Measure and Improve Your Marketing Effectiveness
How effective is your marketing? This elusive question is hard to answer—and is different for every organization.
In this on-demand webinar, you’ll learn from Mighty Citizen and the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools (ATLIS) on how to measure your marketing effectiveness to improve KPIs and optimize your marketing efforts.
We discuss effectiveness across these six key categories:
- Research & Analytics
- Branding & Strategy
- Marketing & SEO
- UX Design & Content
- Team Dynamics
You’ll also hear how ATLIS took our marketing maturity self-assessment, The Mighty GPS, and used the resources and recommendations to adjust, budget, and improve their marketing efforts.
Rachel Clemens: Good afternoon, everybody. Thanks for joining us. I'm Rachel Clemens. I'm the CMO here at Mighty Citizen. And I have two guests with me today. We'll do intros in a minute fully. But I have Christina Luellen, Executive Director at the Association of Technology Leaders in Independent Schools, hereby known as ATLIS, and Kelsey Watson, director of marketing and events at ATLIS as well. So excited to be joined by you guys today. And today kicks off our first session in a three-part series, mightier marketing and 123. And the goal of that series is to help you guys prepare for 2023. So we want to provide some new knowledge, some practical tips, and useful tools to help you guys further your mission next year. Today's session is the first one in the series, Measure and Improve Your Marketing Effectiveness in 2023.
Part of the webinar today is a walkthrough of our self-assessment to measure your marketing effectiveness, the Mighty GPS. So we'll be sharing info on that as well. But specifically today, we're going to talk about what I think of as the Sasquatch, the Loch Ness Monster, the Abominable Snowman of the marketing world, which is marketing effectiveness. To me, it's like that elusive creature that you're pretty sure exists, but you're not quite sure because you've ever seen it. I'm Rachel Clemens, the CMO of Mighty Citizen if you're not familiar with Mighty Citizen, we're a branding, marketing, and digital agency for mission-driven organizations. So we help our clients increase their revenue, build their awareness, and better their communities, typically through things like branding, messaging, websites, campaigns, and analytics, all covered under communications.
We did this fun little thing where we shared our strengths and weaknesses. And so I think my strength is creativity, but I'm in the midst of some pumpkin Chai lattes, y'all it has gotten a little out of control and they've only been out for like a week. Christina, will you please introduce yourself?
Christina Llewellyn: Hey everybody, I am Christina Llewellyn, and I am the Chief Staff Officer, and the Executive Director of ATLIS. It is a mouthful. We primarily represent CIOs and technology teams that work at K-12 private schools, and independent schools. We, however, provide a lot of technology resources to the entire school, and also the entire independent school community. So we have our core tech teams, but we also do some outreach deeper into our independent school industry. I am indeed raising four teenage daughters. And while I am not a pumpkin spice latte, sugar syrup person, I'm kind of a plain latte kind of person. I will say that I do have two daughters who spent the summer working at Starbucks, and one still does. And I get a lot of free bees as part of their benefits. So that's my weakness.
Rachel: Fantastic. Kelsey.
Kelsey Watson: Hi, everyone. I'm Kelsey Watson. I'm the Director of Marketing and Events here at ATLIS. And I would say one of my strengths is thinking outside of the box to find solutions, or generate new ideas, and I am a sucker for peanut M&M's. My husband hates peanuts or anything peanut and I just realized the other day and talked to a friend that I have a gluten allergy and so he'll buy all the chocolates that I can't eat, like wicks and stuff. And he's like, look, I got you your own bag of chocolates. And I'm like, but you don't like these. I like the ones you're eating and I can't eat it.
Rachel: So today by the end of this webinar, you will be able to understand the value of marketing effectiveness out of measuring your own marketing effectiveness. And the steps you can take to further your marketing, marketing effectiveness is a spectrum. So we'll be diving more into that and what that looks like, and how you can go further along the spectrum. I'm going to go ahead and share the URL to the Mighty GPS, which is our self-assessment tool for measuring market effectiveness. You know, maybe hold off on filling it out, because it takes about six or seven minutes. But I did want to go ahead and share it. So you guys could if you wanted to kind of follow along and just sort of see what it looks like, you know, you could pop in there real quick and do that.
Okay, so we know that effectiveness is hard to measure. I want to take a quick poll and ask you guys, do you know how effective your marketing is? Overall, by the way, a totally anonymous poll? Nobody can see how you're answering. So it is a safe space. And the options are going to be yes, or no. Let's see. Here's the poll. And you guys can see that now. And while that's going, I'm curious. Kelsey, how would you answer this question? Yes.
Kelsey: Now, I'm afraid to say. I mean, I feel like we've sort of started to figure out how to measure it. But it is a constant. It's an ongoing task, right?
Rachel: Definitely. So we have some results coming in. Most of you are saying no. About 25% of you are saying I'm afraid to say, and about 21% are answering yes. So there you can see it. 23% said yes. 53% said no. And I'm afraid to say that we're in good company today. Don't worry about that. Just know that we're going to help you, you know, come solve that problem, perhaps or work to solve that problem.
