Nonprofits

3 Steps To Jumpstart Your Creative Marketing Strategy

3 Steps To Jumpstart Your Creative Marketing Strategy

Feeling stuck? Here’s 3 steps you can take to jump start a creative marketing strategy.

I’ve seen two extremes:

  • Dreamers: Highly creative people with lots of ideas, but who have trouble implementing ideas into a successful strategy
  • Doers: Highly competent people with lots of smarts, but who have trouble generating new ideas or breaking out of the box
  • This post is primarily for you, Doers. But it could even help the Dreamers.

When you’re out of ideas, try these 3 ways to get creative juices flowing again:

Imitate

One of the easiest ways to spark marketing ideas is to imitate what other businesses or nonprofits are doing. Ain’t no shame in that. Why reinvent the wheel if you can get quick success using creative or strategy that’s already been tested?

  • Get on the mailing lists of other nonprofits or businesses
  • Follow social media and advertising efforts of your industry leaders
  • Look outside your industry to gain inspiration

If you’re a dentist, take a look at what other successful businesses in your area are doing.
I try to follow nonprofits that are similar to mine across the country. When I see something great, I’ll call or email to learn more about it so we can try it in our city.

But I also look to the business world, which tends to be more cutting edge than nonprofits. I pay attention to advertising blogs, graphic design trends, and social media campaigns.

Imitation is the “crawl” phase. You can get by that way for awhile.

But it’s not enough to just imitate. I like to say, “Copycats get the crumbs.” If you really want marketing growth, you’ve got to up your game.

REMEMBER: It’s fine to copy an idea. But if that’s all you do, you’ll never reach your potential.

Iterate

Time to go from crawling to walking.

You’ve found an idea that works — like a direct mail piece from another business or nonprofit. If you imitate it exactly, there’s a decent chance it could bomb.

Why? Because strategy comes out of necessity. That direct mail piece was created to solve a specific problem and reach a specific demographic. But you probably have different needs and a different demographic.

Rather than chuck the idea, let’s iterate it. What tweaks can we find to make it work for you? Start with your own objectives and audience.

  • Change headlines to include words you know your audience responds to
  • Rewrite body copy to make it sound more like you
  • Swap photos and creative elements to tie in to your local market
  • Use the same theme, but change the overall layout and/or size

If you’re tweaking your own past ideas, be sure to change just one major element at a time and A/B split test your changes so you can measure effectiveness.

REMEMBER: A key step for growth is making iterative changes to successful strategies. Test your ideas carefully.

Innovate

Now you’re ready to run!

For me, this is where it gets fun. I’m a Dreamer and a Doer, so I’m never really satisfied unless we’re pushing ourselves and building new things.

Take time to dream a little.

What idea would I try if I had unlimited money?
What is just odd enough that it would get people’s attention?
What can we do that would be first, new or different?
How about a new venue? A different event? A brand new mailing? A wacky promotion? A new ad campaign?
Short on funds? Slash your budget where things have been unproductive (like newspaper advertising, ahem). Cultivate a corporate sponsor to help cover the costs of a new effort.

REMEMBER: Fresh ideas come from asking yourself challenging questions. Take time to do it.


Imitate. Iterate. Innovate. Crawl. Walk. Run.
Use all three of these stages to launch your creative marketing strategies and keep them fresh.

Nathan3 Steps To Jumpstart Your Creative Marketing Strategy
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3 Keys To Effective Social Media For Nonprofits

3 Keys To Effective Social Media For Nonprofits

At a conference last week, a woman said to me, “My nonprofit needs to boost our social media presence, but we don’t really have staff or money. What should we do?”

I couldn’t help her with staffing or money. But I gave her three key components to help any nonprofit — large or small — establish a powerful social media strategy.

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Great content is the lifeblood of social media. Her first priority needs to be setting up a blog as “home base”. This is where she’ll post great stories, photos, events and other news. Then, when she shares this same content on social media, she’ll always link back to the blog post to drive traffic to her website.

Next, she needs to set up a content calendar. This ensures that compelling content will be released on social media consistently. Note the focus on both quality and quantity. But if forced to sacrifice due to staffing or money limitations, I always recommend focusing on quality — posting great content, even if it means posting less often. Why? Because you’re building a reputation and earning your audience’s trust that your content is worth taking time to read.

Lastly, she needs to balance her content by focusing on these three simple topics:

1. Celebrate

Make your audience feel great! Nonprofits are notorious for posting sad-looking photos of children and animals to guilt people into giving. That can work (see Activate below), but proceed cautiously and use it sparingly.

People come to Facebook to see what’s up with friends and family. Act like family. Post photos and updates that make people feel good about supporting you. Show success. Be real. Be conversational. Show behind the scenes of everyday life at your nonprofit.

ACTION POINT: Gather feel-good photos and stories to share.

Make it an agenda item at every meeting to ask, “What can we celebrate? What goals have we reached? What good news is happening for the people / animals / environment we’re helping at our nonprofit?” Then add those to your content calendar.

2. Educate

Help your audience learn! Become a trusted resource on the topic your nonprofit specializes in. Brainstorm a bit. What misconceptions do people have? What surprising facts and figures can you share? What do you wish the public would understand? Do people really know what you do?

ACTION POINT: Create and share resources that inform.

Publish “top ten” lists like “10 Myths About (your topic)”. Share new reports from government agencies or other nonprofits. Make infographics — compelling visuals that explain facts / figures. Show how a donor’s dollar flows through your nonprofit to create a positive result.

3. Activate

Give your audience a way to help! Your social media audience has some of your most loyal supporters and champions. Post an urgent need, and they’ll likely jump right on it.

ACTION POINT: Create a variety of ways for people to help.

This is the time to show those photos of hungry people, devastated forests, and other needs. Save them for when the need is truly urgent.

Keep in mind that not everyone has money to give. Ask for dollars, sure. But also provide volunteer opportunities. Even better, give them something they can do on their own — like purchase items and pack care kits for people in need. People want to help. Get creative and show them a variety of ways to get involved.


Celebrate, educate, activate. Feel, think, do.
A great way to balance your nonprofit’s social media content calendar.


ADD YOUR THOUGHT:

What advice would you give to a nonprofit trying to ramp up their social media?

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Nathan3 Keys To Effective Social Media For Nonprofits
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