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Every coalition is formed with the intention of doing some good. However, building a coalition itself does not solve the problem like magic, but requires its members to increase awareness, build capacity or conduct a messaging campaign in order to make an impact within their community.

“But marketing? Why?”

Although many non-profits don’t see themselves “promoting a service or product,” the nature of their work to spread the messages and build awareness around their organizations is awfully similar to the works of marketing.

For example, if you are one of the prevention specialists or coordinators with a SPF-SIG grant to establish a coalition, your job responsibilities most likely entails using predetermined methodology to explore local conditions or to coordinate/administrate the assigned prevention program and support all other efforts.

Among all your duties in the job description, you still need to make an impact by using the right communication media, creating appealing visuals, writing the right verbiage and targeting the right group of audience. All these efforts lie in the field of marketing.

That is, after forming a coalition, your job does not stop there but actually demands marketing know-how to further accomplish the program’s or coalition’s goal with the desired impact.

As heavy a burden as it sounds, the solution to this would be to collaborate with individuals with the marketing knowledge or a local/national marketing agency. They can help you fulfill the requirements on your grant checklist and save you the trouble navigating through everything all by yourself.

The following 4 things are what they can bring to the success of engaging more activities with the stakeholders:

1. Message and Medium

First, campaign message needs copywriting that is susceptible to your audience no matter if you are recruiting community members to join your coalition or to run a campaign that brings public awareness. Based on a new study from Microsoft, people’s general concentration has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds by 2013, possibly even less now in 2015. Therefore, someone with the ability to craft messages that cut through the clutter and draw people’s attention will make the difference of whether or not your audience care to continue reading.

With the content, utilizing the right medium to disseminate your message comes next. Should you use print media or digital media to advertise your coalition? Should you design an ad on a print publication or create a billboard ad that sits on the highway? Or better yet, on a lower budget, should you create a website or use social media, such as Facebook or Instagram, to further strengthen your message? These questions will require knowledge in the marketing field.

Further Reading: You Now Have a Shorter Attention Span Than a Goldfish

2. Visual and Presentation

Imagine yourself browsing through an anti-drug coalition website that is filled with mere words or a site that has poor navigation and badly photoshopped images, how long will you stay in the site and how much will you actually learn from them? Study show that you might only take 0.05 second to decide that.

Further Reading: Attention web designers: You have 50 milliseconds to make a good first impression!

In reality, people trust sources they find appealing with consistent branding. Messages that are supposed to persuade your audience need visuals to increase the retention and consumption of the information on which the first time they lay eyes. First impression is also 94% design related.

Further Reading: First Impressions Matter: The Importance of Great Visual Design

All designs requires specific art directions to accompany the tailored messages to highlight the reader’s senses and pop the text or vice versa. Text and images goes hand in hand. Lacking either one might very quickly turn away your audience.

In addition, a majority of graphic design is presented in digital formats in this time and age. Understanding the ins and outs of digital technology while designing also influences the readers’ experience.

If your coalition are producing works that have poor visual quality, stimulation and inspiration, how much do you think your audience will engage further with you or care about your message?

3. Digital Technology

As many coalitions are trying to make themselves heard, the digital world is a great place to plant a resource mine for all stakeholders to tap into.

Optimizing the search engine results helps stakeholders to find your information when they look up related information. Social media and websites can facilitate internal communication to increase engagement or generate awareness by creating free online resources and valuable insights for stakeholders to view or download. Email marketing can help you inform your members of most recent activities and continue to engage them with the most recent news in and out of the organization. The benefits can go on and on and on, but due to its complexity, the online sphere is still yet to be utilized.

However, while this may baffle someone without training, collaborating with a marketing team/agency can boost campaign efforts and improve program results, not to mention taking off of your shoulders all the added weight of learning all these by yourself.

4. Result Tracking

As many coalition are founded based on research, the need to have measurable data to demonstrate the value of existing work is undeniably appreciated and indispensable. Yet, while this may seem like an easy task, to accurately gather tracking data from websites, social media, print media and other forms of marketing methods are quite different from interpreting survey results with quantitative data or what seems obvious, let’s say, the number of attendance of an event.

Different measurement and audience segmentation require thorough understanding of the media platforms and the purpose of action taken for them. If you have a website that is intended to invite community members to use its resources, you might want to see what and who is visiting your website. Or if you are creating an event, you might want to see how many people have seen the event and how many actual signed up and showed up.

For some, looking at these numbers can be fairly intuitive, but what to do with the numbers could be a myth to most people. A marketing team that is able to read the data and help your coalition manage future expectations and planning will be most helpful.

In addition, before and after you interpret the data, to conjure up ways to optimize that platform might be another daunting task for those who doesn’t know how to integrate different platforms. Someone with the knowledge of integrating digital and traditional media could bring a different card game to the table.

Marketing professionals could also bring a fresh idea or method to what the field is so used to. For coalitions, it could be an integrated method that helps augmenting the coalition message to the audience crowd the campaign so long desires.

On the Last Note

All in all, you can see why coalitions also need to “market” themselves. Although the word doesn’t have the best connotation for some, coalitions can take the action to give the word “marketing” the positive spin it rightfully deserves.

Whether your coalition has a team member doing such work, has the extra budget to further your marketing efforts along with a marketing team member with an agency, or simply hire an agency to concentrate on doing all the marketing work for you, make sure you do see what will make the best use of your time before you dive in the water.

Further Reading: 3 Steps to Choose the Right Marketing Agencies

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