Now, when we think about working in factoring this, there's kind of two ways we measure anything, right? It's qualitative and quantitative. And start with the quantitative a lot of us put a lot of effort in recently, especially to better measure our quantitative data. So you know, how much our metrics look like, like how our digital ads did. Those are things we can now measure. But I think a lot of us understand that that's still a challenge Beloit, that a brand marketing effectiveness study. And they found that marketers struggle with trusting the data that they have a lack of data available for the metrics they actually want to measure and knowing what to measure. So here at Mighty Citizen, we use HubSpot, we use Google Analytics, Google Data Studio. We have the metrics at our fingertips, but actually diving in, and knowing what's important to look at and what's not among all the data we could be looking at. For us, that's our quantitative challenge. And then on the qualitative side, you know, people are always asking how well is your marketing working? And you'll give them an answer. But it's really but instinct, there's not, you know, qualitatively you might hear from somebody they like something, but it's one person, right? So that's also hard to do.
When you know your marketing effectiveness, it allows you to capitalize on what's working, and what's not working. So that low-hanging fruit understanding where those opportunities lie, it does save you time and money, you don't have to keep investing in things that aren't actually working, and gives you an area to look at, you know, really putting your skills and your money to work. Showing how you can augment your team when you understand what's working and what isn't is quite beneficial. When you have the opportunity to bring someone else onto your team, you can match their skills up with those alignments. So you know, are they strong in the areas that are strong and or maybe they have a strength in an area that's a weakness, and you now have an opportunity to make that less of a weakness which helps you to understand your return on investment. We are all investing money, and hoping we get more than that dollar spent back in return. Understanding market effectiveness helps you know if that's actually happening, and then helps you ask for investments where needed.
Now we have Christina and Kelsey here today because they're on the client side of things. They know the struggle you guys are facing in asking for money. So when we talk to the very end, especially about how to answer some FAQs like “ I don't have the money for this.” We're going to help you kind of think through that.
So how do you measure market efficiency? This is a great question we've been asking ourselves for years. We've been trying to answer it for Mighty Citizen but also for our clients. You know, they come in and they spend money with us, and we have some of the data that we can share from the results of them but how do we holistically know whether they're moving further along in terms of their marketing maturity? So we want to help you guys show progress to your leadership. So show how you've been on that spectrum. And now where you are measuring your effectiveness, you have data, so you can go to your leadership and say, we need an investment for this. And here's why. And here's, here's where we've come. So here's how far we've gone.
So basically, we set out to answer this question and figured out that there wasn't anything in existence that made this easy. So Mighty Citizen launched something called the mighty GPS in February, and it is a self-assessment to measure your marketing maturity, it's absolutely free, and takes less than 10 minutes. In fact, data showing it takes about six minutes. So, you know, it's pretty quick, it is a bunch of questions. There are lots of categories, which we'll get into. And I want to note that we're not talking about organizational maturity, when we talk about this assessment, you can have a mature organization, and still not be effective in terms of your marketing. And the opposite is also true, you can be a young and scrappy org, and it's really effective. We're gonna look at an example of that today with that list.
So just know that going in, and just a brief background on how we built this tool. So we've been talking about the maturity model for years, y'all know how it goes, you got your ideas for this big creative project you want to build, and it's hard to like, get it done. And we're kind of your own projects. But we did pull in mighty citizens from each of our departments, and had them weigh in on the most relevant questions to their discipline.
So the design team weighed in, and the UX team weighed in. We started with a simple prototype last summer, and did some user testing with our clients and our friends, kind of making sure that what we had set up was actually helping them and also functioning properly. So based on that feedback, we made a revision to some of our questions, we revised our scoring, and we beta launched with a small audience in November, which included Christina and her team at ATLIS. So they took their first GPS in November of last year, then we launched it publicly in February. And if you do end up taking it, and you have feedback for us, we would HIGHLY love to have that feedback. We're constantly trying to improve upon it. So I encourage your feedback if you do take it. The Mighty GPS measures six marketing categories across four marketing stages, we're going to go into each of these a little bit. But for now, it's important that the categories are broad enough to cover most aspects of marketing. So it is holistic, it's not just a digital marketing maturity model. It's really a holistic maturity model. There are about six to eight questions, and each of the categories, and we establish scores for each of these categories, and then give you an overall marketing maturity score. And your score determines your marketing maturity stages. So in four stages, we'll go into each of these in a moment. When you take the Mighty GPS, we highly recommend you take it with your team. It was created with the heads of marketing communications in mind, because it is a marketing model. And they tend to be the ones that know the most about what all is happening at your organization. However, we do suggest the full team take it. And the reason for that is because you're going to be able to see whether your team is in alignment. So if your head of marketing takes it, and then also, your marketing manager takes it and your marketing coordinator takes it. If you all take it, you can compare your results. And see if everybody roughly came up with the same results. It just shows how in alignment you are. And if you're not in alignment, where are you off? And how can you educate the team or like come to some agreement about what's really happening among your marketing department. You may also want other teams to take it. So if you're in a larger organization, you're on the marketing side and you have an events team. It might be great for your events team to take as well, or fundraising, or student recruitment. There are all kinds of other departments that it might make sense to weigh in on a marketing maturity tool. Sorry, I've been skipping ahead here, it will give you a well-rounded view of your effectiveness. So again, the more people that weigh in, the more you can see that and it can be great for getting new hires onboarded. So you know, sharing the results with them and having them see kind of where we are today. Hey, Christina, I know you were the one that first filled it out in November. How have you used it with your team, have multiple people taken it and how did y'all see alignment or not?
