In contrast to many people’s fears and assumptions, writing an effective marketing plan doesn’t have to be a headache. In fact the best advice would be to keep things simple, with a concise document that is easy for all your stakeholders to understand and realistic enough for the team to implement.
It is worth breaking down your marketing plan into sections and whilst there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, the guidance in this article should help you formulate a simple, useful marketing plan to keep your charity on-track.
Business overview & Charity Objectives
The first priority is to summarise your offering and the core objectives or goals of the charity. Describe your current situation, to provide a benchmark against which you can adapt and refine your marketing plan and business in the coming years. Outline your customer proposition, the marketing advantages and competitive challenges you are facing with charities in the same space. Who is your core competition in the market and how do they compare. Define the key benefits of the servcie you provide in the community. Think about any threats or outside forces that will affect your charity in the coming year, for example changes to the law or new technology. Highlight any significant initiatives, plans to re-locate, launch a new service, re-brand or recruit staff for example.
Summarise what you want your marketing activity to deliver. How do you want the charity to be seen by your local community, current customers and potential fundraisers? Are you aiming to drive brand awareness, educate, get footfall to your shops, encourage people to events? Ideally set your objectives against current benchmarks, for example document your current and target annual fundraising levels, grant applications, number of volunteers. Other aims could be growth in newsletter subscribers, website traffic and social media followers. Do make your objectives realistic and measurable – its important to be able to evaluate your performance.
Define your primary and secondary target markets. Describe your target audiences, their demographics, including age, gender and any other important characteristics. Build up a profile or buying persona. What information do the different audiences require in order to become engaged in the charity’s activities? What will influence the decision to donate, volunteer or apply for a job?
Having explored who your target audience is, you need to determine what are the best methods or channels you should use to market to them. Tailor your plan so your marketing message gets maximum exposure and engagement with the right people! For example, social media might not be the best way to engage the older demographic, likewise you probably wouldn’t advertise a cake bake in the Financial Times! Once you’ve fine-tuned the most appropriate channels create an action plan with timescales. This could be a list or calendar of activity by channel, for example a schedule of e-shots, blogs, exhibitions, outdoor adverts by week or month.
In addition it can be useful to scope out a top-level content strategy – your key marketing messages for the next quarter or year. For example sharing case studies monthly of how you’ve helped a family, weekly team member updates, monthly fundraising barometer updates.
Essentially your tactics should include a top-level schedule of all the actionable steps you plan to take to market your charity, with timescales. It is also vital to include a budget breakdown of the ballpark costs associated with each of your tactics. You will then be able to refine the plan, ensure it is affordable and determine the return on investment after the campaign.
Your marketing plan should be a living, working tool to drive your fundraising levels. You need to evaluate your progress and adapt your plans as your charity grows. Schedule regular review sessions to analyse your key performance indicators against the targets set at the out-set. Ensure you moderate your activity by channel or spend according to the results.