marketing goals

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Today’s inspiration comes from one of our newest interns here at Signify, Kirsten King. When she approached me about writing a blog post on this topic, I thought it was a terrific idea. I’m a big fan of not only setting goals, but regularly evaluating them.

And one of the biggest hurdles in goal-setting isn’t identifying them, but prioritizing them. After all, you only have so much time, energy, and resources at your disposal. So, you definitely want to ensure that your nonprofit or social enterprise is focused on the right targets.

The exercise Kirsten outlines below is an oldie, but a goodie. It’s also relatively simple. But the beauty is that it will give you a big picture look at your organization, and help you decide which direction to run in. Give it a try, and see your goals come to life.

The Most Useful Tool for Prioritizing Your Goals

Happy (belated) New Year!

So, you’ve established some business goals for this year, and you’re all set to tackle them. You will complete your 2019 To Do List, but it may seem a bit overwhelming right now. Often, you may be wondering where to start, how to prioritize, or where you fit in amongst your competitors and even your donors or customers. If this sounds familiar, then you may need to create or restructure your SWOT analysis.

Creating a current SWOT analysis can help pinpoint what your organization lacks, as well as what it offers. Without this assessment, you may quickly fall behind or feel left out. This could happen if you don’t know what trends are up-and-coming, what other organizations in your field are doing, the growth opportunities that are available, or you may be unable to predict what challenges are yet to come. However, knowing each of these items can give you a distinctive edge, and guide you toward both short- and long-term success.

SWOT Analysis… What’s that?

Now, if you’re wondering, “What’s a SWOT analysis?!”, don’t worry, we’ll jump right into that.  

First, SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is a genius marketing strategy—even if you’re new to marketing—because it identifies a nonprofit or social enterprises’s internal strengths and weaknesses, while also looking into the opportunities and threats that are occurring outside of the organization. (These factors you have no control over, but you may be able to use them to your advantage 😉. )

Why is a SWOT Analysis Important?

Performing a SWOT analysis can help you determine what new strategies should be implemented and what problems need to be resolved. You don’t want to waste time developing and planning a new strategy, if it doesn’t fit with the current or upcoming trends.

Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you. Here’s a great video, using Starbucks as an example, if you would like to see a SWOT analysis in action.

Since business, trends, marketing, technology, and even the way you interact with your donors or customers are constantly changing, a SWOT analysis should be performed at least once or twice a year to ensure you are on the right track, or outline any changes that should be made. These can be performed solo, or with a team, board members, or key stakeholders.


Completing Your SWOT Analysis

Okay, let’s build your SWOT analysis! We’ve even created a free template to help you out.

One thing you’ll notice immediately is the simplicity of the layout. Once you dig into the items below, you may be tempted to include a lot of details and notes. But, at its heart, a SWOT analysis is just meant to give you a quick overview. Think of it as your organization at a glance, and use it to help guide you in the right direction.

Strengths are determined by the positive assets that your social impact organization owns. They may be tangible or intangible resources. Since you have control over these assets, strengths can help your organization stand out.

Strengths include:

  • Unique mission or model

  • Land

  • Location

  • Equipment

  • Copyrights/trademarks

  • Employees/volunteers

  • Funding

  • Marketing

  • Customer service

  • Relationships

Weaknesses can be defined as the characteristics of your organization that are unfavorable or may hurt you in some way. These downfalls could potentially hinder your success in both the short- and long-term. Weaknesses may be easily improved with a little more time, effort, and sometimes money.

Weaknesses include:

  • Outdated technology

  • Slow or poor communication (internal and/or external)

  • Poor signage

  • Little to no online presence

  • Unreliable cash flow

  • Lack of systems and processes

  • Cost

  • Low reputation

  • Small team with big workload

  • Low innovation

Opportunities are the external factors that can help your nonprofit or social enterprise thrive. Options here may be one-time or ongoing opportunities, so it’s especially important to note anything with fixed deadlines or limited availability that need to stay top of mind.

Opportunities include:

  • Partnerships and sponsorships

  • Participating in a current or upcoming trend (or event)

  • Government programs

  • Niche target market

  • Increased interest in your cause

  • New technologies

  • Growing population

  • Few competitors

  • New systems or processes

  • High demand

Threats are external factors that you cannot control. These negatives require quick thinking to develop new strategies.

