Fundraising Writing Blog
Part 2 in a Series of 5 Posts on Building a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Nonprofit...
Nonprofits do so many things right! I’m always amazed how so much can be accomplished inside of a resource-strapped nonprofit organization. Doing so much with so little feels magical.
Several all-too-common marketing mistakes may be hurting your nonprofit’s potential. But fear not! All these mistakes are fixable, especially if you embrace a content marketing mindset.
So let’s get to the 5 big mistakes you might be making with your content!
These mistakes are common. There is no simple switch to flip from imperfect to perfect. It’s a process and a journey. I’m still rooting out these big mistakes in my own work. What has become clear to me in my journey is that developing content-driven experiences (i.e., content marketing!) is a powerful way for you to create value for your supporters and your organization.
Content marketing a win-win for everyone. You create and deliver valuable, relevant and consistent content to a clearly defined audience and, in turn, your audience is enriched and gives you its full attention and support.
Adopting a content marketing approach will help guide your activities so that you don’t make these 5 mistakes:
1.) You Talk Too Much About Your Organization
You love your organization’s mission. That’s probably why you took the job or the volunteer position in the first place. It’s a natural instinct for any organization to want to talk about itself: the great work, the cutting-edge programs, the years of experience, the awards, the differentiators.
But your audience doesn’t care as much about your organization as they do about how they view their own story within your cause’s story. They want to hear that they are the answer to the problem.
No doubt your heart is in your cause such that you are full of empathy. Extend this empathy to your audience. Frame your communications from their point of view. Give them a good experience and they will reciprocate with attention and loyalty.
2. You Ask Your Audience for Something All the Time
If every piece of content you produce is directly tied to a fundraising campaign or a program or service you offer, then you risk wearing out your audience (and annoying them to death). Let’s face it: you don’t like constant sales pitches… and neither does your audience.
Tom Fishbourne, a marketing cartoonist, says, “The best marketing doesn’t feel like marketing.” Sure, at the end of the day, marketing’s ultimate purpose is to activate an action (a donation, a volunteer, a social share, etc.). But marketing always should be a balance of storytelling and salesmanship. The content needs to stand alone as valuable even without the ask.
An example illustrates this point:
I have a serious brand crush on Charity:Water. Each piece of content they create is beautiful, heartwarming, and hopeful. A while ago, I received an email from them with the subject line, “The best dad in Ethiopia.” The email linked to this article about an Ethiopian father named Tadese.
Tadese is hardworking, determined… and stylish. This personal story reveals what it is like to live in rural Ethiopia and what clean water means to this father on Father’s Day. Tadese’s devotion to his family just makes you feel good about being a human being. After the story, there is a brief call-to-action. This “soft ask” flows so naturally from the piece that you don’t even realize that the story is a marketing piece.
Dang! That’s good marketing
3.) You communicate with your audience too infrequently and too inconsistently
I cannot tell you specifically which channels to distribute on and how often you should publish. That is unique to each nonprofit. But you absolutely need to publish on a regular basis. An important part of a content marketing program is creating and distributing content consistently.
Here are a couple reasons you should publish consistently:
4.) You produce mediocre content because your organization places more value on quantity over quality
Are you a content machine? Are you producing and publishing more content than you can effectively manage? With umpteen distribution channels in this digital age, you can’t possibly keep up with all of them – nor should you. In addition to email and web content, use the social platforms where your target audience gathers.
And please… don’t just create content because it’s another box you need to check off. Think about the purpose of the piece and if anyone would miss it if it didn’t exist.
TIP! If you feel overwhelmed by the content crunch, I suggest you take a step back and ask yourself this question:
Where does my organization hurt the most?
After identifying your organization’s biggest pain point, focus on that one area first. Develop that one experience masterfully in your content. You can always ramp up the amount of content you produce later. One of my mottos is, “Keep it simple now. Get fancy later.”
5.) You forget that you have amazing stories, are the expert, and know valuable information that is desired by your audience
Nonprofits are filled with heartfelt, touching stories. You see them all the time, and you probably don’t even realize it. What may seem like just another Tuesday to you is fascinating and educational to someone else.
Share the everyday stories with your audience. Anticipate their questions about your organization and answer them. Tell them what you know. Try new technology. Take note of what resonates and do more of that.
A content marketing program will help keep you on track with creating and delivering valuable content on a consistent basis to a targeted audience with the ultimate goal of driving a specific action.
Future posts in this series will go deeper into the “how” of content marketing. Stay tuned.
You’ve got this!
This was Part 2 in a series on Developing a Content Marketing Program.
Part 1 explains what content marketing is and why you should develop a content marketing program.
Part 2 drives home the need for a content marketing program by showing you 5 big mistakes you might be making with your content.
Part 3 gives you the tools you need to write your content marketing mission statement.
Part 4 describes how an argument transforms a pile of facts into an engaging story and how to find YOUR story.
Part 5 helps you develop audience personas to better enable you to resonate and engage with those people who need to hear your message.