Christina: Yeah, in the beginning, we, you know, I was part of the beta crew. And at the time, we really didn't have a person carved out doing marketing work specifically. And so I took it on myself because I had a broad enough view of the organization. We're fairly a small staff and our roles were transitioning and changing, and so there, Kelsey didn't have her title back then. And, she was taking points on other projects of the organization. So I took it myself knowing what I know about the organization. And then once that was done, I shared it with the team as a whole, because we were all dipping our fingers into various pots when it came to marketing. It gave us a really good sense of, you know, that our organization was pretty decentralized, and we could use some help.
Rachel: Great. So, you know, we mentioned that this is a self-assessment survey, it walks you through the six marketing categories. We'll take a look at each one at a high level, just so you know, like, what we're measuring, and what you want to be looking at in terms of the categories or disciplines when you're thinking about your marketing effectiveness. So the first one is Research & Analytics. Some of the questions we ask here are, do you understand your audiences? Are you using analytics to further your insight, this section is really around both understanding audiences so that you can speak to them better, and in their words and languages that they use, and also analytics. So are you using your analytics in order to further your strategy? Branding & Strategy, examples of questions include, do you have guidelines in place for consistent messaging and branding? And do you have any written plans for how you'll communicate with your audiences? So the branding strategy section is really around cohesiveness, consistency, whether you have an underlying look and feel, and messaging, everyone's using.
Marketing & SEO is the third category. And this has questions like have you established key goals and share those with leadership? And then do you use Search Engine Optimization or SEO to drive traffic to your website? So this is really around setting up goals. A lot of times when we work with organizations, they kind of know generally what they want to do, but they don't have established metrics. And so this is asking questions around KPIs and things like that.
UX Design & Content, ask questions like do you plan your content to meet audience needs? Does your website support your strategic goals? This is really around the content that you're producing. And your website specifically, a lot of times here at Mighty Citizen we say, you know, as an association, or nonprofit or government, really your job is to create content that moves people to do something. I mean, that's marketing, essentially, as a whole. And so you know, are you doing that?
Technology: Is your website easy to update and maintain, do your different platforms integrate seamlessly? So many of us have membership management systems, donor management systems or student management systems. And those don't always play nicely with our general websites. And so, you know, questions around the technology specifically, and how easy it is to use both for internal and external audiences.
And then the last one is Team Dynamics. Does your internal team represent a variety of skills, such as leadership, and believe in the power of marketing? This was the last category we added. And the reason we added it is we have just seen so many times that you can have a lot of other things in place. But if you don't have support from leadership, or an adequate budget, or, you know, a variety of skills on your team, it's a bottleneck. And so this last one is really important for that reason. Kelsey, I'm curious for you, you know, looking at these six categories, when you first, you know, a year ago, roughly, when you first filled out the GPS, do you think you would have had a good idea of like, where which categories were strong, and which were not as strong?
Kelsey: Yeah, I think when Christina brought the results to me, I don't think I was very surprised. With what we saw, you know, you're gonna share our result, too.
Rachel: Yeah, that often happens. I mean, well, we're going to talk about this, sort of in this next session. But normally, people have a good sense of roughly where their organization would sit on a scale of zero to 100 in terms of marketing maturity, but they may not know what to do from there. And so that's part of the next step, right?
So you fill out the survey, the self-assessment, you're gonna get a marketing maturity score. And those scores are basically those six categories averaged out to give you a total score. The scores then place you in a stage, and you can see the scoring breakdown here. So crawling makes up the lowest 40% - 39%. And then each subsequent stage walking, running, and soaring, make up about a 20-point range. Of course, these are across all six categories.
And before we walk through each stage, I kind of want to do another poll. You might have seen this pop up earlier, but if you answered it before, which stage of marketing maturity do you think you're in? As I said, most of us sort of have a sense of this even before taking the GPS. So I'm curious to see here. Okay, you guys, they're coming in, I'm still gonna let it keep running. Here is what we're seeing as most of you are saying walking. I'm also going to share in a minute some of the data we've seen so far since February, of where people actually are sitting, let me in this poll, and then share the results. And so you can see 57% of you believe you're in walking, 27% crawling, 16% running, and nobody's high on yourselves right now with zero for soaring. So let's see. I'll walk you through these.
