Fire Your Marketing Department
● Fundraising, which is built on direct-response principles and (I hope) honed by testing and discipline.
● Marketing, which aims to create clear, compelling and consistent messages of organizational self-expression.
When these two messaging strategies are segregated from each other, they can be in complete opposition. I have heard marketing experts say, without a hint of irony, “Effective fundraising may raise a lot of revenue, but it damages the brand.” In that mind-set, the organization’s “brand” actually is more precious and important than its mission.
That kind of solipsistic nonsense doesn’t last long in an environment of accountability for measurable, real-world, monetary outcomes.
2. Organizational silos are destructive.
About now, you might be thinking, “This Brooks character believes the entire discipline of marketing is just bogus.”
No, I don’t believe that. I know from experience that marketing is a very good thing — when it’s integrated with fundraising. Fundraising in a vacuum is almost as harmful as marketing in a vacuum. If you rigorously follow direct-marketing testing results with no reference to branding disciplines, your organization eventually will become completely indistinct. It will become a shadow or reflection of your target donors.
Fundraisers who “get” branding are miles ahead of those who don’t. But that’s not going to happen when marketing and fundraising are locked in different organizational silos. When that’s the case, they almost have no choice but to compete for budget, influence, recognition and respect.
The two mind-sets — already naturally divergent — grow ever farther apart. Instead of learning, synergy and a better product than either group could ever create on its own, you get pointless rivalries and squabbling over resources.
3. Everyone should be responsible for marketing.
The very existence of a marketing department seems to let everyone else off the hook. They accurately can say about marketing, “That’s not my department.”