1. Don’t tell your nonprofit to value marketing… And don’t call it marketing.
When people tell me their organization doesn’t value marketing, they typically say something like this: “I tell my boss why marketing is important and why he should care about it. I tell him we absolutely must do X, Y and Z because marketing is so valuable.” What’s interesting about this approach is that it’s basically a sermon on why the organization should value marketing. That is not walking our talk as marketers! We should be asking our colleagues what THEY care about and showing how we can support that — rather than informing them that they should care about marketing.
2. Show how your “initiative” (which is really marketing) meets your nonprofit’s agenda.
Don’t position your agenda as a marketing campaign; frame it as your initiative to support your organization’s goals, in your colleagues’ language. Show how you are going to help make their fundraising goals, audience behavior change aims or front-page newspaper story happen.
3. Make it about the audience.
A good way to depersonalize different visions for “marketing” is to make it about your audience’s preferences rather than a philosophical tug of war between you and other people at your organization. A little audience research is great fodder for advancing your agenda. For example, “Mr. Board Member, I loved your suggestion to put a quote in Greek on the cover of our brochure! I even created a draft of it and showed it to a group of our donors. Can you believe, they didn’t get it? For this piece, we’re going to take their suggestion about what they understood and prompted them to give.”
4. Report every bit of progress.
Every single time anything good happens, be sure everyone knows it. Identify some early, likely wins toward your colleagues’ goals and report victories.
5. Give other people credit for what is working.
When good things happen, give credit to your colleagues. Create a dashboard that shows progress against your organization’s goals and let your colleagues show that progress to their bosses or give it to the executive director t show the board. Your colleagues will like you for it. If you pitched your organization’s story in a completely new, marketing-savvy way to reporters and that yielded your boss’s photo in the paper, all the better.
6. Seek forgiveness, not permission.
If all else fails, just do what you need to do, quietly, and when you hit your goals, celebrate them collectively.