The Effective Nonprofit Marketer – Part 4 – First Things First

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.” ~ Peter Drucker

Peter Drucker, one of the most influential writers on the subject of effective leadership and management, once discussed what he referred to as the five principles of the effective executive. The book, “The Effective Executive”, was first published in 1967 but 45 years later the principal ideas of his writings are still relevant. During the next few posts, I will touch upon these principles as they apply to today’s marketing, PR and communications professionals.


In today’s fast-paced world, it is easier than ever for marketers to lose focus and forget their foremost function within an organization: To Drive the Strategic Plan.  When this occurs, the results can be disastrous, producing communications that fail to support the organization’s mission and create a disorganized and confusing jumble of ineffective marketing efforts.  For the marketing executive to be most effective, he/she must remember to put First Things First.


It is not your party…

At the heart of every decision you make as a marketing executive, should be the simple question of whether or not an activity strengthens the strategic goals of the organization.  If it does not, then it should not be a priority.  We all have our pet projects, the activities we like to engage in… Nevertheless, are you partaking in these activities because they further the mission of the organization or because they further your own self-interests?  Are you volunteering for an activity because it truly strengthens the organization or because you want a colleague to like you?


Remove one card and the entire house falls down…

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.” ~ Peter Drucker

Successful organizations formulate plans.  They identify, brainstorm, evaluate, develop, implement and measure strategic visions. Organization’s that fail typically do so as the result of overlooking an important part of the planning process.  Just as business failures occur because of breakdown in the process, marketers often fail for the same reason.

Too often, marketers suffer from an “I can do more” syndrome.  In a mundane attempt to impress others they commit to each new idea, making promises of success and immediately searching for ways to implement the idea.  They become task driven, always asking for more and always searching for the next big idea.  In the rush to produce more, they fail to recognize that difference between the brainstorming and evaluation process.  As a result, they never ask if an idea aligns with the strategic plan of the organization, let alone if it is even a good idea.

First Things First means understanding the difference between doing things right and doing the right things.  Effective marketers understand what is important and focus on getting it done.  They do not seek to earn respect through volume or level of activity; they earn respect through focusing their efforts on the activities that most strengthen the organization.

Effective marketers are constantly evaluating, asking questions, prioritizing and formulating plans of action.  They enter meetings asking not “what is next”; but rather “what is most important to the organization?”  The minute a marketer loses focus on doing the right things, is the minute that the entire house of cards comes tumbling down.

“Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results. They force themselves to set priorities and stay with their priority decisions. They know that they have no choice but to do first things first – and second things not at all. The alternative is to get nothing done.” ~ Peter Drucker

Comments are closed.