Competitors?!

That's a nasty word in nonprofitland. We're all one big happy family, aren't we?

Our boards want us to cooperate with other groups in our field. Our major donors urge us to collaborate, even while investing in us as “the best.” By nature we tend to be huggers and team players.

But it's a jungle out there.

Competitors poach our contributors, win our grants, get better media coverage, throw flashier events, copy our best ideas and innovations, deride our mishaps, confuse policymakers with alternative strategies and proposals, disorient our coalitions, and have cooler online bells & whistles.

Although it's impolitic to crush your competitors in nonprofitland, you can at least learn from them!

Here's how, courtesy of Heidi Cohen, marketing consultant and NYU prof.

Start by identifying your competitive set (don't be too restrictive); gather competitive insights about their strategies, target audiences, offerings, website, media coverage, etc.; use competitive analysis tools like gap analysis (where/how are they better, and how can you close/negate the gap?) and SWOT analysis (strengths-weaknesses-opportunities-threats).

Put this all together and soon you'll understand how to crush, excuse me, play nice with your competitors.

Tom

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