Why Marketing in the Municipal Sector Matters

For the longest time, marketing was viewed as a discipline that was used primarily by the private sector to boost sales and profits. However, in recent years, public sector organizations are discovering the benefits of marketing in helping them take a more strategic approach towards their business operations. In fact, that’s the main reason we launched the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing – to help public sector organizations apply the principles of marketing to a service-driven environment, to more effectively implement social (behavioural) change such as quitting smoking, adopting more active lifestyles, getting their kids immunized and to help organizations deliver more effective marketing communications campaigns.

Of all the public sector organizations that could benefit from marketing, municipalities have the most to gain by adopting marketing practices. Municipalities deliver programs and services that affect the lives of citizens every day, whether it be helping a new business get started, delivering community recreation programs, ensuring effective transit or beautifying our cities. And any organization that is concerned with attracting and servicing customers has a lot to gain by adopting a marketing orientation.

In fact, if one were to replace the word “profit” with “impact” or “results”, many of the principles of marketing can be transferred from a business application to a public service application. Here are just a few of the ways that marketing can be used in a municipality:

  • assessing, prioritizing and increasing take-up on programs and services,
  • delivering compelling communications to target audiences,
  • adopting and implementing service standards,
  • branding a municipality to attract  tourists or businesses,
  • increasing compliance with a new policy,
  • implementing social change programs such as health promotion,
  • generating non-tax revenue through sponsorships and other revenue generation initiatives.

At MARCOM, June 9-11 at the Shaw Centre in Ottawa, I’ll be presenting a one-day workshop entitled Marketing in a Municipal Environment where we will discuss the many facets of marketing as it relates to a municipal setting. The workshop will be ideal for anyone who is responsible for delivering programs and services and concerned about “doing more for less” / “doing more with what they have” or who wants to adopt a more business-like approach towards its operations.

Having come from a municipal environment before launching my own business, I wish I would have been more familiar with the principles of marketing because it would have made my job so much easier, instead of relying strictly on instincts to carry me through. I look forward to sharing my learned experiences at MARCOM this year.

Later, BC


Take the Re-Think Quiz

Further to my last post ‘It’s Probably Time to Re-Vamp Your Sponsorship Program’ why don’t you take a short quiz and see where you stand?

7 Signs You Need to Re-Think Your Sponsorship Program

You may want to re-vamp your sponsorship program if:

[  ] The biggest innovation you’ve made is the introduction of the Platinum level to your generic Gold, Silver and Bronze packages;

[  ] You have difficulty explaining to a prospect how your sponsorship offering is going to help them achieve their business objectives;

[  ] You aren’t sure how to respond when a sponsor or prospect tells you they’ll be allocating most of their money to social media marketing;

[  ] You are not leveraging social media to engage your audiences and build sponsor visibility;

[  ] You’re struggling with how to identify new prospects or how to expand your sponsorship program;

[  ] You’re not really sure what it means to “activate” a sponsorship;

[  ] Your revenue is decreasing each year and your best excuse is “the economy”.

If you’ve checked at least two, you’d derive some benefit from attending one of my workshops: Designing Your Sponsorship Program and/or Selling Your Sponsorship Program being held in Toronto and Ottawa this fall.  These workshops are designed to bring you up to speed with the latest trends in sponsorship marketing and provide you with the strategies and tools to grow your sponsorship revenue, even in these challenging economic times. Take either workshop to refine your skills in a specific area, or take both workshops to learn a whole new approach to designing and implementing a successful sponsorship program!

Register NOW


Moving From Selling Benefits to Selling the “Experience”

With over 160,000 non-profit organizations in Canada, the competition for sponsorship dollars is fierce, with some companies receiving 300-500 proposals a week. And like it or not, the reality is that there could be dozens or even hundreds of organizations offering sponsorship features and benefits similar to your proposal. So the big question is, how do you stand out from the sea of competition?

One of the most powerful approaches you can use is to move away from features and benefits as your key selling point and focus on presenting the “sponsorship experience”. In other words, you want to provide an opportunity for your prospect to see, hear, touch or get a taste of your sponsorship opportunity – to appeal to the emotional “hot buttons”. Here are some quick tips on how you can sell the “experience”:

  • Visual Representation – Use visual images to give your prospect a sense of what it’s like to be part of your audience. If you have a conference, show pictures of your customers listening intently to a speaker or show a crowded trade show floor. If you are running a public event, show your customers participating in one of your signature activities. Where possible, show sponsor profile opportunities in these visual images.
  • Auditory and Customer Emotional Representation – Post an on line video (through your web site or a link to You Tube) that features your event or activity and includes audience testimonials. By demonstrating the customer experience, you are providing the prospect with a clear vision of your product and its importance to your audience.
  • Peer-to-Peer Representation – If you have current sponsors, feature their testimonials in your promotional material. Nothing speaks stronger than a third-party endorsement of your product.
  • Impact Representation – If your organization is dedicated to a specific cause, use case studies and statistics to demonstrate the results that are achieved through sponsored initiatives. This provides a clear vision of the good work that a sponsor can be a part of through their involvement with your organization.
  • Creative Representation – Brainstorm for other creative ways you can demonstrate your sponsorship product or brand through one of the senses. For example, if you are an environmental group that is involved in planting trees, include a seedling with your proposal that includes a quote from a community member that benefited from your program (don’t try this on line).

The bottom line is that by focusing on the “sponsorship experience”, you can move beyond logos and other unpersonalized benefits to an emotional level where the prospect begins to visualize themselves as a willing participant. And once you make a connection at this level, the rest is a matter of details.