American Hiking Seeks a Branding, Marketing, and Strategic Positioning Consultant

 

Overview

 

Over the past two years, American Hiking Society (AHS) has transitioned its leadership and transformed its Mission, Vision, and Values statements and is in the process of finalizing its 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.  As a result, AHS has sharpened its focus on the hiking community, provided the tools and platform for the hiking community to advocate for itself, asserted a more public and forward-leaning advocacy stance, and de-siloed its programs to create space for them to work in concert toward common goals.  Even our flagship program, National Trails Day®, has taken on a new identity as a day of service to trails and advocacy around top issues for the hiking community, rather than simply as a day to get more people out on the trail. While our social media following is growing, our relationships with existing and new corporate sponsors is strengthening, and individual gifts are increasing, we still have yet to establish ourselves as a major player in the overall outdoor industry and as a household name in the hiking public as we try to overcome a sometimes “old fashioned” or “stodgy” reputation.  We know we have transformed AHS and have exciting plans for the future; but to be effective in our updated Mission, we need for everyone else to know it too.

American Hiking Society seeks a qualified consultant or consulting firm to assist with the development of a Marketing and Strategic Positioning Plan that will guide us toward effectively communicating the “New AHS” to the outdoor industry and general public (particularly the hiking community) and help position us as an advocacy and trail service leader for the hiking community.      

The plan should:

  • Audit AHS marketing, branding, and external communications for gaps, weaknesses, and needed modifications.
  • Assist AHS with building strategic partnerships that will bolster our efficacy toward meeting our mission.  These strategic partnerships should position us as an effective advocacy and trail service leader and ensure the success of our 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.
  • Ideal proposals will outline a one-year initiation plan with several years of lighter follow-up support.

 

All proposals should be submitted to Sarah Morgan (Board Vice Chair) at [email protected] by July 30, 2019.  

 

About American Hiking Society

 

Founded in 1976 as the only national voice of the hiking community, American Hiking’s mission is “Empowering all to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience”.  We envision a world where everyone feels welcome in the American hiking community and has permanent access to meaningful hiking, including urban, frontcountry, and backcountry opportunities. We will achieve this vision by empowering all communities to enjoy, share, and preserve the hiking experience; advocating for the protection and expansion of hiking spaces; fostering trail stewardship; and collaborating with partners whose strengths are complementary.  

AHS is primarily an advocacy-focused nonprofit; however, we do run several volunteer trail service programs across the country that serve to bolster our advocacy.  Those programs include Volunteer Vacations (week-long service trips), Alternative Break (week-long service trips for college students during their spring break), and National Trails Day® (a day of trail service and advocacy started by AHS in 1993, with over 1,000 events across the country).

 

Primary Goals and Objectives

 

In hiring a Marketing and Strategic Positioning consultant, AHS seeks to position itself as an advocacy and trail service leader in the outdoor industry and with the general public (especially the hiking community); effectively communicate the “New AHS” to those audiences; and bring to life our revamped mission, vision, and values.  The objectives we hope to achieve are to:

  • Complete the transition of AHS’s reputation away from that of a  nonprofit stuck in the past and solidify its growing reputation as a relevant, effective advocate for the millions of people that comprise the hiking community in the United States.
  • Build strategic partnerships across the outdoor industry to bolster our mission and strategic plan goals.
  • Strengthen our marketing, branding, and external communications to ensure effective communication of who AHS is, what we’ve accomplished, and where we’re going.
  • Increase and broaden our membership,  social media following, and digital footprint.

Strengths

 

 

AHS has already started positioning itself as an advocacy and trail service leader in the outdoor industry.  We have:

  • Experienced a strategic transition in leadership and staffing.
  • Acquired the technology necessary to create targeted Calls to Action (CTAs), allowing the hiking community to easily contact their senators and representatives about specific advocacy issues.
  • Purposefully and strategically growing our social media presence and producing public advocacy campaigns.
  • Cultivated strategic partnerships, rather than taking an AHS-only or AHS-always-leads approach.
  • Cultivated lasting relationships with a number of corporate sponsors and have been acquiring new corporate partners, in part because we offer a customized relationship with each partner.
  • Won OIA’s Together We Are a Force Participation Award in 2018 with Teresa Baker of African American Parks Experience.
  • De-siloed our programs to work in sync toward common goals. Streamlined our messaging across programs and advocacy and fundraising campaigns.
  • Launched an Alternative Break Scholarship for college students underrepresented in the outdoors; have been running the only nationwide volunteer hiking trail service programs for college students; increased support and interest in the NextGen Trail Leaders program; and have begun to give NTD a new identity as a day of trail service and advocacy.
  • Reworked our Mission, Vision, and Values statements and worked with an external consultant to produce a 2020-2024 Strategic Plan.
  • Started to unify the look of our marketing materials and other public-facing content
  • Revamped and updated the navigation of the AHS website.
  • Nurtured deep and strong connections with Congress and the Federal Government.

