Most of the places you “should be marketing” don’t matter

control panelYou’ve probably heard from experts about the “best place” to reach the people that support your mission. There’s lots of talk about where you should be focusing your efforts: events for fundraising, social media for generating engagement, etcetera.

You have more choices than ever before and sometimes it feels like the hits just keep on coming. While you work to bling out your e-newsletter, you start hearing about the cool stuff organizations are doing with video. It feels like a never-ending cycle of just trying to keep up.

And while all the new channels give you options to meet your future supporters in countless different ways, at the end of the day, most of those channels won’t matter to your organization. Don’t care how shiny they are, they just won’t matter. Sometimes it feels like separating the wheat from the chaff is as laborious as actually separating wheat from chaff (whatever that is).

So in those moments when you are reading about the new online thing and it sounds as sexy as whatever Apple is putting out this week, stop. I mean it…stop…and ask yourself:

  • What are my marketing objectives and is this channel consistent with meeting them?
  • Whose support will I need to meet those objectives? Who is my audience?
  • Where does that audience hang-out? How do they consume information?
  • Does this channel create meaning for that audience?

For example, donor retention might be high on your list of priorities. And when you look at the people who give to your organization, you find that a good old-fashioned, hand-signed thank you note (the non-boring variety) means a lot to them. And while you could reach these folks by Twitter, a “Thanks peeps #yourock” isn’t going to pack the same punch, either because your donor audience isn’t down with the bird, or because that type of interaction doesn’t make them feel like you really care.

Every channel isn’t for every organization. So when someone starts to tell you that you really should be using [insert the much hyped channel du jour], don’t jump to “how do I make this work for my organization?” Think about what your marketing is supposed to help you accomplish, i.e. what’s your goal, , who the people are on the other end of that marketing, and the types of interactions that get them excited about what you do.

In sum, resist shiny object syndrome. It’s expensive and will makes you want to poke your eyes out with little bamboo sticks. Ouch!