Ep 146 | Where to Start with Marketing

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Building your marketing plan can feel overwhelming. Everyone has a different idea of what needs to be done and there are always trends that come about. But what do you really need to be doing and what maybe can wait for later? That's what we talk about in this episode of the podcast.

What you'll learn:

→ marketing when you're just getting started.
→ how to utilize email marketing.
→ keeping your goals in mind.

Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:

[4:58] Starting with a Website Keep your website simple in the beginning. Use it as a domain for your audience to find you on search engines and to learn about who you are.
[6:23] Create Brand Awareness What do you want to accomplish? What direction do you want to go in? Who is your audience? What action do you need to take?
[9:50] Email Strategy Keep consistent communication with your audience through weekly, or monthly, emails. Keeping your donors informed on your progress will help with continued, and increased, support.
[11:43] Know what your goals are Knowing what your goals are, and what you want to accomplish, will help keep you on track as you continue to grow. Knowing what direction to go in next will be key to the future success of your organization.

Resources

ConvertKit*
Active Campaign*
MailChimp
Google Ad Grant

*This post includes affiliate links. Should you choose to puchase we may receive a small commission. We are only affiliates for things we use ourselves.

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Full Transcript

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So over the past few weeks, I've been having lots of conversations with incredible nonprofit organizations all at various stages in their business and growth. And they're all kind of similar in that I get a lot of questions around, you know, well, I should be doing this and people are telling me, I need to try this, I need to get on tik tok, I need to be doing social media, I need to be doing all of these things. And it gets a little overwhelming. So today, I'm going to talk to you about, kind of, different stages in your growth of your organization, and what types of things you might want to layer on. It can be exciting to think about doing all the things all at once. But when we do that, we kind of lose sight and lose focus on the main things that we're trying to achieve. And so yes, it is great to do all of the things, but we don't need to do them all at once. And I know that that can be tricky. So we're going to talk about a couple different phases like brand awareness, fundraising, filling your programs, all the things. And I want you to pay attention to where you're at, and take action on some of the things that I talked about in that area. If you have moved past one of the sections that I'm talking about, make sure that you've got those foundations built in those previous sections. And if you're not quite yet at a level, then definitely pay attention to what's coming so that you can put it in your plans so that you're not feeling overwhelmed when it comes to your marketing activities. So that's what I want to talk about today, I hope that it is going to be helpful for you to really just kind of minimize and think about exactly what it is that you need to be doing today. But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our patrons. Thank you so much to our patrons, you can go to thefirstclick.net/patreon to check out all the benefits that we provide in order to help you take action on these episodes and keep things moving forward. Again, that's thefirstclick.net/Patreon. I hope that you'll join us. Let's get into the episode.

[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing, and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.

[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I want to start out by talking to those of you that are in the beginning stages of your business. So maybe you've just formed, maybe you're working on building your board, maybe you're still trying to fill out the paperwork to get your 501 C three status. So at this stage where I see some hiccups forming is not having that cohesive message and, instead, jumping headfirst into the fundraising, and the marketing, which is fun and critical and definitely needs to happen. But what I would like to challenge you to do is really make sure that you have that core group of people around your organization rock solid, and that everyone really understands the mission and vision and what it is that your organization is trying to accomplish. Now, a lot of times people will say we are all on the same page. But you might be surprised when you have conversations and asking everybody that's on your board, or people that are involved, what do we do, and people might have a different priority or piece to that puzzle. So it's really important that everybody's on the same page with this is what we do. And these are the main goals and what we're trying to accomplish first. Because as you continue to move forward in the growth of your organization, that's when cracks start to happen, because people feel that we should be marketing here more or we should be doing that. Or they're going to bring all of these things to the table at board meetings on activities that you should be doing or people that need to be hired next. And if you're not on the same page, then that's where things can get dicey. That's also where a lot of organizations will spend extra money on marketing efforts and fundraising efforts that don't really turn into much for the organization because they aren't working towards the goals at hand, they might be bringing in people they might be, you know, creating great awareness, they might be getting good press, they might be building up your social media following but if it's not turning into the end result that you need it to be, then it's for nothing. So at the beginning stage of your business, it's really important to sit down and make sure everyone is on the same page. These are the three main things that we're trying to do this year. This is what's coming up. This is where we're headed. These are the roadblocks and really being direct with everyone, what is it that you think that we do? At some point, you will want to do the same thing with your audience to make sure that your messaging is correct. But for now, we just want to make sure that our entire team, paid or not, is on the same page. Now, I absolutely do think that you should have a website at a beginning stage for a few reasons. And this doesn't have to be a huge website. This can be a one page landing page. You could build it in all the different software's that are out there, you could use a template, whatever, it doesn't have to be crazy, but something that has the main information on it for people to find you. And the other reason behind this is that we want to start building that domain authority for search engines, we want to have something up that your website can start to build, and have that longevity, which is not, you know, it's something that builds into the trust factor with search engines. So get something basic up, do not spend a lot of money on a website, because also in the beginning stages, your messaging is going to be tweaked and refined, your branding is going to be tweaked and refined. And I don't want this to be something that you spent a ton of time on, because you have so many more important things going on. Also, at this stage, even if you're not going to get on social media just yet, which I don't recommend that you do, definitely grab all of those handles. So you want to go to all of the social media outlets, whether you're going to use them or not. And claim that handle so that at some point, when you're ready, you have it and you can control that. And you have that all ready to go. So everything is clean and consistent across all channels. So that's really where I want you to start building your goals, making sure everyone's on the same page and figuring out exactly where you're going, what you're doing, and what your main priorities are.

