Whether you’re a small business or part of a non-profit organization, one of the biggest struggles with running your organization is finding the time, resources, and budget to actually market what you do. Maybe it’s that there’s not enough time in the day, or you’re not sure where to start, or there’s not enough money in the budget. Whatever it is, one thing remains true when you’re marketing a non-profit: you need to maximize your time and effort to see meaningful results.
This three-part blog series will guide you through a proven process to get the best results for your digital marketing efforts. We begin our series by developing a roadmap for success and defining what success looks like for your organization. Up next, we’ll help you assess your current efforts and develop a plan to implement changes where needed. The final installment in this series will teach you about the fundamentals needed to take your first steps towards marketing your nonprofit online.
Maximize Your Online Presence
If you’re short on time and resources, you want your web presence to actually do some of the work for you, not add another task to your already full plate. Getting started is sometimes the hardest part so let’s break it down into smaller steps.
Build your roadmap
Like with so many things in life, you can’t figure out where you’re going until you establish where you currently are. The first step to building your roadmap is to identify what you struggle with and what’s already working well.
First, think about where you actually want to interact with your target audience online; do you absolutely hate getting on Twitter? Maybe don’t put your time and energy into that platform, especially if Facebook already does what you need it to do. Choosing the right social media platform for your needs can save you unnecessary time by eliminating platforms that are simply not the right fit.
Next, think about what you want visitors to do when they find you or what a successful interaction looks like. Make it so obvious that they can’t miss it.
Last, identify what success and failure look like for your organization online. It seems straightforward, but sometimes the act of stating what you stand to gain or lose with this effort helps it feel more real.
What’s working well?
- Others can easily get behind our mission and vision
- We have a lot of expertise to share
Where do we struggle?
- Dedicating team resources to our own marketing
- We don’t have a website that meets our needs
Where do we want to interact with people online?
What action do we want them to take?
- Reach out for more information
- Sign up for the program
- Make a donation
What does success look like?
- Connecting with potential students
- Connecting with potential donor partners
What does failure look like?
- We don’t have enough donations to fund the program
- We don’t have enough students sign up for the program
Avoid Analysis Paralysis
It is easy to feel overwhelmed by too many decisions especially when you are unfamiliar or just learning about a topic like digital marketing but you can’t let that stop you from making important decisions and learning from your mistakes. Will your initial marketing strategy be perfect? Probably not. But it will be better than doing nothing. You’ll make mistakes and learn from them.
Moral of the story: don’t overthink your strategy. Pick a goal and pivot later if necessary.
Goal setting can be really stressful. It feels like it’s going to be a great exercise; you have your whole team together and everyone is ready to go. You set some lofty goals for where you want your marketing to grow, and then you leave the room and it’s like all of the balloons popped after the birthday party. Nothing happens or you get busy with something else and all of the inspiration and motivation goes out the window. So how do you balance setting goals that will keep you motivated with realistic expectations that won’t leave you feeling disappointed? Set SMART goals!
SMART goals are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
- Achievable (realistic, attainable)
- Relevant (meaningful, motivating, results-based)
- Time-bound (timeline, frequency)
Organize the chaos – start big and get more specific
Goals become the places where you put your time and energy and they are your priorities for budgeting time and resources. But vague or nebulous goals are easy to ignore or put off for a better time. Instead of setting a goal of “improving your social media presence” set a more specific goal of “one weekly post on Facebook”. Make your goals as specific as possible by considering the following types of questions:
- What do we want to accomplish with your marketing?
- Who is the audience we want to reach?
- What social media platform is your audience most likely to use?
Make it measurable to track your progress.
If you’ve ever been stuck in traffic or a long line for an amusement park ride, you know how frustrating it can be to not be able to track your progress towards the finish line. That’s why it’s important to make your goals measurable. Give yourself some way to measure your progress towards completing your goal by asking yourself questions like:
- How will I know if I’ve accomplished my goal?
- How long will it take?
- Can this goal be broken down into smaller, more bite-sized portions?
If it’s not achievable, you won’t do it
Just like starting too small can feel discouraging, having unattainable goals will also set your team up for frustration. It’s ok to have high aspirations, but your goals should be realistic and achievable. Otherwise you are likely to become frustrated and view the task as insurmountable. For example, if you’re currently struggling to post to social media consistently, you are more likely to attain a goal of publishing one post a week rather than a goal of four or five posts each week.
Motivate yourself by making it matter to you
If you are like most people, it’s hard to get motivated about someone else’s plans or goals. That fact of the matter is that we all have limited time, energy, and resources. If you set a goal that isn’t important to you, then there will always be something else that’s more important. In other words, you need to find your personal motivation to accomplish this goal. You may dislike posting on social media, but you will be more likely to post consistently if you know that doing so will help you generate more leads so that you can eventually expand your team so that you can focus more on the tasks you prefer.
Put time limits on your goals
The truth is that most people will delay something that doesn’t have a concrete deadline. Without a fixed timeline, it is too easy to delay starting a project and even easier to drag your heels towards making substantial progress. By giving yourself a timeline, you can begin to break the task down into smaller chunks. If you are going to increase your social media presence by 50 posts this year, you can easily break that down into 1 post each week and start to plan out the topics of each post.
Keep expectations fluid and forgive yourself
Your organization’s goals might change throughout the year or you might recognize how you could do things better. Don’t be afraid to reassess your goals and strategy after you start receiving measurable results. But before you make any changes, evaluate any new information you’ve received and learn from your successes and mistakes. Perhaps you were doing the right thing in the wrong place and you just need to switch from Facebook to Twitter or vice versa.
It’s also important to not be too hard on yourself when you make a misstep. Forgive yourself and learn from your mistakes. Remember that the only bad mistake is one you don’t learn from.
As you put together your roadmap, try to focus on meeting your audience’s needs and setting goals that are relevant to your organization and achievable—small steps are better than never starting at all. Stay tuned to read our next installment in this series to help nonprofit organizations maximize their digital marketing efforts.