Earlier this month, I participated in WeDidIt’s Donor Acquisition Bootcamp, delivering a webinar on Choosing Your Nonprofit’s Content Marketing Mix. In addition to the live webinar, I was asked to offer an email “mini-lesson” with homework. In case you missed it, I’m sharing the lesson here, including the homework download. Scroll to the bottom for the webinar recording.
What is content marketing? What can it look like for a nonprofit organization? Are you already a content marketer?
Content marketing can be a confusing concept. After all, even if you’ve never heard of content marketing, your nonprofit is already producing content. And those materials were quite likely created as part of your marketing, communications or fundraising programs. Why start using the term ‘content marketing’? What’s the difference?
Content marketing defined
Here’s a definition of content marketing from the Content Marketing Institute and Blackbaud’s Nonprofit Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends Report:
“A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive action.”
And within this definition is a nuance you’ll hear often: content marketing flips marketing around, from content that pushes out promotional messages (think traditional advertising) to content that attracts readers by offering value.
Keeping these definitions in mind, consider the content you already produce:
- Do you have a clearly defined audience in mind (and have you completed a marketing persona)?
- Is your content relevant to your audience?
- Does your content offer value to your audience?
- Are you publishing on a consistent basis (for example, on a predictable schedule)?
- Have you defined a clear, measurable goal for what you ultimately want your content to achieve?
If you can answer ‘yes’ to all of these points, you’re on the right path to creating content that attracts and retains audience members.
Content marketing means thinking like a publisher, not an advertiser. Rather than (or, realistically, in addition to) promoting your organization’s mission, products, programs, services and calls for support, your content should cover a range of topics designed to inform, educate and entertain.
Content marketing is about delivering content that your readers will look forward to receiving.
Are you developing your content strategically?
Content marketing is also a long-term investment: results won’t come quickly. However, when you build connections and relationships, your readers have the potential to become your strongest advocates and supporters. It takes a great deal of time, resources and discipline, so you must have a clear content marketing strategy.
To start, review the content you are already producing and how you can ensure it will attract and retain the right audiences. For example:
- Print newsletters
- Email newsletters/updates
- Photography and other graphics
- Blog posts
- Research reports
These are just a few among many potential examples. If you are delivering any of these tactics (or others), you need to make sure you are doing so for a reason.
Over to you
Are you a strategic content marketer? It’s time to evaluate: download your Evaluating your current content production worksheet. Review how many ‘yes’ answers you’re able to provide to the questions I’ve raised above (and included in the worksheet), when it comes to the content you already produce.
And then, based on your results, consider:
- How can you improve, tweak or refine your content production?
- What should you scale back or possibly drop?
- If you’ve clearly and carefully defined your audience, what tactics should you introduce to offer even more value?
Make notes about the changes you can make to move to more ‘yes’ answers – and to creating the right mix of content to attract and retain your ideal audience!