Chasing Sasquatch: Assessing Your Organization’s Marketing Maturity

How do you know that your marketing strategy is effective? No matter the size of your organization or the scope of your marketing budget, it can be difficult to know where you sit in the journey towards marketing maturity. And, if you’re like many organizations you are trying to tackle all aspects of marketing with the same level of effort. So, if your approach is too broad, can you best pinpoint the tactics and channels which work best for the resources you have available?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does every dollar you spend on marketing yield more than a dollar in return?
  • Do your supporters admire and trust your brand? Do your competitors envy it?
  • Are you getting the most out of technology? Is your tech (software, tools, website, etc.) humming along smoothly and seamlessly for both internal and external audiences? In other words, tools support your success, not add to your frustrations.
  • Does your entire staff know precisely what you do, whom you serve, and how to communicate your value to the world?

If you can say yes to all the above, congratulations, your marketing is mature! This means that you have a strategic advantage in your sector, rather than a responsive approach to the market. If you’re not there yet, you aren’t alone and you have a host of resources at your disposal to optimize your work. The first step is knowing the areas in which you excel and where you can improve. Thankfully, there are tools in place to help you map out a marketing strategy that fits your organization.

As part of The Blackbaud Institute Index 10th anniversary celebration, the Institute has hosted a series of virtual fireside chats to get exclusive insights from thought leaders and perspectives on this decade’s most influential charitable giving trends. One such industry expert is Rachel Clemens, Chief Marketing Officer of Mighty Citizen, a firm dedicated to transforming mission-driven organizations through branding, marketing, and digital communications. In her conversation with Blackbaud Institute Managing Director Ashley Thompson, Rachel shared insights into how your organization can assess your marketing effectiveness and goals that you can set to reach marketing maturity.

Categories of Assessment

In Rachel’s words, “marketing effectiveness is like Sasquatch:” it’s out there, but hard to pin down. Through their Marketing Maturity Assessment, The Mighty GPS, Mighty Citizen has named a series of categories that measure your stage in the journey. These include:

  • Research and analytics
  • Branding and strategy
  • Marketing and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • UX design and content
  • Technology
  • Team dynamics

Since The Mighty GPS launched in February of 2022, over 350 unique organizations have self-assessed their own marketing efforts within these categories. The trends that appeared reflect that orgs struggle the most with Research and Analytics. Whether your budget permits automated marketing systems or more ad-hoc surveys, it’s critical to be in communication with your audience and to gather that data whenever possible. Most importantly, and maybe the most challenging step, is to take advantage of the data once you have it. One piece of advice that Rachel Clemens gave was to outsource your research when you can. This will ensure that you don’t inject bias into the process, you’re getting the most out of your data, and will free up your marketing team to do what they do best.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Branding and Strategy category showed high levels of success, alongside UX Design and Content. This isn’t surprising as these are the creative elements of marketing that tend to draw the most time and enjoyment from teams. If your organization scores high in this area and lower in others, it doesn’t mean that the creative aspects of your work should be set aside. It’s up to you to decide what you value most and where you can redistribute or outsource your efforts, as mentioned above, to optimize your time and energy.

The highest ranked category across the board was Team Dynamics. As a self-assessment,
The Mighty GPS is typically taken by team members at all levels of leadership. It’s a great sign when all members of your team feel that you’re working in sync and towards a common goal. The Mighty GPS can also open doors to internal conversations around pain points across leadership levels, reducing roadblocks and improving communication.

The Stages of Marketing Maturity

At this point you may be curious how many organizations are in the zone of marketing maturity. Like any high standard, it can feel unattainable, particularly for smaller organizations. The Mighty GPS places organizations into four stages, depending on your self-assessment of each category listed above. Here is a breakdown of where organizations can fall and what it means for their strategies moving forward:

  • Crawling (12.5%*): This means that foundational efforts and best practices should be put into place or that your organization is likely small or underfunded.
  • Walking (41%*) – You have best practices in place but could use a push to implement them and expand your efforts.
  • Running (39%*) – This is the sweet spot! You can feel good about your work, with best practices active across your efforts. You also have room for improvement and are informed about where you can take those next steps to optimize.
  • Soaring (7.5%*) – This is the least represented stage and often includes well-funded and resourced organizations that are seeing a lot of results. If you fall within this stage, you can make small adjustments to stay up-to-date and on top of your game. Your focus now should be on teaching others how to achieve this milestone!

*Percentage of those organizations who have participated in The Mighty GPS assessment so far

The Future of Digital Marketing

The only constant in the quickly evolving field of digital marketing is change. Achieving marketing maturity is an ongoing pursuit that can be understood as a strategic framework for resilience. What defines a mature marketing approach today will likely shift in the years to come. When the Blackbaud Institute first explored online marketing a decade ago, we could not have predicted the trajectory of today’s digital marketing strategies. At the time, social media was an emerging resource in direct-to-consumer messaging. Over the years, these platforms offered marketers increasing access to analytics on their customers and prospects, shaping a new landscape that relies on individualized, targeted approaches. Today, as access to this information and tracking engagement becomes increasingly limited, marketing teams must once again get creative and be ready for the next phase.

Rachel’s advice: “there’s always a propensity to focus on what’s changing, but you can’t just drop the foundations.” Clemens and her colleagues at Mighty Citizen emphasize that flowing with the tide of change is a necessary element to your team’s success. It can be intimidating to feel you’re always chasing the next trend or technology. Rachel suggests looking to for-profits who have the resources to explore these new territories and following their lead. Focus your resources on the one element of marketing that never changes: authentic communication and connection with your audiences. With a solid foundation and the knowledge of what you value most, your organization can face the future with confidence and achieve new levels of effectiveness.

Want to learn more from Rachel to further understand your marketing maturity? Watch the full webinar.

Register for upcoming BBI fireside chats.