Threats include:

  • Changes in government policies or funding

  • Uncertain economic factors

  • Aggressive competition

  • Unexpected weather

  • Rising costs

  • Increase in competition

  • Change in population

  • Negative media coverage

  • Loss of large donor, partner, or sponsor

  • Taxation

Time to Strategize!

You can start your SWOT analysis by focusing on internal strengths and weaknesses. This should be easier since you know the ins and outs of your organization.

Afterward, you can focus on external factors like your opportunities and threats. This may call for a bit of research and contemplation. But once your SWOT analysis is complete, you should have a better idea on what strategies to prioritize, implement, or refresh.

If done correctly, you’ll be able to use this analysis to create fresh, new ideas for your nonprofit or social enterprise. And remember, the assessment can always be adjusted to meet the current trends and challenges you may face.

Now, with all of this new information, how will you structure your business goals for the year ahead? Have you determined your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats yet? If not, it’s time to brainstorm new strategies that will help you develop or maintain that sustainable advantage!


Kirsten M King Marketing

Hi! I’m Kirsten M. King, and I absolutely love anything dealing with marketing, from advertising to data and everything in-between. I also love to learn and expand my knowledge on current trends and issues.

I’m currently a senior Marketing Major at Georgia State University. And I hope to take my skills and use them towards a career in project management.

Website

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Having this information gives you a better understanding of what needs to be prioritized and where you stand when compared to others like you.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


8 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Launches (And How to Fix Them!)

Every launch is a big deal. It takes your valuable time and resources, not to mention oodles of effort. So, whether it's the launch of a new website, a book, a campaign, an event, or a product, it needs to get the job done. After all, you don't have time to waste. I know this because I know many others like you, and you've got too much on your plate for missed opportunities.

But what happens when a launch is just okay? Or maybe it's good, but it wasn't as good as you'd hoped. Or, sadly, what if it flops? (Even successful launches have room for improvement.)

No matter which of these situations you find yourself in, I've observed a number reasons throughout my career in marketing, PR, and events (among other things) that may be causing you to unconsciously sabotage your launches. I'll touch on eight of them here. But don't worry, there is hope! I'll also show you how to fix them so that your next launch is your best yet.

(PSST—This is part of a series on launches. View Part 2 and Part 3.)

8 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Launches (And How to Fix Them!)

1. Not Having a Launch Strategy

This is probably the biggest issue I see. From annual events to one-time launches, many organizations don't have a launch strategy in place. The launch is done because it's that time of year, or someone told you it needs to be done, or your visionary leader had another great idea.

None of those are inherently bad reasons, but if you don't know how to integrate them into what you're doing, you'll never ensure success. 

I like to think of launches like a bridge because they should have connection points on either side. This means, you figure out how what you're already doing leads into them, and how to connect people to what you regularly do after they're over. They should never "stand alone" because you'll either confuse your audience by this new thing, or not give them any reason to stay connected to you.

Additionally, you need a plan. It's a bad idea to just do whatever task comes to mind each day, or tackle what seems urgent at the time. This means nothing you do is building on each other, and you'll only ever feel scattered as you work on the launch. Yuck, no one wants that.

The fix: While I don't have time to go into great detail here (and could talk about it for hours), the biggest and best action step I can give you is to ask yourself what you want attendees or participants to do after the launch. Then make sure you communicate that to them and provide easy solutions to make it happen. Launches are short-term, and there's a lot of relationship that can happen after they're over. Having a strategy in place offers you the best chance at turning interest into engagement.

You can also check out my launch strategy guide, Promote With Purpose.

2. Not Changing Your Regular Promotion Schedule

It doesn't matter if your organization consists of you sitting at your kitchen table or an army of staffers, interns, and volunteers—launches require a lot of extra effort. This means that whatever you normally do for your promotion schedule has to likely be dramatically stepped up for a short time.

So, let's say you send a monthly newsletter, post on social media a few times per week, and write a blog twice per month. And that's already a challenge because of your other responsibilities. Here's the bad news: for a launch, you'll probably have to double that. Here's the good news: it doesn't have to be for long.

