Welcome to our newest guest blogger, Rebecca Leaman. Rebecca (@rjleaman) is a writer and editor who helps small community-based nonprofits and individuals tell their stories. Her driving passions are technology, local history and dogs.
Running a small nonprofit has never been easy, but there used to be few challenges that a larger marketing budget couldn’t solve.
Now, however, with all the possibilities offered by low-cost, fast-changing technology tools and social media, “overwhelm” can be as big a roadblock as budget constraints. Where do you even start?
1. Plan for your goals.
You can’t get anywhere efficiently without a road map.
I suggest printing out a copy of Nancy Schwartz’s Marketing Plan template for each of your board members, staff and even your senior volunteers. Fill out the Goals and Target Audience sections independently, before comparing notes and working through the rest of the marketing plan together. This not only kickstarts the group discussion, it will shoot up a red flag if one of your team has an off-key vision of your organization.
Estimates for time and budget may have to wait until you’re further into the planning process, and you have a chance to see what’s out there, what you need and what resources will be required.
2. Make time for research.
It’s tough to carve out a block of time to think, plan, and research if you’re bogged down in daily operations. Look for ways to “batch and automate” your routine chores:
Block out a few minutes twice a day to tackle your Inbox, for example, rather than jumping to respond to every incoming email. Templates and a style guide will streamline and standardize the creation of letters, presentations, receipts, or any other kind of document you produce regularly. And where a computer can do a job more efficiently — mail merge, for example — by all means, have the computer do it!
3. Match tools to tasks.
Crafting a marketing plan, then carving out time to plan tactics and research the options will go a long way to staving off “overwhelm.” But the excess of options before us can be, in itself, overwhelming. It’s just not possible to explore and test every shiny new object or read all the good advice that pops up every time you go online.
Refer back to your marketing plan, with special attention to sections 5 (Tactics) and 7 (Step-by-Step Work Plan), and make a list of the specific tasks to be accomplished. Then, target your search on finding the specific tools you need in order to do those tasks.
Instead of “Here’s a cool new tool; how can we use it?”, hold firmly to the opposite tack: “Here’s an essential task leading to our goal. What tool can we find to help us to do that?” It’s the best cure for “overwhelm” I’ve found yet.
What’s working for you? Please share your strategies for focused productivity.
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