Last year, YouthBuild Philly met with CMOs as a part of the CMO Club Cares* initiative to workshop some of the marketing challenges we have as a non-profit and how to overcome these obstacles in order to reach our goals in 2017. YouthBuild Philly is a non-profit that helps give former high school dropouts a second chance to transform their lives through education and professional experience. This is a complex mission, and we’re a complex, comprehensive organization – a school, a job training program, a support services agency, a job and career counseling center, and a community service program all rolled into one. The feedback and ideas we received from members were incredibly helpful, and we greatly appreciate everyone’s encouragement and support!
Having such a unique and layered identity as an organization means that marketing ourselves with a clear, consistent message is a continuous challenge. We also have multiple marketing goals and segmented audiences as we try to sustain funding, seek partnerships with employers and colleges who can help our students, and recruit new classes of students. With these challenges in mind, we had specific questions about how best to communicate our impact and value to others – and how to effectively measure and evaluate our efforts.
One of the strongest and most unanimous pieces of insight we received was that our students and alumni stories should be at the center of any marketing we do – to any audience. This required identifying and reaching out to brand champions – or alumni whose stories reflect the optimism and transformation at the core of our identity as an organization. And, we’re excited to say we started making these short videos that star our students and graduates! One of our most recent forays into in-house video production was published just in time for Thanksgiving last year:
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Some CMO Club members also recommended taking cues from other organizations whose mission and size are different, but whose stories resonate with ours – like the University of Phoenix. This was a great idea that hadn’t occurred to us at all! As the new year begins, we’re ready to start looking for storytelling inspiration that goes beyond the question of “what we are” and focuses more on why our work matters so much to the people we help and the communities they live and work in.
We are also looking forward to being involved with The CMO Club to continue learning about marketing best practices, new tools – like Google Grants – and networking opportunities for our students. We greatly appreciated the opportunity to connect with marketing professionals who generously shared their hard-earned insight with us, and offered their ongoing support as we refine our marketing goals and strategy. We felt very connected with everyone in the room in no time, and it was clear that this is a uniquely caring and collegial group of professionals! The attention, thoughtfulness, and appreciation for our mission that all of the members shared at the meeting was inspiring and insightful, and we’re so grateful for this connection.
Thank you!
Sarah Peterson
Communications and Development Associate
YouthBuild Philadelphia Charter School
*The CMO Club Cares Program helps marketers leverage their limited time and invaluable expertise in order to give back to a cause or organization they care about during our Summit events. Each year, we invite several organizations to share with us their unique business and marketing challenges, helping them brainstorm solutions and continue to effectively reach and help the communities and people they serve. If you are interested in getting more involved in this initiative or have a charity or nonprofit you’d like to nominate for an upcoming Summit, please contact