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Do commercial, governmental and non-profit entities
need different developmental & promotional strategies?
No. 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 clients?
The first question should have been addressed in your initial business plan. Regardless of your tax standing, you should be able to concisely describe the ongoing purpose for your existence. You should also be able to demonstrate that you are structured in such a way that your viability is assured for the foreseeable future. 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, you have daily operations making demands on you and your resources. Whether or not you are a profit or non-profit organization, it is likely that you work withfinancial 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. Anything that does not pass their financial test is viewed as having little intrinsic value. I suggest that such short-sighted thinking can prevent an organization from reaching its full potential.
Often, these 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 move abroad and pay dividends to shareholders prior to ensuring that their clients are being served satisfactorily. As stated before, simplistic measurement of the bottom line in financial statements is usually cited to justify such actions. I find this attitude to be ultimately damaging to even minimal 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 having competent and knowledge- able staff is important. But how much value 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 that is comprised of people who are superb at their jobs and so pumped up about your operation that they wish to stay with you and even encourage others to join you.
This may seem idealistic, for 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 position? 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 before first.
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.
So how should you approach positive strategic development? Rather that 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 between the foundation blocks of your organization, you are probably asking,"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?
As you stare at your growing list of goals, pencil in the strategies you will use to implement these improvements. Even when financial concerns, manpower, and other resources are limited, you can make some progress every day. As one of 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 reach a point where we can stay ahead of the crises that once materialized on a daily basis and enjoy greater fulfillment in both our professional and personal living!
What are you doing to encourage the next generation of
progressive professionals in your field of endeavor?