The American Red Cross
The American Red Cross
Marketing any product or service today ought to be done in the most strategic manner in order ensure a successful marketing. Both profit and non-profit organizations need to have a marketing plan in order to reach the target market and achieve their goals and objectives. This paper focuses on developing a marketing plan for a non-profit organization. The organization chosen in this case is American Red Cross. The rationale for choosing this firm shall be discussed in the paper. The marketing plan will involve a number of things.
One thing worth noting is that marketing a non-profit organization like American Red Cross is not just campaigning for more capital or developing donor network. It is a process used by these organizations to create a greater awareness of their activities and also to create a positive image of itself to the society by communicating in the most effective manner to their target audience. This process thus aims at showing the value of the organization to the target audience and not just to solicit funds.
- The Firm
American Red Cross is a non-profit organization whose history dates back to 1881. The main objective of the organization during its early years was to offer first aid to different people, to provide safe water and also to develop a number of nursing programs which would help in addressing different emerging issues. One of the notable contributions of this organization was the nationwide blood drive which it started after the Second World War where it assisted a number of war victims (The American Red Cross, 2014).
The organization today offers a number of services to different people in the world. For instance, it is estimated that over 40% of the blood supply in U.S. today is supplied by this organization (The American Red Cross, 2014). It also ensures cooperation with other related agencies like FEMA. Other activities of the organization today includes helping military families to cope with the state of living away from their beloved ones, offering community education on health issue and working in different countries to offer its services.
- Why American Red Cross?
The choice of American Red Cross firm because of the great passion I have for the firm. The firm has done quite a lot of things in ensuring that people live better lives and that they can easily respond to the different challenges they face. The firm is also quite trusted by the public thus making it a quiet preferable company to focus on.
An important part of the firm’s vision is to be always there during times of need. Its vision is to be made possible by mobilizing the resources from its strong network of partners, donors and volunteers.
As a firm, American Red Cross has a mission with which it operates with. Its mission is to, “prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors” (American Red Cross, 2010). The organization had noticed that people used go through a lot of suffering especially during disasters and that that many people were willing to assist during such times but lacked a co-coordinating body.
- How it respects of ethical obligations and public accountability
It is no doubt that the public in any country takes non-profit organizations as the most ethical and accountable firms (Laratta, 2009). This is due to the fact that these organizations usually receive a lot of funding from the public as donations. However, ensuring accountability and respect of ethical obligations may not be something easy. These firms are entrusted with a lot of resources which may tempt them to misuse them. However, American Red Cross operates under some ethical principles and core values which help in making it more accountable to the public in an ethical manner.
Some of these principles and values are “humanity, impartiality, neutrality, independence, voluntary service, unity and universality” (American Red Cross, 2014). These principles ensure that the organization serves all people in need without any form of discrimination. To it, all people are the same and thus they offer their services to people of any races, nations, religions and anything else. In the case of unity, the organization operates as one unified firm in the country, ensuring its openness to all people thus ensuring accountability in its service provision and financial activities. The organization also ensures a high level of credibility in its activities ensuring high integrity in matters of funds and service delivery, hence ensuring that they can be trusted by the public with its resources.
- Why the firm needs to have a good marketing plan
American Red Cross has currently realized the need of having a clear marketing plan which would help the firm succeed in its marketing activities. For instance, the firm has a marketing department led by Peggy Dyer remaining as the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) (American Red Cross, 2014). As a CMO, she has a responsibility of developing a marketing strategy and executing it with the aim of helping the firm achieve better results. Developing such a marketing plan would thus help in understanding the strategy she can use to marketing the firm better.
The firm needs a good marketing plan in order to ensure a higher awareness among different stakeholders, not to mention the fact that it needs to mobilize the available resources (Dolnicar & Lazarevski, 2009). There is also a great need to ensure that different people in the target area can understand how the firm can help them when faced with different problems.
In addition, the number of non –profit organizations in U.S. has increased exponentially in the last few years (Brace-Govan et al., 2011). Currently, the country has around one million non-profit organizations. To make the matters worse, most of these organizations have similar goals which make them become competitors. This clearly means that American Red Cross needs to have a good marketing plan.
