Friday, February 10, 2012

The Great Experiment: Marketing for a Small Organization

I've been hard at work with our newest "experiment" for my non-profit. Below is a discussion on marketing strategy applicable to any small organization looking to get its voice heard in the larger community. In it, I've outlined a number of different tactics necessary to garner the two important aspects of a successful company: Word of Mouth advertising and Good Will.
As the bold new world we view before us has shown, people love to support that which they appreciate, even for minimal benefit.
It is our job as people, NOT marketers is to create that connection that engenders that support and appreciation for what we do.

I'm never sure how many double letters are in committee...
This has been an interesting show for us, operations wise. I have spent a lot of time working on establishing new contacts and a good amount of thinking, and I would like to discuss a way of breaking down the different prongs of what we do and how we will operate in the future.
There were quite a few obstacles in the way of our group - two of our members had persistent medical issues, two of us were directly involved with the production itself, and we all had to juggle this within our already busy schedules. I thank you for your participation, be it large or small. Every bit has helped us get the word out.
That said, I have broken down what we do into it's various components, and I would like to talk about how to proceed with our future shows.
The primary dichotomy lies between Advertising and Marketing.
ADVERTISING is responsible for creating and working to create the media surrounding the marketing for the show.
  1. It includes the CREATION of our posters, postcards, and the like.
  2. It requires the DISTRIBUTION of said posters, postcards at local sites and businesses. (btw, I still have hundreds of photo postcards - who wants to start handing them out/mailbox stuffing this
  3. weekend?) Also, BOXTOPPING- putting posters on take out boxes for the participating restaurants (did we even do that this show?)
  4. It involves EACH of us PARTICIPATING in any and every form of social media. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn (where applicable), YouTube, Letters to the Editor, and anything else we can think of.
  5. Working to get on to EVENT CALENDARS for both print and online media. I think we give this too much stock, but better too much than too little.
  6. Finally, we must form BUSINESS CONTACTS with organizations in the community to create opportunities - program ads, sponsorships, or just cajoling them to put up posters. Note that sponsorships might be for the benefit of specific organizations (like a night just for any recipient of X or Y organization).
MARKETING is needed to spread the news about our shows and our organizations. It's the direct contact with people as opposed to the passive display of our posters and the like. This will involve a LOTof email and phone conversations.
1) Contacting PLACES OF WORSHIP to offer comp tickets for glergy and discounts in bulk for members. (we need to do better about pursuing the latter) This work is only limited if you have a particular target audience. We need everyone to come.
2) Working with NONPROFIT COMMUNITY WELFARE ORGANIZATIONS to spread the word and provide comp tickets for their members. This would also entail working with the business contacts to find sponsorship opportunities.
3) Reaching out to SOCIAL GROUPS like nursing communities and other orgs (boy scouts? 4H?) to provide discount tickets.
4) Connecting with Newspapers, Theatre Reviews, and other forms of media JOURNALISM to get them in to see our shows and put us in the spotlight.
Most of the advertising REQUIRES a group effort.
But business contacts and the whole marketing arm NEEDS to be done by individuals creating and sustaining their social networks. Some of you have more thorough sets of connections than others, but I need people
to start specializing when it comes to directly contacting organizations for our productions.
We need someone who is willing and able to explore connections within the theatre community and our community.
X and Y would be perfect, but they aren't on this committee, which makes them good RESOURCES for contacts, but we still need to do the legwork ourselves.
We need another individual who can work with groups like the nursing homes, senior centers, et. al to get bulk ticket sales.
We need a person to work with Religious centers to give the tickets to clergy and encourage members to attend.
We need someone working with non-profit welfare type orgs coordinating comp ticket distribution to their members.
Finally, we also need someone to connect with business owners in the community and get them to advertise in our programs and sponsor our shows. They will need to work with the Finance committee to deal with
ad and sponsorship monies.
I forgot to mention, we also need to create and maintain a list of all our contacts in order to help with the distribution or our marketing and advertising.

But sending mass emails is not really an effective tool. We need to contact everyone as individuals, and not just the generic "Sir or Madam." We don't have the luxury of people jumping to see our shows, and they'll just ignore us if we don't make an actual CONNECTION with them. This takes a little more time, yes, but it is indispensable

Every word of this is true for religious orgs, businesses, the media, and even the nonprofits we donate tickets to.

We must be human beings involved in a great organization, not simply an email signature for a faceless "culture" group.

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