57 Channels (And Nothin’ On)

By Dan Woychick

As a favor to a friend, I met with the marketing folks at a small, private grade school a few weeks ago. This school’s five-year enrollment slide threatens its business model, if not its very existence. As the conversation unfolded, I was taken aback by the dizzying array of “marketing” activities the school has dabbled in over the past few years. It was apparent there had been no analysis of the relative merits of one option versus another. All were accorded equal standing: Gotta get your name out there!

This predisposition to action is as common in non-profit organizations as in corporate America. Shoot first. Ask questions later. But tactics without strategy usually amounts to a whole lot of noise signifying nothing. Or as legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden put it: Never mistake activity for achievement.

Witness the headlong rush to social media – Facebook, Twitter, et al. Conveniently neglecting history (remember when TV killed radio?) the true believers assign it magical powers and the actionistas jump on board.

Don’t get me wrong. Social media has tremendous potential … as another channel of communication. And that’s the problem. For most non-profits, adding things to the marketing mix should be among the least of their worries. With budgets and staff stretched thin, “more” is rarely better and can lead to diminishing returns. Better focus – doing a few things really well for good reason – is the best way to make sure your marketing channels are worth watching.

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