entrance point for someone typing in your web address from a brochure, newsletter or email link; your homepage may not necessarily be the first page that other visitors see on your website.

For example, search engines typically index an entire website meaning that visitors may receive a result that takes them to another page on your site. Likewise people respond to content that is shared across Social Media sites, like Facebook or Twitter, will often click on that link directly and thus bypass your homepage.

It is therefore critical that your website has a consistent navigation system so that these visitors can navigate through your website. Navigation should be easy to use so that people are able to locate the information they need, frustrated visitors will simply leave your site and find the content elsewhere.

While different areas of your website may have a different emphasis and perhaps even a slightly different style, the fundamentals like navigation should remain consistent.

The aims that you wish to achieve through your web presence should be reflected in the content that is available on your website. While site visitations are obviously important, the ultimate goal is to convert those visitors into action, whether that be purchasing a product, volunteering for your organisation, subscribing to a publication, or contacting for further information.

Once a visitor decides to act, it is critical that that they are able to follow this through easily and without complications. Therefore:

  • if your aim is for visitors to make contact with your organisation, it is imperative that your contact details are readily available.
  • If your aim is to encourage the purchasing of your products, then make sure that the path and navigation to these products is concise and seamless.
  • If your aim is to encourage the purchase of a service, then online forms can be an effective method of gathering information so that you can deliver this service.

As an example, Syneka added online enrollment functionality as part of the redevelopment of North Ringwood Community House’s website.

This functionality enables visitors to choose a course and click Enrol so that this course will be selected as part of their enrolment. When the visitor is ready to finalise their details they are able to complete the form, which is sent to the House to confirm the enrolment.

This process, which simplifies the course enrolment procedure, has seen an increase of new students enrolling and undertaking courses at the community house.

Previously, course information was not available on the website and the enrolment form had to be printed and then sent to the Community House.

The new system is not only easier for prospective students, but also makes it easier to find information, since each course is listed on the site. The content management system means that staff are able to easily add and remove courses, ensuring that the site remains up-to-date.

One of the aims of the North Ringwood Community House website was to provide an easy method of online course enrolment and this has been achieved through this website.

A web presence needs to provide a consistent image for an organisation as part of a broader marketing strategy. This ensures that aims can be identified and that results can be measured and evaluated.