In addition, there is a trend in the American society that most of the donors tend to think of the good work done by the firm only during crises. This presents a challenge to the firm hence the need to create a higher awareness at all times. Donors are also greatly concerned about the uncertain economic environment and tend to be reducing their funding hence the need to create a higher awareness (Pope, Isely & Asamoa-Tutu, 2009). However, there is new trend in the U.S. in which the young people are becoming increasingly willing to support non-profit organizations thus presenting real opportunity.
- Description of the market place (Target Audience)
In any given marketing plan, the target market is usually quite important. This is the population which supports a firm in its activities. In the case of American Red Cross (ARC), the target audience consists of different groups. One of the most important groups is the young urban people between the ages of 22 and 35 years. This is a very vibrant group with a lot of confidence in whatever they do. They are also well connected with each other and with different organizations, implying that they can support any firm. They live in main cities, have a high income level, values families quite much, quite conscious about the society, and also seek value for anything they do. It also consists of almost equal men and women. They are also technology users and would be glad to use the latest technology. It is the primary target because this group has a great passion on the society and is an important advocate for social justice. Despite the fact that this group is quite active in online platforms, it is quite hard to reach and generally prefer personalized approach.
Another important target audience is the American Red Cross employees, volunteers and other supporting stakeholders. This is an important group to the firm as it offers support in all activities and thus their efforts make the firm able to fulfill its promises. Being a non-profit organization, this group may be demotivated by the fact that it does not see any financial profit from their efforts. This makes the need to keep on motivating this group to keep on supporting the firm as their efforts are quite valuable. Hence, marketing aims at inciting this group and showing it the worthiness of their services. Marketing to this group is however, easier as it is influenced by peers, managers and other groups.
Other organizations such as media can also be said to be a tertiary audience to the firm. American Red Cross greatly depends on these organizations in influencing the public and ensuring that it is greatly supported. This group greatly supports the firm and its quite loyal to it hence may not need a good marketing plan.
Generally, this marketing plan will mainly focus on the young professionals as this is one of the groups which can greatly support the firm given their high income levels. It will be assumed that the firm aims at raising $100 million dollars in order to help it in ensuring that it can be in a better place to act during any disaster which may come in the future.
- SWOT Analysis
In order to develop an effective marketing plan, it is quite important to consider the environment of the firm. This should include both the internal and the external environmental. One of the tools which can be used to effectively study these environments is the SWOT analysis. This consists of the strengths and weaknesses in the internal environment and the opportunities and threats in the external environment. This can be summarized in table 1 below.
Table 1; SWOT analysis
- The brand positioning
American Red Cross (ARC) is a well known firm in the industry. This is due to its great focus on its objectives and its effectiveness in delivering its services. In order to strengthen its brand position, the firm operates under 5Cs of collaboration, compassion, creativity, credibility and commitment. In its everyday activities, ARC works hard to ensure that it becomes better each day.
The brand position is one of the areas where the firm achieves a great marketing of itself. The simple positioning statement generally encourages people to help save lives by offering their assistance during disasters. This is quite a simple statement but it is quite encouraging and makes one to feel the urge to be part of the change and to help in assisting to save a life.
However, the current brand positioning statement fails to encourage the primary target market effectively. Encouraging people to help save the lives of others is quite appealing more to the old people but less to the younger professionals. This means that ARC should change its brand positioning statement to be more appealing to its primary target market. For instance, it should adopt the statement that, “touch someone’s life and be part of the change the world needs”. This statement can encourage them to be more encouraged to offer their donations and views on the kind of assistance they would like to be given to the different people in need of help.
ARC’s brand position is currently supported by a number of policies including being human and other humanity characteristics. However, this is a quality which may be a source of controversy with its stakeholders. Although it is true that the firm did not have any ill-motive by using this as one of its core values, it may indicate that it is open to some errors since human beings are open to a number of errors. Being human can make some volunteers question the trustworthiness of the organization and thus reduce their funding. In order to have a better picture and preserve its current image if not to make it better, the firm should change this core value to another value such as personality. This will create a better picture of the firm and thus serve to market it better. Thus, it would be important for the firm to adopt more personality characters as this would market it better to the millennials which is the primary target market of the firm.
- Purpose of the marketing plan
Given all these issues in the current internal and external environment, it is evident that ARC needs a good marketing plan. For instance, the firm used over $28 million only three months after the Typhoon Haiyan which implies the need to always have enough financial resources at hand (American Red Cross, 2014). In this plan, it is assumed that ARC intends to raise $100 million more funds to support its activities in the next six months and to increase its donor base by 10% in the same time period.
