The Patterson Foundation Blog: Marketing Matters


Learning and Sharing with The Patterson Foundation


By Michael Oxman and Larry Clark, Co-Founders Managing Partners, Principals, No Margin, No Mission

Note: this is the second in a series of four blogs for The Patterson Foundation designed to share learning with the greater Sarasota nonprofit community about development of an earned income business plan.

We have recently shared a number of important marketing insights with Easter Seals of Southwest Florida, Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee, Inc., SCOPE, and Southeastern Guide Dogs as part of No Margin, No Mission’s Earned Income Business Planning Initiative sponsored by The Patterson Foundation in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County,

In each case, a preconceived notion or client belief was countered with important education and information-sharing from No Margin, No Mission pertaining to various marketing practices. Specific examples are provided below excerpted from our regular weekly business plan communication.


  • Client Belief: “Since we will not be the manufacturer, distributor or retailer of the product, we will have little / no control over the marketing plan.”
  • No Margin, No Mission Response: “While the manufacturer will have a role in marketing, sales, and distribution, you will have a great deal of ability to impact the marketing efforts. For example: (1) building visibility/awareness through your own Web site, social media, partnerships, events, press releases, and local affiliations; (2) identifying a media strategy to secure interviews on local TV/radio talk shows to talk about the product idea, development process; (3) selling it through your own Web site, plus those for your National and Affiliate organizations; and (4) creating “Cause Marketing” events to coincide with local, regional, and national mission-focused events.”


  • Client Belief: “Based on the sales goals set as part of our business plan, we anticipate being able to achieve them once we begin an aggressive advertising and promotion campaign.”
  • No Margin, No Mission Response: “There are very few businesses that have the luxury of being able to simply advertise their product or service, and then wait for the orders to come in to meet their sales goals. While advertising will certainly help build awareness, visibility, and interest for the venture, a dedicated and skilled sales professional will also be required to manage incoming leads, cultivate new ones, handle business development, and close contracts. Since the organization does not currently have a staff member with sole responsibility and accountability for sales, and has relied historically on the VP’s of operations and fund development  to handle this function, adding this individual as part of the business plan will be critical to achieving the desired business goals.”


  • Client Belief: “We’ll offer one consulting service at 5 different prices, and the price we’ll charge a prospective client will be determined based on our relationship with that individual or organization.”
  • No Margin, No Mission Response: “As part of any earned income venture, it’s important to simplify your pricing structure and not offer too many options to clients that are paying for your services.  Unless you have sound reason to charge several different prices for one offering (e.g., because you’re a membership organization), it’ s not a good idea for the following reasons: (1) your prospective clients need to know they can count on a consistent fee structure that doesn’t deviate or discriminate based on subjective criteria; and (2) the more complicated the pricing structure becomes, the more difficult it will be to build the budget and track and monitor the financials.”  


  • Client Belief: “Since our product is already produced, our marketing team is ready to initiate discussions with distributors that can provide us with substantial marketing and sales support.”
  • No Margin, No Mission Response: “We know you’re anxious to secure a relationship with a distributor, but you must be careful not to jump the gun. Keep in mind that you are in the process of developing a business plan to help make a number of important decisions that need to be in place PRIOR to the creation of a distribution agreement…and without having the RIGHT information, you may end up in the WRONG place with your distributor. Therefore, we suggest you hold off on making any commitments until the plan is complete.” 

Want to learn more about earned income and related topics?

  • Watch for our third blog scheduled for mid-January on Communicating Powerful Ideas with Simple Language: Writing A User-Friendly & Jargon-Free Business Plan



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