Personal development, Writing, Marketing & communications

Top five marketing tips for social organisations

Robert Foster, Associate Trainer at DSC gives us his five top tips for marketing your social organisation

As a busy social entrepreneur or charity professional your time is valuable so I will keep this brief. Here are my five top tips for marketing social organisations.

1. Marketing is not a project, it’s a skill

Marketing shouldn’t be something you do on its own. Rather, marketing is something that everyone in your organisation should understand and be engaged in. In the past we may have used phrases like “singing from the same hymn sheet”, but nowadays it’s more likely we would describe marketing communication as a core competency for your organisation and your staff. The important thing to remember is everyone within your organisation should understand what’s important to your beneficiaries and your supporters and be able to communicate this.

2. Have something to say

This may sound obvious but knowing what’s important and how to say it clearly is the starting point for any successful marketing activity. There are lots of ways to think about this from communicating your vision, social value proposition, or impact messaging. You may have one or more key messages depending on your audiences. Identifying these key messages is a vital step in creating a workable marketing plan.

3. Have someone to speak to

It’s good having something to say but without someone to listen what’s the point? A great place to start is thinking about a specific example of the person or organisation you want to engage with. There are different ways of doing this including customer profiling, audience personas or stakeholder mapping but essentially each of these approaches will help you to understand who it is you want to speak to, who they are, how they behave, where they get information from and who influences their decisions.

4. Have a way to speak to your audience

Once you have a good idea of your ideal audience you can begin to think about the best way to converse with them. A simple way is to build on the work you did with your customer profiles. Think about 3 or 4 ways that your audience consumes information. This could be traditional print media, through conferences, social media or membership of professional institutes. An error that is often repeated is choosing one way to communicate. Generally speaking, it’s far more effective if you have a mixture of activities to engage with you audience.

5. Measure your progress

You can’t figure out what works and what doesn’t work unless you measure what you’re doing. If you’re looking to increase your audience then you could measure visits to your website or sign up to email, but if you were more interested in fundraising perhaps you should instead record the number of new pledges, fundraising packs downloaded from your website or actual money raised from your marketing activity.

Bonus tip. Since you have paid attention so well here is the most important thing to remember. This is my top tip.

6. Test, test, test

We often have hunches or things we assumed to be correct, but we have no evidence to support our view. These worldviews are correctly termed hypothesis – that’s just what we think is true. We often don’t know whether Facebook is more or less effective than Instagram, if active words are more engaging than passive words, or if we ask for £5 do we have a higher conversion rate than if we ask for £2. These questions can form the basis of a series of tests which provide us with information that can help us make more informed decisions about where to use our limited marketing resources more effectively.


Attend Robert Foster’s Introduction to impact measurement – Online course on Thursday 14 January. Sign up here.