If you are a small to medium business owner, chances are you don't know about #GivingTuesday, but it's in everyone's interest for you to find out.

On 2 December 2014 #GivingTuesday will be held for only the second time in Australia.  It is a national event that looks to kick start the giving season (peace, love, goodwill, santa) and encourage individuals and businesses to engage in a charitable act for a nonprofit.

Now aside from all the warm fuzzy, altruistic, socially good, self-evident, kumbaya reasons why this is a good idea, it is a fabulous opportunity for small to medium businesses to attract new customers, build customer loyalty and demonstrate their corporate social responsibility (CSR).

AuthorJuanita Wheeler

There’s a significant amount of confusion, especially within nonprofits regarding strategic marketing plans.  And that’s really unfortunate, because a well-developed plan plays a critical role in steering an organisation towards success by getting the best return on limited resources and avoiding key challenges that many organisation’s face, like mission drift and low return/poor outcome projects.

Here are answers to the seven questions I am most frequently asked about strategic marketing plans.

1. Is a strategic marketing plan and a communications plan the same thing?

No.  Absolutely not.  A strategic marketing plan, as the name suggests is about the strategic big picture. 

It looks at the overall vision and mission of the organisation, critiques them, and then looks to find the best way to achieve them given the organisation’s strengths and the reality of the market environment in which it operates.  When done well it is a warts and all, no holes barred, no sacred cows process.

It tackles big (and often touchy) questions like:

  • How can we ensure we are still here in 5, 10, 20 years to continue the mission (or do we plan to achieve it and shut up shop sooner)?
  •  If we continue as we have been, what financial resources does that give us to invest in future capacity building and long term sustainability so we are still operating to change the world?
  • What do we do as an organisation that is better than any other competitor, be they nonprofits, social enterprises, for profits or governments? 
  • Given the environment in which we operate (including competitors and funding opportunities) what products or services can we provide that are superior to anyone else?
  • Is this a niche we can claim and make our own?
  • Is the ‘demand + willingness to pay’ for these products or services (from clients/donors/governments/foundations) such that the resulting revenue makes them financially viable?
  • How can we brand this new, more focussed strategic identity? 
  • What skills and resources do we need to acquire/channel here to make this successful?
  • Who are our target markets for donors, for clients and supporters?
  • What do they need from us to come on board?  How are we going to deliver it?  How are we going to build the relationship and keep them?
  • How are we going to use our limited resources strategically to make this happen?
  • Are we currently providing products or services that someone else does better or more efficiently?  Can we drop that and focus on something we can do better without critically devaluing our brand?  (Yes, even if we have done it for 20+ years).
  • Are we trying to be everything to everyone?  Are we undertaking activities because ‘we always have’ or because it is the pet project of a Board member or long term employee, rather than because we can do it better than any other nonprofit competing for funding and donor dollars?
  • How can we work smarter not harder?

In contrast, a communications plan is typically a tactical plan that flows from the strategy.  Having identified key target markets during the strategic marketing process, the communications plan will speak to how you will communicate with that target market.

2. What goes into a strategic marketing plan?

This can range from organisation to organisation, consultant to consultant, but as a minimum, they will typically include:

  • An analysis of the organisation’s internal strengths and weaknesses
  • An analysis of the operating environment, including other nonprofits competing for funding (market analysis)
  • Identification of what products/services the organisation can:
    • Deliver better than anyone else (the value proposition), and
    • For which there is adequate ‘demand + willingness to pay’ (market analysis)
  • Clearly identified target constituents (clients, donors, supporters, funders) based on the refined product/services to be offered
  • Branding development recommendations regarding how the brand needs to be modified/tweaked/overhauled (if necessary) to reflect the more strategic target market and product/services mix
  • Pricing and positioning strategy – how the pricing and positioning for products and services will interact with market demand/willingness to pay to ensure financial viability (including where services to clients are ‘free’ and the funders are governments, donors or community partners)
  • Delivery channels – how constituents can engage.  For example, can clients access or book services online, or Skype for support; can supporters donate, volunteer or buy merchandise online; can members access members-only content and support communities online, or can this only be done via traditional in-person or snail mail channels.
  • Marketing communications (also known as tactical marketing).  This is the materials (collateral) part of marketing – and will include recommendations about how you are going to promote your products and services to your target market.  It will make recommendations about the marketing mix, e.g: brochures, E-News, reports, E-Books, flyers, blogs, videos, flash mobs, website content, social media – based on your target market.

3. What is a strategic marketing plan going to do for me?

Many, many things.  To name but a few:

  • It will act as the roadmap for future operational and budget discussions about project selection, resource priorities and goal setting.
  • It provides clear target markets which staff (paid and unpaid) can use every day when crafting project operations and messages to ensure they focus on the right people.
  • It can help encourage a sense of understanding and community amongst staff as everyone works towards a clearly defined long-term strategy.
  • It encourages all staff to start thinking strategically
  • It provides a sense of pride to individual staff members who can trace how their daily tasks link directly into target markets and goals in the big-picture strategic marketing plan.
  • It prompts the organisation to focus limited resources (human and dollars) towards delivering products and services that the organisation can deliver better than anyone else.
  • It discourages mission drift into activities which aren’t strategic
  • It prompts the discontinuation of programs that aren’t in the organisation’s strategic interest, but are continued based on emotional or historic rationales
  • It encourages the embracing of new opportunities, innovations and process that will strategically enhance the organisation, and its mission – for the long term.
  • It encourages investment in strategic capacity building for the long term, rather than short term non-strategic spending.

