Seth Godin jabs nonprofit marketing

It’s a good thing when a great marketing mind takes a look at nonprofit marketing. In his post yesterday, The Problem with Non, Seth Godin got actively upset about nonprofit marketing. In a general way, I’m with him: The social-good sector has to change the way it thinks about marketing.

In the specific, it seems Seth jumps over some realities. U.S. nonprofits operate –and are measured and regulated — inherently differently than corporations; they build community on a different basis. Marketing an organization or an idea is not exactly the same as marketing a company or a product. And that’s fine . . . so long as organizations embrace strategic approaches to marketing that have been proven to work in this sector. There are good examples out there of groups using old and new media strategically and well, blending the time-tested with the shiny new approaches.

For many years, to “market” meant running a direct mail program, then maybe having a website too.  If your organization is doing only that today, it is losing ground. Now — as the lines between philanthropy and program development get fuzzier, and the marketing opportunities widen out into totally new channels — is the time to revisit what it means to market your organization or cause.

I’m perhaps more of an optimist than Seth. Every day, I see organizations tackling this challenge. This is not easy, for all the internal and external reasons Seth cites (and then some). So I say, kudos to any and all organizations out there who are defining more ambitious new strategies for marketing. It’s work worth your time.

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