The Need for Integrated Marketing in Fundraising
After recently attending a series of events and conferences, I feel that the fundraising vertical needs to look to integrated marketing as a solution to a number of maladies that infect any number of marketing-based verticals.
I have outlined what I see as the key symptoms and the problems within the industry, and over the next few months I'll will outline a number of integrated solutions that are media-, result- and data-based.
Many fundraising results and efforts currently are lethargic, sluggish, stunted and limited in growth, and experiencing declining ROI and increasing cost!
We need to change the tools and the mechanism currently in force, define direct and indirect cost, provide alternatives for content creative expression, and structure all programs on tools that offer proven ROI.
If your fundraising efforts suffer from any one or combination of the above listed symptoms, you need to immediately administer the cure, the proven remedy to your fundraising malaise.
Prescription: integrated marketing communications (IMC)
I see integrated marketing communications (IMC) as a marketing multivitamin for fundraising. For one thing, you can add emerging technologies to the marketing mix as they are developed — tools such as Internet/interactive marketing, digital marketing, social networking, augmented reality and scientific marketing, etc. You control the number of media, the types of media and how they are used, as well as the content.
It's like adding vitamins or supplements to your diet, changing your eating habits, or adjusting your exercise to gain needed energy or stamina or to achieve other goals. Think of each IMC component as being like components of vitamin supplements. Vitamins A, C and E are necessary for good health, but none are as versatile as a multivitamin.
Until recently, for many reasons, no real, valid definition of this new IMC process existed. Don Schultz of Northwestern University penned what is still used today as the "official" definition, which to me is still valid. Like all great writing, this definition provides the basics and with some slight revisions can be updated as needed.
"Integrated marketing communications is a strategic business process used to plan, develop, execute and evaluate, coordinated, measurable, persuasive brand communications programs over time with consumers, customers and prospects, employees, associates and other targeted relevant external and internal audiences. The goal is to generate both short-term returns and build long-term brand and shareholder value."
To help you understand the "why" behind IMC, you see key words from this definition — strategic, process, coordinated, measurable communications (message), targeting, relevant audiences, and short- and long-term returns — throughout this blog. Based on Schultz's definition, you can begin to decipher RIIM + DE + R + ROMI (Relevance, Integration, Interaction, Measurement + Dialogue and Engagement + Results and Return On Marketing Investment — aka RIIMDERROMI) and realize it is not a food source, but an entire marketing banquet that may be self-funding.
An added benefit of IMC is the ability to engage the donor on many levels and maintain, expand, target and solidify the communications and media based on the needs of the donor, a key element in our diverse society.
IMC is not perfect, nor is it the final stage in the evolution of marketing tools. In Darwinian fashion, it has adapted to include the emerging marketing technologies better than most other "standards." Indeed, IMC is like the theory of evolution in marketing — only the strongest, agile and most efficient media and tools survive.
Developing a dialogue, establishing a connection and extending the engagement are all key needs of any marketing and fundraising effort. Link these foundations with the direct benefits of IMC and you can see the need to try it. I'm sure you will like it.
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.