Gail Bower's Blog

Gail BowerThis blog will help you and your organization flourish.

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    by Gail S. Bower
Tuesday
May072019

Insider info for executive directors: Growing audiences who love and support your mission

The 2019 primaries are around the corner. If it hasn’t happened to you already, you’re about to receive a wave of mail, email and other messages from candidates you may never have heard of who suddenly want you to know all their accomplishments.


Why am I telling you this? See if this sounds familiar.

Substitute “candidate” with “nonprofit” and “#GivingTuesday” for “primaries” and you may see a scenario that hits closer to home.

Scrambling to get your name in front of potential donors (voters) just when you need the money (votes) is sure to backfire. 

Marketing: ongoing and strategy-fueled

Marketing needs to be an ongoing, strategy-fueled activity in your organization, and too few organizations are investing in effective approaches.

How do you know if your approach is effective? 

  • Do you find yourself having to explain over and over again what your organization does?
  • Are you concerned that board members have no idea how to describe your organization so they can be top ambassadors?
  • Have the numbers of donors or social media followers plateaued?


If you answered “yes” to these questions, your approach needs some fresh eyes.

Unfortunately, too many organizations have passionate young staff members cranking out social media posts but with no end game in mind. All this energy and effort is potentially a waste. They have no way to measure success because now strategy is defined.

How to Increase Audience Love and Engagement 

So what can you do to improve the effectiveness of your efforts so that you grow audiences who love your mission and support you organization with their time and dollars?

Here are three suggestions.

Invest. First be prepared to invest in marketing and a strategy. It is not a frivolous expense. Rather it is integral to every organization’s business model. The right tactic delivered at the right intervals to hit the right levers can—and should—deliver a tremendous windfall that builds over time.

The right investments can do wonders. One of my clients, for example, invested heavily in branding and graphic identity every time she launched a new event or initiative for her organization. The polish and sophistication of these graphic statements gave audiences and sponsors a level of comfort because they perceived that the events had been around forever, thereby eliminating risk and buyers’ remorse.

In today’s climate when we’re all receiving information with the torrent of a fire hose, poor investment (e.g. with no strategy) or no investment in marketing imperils your organization. 

Dig Into Your Data. Learn more about who your audiences are demographically, psychographically, and technographically so you can attract more individuals just like them. Unfamiliar with these terms?

Demographics: age, gender, ethnicity, residence, household income.Psychographics: values, lifestyle choices.Technographics: type and frequency of technology/social media usage.

For example, picture two men who love music. 

Now, let’s add in more data. One person is white, 72, suburban, male, and subscribes to the nearby city’s orchestra. His secretary prints out his email for him.

The other person identifies as Latino; he’s 35, an artist, an activist, with a day job managing a residential condominium in a city. He has a cool web site, posts on Instagram, and follows his favorite musicians and artists on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Would you market your concert the same way to these two individuals? Would you describe them similarly to sponsors?

The more you know about your audiences the better you can develop new services and customize your plans, messaging, and tactics. Then your communication efforts support the building of relationships and engagement.

CTA. That’s short for “call to action,” and you’ll want to include one in each of your promotional marketing efforts. Do you know what yours are? (Hint: it should not always be “give us money.”) Be imaginative and inviting. Be easy to connect with and provide options over time so people can make choices.

If these suggestions are helpful, join me for a webinar on May 30 where I’ll provide 5 more. Geared for nonprofit executive directors and CEOs, What You Don’t Know About Marketing, What It’s Costing You, And How to Fix It is one hour to empowerment, even if you (or your CEO) know nothing about marketing. To learn more, click here.

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