Marketing is an essential tool for the success of all business and nonprofit activity. What matters is not what you do; what matters is that you communicate what you do so that others will take interest in it, buy it, support it, join it, and tell friends about it. In some nonprofit quarters, marketing was once thought of as a dirty word, associated with used car salesmen and sleazy tactics. But if you are indeed working to make the world better, you need to be actively marketing what you do. Your mission is only as successful as far as it can spread and have an impact and for that you need marketing strategy.

What is marketing strategy?

Marketing strategy allows you to use pathways and footholds that apply your limited marketing budget more effectively (everyone's marketing budget is limited). Marketing strategy facilitates your ability to apply marketing money to the correct half of the Wanamaker equation—the half you are not wasting on audiences who do not value your message.

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The Difference Between Marketing and Branding

What is the difference between marketing and branding?

In a recent conversation with a very senior person at a financial institution my colleague was told, "I think private wealth managers will have a hard time seeing the value of branding—they see marketing as a cost center, not a driver of sales."

Hold it.

How did we go from branding to marketing in one sentence like that?

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The Difference Between Sales and Marketing

Sales has the power to change conditions, to transform a situation through the skills of the sales person. Marketing however, generally does not possess such transformative power. Marketing needs to work with conditions as they are.

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There are only two things in a business that make money – innovation and marketing, everything else is cost.

– Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker was many things. Fool, not.

Management thinker Peter Drucker wrote an important little book that posits an organizational self-evaluation consisting of 5 questions: The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organization.
Here they are in case you don’t have time to read it:

1. What is our mission?
2. Who is our customer?
3. What does the customer value?
4. What are our results?
5. What is our plan?

The answers to all of these, but critically #2 and #3, are crucial to devising an effective marketing program for your products and services. They are also at the heart of what our Discovery Process is designed to help you clarify. Without them, your marketing dollars will likely be spent on tactical experimentation. Tactical experiments can work, but they are not the smartest use of a limited pool of marketing money. They are, in fact, much better when conducted in the context of a strong strategic hypotheses about who your core consumer really is and what he or she really values, and exactly how your offer meets them there.

You owe it to the future of your business, your nonprofit, your museum, your zoo, yourself to take the time to honestly answer Drucker’s questions. If you don’t know where to begin with this, if you want help so that you can use your precious marketing money more effectively, or if you don’t want to spend forever sorting this out, then maybe it’s time you take the first step. If you have spent a lot of marketing money in the past to insufficient effect, ditto.

There are many strategies for marketing, and there are many means to execute a marketing campaign. It can be expensive or not, effective or not. And price and effectiveness are not necessarily inextricably connected. See Find Your Trim Tab to find out more about how it is possible to disengage expense from effectiveness in marketing.

You have no excuse not to be doing marketing well.

Now get to it.