The Importance of Marketing & Development Partnerships

A strong partnership results from having open communication between the development and marketing offices. It won’t happen overnight, but the more the two offices work collaboratively, the stronger the partnership will become. Here are five things you can do to foster the relationship:

1.  Meet regularly

At Cheshire Academy, the Development Office invites the Marketing & Communications team to their weekly staff meeting. Not all five of my team members will attend every meeting, but typically at least two of us are always present. This keeps us informed about what’s happening, gives us a chance to check on project statuses and ask questions. While we don’t need to know everything that happens in the development meetings, we get a better understanding for what they are doing, their challenges, and how we can be of service.

2.  Value each other’s expertise.

As marketers, we cringe when we hear non-marketers tell us the best way to interact with our audiences. In turn, fundraisers cringe when they hear non-fundraisers tell them the best way to raise money. I’ve witnessed panels with both development and marketing experts on them outright arguing over best practices. This isn’t always an easy partnership, with many best practices contradicting each other. However, if the two sides can work together and compromise without losing quality, what will come about will be an even stronger marketing and fundraising piece.

3.  Have open and honest communication.

In order for the two offices to work together, both sides need to be vocal and share thoughts and opinions on a project. If development’s concepts don’t align with branding, marketing needs to say so, and explain why. Similarly, if marketing creates something development doesn’t like, development needs to say so, and explain why. Constructive criticism can only benefit both departments, and is how we will create a project that best serves both of our goals and objectives.

4.  Find inspiration.

Gather pieces from other schools and corporations that you like (and look here on InspirED), bookmark websites that catch your eye, and perhaps even collaborate on a Pinterest board. This allows both sides to share preferences, styles, and find examples of work that everyone likes. While your marketing department won’t (or rather, shouldn’t) exactly copy what another institution has done, they can use it for inspiration to create a unique product specifically for your school.

5.  Track successes

Find a way to track the success of every email, mailing, appeal, phone-a-thon, advertisement, and event. Data matters: email open and click rates, giving page statistics, traffic to branded landing pages, social media advertising click rates, receipt of coded BRE’s from print campaigns, attendance at events, and even anecdotal feedback. All of this quantitative and qualitative data can help you assess the value of the marketing and fundraising initiatives you are doing in order to best serve the needs of your audience. If you advertise your homecoming event on both twitter and facebook and see action on only one outlet, reallocate your funds and effort to better support the one that is performing well. Same with your other methods of communication. Double up on methods that perform best, and look at what you can eliminate from your marketing efforts. This will give you more purposeful communication rather than just more communication, and gives value to the time and effort that both departments invest in projects.

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Stacy Jagodowski

Stacy has worked in independent schools for more than 10 years, with experience in both communications and admission offices. She currently serves as the Director of Strategic Marketing & Communications at Cheshire Academy, a boarding/day school in Connecticut. Before coming to Cheshire Academy, she was the Director of Communications at Derby Academy in Hingham, MA. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and design from Mount Holyoke College, a master's degree in communication and information management from Bay Path College and a certificate in marketing from Cornell University. Stacy leads a team of five, designed to function as an internal marketing agency with specialized skillsets for each team member including writing and editing, photography and design, digital marketing and communications, social media marketing, and more.