So for this next stage of business, you've probably got some wins under your belt, maybe you've run that first capital campaign, maybe you have your location, maybe you have the first steps towards being able to serve the population in the community that you want to serve. So now people are probably really starting to get overworked and overwhelmed, your board is probably looking for additional volunteers, you might be getting ready to hire some people to take over some of the tasks. And so this is where it is critical to remember where you're going. As we start to layer in some marketing efforts here, to grow your donor base to build that network to get more people involved. We're very much in a brand awareness phase in our business, and we can do so many things. So we don't want to tax our existing volunteers. And we want to make sure that we're hiring for the right roles. So going back to our goals, what is it that we want to accomplish? Where are we going? And then who is it that we're talking to? So it's really important at this point, before you even really start to dive into social media. Who are we talking to? Why do they care about what we're doing? And what action do we need them to take? This is going to make it really easy then for you to say, Okay, well, then we're going to go ahead and layer in Instagram, or we're going to just do a Pinterest strategy, or we are going to go to YouTube. You don't need to do them all at the beginning. Please don't, because it's going to be way too much all at once. But it will help you determine where you start because you want to be where your ideal donors or your ideal community is already. Not where you want to be. Not what's easiest for you, not what a volunteer has great experience doing but where your people are. And there's a lot of ways to figure this out. You can take a look at the demographics that you have, that all platforms publish about who's to like, who are the big people on their platform, you can survey your existing donors and see where they hang out, just ask the question. And that's where you want to start. This is also a good phase to start to beef up your website, you probably now have wins under your belt that you want to share, you probably have a more refined message. So now's a great time to pull more effort into your website. Again, it still doesn't have to be complicated. It shouldn't be crazy. Homepage, about page, a services page, a donation page. Really, that's all you need. And really start to refine those calls to action and refine what information you're putting on the website based off of the goals that you're trying to achieve. Now, I'm sure you're probably saying, well, our goal is to raise money. Okay, but are you raising money for an upcoming capital campaign? Are you raising money because you need to have a regular source of income coming in? Are you putting information on your website because there's grants that you're applying for and you want to have that information readily available? Are you going into an enrollment period, and you need to put out registration materials like really making sure that you know what those goals are, because there can be a lot of different things. And we don't want to ask people to do too many things. So let's figure out exactly what needs to be on that webpage and exactly what information we need people to do. Action we need them to take so that we can continue trucking along towards our goals.

Now, the other big thing that we're layering in at this point is really making sure that we have a strong email strategy. I love email. It is incredible. It has great ROI better than anything you can do in the digital space. And it's something that needs to be built early. Because we don't want to lose those people that are coming in early, we want to make sure that we are engaging with them on a regular basis and continuing to fill them in. They're early adopters. They're the people that care about us that gave to us in the beginning, that are helping us build this dream and support this mission. So we need to communicate with them on a regular basis and show them that we are not only responsible with the funds and the time that they've given us, but that we're making progress, because when we show that we're making progress, they might decide to give a little bit more and continue to keep helping you through this process. So you can do this through something like ConvertKit, or Active Campaign, I know Active Campaign does have a discount for nonprofits, you could use MailChimp, you could use the email system that is in your CRM, whatever it is, but just make sure you're capturing them and sending them at least once a month, I would love to see you sending weekly emails and we have other episodes about that on the podcast that you can check out if you want more information on email marketing, I'll try to link up some of those in the show notes of this episode. So we're kind of getting more of the foundation in the bones, if you want to start doing some social media stuff, great. But really, let's focus on getting the website up with the messaging that is talking to who we want to talk to, action that we want them to take. And that we are starting to solidify our email marketing strategy. So we can continue to communicate with the people that are currently giving to us. They're the ones that are going to refer early people to our organization as well. And so keeping them happy and keeping them informed and keeping them engaged is critical.

