It’s really easy for nonprofit communicators to get overwhelmed with all of the choices they have to reach out to current and potential supporters. The 2011 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report confirms that, as if there was any doubt. But don’t get sucked into a lot of tactical decisions about which tools to use without first ensuring that your bigger-picture game plan is in place.
It’s best if you can set aside time to create a real marketing strategy, but if you can’t, give yourself 15 minutes of peace and quiet to contemplate how you can take your organization down each of these three paths that I think are essential to nonprofit marketing today.
Be Your Own Media Mogul. Take control of the content you produce and how it’s distributed to your supporters rather than relying on others (like the mainstream media) to do it for you. You are the publisher, the broadcaster, the media mogul for your good cause. Don’t focus on a single channel; look at all of them and how they are connected. Repurpose the content you create so it works best in each place you put it. (Here’s a great article from MarketingProfs on doing that with video). Curate content (pass on good stuff you find from others) on topics your supporters care about, but you don’t have the time, talent, or expertise to produce yourself.
Connect the Dots for Your Supporters. With so much information available in so many places, it’s often difficult for your supporters to really understand what’s happening on your issues and with your organization. Make connecting those disjointed and scattered dots of information for your supporters a priority. Help people see what’s most important and why it matters. Try to make sure the content you produce doesn’t confuse people, by making sure your own messages merge well. For example, if you highlight a particular program in direct mail or you get some good press coverage on it, make sure that program is also on your website home page too.
Wear Your Personality and Values. One of the easiest ways for your nonprofit to stand out is to stop acting like a monolithic organization and start acting like a band of passionate people working toward a mutual goal. Let your supporters see who you are and what you stand for (in marketing speak, we call that your brand.) Don’t be afraid to take a stand. Show us the ups and the downs (that’s where we often see real character). Always sound, look, and be human, even when you are really speaking for your 501(c)(whatever).
Does this make sense to you? Do you think there are better ways to talk about big-picture approaches to nonprofit marketing in 2011? Please share your ideas in the comments.