Critics of government spending claim that building quality infrastructurefor the social good is not affordable. Focus on utility and low cost, they say. No need for grand stone building with imposing facades. Their concerns touch on two core marketing topics, designand pricing.
“That’s the way we’ve always done it.” More stifling, even deadly, words are hard to find. Changing the way we look after the social good can be hard. It pays to start small. You may not sway an entire country, but you can impact your community. It often starts when you change local regulations.
Plenty of people, including public sector marketers, think design means making things look cool or trendy or pretty. However, looking good is only a by-product. Design is the thought and intention behind creating a product or service that succeeds in filling a need. To ensure success, true marketers create systems not things.
According to Credit Suisse, up to one-quarter of U.S. malls will close by 2022. During the past 60 years, malls served as a major public commons in the U.S. The design and stewardship of commons is a crucial component of public-sector marketing. Redesigning failed shopping malls could be an huge public-sector opportunity.
If you design goods and services for your clients, instead of with them, you are forced to make assumptions. Inevitably, your assumptions will be wrong. With bad assumptions you risk your goods and services not meeting your clients needs. That means you are wasting your time and money, and your clients’ time and money. With basic needs like health and sanitation, you are also be risking your clients’ lives. At the intersection of nonprofits and client-centered design lies fulfilling your mission for your clients.
Are you designing and distributing low quality charitable products? How do you know? Just because your clients may benefit from, and even rely on, products that are free to them doesn’t mean you can give them crap. It also doesn’t mean they stop becoming savvy consumers just because something is free to them. Your products and services may be free to your clients, but in areas like healthcare and water they can also a matter of life and death.
People in poverty lack money. It seems obvious that the best way to end their poverty is to give them money. Increasingly, studies support this obvious approach to reducing poverty. Yet the vast majority of poverty-reduction organizations and agencies offer goods and services, not cash. What is the impact on nonprofits of giving cash to poor people?
As a public or social sector marketer, you often need photo editing done but have no budget for professional designers or design tools. Adobe PhotoShop is the gold standard of photo editing, but it’s expensive and complex. Don’t fear. You can accomplish free photo editing without PhotoShop.
In the US, public debts keep mounting, taxpayers keep insisting on lower taxes, and vital services and infrastructure keep declining. We need to find a new way of designing and paying for government. Cost cutting isn’t enough. We need transformation. Lean production principles can transform public and social sector work.