marketing

Holiday Marketing: A Stress-Free Way To Make Better Content

One of the questions I’m frequently asked by clients is what they should post on social media and send in emails. And, at first, it seems like a no-brainer, right? Cause-focused organizations have plenty to talk about! Awesome work, touching stories, saving the world….

But I get it. Sometimes you just need something different to talk about. Or maybe you want something a little more light-hearted. Or maybe you want to show off the personality of the brand rather than the mission.

In these cases, I always turn to holiday marketing. Not just “THE holidays” like Thanksgiving and Christmas, though they are relevant, too. But holidays in general. The mission-driven ones like Giving Tuesday, the formally-observed ones like Memorial Day, the fun-to-observe ones like Valentine’s Day, and even the wacky ones like National Hug Day.

They can all serve a purpose—and provide some content for your email and social channels. Intern Jessica Brannigan will explain just how easy it can be, AND give you a holiday marketing calendar and guide to get you started!

Holiday Marketing: A Stress-Free Way to Make Better Content

Holidays are a time for friends, family or a population to come together. Your online viewers, your customers, and even your employees are talking about holidays. Holidays are meant for exploration, explanation, and feeling. They’re also a wonderful source of inspiration and ready-made content.

Conversations surround events such as Christmas, Small Business Saturday, and Strawberry Ice Cream Day. But even when the dialogue is already started, nonprofits and social enterprises may still find it hard to create posts online. Holiday marketing, however, can be the solution that allows you to be more active online, as well as engage current and promising fans. 

Start trending, go viral

The truth is, you should be using holidays in your marketing. Holidays can be an excuse to celebrate, or a time to explore tough issues. As a nonprofit or social enterprise, seize the opportunity to expand your consumers’ sentiment... they could one day become customers or donors. Use it as an excuse to let them to know you are concerned with history and current events. For example, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a prime time to bring up concerns on equality. The same is true for International Women’s Day. 

When something is trending online, it is almost impossible not to see it. Why go to your calendar to check the date when you can go on Instagram! You will know it’s the Fourth of July by the number of firework pictures posted, and all of those pastel dresses and ties will tell you that it’s Easter.

On National Donut Day it seems the whole world is taking advantage of every donut shop’s special offers. (Because who doesn’t love a sale on donuts?) But what would happen if one donut shop chose not to post on Nation Donut Day? Did you just shudder at that thought?

Explore and express your brand

Insert your organization into the online holiday chat. Take this opportunity to show off your creative or compassionate side. People want to know there are human beings behind those logos and websites.

Find holidays that fit with your brand and voice. Post about those first, and then find a few more abstract holidays that you believe will allow you to shine! 

Major holidays are a chance for an organization to let the world know that they see what is going on in the world and care enough to have a say in the matter. November is not just the time to start those year-end campaigns. It is a chance to let your customers know you’re thankful for them. Acknowledging the world around you can go a long way in the minds and hearts of your customer and donor base.

Holidays can also be a time to take a stand on an issue. The “Me Too” and End It movements are two great examples. Though you may not be directly involved with either of these, show your audience you care by choosing a corresponding holiday to express your thoughts about them. Perhaps chose International Women’s Day on March 8th, or Social Justice Day on February 20th. 

Not all holidays are joyous, unfortunately. Tragedies, whether related to your mission or not, are a time to show you can stay strong for those around you. Show them you are always there to lend a hand to the broken. There are plenty of ways to do this. For example, after the Las Vegas shooting, Signify retweeted and posted ways to give blood on our social media. After a natural disaster, one can post links credible donation organizations. It can be that simple.

Do you need to participate in all holidays? Certainly not! Who has the time? But you don’t want to miss the important ones, and if relevant, you definitely do not want to throw away the chance to be funny during National Humor Month (April)!

Identify what content to create

Now that you understand the importance of holiday marketing, you’re probably thinking, “Okay… now where do I start?”

Let’s talk about tips and tricks to doing this holiday thing right. Create a solid foundation and start building!

How to represent your organization.

