Positioning for Non-Profits

And other socially conscious organizations.

Positioning is an important aspect of any organization’s marketing communications. It is how you show that you are different than the other organizations that provide similar services or products. Socially oriented organizations must position themselves differently than a typical corporation.

In business, positioning is usually used to convince the consumer to purchase from them over the competition. This can be summed up with a company’s unique selling proposition or USP. The idea behind the USP is that there is some reason the consumer would pick your products or services over everyone else’s. The USP can be anything from the packaging, to the price, to the quality of the product.

In recent years, the unique selling proposition has fallen away for many established companies. In it’s place, we have brand preference. Positioning has moved away from the products and services, and is placed onto the organization providing the products and services.

Companies such as Nike and Apple are examples of extremely strong positioning and people often purchase their products to feel as though they are a part of something bigger. They buy for the emotions and values that are associated with the brand.

The best brands have a guiding philosophy that is present in all their marketing. For Nike the phrase “just do it.” emphasizes their philosophy of activity and overcoming adversity, whether internal or external. Apple has uses their philosophy of creativity and of developing technology that is ahead of the curve to position themselves. They emphasize this with sleek imagery and minimalist visuals.

Growing brand preference is essential for non‑profits and other socially oriented organizations.

Brand preference is essential because in many socially oriented organizations there is a disconnect between the people who pay for the services, and those who receive the services. Without brand preference, it is difficult to get invested volunteers and regular donors for non‑profits.

To build brand preference, you need to be able to articulate why your organization matters. Why should anyone care that your organization exists?

Very likely, your organization matters for different reasons to different people. Understanding and being able to share why your organization matters is the first step to positioning your organization.

When looking at articulating this aspect of your organization, listen to your existing audience. They probably know why they are invested in your organization, and can help you express your organization to others.

After listening to your audience, you should be able to express why it matters to the people who would fund your organization, as well as to those who receive your products and services. By connecting with each of those audiences and being able to express the parts of the organization that matter to them, you will be starting to position your organization.

The next step after establishing the positioning of your organization is to make sure that everything your organization does, says, and publishes is tied to the meaning behind the organization.

If this is your organization’s first attempt at positioning, start by making sure your website and newsletter align with your positioning. That should help you get started. Just remember, keep it simple!