There is one thing most every organization needs in its marketing efforts. In reality, it’s not FTE’s in the human resource, full time equivalent sense. Instead, this FTE is an acronym that refers to the work of your marketing department or perhaps committee of volunteers if you’re a smaller nonprofit.
Many clients firmly believe that more FTEs would strengthen their marketing efforts. However, that belief opens the door to walk them through this acronym as it relates to their marketing departments. Here, FTE refers to being more Focused, Targeted and Effective.
These three words will impact marketing success much more than additional staff. They’re also a perfect fit for the "do more with less" mentality and for nonprofits functioning on a shoestring budget. So, let’s review them in more detail.
FOCUSED – It’s time to focus on the marketing and branding efforts to be certain the proposed message is congruent with the consumer’s experience. Remember, people buy experiences, so highlight these as the focus when you design your marketing strategy. Hone the message and test it for clarity.
For example, when it comes to messaging, nonprofits are often guilty of selling the features of items such as their events, exhibits or offerings and yet they spend very little time in extolling the benefits. Basic sales training tells us that the latter is imperative to “making the sale.” Remember, a feature is a fact, a part of the offering, benefits are related to emotions and the result of buying the feature. Our decision to come to your event may be rooted in the experience it offers, such as a night out with the family (benefit) – not because it’s priced at a reduced rate (feature).
Focused marketing starts with a strong marketing plan and exudes the values and principles of the organization along with its branding, which should go much deeper than your logo.
TARGETED – In these days of social media, big data and constantly changing technology, this piece has become easier to realize than ever and yet many groups are still not targeting their marketing efforts in the way they should. Narrowcasting is the answer for most of your messages. Not only will you reach the right audience, you stand to save marketing dollars by not broadcasting to those non-interested parties. This act alone can free up additional resources to reach others. For example, why would an organization targeting services for women waste dollars broadcasting their message in publications with more than 50% male readership? There are obvious places where this message should appear, such as direct mail, reaching 100% of those matching the target audience, so do your research and seek them out.
Nonprofits are often guilty of throwing out a message and hoping something sticks with the right group. Before doing that, they must understand their market and who are the most likely consumers. Only then can they effectively target the group with added messages through appropriate channels. Looking for an over-55 audience? Then newspaper may have some benefits. Targeting the under 30 group? Then newspaper won’t be the most effective channel and you should look for an online or mobile option.
EFFECTIVE– If marketing efforts are focused and targeted the chances of being effective are increased exponentially. The question becomes, what does it mean to be effective?
Effective marketing is rooted in measurement to help understand results, but many organizations are lacking the tools to measure effective outcomes. Doing so requires the establishment of a baseline, some relatable goals and objectives for the marketing efforts and a means of tracking the outcomes.
Measurement can be as simple as placing a dedicated or directed web page in the next ad, then following the web traffic. It may mean asking customers how they heard about you. Groups can track the responses to social media campaigns by engagement numbers and so on. Track and report the marketing progress, the resulting engagement and conversions.
Effective marketing should be everyone’s goal but smaller organization marketing dollars are often spent without consideration for the dynamics involved. Some might say, “but we don’t have enough staff.” If existing staff is too overwhelmed to consider targeted marketing or development of a tracking system, then it might be time to outsource the project. We find that once clients have a system in place they can easily manage the tracking with minimal hours.
Ultimately, developing marketing efforts that are more focused, targeted and effective brings substantial benefits to an organization. These are also the kind of FTE’s that will survive the down times and find you doing much more with less.
David J. Fry is the President of Effective Advancement Strategies in southeastern Indiana.