On this episode of Marketing for Good, Erica talks about shedding the mindset of marketing being something to be ashamed of in mission-driven work and resisting the urge to minimize the mind-blowing work you are doing.
The importance of honoring each individual’s “why” and the collective “why” in your organization, to keep everyone motivated and grounded.
This is a transcript of Erica Mills Barnhart on the Marketing for Good podcast. You can listen to the episode here and listen to more episodes on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts. Enjoy!
marketing, mission, organization, alignment, work, mission statement, people, donors, boards
Erica Mills Barnhart 00:04
Marketing can be an incredible force for good. It can also be complicated and confusing. I’m Erica Barnhart and I love marketing. On this podcast, I will share everything I know about it with you in the hopes of bringing clarity to the marketing chaos. Motivation is for the mind, inspirations for the heart, and great marketing houseboats. So whatever your mission if you want to make the most of it, this podcast is for you. Welcome to Marketing for Good. Welcome back to Marketing for Good. I’m so glad to have you here with me. I am Erica Mills Barnhart, and I am your host. Today, first off, I want to clear up the fact that marketing is not a dirty word. Once we’ve talked about the value of shedding that mindset, I’m going to share with you a way to get your team past that mindset and into alignment by focusing on your why. But first, let’s talk about the word marketing. About eight years ago now I was working with an organization that helps kids who through no fault of their own, find themselves in the legal system, usually because of family issues. I was working with the staff, which there were three or four and the board of which there were about eight. Not surprisingly, given the work they do, many of these board members were lawyers. I want to go on record, I have nothing against lawyers, I grew up assuming I would be a lawyer, everybody thought I would be a lawyer. I was paralegal through college, my first company was a contract paralegal company. I really enjoy lawyers, I enjoy working with them. They tend to be hyper logical folks who are attentive word, which makes it fun to work with. So I have nothing against lawyers, part of my work with this organization was helping them figure out a budget for their marketing going forward and they hadn’t had one in the past. So we’re all gathered around a table in a boardroom at the offices of the board chair. And it wasn’t an over the top fancy office, but it was very nice. I’m looking at the budget that they’ve just passed out and I notice there’s no line item for marketing. This isn’t super uncommon, but it surprised me since they have purposely asked to figure out a marketing budget. So I ask the board chair about it and she says, oh, we don’t call it marketing, we call it outreach. And I looked at her for a minute and then I ask, do you have a line item for marketing for your law firm? She said, of course, like she looked at me like, that seems like a really goofy question, Erica. And I said, why would you have one for your law firm, but not for this organization? And she said, Well, because marketing is a dirty word when it comes to work like this, mission driven work. I looked at her I said, so you mean work that is the most important work on the planet, that doesn’t deserve marketing? And so went. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had this conversation, and not just with board members. It just so happened that it was with her. Board staff, volunteers, donors, donors, it gets me riled, and here’s why, because there’s no ashame in marketing, is not a dirty word. It’s an ally in your work to make some magic happen for your organization and your mission. Marketing is a means to an end, it is in service to your mission. When you side, step it by calling it something else, you tiptoe around its potential rather than unleashing it. And that’s a disservice to your mission. Internet marketing, foenum Marie Forleo said, if you have a product or service you believe in and you don’t do everything you can to market the heck out of it, you’re stealing from those who need you most. I agree with this statement. It is what I have lived and experienced in working with so many organizations, organizations that create a culture of marketing that embrace it can create so much more internally and externally. So let me ask you this. Do you really truly want to achieve your mission? If so, you have to switch gears on thinking marketing is a dirty word, if you do still and you guys switch it right now, unless you want to leave money on the table. Money means more margin and more margin means more mission and it really does come down to that. And let me ask you another question. In order to achieve your mission, do you need other people, employees, clients, donors, volunteers, customers, a board of directors ,anyone? Anyone? Bueller, anyone? If so, then again, it’s time to embrace marketing and all it has to offer because one of the big things that has to offer is attracting the very people you need to achieve your mission. Now Sometimes it’s kind of hard to tell if somebody feels conflicted about marketing. But it’s really important to know that, especially if you’re in a leadership position. And I’ll tell you this, it shows up in one little tiny word, just, not as in adjust costs. No, as in, we’re just trying to eradicate extreme global poverty, or we’re just trying to make sure everyone gets paid equally for equal work, or we’re just trying to end homelessness, just in that sense is a minimizer. And I don’t want to bug you, we’re just doing really important mind blowing work. You’re not just doing any of these things. You were doing them and it’s amazing and never apologize for it. And in episode four, we’ll talk about the fact that not everyone is going to love you intermission. What? But