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January 2, 2012
3 Marketing Trends to Consider in 2012

“When it comes to the future, there are three kinds of people: those who let it happen, those who make it happen, and those who wonder what happened.”

This quote from John M. Richardson, Jr. sets the stage for the coming year. In 2012, do you want to make it happen, watch it happen, or look back at the end of the year and wonder what happened? Most, I would guess, would like to be among those who make it happen.

This month, I'm highlighting 3 Marketing Trends to Consider in 2012. These 3 trends will help you as you strive to ’make it happen’ in the upcoming year.


Though this is not especially new, the need for it continues to increase. Many sources (and our experience) show that mass marketing (blanket newsletters, direct mail, email, etc.) continues to reduce in effectiveness. This is due in part to expectations around how we communicate with one another, but also in part to the low tolerance people have for sorting through irrelevant or unsolicited information.

That means that investing in a database that allows you to segment by interests and communicate accordingly could pay big dividends. We Are All Weird by Seth Godin highlights this fact. “The book calls for the end of mass and for the beginning of offering people more choices, more interests and giving them more authority to operate in ways that reflect their own unique values.” (Except from Amazon.com)

  • Are you personalizing the information you’re sending to your contacts?
  • Is the information you’re sending to each contact relevant to their interests?
  • Are each of your contacts sorted or tagged by their interests in your database appropriately? 

There are so many new technologies available to nonprofits as we enter 2012. The focus of most of these technologies is easy access to new information for the end user.

QR Codes 

QR Codes, or Quick Response Codes, are popping up everywhere. They’re on product tags, billboards, food wrappers, and a variety of other places. These codes are actually little boxes that store all kinds of information that can be accessed by those that have a QR Reader on their smart phones. Types of information that can be stored include website addresses, contact information, vCards, and other information that potential donors, clients, or supporters might want to access. You can read all about how QR codes work and how to create them in a great article by Kristiana Leroux titled How to Create, Share, and Use QR Codes. Consider using them in 2012 to provide your current and potential supporters easy-to-access information about your organization.


All things mobile will continue to be hot in 2012. Convenience and accessibility are key. Consider making your website mobile friendly, adding text updates and giving, and if resources allow, explore developing a phone app for your supporters to stay involved. Our society is on the go, so to be one of those ‘making it happen’ we need to meet our supporters where they are.


Social media has now been around long enough that most organizations have begun using it to engage their clients and supporters. Many organizations have developed social media policies and some have even developed strategies to maximize exposure and contact. However, in 2012 we are looking at a big change.

Organizations are starting to realize that social media (and marketing) is about people and relationships. And the contacts we have online want conversation, not marketing. At the risk of having an inconsistent brand message, many are starting to decentralize their message. Supporters and contacts are not only empowered, but encouraged, to promote the organization - even if they don’t choose the right words.

The benefits of this can be huge because there is a sense of authenticity that shines through when the message isn’t exactly the same from everyone. However, when starting down this road it is critical that the culture of your organization is clearly communicated and reinforced internally. This will allow people to communicate the brand - just in their own words.

Let’s look to Coca Cola for an example of how a decentralized message can allow an organization to reach many more potential supporters. Coca Cola is known for excellent marketing. However Duane Perera, an avid Coke drinker, created his own online initiative that had far more viewers and response than the #1 social media campaign ever created by Coke. This was primarily contributed to the authenticity and uniqueness that Duane was able to convey through his video. View Video Here.

An old African Proverb says, “For tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” Though 2012 holds much uncertainty, it also offers much promise for those nonprofit organizations those that are preparing and taking steps now to ensure their sustainability. I believe this includes many of our readers and I encourage you to get started preparing today. Please consider sharing any other trends you see coming in 2012 and have a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Posted by Tiffany Applegate on January 2, 2012 at 3:54 PM
Categories: Marketing
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