If you've been paying attention to social media, you know that those lovely, little things called algorithms are always changing. And this isn't always in your favor, sadly, especially without paying for it. So, you're going to have to fight harder for people's attention. And that means posting even more frequently.

And, unfortunately no, this doesn't mean you just post about your launch a bunch more and call it a day. You need to increase your content marketing strategy so that you can "sell" more without annoying your audience. If you don't increase your promotion schedule, or you only post a bunch more about what you want people to do for you, like buy or donate, you run the risk of no one seeing your message, or even losing fans.

The fix: Gear up, baby—it's go time! Make room in your calendar for the extra time you'll need to increase your promotional schedule. Or, even better, get help. And create a plan for what you're going to say and when, so that you're spreading out helpful, intriguing, or delightful content in between asking your audience to do something that benefits you.

 

3. Not Considering Your Audience

This may seem like an odd one to include, but it can easily happen when you've been doing the same event for a long time. In cases like these, we tend to do what we've always done, without giving it a lot of thought.

The problem here is that things can change over time. Maybe you hosted an event for people who knew your organization well, but now people attend who don't know you as well, or at all. Maybe you launched an awareness campaign years ago, but the issue is widely known now. Or maybe your previous fundraising goals just won't cut it with the new programs you want to include in your new budget, and you need to attract more people, or people with more money.

Without considering this aspect, you may be communicating incorrectly to your audience. Or you may even be drawing the wrong people.

The fix: Spend some time looking at the history of your launch, including examining the original purpose and those who have previously participated. Decide if it's still doing it's job, or if changes need to be made. When we don't continue innovating or evolving, something that was once successful may become mediocre.

4. Having Too Many, or Unclear, Calls to Action

This one is super hard! When we actually have the attention of potential customers or donors, we want to tell them all the things. We want them to buy or donate, join the email list, come to our next event, volunteer, and on, and on, and on. This is because there's so much to do—and it's all great! But the more you give people to do, the less they're probably going to do it. (Here's some sciencey stuff to back me up.)

Even when you have someone's attention, you likely only have it for a short time. So, it's important to not overwhelm them. Additionally, you don't want to make participation hard. Always lower the "barrier to entry" for taking your next step. 

  • Click a link to donate or buy.

  • Download a freebie.

  • Lend your name to the petition.

  • Refer a friend.

  • Share on social media.

  • Register at this link.

These are all quick and easy examples. Unless it's your mom or a super fan, giving them too many options just means you'll lose their attention even faster—and you may not get it back.

On the other hand, maybe your calls to action are unclear. You avoid being super promotional and salesy, which I totally understand, but that could mean your audience doesn't actually know what you want them to do. You can space out the hard "asks" between some softer ones, or work up to it, but you need to leave no interpretation for what action you want them to take.

The fix: Reexamine your process and communication. Ideally, make sure you're only asking them to do one, maybe two things if they're really easy, and double-check that the language is crystal clear. 

 

5. Not Having All Hands on Deck

Launches often fall on the shoulders of a couple of people, and that's okay. Sometimes there aren't any alternatives. But if this is a major initiative at your organization, everyone needs to have a hand in promotion. 

Even at small businesses, people tend to leave the communication efforts to the people working on the launch, as well as the official channels like the company's email and social media. After all, everyone has more than enough to do already, right? But if you think this way, just consider all the other promotional avenues you're missing out on. Everyone has different personal and professional networks they can talk to.

The fix: This post goes into more detail, but make it easy for people to talk about you. This includes internal and external relationships. Especially when we're referring to employees, stakeholders and boards, volunteers, interns, etc, everyone should be up-to-date about how they can help meet the launch goals. And even if you're a solopreneur, you should make sure that you're talking about the launch on both your personal and professional channels anyway. These cross-promotional efforts can give you twice the reach.

6. Not Promoting During and After the Launch

It's easy to think that the end of the launch is the end of the project, but that shouldn't be the case. Instead, you should use that momentum for even greater results, both now and later.

