Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Internal and external marketing

Before I talk about marketing to donors, I'd like to back up a bit and organize our thoughts on marketing. There are two sets of folks an MFI should be marketing to - no, not donors and clients - internal and external customers.
External customers are those outside your MFI who benefit from or should hear about your services. This group includes your borrowers, donors, investors, and opinion leaders (such as government officials). If you're lucky, you've got an MFI association or umbrella agency which handles "industry marketing" to the latter. If you're not - well, their opinions can affect your business so it's helpful to communicate with them.
Internal customers are the folks inside your MFI who you should be communicating with.
"Huh? But my employees know about my MFI!"
Do they? Most people know their jobs, but unless management makes an effort to circulate information within a company (or MFI), it usually doesn't happen. Finance doesn't know why Credit wants to change a policy and resists. Loan officers don't understand the benefits of a change to the clients, and so they can't sell as effectively. Branch managers don't hear about the latest satisfaction research findings, so they can't apply them.
Action item:
Analyze the information flow between departments. Is it formal, or does it rely upon personal relationships (e.g. the Finance manager is friends with the Credit manager, so they understand each other's needs well, but Credit doesn't know audit so...)? What systems can be implemented to ensure regular flow of data between departments?

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