It's week six of the "Foundations" series! Wow, I can believe we're already at the end of the first series on this blog! I will undoubtedly have other topics to include here over time, but I feel like we've covered the absolute basics that you need to begin, or get back on track with, your marketing and communications. With these things as your foundation, you're in a really good place to start building, creating, and planning.
Speaking of planning, today's tip is all about strategy. I think a lot of small, cause-focused organizations get confused or tripped up on their marketing and communications because they don't have a strategy in place.
IT'S HARD TO BEGIN IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU'RE GOING TO END.
The good news is that you don't need a dedicated, full-time marketing employee to create a strategy. You will, however, need advanced time and thought. It's a matter of putting in the work ahead of time knowing that it will reward you later.
HAVING A STRATEGY SIMPLY GIVES YOU DIRECTION.
Here's an example. Like you, I wear a lot of hats. And one of those is new business owner. The last few months have been FILLED with decisions, and at times, that was overwhelming to say the least. I'd been writing blog ideas in Evernote when they came to me, but it was just a list of bullet points in no particular order. Then came the creation of this website, and with that, the writing of it. So, I put off writing the first blog post because I already knew it would have an introductory focus. Past that, I was too in the weeds to consider anything else. But I also knew I wanted to have several blog posts up when the site went live. Again, other things seemed to take priority. Because, you know, there are ALWAYS immediate needs fighting for control of your time.
Soon after, I reached a decision point. I really needed to start adding other blog posts because the site was about to go live, but hadn't made any progress on what the topics would be. But I thought that I had a great list to choose from, and I'd just pick a few important topics to roll with as needed.
And then, ladies and gentlemen, I remembered that I was a marketer . . .
That was completely the wrong approach, and I would do us both a disservice if I just winged it. So, I stopped, took a deep breath, moved to a quiet location, and started putting together my content calendar. This action gave the blog and social media a strategy.
Yes, it took time I didn't think I had. No, it wasn't easy, even for someone who's more used to marketing than you may be. Yes, it was totally worth it.
By taking the time to start creating my content calendar for my blog and social media, I feel more prepared each week to tackle what's ahead. I know how every piece builds on each other, or what I'm pointing you to in order to better help you shape and share your message. And I understand that when I have a strategy in place, I'm best utilizing both my time and yours.
IMPLEMENTING A STRATEGY GIVES EVERY DAY FOCUS AND PURPOSE.
I know that most days, many of us feel like Indiana Jones being chased by that big boulder. We think that if we stop, even for a minute, we're going to get squashed. Some days, yes, that may be more true than others. But if we keep letting those immediate needs dictate our time, we'll never move into a more productive cycle. And that does ourselves, our cause, and our supporters a disservice. It also means that our marketing and communications efforts will always be reactive, never really going anywhere. That may not seem like a big deal to you, but it could mean stagnation (or loss) of sales or support, and that most certainly is a big deal to you.
I know people who have crazy detailed strategies for their marketing and communications. They have marketing plans and content calendars and detailed budgets and all the things. I want to be them when I grow up. And I'm working on it. But I'm still getting my legs under me as a new business owner, and it's going to take me a while to get there. If you think that's what you have to have too, and you find that discouraging, take heart. Start simply. Think about this month, or even just this week.
Set aside some time to put your strategy in place. If you can find an hour, make that a really productive hour focused on the very short-term. If you have a half day, think further out. If by some miracle you can find an entire day, think six months or a year out. But make this time intentional. Remove distractions. And after it's done, reap the benefits. I promise, you'll see them.
And if you need some assistance, I'd love to help. I get all kinds of giddy about helping people think through and create strategies. Nerdy, I know, but hey, we all have our gifts!
Additionally, I've created a sample content calendar that you can use for your planning. I'll talk more in-depth about a marketing plan soon!
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I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing, consulting and strategy services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing and business communications. I believe that cause-focused organizations like yours are the future of business. You're proof that companies can both make money and do good. And I'm here to help you get noticed and grow. When you succeed, we all win.