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Marketing is…

“Marketing is anything that helps or hinders sales or use of products and services.”

These words are from Terri Langhans, whom I heard speak at an ASAE conference a while back. This is her definition of what “marketing” is, and I think it’s dead on.

Marketing is not a function limited to the marketing department, the membership department, or some marketing program. Marketing is everything we do as an organization that helps or hinders our members and customers. Where does this apply? Everywhere. Some simple examples:

  • Does your online presence help or hinder sales or use of products? Is it easy, difficult, or impossible for your members and customers to join, renew, register for events, and buy products from you?
  • When someone calls your organization, are they serviced quickly and appropriately by pleasant staff? Or are they passed off with “I don’t handle those questions, you’ll have to contact another department”?
  • Does your database and your data help you to better serve your customers, and better communicate with them? Or does it get in the way of providing outstanding service?

Simply, marketing is everything you do. So you need to be sure you’ve got systems and processes in place to manage all of these “touchpoints.”

So how are you and your organization doing with your “marketing”?

About author:
  • Wes — Thanks for your post and thinking about marketing. My only concern with this definition of markekting is that if marketing is everything then it may become nothing. Yes every organization should answer the phone and have a clean database, but these are foundational for any business. If this is all an organization does, I would not consider them to be marketers. Tony

  • Tony, that’s a fair observation, but I don’t think I suggested that if the only thing an org does is answer the phone and manage their database that they are marketing. The greater point is that if marketing is only the domain of the marketing department (or whomever) it won’t be nearly as effective as when an organization pays attention to ALL aspects of its customer interactions.

  • Wes — Good point. But you and I have worked in this field long enough to know that proper use of databases and lack of marketing are perhaps the two biggest constraints on growth for associations. So when you list the three items above and ask, “How are you doing with your marketing?” I get very concerned. Giving an organization a “pass” for doing the very basics of staying in business does not serve them. Tony

  • Fair enough. My three points were just examples for illustration; associations need to do a lot more that just this, of course.

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“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

“We came to Wes because we were very frustrated with our existing AMS and we wanted to improve our capabilities as soon as practicable. Wes very quickly helped us through a process of identifying our needs, identifying potential vendors, and selecting a new system that we’ll be able to move into very quickly. I especially appreciated Wes’s candor about our processes as well as the systems we were looking at. He was a great resource to have in a period of high anxiety for our organization. I would highly recommend Wes for any similar project.”

Jack Chiasson, CMP Executive Director
National Association of Life Brokerage Agencies

“Wes was able to come in and offer tangible, relevant advice that made us more productive immediately. I value his understanding of databases but more so, his understanding of how nonprofits work. There was no lost time educating him about how membership organizations are “different.” Wes recommended changes in processes as well as tips and tricks that were easy to implement made an immediate positive impact.”

Mary Pat Paris, Executive Director
International Registration Plan

Mary Pat Paris
International Registration Plan

“This is the second database implementation we’ve done since I have been at Western Arts Alliance (WAA). The first I did on my own. This time we engaged Wes Trochlil as our database planning consultant. Let me tell you, this process is a whole lot easier having Wes on your team! For a small association like WAA, it’s tempting for board and EDs to question the justification and expense of a database planning consultant. But it’s the small associations that need Effective Database Management the most. Wes strengthened our planning process, clarified our needs requirements, helped us steer around solutions that couldn’t meet our objectives, and saved us money in the long haul.”

Tim Wilson, Executive Director
Western Arts Alliance

Tim Wilson
Western Arts Alliance
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