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Helping Nonprofits and Small Businesses Tell Their Stories Better, Everyday

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4 Reasons Nonprofits Need Marketing

By definition, nonprofits aren't trying to acquire paying "customers" but that doesn't mean they are not affected by market dynamics. Nonprofit marketing uses the same techniques and strategies as product marketing to advertise a nonprofit organization's mission and goals while attracting enthusiastic supporters, willing volunteers, and plentiful donors to realize a vision.

Here's 4 reasons why nonprofits need marketing in order to see their vision become reality:

  1. Nonprofits Are in the Marketplace. Nonprofits are in a market competition for people's attention as much as they are in competition with other organizations for people's dollars, time, and other limited resources. It's worth remembering the "customer journey." All people start at some stage of Awareness-Interest-Desire-Action when they are looking for a product or service. People want to support things they care about and they find themselves at some stage of this paradigm before throwing their support to support charities.

  2. Nonprofits Have Goals. Whether it's an annual donation target or getting enough volunteer sign-ups for a race, systematically achieving goals requires having a plan. Nonprofit marketing is a way to translate an organization's mission into a plan that engages people at each stage of their customer journey.

  3. Nonprofits Have a Story to Tell. Too many companies have great products with only so-so stories around who they are and what they stand for. I have yet to meet a nonprofit's leadership that couldn't talk for hours about what it is they do and what they hope to achieve. Translating all this content into material that can be used to achieve the plan (see #1 above), is the job of marketers.

  4. Nonprofits Need Specific People. Companies that sell products, especially commoditized products, can get away with having a poorer understanding of who their audience is. Not so for nonprofits. They can't take a scattershot approach to attracting people. Because they provide some kind of public good, nonprofits often try to engage deeply with smaller audiences than do for-profit companies. It is imperative to have a vision for who the ideal donor or super-active volunteer is if you're a charity. If you're an organization trying to get geriatric dogs adopted into loving homes but don't have your ideal audience in mind when you're telling your story, you may be attracting loving homes that only want to adopt a puppy. Putting out too general a message leads to missed opportunities. You should have different messages (and content!) for your donors, volunteers, and others affected by your mission.

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