Bet you thought there were only 4!

Lately social enterprise is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.  For profits are trying to build up their image and do good, while nonprofits are looking for ways to supplement donations with earned income. Not long ago, I saw a nonprofit blog headline state something along the lines of: CMO’s (Chief Marketing Officers) will soon be taking over the role of Executive Directors of nonprofits… And, that got me to thinking.

Fresh out of college I learned about sales and marketing, often the hard way, through trial and error and plenty of lost sales.  Lately, I’ve worked with several nonprofits who had or were adding a social enterprise aspect to their business models.  Reflecting upon this experience, I think I’m safe in stating the basic principles of sales and marketing are not often uppermost in the minds of most nonprofit leaders.

If you have, or are adding a social enterprise effort to your organization, there is a high probability you are going to be selling a product or a service.  Here are some things you need to understand in order to optimize your success.

What’s your marketing mix?

The first four P’s work to establish your business model, often called your marketing mix.  You can’t find a marketing book that doesn’t offer a discussion of these four strategic areas of your business.


Your product or service is the focal point of your sales efforts.  It needs to be created and defined in a way that satisfies a customer need.  It can be tangible or intangible, be an actual item or a service, mass produced or customized for each customer and you should package yours so there is a reason why customers would buy yours over others.


The amount that customers will pay for your product or service.  Pricing is important regardless of whether your product is completely unique or similar to others.  Your pricing strategy impacts your marketing strategy.  There are three primary pricing strategies, they include: skimming, penetration, or neutral pricing.  When setting your price, you need to be aware of your customers’ perceived value in your product in relation to other similar goods and services, so you price yours right.


These are all the tactical elements that get the word out about your great business offering. Different marketing strategies will dictate which promotional tactics will best serve your business.  Public relations, advertising, sales promotions, and direct campaigns comprise many of the tactics used to promote a business and its products or services.  Most importantly, these tactics must be tailored specifically to your target audience.


How will your customers get your products?  Place refers to how you plan to distribute your products or services.  What will best serve your customers; bricks and mortar, website store, or mail order/special delivery?  Often the product or service itself determines place, but the most important question to ask is, to what will customers most appreciate and gravitate?

Branding is much more than just a cool logo.

Then there are the other four lesser known P’s that work to establish your brand.


Your position among your competitors is an important component to understand in order to develop a winning strategy.  Knowing what others are saying about their products allows you to present your products in contrast and as unique to the marketplace.  This knowledge also works to uncover your competitive advantage.  A competitive advantage is typically a unique process or product, or some form of exceptional performance; make sure yours is clearly defined.


Your value proposition is what customers can expect from your business, product, or service.  It is your promise to the customer.  It is often a convincing written statement that expresses why consumers should purchase from you, or why your product is best for them. Your value proposition is central to your business model and should come as a result of an analysis of the benefits, costs, and value of your product.  It is a cornerstone of your strategy.


People want to do business with those companies that provide great value, have the perceived best product, or have the best price or delivery.  The best way to improve your brand is by being excellent in what you do, so it is very important to back up your claims and support your customers with excellent service. The slogan: “The customer is always right!” is still true today, even if it appears to have passed away.


This is a two-headed coin.  The first side of your coin represents your customer, your target audience.  You need to understand their needs, desires, and requirements with regard to your product.  Know their language, know where they shop, what they read, what they like and you will become a more effective marketer.  The other side of your coin concerns your people, staff and employees, they are your lifeline to success, train them in customer service, product knowledge, and salesmanship. Then, reward them for their performance and their rapport with customers, especially when they satisfy a customer issue.

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