Your nonprofit or social enterprise has a voice in this world. It has a look and a feel that your customers recognize. When it comes to posting online, you must be able to connect back to your brand. When starting something new, like holiday marketing, it can be easy to stray. You want your customers to see your content and not be confused about where its coming from or who wrote it.

So, before you start writing posts, make sure you have a solid understanding about how you want to present your company, what your consumers are interested in seeing, and how they want to see it.  

Will you only choose holidays that specifically align with your company’s mission? Will you choose more light-hearted or thought-provoking holidays? What is your most popular medium to reach people? Is it through email, Instagram, blog post, or podcast? Make it a point to better understand why people are visiting you.

After trying the holiday marketing tactic, evaluate your success. You want to know if your customers actually enjoy the increase in holiday-themed posts, emails or discounts. You can look to find if your sales were boosted by this method, if you can add more emails to your list, if more people engaged with your content or followed you, or if you simply find it easier to post on a regular basis. However you view success, go ahead and measure your results! 

This is an opportunity for creation… but don’t overdo it. 

This is your chance to get creative! Keep to your brand’s colors, fonts, and imagery, so that people know it’s still you, but don’t be afraid to experiment a little either. Make people want to keep following you in hopes of seeing more stimulating content.

Keep your message simple, though. You will lose your audience if it takes you 10 minutes on your Instagram story just to tell your audience Happy New Year. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point. Have good visuals and know how to match your tone to what your followers want to see. 

Once you finally grab their attention, use it to your advantage. Be mindful of any calls to action that should be included. Is it a good opportunity to ask for a donation, make a purchase, collect an email or read a blog post? From time-to-time you may want to create a message that goes beyond a one-and-done statement.

Plan your marketing strategy ahead of time. 

Keep that creative momentum going and prepare posts in advance. If you write multiple pieces around the same time, your tone will flow, your campaigns will coincide, and you will be ready to post when the time comes. Stress free!

Make a list of the holidays you want your nonprofit or social enterprise to be involved in. Useful holidays are just a Google search away. Several resources for holidays and conversations include Days of the Year, this Signify blog post and TimeandDate.com.

After you have your list, create an easy system for managing it. Add holidays with alerts or reminders onto your organization’s calendar or use a note-taking system such as Evernote to systematize thoughts and ideas.

Want some more inspiration, or example holidays to get you started? We’ve created a Holiday Marketing Calendar and Guide for you below!

The holiday has passed… now what?

If it’s a holiday you’ve built a campaign around, be sure to send a thanks or update your list with wins or results. Make them part of the process, not just part of the ask. This will keep them wanting even more of you, and leave them on a positive note.

If you miss a holiday, stay on top of things! Immediately add it to your calendar and tackle it next year. That’s the great thing about a holiday—it always comes back around!



Jessica Brannigan

I’m Jessica Brannigan. I’m an upcoming senior at the University of Georgia majoring in public relations and minoring in studio art. I am working towards a career in content creation or graphic design!

I am a fan of the mantra “act confident and no one will question you,” and I strive to use this to make a difference in the world.

LinkedIn | Portfolio



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER

Nonprofits and social enterprises sometimes find it hard to create posts online. Holiday marketing can be the solution that allows you to be more active online.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.

How to Make Time for Marketing

One of the common complaints I hear from clients is that they have trouble making time for marketing. And I totally get it.

Even as a marketer myself, there are weeks when it’s a struggle for me. We are all busy people, and especially when marketing isn’t a skill you already have, it can be hard to move from good intention to action.

No matter what kind of social impact organization you lead or serve at, I know there are a lot of demands on you. A lot of people need your time. A lot of tasks need your attention. A lot of fires need putting out.

But I’d encourage you to make time for marketing. Why? Well, first of all, you’re already doing it in some capacity. If you have any sort of process for communicating with the people who buy from you or donate to you (like social media, email, and events), you’re a marketer. So, you might as well strive for making it more effective.

