Mission-Based Marketing

Mission-Based Marketing: Positioning Your Not-for-Profit in an Increasingly Competitive World
by Peter C. Brinckerhoff

Peter Brinckerhoff has written a great book for anyone interested in making their organization more responsive and relevant to its community.

“Marketing” is often a dirty word in the nonprofit community, since it conjures up images of carnival hucksters and hard-sell advertising campaigns. Of course, PR and advertising are important to nonprofits, and these activities are part of a mission-based, customer-focused nonprofit’s marketing plan. Brinckerhoff has identified six steps in the nonprofit marketing cycle: 1) market definition and redefinition; 2) market inquiry; 3) service design & innovation; 4) setting your price; 5) promotion & distribution; and 6) evaluation.

Nonprofits suffer from a unique “marketing disability” that inhibits their ability to reinvent themselves in a customer-focused way. Brinckerhoff explains that marketing is about meeting customer wants, not customer needs. Nonprofits, their staffs, boards, and donors/funders, often believe that wants are largely irrelevant — nonprofits are designed to address clients’ needs and gaps in services.

Such thinking not only dulls the senses to client satisfaction, it also leads to thinking of donors and other potential funders (government contracts, grants, regulators, etc.) as adversaries rather than as customers.

Nonprofits are becoming larger, more sophisticated, more “professional,” and increasingly competitive. Brinckerhoff asserts that the days of a nonprofit’s monopoly in a particular market is rapidly giving way to intrepid, marketing savvy, customer-focused competition. Organizations slow to respond to changing markets are likely to find themselves under increased stress and decreasing clientele and funding support.

The book is an excellent resource for boards as a strategic planning aid and for executives and staffs as an operational tool, complete with checklists and tables to aid each step in the marketing cycle. As important as these procedural tools are, the real contribution of this book is to encourage all in the nonprofit sector to think about marketing as an integral part of overall strategy and operations. Small, incremental changes will, over time, cause great systemic change and improvement in a nonprofit. This book helps one develop the “marketing eye” that will open the opportunity for such changes.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction
2. Marketing: The Competitive Edge
3. Being Mission-Based and Market-Driven
4. Being Flexible and Changing with the Market
5. The Marketing Cycle for a Not-for-Profit
6. Who Are Your Markets?
7. Who Are Your Competitors?
8. Asking Your markets What They Want
9. Better Marketing Materials
10. Technology and Marketing
11. Incredible Customer Service
12. A Marketing Planning Process
13. Resources for Marketing
Final Words
Appendix A: Survey Sample
Appendix B: Focus Group Questions