It’s not just about the puppies.
Jennifer GoodSmith, the 2019 AMA Foundation Regional Nonprofit Marketer of the Year, is Vice President, Mission Advancement, Chief Advancement Officer/Chief Marketing Officer at The Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.
An organization that helps find homes for puppies and kittens might seem to be one that markets itself, but GoodSmith has helped lead a brand refresh and raised awareness during her two years in the role.
“What I adore about The Anti-Cruelty Society—besides the compassion, which feeds my soul—is that we have an initiative from the new CEO to build around a continuum of people, culture, impact, message and resources,” she says. “Who we are and how we do our work leads to impact—telling the right story to the right people at the right time.”
We spoke with GoodSmith shortly after the award was announced. Here’s a brief recap of her thoughts and insights.
Marketing as a strategy, not a service
“When I interviewed with The Anti-Cruelty Society board members, I said, ‘If all you’re looking for is more PR, don’t hire me—I think building beyond PR is what you need,’” GoodSmith recalls. “The bigger picture was about raising awareness of the work it takes to care for and protect animals—raising the organization’s profile and building a stronger brand.
“We needed to focus on marketing as a strategy and not a service. It’s not about making it ‘look pretty,’ but asking who we were reaching and for what purpose? That means convincing people of the value of marketing—research, data, audience and consistent messaging integrated across all channels.
“A rebranding is most successful when you can interweave it into the fabric of the whole organization. Marketing needs a seat at the table with the C-suite—not after you’ve already developed your brochure. So it’s also about showing the ROI and the value of the work to establish marketing as a strategic partner in the organization.”
Her team has already achieved some noteworthy ROI with the organization’s redesigned website, which attracts 30% more visitors and keeps them on the site 56% longer. As a result, the site’s donate engagement increased by 107% over the previous year.
“Great marketing is scalable”
To the well-known 4 P’s of marketing—Price, Product, Promotion and Place— GoodSmith adds a 5th P: Passion.
That’s one reason she’s always worked in the non-profit space. She says, “The best advice I ever heard from my father was ‘Find work that is fun because you’re going to do it for a long time.’ Working in corporate life or at large non-profits wasn’t for me—I really want to be a part of helping to make a difference at all levels.
“It’s important for those of us in smaller environments to remember that great marketing is scalable. A smaller budget is more challenging, and it forces you to be more creative.”
Prior to joining The Anti-Cruelty Society, GoodSmith was Vice President of Marketing and Communications for The Morton Arboretum, where she helped launch the spectacular “Illumination” exhibition that draws more than 180,000 people to the Arboretum every winter.
During GoodSmith’s tenure, the Arboretum’s earned media grew from $1.5 million to $10 million and its membership grew 35%.
“It’s amazing to have something to promote that’s so remarkable,” she says. “The writer for the Chicago Tribune said he couldn’t keep writing about it every year, but we made it better every year, so he kept coming back. Twenty percent of everything you do must change every year.”
A tablet full of ideas
GoodSmith has been a regular presence at AMA Chicago events, and has given several presentations.
She says, “What I love about AMA Chicago is the depth of information that’s so readily available at such a reasonable price. You always think you never have enough time to learn more, but I always walk away with a tablet full of ideas of what I can do better.
“Every event is a chance to learn from people and see how we can change our perspective. AMA Chicago offers the opportunity to better understand our discipline, our work, and our colleagues.”