State of Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

Organizations in the public and non-profit sectors have long debated the applicability of marketing concepts and management approaches, many of which stem from private sector notions of consumption and economic choice, as well as an environment in which market forces rule. In recent years, however, there has been growing recognition that marketing can be used to enrich public sector and non-profit management and to better serve citizens and stakeholders.

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Some government organizations are turning to the following specific applications of marketing to better meet their objectives:

  • Marketing of products and services. Many public sector organizations offer products and services for a fee (either on a cost-recovery or for-profit basis to support core public good programs). In this context, marketing is not dissimilar to marketing of products and services that occur in the private sector.
  • Social marketing. This entails campaigns to change attitudes and behaviour of a target audience or audiences (e.g. anti-smoking, energy conservation, emergency planning, healthy living, etc.)
  • Policy/Program marketing. This type of marketing includes campaigns to convince specific sectors of society to accept policies, or new legislation (e.g. anti-tobacco legislation, gun control , funding for the arts,etc.).
  • Demarketing or “don’t use our programs” marketing. This would include campaigns to advise and/or persuade targeted groups not to use government programs/facilities/services (e.g. use of hospital emergency rooms, use of 911 for non- emergencies, etc.).

A major role has also emerged for marketing in the non-profit sector, where it is now used to encourage donors, recruit volunteers, get clients to buy or use products/programs and services, advocate policies to key stakeholders, execute behavior change campaigns, enhance the image and branding of their organization, attract new members, forge partnerships and strategic alliances, and define the very programs and services offered by organizations.

The practice of sound marketing management in these two sectors clearly offers important benefits in terms of responding to the heightened expectations of citizens and stakeholders, engaging target audiences in the development of programs and services that affect them, shifting the focus of campaigns from awareness to behaviour change, better targeting resources, and improving program/service outcomes.

Recognizing the growing importance of marketing in the public and non-profit sectors, The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) was launched in 2005, to help public sector and nonprofit organizations overcome the unique challenges they face in their marketing and communications initiatives. CEPSM’s mission is “to advance the marketing discipline in the public and nonprofit sectors”.

The core competencies of CEPSM include:

  • Product, Program & Service Marketing
  • Digital Marketing & Social Media Engagement
  • Sponsorship & Partnership Development
  • Revenue Generation
  • Social Marketing (Attitude & Behaviour Change)
  • Branding Management & Strategy
  • Integrated Marketing Communications
  • Strategic Communications
  • Service Excellence

After 11 years of working with hundreds of organizations in both the nonprofit and public sectors in Canada (and a few international clients), here is my take on the state of public sector and nonprofit marketing.

Generally speaking strategic marketing management, with a few exceptions, is not broadly recognized or practised in the government, nor in the non-profit sectors. In addition, many of the best practices in marketing have not been adopted by government and non-profit organizations.

The government sector, in particular, lacks the culture and organizational support to advance the practice of marketing. Government organizations lack a common understanding of strategic marketing principles, from the senior executive level down. This is evidenced in both the culture and the behaviour.  Specifically, they…

  • are more focused on tactics and implementation than on strategic marketing and planning;
  • do not have a proactive, systematic approach to identifying high value, client-centered ideas and turning these ideas into new products, programs and services;
  • do not tend to measure to improve results and ensure accountability of marketing expenditures;
  • do not support the marketing function both in terms of funding and culture; and
  • have difficulty attracting, training and retaining staff with marketing skills given the culture and lack of organizational support.