I'm going to walk through each one of these in a little bit of detail, I will have to say there are generalizations here. So for your stage, some of the challenges in the next steps will be applicable to your organization, and some won't, every organization is at a different point along that marketing maturity journey. And so we can't account for everyone's unique opportunities and qualities. Instead, we've created the stages to best fit what we've seen, in many, or most organizations within the stage. We've been working with mission-driven organizations for 20-plus years. And so we sort of know where people and what their commonalities are across each of the stages. So crawling is the first one up, crawling is all about focusing on the fundamentals. Common challenges when you're crawling are things like a limited buy-in and a limited budget. What I mean by that is you have some support, potentially from leadership, though they may struggle with really understanding the potential of marketing communications. Oftentimes, you lack resources which can be time, money that can be technology, or any number of things. They're no concrete goals. Again, you might have a general thinking about what you need to be doing or what you want to be doing. But you haven't really got concrete on what your metrics look like and what your analytics look like. And then they're often reactive versus proactive. The next steps are crawling typically include surveying your audiences, establishing your guidelines, creating a plan and a budget, and setting measurable goals. Again, you see, it's really about fundamentals here. Now, if you end up in crawling, do not despair. In some ways, crawling can actually be the best category. And the reason I say that is because there's a ton of opportunity to make really huge impactful changes. And you can choose which direction you move in first. So I know it can feel overwhelming to be in the crawling stage. But again, it's a journey, it's made one step at a time, you know, don't be, don't be too hard on yourself, for sure. And in fact, if you're in crawling, you're probably doing a lot of things.
Walking is all about establishing bulk competent competence. So the bones are there, you've got those fundamentals in place. But you want to know that the work that you're putting in is paying off. And so it means you have a strong foundation on which to build exceptional new results. Common challenges include a lack of urgency, what you're doing is, so there's a lack of like, challenge, or urgency to make changes. And decisions are often driven by that. We'll talk more about the results in the research category. But a lot of times we're going off of what we feel to be true and not what we know to be true. Older, clunky technologies are often a challenge here, your UX or User Experience Experience is passable, but not great. And you're still often reactive versus proactive. The next steps often include optimizing those Google analytics which can tell you a lot about getting everything in place. They're owning your messaging, prioritizing your user experience, and implementing new technology. Now you guys might be thinking at this point, you know, Rachel, I thought we were in walking 57% of you said you thought you were in walking. But I'm not sure that's true. Because we have our Google Analytics up and firing and it's working great. Now, that might be true, and you still might be in walking. So again, not everything's going to apply 100% to everybody, but this is generally what walking looks like. By the way, if you are a team of one, and you are in marketing. I mean, you're doing such a good job. It's really hard to be a marketing team of one and to be in walking and doing enough to be beyond the basics like kudos. Kelsey, little spoiler alert, this is where you guys found yourselves in November 2021, your score was a 43. Does this feel like where you would have said you were?
Kelsey: And yeah, it really does. I see this list. And again, I saw it when Christina gave me the report, and no surprises there.
Rachel: Yeah. Yeah. I imagine a lot of you were like, Yep, I said, walking in. Yeah, that feels right. Running is about optimizing infrastructure or making the most of what's working for you. So where do opportunities exist in the places that are working to go deeper, to increase your efficiency, and to optimize what's already in place? Common challenges include, now that your knowledge is at its limits. And that's internal knowledge. Primarily, it's really hard as a marketer, to keep up with all of the changes. And it just sometimes you just kind of hit that wall where you're like, I cannot learn one more thing. So that can run in you that can get in your way. There's no real impetus to change, kind of like walking, you know, if you're in running, it's hard to say we need to really change something. Research efforts are light, so you may be doing some research, but they're not necessarily research techniques. Your tech has unused features. Maybe you have the tech but you're using like 2% of it. And you know, you could be using more, but just haven't invested that time. Or a lot of times your strategies are built on thinking that is two or three years old. So we're just not always keeping up with the research in a way that we need to be. The next steps include diving deeper into research, auditing your content and your user experience. A lot of times when you're reading, you are pumping out content, you got a good machine going, or we're not always stopping to go is this content furthering our mission. So you know, you might need to back up an audit and kind of rethink that. Testing, testing, more testing. Again, it's about optimizing. And testing is a huge part of that. And then data security, privacy practices, those things are really knocking on our doors. And we're having to turn our attention there. And so a lot for a lot of running organizations that's where they're starting to turn their attention. And then lastly, soaring is about experimenting and influencing. You'll be scouring your organization for opportunities to reach new levels of success, and hopefully sharing what you've learned with your peers inside and outside your organization. So common challenges look like, you know, you have big ideas, but they often demand big money. Content governance. Content governance is basically when you're producing a lot of content, having rules around how it's produced, edited, approved, archived, and maintained, it's really important for big organizations. To content governance software and challenge, it's hard to share your project nuances of leadership at this level, you know, what they care about and what you care about are not always the same. So getting on the same page there. And then scalability, if your department inspires really well, how do you scale that and help other departments as well? The next steps include testing, implementing content governance, and iterating on new technologies, so kind of like the iteration cycle in a repetitive way, coaching your team. So again, you have things to teach others, and then seek new ideas. This is often like you're doing what you're doing really well. And so sometimes, you know, you're in it, you're at that 3000-foot level, and you need that 30,000-foot level. So seeking new ideas for partners, or you know, professional development, or whatever is really important at this stage.