 

Areas for Improvement

 

Despite our strong push into a new era for AHS, we still have a long way to go.  We recognize the following areas that need improvement, though we do not consider this to be an exhaustive list:

  • The AHS brand is still unknown to a significant swath of the hiking community.
  • The AHS brand is still unknown to or has weak relationships with some key players in the outdoor industry, and AHS is not immediately thought to be one of the major nonprofits in the outdoor industry, partly because our previous, somewhat “stodgy” reputation still precedes us.
  • Even though AHS owns the trademark for and started National Trails Day® (NTD) in 1993, as NTD grows in popularity, a smaller percentage of people and organizations associate it with AHS; and we have yet to fully and effectively harness its potential for increasing brand awareness.
  • While our social media following is diversifying and growing, our membership is: majority male, white, over the age of 50, and shrinking.
  • Converting growing social media presence into donors and engaged members.
  • AHS staff and Board are not often called-upon to be speakers or panelists or to provide quotes and interviews for the media, even when the topic is more directly relevant to AHS than to any other organization.

 

Proposal Requirements

 

Please include the following in your proposal:

  • Background on business/organization (or professional background if independent consultant):
    • (Company) name, address, and mission statement.
    • Names and roles of consultants who would work on this project, their resumes (or LinkedIn page if complete), and their social media handles if professionally relevant.
    • Years in business, ownership structure, total number of employees, percentage of employees who are people of color, percentage of leadership positions occupied by people of color.
    • Demonstrated ability to work with a wide variety of stakeholders, including examples of groups with whom you have worked/are working on marketing and strategic direction, partnerships, and positioning.
  • Proposed consulting structure, workplan, final product, timeline, and structure of ongoing support.
  • Budget estimate:
    • Overall cost with justification.
    • Hourly rate for consultant(s).
    • Cost for ongoing support.
    • (Optional) Proposals for 3 different levels of output and support.
  • Independent consultants may feel free to join together in a joint proposal, acting as one team, but there must be a clear payment structure laid out in the proposal.

 

Proposal Submissions and Selection Process

Proposal submissions should be emailed to Sarah Morgan (Board Vice Chair) at [email protected] no later than end of day July 30, 2019.  Please include all contact information for the main point of contact, who should be able to make legally-binding decisions for the company/consultant.

The AHS Board of Directors will review all proposals and will schedule video-conference interviews with a final selection of candidates.  

In no way does your (company’s) submission of a proposal bind American Hiking Society to any contractual obligation whatsoever.  AHS reserves the right to reject at any time and for any reason, any or all proposals received as a result of this RFP.

Confidentiality

The Bidder shall not, without the prior written consent of American Hiking Society, disclose or make available to any person, other than AHS staff, or use, directly or indirectly, except for the performance and implementation of the work, any Confidential Information (as hereinafter defined) acquired from an Information Holder (as hereinafter defined) in connection with the performance of this contract, unless:

  • The information is known to the Bidder (as evidenced by its written records) prior to obtaining the same from an Information Holder and is not otherwise subject to disclosure restrictions on bidder; or
  • The information is in the public domain prior to the time of disclosure by the Bidder; or
  • The information is disclosed to the Bidder by a third party who did not receive the same, directly or indirectly, from an Information Holder and who as no obligation of secrecy with respect thereto.

As used herein, the term “Confidential Information” shall mean any information, written or oral, concerning the project, relating to or consisting of processes, techniques, procedures, designs, drawings, plans, diagrams, specifications, computer programs, systems, expertise, trade secrets, and other technical data, project information, policies and contracts (including this contract), and any finding or data from the project that AHS does not wish publicly released.  The term “Information Holder” shall mean vendors, Bidders, and subcontractors, of any tier, and any other party dealing with American Hiking Society or such authority.