It’s surprising where you find marketing. I’ve been reading a lot of complaints about marketers invading social networks. Some of this is undoubtedly deserved, but are you surprised? Marketing seems to be everywhere, so its appearance in social networks shouldn’t be surprising. So, lets take a look at other places you might be surprised to find marketing.
Politics is one that surprises some people. Sure, they know about campaign advertising — and many wish it would go away — but they don’t know how much marketing goes into politics. Politicians develop marketing strategies and use marketing tools all the time. For instance, they hold focus groups bringing together potential voters to determine their political platforms during the campaign and afterward, to determine how to vote on key legislation. I think this is great — it embodies the constitutional notion that lawmakers represent the wishes of the people.
Obama was great at this and, regardless of your attitudes toward his presidency, he will go down as the best marketer in politics in modern times. He’s constantly out there meeting groups all over the country to sell his legislative agenda or appearing on TV to tell the public what’s going on in Washington. Its reminiscent of the 30 or so fireside chats held by FDR during his presidency.
Surprised to hear that your church uses marketing? Don’t be. Running a church takes lots of money and that money comes from some sources that use marketing strategies. In fact, most non-profits are getting pretty sophisticated about their marketing strategies. For instance, the church may host a dinner or other fundraising event. They print flyers, add messages to the weekly bulletin, maybe even get some free advertising from local TV and radio stations. Other non-profits are using social media extensively as a cost-effective way of raising money and awareness for their programs.
Today’s schools are strapped for cash as state resources become scarcer. More programs than at any time in the past are forced to raise whatever funds they need to operate. These have gotten a lot more sophisticated than a bake sale to include use of fundraising companies to coordinate sales of everything from cookie dough to gift wrap to magazines. They’re also partnering with local restaurants to get a portion of a night’s profits in exchange for driving traffic to the restaurant for the evening.
Since going to an all-volunteer military, the military has been active in marketing themselves. This has become increasingly more important as the war has increased the need for troops and its unpopularity has decreased the likely candidate pool. Retaining troops is an even more serious concern as the government has already spent vast sums training these individuals. If they leave for civilian employment after their first tour of duty, the investment may not have paid off. Once stop loss measures are repealed, this problem will return.
OK, you say, so all these groups raise money or awareness among consumers; they’re not really marketing. Well, they are. As I discussed yesterday, marketing involves processes to create, communicate, distribute, and exchange offerings to people. The activities listed above all fit this definition, meaning that these groups are doing marketing whether they mean to or not. If these groups had more knowledge about how to do good marketing and a clear marketing strategy, they would be more successful in achieving their goals. People involved in these organizations should seek members with marketing experience and engage them in helping the organization reach its goals.
For my part, I use my university students to do marketing projects for deserving non-profits. Every semester, I’m out there beating the bushes for a dozen or so non-profits willing to do this. While it may sound easy to give something away, you’d be surprised how hard it is. It’s a win-win situation where the students gain valuable work experience and the non-profit gets marketing help they couldn’t afford if they were paying for it. So, there’s more help out there than you might think.