Winning Nonprofit Marketing Strategies Focus on the Long Game

What we can learn from the Wright Brothers' obsession with patience, purpose, and unyielding determination

Sometimes the results of our nonprofit marketing strategies fall short of our expectations. Perhaps we had a dismal turnout at an event or low interest in a new program. Or maybe we didn’t have access to the resources needed for a successful fundraising campaign.

Nonprofit marketing strategies focus on long game

I’ve been thinking about how easy it is to become overwhelmed and lose faith when all our hard work isn’t producing the results we hoped for as quickly as we’d like.

Last week, I read David McCullough’s inspiring 2016 biography The Wright Brothers. Learning about the brothers’ passion, patience, and can-do attitude, I instantly felt a kinship with them. The Wright brothers were like the founders and leaders of today’s nonprofits: having an abundance of passion and an unyielding determination to change the world.

While we all want the quick wins (such as our marketing strategies seamlessly generating more money right now!), the Wright brothers teach us that winning requires playing the long game.


Are You Building Your Nonprofit’s Brand on Rock or Sand?

Before you post again on Facebook, ask yourself this one question

You followed expert advice on building your organization’s social media presence. You dedicated a sizable portion of your marketing team’s efforts to publishing content daily. And then slowly it happened, most noticeably on Facebook.

Without warning, Facebook changed the algorithms. Your organization’s organic reach plummeted, and your posts reached far fewer fans. You felt it was necessary to pay to win more fans. Then, late in 2016, the algorithms changed again, and now you find yourself paying for ads to speak to the very fans you already paid for to like your page!

There’s a lesson to be learned here for all of us. Before you post again on any social media platform, you should ask yourself one question. Your answer to this question may reshape how you view your organization’s relationship with the content assets you own and those you don’t.


How to Develop Audience Personas for Your Nonprofit

[Part 5 in a Series on Launching a Content Marketing Program]

Who is your content meant to reach? When you craft content to support a campaign or program, do you have a specific person in mind or do you write to a general audience?

Writing to a general audience – in hopes of capturing as many supporters as possible – will yield lackluster results. As the saying goes, if you try to matter to everyone, you will end up mattering to no one. In order to reach the people who need to hear your message, you must understand them as much as possible. You need to develop audience personas.


What’s Your Why? Here’s How to Start Your Story

[Part 4 in a Series on Launching a Content Marketing Program]

Stories have the ability to connect people to an idea on an emotional level. Telling compelling stories helps our audience to feel what we feel. And when it comes to powerful stories, the nonprofit sector certainly corners the market.

Before crafting your success stories, let’s take a step back to look at the heart and soul of your nonprofit’s story in the context of a content marketing framework. Where do you begin?


Mission: Possible! Creating a Content Marketing Mission Statement

[Part 3 in a Series on Launching a Content Marketing Program]

Nonprofits have one monumental advantage over businesses. Whereas a business is driven by profit, an NPO is driven by mission.

Not that earning profits is bad (yay, capitalism!), but nonprofits always start with a mission as their reason for existing. Having purpose why you do what you do builds the foundation for a strong content marketing program. So, get your engines fired up! Let’s do some exploring together. In 5 steps, you will be able to document your content marketing mission statement!


5 Big Mistakes Nonprofits Make With Their Marketing Content

The Need for Content Marketing [Part 2 in a Series on Developing a Content Marketing Program]

Nonprofits do so many things right! I’m always amazed how so much can be accomplished inside of a resource-strapped nonprofit organization. Doing so much with so little feels magical.

Several all-too-common marketing mistakes may be hurting your nonprofit’s potential. But fear not! All these mistakes are fixable, especially if you embrace a content marketing mindset.


Why You Should Launch a Content Marketing Program for Your Nonprofit

What is Content Marketing? [Part 1 in a Series on Developing a Content Marketing Program]

Content is everywhere. There’s website content, video content, advertising content, event content, email content, brochure content, campaign content, and on and on…

Many nonprofit organizations continue to focus solely on creating and delivering content that supports fundraising initiatives. This content is created not because it meets a donor’s needs; it’s created because someone tells the marketing group to do it. That, my friends, is not content marketing. In this post, I will share with you what content marketing is, how it adds value, and why your nonprofit needs to launch a content marketing program.


How to Answer the Question, “What does your organization do?”

Easy 3-step formula to a meaningful conversation starter & elevator pitch

When someone asks you what your organization does, what do you say? Do you trip over your words? Do you default to reciting some version of your mission statement?

For a long time, whenever this happened to me I regurgitated the mission statement that had been perfectly crafted by the nonprofit board of which I am a member. As it turns out, rattling off this copy as if it could ever be conversational makes me sound like C-3PO. Even though last year our board spent the better part of 4 months re-working our old mission statement into a meaningful, relevant and concise new one, it has become clear to me that using this otherwise excellent piece of text as my elevator pitch is not the best way to begin a friendly dialogue. But what is?

I read something this week in a business book that stopped me dead in my tracks: a nifty formula to answer the question, “What does your organization do?” And I have applied this formula to the nonprofit world.