So I want to share some of our initial data. So we've had this out since February, we've had 350 organizations take the Mighty GPS. And so far, we've seen that the majority of scores are between 35 and 79. So there's somewhere between really high crawling, and really high running. And so that puts most of them honestly, the majority of them are in walking and running. So we saw some of you guys, I think the majority said walking and crawling. But maybe that's changed now that you know a little bit more about marketing budget, people that are spending over $50,000 see increased marketing effectiveness. In fact, your scores will increase, or our data shows that when you spend at least $50,000 per year on your marketing, your scores are five to 10 points higher in each of the categories. It's across the board. We're also seeing that Research & Analytics is by far the lowest-scoring category. I'll share this with you in a moment, with an average in the crawling stage. This is this place where everybody struggles; it's in that Research & Analytics area. Team Dynamics typically ranks the highest followed by branding and strike. I love this. It means we have faith in our teams and our leadership. So that's always a good sign. One thing I'll note about the research is that orgs spending between $50,000 and $100,000 a year are tending to do best, which means they're doing better than people that aren't spending $50,000. It also means in terms of the scales and scores, they're also doing better than the people who spend more than $100,000. I think the reason for that is, they have enough money and resources to be resourceful, but they also have to be efficient with it. So it's not like buku money to just throw around. So they've got to be pretty efficient with the budget that they're spending. This doesn't mean if you're spending over 100,000 a year that you aren't effective, it just means that you may need to be mindful of what isn't working. So that's because there's likely some efficiency there you could capture.
Here's some average score support. Again, this is across all the mission-driven industries and nonprofit associations, government, and higher ed. But you'll see here, the lowest score is Research & Analytics at 39%. Branding & Strategy comes in at 64, the second highest category. Marketing & SEO at 57%, UX design & Content at 59%. Technology at 60%., and Team Dynamics at 69%. So you'll see it’s really the Research & Analytics that are bringing most of us down. That's not always the case, but more often than not.
Okay, so you've taken the mighty GPS, here's what you're going to get, an immediate score, and the stage. I'm going to use ATLIS as our example throughout this whole thing. So you're looking at their November 2021 score. So again, I mentioned they had 43%, they were walking. You're also gonna get a score for each category. So you can see at a glance where your strengths and areas of opportunity lie. What's interesting about ATLISes initial results is they were all pretty even, you know, they were kind of across the board, we're gonna talk more about that. But they did buck the trend of having their lowest score be Research & Analytics, and I do find this with associations. You're also going to get a list of tactical next steps for each of your categories. So again, they scored a 40% in branding and strategy, you'll see that they got a list of five to six next steps. Kelsey, I'm curious for you. When you got the general report, you know, you said there were no surprises. I mean, were you kind of overwhelmed, because you get five or six next steps for each category, right?
Kelsey: Yeah, it is overwhelming there, there was a lot to kind of take in. And as Christina mentioned, at the time, I did not have this title, but she shared the report with me. And I think I kind of was maybe the launchpad of evolving into my current title. But what I really loved and appreciated about the report was that it did link for all the next steps, it links to all of these toolkits and other resources. So I wasn't staring at a blank slate when it came to getting started. And you know, we did, we had to, as a team, work together and figure out where to prioritize, because you look at a report with relatively low to mediocre scores across the board, and you want to fix it all. But you can't do everything, at least not all at once.
Christina: So I want to jump in to say that I'm seeing some concerns popping up in the chat. Y'all we are tiny. Like we're growing really fast. We're a young organization growing super fast. But we're a 1.5 million organization, we had six FTEs, and we're down to five because one retired—we knew that was coming. So I see anxiety here. And trust me, because you know Mighty Citizen, is an organization that has a phenomenal reputation for working with larger organizations. So part of my concern in taking the GPS report, the assessment tool in the first place is I'm so tiny, you know if they're going to tell me I just need to throw a bunch of money at this, it's a waste of my time. But I think if you hang with us in the next couple of slides, you'll see that even a small organization that can't afford consultants and can't afford a massive investment can still make a difference. So hang with us for just a little bit.
Rachel: Yeah, I was seeing that same concern. Someone asked too, what is the average operating budget of those who have completed the assessment? I don't have those numbers at my fingertips, but I would say about half of those that completed so half of the 350 had a marketing budget of under $25,000. So this data is well represented for small organizations. There are some that are over $500,000 so it does span all different sizes. It's really not built for any one size. I think what the data has shown us is that the more money you have the opportunity to spend, the more likely your effectiveness is higher by more than five or 10 points, but it's only five or 10 points. It's not drastic. It's not like it's all about the money. So for those who may be concerned, what you can use your report to do is to spark conversations among your team, you know, what does this look like? Do we agree on what we can do about it? You can build your case internally, we're gonna talk more about that prioritized and where you maybe need to work on some things to get them to a certain point. It may also tell you, you know, this thing isn't really working, this category isn't really very good for us. And actually, that's by design, Mighty Citizen, specifically, we were doing a bunch with SEO, we felt like we were seeing some results, but we're spending so much time on it, it was just getting in the way so we dropped it. Um, so I'll be taking this money GPS myself at the end of the year to see if it hurts us or not. And looking at all our analytics and seeing if it hurt us, it's definitely been a benefit to not put time into it.
You can check back on that report. We can talk more about this, you know, a year later, and see how things have changed. And of course, we're going to give you some expert advice and free resources based on your results. Those free resources are results-specific. So we're going to talk about how ATLIS went and made some efforts in the branding category. And so like this is an example of, you know, centralizing your brand to brand guidelines stock, if your brand guidelines need help, here's how to do it, we're going to tell you, our MO is to let you guys do it yourself. If you need help, maybe you'll reach out. But really, the idea is that, you know, you can take this and never need us. ATLIS is not a client of ours.