Here are some top observations on the State of Marketing in the nonprofit and public sectors:

  1. Marketing function tends to be housed in the Communication function and being run by people with very little background or experience in marketing.
  2. Very few organizations develop a comprehensive marketing strategy. We noted a few cases where organizations do have a separate marketing department with  marketing staff and no evidence of an overall marketing strategy.
  3. Lack of a structured process for identifying, planning and implementing programs, services or campaigns.
  4. Lack of attention to segmentation. Hard to believe that in 2016 we still hear the words “general public”.
  5. Lack of marketing research and failure to develop monitoring and evaluation strategies.
  6. Lack of attention to branding and positioning.
  7. Lack of attention to conducting competitive analysis, especially in organizations where they have major competitors.
  8. Do not take all the 4 p’s into consideration. Mostly focus on communications or promotion.
  9. Too bureaucratic and lack flexibility.
  10. Confusion between marketing and communications, and marketing roles & responsibilities unclear.
  11. Public sector & non-profit organizations with revenue generation mandates lack business and marketing/business expertise and culture.
  12. Lack of staff incentives for achieving marketing objectives.
  13. Tendency to be more reactive than proactive.

Not a pretty picture. I wish I could give better news but introducing a marketing function and culture into a government operation or a non-profit is a major challenge because of the nature of the beast. Marketing requires some risk-taking, moving quickly as opportunities arise, changing direction and most important a focus on clients rather than the organization.

This is not to say that there are not some pockets of great marketing in government and non-profit sectors but they are rare. I’ve blogged about successful marketing efforts in the past and I’ll continue to do so as I see them.

Implications

So where do we go from here?

As a starting point, there is a need to educate senior managers in government and non-profit organizations about the value and applicability of strategic marketing management principles. First, this requires recognition across all levels of government of the value of strategic marketing management both in terms of the potential impact on the effectiveness and efficiency of programs, services and outreach campaigns, as well as the benefit to citizens.

Within government organizations, there is wide recognition of the role and value of the communications function. There is an opportunity to broaden this function to include a broader strategic marketing mandate and to re-position it as a new, expanded role for the communications community. However, it is important that the function is led and staffed with people who have a marketing background.

As we move into the digital age, government and non-profit organizations need to examine the process by which they develop and manage client-centred products, programs and services. Marketing management systems and practices must be adopted from the planning level across. Furthermore, measurement systems must be put in place to track success against marketing objectives and make necessary adjustments to improve performance.

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The Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) offers public sector organizations an easy and affordable way to acquire expertise from marketing strategists to help develop a successful marketing strategy. The entire process can be completed in a very short time.

CEPSM’s 3-Step Marketing Consultation and Training Program
How does the 3-Step Marketing Consultation and Training Program work?

1. Orientation
First, we familiarize ourselves with your organization, overall goals, objectives, issues, target audience (s), marketing communications activities, existing marketing research and other information that helps us understand your organization and environment.

2.Training for Strategy Development
Once the initial orientation has been completed we will guide and facilitate your team through a two-day structured training and strategy development workshop using our exclusive CEPSM’s Marketing 101 for Marketers and Non-Marketers to develop an actionable integrated marketing strategy. The strategy will include: a situation analysis, goals and objectives, a strategic market segmentation plan, branding and positioning considerations, the 4 p`s (i.e. marketing mix), key messages, and a broad range of promotional tactics and a performance measurement approach to evaluate the strategy. At the end of the two days, you will have a draft marketing strategy framework.

3. Fine-tuning
At the end of the facilitated two-day session, CEPSM will work with your team on fine-tuning the plan with details such as specific timelines & costs as part of developing the final strategy and plan. In addition, we are available via e-mail/telephone or face-to-face meetings to discuss any questions that arise in the development of the final marketing strategy.
CEPSM also offers a coaching service which includes but is not limited to: additional training – coaching sessions to the management of a marketing program and function. This includes adhoc advice (oral or written) to support your organization in implementing the strategy plus trouble-shooting to ensure the success of the marketing strategy.

What are some other Marketing Consultation and Training Program services do we offer?

One-Day Marketing 101 for Marketers and Non-Marketers Workshop
This workshop provides participants with an overview of public sector & non-profit marketing and takes participants through an innovative session on best business practices on developing marketing strategies in a public sector environment. The workshop will also highlight the importance of market research to support a decision-making framework. The workshop combines a mix of interactive presentations, with group discussions and exercises that will enhance the participant’s skills. The resource for this workshop is CEPSM’s Marketing 101 for Marketers and Non-Marketers Workbook.

