Creating a marketing plan is an important part of promoting your program and recruiting mentors and mentees. It is also often put off because it can be hard to know where to start. Your marketing plan can evolve with your program: small and simple when you start and grow as your program grows. With any new program, it can be helpful to take a trial and error approach to your marketing and see which are the most effective.
The Alberta Mentorship Program has created a basic Marketing Plan template and sample to help you create your own.
Understanding who you need to target your messages to is fundamental to your marketing. Your target audience is the WHO you want to talk to. Likely you will have more than one audience you want to address. For your mentorship program, some fundamental audiences include potential:
You may also want to consider other audiences such as:
Once you have this list, you can paint a clearer picture of who that audience is by thinking about them in terms of your location and program goals. If you defined your criteria for participants in a Recruitment Plan, you already have an idea of what this description should be. For example, what does your typical mentee look like? If you are focused on newcomers to Canada of working age, you may define potential mentees as people who:
When you have a good picture of who your mentees are likely to be, you can better direct your marketing to them. Sometimes you may want to direct different messages to different kinds of mentees. For example, you may be seeking some mentees who are looking for work in trades and others who are looking for work in healthcare. Knowing this can help you better target your marketing to mentees and mentors in these two fields.
You can define your mentors and employee partners similarly with specific criteria that relate to your program goals and mission.
When you have an idea of who you want to talk to with your messages, it becomes easier to create “key messages” or the most important ideas you want to deliver to your audience. If your target audience is the WHO, the key message is the WHAT and the WHY.
When you design your key messages, it can be helpful to remember:
People are often drawn to volunteering as a mentor because they are interested in building new skills, building their professional or personal network, or because they want to make a positive impact. You can direct your marketing messages to target these interests.
Your messages can be educational and raise awareness about mentorship and how it can help your community. These messages could include “Did You Know” messages that:
Your messages could be about recruiting new participants and the benefits of your program to them:
Your messages raise awareness about your program. For example:
** Note: You are free to share these sample social media messages from your organization’s accounts. **
Now that you have your target audience and your key messages, consider how you can best get that message out. Marketing your messages does not have to cost a lot, but free options can take more work. Getting the word out is critical to building up your program so, investing time using less costly methods like presentations or social media or, investing dollars into advertising in your local media can pay back a return in program growth.
Social media or advertising are foundational methods for marketing, but there is an array of options for you to choose from.
Presentations: You have expertise in mentoring. Promote your program by offering to do presentations about mentoring and how it can benefit the community or local businesses. It’s a great way to tell your stories and to promote what you are doing while sharing your knowledge.
Career Fairs or Events: Look for opportunities at conferences or relevant events to set up a booth or do a presentation about your programs.
Media & Advertising: If you have the budget, formal advertising in local media such as newspapers, magazines, or radio can an effective way to reach your audiences.
Social Media: While social media is a free tool for marketing, it does take an investment of time and energy to promote yourself through the various media. Posting even 2-3 times per week can be enough to reach your audience. Don’t feel like you must be active on all social media platforms. It is okay to start with one and grow as your program does.
Newsletters & Blogs: If you have a website, share stories from your participants, promote events, and share via blogs or articles. If you have an email list, you can send out a newsletter that shares these blogs or share them on your social media platforms.
Word of Mouth: Make sure that your employees, volunteers, partners, and participants are talking about your program. People who “get” what you do can sell it with passion and sincerity which is the best way to spread your message.
Find your Champions: Find those organizations who just really believe in what you do and get them working for you. Because Champions understand why your work is important, can provide further reach that your program may not have, especially when you are just starting out.
Create Partnerships: Connect with local business, who might hire your mentees, or have people in their organization who would benefit from being a mentor or mentee. Partnering with you could enhance their recruitment strategy or their professional development plan.
The idea of having to post, even once or twice a week on social media can be overwhelming, especially for a smaller organization or team. However, you can save yourself some time, but using available resources to repurpose or outsource content.
Use Alberta Mentorship Program Resources: We created content and resources to help Albertan mentorship programs. We encourage you to use the samples and articles found here on our site and on our social media accounts in your marketing (Add Links).
Promote Events: Share information about upcoming events or share pictures or tidbits from events that you had. It’s a wonderful way to showcase what is happening and entice people into coming out.
Gather Success Stories: Remember to ask mentors and mentees if they are willing to write up a story or make a quick video for you to share. Stories are the best way to share how mentorship can make a difference.
Ask Partners or Champions to Share: If you have partners in the community or those Champions who are big believers in your program, ask them if they will write a post or share a story or some expertise for you.
Repost Articles: Follow other Albertan, Canadian, or international mentorship organizations and that reflect similar values to your organization. Companies that provide mentoring software often have many articles about the general benefits of mentoring. Mentorship is a common topic of interest and doing a quick search will yield many results
If you are sharing photos of people in your marketing materials, it is good practice to have them sign a photo release.
The best way to know if your marketing is effective is to look at your numbers. Pay attention to what kinds of advertising or posts increases the number of people who are:
While there are general tips for how and when to share your message with your target audiences, every location and program will be different. The more you pay attention, the better you will get at engaging with audiences in your area.