‘Not for Profits will need to adapt to the changing funding environment and the new world of consumer-directed care in order to flourish and survive. ‘
Senator Mitch Fifield, the Federal Assistant Minister for Social Services. (2014)
‘Marketing’ your not-for-profit
When I first started to write this blog, over two years ago, I wanted to find out how not for profits, that are currently responsible for delivering community programs, disability and aged care services, are managing with the changes in funding environments.
Specifically, significant changes to the ways government fund social services particularly in the aged care and disability sector heralds a new era for the not for profits that work in these sectors and I wanted to know how the sector was faring with the dare I use the words; paradigm shift…
Having worked in this sector in business development and marketing for several years, I have been acutely aware that the sector would need to adapt to the changing environment.
What do these changes actually mean for not for profits?
The challenge for the sector, is in the need to redefine its target audience from government to the end-user of its services, forcing monumental changes in how this sector and the organisations within it communicate. Essentially the shift is a change in focus from pitching for government tenders to winning over the consumer in the new ‘user-chooses’ environment.
What does ‘user chooses’ actually mean?
Essentially ‘user-chooses’ is about the customer having an individual choice about what services they want to use. The individual is now at the centre and in control. The individual can now decide what care or help they need to achieve their goals, to live their life, as they choose.
They can choose not only what services they want but also which organisation will provide the service.
The consumer is now firmly in the driving seat, which means that not for profits need to embrace new ways of thinking in terms of their relationship with their client and the services they provide.
It’s all about what your customer wants.
So, it’s all about moving to a model of customer-centricity. The client wants to know what you can do to help them achieve their goals in life.
What are you doing to adapt to this shift?
I approached many people working in this sector across all positions and roles to find out about their plans for the future. The responses that I received were, perhaps as you would expect, wide and varied.
They ranged from no response, to absolute fear and trepidation of the workload ahead, to acknowledgment that work was taking place at the top level but uncertainty regarding how the changes would be implemented at the coal face, to being offended that I dare to suggest that their organisation lacked customer focus.
This latter point particularly intrigued me as those that took offense, did so because they felt that they really looked after their client, in the case of one interviewee, she told me that each of their clients got the best care and the best treatment and more than that absolute personal service.
It turned out in the end that we agreed, they did indeed offer incredible customer service but the organisation itself was not necessarily customer focused.
In a competitive market place, to ‘survive’ the aged care and disability sector changes, requires yes, an incredible customer service; the same carer on each occasion, consistency of care and a personalised service.
BUT… the entire organisation also needs to be competitive, which requires a customer focus and understanding of:
- What services you have an established reputation in delivering that are profitable. What is your niche service?
- How the entire organisation contributes to continued success – when to refer, when not to refer, referral agreements.
- What is the competition?
- Is your service mix right for your market place?
- Is your pricing strategy correct for your organisation and your client?
- Do people know you? – do you have brand awareness and for which services?
Knowing the answers to at least the above is a start.
By developing a marketing planning process, your organisation will begin the journey to becoming customer focused.
And last but not least, whatever your strategy…Whether you ‘go big’ (merge) or ‘go deep’ (provide a niche service) you will need to use marketing to compete in the new competitive order!
Marketing…is it a dirty word!
It seems some disquiet, during my research, came from my use of the word ‘marketing!’
I am told, that for some in the NFP sector that ‘marketing,’ is a dirty word, too sales focused and fuelled by money.
Whereas, in fact, as those of you who know me and have worked with me (which at this point is over 15 not for profits), would know, it is quite the opposite.
Marketing is about getter closer to your client and developing the services that they really need to help them to engage with those services easily.
So how can we help?
At Marketing Sense we partner with not for profits to help them to evolve, build capacity and marketing capability, and develop innovative strategies to ensure sustainability into the future.
The role of Marketing Sense is to work in partnership with your not-for-profit to:
- Create better customer value
- By creating and developing products and services that customers want and need
- Through building brands and customer value propositions that customers find relevant and appealing
- Whilst strengthening the discipline and practice of marketing within the organisation.
Give me your feedback…
Do you think marketing is a dirty word? Are you in a rural area or remote area where your services are dependent on government involvement? What are you doing to develop your not for profit to negotiate the changes? Do you have a marketing strategy in place? I would love to know your thoughts…
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