So once you kind of have this done, now it's time to really take a look at your organization and figure out what do you need support with? So do we need to hire somebody that can write copy? Do we need to hire somebody that can help us with some design of the website? Like what does that look like? And that's really going to vary depending on the skill set that you have within your board and the volunteer base around you. Okay, so once we kind of have that foundation built, and we're working more now, now maybe we're more consistent, we have our fundraising coming in consistently, we've got a donation page on our website, so we can take information there, we're emailing our list regularly. And so we're getting funds coming in that way, we've got our websites, supporting our grants, you know, all of these kind of foundational things are working. And now we're ready to kind of take it to the next level and scale in a little bit of a different fashion, right, maybe grow or monthly donor campaign, maybe it's go after some bigger sponsors, it might be now you're going into another capital campaign phase to add multiple locations or to get those contributions that you know, that you need for the next phase of your planning. So we're still going to go back to our goals, I will always, always, always, always, always bring us back to that because it is so critical. Because there's times when we have now, more money coming in, then maybe we expected Right? Or we have donors that come to us and say, Well, yeah, I would love to give you X amount of dollars if you add on this particular service. If you don't know exactly what you're doing, it can be easy to be like, okay, yeah, we'll take that money, like that's 10 grand, that will help us out a ton. But by the time you actually layer in what the project is that they want that money to go to, it might actually end up costing your organization more money. Because you have to implement something that's not actually part of your goal. Maybe it's adjacent, but it's just not where you are right now. And same if you happen to have an influx of funds come through, that's a great problem to have. But if you aren't rooted in your goals, then you don't know exactly how to spend it. And you don't want to waste that money. Because at some point, it might not be there. On the flip side, if you're really, really struggling and things aren't coming in the way that you wanted them to. By knowing and being rooted in your goals, it makes it really easy to make those decisions on what stays and what goes. So always coming back to those goals. Now, at this point, you're probably doing much more activity. So content creation on your website, writing blogs, and yes, I love all organizations to have blogs for a few reasons. Number one, it's great for organic search for people to find you for people to learn more about you. Number two, it provides value and it gives people a reason to keep coming back to your website. It also gives you something that you can put out in your newsletters on a regular basis. It also creates the content you can put on social media on a regular basis. And then number three, we have access to the Google Ad grant as nonprofits, which is a $10,000 a month ad budget that you can spend in Google ads. Having content on your website gives you something to run those ads to to drive more traffic to your website. You're not just going to drive traffic to your homepage. You're not just going to drive traffic to your event registration page. I mean you might but more likely, you're going to be driving traffic to a blog or a piece of content that provides value. So people can learn more about you. So at this point, really figuring out your content strategy, continuing to do email and maybe layering a little bit of social media, maybe you've already done one platform, now it's time to add another, or just figuring out what it is that you want to be putting out there in a public way. That's really the next piece. And the content piece is something that I know a lot of organizations struggle with, especially on a regular basis. So that's why I think it's critical. If you have your goals, then it's easy to create the content around it. So let's say my goal is to increase registration in our after school program by 25%. Right? It's a very measurable goal, we can tie that to income that that's going to generate for our organization, it might also be tied to we need that number of kids in our program to apply for this grant, because they have a minimum, you know, it can be tied to all sorts of these different things, right, it might be a sponsor that wants us to come back to them when we reach a certain capacity. Because we need to be maxed out before they'll help us, you know, put money down for this new location that we're going to be right that could be tied to all those things. But that's our goal, we need 20, we need to increase our enrollment by 25%. So then, it's really easy to start writing content about what the program is like. And we're not just going to write a blog post that says, you know, come to our sign up for our after school program, because we provide enrichment. And here's the things that we do all day. And this is what the day looks like you can have a post like that. But instead, it could be way more impactful to talk about one specific program or multiple programs and multiple posts. So maybe you have a music program. And so you write a blog post that's all about the value of young children having access to music at an early age. So that's, you know, it's just providing value. So if parents are doing research, why do I care if there's a music program, or talking about exercise in different types of exercises you can do at home, with your kiddos on a snow day, whatever it is, but you're providing value that's directly related to the services that you offer. And then they can dive deeper and get more information on you as you go. So that's kind of that next piece. So after that, it's really kind of just rinse and repeat. Right? Making sure that on a regular basis. And as you have board members that come and go, everybody's on the same page. As far as these are the main goals that we have, I always encourage organizations to have a list somewhere of all the great ideas that come up in meetings that you can revisit at another time to say No, not right now. But these are great, because sometimes we forget about those. So have that list of things that you can do in the future. Layering in your marketing activities slowly as you go. Do not try to do everything at once. And always remember to come at any marketing activity from the lens of who I'm trying to target. Who are my ideal donors? Who are our ideal community members? Who are the ideal volunteers who are ideal sponsors? And where are they? Not where are we? And where do we want to be? And who do we have? Where do we have expertise, but where are they because that's what's going to translate things into conversions and getting people more engaged in your organization. So that's just a quick down and dirty. I mean, I obviously didn't cover all of the marketing tactics that are out there or all the fundraising tactics that are out there. But I hope this, kind of, can break down for you. ways to think about how you go about your marketing, and just take some pressure off, like give yourself some grace, it's not all going to happen at once. It's a noisy marketplace out there. So the more authentic you can be to you and the people that you want to target, the easier it is going to be for you to cut through that voice. You don't need to be something to everyone. And that's okay, so with that, I hope that this was a helpful episode for you. I hope that you will subscribe wherever you listen and make sure you head on over to thefirstclick.net/YouTube. So you can check out the video versions of these episodes if that's how you like to listen as well. And I thank you so much and I will see you in the next one.

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