COMMERCE ~ GOVERNMENT ~ NON-PROFIT. Do commercial, governmental, and non-profit entities really require different developmental and promotional strategies? I say "no."
Jeanne Burrows-Johnson offers developmental strategies for commercial, governmental and non-profit entities, as well as creative persons. The building blocks for a truly successful organization are essentially the same regardless of size, source of funding, or tax status. The leaders of these entities may find the substance of each of these blocks can be revealed by answering a few questions beginning with the word “Why?”
~ WHY does our organization exist?
~ WHO is choosing to join our team?
~ WHAT translates our target market into loyal clientele?
You should have addressed the first question in your initial business plan. If you cannot do so, marketing strategies are inconsequential. Similarly, if you do not have the requisite team to meet the needs of those you serve effectively, you are ill prepared to move forward with even basic branding strategies. In short, until you can answer the first two questions, you are not ready to address the third.
Despite structural challenges you may be facing, daily operations make constant demands on you and your resources. Whether or not you are a profit or non-profit organization, it is likely that you work with financial advisers and staff who focus nearly all their attention on generating income in sales or donations. From their perspective, each activity you undertake must be self-funding. Whatever fails to pass their financial test is viewed as having little intrinsic value. I find such thinking short-sighted and liable to prevent an organization from reaching its full potential.
Such people advise against providing employees with more than a minimum of wages or benefits. This attitude motivates even profitable companies to close operations in under-performing locales. They then move abroad to save on wages and pay dividends to shareholders PRIOR to ensuring their clients are being served satisfactorily. In the long run, simplistic focus on the bottom line in financial statements is ultimately damaging to organizational longevity.
To demonstrate my point of view, consider the benefits of a typical advertising campaign. Those who run from progressive viewpoints often try to measure the precise profit that has been gained from circulating a single coupon. It is true that when a numerical code is utilized to redeem a coupon, it is possible to balance the reduced profit for the items sold at discount against the profit generated by the effort. But what is lacking in such measurements is the value of community goodwill that has been generated, and a heightened awareness of your brand! These benefits cannot be measured in simple dollars and cents. As has been proven repeatedly, a program heightening word-of-mouth advertising is the strongest campaign any organization can launch!
Regardless of your position in an organization, you probably agree that it is vital to have competent and knowledgeable staff. But how much v a l u e do you place on the staffing component? Perhaps you are of the opinion that having set reasonable standards for their competency, as well as their pay and other compensation, your staff members should be interchangeable. But are they of such little individual value? Does your organization have an effective system for gaining and maintaining a team of people who are superb at their jobs a n d so pumped up about your operation that they wish to remain with you and even encourage others to join you?
This may seem idealistic. In today's economy, most everyone--especially young people--will need to leave you at some point. But what if they are so happy in their work that their professional associates, friends, and even family members are lining up to take their positions? This could provide you with a pool of potential workers who are mentally geared for a position and may even be partially trained if they have interacted with team members. This is why I place team-building at the top of any organization's developmental program.
Once your internal organization is in order, turn to your target market. With each point of contact anyone has with your organization, there should be confidence that their expectations will be met and even exceeded…especially if they are responding to a specific marketing program. For if you fail to deliver on the promise of any promotional activity, you have virtually purchased a negative advertising campaign...that will pay negative dividends for several years. This is true whether you are a physician, a sole proprietor, franchisee, or the chief executive officer of a non- or not-for-profit organization.
How should you approach positive strategic development? Rather than being focused on a financial evaluation of isolated elements of your operations and special events, consider your overall status. I believe that quite often, the bottom line of your financial statement is determined by whether you are viewed positively by the majority of your clientele AND your staff. If you are not, you have not successfully balanced your daily operations with the quality of the service and/or products you are marketing. As you recognize gaps in the foundation blocks of your organization, ask yourself, "Where should I begin my developmental efforts?" As business philosopher Stephen R. Covey encouraged his audiences, “Begin with the end in mind." You might then write out a series of questions that begin with the word “What.”
~ WHAT should my organization look and sound like?
~ WHAT am I prepared to do to attract the optimal staff?
~ WHAT can I offer my clientele to encourage their loyalty?
When considering your goals, pencil in strategies you can use to implement improvements. Even when financial concerns, manpower, and other resources are limited, you can make progress every day. As one of Stephen Covey’s classic books on the principles of successful organization suggests, it is optimal to base our choices on doing what is truly important, but not urgent. By so doing, we can work our way through the quagmire of incomplete projects to be able stay ahead of the crises that once materialized on a daily basis. This will bring greater fulfillment in both our professional and personal living!
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