Second, as you can see from the statement above, marketing is non-negotiable. Your nonprofit or social enterprise may be sitting pretty right now, but that may not always be the case. So, strengthening your marketing muscle is worth the investment. And, just like getting in shape, you only get stronger with time and practice.

Third, and building what we’ve already talked about, if making time for marketing isn’t a regular practice, you’ll never find extra time for it. Like most everything else, something you don’t deem as a current priority will never beat out “more important” tasks. Unless there’s a crisis. So, do yourself a favor and start easing into the habit now, before you’re forced to find the time in a state of panic.

I’ve got good news, though. There are any number of ways to fit marketing into your busy schedule. Today, I’ll tell you about four of my favorites. I’ll even give you a few tools to help maximize your time, as well as a suggested “bare bones” marketing strategy.

How to Make Time for Marketing

Fitting Marketing Into Your Busy Schedule

One simple Google search will probably give you numerous other tools and ideas for tackling marketing on a weekly or monthly basis, but these are my favorites. I don’t take credit for any of them, and I’ve tried all of them. I also recommend them all on a regular basis because I think each one has a lot of value.

1) Planning Your Week in 15 Minutes - Podcast episode + Workbook

I know it sounds too good to be true, but Steph Crowder has come up with a really great process for planning her weeks. Like a lot of us, she has a schedule that fluctuates constantly, so her system accounts for that. it was a technique she developed because she couldn’t find a planner that fit her needs.

Steph’s method is a variation of the popular “rocks, pebbles, sand” illustration. You look at the immovable “rocks” in your schedule like meetings and appointments, add in the “pebbles” which are important tasks that need to get done, and then finally fill up with “sand” which are less important tasks that should get done but take up time, yet remain flexible. Hint: the “pebbles” are where the magic happens. Click the link to hear her explain the process on her podcast. It’s worth a listen whether you decide this is the right route for you or not.

One of my good friends loves this system, and uses it regularly. The other great thing about it is that you only need a sheet of notebook paper. So, you can grab one of those beautiful $70 planners if you want, but it’s totally up to you!

2) Learn Time Blocking

There are a lot of ways to utilize time blocking, which is one of the reasons I like it. You can block minutes, hours, or even days. But the point of it is to set aside a chunk of time for a specific task—and nothing else.

For example, I typically practice “Marketing Mondays” and “Follow-Up Fridays.” On Mondays, I generally write blog posts, schedule social media, create additional content, and things like that. Fridays are for wrapping up anything I need to get done for Signify before the week ends. This leaves Tuesday through Thursday for meetings and client work.

Structuring my week this way ensures I’m working on my business, not just working in it. I can make progress on moving my own mission forward outside of the deliverables I need to create for clients.

For me, it’s just easiest to have these days set aside rather than rotating them each week. That’s why this method ended up working better for me than Steph’s process. It was one less decision to make, and helped me protect my time better.

You can read more about creating themes for your days and weeks in my guest post for Orange. (I love a good theme!)

However, one of my clients sets aside 10:00 a.m. to noon each day for her marketing and meetings. Another generally works from home, so he comes to the office for focused time to work on marketing and communications. His staff knows that when he’s in his office with the door closed, he needs quiet time to get these things done.

Another extremely popular take on this is the Pomodoro Technique. Not to be confused with the sauce, this method has you work in 25-minute chunks. It’s a very hyper-focused session that can be easily replicated throughout the day. (Short attention span? This may be your best bet.)

If this is a method you’d like to test, I also recommend reading my friend Carey Nieuwhof’s post on creating an energy management list. It’s a terrific reminder to keep in mind when you personally work best, and use that to your advantage.

And if you want to become a super time blocker, look no further than Michael Hyatt. He talks a little about his “ideal week” process in this post, among other places, but he’s one of those people who treats his week like a budget, accounting for every hour. Frankly, it was just too strict for me—but perhaps that’s also part of what accounts for the discrepancy in our incomes. ;)

3) Eat the Frog

Made popular by Brian Tracy, “eat the frog” refers to a quote by Mark Twain: “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

Tracy breaks it down here, but the gist is to do the thing you don’t want to do first thing so that it’s done and over with. Then you can move on with your day.