I've worked on an untold number of events over the years, so this is where I see it happen most often. Too many people promote events before-hand, and then the day/night of, don't promote much at all, and even less after, unless it's just to slap a Facebook album up on their page. This is a shame, because it's another opportunity to set up your next event while you have people's attention.

Can you live Tweet or hop on Facebook Live, give people who couldn't attend the chance to see what they missed and make plans to be there in the future? Did you send out an email directly after the event to showcase the highlights, whether written or in video clips, and give links or a save the date for the next event? Have you considered send a press release to local or national media that detailed what took place, and what will happen in the future, to get greater exposure?

And outside of events, this strategy works for other launches as well. Those examples aren't exclusive to in-person events. Let's go back to that first item in this post and think about "what's next" for those who attended/participated, as well as those who are sad to miss out. Using the bridge analogy again, you can lead people where you want them to go with your organization.

It could even simply include thank you notes, following up with large donors and sponsors, or even a survey. All of these are additional "touch points" that allow you to build a deeper relationship with fans and potential fans. This long-term approaches leads to greater sustainability. 

The fix: You've probably heard that it's easier to go deeper with your current audience than it is to fine new ones, and that's absolutely true. You're already spending your time and energy on this launch, so don't miss every opportunity to nurture the relationship. Think of ways you can continue building on the launch, both during and after, to capitalize on the effort you're already putting out. It will likely also make the next launch better.

 

7. Not Taking Time to Evaluate

There are undoubtedly tasks, projects, meetings, and obligations piling up while you're working on your launch. So, it's kind of a big relief when it's over. And you might take some time to celebrate, but it's short-lived because there's something else that requires your attention.

You go-getters may even schedule a follow-up meeting to assess what went right and what went wrong. That's excellent, but set aside enough time to give this evaluation the attention it deserves. An hour before lunch probably won't get the job done when everyone is more concerned with what type of sandwich they're ordering over how next year could be better.

When you don't take the time to properly evaluate your launch, you're doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Heck, you may not even fully realize your mistakes. Ouch. This can lead to all kinds of problems, including spending money unnecessarily, which is probably all of our biggest fear.

The fix: Have people take notes before, during, and after the launch with their suggestions. Also, have them jot down, and voice, what went right. You need to be sure to celebrate the big and little things too. And, as mentioned above, schedule plenty of time for a recap meeting. As time passes, memories get cloudy, so this should happen soon after the launch. Finally, get clear on your action steps, and document them well for the next time.

 

8. Not Getting Extra Help

Um, have we talked about how much hard work it takes to pull off a launch? #understatement

Whether you're flying solo or have a support team, you may need additional help with your launch. It can get overwhelming really fast, especially if you wear multiple hats. I've heard too many stories that include words like, "I meant to do that, but I didn't have time," or, "Oh, I completely forgot," or even, "I have no idea how to do that." 

Yikes, that's not what you want from your launch experience! If you know you won't be able to do it all, don't have the necessary experience, or even if you find out during the process that you can't do it all, don't be afraid to ask for help. I realize it may cost more time or money, but let's face it, your BIG launch is at stake here. This is a short-term investment that could pay off big in the long run.

The fix: Not hard to figure this one out. You may have to be creative in your approach, but there is usually a solution not far away. Think interns, volunteers, co-workers, bartering, and of course, hire if you need to. People like me are available to work on projects, meaning we won't stick around for office pizza parties if you don't want us to.

Your launch is really important, so do everything you can to make it a success.

 

(PSST—This is part of a series on launches. View Part 2 and Part 3. Ready to go to the next level? Check out my launch strategy guide, Promote With Purpose.)



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Every launch is a big deal. It takes your valuable time, resources, and oodles of effort. So, whether it's the launch of a new website, a book, a campaign, an event, or a product, it needs to get the job done. However, there are at least eight reasons that you may be unconsciously sabotage your launches. But I'll show you how to fix them so that your next launch is your best yet.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Ask the Experts: Understanding Your Audience

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For August, I've invited my friend, Jen Gordon, to share about uncovering the hidden desires of your donors and customers. Understanding your audience will be a key to your success.

Uncover the hidden desires of your donors and customers.

Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

A. What I’m seeing lately is a trend toward companies identifying their marketing strategy first, and then outlining the tactics they will take to align with that strategy. By “strategy," I mean really digging into the hidden and unspoken desires of your prospect, and developing your approach to that audience around those wants.