for now, what I want you to hear is this: hiding your glorious work under a barrel tucked away from the heads and hearts of others serves no one. It undermines your mission rather than supports it. Okay, so you’re ready to embrace marketing and all it’s wonderfulness? How do you create a culture of marketing? Because that’s really what you need. Right? Marketing is a team sport. Organizations that have created a culture of marketing do one thing very well. They get grounded in why their mission matters. Sometimes you get so close to it, you lose sight of it. Some examples of what this might look like, right? Why have a coffee shop that uses only sustainable coffee beans? Because the people who fuel your caffeine habit should be treated with dignity and respect. They should be seen and heard and honored for their work from the beans and the bean pickers to the baristas when they’re serving it up. Why are you offering a program that teaches kids how to use art as a way to heal trauma? Because no kid should be expected to heal without help. Why are you held bend on protecting irreplaceable lands and waters? Because they are vital they drive local economies and they support local communities and culture. Your what and your how may change depending on strategy, right, depending on the external environment, depending on what things have happened. I mean, my gosh, I’m recording this sheltering in place because of COVID-19. And like the word that I sort of want to pull my eyeballs out every time I hear it, that’s everywhere is pivot, everyone’s pivoting. And it’s totally true. I mean, we’re exhausted, right, collectively, aren’t you tired, if you’re listening to this, while this is still happening, or just on the other side of it, it takes a lot of effort, and it can happen. But the thing that I’ve really noticed in this crisis, which has been so beautiful and striking, is people really getting back to the essence of what they’re about, their why. And letting other things fall away, I really staying true to that, your why will stay the same, it’s your North Star, your why is worth fighting, for let your why shine, let it be your guiding light. Now, it gets a little bit tricky, because you have your organizational why and then you have people within the organization and they have their individual or personal reasons for caring about the mission. So their own why, right? You want to create space for people’s personal why it’s what keeps them going, motivated, and inspired. While also getting alignment on your organizational why. Future episodes, we will undoubtedly talk about messaging, one of my all time favorite topics. And you want this you know your why becomes really a key piece of your messaging framework, right what you put out to the world. So that needs to be clear. And you need that space. So a great way to get internal alignment is asking people on your team. And by team again, that can be your immediate team or you might include your board or volunteers. I’ve worked with organizations and it’s been kind of glorious, and they’ve included like clients and customers. They’re really big tent approach to this. It really depends on what your organization looks like. But how are you going to define that, ask folks why they care about the mission. You know, I mean, you can imagine doing this with donors, right? Ask them why they care about the mission. Another episode I’m going to talk about the woeful state of affairs of mission statements, a little sidebar here for a quick minutes. I don’t want you to get wrapped around the axle on the mission statement. It turns out my research shows 50% of the mission statements, at least for nonprofits and by the way, this is true for all tax statuses that are mission focused. 50% of them are technically in comprehensible. So let’s just set that aside for today. You don’t want this to become an exercise in rewriting your mission statement. Keep it focused on the why behind your mission. And the word mission will be different for folks depending on their role in your organization. And for the purposes of this exercise, that’s actually great, it’s insight. Then have everyone should share their why and see what you learn. This will feel like maybe a detail but depending on how many folks on your team are introverts or extroverts, you’ll need to think through the amount of time that you give to reflect on this. And then the structure environment in which you invite people to share. That’s just gonna look really different for introverts and extroverts. And then, once the sharing has happened, however, that happens, how in alignment Are you or how to align are you? Don’t judge, right? It’s information that regardless what it is can lead to action and alignment and awesomeness. Yes. Alright. So wrapping it up for this episode. Marketing is not a dirty word, please stay with me not a dirty word. It’s an ally, it can do so much for your mission. But in order to generate deep external engagement, you need internal alignment. And to get there, you’re going to ask folks why your mission matters to them. Get grounded, and stay grounded in that why. In the next episode, we’ll talk about goals and why you need to get you some and also why so many mission motivated folks kind of shy away from setting goals. It actually comes from this really beautiful place. So we’ll talk about that. I want to say thank you for being here with me today. And thank you, thank you, thank you for making our world a better place. Thanks for listening to the Marketing for Good podcast. If you enjoyed the podcast, please rate subscribe, review and share on Apple, Google or wherever you get your podcasts. If you’d like more information about Claxon University, how to make more impact in and for your organization, or hiring me to speak or coach, go to claxon-communication.com or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. Again, thanks for listening, and thanks for making our world a better place.