Okay, putting your report into action, really quickly, you're gonna get the report showing you some snaps so that we talk more about that. We do have a Mighty GPS Get-Started Planner. So when you get your report, we're also going to link you to this planner, it can be overwhelming, as Kelsey said, so this planner just walks you through how to pick where to start, and then what to do for each of those. Okay, so a reminder, this is the scores for ATLIS in November, I mentioned that your scores were all relatively even. I'm curious, Christina, how did you decide where to start?
Christina: I don't know if I really decided where to start. But I think, you know, ultimately, what we had to do, because we're small, is that we sort of cherry-picked. So there, it's not like we made a decision to say let's dive into Research & Analytics. Instead, what we had the opportunity to do is that with these, the kind of the next steps that you get, when you take this free assessment, it says, you know, you might want to think about these things. And so we cherry-picked a little bit from each category. And if there had been one of the scores that were significantly underwater, I think I would have made a more concerted effort and said, y'all we are falling behind, we really need to focus on this. But I could see that we were consistent and low in each category. And which is, you know, partially why when we threw all the puzzle pieces up in the air and reorganized our staff, what Kelsey like six months ago or whatever, I don't even know what month it is anymore, y'all. And so the point is that we were able to kind of reorganize our organization. So if I'm honest, when I looked at this output, I knew that we needed more focus on marketing in a holistic sense, right as a whole. And so Kelsey had an interest in this space, and some talent. And so I said, let's shift that, let's let's reorganize. I'm not gonna say that we reorganized our entire association based on this report, but it was one of many contributing factors that helped me understand that, you know, kind of where we were in the maturation of our efforts.
Rachel: You were telling me that branding was really important. And so, you know, well knew you kind of had to go across the board that you did put a particular area of focus on branding.
Christina: Yeah. So you know, ATLIS is a young organization. As I mentioned, you know, we have technology leaders and tech professional CIOs who have been in the independent school space for a really long time. But they would sort of meet up at other organizations, they would get together at another association's event, and kind of like meet up someplace. And so when our founders put our organization together, it was just as I mentioned, a handful of years ago, we're only about seven years old. And so with that, there was a whole bunch of wait, who is ATLIS? So there was a big branding effort not only in terms of our price but people who would be likely to schools joining our organization but also among all the other regional and state and kind of, I would say adjacent associations that operate in the independent K-12. space. So what we really needed to focus on was making sure that we were speaking, a very similar branding voice through all of our vehicles. And part of why we wanted to do this is because I believe that it would make us look bigger. What this allowed us to do was really hone in on certain things that were going to be high-touch branding efforts, because even thinking about branding as a small organization can be super overwhelming. So we tried to target things that would make a really big impact. And one example that I can share is that, you know, we may not have had the money and the time to hire a consultant to come in and help us with membership personas, and you know a very firm breakdown. But even if you don't have a super specific outline of membership personas, or potential members that would come into your space, you can kind of wing it, right? Like we all kind of know, like, I could probably take mine and apply them to yours, right? Like, we've got early career professionals, kind of mid-career core career professionals, we have, like our superstars, our super volunteers who have been around forever. And we needed to make sure that we were kind of touching all of those kinds of categories within our space. And so without a big fancy consultant, we were able to kind of hone in and at least start somewhere. So it may not be perfect, but we for sure didn't want to like trip over dollars to pick up dimes, right? Like we weren't going to sacrifice the good in the pursuit of perfection. So we weren't good enough. And I think that you can kind of see where that landed us.
Rachel: Yeah, yeah. Around the UX Design & Content, can you speak to this as another area where y'all said, where the score was actually okay, it was 53, and it was one of your higher ones. Why did you put emphasis here as well?
Kelsey: Yeah, absolutely. Like you said, it was one of our higher scores. But I think we just kind of really honed in on the staff communication. As Christina mentioned, about six months ago, we just kind of threw everything up on the walls and really reorganized our staff and priorities. And we have one person who's taking the lead on content in terms of creation and seeking out what our members need. But I now work very closely with her. And we really try to ensure a consistent message across this, across all of the content we're putting out. And all of the events we do. We did like a focus group with some members who, you know, maybe weren't those super volunteers, but just we noticed that they were participating in several of our webinars and, you know, asked how they want to experience their content. So I think we've developed more content that all have a similar look and feel. And then in the development of the content, I'm already focusing on how I'm going to talk about it, and how we're going to market it. So you know, when we create the content, we're already looking at what is this helping our members solve? What job is this doing for our members? It might be doing something different, you know, one piece of content might be serving a different purpose for several different members. But we really kind of categorize that. And that's how we talk about it. And that's how we bring it to our members. So I think we've seen an increase in kind of engagement in everything we put out there and our programming and our content, in our discussions from our membership, since we've started taking a more streamlined, and cohesive approach in this area.
Rachel: I think that's a good point too, for smaller Orns. You know, a lot of times we want to go with the things that are of the moment the digital ads and you know, the glam and glitz of the tech. Truly, if you're a small org and you're wondering where to put your resources, look at your messaging, and see if you are saying the same things all the time. You may be getting bored with your message. We tell people this all the time. Like I know you're sick of saying the same thing for three years. They're just figuring out your audience is just figuring out you're saying anything, and they're finally starting to hear you. It takes them way longer, and you want to tend to change it before they've actually even heard it. So I would say if you're a small or that doesn't have a lot of funding or doesn't have a lot of money, like, look at that messaging and make sure that that set and it's consistent.
