We spend a lot of time on this blog talking about the good things you can do to improve your marketing and communications for your nonprofit.
But sometimes, it’s also good to frame the conversation around mistakes to avoid.
Here are five that quickly come to mind.
Not choosing and prioritizing.
Trying to reach everyone about everything all the time is a disaster. Instead, good marketers focus on narrowing their work down to getting the right message to the right person at the right time. Being strategic is about saying yes to a couple of things and no to everything else. You must prioritize your target audiences and your messages to be effective (especially with limited time and budget). Read more posts about communications team leadership and strategy.
Relying on free services for mission-critical work.
If you are expecting a volunteer to build and manage your website or all of your social media, you are at great risk of not being able to use these essential communications tools in important, timely, and meaningful ways. The same goes for software subscriptions to manage donations, sending emails, and more. You can’t do that work efficiently out of your personal email and spreadsheet software. Read more posts about marketing technology and software.
Failing to see the individuals on your mailing lists as people.
Too often, nonprofits talk about “blasting” their email lists. But when you ask about the kinds of people who are on their email list (and getting blasted), or who follow them on social media, they have no idea. You can’t do good marketing when you don’t really know who you are talking to. Remember, it’s about relationships with people! Read more posts about understanding your target audience or community.
Turning every great idea into a task on your to-do list.
You will have a million great communications ideas. Other staff and board members will have many great ideas too. But that doesn’t mean you should do all of those things. You can hold great ideas in a “parking lot” and then decide in a more thoughtful and strategic way what should actually be added to your to-do list. Read more posts about how to manage good ideas without making them to-do items.
Not being specific about what terms like “raising awareness” and “engaging community” really mean.
There are many ways to raise awareness and engage your community. Therefore, the way you define those terms can be quite different than the way a board member would, for example, and you would both be right. You have to come to a common understanding of what you are trying to do. Be clear about what you mean by these words and what success would look like. Read more posts about raising awareness and engaging the community.
What other mistakes do you see nonprofit communicators making? Feel free to share in the comments.