Strategic marketing for impactful communication – Hub Leaders Forum

In business and in marketing, the buzzwords change as often as the world does. It can be hard to keep up. One element, however, that will never lose value – is strategy.

In the second instalment of the UK-South Africa Tech Hub Launch League Hub Leaders Forum; we honed in on strategic communications where the conversation kicked off with a presentation by Jennifer Geib, named “Focusing on Impact: strategic marketing to better reach funding partners.”

The Launch League Hub Leaders Forum is a short programme established by the UK-South Africa Tech Hub and Viridian to bring together CEO’s of key South African entrepreneurship and skills hubs to have open and honest conversations about their successes and challenges for achieving sustainability. 

Jennifer Geib describes herself as a communications designer who, after working in international development for many years, decided to pursue her passion for design and storytelling. Today, she helps nonprofit organisations to effectively communicate their impact. Her presentation during the Hub Leaders Forum not only focused on how hub leaders and other organisations can market to their target audience; but how to market strategically to potential funders.

“I tried really hard to come up with some ground-breaking, earth-shattering nuggets that I could drop on you; but the reality is that marketing has some very basic principles,” said Jennifer. Those principles make up her ethos. They are: do great work, get noticed, increase engagement, and build trust.

“When we get noticed, that’s when we can show our organisation’s values,” she continued, emphasising that getting noticed is often side-lined when organisations prioritise principles to practise.

During the forum, Jennifer offered a ‘map’ for how to lead an organisation to showcase more of the great work it is doing by strengthening your marketing efforts. This framework includes the following elements:

  1. Find your ‘Why’: this is the bedrock of your communication objectives.
    Central to building a solid marketing and communications strategy is assessing the reason why you need to communicate your message. Is the main objective of communicating to get funding (ie. attracting new funders or diversifying your current funding pool), to keep your current donors in the loop and encourage them to re-invest, to attract new participants to your programs, or to build strategic partnerships? Each reason will have its own tactic or strategy to implement.
  2.  Establish your Who’ and ‘What’: this creates the roadmap for your marketing strategy
    Asking ‘who’ you are marketing to and ‘what’ to speak about in your marketing efforts involves building out funder personas, mapping out user journeys, and knowing what to market at each stage of the marketing journey you want to take your ideal funder or potential funder on. Ultimately, knowing your audience helps you market better to them. “What do [your funders] need to build trust and rapport? And how do they like to communicate?” Jennifer asks. Creating specific funder personas enables you to zone in on what approach to use for each funder to make your messaging most appealing to them. Building out a user journey map can take things further by helping you discover when to communicate a specific message to your funder.

“Content is still king,” Jennifer highlighted, reiterating a marketing mantra that has gained traction over the last few years. “That’s how we tell our story.” Creating content can actually be relatively easy if hubs leverage and re-purpose many of the assets that they already have or activities they are already running.

  1. Think about ‘how’ you’re going to market to your audience: it’s about tactics and tools.
    Once you know who your audience is, what you can market to them and when, you can get to deciding how you will do the above. What tools are ideal to use for your strategy? Do you need content scheduling tools? Social media apps? Photo editing and poster creation tools like Canva? The key takeaway from Jennifer here is that in choosing how to deliver your content to your audience (as well as how best to create it), is to keep your operations simple and not get bogged down by the plethora of tools and seemingly endless marketing hacks that exist out there. Focusing on creating good quality far outweighs jumping onto the next marketing trend or tactic for the sake of it.  

Ultimately, Jennifer highlighted that a strong marketing strategy is guided by the following:  keep your purpose in mind, know your audience, keep storytelling central, and keep it simple.

Fans of Instagram have become familiar with the saying, “Take a photo or it didn’t happen!” Putting her own twist on this, Jennifer offered this gem: “If an impact is made and never shared, did it really happen?”

This is the strength of her ethos: that sharing your impact with funders keeps them aware of your great work – but it also keeps the lines of communication open, and that is how you build trust.

A special thank you to Jennifer Geib for sharing such rich insights and pointers with our hub leaders. Visit her website here:

To read more about the first instalment of the Hub Leaders Forum, read this article.