Top 4 Nonprofit Marketing Priorities
I have spent a lot of time working with various nonprofits each with very different "resources". Some can afford to hire an excellent outside consultant to create their marketing strategy or manage their social media. Most, however, have just a handful of staff members all working hard to grow the organization with limited time and money available to do so. I've detailed below the four most important marketing "tasks" to focus on that will bring about the greatest rewards. I hope this helps you know what to focus on while saving some time and overwhelm in the process.
1. Set Clear Goals
The absolute highest priority for marketing your nonprofit should be having clear goals. If you don’t have clear goals that make sense for your organization then please STOP playing around on social media! (Honestly, if you don’t have focused goals then you really are just “playing around”). Drop everything and take the time to create clear, actionable SMART goals for your marketing strategy. (In case you aren’t familiar with SMART goals, here is some great information). This free marketing plan cheat sheet also goes into more detail on goal setting.
Once you feel comfortable with your nonprofit marketing goals, choose the most important one, write it down, and keep it in front of you whenever you are doing anything marketing related. Always keep it front of mind in everything you do. Ask yourself the following questions to help keep you on track: “Does what I am posting on social media help me achieve my goals, and how? Will sending this press release get me closer to my goals, how so? Do I really need to be spending my time on this task? How is it benefitting my audience and my organization?”
Goal setting will also help you save time in your marketing by making sure that you only focus on things that will move your organization forward and directly benefit your followers, donors, and clients.
2. Know Your Audience
Now that you have great SMART goals and you are thinking about how to be effective in achieving them, you can start honing in on who exactly you need to be talking to. Nonprofits are a little bit different from small businesses when it comes to an audience because typically you will almost always have more than one audience. You have to be talking to your donors, followers, and fans of your organization (who hopefully will become donors or volunteers), and your “clients”, or the people who you serve (or want to serve) in your organization. Of course, this will vary based on what you actually do but it is a good starting point.
Depending on the size, mission, and constituency of your organization I recommend (especially with limited time) crafting your messages towards a donor persona. This means that you will actually create a persona of an imaginary donor (most likely based on a REAL donor) and in every message you put out (social media, email, website copy, etc…) you will be talking to this one specific person. The worst thing that you can do is to market to everyone. When you take the approach of talking to just one person, it makes the reader on the other end feel connected to you, like you know them inside and out.
The best messages that you can share as a nonprofit are stories about what you are doing. Nonprofit storytelling is another subject entirely and I will have more information coming on that but for now, focus on stories about how you are helping people. Donors and volunteers want to see how their dollars and efforts are making a difference in the lives of other people.
So, we have our goals and we know who we are talking to and what we want to say. But, you can’t just put your message out into the world and then forget about it. You have to engage!! “Like” comments, reply to every comment on your posts, ask and answer questions, and talk to your followers. Engagement breeds a “warm, fuzzy” feeling and people appreciate when they know that you are actually listening to them. It may seem time-consuming but I promise it will pay off in new followers and likes on your pages.
4. Review and Revamp Regularly
Your marketing and communications strategy should be an ongoing process. Every month, take the time to look at your metrics (more coming on this topic) and review how things are going. What kinds of posts are people enjoying? When are they online? What kinds of questions get the conversation going? By taking the time to review your progress you will find loads of valuable information that will only make your marketing better and bring you closer to achieving your goals. Don’t continue spending time doing things that don’t work and nail down what works for your organization. It will take some extra time up front to review and revamp your strategy but will save you time in the long run.
I sincerely hope that this helps you, especially when you don’t have specialized staff, have a more successful communications strategy. It is such an important aspect of running a nonprofit but often gets overlooked in the day to day tasks that are required to keep it running.
Need extra help with a marketing plan, social media management, or staff training? Please reach out and let’s see how I can help you grow your organization today!
Have you been focusing on the right things? What can you do to make your communications more successful without spending too much time on it? Please share your thoughts in the comments?