Okay, so what's next? You have taken, they're taking the GPS, you got your port, you put some next steps in action, a year has gone by, you know, what does that look like? Now, you want to benchmark yourself. So we recommend that you take the GPS every six to 12 months, the frequency of that kind of depends on how much you have actually done it to further that. So if you've taken some next steps, and like ATLIS, for example, has done a ton of stuff and months between their last GPS, and the most recent one we'll share in a moment. But you may want to do it every year. Or if you're like them, maybe they want to do it every six months, hang on to your reports and use them to benchmark yourself later. So we're really hoping that this is a benchmarking tool. So you can show progress in a way that you haven't really been able to do before. So for example, ATLIS went from 43%, walking to 67% running, which is a 24% increase over 10 months. I mean, they have really, and a lot of that is because Kelsey is now in a marketing position when no one was before. But that's a huge jump. And that's why we ask them to join us because they're just a star model of what can actually happen with a lot of effort. You know, with a little effort, a lot of effort. But yeah, this is their category. If you are curious about how their November data look against their September data, you'll see that all of these areas shot up. And this is their last category. So UX, Technology, and Team Dynamics.Team Dynamics went way up, I think because you'll have more focus on marketing, because you had someone dedicated to it. But your score can also go down, like in tech. And I think when we talked about this, you're like, well, we just didn't emphasize that. And so now it's been another 10 months, you probably feel like you're stuck in the same place. Yeah.
We do have future plans for the Mighty GPS. So ideally, we'll be able to benchmark across industries. So I've seen a lot of chatter about this in the chat, this idea of comparing yourself against life-size organizations. So we do ask when you fill it out what your industry is, what's your budget, like? What's your, how much you're spending for your marketing spend each year, and what your revenue is, if it's applicable for higher ed and government that's not as applicable. But eventually, hopefully, in 2023, you will be able to actually put in those things, and see how you're comparing to others that fit those same selections. We will also be reporting on what we see across the industries. So once we have enough data from each of the industries, we're going to put out as a nonprofit, marketing effectiveness study that will say, here's what we're seeing across nonprofits. And then you can see if those are your same challenges as well. Ideally, all of those coming next year once we have enough data. And you can help with that by taking them by a GPS, by the way.
So action items, measure your marketing effectiveness by taking the GPS, review that customer report, including your overall score and each category score, and decide based on those scores what your strategic goals for your organization are. Decide what you're going to focus on first, and use those resources provided. You did not need us to go from 43% to 67%, you do not need us to go to grow that 24%. So you can do it on your own if you need to, and then track your progress by taking that assessment.
Again, I want to jump in before we get to questions that you guys have, and tackle a few questions that we always see, maybe they're already in there around this topic. And you know, the challenges that we all have.
So what if I don't have a large budget to implement changes? What if I don't have 50 plus $1,000 to spend a year? I'll just say that some of these recommendations don't require budget, but they do require time. So for example, we talked about messaging being really important. You as a marketer can develop your messaging, it's hard to do because you're in it. But if you can really, you know, ask around and test it a little you can do your own messaging, and that does not cost dollars. It does take time.
Okay, so what if I don't have any time? That's the follow-up question. Right. So I'll tell you the same thing. I tell everybody you're gonna have to prioritize your messaging to leadership. Maybe you know, we're doing okay, we could be doing better if I prioritized X instead of Y, or if I put more effort into X or Y, right? Christina, I'd love to hear how y'all knew this because a five or six person org to go 24 points like, what did you do?
Christina: I think that yeah, I think high level, there's a couple of things here. So those of you who know me and have heard me speak before on various topics, I am a stickler for tying everything to a strategic plan or your strategic deliverables. So whether you are in an Executive Director position, trying to have a conversation with your board, or whether you're in Kelsey’s position, you know it on a marketing team, maybe not even on a marketing team, but trying to have a conversation with the marketing team. In an association, I have just found, and I've built my career in it, I feel like if you can have a conversation around strategic deliverables, then it's hard for people to argue about that. Right? Like, yes, I realize there are always things we need to put on the stop-doing list. But part of what we did to be successful in this space, was we tied all of our efforts into our strategic plan. And if we're marketing something or spending time maybe wasting time, on a marketing effort that really wasn't connecting to the goals, we promised our board we would meet that we were just backpedaling and having the, I guess, the bravery to backpedal out of those efforts and redirect. And so I think that it can really help you know, this type of assessment and a benchmark gives you a place to focus. It also gave me a starting point for a conversation with my board. We recognized we needed to make some pretty significant technological investments to be able to do some of the bells and whistles, but we are small.
