The Seven Magic Questions of Effective Marketing

The "marketing audit" is my favorite training tool in working with nonprofits these days. It asks organizations to self-analyze from the classic standards of marketing, wherein you ask yourself seven basic questions:

  1. What is my product (i.e. what am I offering to people)?
  2. How much does it cost someone to purchase it from me?
  3. How do I meet all of the demands that may be put on me to provide this product ("production demand")?
  4. Where does one who wants to purchase my product actually access it ("market placement")?
  5. How do I promote my product (i.e. let people know about it)?
  6. To whom am I trying to sell it ("target audience")?
  7. Finally, what is my competition?

For most nonprofits, these questions are easily enough answered when considering client services. A typical response is this: "Our product is a hot lunch meal, served seven days a week. We do not charge anything for the meal. To date, we have always had enough food to feed anyone who shows up at our facility, which is where one has to come to take advantage of the hot meal. We let potential clients know about this daily meal through other human services agencies, and 'word-of-mouth' is very strong among the population we serve. Our 'target audience' is those who are homeless and who otherwise do not have the financial or other resources to feed themselves and their families a nutritious meal on a daily basis. There is no one else in the community providing this service, so we have no 'competition.'"

This response is absolutely an appropriate assessment of "the marketing mix" as regards an organization's marketing to clients. But do these answers apply to your donors? In this particular example, it is highly unlikely that the donors need the free, hot meal on a daily basis; they are a very different "target audience" than clients. Donors certainly are not likely to receive encouragement to send money to the soup kitchen via other human services agencies (just PART of "the competition").

This all seems obvious, right? Yet we rarely delineate the REAL product, pricing, ability to meet production demand, etc. presented to/by our donors.

I suggest that you go back through the list of seven marketing questions and answer them from the perspective of your donors. What is the product that you have to "take to market?" Are your donors "buying" a good feeling? The opportunity to be part of something prestigious, or at least "bigger than themselves?" Community recognition? People donate for many and varied reasons, and the marketing audit encourages you to identify these reasons - or "needs" - and then develop "products" and systems that meet these needs.

Likewise, consider issues of meeting "production demand" (e.g. can you really meet the needs of 1,000 new donors if you land them today?) and "where" your donors can find you (what we've historically phrased "make it EASY for them to give"). Promotion is important, as well, but only as one part of the bigger marketing mix. Finally, educate yourself in the basics of marketing - host or attend a workshop, do some reading, or even request our marketing audit tool and conduct your own self-survey.

Strong Leaders / Strong Stories

Strong leaders have strong stories, and a solid sense of "self" as a leader.  But too often, even strong women view themselves or are perceived as being very good at "getting things done," but not as valuable strategic resources. What can you do to change this?  Find Out More Here