Are you making this basic marketing mistake?

by Halisi

Last week I sat down with one of my non-profit clients to go over the marketing proposal for the launch of one of their major annual programs.   Let me preface this story by saying that most of my clients still believe that marketing is simply advertising and promoting; and that is a big part of what I do.  However, the other components of marketing are assessing a need and finding a way to meet that need in a way that your customers will value.

As I was going over all of the pieces to the marketing plan, my client had a thousand excuses and/or reasons about why the changes I was suggesting were not necessary.  I suggested that he target 18-30 year-old’s with certain relevant components of his program.  He insisted that they didn’t want to cater to any specific demographic…(huh?!?).  I asked if he wanted 18-30 year-old’s to participate in the program – he said, “yes”.  I pointed out that in past years less than 2% of program participants were in that age group and that overwhelmingly most of his participants were between the ages 45-60.  So, although he said he didn’t want to cater to a specific age group, he has indeed done just that.  His customers have spoken.

Mistake #1 – Is your idea of who your company/organization is in line with who your patrons say you are?  If there is not alignment you have a problem.  You can change patron perception, however it will take time.

He then informed that even if we did target 18-30 year-old’s that would not guarantee that they would participate.  He was convinced that 18-30 year-old’s needed to proactively seek out the help that they needed and that he shouldn’t have to do anything special to entice them to do what, in his mind, they should want to do anyway.  WOW.  What do you say to that?

“Once upon a time there were 3 major American automobile makers, Ford, Chrysler, and GM.  They made cars that people wanted and life was good.  As time went on they started making cars that they wanted to make and insisted that customers should adjust their tastes to what the 3 were making.  Unfortunately customers did not adjust their tastes and instead started buying European and Japanese cars.  Today 2 of those 3 have filed for bankruptcy.  The moral of the story?”

Mistake #2 – You are in business to serve your customer.  Adjust your business, hours, services, products, promotions, and operations to meet their needs; NOT the other way around!

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