If you have a lot of resistance to marketing, this may be a good option for you. You can remove some of the anticipation and anxiety by sheer will.

Another option, of course, is to use this rule for your biggest and/or most important marketing tasks. Once you’ve knocked them out early on, you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment no matter what happens during the rest of the day.

4) Get an Accountability Partner

if you’ve been around me or this blog for a while, you already know that I’m a huge fan of having an accountability partner or group of people you stay accountable to, like a mastermind. These people have been so helpful for me, and I think everyone could benefit from this support system.

I talk extensively about accountability partners and masterminds here, but for the purposes of helping you with your marketing, the short answer is that someone else will ask you if you got it done. You might be much less likely to skip it or move it to the back burner if you know someone’s going to be checking up on you.

Which Method is Right?

Trick question! The right answer is the one that works for you. Chose one of these options and stick to it, or try them all on and see what fits best. I most often use #2 and #3 myself, but that doesn’t mean those are the best choice for you.

Tools for Managing Your Time

Here are a few tools that save me some extra time each week, allowing for important tasks like marketing:

  • Acuity Scheduling: How many of us spend too much time scheduling appointments? Answer: almost all of us. Acuity lets me send someone a link to schedule when it’s convenient for them, without all the back-and-forth. (Calendly is another option.)

  • RescueTime: If you are unsure where your time goes each week, this software will track it for you and send you a weekly report.

  • Canva: I love Canva because it allows me to quickly create graphics for my website, blog, and social media. Once you have a template in place, it takes little time to swap out text and photos.

  • Asana: I keep track of all my tasks, as well as assign tasks to my interns using Asana. It even allows you to set up reoccurring tasks, attach files, and make notes and comments.

  • Smarterqueue: Social media should, of course, be social. But with limited time on my hands, I use this incredible tool to schedule and recycle content on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. (I compared 13 different software options here.)


Bare Bones Marketing

Note that this is bare bones marketing, not ideal marketing. But if you just need to find a way to make marketing a part of your regular routine, then here are my suggestions for incorporating it into your week. I’ve tried to keep it as simple as possible, narrowing it to the most important tasks you can knock out in one to two hours per week.

Anything you can do on top of it is highly recommended, but this is a good place to start. These are in no particular order, except for #5, so you can move them around to fit your schedule or preferences.

And guess what? This outline also fits nicely with any of the techniques above!

  • Week 1: Email your tribe - Emailing people is much more effective than social media, so be sure to talk to your audience regularly.

  • Week 2: Meet with a VIP - This could include a large donor or customer that you’re wooing, a key stakeholder already involved in your mission, or a potential sponsor or partner. Don’t wait for these appointments; seek them out.

  • Week 3: Be social - Pop into Facebook groups, post on social media, email people who have fallen off the radar, attend an event, and look for other ways to interact with peers and protentials.

  • Week 4: Create content - If you only have an hour or two at your disposal, then writing a blog post may not be possible, unless it’s a short one. But other doable options in that time frame might include a Facebook Live, “mini blog” on Instagram or Facebook, or time set aside to work on a larger content piece or campaign. You could also include being interviewed for an article or on a podcast here. I’m including this item because it’ll give you new things to talk about and promote on a continual basis to your donors, customers, partners, and fans.

  • Week 5: Your choice - Obviously, not every month has five weeks. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t capitalize on it when you get the chance! Use this week to go the extra mile on one of the above items. Alternatively, this could be an hour you set aside to regularly reflect on how your marketing has gone, and what should improve, continue or change. But I’m a big fan of reflecting more than once a year!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

There are any number of ways to fit marketing into your busy schedule. Today, I’ll tell you about a few of my favorites. I’ll even give you a few tools to help maximize your time, as well as a suggested “bare bones” marketing strategy.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I’m Kristi Porter, and I help cause-focused organizations understand and execute effective marketing campaigns so they can move from stressed to strategic. Your resources may be limited, but your potential isn’t. Whether you’re a nonprofit, social enterprise, or small business who wants to give back, I’ll show you how to have a bigger impact.


