The Anatomy of a Successful Marketing Program

Today we welcome back guest blog favorite and Stelter’s Editorial Director, Katie Parker. Katie worked for major international consumer magazines and websites for 12 years before joining our Stelter team as the head of our content strategy and execution.

Gut-check time. Let’s peek at your upcoming 2018 communications by answering one simple question: Are you managing a marketing calendar or overseeing a marketing plan?

Frankly, you need both, but you can quickly tell the difference between products set to drop on specific dates (the marketing calendar) and a program that drives you closer to your strategic goals (the marketing plan).

Programmatic thinking can be the difference between meeting your goals and missing opportunities.

Do I Have a Good Program?

The answer is “yes” if:

  • You’ve considered all communication channels that are relevant to your specific audience
  • All defined channels work together to tell your story
  • It represents a manageable number of touches for you and your team
  • You have the budget to support it
  • Each element pushes you closer to your goals
  • You have clear ways to measure success

Years of global marketing research regularly point to repeated touchpoints as the way to drive results. There’s a famous researcher, Dr. Jeffrey Lant, who coined the “Rule of Seven,” which states that you must contact your prospects a minimum of seven times in an 18-month period.

Whether the specific number of seven is a hard and fast rule is debatable. The essence of Dr. Lant’s message is that your target audience must hear from you consistently over time. No lone-wolf mailer, email, social media post, telemarketing call or face-to-face conversation is likely to close a gift for you.

Succinctly, you build familiarity and trust over time. It’s only through frequency of communication that you can establish the need of your organization and, ultimately, create a relationship with a donor.

Beyond building a strong list, here are five overarching buckets that, together, represent a strong marketing program with regular donor touchpoints:

1. Educate

Prospect education speaks directly to the 68 percent of Americans over the age of 18 who don’t have a will in place (source: NMI Healthy Aging Database® study). Additionally, even those who already have estate planning documents need triggers for revisiting their wills, designating beneficiaries of their life insurance policies and distributing their investments. Under this umbrella is the continuous drip of planned giving information.

Consider these touchpoints:

  • Planned giving website
  • eNewsletter program
  • General planned giving brochures
  • Planned giving videos

2. Target

Here you can isolate key conversion points and advance prospects through the marketing funnel. A mailer on the IRA rollover, for example, can be delivered to a tight audience (in this case, segmented by age), and key in on a single message. A targeted campaign is a focused, tactical initiative to achieve a specific marketing goal.

Consider these touchpoints:

  • Single-focus direct mail campaign
  • Single-topic email
  • Social media post
  • Targeted landing page

3. Research

These communications seek out insight from your donors. They can inform your content, rate your donors’ funding priorities, establish benchmarks, qualify prospects, refine marketing approaches and uncover areas of opportunity.

4. Steward

Don’t forget the two most important words in your work: “Thank you.” Stewardship marketing thanks existing donors and can be used to mine for additional gifts. It creates advocates for your brand. Additionally, it speaks to all the great things that have been accomplished at your organization as a result of their gift(s).

5. Test, Review and Revise

Don’t neglect to revisit and improve your program! Testing is a great measuring stick for results. Consider testing the direct mail package (a self-mailer versus an envelope), the subject line of your email or the offers you’re using to gain leads.

Each communication is more than a calendar date, it’s part of the momentum that pushes you to achieve your 2018 goals.

How many of the five buckets are you filling today? Which one is the hardest for your nonprofit to accomplish? We’d love to hear what you find to be the biggest communication hurdle for your marketing program.


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