Helping you get media coverage
RSS Sources Select News RSS Feed | SOURCESCalendar   

Creating a customized Marketing Toolkit

By Susan Sommers


Last month we talked about branding your organization to differentiate it from the competition. Once you have defined your target markets, designed your key messages and developed a visual image, you can create a customized marketing toolkit.

A marketing toolkit contains the essential ingredients you need to successfully reach and persuade your key markets. Select from the following seven tools and combine them into a successful Marketing/PR strategy and plan.

Visual Image
What image do your printed materials convey about your organization? Does your logo reflect who you are? Is it consistently identified in everything you create?  Are your colours, paper and font style integrated into a unified image?

Printed Materials
Does your organization or company need a brochure, newsletter, postcards/flyers, a website (and blog), and/or a sales/media kit ? Do you need different tools to reach specific target markets? In your printed materials, how do you describe your organization, products, services and programs? Have you created three key messages that reflect your organization? Are these messages consistent with your visual image?

Special Events
Which special events do you organize for your organization? Why are they important to your target audiences? Do your special events generate new clients, volunteers, donors, employees and media contacts? Do you organize special events for current clients as well as potential clients?

Speaking and Networking
Which groups and organizations could you contact to book speaking engagements for your organization? Do you have someone within your organization who can speak in a professional manner? What tips and information could you provide to key markets through your speaking engagements?

Which companies and media outlets could you approach to sponsor your special events and programs? How do their target markets correspond with your key markets? What can you offer them as sponsors and what would you expect to receive from your sponsors.

Trade and Consumer Shows
Which consumer (or trade) shows target your key audiences? Could you arrange to have a booth at these shows, as well as a speaking engagement? If so, what new products or programs could you launch at the shows? What could you demonstrate at your booth to make it more interactive? What kinds of promotional materials could you give out to show attendees, such as brochures, fridge magnets, postcards, or bookmarks?

Media Campaigns
Which media do your target markets watch, read, and listen to? Who are your best contacts at each media outlet? Why would they (and their listeners, viewers, or readers) be interested in your organization ? Which of the six other tools could you promote through the media (such as speaking engagements, special events, and trade and consumer shows? Remember that media opportunities include editorial, advertising and advertorial.

Making it work

Before you start your Marketing/PR program, consider that people need to hear about you four to seven times before they take action. For that reason, it is better to use a variety of tools to gain recognition. For example, a potential client could hear about you through your brochure, word of mouth, a speaking engagement, an article in the community newspaper, and a booth at a consumer show.

Organize a one-year plan and decide which tools you will use each month. Start by planning the year’s events, activities, and programs as much as possible. That allows you to formulate a budget and timelines for your marketing. It is also an excellent way to keep you on track – especially when you are ready to go off on a tangent.

Choose only those tools best suited to your target markets. For example, in Year 1, you might decide to develop a new brochure, Internet site, and special event, while you plan to develop a media relations campaign and a newsletter in Year 2.

Myths of marketing
Don't switch too soon. Stick to your marketing plan. Often, when people don’t see immediate results, they decide to try another tool. It takes time to get the word out about your organization or business. Be patient and stay committed.

Don't assume you need a big budget to market. Marketing often involves more time than money. The tools I talk about in this column require some research, some writing, and some evaluation. But they are the most cost-effective and credible ways to market.
Don't target too many different markets with one tool. Over the years, I have had many clients who try to create one tool that will work for all of their markets.

It is often not possible. For example, for my own business, I use a sales kit to approach universities and associations, while I use a postcard and business card for networking meetings and mailings. The most important thing is to choose the tool best suited to each market.

Don't go too broad. Don’t send out 5,000 flyers when 500 postcards would be better. It is more important to define three key markets, execute a small marketing program for each, and evaluate the results. Large campaigns often waste money and don’t bring results.
Don't spend all of your money on advertising before you look Marketing/PR concept.

Because PR is an information/education tool, it has high credibility. Combine a small advertising campaign with public relations when necessary, such as promoting your upcoming special event or buying advertorials (advertising and editorial) in the community newspaper.

Don't choose tools to compete with your competition. Get creative and think outside the box. One of the most brilliant advertising campaigns is a weekly radio spot featuring Toronto men’s fashion retailer Sol Korman. Every week, he talks about fashion trends, new merchandise in the stores, sales, and his family. Although radio is not a visual medium (and men’s fashion is), he has built a loyal following and a very successful business by choosing a medium where he doesn’t have competitors.

Don’t start a newsletter just because your competitor has one. Make sure your tools are the most effective for your markets.
Whether your organization is small or large organization, the right tools combined into a marketing toolkit will help you to achieve success.

Susan Sommers founded her own public relations firm, susan sommers + associates, in 1982. Since then, she has created marketing and media relations programs for hundreds of non-profit organizations across Canada. She has designed and delivered Key-to-the Sector Workshops in marketing and media workshops and taught marketing and media relations courses through Continuing Studies, University of Toronto. She is also a popular Keynote Speaker and workshop facilitator for non-profit conferences and workshops. Her latest book, Building Media Relationships, Second Edition (Oxford University Press, 2008) is available through or

Visit Susan’s website at or e-mail her at