4. Does my nonprofit need a strategic marketing plan?

Yes.  In order for your organisation to change the world, it needs to be solvent, and running effectively.  In order to advance towards your mission sooner, your organisation needs to have funding reserves for strategic investment.  In order to ensure long-term viability, and create the necessary reserves for investment in your organisation, you need to get strategic.

5. Does Full & Frank provide in-house strategic market planning sessions and writing services?


6. How much does it cost?

The cost will vary based on a range of factors including:

  • the size and scope of the organisation and its activities
  •  the number of participants (e.g. staff and board members) you would like engaged and consulted in the development of the plan
  • how comprehensive and long-lasting you would like it to be
  • the number of iterations/revisions you would like following the initial draft plan
  • the current status of your organisation’s strategic sophistication

Just as house building projects cost differing amounts, so do different consulting projects.  Please feel free to contact me and we can discuss what can be achieved with your available budget.

7. Will it be painful?

It will be exciting and invigorating for people who want to advance the organisation strategically to the next level.  It will be challenging and uncomfortable for people who are adverse to change, are emotionally wedded to the way things have 'always been done' or who like squirreling away knowledge about the organisation and its operating processes as part of ensuring their value and status.

Having said that, we work to create an environment of enthusiasm, respect and inclusion where all players have an opportunity to contribute.

Take the plunge.  No one cries.

AuthorJuanita Wheeler

Be honest.  Did you click ‘Update Now’ and switch to the new Facebook Page layout without doing your homework on how to use it properly? 

Don’t feel too bad – the majority of people did exactly the same thing.

Facebook has been progressively rolling out its new timeline format for Pages since March.  Any late adopters who haven’t opted in will have their Pages automatically transferred to the new format by 23 June.  Many organisations have already made the switch to the new layout via a quick button click following a suggestion from Facebook.

But, the majority of Page owners seem to have moved to the new format without finding out what the changes mean for them, and doing the necessary housekeeping.

We’ll be covering the new Facebook Pages format in detail at the upcoming Facebook for Nonprofits workshop on Friday 20 June – telling you everything you need to know, and showing you how to do it.  Here’s a sneak peak into the first 3 things you need to know right now.

#1 Check your cover photo

As you know, your cover photo is the prime real estate on your Facebook Page.  The total size of the cover photo has not changed (851 x 315).  Nor has the size of the profile picture (load at 180 x 180, displays at 160 x 160), but the profile picture now appears higher, and slightly to the left, potentially covering key words or images in your cover photo that were visible before. 

The Page name, Like, Follow and Share buttons are now imposed over your cover photo at the bottom, so ensure there is no logo, text, calls to action, or distracting elements of your image in the bottom 65 pixels.  

#2  Tweak your About section

Facebook has done everyone a favour by automatically flashing your URL in your About section – which was one of the most basic blunders that Page owners were previously making.  As it now features in its own dedicated space, you should remove your website URL from the general text wording, freeing up an extra line to describe what you do.  You also need to check you have the correct URL featured. Don't laugh - I've seen it.

New Layout About section.png

#3  Prioritise sections (blocks) in the left hand column.

The left hand column has become increasingly important.  Key elements of your page have been relocated there – including your Apps Tabs.  And if you aren't already creating and using custom apps tabs – we need to talk.

The sections (blocks) that appear in your left hand column include People, About, Apps, Photos, Reviews, Posts to Page & Likes.

You should prioritise these to get the most important sections, based on your specific organisation, as high as possible on the Page.  For example, if you are a nonprofit running a coffee shop enterprise, Reviews might be very important to elevate – selling the merits of your fantastic brew.  If you are a member-based association, photos might be very important.  If you are running terrific Apps with competitions, e-news sign-ups and more, then you will want to prioritise the Apps section (and prioritise the individual Apps within the section – which we'll be covering at the workshop).

You can manage your sections by clicking on the pencil icon in any of the left hand column sections, which will bring up the Manage Sections window.

The only sections that cannot be moved are the People and About sections, which must remain in the top spots.  Other than that you can reorder at will.  This is not something that is set in stone.  Smart marketers will prioritise the photo section when new images are available, prioritise the reviews section when a great 5-star review is received, and prioritise the apps section when running a competition.

This is just a tiny taste of all the changes and things you need to know about the new Facebook Pages layout.  The changes are, for the most part, very positive.  Smart marketers will take the time to learn how to avoid pitfalls and get the maximum advantage from the changes.

A limited number of tickets are still available for the all-day Facebook for Nonprofits workshop on Friday 20 June, where we shall go through the changes in far greater depth, with practical tips and directions on what you need to do.  A special offer for people who read this blog is available.  Simply enter the promotional code ‘letsbefrank’ at the checkout to receive $50 off a single All Day Workshop ticket.  Valid until tickets are sold out.

AuthorJuanita Wheeler

If you are a nonprofit organisation that engages with humans, then Facebook should be a serious part of your organisation’s strategy.

Why?  Well, for a start:

  • There are over 12 million Australians using Facebook every month, and
  • A whopping 9 million of us are checking Facebook every day – that’s almost 40 per cent of the Australian population. 
AuthorJuanita Wheeler
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Telling your organisation's story does not have to be expensive or time consuming.  Using a great app that costs $0.99, nonprofits, social enterprises and for-profits alike can tell their story via one second snippets, that can be recorded, sliced and compiled in less than a minute a day.