In the past I’ve seen marketers using tactics like, “Hey, let’s send out a direct mail piece like the one I saw from XYZ organization.” Or, “Oh, let’s send an email campaign about our next fundraiser,” before truly identifying why their prospects would want to engage the content.

There has always been interest in the marketing world around the psychology of marketing, but today there is a lot more content readily available about the psychological drivers that cause prospects to take a certain action, to leave, buy, or donate. Nir Eyal writes a blog that focuses on consumer behavioral triggers and habits. Though most of his work focuses on software development, the concepts he teaches are applicable to any industry.

Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in regards to what you do?

A. One of the mistakes I have seen many times over the years of creating landing pages and sales funnels is that business owners may have a short-term plan or campaign they want to launch, but don’t have a clear roadmap for the year in terms of where they want to be in 30/60/90 days or six months, etc. They generally know what they want to achieve, but the path getting there is often unclear.

Right now, I’m working on a marketing calendar (with some inspiration from this SEJ post) for my own product, the Hope Deck, using Google Sheets, Google Calendar and Trello—all free tools!

Q. What is your best piece of advice?

A. If you aren’t trained on how to uncover your prospect, donor, or customer’s hidden, unspoken wants/desires, then find someone who is. :) Learning how to do this while working on the Hope Deck has completely changed how I connect to, and communicate with, my audience.

It has allowed me to understand how I can bring the maximum amount of value to my customers. I no longer assume that I am a part of my target audience, which I have done in the past. My mind is open to a wider range of problems people want to solve, and emotions they want to feel or not feel.

Q. What is one thing readers can do this week to improve?

A. Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. I created a spreadsheet for the Hope Deck where I am in the process of identifying my customer’s unspoken desires. Don't get overwhelmed. Keep it simple to begin, and then edit or expand it over time.

Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

A. The best way to uncover these hidden wants and desires is to actually talk to your customers or donors. I’d recommend recording the conversations, if possible, so you can review them later and pick up on details you may miss in the moment. Another option is to get them in writing through emails or surveys. You'll then use their language when speaking to them in your emails, social media, and any other communication pieces, so that it's familiar and relatable.

And be sure to ask them open-ended questions about why they choose to partner with, donate to, purchase from, or do business with you. Most of the time they won’t express their hidden desires outright, but you can infer from their answers what is important to them, and from there brainstorm motivation, emotional triggers, and things like that.


Jen Gordon is a momma, artist, and entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past eight years of her career, she’s specialized in conversion centered design, working closely with marketers and business owners to increase sales by testing and optimizing their sales funnels. Her geeky passions include finishing stuff, brain rewiring, crafts of any sort, and anything Dolly Parton has ever said or sung. :) You can find her latest creative project, a collection of inspirational postcards, at www.HopeDeck.com.



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Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. Uncovering the hidden wants and desires of your audience will be a key to your success.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free Download)

Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

Marketing Plan: Is Your Mission Missing Its Map? (Free download)

For several years, my friends and I set off each summer on what we called the Chaos Mission Trip. It was completely unplanned (hence "chaos"). We went through several weeks of training leading up to our departure date, but they were focused on personal growth and team development. Meaning, we were prepping for whatever might happen along the way. The trip itself thrived on spontaneity. Every trip was completely different because it changed depending on what direction we went in, who was on the team, those we met on the road, and what opportunities were presented to us. The goal was just to serve those we came in contact with in a way that benefited them.

In contrast, last year I visited Barcelona for the first time. This was a bucket list trip for me! And, as such, I wanted to make the most of it. It also marked my first solo international trip. I'm a planner by nature, and also an introvert. So, I scheduled myself fully each day to make sure I knocked out all the city's highlights. I booked all kinds of tours, and pushed myself outside of my comfort zone to make friends when possible. Every day was packed, and when I left, I felt like I'd accomplished almost everything I wanted to. I wasn't sure if or when I'd return to this amazing city, so I wanted the full experience. 

Both trips served a purpose, but I wouldn't recommend building your business using the chaos formula.

