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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:
Need help with that campaign email or program registration mini-site due to launch last week? Ready to move from making mediocre messages to the most audience-delighting, highest-impact calls to action of your life? How about getting there via a captivating romp through the life—and laws—of one of the most motivating fundraising writers around?
You can get it all with Jeff Brooks’ Turn Your Words into Money: The Master Fundraiser’s Guide to Persuasive Writing. You’ll learn and laugh as you gobble your way through this guide to writing good—then great—messages that spur the actions you need.
How many of your communications projects go nowhere because the approval process is a landmine? For many of us, that happens way too often. We diligently do our homework, developing buy-in from colleagues (by highlighting what’s in it for them) and sourcing practical insights on audience habits and wants.
We use these guidelines to get “it” right, whether it’s a first-ever formalized organizational talking points, campaign mini-site, new program marketing plan, an anniversary celebration approach, or… Then, we sit down again with those colleagues (or send a reply-to-all email with requests for specific feedback if folks are in multiple locations) to get interim or final approval.
Suddenly everyone’s a graphic designer, or a writer, or a creative director. Chaos ensues, even though we shaped the deliverable to what we heard from these same colleagues. I think you know what I mean.
There is a better way—be as strategic in your review and approval process, as you are with your marketing and fundraising work.
We’re so focused on “urgent” to-dos and right-now campaigns that it’s easy to overlook a valuable engagement opportunity: Your website’s “page not found” page (a.k.a. 404 error page).
Error pages alert visitors that the page they were seeking no longer exists, or they typed in or clicked on a broken link, and redirects them to the content they want. When crafted well, your error page becomes excellent customer service, providing an engaging intro to your organizational personality, impact, and content.
Flip Frustration to Satisfaction
Hitting a dead end is frustrating and time consuming. But the right error page—featuring a clear explanation of why visitors are on the page; a simple, bold graphic connected to your organization’s brand; and easy navigation to what “lost” visitors are looking for—can flip their frustration to satisfaction. Here’s how to delight your “lost” visitors as you get them where they want to go:
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: