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Sharing thoughts & experiences

What is Marketing & Who are our Customers?

on October 9, 2010

What is marketing? I find myself asking this question again as I sit and wait in Bristol Temple Meads station for the next train back to London. This question has been on my mind since the very first lecture I sat in. Ask me why? It’s because I had literally just started my diploma and was presented with a due date for my first assignment (gulp).

Now perhaps I am being over eager blogging about this, but the word “marketing” seems to cause some controversy, as each person will of course have their own opinion on what marketing actually is and where it lies in their organisation.

So far, we have spoken about how marketing is all about our “customers” and meeting their needs, wants, demands & desires – all of which revolves around being marketing orientated.  Everyone that we exchange with (whether it be for a product or a service) are still classified as a customer. This means that everyone from our donors to our suppliers can be classified as a customer, and each of them need to be a part of our marketing plan. Now, I know that some might disagree with this. I did at first, because aren’t we paying our suppliers for the service/product we receive? But what if I said to you that your volunteers and staff are also your customers, how many of you would stop reading this?

To those who agree with me or those who simply want to know what I am on about – they ALL are your customers. Everyone that we interact with day to day are our customers. Why? Because everyone has an opinion, a choice and freedom to share with anyone they wish. They (volunteers) can choose to continue working within your organisation or not, they can recommend you to another beneficiary/charity/individual/media/etc or complain about you &/or your services. This is why it’s recommended that we have a clear marketing plan – for us to be able to identify who our customers are, how we can meet their needs & wants with the resources that we have, and aim to exceed them.

Now, not everyone reading this will have the same customers. Some may have volunteers and others may not or do not require any. Other bigger organisations need to look at the media as being a big customer because they can influence many people around the world with one article/news broadcast. It all depends on which organisation you work in and who your customers are.

Now, I know that I work for an agency and our customers are clear to me – they are every single charity out there, as each one of them could become one of our clients. Our customers (in no particular order) – UK based charities, Processing Bureaus, Suppliers, Media, Competitors, Staff & Members of the public.

I would really like to put this to the guru’s out there (well those who I think have done some really great work in the sector from the marketing angle) and hear what your thoughts are on marketing & what it means to you/your organisation? These folks include @rachelbeer @markyphillips @johnlepp @annarwalsh @frdetective @causeperfect.

Thanks to everyone who has read this. Please feel free to add your thoughts & opinions, all is welcome and it’s great to get feedback so that I can perhaps use this in my next assignment.


3 responses to “What is Marketing & Who are our Customers?

  1. John Lepp says:

    Great post Amy. I think this could be broken out into two posts (or maybe more) – who are your customers and when are you marketing? As a business owner – I am always marketing. At my studio on the phone, on twitter in the evening, at the tweetup in the pub, at the conference in the city. Everyone i have contact with may not be a potential customer – but i do need to make sure that the way I act, talk and look represent what my firm “Agents of Good” represents. Your second point about customers is valid. Even though the guy I am talking to at the tweetup may not fit my definition of a customer – his sister in law who is an ED at a national charity is… I for one have made the decision to be “me” in every possible instance – for all it’s goodness and badness… When you meet “Agent John” IRL or through email, or through any digital means – I’m all the same person. My point is – people need to get over ‘oh im this sort of person on twitter’ and ‘oh i have to be the funny guy at the pub’… be you. be real. sorry for the ramble…

  2. Craig says:

    Hi Amy

    An understanding of marketing – what it is,how it works etc – underpins all successful fundraising and the best fundraising charities are generally the best marketers.

    Marketing is the base from which to build your brand, your fundraising messages and proposition and to identify your key audiences and target customers.

    Good luck in learning all about it on your course and then putting it into practice!


  3. Rachel Beer says:

    Thanks for the lovely mention, Amy.

    I think you make a very valid point when you say, Everyone that we interact with day to day are our customers. Why? Because everyone has an opinion, a choice and freedom to share with anyone they wish.’

    I’d go a bit further than that though, and say that we should consider anyone we have *potential* to interact or engage with as our customers. Because anyone that might come across us – particularly online, where you have far less control over who does and doesn’t get exposed to your brand – has the ability now, through social media, to share and help to amplify our messages.

    I’m very much with John on all of this and his point about being ‘the same person’ whether I meet people face to face or online – whether personally or professionally – is a philosophy I share. I don’t believe in trying to present different versions of myself in different places – it’s not at all authentic and I wouldn’t expect to get away with it either.

    I believe that all brands, including charities, need to be wise to the fact that everything is joined up online and people can find all the different versions of you, if you choose to try to create them, whether you design it that way or not – and having a split personality isn’t going to help win them customers.

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