10 Nonprofit Marketing Strategy Mistakes to Avoid

Marketing strategy mistakes

Having a strategy for anything is great. It helps us achieve more of our goals and prioritize projects that matter most. But for marketing, a strategy can be the difference between success and utter frustration. A good marketing strategy needs certain checks and balances that connect it to your overall organizational goals.

Don’t let yourself fall for common marketing strategy mistakes. Use this list to ensure your marketing strategy has what it needs to be a useful tool for your team and deliver real results for your organization. Verify that all of your boxes are checked before bringing an actionable and challenging, yet realistic strategy to your boss.

Goal-Based Marketing Strategy Mistakes

The most common mistakes we see in the strategy creation process revolve around goals—not having them or not using them. Setting goals is the first step to building a marketing strategy, offering motivation and insight as well as something concrete to reach for during the creation and implementation process.

You didn’t set marketing goals.

Translate your organizational goals into marketing goals that you can track. The more specific, the better. Outline what your ideal results for your marketing efforts would be. For example, if one of your organizational goals were to increase awareness about a rare disease in your community, one marketing goal could be an increase in new visits to the informational page on your website that focuses on that disease.

You didn’t use actual data.

How will you pick a number that’s challenging, yet attainable if you don’t know how these metrics have performed in the past? How can you know if you need to work on increasing the number of online volunteer applications if you don’t review your data?

Try not to just guess. If you’re not sure where to start or what’s possible, aim to increase 10% from what you’re getting now. It will be hard, but we believe in your strategizing and ingenuity.

You don’t include actionable ways to reach your goals.

Your goals should be included in your strategy. Work backward from your goals to reach them through the strategy. Your strategy’s success should depend on reaching those goals, so give it a fighting chance. Which leads us to…

There’s no plan for measuring results.

You can’t know if you reached these marketing goals without looking back at the results. To make this process easier, consider creating dashboards within Google Analytics aimed at measuring each key organizational goal or marketing project to give you a big-picture overview of results as you go.

Missed Planning Opportunities

Other marketing strategy mistakes result from missed planning opportunities, whether that’s failing to include something you know you need to do or failing to cut something that’s not moving the needle.

Current projects are not accounted for.

You know that you need to do these things—from annual event promotion to year-end fundraising campaigns. Failing to include them in your plan means that when they do pop up, something you have actually planned for in your strategy will need to be cut.

Take a run through your nonprofit’s calendar and the projects you completed last year to plan accordingly. It will not only help you plan your year, but it will encourage you to freshen up stale annual campaigns and strategize improvements to increase their results.

You hold onto unsuccessful channels or projects.

But just because it was in last year’s strategy doesn’t mean it has to be in this year’s. There are only so many hours in the day, and wasting precious time on doomed projects or channels doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s time to let go of channels and projects that are not resonating with your audience.

For example, maybe you decided to try out Snapchat last year, but after a year, you’re not seeing much engagement and have other big social media projects in the works. It’s okay to let go and move on.

There’s nothing new in your strategy.

One of the key benefits that a strategy brings is the opportunity to brainstorm new projects that have the potential to improve your results. Don’t be afraid to try new things. If you hold onto the same strategy year after year, nothing is going to improve.

Is voice search optimization right for your nonprofit? Should you start a Facebook group? Does your website structure need some organization? Do you need a new website entirely? There are lots of new projects to consider as ways to move toward your nonprofit’s goals and serve your community better.

Everything is manual.

Adding in new projects is great, but how do you fit it all in? Save time with automation! Look for opportunities to automate tasks wherever possible. It will open up the time to tackle these big, exciting new projects that you’re thinking up.

For example, rather than manually sending out individual emails to welcome and onboard new volunteers, consider a more streamlined and hands-off automated volunteer orientation email workflow to accomplish the same means.

Integrating the different tools you use can also be a huge time saver. What if your payment processor, donor management system, email marketing service and website all relayed information to one easy place? Rather than mindless data entry, you can spend your time implementing strategy.

You forgot about implementation.

Outline a process to help you stick to your strategy. Who will be responsible for what? Which projects will you start with? How will you stick to the plan? Will you check back in and make the necessary tweaks and adjustments to this plan as you go? Be as specific and straightforward as possible. The goal with any marketing strategy is that it be put to work. Otherwise, what’s the point?

It was created in a silo.

Looping in additional members of the team during the planning phase can help to get a better idea of what needs to be included and who will be able to help you accomplish the tasks and projects included in the plan. For example, you may want to communicate with your fundraising team and work together to reach your nonprofit’s donation goals.

So, how does your strategy shake out? Correcting these common nonprofit marketing strategy mistakes can put you on the path to a goal-oriented and actionable strategy that you and your fellow staff members can stick to.

What marketing strategy mistakes have you made in the past? Any common mistakes missing from our list? Let’s brainstorm your nonprofit’s marketing strategy in the comment section below.