The workshop explores the strategic elements of a marketing plan and how to transform organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach. We also explore the most effective methods for acquiring and using marketing intelligence.

The workshop will give participants an overview of marketing best practices and approaches, the benefits of coordinated branding and positioning into the integrated marketing communications process, the benefits of a collaborative strategy and how to optimise shared assets.
The result of these sessions will be to establish a structured process and template for participants to develop a strategic marketing plan for their programs, products and services

  • What participants will learn?
  • An overview of marketing in a public-sector or non-profit environment;
  • Systematic processes and strategic elements for developing and action-oriented strategic marketing plan;
  • How to set realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals;
  • How to develop a “client-based” mindset in a public-sector and non-profit organization;
  • How to use market research to support a decision-making framework;
  • How to develop a system to measure progress, monitor performance and evaluate marketing efforts
  • How to improve the execution of marketing communications strategies

Full service consulting to develop a comprehensive marketing plan

Using a collaborative, step-by-step consulting approach, we work with our clients to develop action-oriented strategic marketing plans that can be implemented within the unique constraints of a public-sector environment. We have worked with countless organizations, large and small, across Canada to create both customized, high-level marketing plans and comprehensive strategic marketing solutions.

For a full list of CEPSM’s Training and Consulting Programs and Services check-out our web site https://cepsm.ca/

For more information, contact:
Jim Mintz, Managing Partner and Senior Consultant CEPSM.ca
Office: 343-291-1137 E-mail: jimmintz@cepsm.ca

Jim Mintz is a Managing Partner of the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing (CEPSM) where he presently works with several public sector and nonprofit clients.

For copy of full report and study contact jimmintz@cepsm.ca

 

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Reflections on MARCOM 2014

marcom-professional-development-forum-logo

Another great year for MARCOM 2014… “Canada’s premiere educational forum for public and not-for-profit sector marketers and communicators”. Great speakers and trade show; great venue at the Ottawa Convention Centre and this year’s food was the best ever. No question that my colleague Claire Mills and the advisory committee, volunteers and sponsors did a great job in organizing and running the event.

The forum Keynote, Mitch Joel, President of Twist Image, was terrific as usual. This year he discussed five new movements that have changed the way we do business forever. The next five years he suggests will be about the convergence of these five major movements that will require organizations to adapt like never before. For more information check out his book; CTRL ALT Delete: Reboot Your Organization…Your Future Depends on it.

I really enjoyed doing my pre -MARCOM social marketing workshop this year; we had a great group of attendees.

The peer – to – peer round tables were a hit again this year and really pleased with doing a round table with my colleague Kathleen Connelly, on Integrated Communications and Stakeholder Engagement. We had a great turnout for this year’s round table. There is no question that public sector and not-for-profit organizations today are looking for approaches that motivate various audiences to get engaged and take action.Here is the link to our roundtable handout.

I enjoyed doing the opening panel on day 2  with my colleague Bernie Colterman and Stephen Faul (Imagine) for the Not-for-Profit and Association Sectors. It’s no secret that both sectors are facing serious challenges. Increased competition for mind-share and dollars, changing demographics and new technologies are just some of the dynamics that are forcing them to take a fresh new look at their business models.

I discussed how the traditional not-for-profit culture needs to change to adapt to today’s environment and how they need to embrace marketing as a means of making this cultural shift. For more information on my thinking on developing a marketing culture, check out How to Create and Sustain a Marketing Culture in a Public Sector or Non-Profit Organization

Also congratulations to my colleagues at Intersol for the Intersol Advice Café: Fresh Ideas for Smarter Marketing which ended the MARCOM forum. Very useful exercise and I hope we continue doing this event in future. The concept of the  marketing community of practice  sharing information, experience, best practices and advice is a splendid idea.

