Promotion is one of the components of the marketing mix. Kurtz, MacKenzie and Snow (2010) define promotion as “the function of informing, persuading and influencing the consumer’s purchase decision” (p.464). Thus, promotion is one of the important steps on the way to increasing a company’s profit. However, the question arises: what if profit is not the focus of a company’s activity?
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The purpose of a not-for-profit organization is offering services to the citizens. Like any for-profit company, a not-for profit organization has income from its operation and employs staff whose work is paid; however, the surplus income is not distributed to its owners or shareholders: it is used as compensation for an organization’s services that are provided for a public purpose and is directed to advancing its purpose.
Nevertheless, in their operation, not-for-profit organizations also have to apply marketing techniques to promote their services. We will discuss development of a promotional brochure of Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Center, a not-for-profit organization located in Canada.
Despite the operation of a not-for-profit organization is not focused on earning profit, it nevertheless needs to apply elements of marketing to promote their services to citizens. Promotion, one of the elements of the marketing mix, can be used by a not-for-profit organization to inform citizens about their services and influence their decision to use them.
To be successful, the promotional strategy of a not-for-profit organization should meet a range of requirements. First of all, it should be “consonant” with the overall purpose and objectives of an organization (Kurtz, MacKenzie & Snow, p.464); it should correspond to its mission and reflect the intents that its services have.
Secondly, it should be effective in terms of communication with the citizens: promotion is successful when a “message” sent by a company is comprehensible and interesting for an “addressee”. These hints should be taken into account any time an organization develops a promotional activity.
Another aspect of developing a promotional action is clear understanding of its purpose. Despite the main aim of a promotional action is, of course, promotion, there is a range of objectives that it may have: informing, stimulating demand, differentiating a service, accentuating its value and stabilizing sales (p. 471).
This approach is applicable to the operation of a not-for-profit organization as well: for example, a promotional brochure aimed at informing citizens about services an organization offers will differ from another brochure that an organization issues to stimulate demand for a service or accentuate its value.
However, as a not-for-profit organization itself has certain peculiarities of its operation, its promotional activities should also be in accordance with these peculiarities. In many cases, not-for-profit organizations aim at helping disadvantaged citizens or those who need certain kind of support.
These peculiarities of an organization’s customers should be taken into account. When developing a promotional action, a not-profit organization should consider how peculiarities of the “target” group may influence their ability to receive, comprehend and accept a message that this action communicates.
Thus, despite the purpose of activity of a not-for-profit organization differs from that of a for-profit company, we may state that the purpose of promotional actions taken by them is similar. Besides, the principles that are applied when developing promotional actions for for-profit companies can be applied in not-for-profit organizations’ promotion as well. At the same time, a not-for-profit organization should take into account peculiarities of its activity and its clients.
Considering all said above, we can suggest the Niagara Folk Arts Multicultural Center using promotion as the means of attracting newcomers to the services the organization provides:
- The Center may prepare printed materials, such as brochures and leaflets. To make promotion successful, it is necessary to distribute these materials to the places that newcomers may visit, for example, embassies, local cultural centers and cultural events, schools etc.
- As newcomers tend to actively communicate with people of the same culture, it may be reasonable to develop a promotional action that will encourage clients who already use or have ever used the Center’s services to invite those who have not used them yet.
- If the Center has enough funds, it will be effective to order billboards with its advertisements.
- The representatives of the Center may visit local culture centers and culture events and inform newcomers about its services. It may also organize its own cultural events (concerts, watching movies etc).
- The Center may offer a familiarization city tour to newcomers and promote its services during the excursion.
Kurtz, D.L., MacKenzie, H.F., & Snow, K. (2010). Contemporary Marketing. 2nd Canadian Edition. Toronto: Nelson Education.