- Communication plan
It is quite evident from the above analysis that American Red Cross needs to have a strong communication plan which can help it reach its target market. The success of any market plan used by a firm depends quite much on the communication plan adopted by the firm. On the other hand, the communication plan depends greatly on the target market (Ferrell & Hartline, 2012). It should also pass the message in a clear manner which generally appeals to this target market.
The young professionals have thinking that ARC is a governmental project with the aim of offering relief to disaster victims and also to collect blood. This means that the marketing strategy used by this firm should be able to change this perception in the first place and make them see the firm as a highly trusted non-governmental organization (Arnett, German & Hunt, 2003). In this case, the firm should convey the message that it is there to help in different situations and not just disasters and blood donation activities.
Since American Red Cross’s main target market is the young professionals and the message it aims to communicate to them is the need to support the firm and be part of the life-changing process the firm is doing, the plan will use social media as one of the main communication methods (Wheeler, 2009). This is an appropriate communication tool to this population given that these young professionals are quite active in the social media. They interact quite much through sites each day. Social media has a number of platforms and each can be used to achieve a given goal or to communicate a certain point. For instance, the firm should open a Facebook page with the aim of interacting with this group in order to know their views towards the firm and hence strategize better on how to focus them. It should also have an instagram account through which it would post pictures of disaster victims in order to touch a heart of a donor. Additionally, it should use YouTube to post different videos of its volunteers in action in order to show this market that they play a great part in the society thus making them greatly encouraged to support them (Weerawardena & Mort, 2012). Instagram and the YouTube can also be usedn where the firm should post a number of pictures of its workforce in action. The need to train the volunteers and to be prepared for disasters should also be part of the message as this would help substantiate how the firm uses its resources. All in, it would be important to always create a picture of an ethical and an accountable firm at all times. Thus, the firm’s communication plan cannot be complete without incorporating the social media where its main target group is always found.
Social media aside, the firm should incorporate its websites as a medium of communicating to its target market. The young working generation has a great proficiency in surfing through the web. Whenever they wish to get some understanding on the current issues of a firm, they mainly go to the firm’s website (Mohr, Sengupta & Slater, 2010). This is made possible by the great advancement in technology and the fact that this group of people use own the latest mobile tablets which can access the internet in just a click of a mouse. This clearly means that ARC can use its website to communicate to its target market.
Moreover, the firm should use emails of this target market to communicate to it. As earlier highlighted the firm’s main target group like personalized communication and may not bother to read a message send to the masses. This means that sending a personalized message may be more effective to reach them. This is quite possible given the fact that this group has quite active email accounts which they long in almost each day. In this case, the firm should ask each of these members whenever they engage to offer their emails to be receiving messages from the firm. This would make them feel honored and respected as they would be receiving messages which would be to them quite personal. The firm would them form a team of experts which would be framing appealing messages and also sending periodic newsletters to this target market (Leroux, 2010). This would definitely catch their eye and hence be an effective communication to the firm.
As highlighted earlier, ARC also needs to focus on its secondary target, the volunteers. In order to effectively communicate to this group, it will use its website where it will create an account for each. Through this account, the volunteers will be in a position to get all the necessary information from the firm and thus remain encouraged on the need to keep offering their volunteering activities. The firm has a great competence in this case it has a very active blog where its volunteers can interact on matters of the firm (Solis, 2011). For instance, after the recent Hurricane Katrina, the firm launched a strong initiative in the social media where it aimed at not only to market itself but also to ensure that it monitors the sentiments of the public in its efforts to maintain a good relationship with them. The firm also has an active blog for volunteers, the Red Cross Flickr where they can interact (Solis, 2011). This is a good site which be used to market the firm.
In conclusion, marketing is quite important for any firm including non-profit organizations. This paper has focused on developing a marketing plan of American Red Cross. Generally, it is clear that the firm needs such a plan in order to ensure a good relationship with the public in addition to raising enough funds to make it remain in a better position to handle any problem in the future. The plan is also important in ensuring that the firm creates higher awareness among different people in the society on the different things and ways it can help them. The target market in this case is the young professionals who have a higher income level and thus a higher ability to support the firm in its activities. In order to communicate well, it is clear that the firm should utilize current communication platforms including the social media.
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