Finally, I would like to share something that happened on day 2. There was a presentation on Blueprint 2020: A Case Study on Engagement through Social Media. For those who are not familiar with Blueprint 2020 launched by the Clerk of the Privy Council in June 2013, it is an unprecedented engagement exercise that offers federal public servants across the country to take part in a dialogue about the future of the public service.

The session discussed the use of social media and collaborative tools, as well as more traditional methods, to participate in a dialogue on the future of the public service.

There is no question that any effort to help shape the public service of tomorrow and find fresh ways to uphold the tradition of excellence that is the hallmark of Canada’s Public Service is a darn good idea. In a rapidly changing world shaped by technology, globalization and an inundation of information and data, clearly the Canadian public service needs fresh ideas.

After the presentation was completed, an interesting  question came from one of the MARCOM delegates. The questioner wanted to know if part of the process for Blueprint 2020 included consulting with clients/customers of the government.

Can you imagine any business organization who was trying to respond to questions like; Where do we need to be in five to ten years, How do we have to change to get there, What best practices should we adopt to help us do our job better  not consulting with their clients/customers?

No question that there needs to be an internal component but talking to yourselves without reaching out to those you serve is not good strategy. And no credible marketer would ever dream of such an approach. (keep in mind that the question was asked at a marketing forum)

The questioner also pointed out that public servants are continually criticized by the public and wouldn’t it be a good idea to dialogue with Canadians.

This is a pivotal time for Canada’s public service. As events evolve rapidly in an increasingly complex world, public servants must continue to ask themselves how and what they do for Canadians is relevant to the needs of the people they serve. A good start would be talking to Canadians as part of Blueprint 2020.

I hope you’ll join us next year at the Ottawa Convention Centre June 10-11, 2015 (Workshops June 9).

sprott logo

For those of you who want to continue learning about marketing check out the Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing

There is a rising need for highly-skilled marketing professionals in the public and non-profit sectors to effectively bring their organization’s products, services and messages to the marketplace. The Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing is uniquely designed to equip participants with the information, tools and solutions necessary to skillfully and mindfully navigate their way through the fascinating and complex world of marketing. This program engages participants in a rich learning environment that reinforces theory with practical, real-life examples based upon the extensive experience of the instructors.

  • Learn what you really need to know about marketing in the public and non-profit sectors in 1 week;
  • Gain the skills and expertise to assume more senior positions and responsibilities;
  • Share experiences with marketers and communicators in your sector and expand your network.

​Check out our Professional Certificate in Public Sector and Non-Profit Marketing.

Register Now 

 

 

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Branding and Stakeholder Engagement – the Missing Links in Government Strategic Communications and Marketing

This blog was written by:

Jim Mintz, CEPSM and Kathleen Connelly, Intersol Group Ltd.

 

The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.

George Bernard Shaw 

 

The major challenge facing public sector organizations today is that they have great difficulty getting their message out. More important, many can’t seem to get their messages to resonate with their diverse target audiences, including internal and external audiences, stakeholders etc. Most communication and marketing approaches generate some awareness but not much else.  Public sector organizations today are looking for approaches that generate something more substantial like motivating people to get engaged and take action.

This is a common problem with most organizations we work with at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing and Intersol Group Ltd. Many organizations are very focused on tactics, but very few have strategic communications plans to guide all of their activities. They tend to be reactive rather than proactive. Even in cases where they do have a strategic communications plan there tend to be some critical missing links.

The success of any communications effort is dependent on a strong underlying strategy and two main factors: getting the audiences right and telling them a story that matters to them.   Get that right, and everything else falls into place. And this means understanding the internal and external stakeholder landscape and identifying the right opportunities to bring meaning to the messages.

Strategies to increase awareness, support and understanding both internally and externally must include a holistic view of strategic planning, business and operational goals, marketing, communications, creative strategy combined with the granular details required for implementation in areas such as web, social media channels, media relations, inbound content-based communications, outbound marketing, and analytics.

