3 Barriers to Integrated Marketing Success

joleen_headshotwebWelcome to guest blogger Joleen Ong, who is the Marketing & Publications Director at NTEN—the community of nonprofit professionals who put technology to work for their causes.

Successful integrated marketing goes beyond the communications products you put out there in the world. Don’t forget your internal process.

The pattern I see in so many nonprofits is a hyper-focus on  what content to create and post, but neglect of the critical internal factors that enable success, such as collaborating across departments. But…

A strong integrated marketing strategy features consistent brand messaging across all channels PLUS an  internal team that works together closely and seamlessly to provide a unified experience to supporters. After all, your audiences view and support your organization as a whole, not in fragmented silos of IT, fundraising, marketing, programs or leadership. Streamlining the process internally to accurately and fully convey your organization’s identity ensures you don’t confuse your audience with different personalities, opinions and voices.

Here are three common mistakes that undermine your organization’s marketing:

#1) Forgetting Your Colleagues are Stakeholders 

Getting internal buy-in and participation is a critical factor for success. It matters what your supporters think of you, but your colleagues’ perception of you and your work is equally important. You need the insights, feedback and needs of your colleagues across departments.

Solution: Your teammates were hired because of the skills and expertise that they possess for the job: tap into it! Building trust amongst your peers takes time and genuineness, but you can start with the most flattering question, “Can I get your opinion on something?” Then, find a way to integrate this opinion into your work, and give credit where credit is due. It’ll help you out in the long run, and help you with #2

Show colleagues in other departments how effective, consistent marketing benefits them, and ask for their help. Then set up a process to easily enable this ongoing collaboration, and train and support folks in using it. A huge thank you never hurts.

#2) Having Multiple Personalities 

Skilled marketers act as a sounding board and filter for their colleagues across all departments to ensure their organization’s messages are in alignment with its brand. But that never stops the perennial territorial tug-of-war among departments.

For example, when your program director’s intern creates your organization’s new “viral” video campaign, or your executive director gives an interview that strays from the position you’ve stated in press releases, your nonprofit may be perceived as having multiple personalities.

Solution: Ask colleagues to join you in cross-departmental meetings to nourish cross-pollination between departments. Weekly checks-ins to discuss content for the week, or fundraising program proposals are an easy and natural way to start.

And, in time, holding staff members accountable with feedback mechanisms like 360-degree performance reviews help to institutionalize collaboration as a key staff responsibility.

#3) Crafting an Unclear Call to Action (or none at all)

Donors and the community are the lifeblood of any nonprofit, and support is their vote of confidence in your organization’s work. You need their support—so ask for their help and tell them—as specifically as possible—how giving it will advance the cause they care about.

We’ve all received overlong emails that, despite the number of words, don’t clarify a call to action. Read the new report? Attend an event? Sign a petition? Donate now? Messages that have too many asks, or none at all, will confuse your audience. You’ll risk losing their attention.

Solution: Play into the principle of effective repetition by being consistent with what you’re asking them to do. Avoid multiple asks in a single email message that direct recipients to different pages on your website. Instead, make one primary call to action.

If your nonprofit has a lot to say, take the time to coordinate how to disseminate these messages, which channels to use, and when to push each one. Some messages might better fit in a monthly newsletter, a weekly update email or social media.

Consider using images in lieu of more text, and embed a link where the supporter can learn more on your website. The bottom line: always keep the user experience in mind.

What else can derail integrated marketing, and what are other success factors? Please share your experience here.

P.S. Get more nonprofit marketing guidance plus in-depth case studies, templates and tools via the Getting Attention blog & e-news. Subscribe today

Guest Blogger on February 20, 2014 in Right-Things Right-Now Marketing | 2 comments
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