Sadly, that's what I see too often in organizations. Sure, it may not be quite this "chaotic," but there seems to be little strategy behind lots (and lots) of effort.

  • Social media posts go up haphazardly.

  • Emails are sporadic, at best.

  • To Do lists are determined by urgency.

  • Initiatives are based on what's been done before, or what seems best right now.

  • Goals are recycled or undefined.

  • Staffers are overworked, and always in reaction mode.

None of this sounds fun, but it may sound familiar.

However, there is one item that may help ease some of these pains. It's not a magic pill, or a miracle cure.

But it is a way to give your purpose more purpose, you mission more muscle, and your cause more concentration.

It's called a marketing plan. 

What exactly is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is likely a term you've heard before, but may not fully understand. The beauty of this document is that it provides both a 30,000 foot view and an on-the-ground perspective. It gives shape and structure to all your efforts. It tells you which direction you should go in, and helps keep you on the path for getting there.

Basic pieces of a marketing plan:

  • Objectives and goals

  • Customer or donor research

  • Market research

  • Unique selling proposition

  • Pricing and positioning strategy

  • Distribution plan

  • Offers

  • Marketing materials and collateral

  • Promotions strategy

  • Conversion strategy

  • Partnerships and joint ventures

  • Referral strategy

  • Retention strategy

  • Financial projections

  • Key dates (Not on a lot of plans, but I personally like to include.)

So, in looking at this list, you may automatically see why you've never created a marketing plan before. I get it. Some of the terms can be confusing. And you may assume this will take a lot of time and effort—and, frankly, you'd be right. But remember that first bullet list above? The one with little strategy behind it? Marketing plans are the workaround. Wouldn't it be better to focus your efforts rather than running around exhausted, overworked, and on the path that leads to burnout?

Think about it in your own life. Meal planning can save you money on groceries because you're less likely to eat out or waste food. And running errands in a particular order often saves you travel time. Time and money often top our priority list at home, as well as at work. So, preparation and planning can go a long way to ease some of your daily concerns. They have a beautiful trickle down effect.

In essence, marketing plans are the lens you can use to focus all your organization's efforts. When a new event or initiative pops up, as they tend to do, see where it fits into your marketing plan. Can you squeeze it in? Does it require some editing, or a complete overhaul? Should it be added to the radar, or become a priority? Use these filters to determine it's place in your organization. Depending on your answers, you may want to add it, put it on hold, or scrap it entirely. Without a marketing plan, you may not be able to see the big picture objectively, and how it may alter all other aspects.

Hopefully, by now I've convinced you of the need for a marketing plan.

You may even be asking yourself how you can create one of your very own. (Stay tuned!)

And depending on your job function, you may also be wondering if a marketing plan is best for your business as a whole, an annual event, or an big initiative? The answer is yes.

How do you create a marketing plan?

First, start with one of those targets: the company as a whole, an annual event, or a large initiative. Just choose one to begin until you've practiced and refined your process. If you decide to create a marketing plan for your business as a whole, it will touch on events and initiatives, but you can go into greater detail when you write one for all of the large "buckets" at your business. 

And to make things easier for you, I've created a marketing plan template for you:

Again, this document will be important for several reasons:

  • When your team goes through it together each year, you'll be able to get, and stay, on the same page. Goals, objectives, strategy—everything is laid out right there for you all to see.

  • It'll help you plan and execute more efficiently.

  • It'll help you easily answer questions for employees, partners, contractors, and new hires.

  • It can be helpful to show your board if you need to request a larger budget next year.

  • It's great for accountability, either for yourself, your team, or your entire staff.

I've included directions in each section of the template so you know exactly how to fill it in. I'd say to set aside a few hours minimum to work on this document. Your team can build it together, or you can kick things off and then bring others in after the first draft. And because this is likely new to you, be sure to work on it in a distraction-free space. You'll need to concentrate. It should be really well-defined and detailed so that it's easier to edit or update moving forward.

Remember, it's yours, so add as much detail as you like to be helpful. You'll see how nice it is to keep all of this information in one place! You may also choose to include more detailed explanations, budgets, note responsible parties for each section, add specific deadlines, and things like that. You can also, of course, delete anything you that's not relevant to you, but I'd recommend that sparingly because both nonprofits and for-profits can benefit from this information.

