Nonprofit Marketing Sins Apply to For-Profits Too – Part Two


Last week I posted the first part of this blog, which is drawn from a presentation that Elizabeth Sosnow, Managing Director of BlissPR, and I recently gave to the partners of a major New York law firm on the “Five Sins of Nonprofit Marketing & the Promise of Social Media.  The partners all represented nonprofit clients.  It later struck me that these sins are also committed by for-profit firms, so here are sins #3-5, to be added to the ones cited last week.

Sin #3: Communications are Not Consumer Focused.  I am lucky to have the wife I do (for a goodly number of reasons), and one that’s helpful professionally is that she has spent her career running nonprofit healthcare organizations.  So, when I asked her what their marketing sins were, she didn’t even hesitate:  “they talk to themselves, completely disregarding the consumers.”

Well, that’s certainly a sin not confined to the nonprofit sector.  It often reflects a lack of research – the organization doesn’t understand its stakeholders.  That makes their subsequent communications all about themselves because that’s all they know.  Think of a management consulting firm that wants to tell you all about their elegant methodologies but can’t deliver evidence of the companies they’ve helped.  Or a corporation that wants to boast about its revenues and geographic reach without translating those assets into customer benefits.

No, ignoring the customer is unfortunately alive and well in the for-profit world.

Sin #4: Content Development is Given Short Shrift.  Companies that continue to commit this sin will soon find themselves out of business.  Here’s why: The multiplicity of communications channels, accelerated by the growth of Social Media, makes content development critical.  Everyone is watching you, all the time, so organizations cannot afford dated websites and month-old blogs.  It’s a “now” world.

But I bet each of you readers knows multiple companies where content development is not viewed as a priority.  It does take time – as most activities that create value do – but it need not be expensive.  Consider online surveys, using tools like “Survey Monkey.”  Ferret out first-hand stories about the people to whom the organization provides products or services.  Look at the trend data that your company maintains as standard operating procedure.  Every company has hidden content assets – they just have to look for them.

Sin #5: Marketing is Treated as a Cost – Not a Necessary Investment.   Think about your own organization.  What’s your verdict?  If you’re satisfied, you’re lucky.  Too many companies don’t understand the power of marketing.  They view it tactically, hiring web designers and brochure writers when they need strategic thinkers who can help impact the bottom line.

Part of the skepticism toward marketing is understandable.  For too long, marketers have avoided the question of “how do you measure success?”  But results can be measured – there are more tools today than ever before.  In fact, if you can’t measure it, don’t do it!.  Which all goes back to Sin #1: Failing to Ground Marketing Planning/Communications in Research.  The chickens will come home to roost.


What Marketing Sins would you like to add to the list …. for nonprofits or for-profits?


To Connect with John:

Phone:  212.840.0444
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