Nonprofit Marketing Sins Apply to For-Profits Too

Elizabeth Sosnow, Managing Director of BlissPR, and I recently gave a presentation on the “Five Sins of Nonprofit  Marketing & the Promise of Social Media” to partners at a major New York law firm who represent nonprofit clients.  In reviewing my slides, it struck me that these sins are also committed by for-profit firms … all the time.  See what you think:

Sin #1: Marketing Planning/Communications Not Grounded in Research.  Symptomatic of this sin is the executive who says, more or less, “we don’t need to do any research.  We know our audience/market/customer because we’ve been doing this for a long time.”  That’s a really dangerous assumption in an age where the pace of change is geometric, not arithmetic, when entire industries have been shaken to their cores.

There’s another aspect of this sin that is particularly galling to people in the PR business.  Clients and potential clients never fail to grouse about our lack of measurement capabilities, but how many of them are willing and able to spring for some benchmark research on the market’s awareness of their firms and their competitors?  Very, very few.  And that’s a pity because research need not be an expensive burden.  Google Analytics has spawned a host of website and Social Media measurement tools, while Survey Monkey has made online survey affordable for all.

If you execute a program that’s not based on research, you really are guilty of “ready, fire, aim.”

Sin #2: Marketing Basics Ignored.  While many marketers like to think that what they do is magical, and metaphorically enclosed in a “black box,” the truth is that good marketing requires addressing some pretty basic questions.  The first is “what differentiates your product, service or organization from the competition?”  The answer will flow into your brand positioning, which should guide all subsequent business and marketing decisions and communications.  My friend Mel Sokotch has a wonderful website and series of blog posts at that I would commend to all who are interested in brand positioning.

Of course, positioning is not the only basic that sometimes gets ignored.  You also need to define your audience, develop a marketing strategy, craft messaging that conveys your differentiation and finally develop a marketing plan with measurable objectives tied to the organization’s business objectives.

In my next post, I’ll discuss Sins #3-5.  But tell me, do you agree that for-profit organizations commit many of these sins as well?


To Connect with John:

Phone:  212.840.0444
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