One and done?

Marketing plans are living documents, and should be reviewed at least annually, unless something major occurs. They can be edited and updated as needed, which will likely be minimal changes. The heavy-lifting occurs during the first draft, which should also come as a relief.

And marking plans are fantastic for being able to see information, trends, and outlines at a glance. That's what makes it more of a reference document than a one-time task. This is long-term thinking in action! Be sure to highlight and note any important changes from one revision to the next, such as a major shift in target audience, pricing, or financial goals.

Next?

After you've logged the time creating this mammoth, you should be able to see how a marketing plan will direct your organization's efforts. It should give you both short-term and long-term perspective.

Now, your mission has a map. The path has been laid out, and all you have to do is walk it. It's not always easy, but a marketing plan goes a long way to making it more simple.

Next week, we'll talk about what this looks like in action on a daily basis. I'll show you how I used five different marketing plans at my previous job to detail my To Do list. 

In the meantime, check out other recent posts for "Marketing May" where I discuss trends and strategies, as well as marketing 101.

And if you are interested in a marketing plan, but just can't find the time to create one on your own, this is a service I provide. I'd be happy to work alongside you in creating your map. Alternatively, learn the five things to stop doing this week, which will give you more time and energy to work on your marketing and communications.



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Your organization undoubtedly has a mission, but does it have a map?

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.


Building an Audience of 8,000: Marketing Case Story

One year ago this week, I was still the Event Marketing Director at Orange, and we were hosting 8,000 of our closest family ministry friends for The Orange Conference 2016. People come from almost every state, about a dozen countries, and numerous denominations to attend this event each year. It's quite the undertaking, and though I worked on other events throughout the year, most of my time was spent on this 12-pound baby (really big, sometimes painful, but worth the labor).

If you aren't familiar with Orange, they create curriculum, resources, and events for church leaders and volunteers. They do a lot of really amazing things, and if I may say, they put on some great events!

As #OC17 starts today, I thought it would make a fantastic marketing case story for us to examine. 

Photo Credit: The Orange Conference

Photo Credit: The Orange Conference

TWO SIDE NOTES

  1. If you'd like to watch the tonight's opening session on the live stream, visit Live.TheOrangeConference.com starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. This year's theme is "For Our Neighbors."

  2. I'm using the term "case story" because case studies are usually long, boring, and stuffed with stats. I wanted this to be a little less complicated and easy-going, so I'm utilizing that term, though I didn't create it. (I wish I had!)

GOALS

The major goals for the event are measured in:

  • Ticket sales, which include the current event and next year's pre-sales;

  • Product sales, which includes books, physical products, digital resources, lifestyle items, etc;

  • Social media metrics, which is tracked using a software;

  • Attendee satisfaction, which is assessed both through social media, comments the staff receives, and a post-event survey;

  • Next steps taken, which can include things such as lead cards filled out, emails given, downloads of the conference app, and things like that. Ideally, this is something you want attendees to do at your event to continue the engagement after it ends.

TACTICS

As you can imagine, an event of this size requires a lot of time and effort to promote. Here are the major ways we did that:

  • Internal email list including curriculum partners, previous attendees, and some partnership lists

  • Mailing list which includes the same as above, plus a purchased list.

  • Text system. We were able to send text messages throughout the year to those who opted to receive them.

  • Social media, mostly consisting of blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SnapChat

  • Facebook ads

  • Ads on internal sites

  • A social media tool kit that our speakers, fans, and attendees could utilize to spread the word for us (which included both images and what to say)

  • A signature line in staff emails

  • Cross-promoting at other events, both Orange's and events where they had a booth

  • Blogger network consisting of bloggers who were Orange fans, across the US

  • Advertising on relevant blogs and websites

  • Print ads (Yes, those still work too!)

  • Press release

  • Partner e-blasts

  • Google Ads

STRATEGY

Yes, there are a boat load of items mentioned above, especially for those of you who are the only employee, or running the show with a small team. But again, all of these things occurred over a year's time. And many of them happened on a regular basis. There wasn't just one ad or one blog post or one mailer. 

