Guest post: 5 free marketing tools for charities
This is a guest blog post by Zoe Amar. Zoe is head of marketing and business development at Lasa, a charity which provides services to Shelter, Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureaux and thousands of other charities across the UK. She is also on the board at Bright One and is a chartered marketer. She tweets from @zoeamar
Many charities are currently struggling with justifying their marketing spend. Whilst I would argue that cutting marketing budgets too aggressively could ultimately lead to missed opportunities to generate income, I’d like to share some free tools that charities of any size or type can use to boost their marketing.
- Define your target audience. If I had to recommend one thing that every charity could do to improve their marketing it would be this: reach agreement on a specific definition of their target audience. Many organisations- not just charities- are sometimes unclear about who they are trying to reach. It is not enough to say ‘young people’ or ‘housing associations,’ for example. What age and gender are the individuals you are trying to reach? Where do they live? What else do you know about them? If you are trying to target organisations, what are the roles of the people you need to speak to? Who else would be involved in making the decision to use your organisation’s services? Who are the priorities?
If you don’t have this information, talk to colleagues. Then do some market research to establish a more detailed picture of your audience. Then- and this is vital- make sure you get buy-in from all levels of the organisation so that everyone knows exactly who your stakeholders are.
- Clarify your messaging. Once you’ve defined your target audience, work out what the critical points are that they need to know about your charity. What do you want them to remember about you? One of the keys to successful marketing campaigns is crystal clear messaging. Ambiguous or muddled messaging will confuse or even put off your stakeholders.
- Contradeals. If you can find another organisation who is trying to reach the same people as you, how about some reciprocal publicity, e.g. mentions in each other’s e-newsletters? This can be a brilliant- and free- way to reach your target audience. My top tips here are to avoid approaching direct competitors, and to think creatively about who you approach. There will be organisations out there who are very different to yours but who are trying to reach the same target audience.
- Use social media for market research. Social media is a brilliant way to undertake market research for free. Whilst it is not a substitute for more in-depth, quantitative research, it can be a great way to push out online surveys and to gather nuggets of invaluable information. For instance, on the day I’m writing this blog I’m glued to Karl Wilding’s timeline, who is tweeting from a major event for funders. For more tips about using social media for market research see my blog for Bright One.
- Decide what success looks like. The ultimate test of your marketing is whether you’ve achieved the goals for your campaign. So you need to know where you’re trying to go, otherwise how will you know if you’ve got there? Develop some clear measures for success, such as whether you have reached your fundraising target. The art of effective metrics is measuring what you were originally trying to achieve through your marketing.
None of these tools will cost you anything, although they will take a little time to use and think through. If ever there was a time to communicate effectively with our stakeholders it is now. These tips will help you do just that.
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