Many people attribute the term “marketing” with trying to bring in customers. If you’re running a business, of course you need to utilize marketing tactics that work for your specific target audience. Whether it’s TV commercials, promo products at tradeshows, billboards, or Facebook ads, marketing is a key to maintaining and increasing your profits. But when is marketing useful for those who are not business owners?
The entire purpose of marketing is to deliver a message in an effort to bring in other people. Colleges do this for their recruiting (although these sometimes be argued to be businesses), nonprofit organizations use it for fundraising and awareness, and politicians do it to gain votes. What does this look like though and why does it matter?
For colleges and other schools, advertisements are essential to explaining why that particular school is worthy of your attendance. They have to make the classes and degrees that they offer perfectly clear so that they can appeal to the specific people who would best benefit from enrolling. A school wants its name to be remembered as a valuable step to better education. If you have ever seen a billboard with a college name written in bold, you have been exposed to a school’s marketing. Even on campus, various groups and clubs want to get their names out there in order to gain members. Chess clubs, foreign language groups, sororities and fraternities all want to bring in new members. What’s the best way to do this? Marketing, of course. They likely won’t see their flyers, posters in the hallway, or sorority-labeled pens as advertising, but that’s exactly what it is.
Nonprofits are also extensive users of advertising. Maybe when you see a mangy, stray puppy, you think of the ASPCA commercial with the saddest song they could have chosen. That’s marketing at its finest. The most important use of marketing for nonprofits is to deliver a message: “we need to improve literacy in this country;” “heart disease is the number one killer of women;” “our veterans deserve better treatment when they get home.” These are all missions that different nonprofits believe are important – and they want the public to also remember that the missions are important. For many nonprofits, they don’t care whether or not you contribute to them specifically, as long as you contribute to the cause. Marketing is also used for fundraising to further research for these causes, such as Facebook ads for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure. Personally, I typically don’t hear about this annual event from other people; I first learned about it from advertising. And that’s exactly why it is so important.
Politicians are particularly well-known for their marketing pursuits. Around election time, you are almost guaranteed to be interrupted between your favorite TV shows by a commercial of a politician bashing an opponent. They spend the next 30 seconds letting you know all of the horrible things that their opponent has done and why that person should not be an option for your vote. Bad publicity of the competition is definitely one form of advertising (and isn’t just used by politicians alone). But those who are running for office can also use their advertisements for the better. Many will become involved in community projects, which they have to make publicly known. They use flyers and signs to educate on key positions they hold. Up-and-coming politicians also use press releases – which are simply another form of advertising in newspapers – to make their name and stance known.
And don’t forget the swag! Many, many politicians are using branded merch not only to promote their causes, but to generate campaign funds.
These are just a few examples of how marketing is a part of our everyday lives. We see marketing constantly. Pharmacies have pamphlets of various programs and medications available. Your kids come home with school flyers of upcoming events. Everywhere you go, people want to hand out their business cards. No matter what you do with your time, know that marketing is all around us and can be a great benefit to you, too.