10 High Result, Low Budget Launch Marketing Ideas

A few days ago, I laughed and cried my way through the Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary about Mister Roger’s and his famed neighborhood. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it!

As a kid who watched and loved that show, it brought back a lot of memories. However, as a kid who grew up to be a marketer, I can’t help but watch everything through that lens as well. Occupational hazard! One of the things that struck me was his approach to the concept of his show. He stripped away a lot of the fanfare and gimmicks he saw on other shows, leaving room for his authenticity, playfulness, and heart for educating children on important values. And kids loved it!

Okay, so what does this movie have to do with launching, you might ask? Well, it’s that same lesson I want you to take into your next launch. People will ultimately resonate with you and your mission, not simply because of some stunt or gimmick.

Sure, there might be times when those kinds of tricks enhance your launch, but don’t come to depend on them. If you have a sale every time you launch a new product, for example, people may start to only buy at that time. After all, when’s the last time you bought something full priced at Old Navy? With a new sale every other week, they’ve trained people to wait for the next sale before making a purchase.

I’m also reminded of those launches that give away the latest iPhone or a European trip. Does anyone else sign up for all of those? I know they do because I never seem to win! However, as soon as that giveaway is over, I jump ship and unsubscribe. That’s no way to build a loyal list.

But I also realize that people also have to see and hear your mission to get on board. So, let’s talk about 10 high result, low budget launch marketing ideas that I love. There are varying levels of time and energy required for each, but I’ve seen them do great things for other nonprofits and social enterprises, and think they can serve you well, too.

10 High Result, Low Budget Launch Marketing Ideas for Nonprofits and Social Enterprises

1) Empower People to Share About Your Launch

There’s still no better form of advertising than word-of-mouth. So, why not increase yours by empowering people to do just that? And it helps when you can give them a nudge, too!

I wrote a whole blog post about this idea, but the gist is that you should provide pre-written social media samples (text, images, videos, etc.) to your staff and key stakeholders for every major launch. Essentially, you’re giving them all the tools they need to help promote with little effort on their part. If they have to think hard about it or write their own, they’re much less likely to take action.

2) Update Your Website . . . In More Than One Place

This may seem like a silly thing to state, but remember how we’re all still waiting for common sense to catch on? Yep, this goes in that category. I’m saying it because I see it.

If you’ve got a huge launch coming up, and you don’t make it prominent on your website—and in multiple places—you’re doing yourself a big disservice. It’s common to put a launch image or blurb on your homepage, but what about other pages? It might be a great fit there, too. And, depending on how someone found you, they may not even land on your homepage first, so you don’t want them to miss the memo.

3) Add Bonuses to Your Launch

Bonuses are usually my preference over discounts. This way you aren’t devaluing your service, product, event, or whatever else you may be creating. Plus, they can make your launch even more exciting, resulting in more eyes paying attention.

Bonuses are normally offered during the pre-launch or early launch phase, and examples can include one-on-one time with you, an additional product, a video series, a gift from one of your partners, etc. The options are endless!

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes sales and discounts are the way to go, but take a look at bonuses as well. “Limited time offers” fall under this umbrella, too. They’re a great way to ask people to take an action with a deadline in mind, which is often very beneficial for you in the planning stages.


4) Email Your Tribe (More Than Once)

Inboxes fill up fast, so don’t rely on just one or two emails to make your big announcement. And people often have great intentions to buy or donate, but they’re also bombarded with a million distractions every day.

So, create a series of emails to educate and inspire your tribe to take action. Find different angles of your launch to address in each one, rather than simply repeating the same information.


5) Jump On Facebook Live and Instagram Live

Over the last couple of years, video has become hot, hot, hot! For this introverted copywriter, that’s a real bummer, ha! For others it may be great news. Regardless, it’s important to sit up and pay attention. Takeaway —> You can’t ignore video!

