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What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word marketing? Maybe it’s the Nike swoosh, or a commercial showcasing a new iPhone. Is this really what marketing is all about? Far too often, the scope of what marketing is limited to just these flashy pieces. To put it another way, marketing is not about the icing on the cake. Marketing is more about whether we should even serve cake, or instead cupcakes or maybe fruit? And those questions all tie into communications and understanding of the needs of the recipient.

Far too often what is left out of the conversation is a strategic perspective, plan, and approach to marketing. Instead, marketing needs to be a strategic exercise in your organization that asks more than just what the logo looks like or what the website layout is. The conversation should speak to vision, direction, and engagement and then about what to actually do or in other words, decorating the cake.

This series of postings will take a closer look at topics to consider when building more effective and engaging marketing and communications.

How often do you visit the gym? Once a week? Once a month? Maybe a few times a year? It would be difficult to get into shape if you go to the gym once a year – the same can be said about the frequency of your communication – if you do not communicate often enough, your ability to effectively engage with your market will be lost.

This is a flaw that we see most often with organizations, regardless of the size or sector. Too much effort is placed on one-off activities like spending an afternoon of brainstorming content for upcoming newsletters and then not publishing an issue or designing and building a new website then never updating the content. Decide on a set number of activities that can be completed from start to finish and managed on a consistent and frequent basis.

Say you have your new workout schedule nailed down and you keep with it by going to the gym throughout the week. However, when you go to the gym, all you end up doing is arm curls. This would be great if you’re a professional arm wrestler and were training for an upcoming arm-wrestling competition. For most of us, implementing a variety of exercises will allow us to see the well-rounded results we are looking for.

When it comes to communications, organizations should plan at least 4-5 activities and deliver them with regular frequency. We see it far too often that there simply is not enough variety in the types of activities executed and often organizations are placing way too many eggs in one basket of activities.

Not a One Size Fits All Strategy
Even though delivering communications activities with regular frequency and in some sort of variety can be expensive, organizations should nonetheless look for ways to deliver their programs in this manner. If this means only doing 1 or 2 activities. Great. Just make sure to do each one at an appropriate level of frequency and try with a variety of tools or mediums.

When considering what types of tools to use, remember that one-way communications such as a billboard or mass advertising, e-blasts, direct cold calls etc., are increasingly becoming less effective and in many cases, are becoming more expensive. This is compounded by the fact that they are becoming increasingly ineffective in reaching people with subscription and readership rates hitting all-time lows.

Engaging Two-Way Communication / Conversation
What we often recommend is engaging in two-way communication that will allow your organization to activate a relationship-focused approach to connecting with your market. The challenge is to remember to switch from using passive forms of communication to using active forms.

In other words, stop telling the world why you are important and start conversations with your audience through your various mediums. This can come in the form of more one on one conversations with your donors or interested community members, small group discussions with prospective donors, and small events that allow you to engage with attendees.

The challenge can be that most only use Twitter or LinkedIn just as they do a billboard; to promote or advertise what’s happening with the organization or to broadcast news and updates. Remember that social media can be used as an active form of communication by starting discussions, engaging with participants, and creating dialogue through the platform of choice.

Test Your Social Media Feeds
Look at the last 20 posts on any of your social media platforms; are you just talking about your organization? Are you asking other people to do things such as donate, attend or promote? This is just noise to most of your audiences unless you are talking and actively engaged with your audience.

Look for ways to help people such as suggesting events to attend, articles to read, asking for ideas and feedback, and helping people become more involved in your organization.

Are you ready to leverage a relationship-driven approach in your organization’s communication strategy? Connect with our team of advisors to learn more about how Incite can support you.


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