Why Marketing Matters More Than Ever in the Public and Not-for-Profit Sectors

In today’s economically challenged and constantly changing environment, most government and non-profits are still operating with the same traditional models and these simply are not working anymore.  And with the need for increased efficiency, accountability and transparency in all sectors, along with a requirement to be more strategic in the prioritization and delivery of programs, services and other social initiatives, the need to innovate couldn’t be stronger.

Simply stated, marketing is a process for working smarter. As Phil Kotler and Nancy Lee point out in their book Marketing in the Public Sector: A Roadmap for Improved Performance “marketing turns out to be the best planning platform for a public agency that wants to meet citizen needs and deliver real value.” Public agencies can benefit from bringing a more conscious marketing approach and mindset to their mission, problem solving and outcomes.

Marketing is not the same as advertising, sales, or communications. It is these skills and more. It involves a customer (citizen–centered) approach, one that helps address citizen complaints, alters their perceptions, and improves performance. It is a disciplined approach for conducting a situation analysis, setting goals, segmenting the market, conducting market research, positioning, choosing a strategic blend of marketing tools, evaluating results, preparing budgets, and formulating an implementation plan.

Here are six key practices that publicly-driven organizations and professional associations need to adopt to thrive in these challenging times. They include

Adopting a Brand and Brand Promise that is Consistently Communicated and Demonstrated

Your brand is what people say about you and too many public and not-for-profit organizations don’t take the time to define their values and more importantly, how these values should be reflected in everything they do, from an association representing their members at the national policy level to a municipality delivering first-rate services to constituents.  Government organizations in particular, can no longer afford to be “all things to all people”  and must begin to articulate who they are, what they stand for and how they promise to deliver on those values.

Adopting a Client-Centered Mindset

Too often, public or member-driven organizations plan and implement programs without consulting their clients and are left wondering why these initiatives are not getting the anticipated take-up. An effective organization asks their clients what they want first – and then plan accordingly.

Taking a Strategic Planning Approach Towards Program / Service Delivery

Organizations that do not take a strategic marketing approach are usually operating in a “reactive” mode. Adopting a strategic approach towards program or service delivery forces an organization to focus its efforts on priorities, rather than applying a “bandage” to a wide range of never-ending issues.

Adopting Social Media as Core Audience Engagement Tools

With most Canadians on the Internet, public and non-profit organizations have the opportunity and tools to extend their influence far beyond traditional borders. Simply stated, if you are not actively engaged in Internet-based and digital marketing, you’re not “in the game”.

Increased Use of Partnerships to Leverage Resources and Create More Impact

Public and not-for-profit organizations need to focus more on strategic partnerships as a means of leveraging resources, enhancing service delivery and communicating with greater impact. Most organizations don’t have the resources  to implement programs on their own and as a result, end up with mediocre efforts when it comes to communicating message or delivering programs and services.

Taking a Strategic Approach Towards Cost Recovery or Revenue Generation

To be successful over the long-term, organizations need to take a strategic approach towards revenue development.  Many organizations   jump from one “low hanging fruit” to another without any rationalization, creating a “knee-jerk” reaction that usually results in wasted time and effort. Marketing provides a focus by helping  organizations identify their value in the market and delivering on that value for revenue.

MARCOM – June 11-12 at the Ottawa Convention Centre in Ottawa is a once-a-year opportunity for marketing and communications professionals from the public and not-for-profit sectors to hear from top experts and share ideas with colleagues from across Canada on marketing trends and best practices.

Learn more about how marketing can help you improve operational performance and results. Visit www.marcom.ca for more details.

Later, BC

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