Guest blogger Guy Arceneaux is Director of Marketing and Communications at Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland.
My last Meals on Wheels communications case study touched on the advantages of communicating and fundraising for a smaller nonprofit. Today, I’d like to share one of the greatest challenges—Many smaller organizations, like mine, don’t have an explicit, documented process for creative workflow.
Perhaps these organizations’ smaller staff size creates the illusion that a process is not needed. I’m not sure. But what I do know is that most of my career successes were built on the foundation of a documented creative workflow. Here’s how to put a creative brief to work:
Proof Points: Research findings to use when advocating for the marketing approaches you know are right.
Talk about a perennial challenge! Inadequate time and budget remain the two primary hurdles to nonprofits’ marketing impact. But thanks to the 1,600+ nonprofit communications and fundraising staff members surveyed for the 2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, we now know more.
Here are top hurdles to communications impact, straight from you and your peers in the field:
Get this! Media recluse Bob Dylan recently gave his first interview in a few years…to the AARP magazine.
Dylan and his handlers were being crafty, not crazy, here. Dylan’s just-released album, Shadows in the Night, is 100% Sinatra covers. “Bob…wanted to reach the AARP audience. And he thought that this record would be more appreciated by people who had more wisdom and experience in life,” says Robert Love, publisher of the magazine.
This practical, doable marketing plan template takes you from goals to benchmarks, work plan, action and impact!
Those New Year’s resolutions—including the ones we set for marketing and fundraising work—are so hard to keep.
That’s because most resolutions are action items, rather than goals (the real “what we want to get to”). When elements in the world change, throwing those actions into question or making them too difficult, there’s no clear path to adaptation. So the resolutions fade out, leaving you disappointed.
My friend and colleague Kivi Leroux Miller, over at Nonprofit Marketing Guide, provides a wonderful service for nonprofit marketers like us—her annual report of trends in the field.
I urge you to take ten minutes right now to respond to her 2015 Nonprofit Communications Trends Survey.
What you’ll get in return:
- Special preview webinar on 2015 trends for survey takers ONLY (you’ll know the trends almost a full month before anyone else!)
- Full report of survey findings, unparalleled for:
- Fine-tuning your methods and tactics
- Getting some fresh ideas, ones you never would have thought of
- Learning what’s NOT working, so you know what to avoid
- Serving as proofs for your marketing approach for 2015 (so helpful for building the confidence and buy-in of skeptical bosses and colleagues).
Stop everything to respond to this survey right now. It’s the best investment you can make for marketing success in 2015. Thanks!
Part One: Connect First
Hold your horses on channels. That’s what I urged the fundraisers at this week’s Practical Planned Giving Conference (PPGC) to do, even though the conference was all about multichannel marketing.
Like you, I’m often pressured by bosses and boards of the our client orgs to go multichannel. I hear: How do we use all marketing channels best? Shouldn’t we be reaching out via Twitter for this event? Why don’t we have more connections on LinkedIn? But don’t we want to send a letter to our best prospects?
OMG! These research findings on marketers’ most common email goals astounded me. (Click the chart to see it at full size.)
Believe me, I’m a huge fan of goals. I believe in the power of practical strategy and clear structure to generate the greatest marketing results from your time and effort. I’ve seen this approach work time and time again.
What astounds me here is not the goals themselves—which are perfectly reasonable—but the finding that more than half of marketers chose nine of the 16 options as their goals. 9 goals!
Ugh! If you prioritize everything, you prioritize nothing, and you’re unlikely to achieve anything. Instead, “choose not to do some things in order to do other things better,” say the Marketing Sherpa researchers.
Your audiences so often see nonprofit campaigns that lack any call to action so, no matter how compelling the issue or message, that they have no idea how to get involved. I know, because I see them too.
Your call to action is what connects your supporters and partners with your org—you have to have it and it better be clear and doable. Today I’ll help you get there.
So many of you have asked me this vital question, that I want to share my recommendation beyond a personal email. This is a vital issue for you to spend some time on—the challenge level of your nonprofit marketing goals has a huge impact on whether you get there or not.
I believe strongly that you have to hit a middle ground, a balance, and have seen this work time and time again.
The best goals are ambitious, so you push yourself and your colleagues to respond on an ongoing basis to the ever-changing world in which your organization works, and the ever-changing wants of your prospects and supporters (a must for relevance, and moving your mission forward).
But there’s more.
Clarity here is a must for right-things, right-now marketing that advances your issue or cause a.s.a.p.
Goals are what you want to achieve. Complete the sentence: “We want to . . .”
Organizational goals (a max of three at a time) are the steps (look one year ahead) that will take your organization to closer to achieving your mission.
Marketing goals (three tops here too, for that same year) are the best ways to focus your marketing (message development, audience research, e.g. the whole enchilada, not just the communications part) to achieve those organization goals.
Here are a few examples…