So I took it to my board and framed it up like yeah, there you go. That's jumping ahead. It's always you know, that, that we were able to kind of say to them, you know, if we invest in these areas, we think we will see these outcomes. And as it turns out, we did indeed see those outcomes. So as we've jumped around, I'll just say one last thing about just this topic in general. I know lately, marketers have focused on digital and technology. And that's great. We do too. But I will also say that we are a technology organization representing tech specialists. And we have found that sometimes going back to basics actually has been the most successful thing. So where you could assume that we invested in tech or we set up more campaigns on an auto send, you know, functionality. I mean, we did some of that. But I think a huge difference in our scores in this assessment is because we rebranded, and relaunched our magazine during the pandemic. We won two national awards for it from ASAE and we have an Excel award too for our publication. So a huge reason might surprise you, our numbers went from here to here, not because we sent more emails, it's because we became much more strategic in how we view our entire set of marketing vehicles. And we received some national recognition for having done so. So just keep your mind open to what actually is marketing. Because I would argue even the invoice you send is marketing.
Rachel: Love that, your brand is not your logo. So real quick, thank you. Thank you to Kelsey and to Christina as well. Left having your viewpoint on this. We have a URL, www.mightycitizen.com/maturity, you're gonna get the slides there. We're also going to send it tomorrow via email. We have a white paper on marketing maturity, we have the planner, and we have the assessment as well. That's your one-stop shop for this topic. And then again, the Mighty GPS is at https://www.mightycitizen.com/gps. All right, I want to turn it over for questions and Bri is going to help me with that.
Bri: Oh, yeah, I think we have right now I have two questions, I know there were some during the chat that y'all already answered. The first one is for Rachel, on the analytic side.
We're beating a lot of industry benchmarks, but it's hard for non-marketing leaders to understand modern metrics, especially in behavioral marketing tech, any insight on how to message analytics to non-marketers, so they know they cannot expect very high numbers and percentages?
How can we best communicate complex marketing metrics to our non-marketing leaders?
The way that I have seen success here is to find benchmarks. I don't know where this person came from in terms of industry, but if you're a nonprofit and you're asking that question, there's some benchmarking available for nonprofits. N+R does one, they have benchmarks around like, especially around digital analytics, where, you know, your open rates are one thing, they might look like a pretty decent number, but like your CTRs are tiny, they're like 2%. And that's a pretty good place to start. So I think finding industry benchmarks, of course, associations are a great place to go looking for those benchmarks. So if you can find benchmarks, then you can show that your numbers are there, or above that. That's going to help set their expectations around what kind of numbers they should actually be using.
How do you move out of the silo of internal “urgent needs” to be more strategic?
Christina: Kelsey, and I can talk about this. Look, at the end of the day, I think so much of that has to do with culture. And I've worked at great collaborative associations, and I've worked at incredibly frustrating, siloed organizations. At ATLIS, we were working in a fairly collaborative way. But we each were kind of like targeting what needed to be done. What I can say is that what really changed for us is that we embraced a project management system, we are decentralized. We have a headquarters, I'm at it, but we don't all work here. And so we had to all buy into a project management software. And that is the thing that sealed it for us. Because now Kelsey comes up with incredible and intricate marketing plans, and I know exactly what piece she needs my review on, I can take a look at it. Even if I'm traveling as the CEO, I can take a look and know exactly what's going out tomorrow. And so it's really great that we're all using a centralized system. Now I recognize that that may feel like kumbaya for a lot of you, that might not be within your measure of control. But stop and think about what you could use.
Zachary, I can see that you're asking why we happen to use Asana. But there are many out there that folks love and use and swear by. We just happen to be Asana people. It has been a game changer for us, not just with marketing, but really with the efficiency of our entire organization. So I don't really have any words, I think the problem with the silo question is that there really is no silver bullet. Unfortunately, I think that it's just it's if you don't have a high level of control in your organization, the best you can do is focus on what you can control.
Christina: Kelsey, do you have anything to add?
Kelsey: I just want to say, from a user perspective, I've used a few different project management tools. Like Christina said, they all function pretty similarly, but what I've been able to do is, I've actually taken a lot of the templates from Mighty Citizen, the communications plans. I sit there and I kind of like, fill it in, literally, I'll print it and fill it in with pen and paper. And then I go into Asana, and I create pretty elaborate projects. I'm just kind of tasking people with it. You really do have to have the buy-in from every member of the staff, that was the key. Once we all decided together, we were going to do this. The time, that question of what if I don't have any time, I feel like we do have more time. And we're getting a lot more done. And our communication is way more streamlined. So I highly, highly recommend that. And these tools that you're getting from Mighty Citizen can still work. You just have to make them work with the system that you're using.
Rachel: I would add two things to that question on how you focus on strategy and not tactics. One, schedule it, schedule time for strategy, and don't let anything get in the way. But like, put those blocks on your calendar, I still do it. I think I live and die by that, too. Two, if you're building a strategic plan with your leadership, or you have a strategic manager executed on, you agree that this is what we're going to do this year. And by the way, the third session of the series is How to Plan Your Communications Plan for 2023. So you're going to build out that plan, you're gonna get approval on it. When somebody comes to you and says, hey, we're gonna do this thing. And you're like, Okay, well, that wasn't in the plan, but that things happen. What are we now going to do in the plan to make that happen? So there are always trade-offs, you cannot do it all unless you're giving me more time or money or people. So I think that question is really important.
I want to say thank you to everybody. We really appreciate it. We’re here, send us a note and let us know if you have any follow-up questions or feedback, happy for that, too.