In the public sector and nonprofit communities, marketing has traditionally been viewed as a “money pit” where you constantly feed money, but nothing ever comes out. There was never any real accountability for driving results for the organization. Senior executives didn’t understand marketing’s role, nor how it was tied to its organization’s visibility in the marketplace; the program or business development team viewed marketing as a waste of dollars where it had little impact on increasing business transactions, and the finance department thought marketers were simply strange aliens from another planet that didn’t speak the same language. If it was based on achieving specific goals, they were fairly loose, with ambiguous objectives like “increased visibility” or “public outreach” or “awareness”.
The year 2017 is when marketing will finally take a foothold in these organizations as the smart organizations realize that they need to go beyond being great product or service organizations – they need to be great marketing organizations. The world is simply too fractured now and customer loyalty is at an all-time low. Marketing is needed more than ever and in order for organizations to achieve their goals, they need a laser-type focus where marketing performance is measured against objectives and there is continuous improvement.
In 2017, marketing will be measured on its ability to drive growth for the organization. Whether it’s driving qualified leads for new members, increasing attendance at an event or delivering new fundraising dollars, it is aimed at achieving an organizational goal. Smart marketers in these organizations are doing a better job at showing how their efforts are contributing to the goals and success of the organization.
Here’s what I see as the big roles of marketing in 2017:
1. Understanding better than anyone, who the customer is and how best to reach and communicate with that individual or community;
2. Driving clarity and articulating the organization’s brand and value proposition, both internally and externally;
3. Managing the end-to-end customer experience;
4. Integrating communication channels so that money is being spent on the right mediums and messages are consistent and support the brand;
5. Tying marketing activities to the goals of the organization and the customer sales cycle, and measuring the role and effectiveness of marketing in achieving these goals.
By clarifying the marketing function, it can be elevated to a higher state of existence in an organization where it becomes an essential part of the organizational “mix” and a key contributor at the senior leadership level.