I’ve seen so many fantastic examples from nonprofits linking what’s top of mind this week (Halloween, for many, if not for all) with their campaigns and orgs. Thanks to Kerri Karvetski for showcasing several strong nonprofit models here.
But many orgs are moving forward with “just do it” Halloween-linked marketing, rather than relevant marketing that deepens understanding of the organization and/or motivates action. And that becomes who-cares, right-now marketing. Here’s what I mean.
Nothing thrills me more than travel. So what a terrific surprise it was to be invited by the folks at Connecting Up Australia to speak on messaging and train on marketing planning at their annual conference next week. My husband, Sean, and daughter Charlotte are joining me on this adventure so we can spend a bit of time vising with kangaroos and koalas, and we’ve just arrived down under!
Please take two minutes right now to share the most valuable marketing lesson you’ve learned this year!
I’ll summarize the trends, and share the lessons submitted by you and your peers in the field in the 2012 Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide. Your guidance will be attributed to you, by name, title and organization—nice personal and professional recognition.
Please enter your insight here, right now.
“Your template helps enormously. Thanks so much for the Marketing Plan Template. We’ve just completed our strategic plan and are poised to plan our marketing. We didn’t quite know where or how to start and your plan helps enormously.” — Pam Voss-Page, Executive Director, Student Leadership Services
I outlined the value of planning and evaluating your nonprofit marketing in a recent post, and clearly hit a nerve. Many of you are frustrated by “just doing it,” and feeling that your nonprofit communications impact suffers as a result. And I heard from many of you eager to plan, but not knowing how to start or where to find the time.
In response to your requests, I’ve developed this ready-to-use nonprofit marketing plan template for you to download. I urge you to just jump into completing it. If you don’t, the impact of your organization’s communications is as uncertain as a bingo game.
Your investment of five to ten hours will give you a baseline plan useful in starting a meaningful dialogue with colleagues and guiding your daily marketing focus. Just block out an hour (first thing in the morning is ideal) each day for one to two weeks to complete your marketing plan (download here)
I guarantee that your nonprofit communications impact will soar as your communications plan will provide:
- A clear path forward for your nonprofit communications, no duplication of effort thinking what next.
- Concrete measurable objectives so you know what you are working towards.
- Stronger connections with your base and prospects — leading to more giving, volunteering and advocacy.
- Increased productivity–making the most of your time and budget.
- A pithy overview of your work ready to use to build understanding and support of colleagues and funders.
Go to it!
I was shaken by new stats on a crucial shift in online user behavior–only 5 to 15% of your website users are coming in through your home page. Tip of the hat to Gerry McGovern’s take on the decline of the home page for clarifying what works now for nonprofit marketing online .
As a result, your site users:
- Won’t be “introduced” to your organization (as happens when they enter via the front door, or home page).
- Aren’t likely to know the breadth and depth of content and tools on your sites.
- Won’t be asked to give or subscribe to your e-news (usually buttons featured on home page).
What to do about the decline of your nonprofit’s home page:
- Feature Donate and Subscribe (to e-news) on every page throughout the site, above the fold (e.g. visible without a user scrolling down).
- Label navigation elements (buttons, menu bar) to be broadly accessible and include on every page.
- Write/revise content to provide context, so users understand and can act, no matter what page they’ve come from (which may be Amazon, a competitor’s site, weather.com or another page on your org’s site).
- Include a site search engine window on every page. It’s the easiest way to reduce user frustration level.
This is just one of several critical shifts in site usage patterns I’ve been meaning to share with you. I’m in the process of reconfiguring my consulting site, Nancy Schwartz & Company, and have reviewed current trends in site usage to make it as effective as possible. I’ll be sharing other tips on site design out with you in posts to come.
P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today .
NTEN‘s 10th Nonprofit Technology Conference (a.k.a. #10NTC). And let me assure you the conference is about much more than technology as the IT folks think of it. That perspective is there too but the 1,500 participants are an unusual amalgam of nonprofit communicators, fundraisers, program staff, some foundation folks and yes, the tech specialists.
The common theme is use of technology tools to do the work more effectively, and efficiently. What’s unique is how the richness of cross-functional participation enables nonprofit communicators to strengthen understanding of other critical points of view within their orgs and better engage colleagues as participants in communications success.
These are some of the most compelling points I heard in NTC sessions, drawn from session leaders as well as participants. When possible I’ve credited the thought, but couldn’t catch many of the sources.
1. Marketing Strategy
- You have to eat your vegetables before you can have dessert — John Kenyon reaffirming my insistence that you have to define goals, key audiences and best ways to meet them before “just doing it.” In our session on integrating social media strategy with communications strategy.