So, it’s time to jump on Facebook and Instagram Live. What you should love about this marketing channel is that it’s super cheap. As in free. You don’t need a studio or all the fancy lighting. With the click of a button, you’re in business.

If video is new or uncomfortable to you, I suggest starting with Facebook and Insta Stories because they disappear in 24 hours. Less pressure, hooray! Once you have a little more courage, or if you prefer to force yourself as I do, give Facebook Live a chance. Video allows you to talk to your fans almost as if you were in the room with them, giving you a fantastic opportunity to talk about your launch and cause.

6) Utilize All Your Real Estate

If your organization has multiple websites, email lists, social media channels, or apps, make sure they’re all involved and promoting. This is no time to be timid!

When I was an event marketing director, our main sources of revenue were events and curriculum. The curriculum purchasers logged in regularly to view materials, and we also had an internal bulletin board on their website for announcements. So, you’d better believe I promoted events over there!

Besides your main website and social media, where else can you communicate to potential donors and customers?

7) Ask Partners to Promote Your Launch

Who do you know that can help promote your launch for free? This can be individuals or companies. It might be official partners and sponsors, or casual friends of your nonprofit or social enterprise that want to see you succeed enough to promote on your behalf.

This is a great opportunity to get in front of entirely new audiences. Just remember, however, that you may need to scratch their back in the future, too.

8) Let Your Audience In On The Process

Create ready-made buyers when you give people a say in the end result. Allowing your audience to provide ideas, feedback, or suggestions during the pre-launch phase to gives them ownership and gets them excited. They’re more likely to participate and share the launch as well.

I’ve seen authors allow their fans to choose book covers, course creators ask for suggestions, product makers seek out testers, and much more. How can you get your people involved?

9) Share Customer Reviews or Testimonials

We all love social proof. It’s the reason we seek out Yelp and Amazon reviews. It’s nice to know that someone has come before us and already loves what we’re interested in. It simply helps us proceed with confidence.

Obviously, some launches lend themselves better to this idea than others, but don’t be afraid to think out-of-the-box. If you have a fundraising campaign, for example, add testimonials to your site (and giving page) from those that have benefitted from your work or have previously donated.

Here’s an example from Signify.

10) Pre-Sale Your Launch

Wouldn’t it be a wondrous thing to have money coming in before you’ve officially launched? That’s the beauty of a pre-sale.

This is why some events allow you to purchase tickets to the following year before you even walk out the door. It’s also why movies sell tickets months in advance. And don’t forget about those books that come with pre-launch bonuses, or courses that give you a discount prior to hitting the market. The pre-sale has definite advantages for both you and the buyer!



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Let’s talk about 10 high result, low budget launch marketing ideas that I love. There are varying levels of  time and energy  required for each, but I’ve seen them do great things for other nonprofits and social enterprises, and think they can serve you well, too.

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

I'm Kristi Porter, and I started Signify to provide writing and consulting services to nonprofits and for-profit organizations with a social mission, primarily through copywriting, marketing, and business communications. I also teach solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate philanthropy and giving strategies. I believe that cause-focused organizations 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.


How Screenwriting Can Help You Better Communicate Your Brand’s Story

Today's post is by my friend and former co-worker, Hudson Phillips. Though he's continuing our series on content marketing, he's bringing us a whole, new slant on the topic that you might not have heard before. You see, Hudson's a filmmaker.

While you may not be making movies about your nonprofit or social enterprise anytime soon, you do need to learn to tell the story of your organization in a compelling manner. And a great way to share your story isn't just once a year at a big, annual event. It's over and over again, in small ways, on your website, blog, emails, and social media. This is the cornerstone of your content marketing, and the thing that makes you utterly unique.

So, grab some popcorn and chocolate covered almonds (or substitute your personal fav), and learn to how screenwriting can help you better communicate your brand's story. 

How Screenwriting Can Help You Better Communicate Your Brand’s Story

When we get cut off in traffic and storm into work ready to complain about it, we become expert storytellers. We establish the setting, we build the tension, and we arrive at the resolution. So when it comes to telling the story of our brand, why does it get so complicated?

