Clarity CIC’s blog for January: “Marketing Shouldn’t be a Dirty Word” by Stephen Woollett

We regularly feature blogs by Sarah Taragon and Stephen Woollett of Clarity CIC, and Emma Beeston of the Emma Beeston Consultancy.

Today’s blog has been written by Stephen Woollett of Clarity CIC and is titled….

“Marketing Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word”

“In working with charities and social enterprises, especially smaller ones, I often sense marketing is regarded as something of a dirty word. There is commonly a feeling, implied if not openly articulated, that marketing is only for the corporate world and that it’s about persuading people to buy stuff they don’t need or rather persuading them to think they need something. And in the charity sector which still can be quite self-effacing and reluctant to promote its achievements it sometimes feels as if marketing is seen as rather vulgar and, frequently, a “luxury we cannot afford”. 

“The Chartered Institute of Marketing defines marketing as:

The management process responsible for identifying, anticipating and satisfying customer requirements profitably.”  

If we remove the last word, then I think this definition works for the social purpose sector.  Marketing is definitely not just, or even mainly, about promoting and publicising – rather it is fundamentally about finding out what people want or need and then providing it.  This is exactly what progressive social purpose organisations should be doing; not simply providing services (though it’s obviously not always simple) but finding out whether these services are “satisfying customer [or user] requirements”. And if not, then developing new or adapted services that do meet need.  Marketing is most certainly about research, community engagement, involving people with lived experience, co-design and co-production. So, don’t think having an explicit marketing role or responsibility in your team, as a ”nice to have” add-on – regard it as crucial to being a dynamic and  effective organisation.”

Clarity CIC is a social enterprise whose mission is to enable social purpose organisations, including community groups, charities and social enterprises to be effective, sustainable and well-run. Clarity helps organisations solve everyday problems, build their own capability, think and act strategically and demonstrate the value of their work.