- When approaching communications–think strategically, act tactfully. — Co-panelist, Demetrio Maguigad, Community Media Workshop
- Focus on what you do best, network the rest. — Allison Fine and Beth Kanter
- What can your org give up?
- One small step to becoming a networked communicator: Ask your Facebook fans to post your message as their status update. It works!
2. Messaging & Marketing Content
- Don’t convince supporters of the value of your cause; show them that your cause relates to their wants and values. (From the Marketing/Fundraising meet and greet. Read tweets from this session #10NTC.mktg here.)
- Online writing needs to be conversational, direct, informal and skimmable. Users read only the 1st sentence then move on.
- Stories (on one person or family) and images make a much stronger immediate impression than stats. The “power of one” (one subject, rather than 500 people) engages and will motivate your network to act.
- But real storytelling is about your base (those who volunteer with you, you provide services to and others), not about your organization.
- It’s not the “About Us” content on your website. Keep your org in the background.
- Good stories are becoming a real differentiator for prospective donors and other supporters: Your website has less than one minute to engage your users.
- A few good stories are more valuable than many so-so stories.
- Make sure stories are integrated throughout your communications channels, not just in “stories” section on site. Work well to illustrate value of your programs and services, more so than your description.
4. Email Outreach
- 11am Tuesday, in recipient’s respective time zones, is THE optimal time to send email campaigns. Make sure your ESP (email service provider) enables you to capture zip codes and sort sends by time zone. — Jordan Dossett, Antharia
- You have just 8 seconds to capture a recipient’s attention before he clicks away. Here’s how to strengthen your emails.
5. Social Media
- Trying to control the internet (and its social media content) is like putting a
wire fence around water
- 50% of nonprofits plan to increase staff commitment to social media. But only 40% have external budget for this. Disconnect (but not as much as I anticipated).
- 60% of orgs are now on Twitter, up from 38% from 2009. You should be there personally, to learn the medium, even if not for your org.
- Your social media policy in one tweet (140 characters): Be professional, kind, discreet, authentic, and represent us well. — Beth Kanter
- Shorter videos work for new donors, longer format for existing donors who are invested. Repurposing is king!
6. Online Fundraising
- The hard truth: 1% response rate is typical.
- Social Survey Results-only 3.5% of organizations have raised 10K or more on Facebook.
More #10NTC “notable quotables” here.
P.S. I hope you can join me next year for #11NTC in Washington, DC, March 17-19, 2011. Subscribe to NTEN’s e-news to ensure you get registration info in the fall. There’s a great early-bird discount.
Photo: Geoff Livingston
I blogged this practical but fresh perspective from Andrew Sullivan’s keynote talk at NTC (NTEN‘s annual conference). Sullivan, top blogger at The Atlantic‘s Daily Dish, shared his take on the potential value of blogging (and other online channels) for orgs and what it takes to realize that value to strengthen relationships.
Author, provocateur and early (since 2000) blogger Sullivan covered what’s different about online communications and community, and what that means for your nonprofit:
- Blogging (and other online content and conversations, I’d say) is about relationships, not content.
- Online readers, even when alone, are not really alone. Immediately, without waiting for the news or the paper, they enter in a relationship with the writer.
- Readers interact w/content in a personal setting–at their computers, which are personal–where they do their work, keep photos, etc–so you are speaking directly to each one in a way you can’t via print, even if they don’t participate actively in online conversation.
- So online reading and conversation becomes more part of your audience’s lives. It’s a great opportunity.
- But, for that to work, online content has to be ever-changing. If it’s not (like a static brochure site, as so many orgs have), it’ll fail to engage your network. And likely to alienate them.
- When you have this relationship with your network, you already have their permission. So your organization can move quickly to introduce them to a campaign.
- The speed is critical since our focus shifts very quickly.
Online communications is unequaled for relationship building, but is reinforced through direct mail, phone outreach and in-person gatherings.
But your organization’s online communications success may not come easily. Here are some of the common challenges cited by Sullivan:
- The lack of control inherent in social media (such as enabling readers to comment on your blog, which I suggest you do) is terrifying, especially for those with something to hide. That’s everyone, and every organization.
- As a blogger or site producer, your role changes from expert to conduit of thought for your network. Most organizations fear this shift, thinking it signals a decrease in their significance.
- A personal face and voice (or a few of them) for your organization online is a must. You don’t develop a relationship with an institution, you do so with an individual.
What do you have to add to the list of benefits, or deterrents? Please comment below.
P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.
Photo: Flickr Lydia Mann