The most important step a nonprofit must take today in its approach to successful marketing, fundraising and recruiting, is investing in a written content strategy. This was the topic of discussion in the “Essentials of Nonprofit Content Marketing” webinar we recorded on July 16, which can be viewed at this page.
In fact, according to the Nonprofit Content Marketing Benchmarks, Tools and Trends Report, 52% of the survey’s respondents who stated that they were “Most Effective” at Content Marketing have a written content strategy.
For many nonprofits, funding or writing a content strategy as an essential content marketing “first step” is a new or foreign concept. Yet, the correlation between having a written content strategy and enjoying success in nonprofit content marketing is too compelling to ignore.
“If you don’t know where you are going, you will wind up somewhere else.”
– Yogi Berra, New York Yankees Manager
Yes, without a written content strategy, you may start your content marketing effort and end up somewhere unintended. And chances are that “somewhere” will not be a happy place, since time and money will have been spent on outcomes that the staff and the board of directors find disappointing.
1. Not Knowing Where to Start
The explosion of channels, devices, tools and services that make up the digital marketing landscape is at best intimidating, and at worst, paralyzing. People getting started with nonprofit content marketing with the best of intentions often freeze in their steps. A written content strategy solves this problem by defining the specific content, channels, technology and engagement activities to be used according to a specific timeline (often, an editorial calendar).
2. Lack of Direction
The good news is everyone wants to be involved with sharing your nonprofit’s story, from the board to the executive director to the staff. That’s also the bad news, if there isn’t a written content strategy in place. A good content strategy document defines for everyone the editorial direction and tone for the content marketing effort, who has which roles and responsibilities, the frequency of publishing to different channels, and many other key content marketing activities.
3. Too Many Experts
From the board member with a nephew building WordPress websites to the staff member with her personal video blog, everyone has an expert opinion about what your nonprofit must do to succeed in social media and digital marketing. The content strategy process addresses this problem by capturing input and insight (and opinions) from all key stakeholders, then distilling it down to content and technology choices based upon consensus of the top priority outcomes.
4. Not Enough Time to Get it All Done
That’s right, there really isn’t enough time to do everything that can or should be done in nonprofit content marketing. A content strategy document, particularly one that includes a comprehensive editorial calendar, helps you stay on task with what content marketing activities need to be done today, tomorrow, this week, this month, this quarter and next year. Done properly, the editorial calendar activity is based upon achieving specific strategic desired outcomes and avoiding random acts of marketing.
5. Generation (or Experience) Gaps
Oftentimes, nonprofit boards are comprised of volunteers in the sunset years of their careers, or after retiring from careers elsewhere. These well-intentioned volunteers may have extensive backgrounds in areas such as finance, law, business management, and even marketing. But their careers were built in a different era than today’s multimedia, multiplatform, always on, with-a-new-app-launched-every minute world of digital marketing.
As intelligent as these volunteers are, they often struggle with decisions about funding content and technology, because they don’t have prior experiences with it. A written content strategy can solve this problem by educating the board about content and technology, and explaining why certain processes, tactics and tools are being recommended.
6. No Funding for Content
Content marketing requires investments in content and in technology that are fairly new considerations for most nonprofit budgets. When there is funding, it may be inadequate for the nonprofit’s content marketing needs. A written content strategy, especially one summarized in a persuasive slide deck, can be a very effective tool for use by staff, volunteers and board members in fundraising appeals for new technology or new content-based campaigns and initiatives.