A Cure for Marketer’s Block?

So much is always written about writer’s block, but what happens when there’s marketer’s block?  We have all been stricken by this affliction at some point or another.

Marketer’s block is a debilitating disease, which if left to foster, can cripple any campaign and it’s ability for you to reach your organization’s fundraising goals. But if it’s left untreated or unaddressed it can manifest itself into a much worse condition: funder’s block.

So this sounds like a fundraiser’s issue, what does it have to do with marketing?

Well, at the end of the day, as you are beginning to understand, I believe that all failures can be traced in part back to the marketing team. Our ability (or inability) as marketers to provide the right message to the right audience using the right mediums at the right frequency must deliver results. The hard work of making the personal connections is up to the chief fundraiser or the diva of development, but marketing must buy the groceries, find the recipes and cook the dinner. It’s up to fundraising to serve the meal and invite everyone to come back for more.

So as a marketer, how do you overcome the times when the message leaves you stuck with seemingly nothing to say to bring a new spin or shed new light on an old story? It’s more than just writer’s block when marketing tricks like creating new fundraising branding and themes, challenges from donors and crazy incentives build awareness, but fail to create the substance necessary to sell the story and achieve results.

The secret is to be able to craft the architecture of the campaign far enough in advance of its launch so you are not scrambling day to day wondering what to say or how to say it. As with all campaigns, from political to advertising, having a basic road map to follow is critical, but that does not mean you know the exact route numbers you are going to take. Some ideas may lead you down a dead end pathway, but the quicker you recover and redirect the better. As long as you are continually moving in the direction of your goal, you will be OK.

All campaigns are dynamic and what may or may not work can only be determined by the implementation of the original plan. Be ready to make your changes on a dime if necessary when you’re not getting results. Working in tandem with the chief fundraiser, it is you, the marketist that needs to be in constant communication with all stakeholders in the project, watching social media feedback, asking questions, studying results and taking time on your own to evaluate the fundraising from an independent perspective.

Sure, some ideas won’t work. And many that won’t work will be yours. Don’t take it personally, just correct what needs to be corrected, and even abandon the concept entirely if it’s just not working. When you roll up your sleeves and dig alongside the fundraising team, they will recognize your commitment and dedication to seeing the job done right. No-one will hold you accountable for bad ideas, what they will remember is that you had no ideas or did not have a Plan B, when Plan A did not work.

If you are able to craft the message and the basic plan of implementation, you also must provide whatever support is necessary along the way. Do not forget to be sure that the plan is aligned with specific metrics so that you know where you should be every day or week of the campaign.

Sometimes it takes a little time to get things started, other times you hit the ground running. What you cannot do is wait until half way through the campaign to determine you are so far behind your goals, that is a surefire way to guarantee you will never reach them  This is why you must set realistic goals and watch the results with an eagle eye.

Throwing everything but the kitchen sink at a problem is a great way to brainstorm at the very beginning of a project. However, if it is your Plan B, you may be destined to never reach your goals, and for that your entire organization may suffer. When you add this all up, you will most likely be able to avoid marketer’s block at least on your next campaign.

About

Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years. Currently, Sean is a principal in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the U.S. including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference. Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street, a program of the Allentown Chamber of Commerce in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire or email him anytime at sking.aspire@gmail.com

Posted in Accountability, Fundraising, Marketing, Marketist

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About Sean King
Sean King has been consulting with small businesses and non-profit organizations for 25 years.  Currently, Sean is a principle in the Aspire Consulting Group providing solutions and training for arts, events and non-profit marketing professionals and their organizations. Clients include Youth Education in the Arts (YEA!) and a growing list of satisfied organizations. Sean speaks regularly throughout the United States including at the IFEA Annual Conference, Arts Reach Conference, AFP, 92Y, CiviCRM User Summit, PA Council on the Arts, Michigan Festivals & Event Annual Conference.  Sean serves as the Marketing Chairperson for the Hamilton District Main Street program in Allentown and is a Co-Chair of the Arts & Culture Committee for the Upside Allentown initiative. He also blogs a artsmarketingblog.org.  You can follow Sean on Twitter @skingaspire. Sean resides with his wife Natalie and son Haydn in the global crossroads of Fogelsville, Pa.