According to Kivi Leroux Miller, in her informative and richly worded book Content Marketing for Nonprofits, content marketing involves “creating and sharing relevant and valuable content that attract, motivates, engages, and inspires your participants, supporters, and influencers to help you achieve your mission.”
With 92% of nonprofits incorporating a content strategy into their communication plan, it is essential to develop an effective approach to reach your intended audience(s). Miller lists 13 benefits of using content marketing in an early chapter. The following explores three of these advantages that show the importance of developing a content marketing strategy into all aspects of your organization’s communications.
- Instead of publishing pieces in a haphazard manner throughout your communication channels, a content strategy has purpose: Every article and all subject matter you create is an element of the organization’s larger story, its big picture*. Stories are developed throughout the year (often using an annual editorial calendar to flesh out topics with appropriate timing to post) that provide a picture of what is important for constituents to know about your work. Purposeful content reflects your mission in action. It is about showing your prospects and supporters why what you do is valuable, and how change happens because of your organization’s work.
*Storytelling is out of the scope of this article but is an important tool to encompass. For useful examples of effective storytelling, Classy.org has tips and examples to show how to tell your agency’s story.)
- In recognizing the truth that some (or many) of your readers may consider your communications as intrusive and a waste of their valuable time to read, a content strategy offers subscribers content that shows them what they want to know and learn about your work. An example is to show an agency program in action, whether through a typical account of a day in the life of the program, or whatever you determine is most effective to illustrate. An idea is to Interview actual program participants who show how change happens within their daily lives because this program exists. Another example of interesting content is to create an ongoing segment that spotlights an active volunteer or donor who adds value to your organization’s vision and overall mission. Remember to add images, audio, or even video to engage constituents and to remain consistent messaging for every medium.
- This tip is my favorite because it involves collaboration among staff in other departments. For instance, program staff have specific knowledge that may be valuable to development and marketing departments, and vice-versa. Instead of communicating with those in other areas when one needs something, this tip suggests working together on a continual basis…always, in fact. Collaboration is different than teamwork. To collaborate is to include staff from all applicable departments as contributors to complete projects together. I have seen how collaborative efforts create a more effective purpose. Working together is key to develop buy-in from staff, to create a specific and concrete message throughout all communication and development efforts, and even offers others to learn more about the organization’s programming and mission.
Also, I have worked for organizations with departments that existed in silos. Basically, staff did not communicate what they were working on to those in other departments. I do not understand how people can work on projects effectively without input from other departments, because each functional area may not be on the same page. It is difficult to see how these divisions offer clear and concise communication that projects an organization’s mission.
I recommend reading Miller’s book cover-to-cover. It serves as a roadmap to develop and utilize content marketing strategies that you may apply to all of your current and future communication and resource development plans. Visit Miller’s website for more information.