Jul 182012

With extensive experience with not-for-profit organisations in volunteer and board positions, Managing Director of Syneka Marketing Alex Makin explains why the key to effective governance is marketing, drawing on the success of Ringwood Rotary Club’s introduction of a corporate membership category as an example.

Good governance starts with having a vision for your organisation, however, setting goals is only the first step. Developing a marketing plan is integral to achieving these goals and the secret to effective governance.

Like all member-based organisations, Rotary International had an ongoing goal to increase their amount of members. Typically, rotary clubs only have one membership category – individuals. However Rotary International selected the Ringwood Rotary Club in Melbourne to trial a pilot program and introduce a corporate membership category, which introduced businesses to the Rotary.

Syneka developed a marketing plan that outlined how the Ringwood Rotary Club could implement this program, and recruit new members. The plan identified objectives and presented measurable actions to achieve these goals.

1. Draw on the business plan to develop a marketing plan

While a business plan identifies the goals of an organisation, a marketing plan identifies how these goals can be achieved. Therefore, when developing a marketing plan, it is important to first look at the business plan to see where your organisation currently is and where you would like it to be in the future.

2. Be inclusive

When developing a marketing plan, it is important to consult stakeholders in the organisation, including clients, staff, volunteers, board members, funding bodies and partner organisations. Communicating marketing strategies to those who have a vested interest in the organisation ensures collective ownership and support in achieving goals.

For the Ringwood Rotary Club, it was important that existing members supported the introduction of corporate membership. This was facilitated by holding a workshop to discuss ideas and receive feedback from members. Engaging key stakeholders ensured they were comfortable with the direction of corporate membership and of the club. This approach also helped to ensure that all stakeholders were aware of their responsibilities.

3. What to include in a marketing plan

Marketing plans should consider the services offered by an organisation, key messages and the stakeholders that should receive these messages.

An effective marketing plan will outline performance targets and accurate budgets to ensure high-quality governance.

4. Know your audience

It is vital to collect information about the target of your marketing plan so you can tailor the strategies to ensure the message is communicated effectively to the key people.

When developing the marketing plan for the Ringwood Rotary Club, research was performed on the business community. It was found that the service area included 12,000 businesses, of which 75 per cent were home-based sole operators. Therefore, the methods required to reach these businesses differed vastly from a marketing plan that targeted larger businesses in areas such as the central business district.

5. Create an action plan

Once detailed research is complete, a list of objectives addressing the goals of the business plan should be compiled.

The marketing plan for the Ringwood Rotary Club supported the business plan by:

* Creating a point of difference to other business and service clubs
* Securing speakers relevant to business members
* Developing a compelling program to encourage ongoing involvement of business members
* Connecting businesses with community service to involve them in club activities.

6. Measure results

In order to know whether the marketing plan has been successful at achieving goals, results need to be measurable. Quantifiable success rates also enable you to make adjustments if the plan isn’t proving effective.

For the Ringwood Rotary Club marketing tasks included the distribution of leaflets to reach home-based businesses, promoting corporate membership on the website and a series of media releases targeting local newspapers. Measurable outcomes included progress towards distributing leaflets, the collection of contact information and the issuing and coverage of media releases.


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