A lot of marketing campaigns waste money. Why? Because most marketing campaigns start at the wrong place. They start with tactics without first establishing the strategy. After 20 years of examining successful campaigns against poor-performing ones, we identified a clear pattern. And based on our research, we have developed a framework that’s fool proof.  Here’s what we found most organizations were getting wrong and how you can get it right every time:


  1. Tactics are tools, not strategies.

Most people confuse tactics like social media, a website, or an app, for a strategy. These are tools of the trade and they can only do their job if they are in the right place at the right time, targeted to the right audience. Starting with a tactic to solve a problem is never a good idea. You can blast out social media ads, spending hundreds a day, and still not have it reach the right people or activate them to attend your church, donate to your cause or attend your event.


  1. You must have clear short- term and long-term goals.

While that might seem obvious to most, it is not widely accomplished. People often either don’t have a clear win defined for the organization or they simply have an unrealistic one. You must understand what the win is, in a way that is measurable. For example, how many new names do I want to acquire in this campaign. Or, how many new attenders do we want this Easter at our church? These goals help inform campaign efforts.


  1. You must understand what your audience(s) want from you.

This is critical. Most organizations focus on what they want from their audiences: donations, purchases, email addresses, volunteer hours. But they seldom ask the most important question at this junction, “What does my audience want from me?” Once you understand what your audiences wants and needs, you can create avatars to start developing ad copy and creative that speaks directly to what’s important to them. Otherwise, you’ll flounder in a sea of ambiguity.


  1. Now you’re ready for strategy.

Strategy is a roadmap to lead your audience to a destination. For example, we want to cultivate people who are interested in serving in our community. So, a strategy would possibly be to create a “Find your Place in your community” quiz that walks people through a series of questions and at the end gives them different opportunities to serve at local nonprofits. You would drive traffic through a Google search campaign as well as a social media ad campaign targeted to people in your area who match the volunteer avatar you created during your audience profile. Again, we started with a wide funnel and continue to refine it.


Most marketing or donor acquisition plans have more than one strategy because we often have more than one audience profile.


  1. Develop and deploy tactics.

This is when tactics work: they are created and deployed as part of a strategy to reach an audience with a specific goal. Let’s take the example above. The tactics to reach volunteers in a city might be the building of a quiz that helps people identify volunteer opportunities in their city. Another tactic would be an SEO optimization of the quiz page so people can easily find it on a Google search, Google ads, Facebook and Instagram ads, an influencer sponsored post, and any other tactic that would resonate with the audience you are trying to reach. If you know who they are, the language that they respond to, the message that resonates with them and where to find them, then you’ll have a much greater chance to get volunteers to connect with different non-profits in your area.


The framework is solid. It works every time. The challenge is that the tools and tactics are moving targets. SEO, Facebook and Instagram ad capabilities change constantly and unless you understand the nuances of what goes into managing them, you can waste time and money. If you need help navigating through this ever-changing tool box of tactics, we’d love to come along and help you succeed. 


Here are a few options on how we can help you:

  1. Download our ebook on Marketing Tactics Every Nonprofit and Church Should Know in 2020.
  2. Sign up for our weekly email with practical help.
  3. Contact us and see if we are a good fit for your organization.
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