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Competitive Positioning for Nonprofits
Home Business Marketing & Advertising
By: Susan Friesen Email Article
Word Count: 1099 Digg it | it | Google it | StumbleUpon it


How to Create a Brand Positioning Statement

Itís an important question every organization must ask themselves: what sets you apart from the competition?

Notice I said "organization." Donít think that just because youíre part of a nonprofit that you donít need to put time and effort into branding! Nonprofits need to be aware of the link between a brand's strategic value and its organizational impact.

Here are a few things that can happen if you donít put the time and effort into creating this simple yet powerful statement:
* Youíll probably be confused with similar organizations.
* Your messaging will be all over the place.
* Potential donors wonít trust you.

Itís true that big charities have the benefit of a marketing team: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has a director of global brand and innovation, while UNICEF has a chief of brand-building.

Fortunately, even if itís just you, itís not overly difficult to come up with a positioning statement that will set you apart from your charitable competition. That is, if youíre willing to do some research and deep thinking before you start typing.

What Is Brand Positioning?

First, letís cover the definition of brand positioning. Itís the art of matching your marketing message with the beliefs, feelings and desires of your ideal customer.

You do that effectively by making yourself "visible" as the kind of organization an individual would be attracted to.

However, this statement isnít customer-facing like your tagline is. Think of it as an internal statement that supports ideas before you develop specific marketing messaging.

Itís also important to remember nonprofit brand positioning is a bit different than for-profit branding. Hereís why statements are different for a charity vs. for a for-profit business: you want people to donate to your cause, but youíre not focused on messaging around the lowest prices like Walmart is, or on the biggest showroom selection like Ikea is.
Competitive positioning for nonprofits is more focused on the "why": what is your mission? Your product is the good youíre doing.

For example, UNICEFís "why" is "to protect the rights of every child."

UNICEF isnít focused on undercutting their competition or saying theyíre the best charity out there. (Also, some charities wish to collaborate and support others in their efforts, not necessarily compete against them.)

How to Create a Non-For-Profit Positioning Statement

Now that weíve clarified the difference, letís look at how to create your nonprofit positioning statement:

Define your unique selling proposition (USP).

Itís great that there are so many nonprofits supporting various causes, but this means that people are faced with an overwhelming number to choose from. You want them to pick yours.

While youíre not selling a product, you are selling a commitmentówhether thatís to provide clean water to villages or save turtles from extinction. Your USP is something unique that you have to offer.

Like a small business owner does competitive research before defining his or her brand, you need to do the same for your charitable organization. Conduct some research on similar charities and find out:
* Whoís their audience?
* How are they positioning their brand?
* What are they doing well?
* What are they doing poorly?

Hereís one of the ways that charity:water sets themselves apart from other similar nonprofits. They donít focus solely on the fact that they provide clean drinking water to underdeveloped countries. They highlight that they prove every project "with GPS coordinates and remote sensors to ensure water is always flowing."

Donít be afraid to be bold.

Think of creative ways to encourage potential donors to give to your cause. A website with a few lackluster paragraphs and a donate button isnít going to cut it. Neither is a bunch of copy that has the same messaging as similar charities.

Traditionally, nonprofits have focused on safe, neutral messaging; thatís changed now. Just look at F**k Cancer, a health organization working for early detection and prevention of cancer worldwide!

While you donít need to use expletives in your nonprofit brand positioning statement, tagline, logo or other materials, think outside "we do good" messaging and be a bit edgy.

Tell your full story.

Donít make potential donors try and figure out why they should support your initiative. Spend some time thinking deeply about your nonprofit positioning statement as it relates to your story.

Did a family member deal with the disease youíre raising funds to eradicate? Make it personal. Did you become passionate about animal rights when you adopted a pet from a shelter? Consider that angle.

Take a look at your About Us page for inspiration. Hereís a local dog rescueís story that is part of everything they do.

Create a narrative around your brand rather than only focusing on what you do. Itís especially important for charities to do this well, as many people are naturally suspicious of people asking for money.

Share the knowledge.

Itís one thing to come up with great nonprofit positioning, but getting everyone on board is essential. Ideally, your team should be involved in developing your brand positioning strategy.

At the very least, they need to understand why itís there and how to use it. Everyone whoís a part of your organization is a brand ambassador, so give them the tools they need to spread the word to potential donors, family, friends, the grocery store clerkÖ

Once youíve created your nonprofit positioning statement, donít just forget it in the depths of a desk drawer or in a file folder on your PC. Refer to if often: when youíre writing website copy, developing logo designs and reviewing materials someone else has created.

By using it to influence everything you create, youíll have a consistent message across all of your marketing collateral, leading to increased awareness, trust and donations.

Susan Friesen, founder of the award-winning web development and digital marketing firm eVision Media. Visit and download your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

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