From our experience there are two missing links in many public sector communications plans. Without a branding framework to guide the communications and a full understanding of the stakeholder landscape to encourage true engagement, the best communications or marketing strategy will “fall flat on its face”.

Missing Link #1:  Branding is much more than a visual identity or a tagline for an organization; it’s a core business tool, a strategic platform for both communicating and building value among its audiences.  A brand contains within it the complete value that an organization delivers, a relevant promise that matters to its audiences and is aligned with the organization’s strategic and operational goals.

branding

Branding is a strategic investment. It leads to an improved ability to internalize and communicate organizational vision and mission. A well-conceived brand provides clear and easy to understand principles that guide your communications and marketing efforts. The internalization and integration of a brand leads to the brand promise being lived by everyone who works for the organization, at all points of contact. “Living the brand” means more efficiency, and more return on investment for your communications and marketing dollar. A brand stands for the relationship that an organization has with its employees and partners, as much as it represents the relationship that it has with the people it serves.

Missing Link #2:  Stakeholder Engagement when done well increases the credibility of the organization.  Involving stakeholders and attending to their concerns establishes the organization as fair, ethical, and transparent, and makes it more likely that they will want to work with the organization. For the above reasons, identification of stakeholders and their specific concerns makes it far more likely that the organization’s communications efforts will garner both the support they need and the appropriate focus to be effective.

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To be successful, organizations have to rally support for what they are trying to achieve while building and maintaining good relationships with key stakeholders that are integral to future work. The objective is to work with stakeholders in a way that strikes a balance between meeting their expectations while reaching the organization’s communications and marketing goals.

Finally, a number of principles must always underpin and guide stakeholder engagement approaches. They include open and effective communication, a focus on seeking mutually beneficial outcomes, inclusiveness to ensure a variety of voices are heard and engaging in a way that builds mutual trust and respect.

                                               

Kathleen Connelly, Senior Consultant at Intersol Group, and Jim Mintz, Managing Partner at the Centre of Excellence for Public Sector Marketing, have many years of experience working with senior levels of government and bring fresh perspectives on communicating in a public sector environment.  

For more information about our services, please contact:

Jim Mintz | jimmintz@cepsm.ca or Kathleen Connelly | kconnelly@intersol.ca

 

Marketing Workshops Spring 2017

Marketing 101 (for Marketers and Non-Marketers)

March 29, 2017

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

This workshop will provide participants with an overview of public sector and non-profit marketing. The workshop will teach participants how to develop a marketing  strategy and plan as well as how to transform a government/nonprofit organizations from using the traditional communications approach to an integrated, strategic marketing approach.

The workshop will focus on:

  • An overview of marketing;
  • Systematic processes and strategic elements for developing and implementing an action-oriented strategic marketing plan;
  • How to set realistic, practical marketing objectives and goals;
  • How to evaluate marketing efforts with practical ideas on how to improve execution;
  • How to develop a client-based mindset in a public sector or non-profit organization;
  • How to use market research to support a decision-making framework;
  • How to develop a system for measuring progress and monitoring performance.

REGISTER NOW

 

Intro to Social Marketing Planning for Attitude and Behaviour Change

March 9, 2017

 

343 Preston Street, Ottawa, ON,

Awareness.  Are you getting tired of hearing that word? If you want to move your marketing and communications efforts beyond merely public education and awareness campaigns and into the realm of action-oriented attitude and behaviour change then this workshop is for you

 

The workshop will focus on:

  • How to use a step-by-step structured approach to prepare a social marketing plan that is actionable, has maximum impact, and leads to successful implementation;
  • How to present and “sell” your social marketing strategy to management;
  • How to implement a social marketing program on a very tight budget;
  • How to monitor and evaluate your inputs/outputs, outcomes and impacts;
  • How social marketing gives you a single approach: for mobilizing communities; influencing the media; activating key stakeholders; and building strategic alliances with business.

REGISTER NOW

 

 

 

 

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