Editor's note: this is the eighth post in our Write Your Own Marketing Plan series by Expert in Residence Susan Burnash. In case you need to catch up, check out our From the Experts section to see each of Susan's previous posts.
Whenever I teach a class for nonprofits on “How to Write a Marketing Plan” I always get the question, “What is the difference between your marketing goal and your marketing objectives?” I can definitely see how these two words can seem similar, and be confusing, to the nonprofit marketer. After all, in almost every other application they can easily be interchanged with the same meaning. But, when it comes to your Nonprofit’s Marketing Plan it is important to truly understand the difference between your Marketing Goal (Goal Statement) and your Marketing Objectives. So, in an effort to clarify the difference, here’s some simple things to remember about both.
Your Goal Statement is a single paragraph that provides a “Big Picture” look at this year’s Marketing Plan including:
- A concrete direction for all of your marketing efforts
- A desired outcome as a result of all of your marketing efforts
Here’s an example of the Goal Statement from The National Center for the Prevention of Home Improvement Fraud’s Marketing Plan
“The goal for our 2010 Marketing Plan is to create a clear road map for our community outreach efforts to expand our organizational reach from local to regional, so that fewer homeowners will be victimized, fraudulent contractors will think twice, and contractor fraud statistics will decrease significantly.”
Your Marketing Objectives can be many within your Marketing Plan. Each must contain a specific:
- Activity that will occur
- Target market (audience) that will be utilized
- Measurable outcome to be achieved
- Timeline for the activities to occur within
Here’s some examples of Marketing Objectives that a nonprofit might have:
- Add 50 more volunteers to our program in six months
- Increase annual donations by 30% ($15,600 for individual donations, $150,000 for corporate donations)
- Increase web site visits by 30% within 12 months
- Increase existing media coverage to include 2 feature stories in senior publications
- Increase number of Likes on Facebook by 75%
- Raise $50,000 through 6 special events during the year
For most nonprofits, marketing objectives are focused around money, people, public awareness, and resources. Why? Because these are the things nonprofits need to be successful. But that doesn’t mean that your nonprofit will have the same marketing objectives as every other nonprofit organization. Each nonprofit will have different marketing objectives based on their organization’s size, age, structure, financial stability, and level of sustainability. And, each year these marketing objectives will change or be revised based on the successes achieved from the prior year’s marketing plan and efforts.
The bottom line is this: You must define your marketing objectives on what your organization specifically wants to achieve each year, and define the specific timeline that will be used to accomplish them. And, you must make sure that the objectives that you choose to include in your marketing plan are not only focused but realistic too! In my years of experience, I have seen more nonprofits fail because their marketing objectives were completely out of reach. They weren’t realistic about the time, resources, money, expertise, and passion needed to succeed.
My advice as a nonprofit marketing coach working with clients writing their own Marketing Plan is this: (1) Write down your wildest dreams for your nonprofit in terms of services, clients, staff, public awareness, and funding (use bullets). (2) Take each of these bullets and break them down into specific things you think could be done to get there (more bullets). (3) Take each of these bullets and define a Marketing Objective around it. (4) Take a maximum of five of those Marketing Objectives and make them part of your Marketing Plan. If you think only one is realistic, then only use one. (5) Each year, based on the success of the prior year’s objectives, add the next logical Marketing Objectives to that year’s Marketing Plan.
It may take you several years to accomplish all the marketing objectives you define. Some years, they may not work, some years they will work so well you will want to repeat them. But year by year, and step by step, those wildest dreams you wrote down will look more and more like realistic possibilities. And, before you know it, you will have built a nonprofit organization that is organizationally healthy, financially stable, and on the verge of being everything you and everyone else involved dared to dream about.
So, keep moving forward on your Marketing Plan and add this section to your worksheet:
VII. MARKETING OBJECTIVES
This is where you define what you want for your organization using simple and easily translatable terms. It is also where you define the results you want to occur and in what time frame that should happen. By detailing each area you will be able to be more specific with strategies, tactics, budgets, timelines and measurement.
Directions: Answer the questions posed below and be sure to add each Marketing Objective on a separate line. You will need this to create your Marketing Strategies and Tactics.
- What do we want to achieve this year with our marketing and community outreach efforts?
- What are the specific measurable we hope to achieve?
- Within what timeframe will these activities occur?
Objective 1: ________________________________
Objective 2: ________________________________
Objective 3: ________________________________
Add more as needed but don’t include more than you can possibly do in one year!
Next: Lesson 9 – Defining your Marketing Strategies (come back soon to learn more!)