Friday, January 12, 2018

Objectives and Strategies First, Please

At a recent marketing committee meeting for a local not-for-profit organization, we immediately dove into what to do regarding a number of marketing tactics from website, newsletter and Facebook page to brochures, videos and member database. The intent was to prioritize the tactics as a part of the organization's marketing plan. The problem was not the act of prioritizing. The problem was that we were looking at the tactics as a group independent of specific target audiences or marketing objectives. We immediately jumped to the tactics without discussing or linking them to the objectives, strategies or target audiences. 

One should organize marketing plans starting with marketing objectives and target audiences. The strategies and tactics are then selected in support of those specific marketing objectives and target audiences. 

For instance, for this organization, the marketing objectives might include:

  • Build general community awareness of the organization, its mission and its programs
  • Build awareness among specific target groups
  • Recruit more members
  • Retain existing members
  • Create an emotional connection with members
  • Recruit volunteers
  • Recruit board members
  • Recruit board committee members
  • Identify high potential donors
  • Develop members as donors
  • Seek more grants
  • Seek more sponsorships
  • Promote specific programs
  • Promote specific events

Target audiences might include:

  • Conservation/ecology oriented citizens
  • Conservation organizations
  • Kayakers
  • Canoeists
  • Bicyclists
  • Hikers
  • Bird watchers
  • Boaters
  • Fishermen
  • Organizations focused on the above mentioned activities
  • Yacht club members
  • Community philanthropists
  • Local university biology departments
  • High school science departments
  • The City of Rochester
  • The Rochester City School District
  • Businesses and residents along the Genesee River
  • Farmers with farms adjacent to the river
  • Local municipalities
  • Soil & water conservation entities
  • National, state and local funding sources

One must prioritize the audiences and objectives before one can prioritize the tactics. Prioritizing the tactics independent of the audiences and objectives just doesn't make sense.

I hope any time someone asks you what should be done about a specific marketing tactic or tool, your immediate response is to ask about the marketing objective and target audience so that you can offer a meaningful response.  

A marketing plan should have the following hierarchy: organization objective -> marketing objective -> marketing strategy -> marketing tactic. Target audiences are often articulated as part of an objective, but they could also be articulated as a part of a strategy or tactic. The important point is to prioritize marketing tools or tactics in support of specific target audiences in your marketing plan.

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