The pricing for the event was broken into five major deadlines, including the pre-sales on-site at the current event. Prices, of course, increased as the event neared. This brought in early revenue and helped us plan. Additionally, these distinct time frames gave me windows of time in which to promote.

It's also very important to understand how your audience plans to spend their money. For example, we had two major deadlines to focus on: opening day and the February deadline. Opening day, of course, because we had the lowest prices and offered a bonus (early breakout registration) that was very desirable to our attendees. And everyone gets excited during an event launch. The February deadline was incredibly popular because many churches just had their budgets renewed with the calendar year, and we also offered curriculum credits, which enticed current and prospective curriculum partners. So, those two factors meant that I spent most of the marketing budget promoting those two deadlines.

RESULTS

  • Every year, attendance for the event increased. We were very blessed in that way. When I started in fall 2010, there had been 4,300 attendees at the previous conference. And in 2016, there were about 7,400 at Orange Conference, and 500 at ReThink Leadership, a simultaneous event for senior pastors across the street. Those senior pastors came across the street for OC main sessions to spend time with their teams.

  • With increased attendance, social media reach also increased each year, resulting in about 2 million impressions in 2016.

  • Product and ticket sales also increased every year, but I am unable to share those numbers.

  • I read through every OC survey that was filled our during my time there. I was, obviously, responsible and accountable for sales in the marketing department, but I really wanted to know what people thought about the event. Did we meet their expectations? How could we improve? What made a difference? Why did they come to our conference over another? Overall, the feedback was incredibly positive. This was our signature event, and we tried to do everything with excellence. Of course, there are always people who didn't enjoy the event or different aspects. That is to be expected. But the key is to have a good filter for yourself when receiving negative comments to decide if it is valid, or if it is out of alignment with the mission. Sometimes it's just based on personal preference.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

No matter what size of an organization you're currently at, there are some lessons to be learned:

  • I was my own department. But I certainly didn't do everything! Other people took care of the graphics, social media management, logistics, etc. Only myself and I think two others actually worked on the conference year-round, and I was the dedicated person for promoting it. It was an all hands on deck situation as the conference got closer, but when you are well organized, have good systems in place, and have others to support you, it's a testament for what you can accomplish! (It's not too late to spring clean!)

  • To plan and execute a successful event you must have a marketing strategy in place. You can't just wing it. For much smaller events, you don't have to work as far in advance, but you still need to understand the ins and outs of how you're event will come together. Effective marketing also helps get people in the doors! The more the merrier, right?

  • Outline your goals first and foremost.

  • While I listed many tactics above, I'm certainly there are a few you can choose from to start implementing for your next event.

  • You might be surprised to learn that our marketing budget didn't dramatically increase even though our attendance did. I was very used to working for small organizations with small budgets, so I utilized as many free avenues as possible. Additionally, we focused on getting people to bring larger teams to OC, rather than finding more churches to come. The latter is a much better way to concentrate your energies.

  • If you're event is just getting started, you may not have previous feedback to work with. If that's the case, start by sending a survey to your email list and social media followers to gain insight. You can also try asking people you know who fit your ideal audience.

  • Don't skip over the "next steps." You need to know what you want your attendees to do when they leave. You need to decide on how you want them to stay engaged with you after they walk out the doors. Waiting for emails about your event year after year isn't going to cut it.

  • Adding "surprise" and "delight" to your marketing efforts is always encouraged. People attended The Orange Conference to learn about family ministry, understand the trends, get information on how to do their jobs better, and connect with others. But they LOVED anytime we were able to surprise and delight them! There is even an entire main session dedicated to fun at OC because the brain gets a little overloaded during all the learnin' that a conference brings. These concepts also help endear you to your attendees.

REMINDER

If you'd like to watch the tonight's opening session on the live stream, visit Live.TheOrangeConference.com starting at 6:30 p.m. ET. This year's theme is "For Our Neighbors."

FINALLY

I love events. I've been planning events since I was in junior high! I guess I was always destined to be a part of them in some way. I get so excited by attending conferences and events, and I enjoyed creating a great environment for others. I'd love to help you with your next event.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Building an Event Audience of 8,000 people. The Orange Conference Marketing Case Story

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.