Marketing is one of those dirty-words in today's society, and in many cases, for good reason. But in its essence, marketing is about telling the story and sharing the experience of an idea or organization. Marketing runs in to trouble when the expectations outsize the experience and the wording/phrasing promises more than it delivers. The key, then, is to deliver on what you promise.

What are the Different Types of Marketing?

Geographic: This approach relies on being in a specific location and getting a target demographic that is in this location. This type of marketing works well if your target audience is someone who congregates in a single location often, such as students at college, by using flyers.

Distribution Channels: Similar to geographic, but defined in a broader sense than geographic. By targeting a specific way consumers get information/advertising, such as a newspaper, certain forms of marketing may work better. This is definitely true for demographics where individuals who fit the profile don't reside in a common physical location.

Electronic: Definitely the most popular, and for almost all social enterprises started by someone born after 1980, will be the first and most heavily used form of advertising. This form of advertising is very different from the other two in that there are many, many different ways of performing electronic marketing. From developing and participating in communities to focusing on specific keywords, online marketing can vary significantly.

Which Types Should My Organization Engage In?

Depending on what your organization does, who it is targeting, and how it plans to accomplish its mission will determine how an organization sets up its marketing strategy. Below is a step by step action plan for developing a marketing strategy.

  1. Define a Goal - What do you want out of the particular marketing? People to donate? People to commit service hours? Be as specific as possible.
  2. Who is the Target Demographic - If they are students, you may want to focus your efforts online. If it's single mothers, you may have to look elsewhere. Do your homework and see if you can find where, when, and how your target demographic congregates or what it shares the most that has an advertising avenue available.
  3. What Motivates Your Audience to Action - Be determining what will motivate people to help you will be tremendously useful in creating allies, getting donations, or whatever it is you are advertising for.
  4. Create Specific, Actionable, Measurable, and Time-Bound Steps - Specifying all of the specifics as to who, what, when, where, and how based on the previous three steps will give you the information and timeline necessary to start executing and evaluating your plan.
  5. Measure the Results - Find ways to make it easier to see which marketing efforts work. Putting an advertisement on television might not tell you whether or not it is a good tool, especially if you have multiple efforts occurring at the same time, so it is important to add something such as a redeemable coupon that allows you to track who comes from where and how effective it is in terms of cost per desired action.

How Do I Evaluate the Successes of My Marketing Efforts?

There are many different ways to evaluate the success or failure of a program, but the most important thing is that your organization takes the time to measure something to see whether or not it is effective. Attaching something unique to each marketing plan will allow you to track effectiveness, and can help spur people into action even quicker depending on the incentive system used. Usually, a simple return on investment (ROI) calculation is necessary. Take the result benefit (dollars donated) divided by total cost (dollars spent) and this provides you with relative effectiveness. Say the end result is something like 1.4. What this means is that for every $1.00 put into the advertising program, there is $1.40 donated to your organization. Not a bad ROI, but it's only by planning and integrating a plan for measuring results that your organization would be able to analyze impact in the first place.


Marketing is a double-edged sword that keeps getting sharper. Because of the increasing ease of communication, especially in larger and larger audiences, it becomes extremely important that your marketing is in line with what your product/service delivers. Any deviance will result in an immediate cut in your credibility. In a global economy that is becoming more and more ruled by recommendations, it is important that your organization practices what it preaches so that people will be raving about your great solution rather than bad-mouthing it.

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