The problem, I think, lies in knowing TOO MUCH. The more details that are swirling around in your head, the more difficult it becomes to hone in on the most important parts of your story. When telling your cut-off-in-traffic epic, do you go into the details of what color the “villain’s” car was? Do you go into your “back story” about styling your hair differently that morning? No. Because you have a point to get across (probably something like, “Can you believe that guy!”) and only the details that help further that point matter.

I wear a lot of hats between a marketing day job, a screenwriting gig by night, and running my own writing organization. But what surprises and thrills me is how often these worlds cross over. All of the above jobs require storytelling, and one of the greatest things I did as a marketer was start to apply my knowledge as a screenwriter.

The one key skill of a screenwriter over, say, a novelist, is screenwriters have to be brief. While a novelist can tell a story over hundreds of pages and a dozen hours, screenwriters have about an hour and a half (or 100 pages of script) to tell a full story. This requires some tips and tricks to stay on task. We don’t have the time or space to veer off into tangents.

That’s why when I sit down to write a script, I start with a logline. A logline is one or two sentences that sum up your story. Think of it as how you would quickly describe a movie you just saw to a friend.

The point of a logline is to better understand the story you want to tell. It becomes your story compass. When you start to get bogged down in all the details, your logline is what helps you find “north.”

A great logline covers three things: WHO the story is about, what their GOAL is, and what OBSTACLES they face along the way.

For instance, the logline for the film Jurassic Park might be: “A rag-tag group of scientists struggle to escape a remote island park whose main attractions—genetically restored dinosaurs—have been set loose by a power failure.”

For Indiana Jones, the logline could be: “A swashbuckling archeologist seeks to find the lost Ark of the Covenant before the Nazis can use its supernatural power to take over the world.”

You may have a tough time translating the word “swashbuckling” to your own company’s logline. I get it. So how do you apply this to your own organization? Start by asking three questions:

 

1. WHO is your story about?

The hero of your story is not you—it’s your clients, customers, or donors. They are the ones on a journey, and it’s your job to help them realize their goal. (And hopefully you’ve got the expertise because you’ve been on the journey, survived, and come back to tell about it.) Really try to hone in on your target audience and make it personal and unique. (Hint: your hero is not “everyone”—not even “everyone with money”). Think back to when you were at their stage in the journey and empathize with that moment to best understand them.

For my writing organization, ScriptBlast, it’s not just an organization for writers, it’s an organization for struggling writers who are learning how to navigate the rollercoaster of rejection and failure that all writers face. And I can best understand where these writers are coming from because I’ve been there, too.

 

2. What is their GOAL?

What do your donors/customers/clients want? Where do they want to be five years from now? What do their “before” and “after” pictures look like? Hopefully your organization has a clear path of getting your clients to their goal. (If not, you might want to add that service!)

The goal for any amateur writer is to become a professional writer. The problem is, unfortunately, most amateurs give up after their first taste of rejection! ScriptBlast exists in order to help writers get over these bumps through empathy, encouragement, and resources to help them a long the way.

3. What are the OBSTACLES standing in their way?

What is the biggest struggle for your audience? What’s getting in the way of their goals? How are you helping them overcome it? These are the kinds of answers that come only from experience. What expertise do you offer and how can you empathize with them?

At ScriptBlast, we recognize that failure and rejection are a regular part of a writer’s life. They get bad feedback, they get turned down by an agent or a manger, they have their film deal fall through, maybe they even have their movie made, but it turns out terribly and not what they envisioned. The obstacles are never-ending for a writer and if they don’t learn how to navigate it early on, they’ll burn out quickly.

So . . . the logline for ScriptBlast might be: We give struggling screenwriters the motivation and resources they need to become professional, working writers as they face the emotional ups and downs of failure and rejection.

Okay, now that you know how to create a compelling logline, what exactly do you do with it? Do you just post it above your desk and hope for the best, or is it something you can actually use in your daily grind?

Here are three, practical uses:

1. A logline gives you a clear path for your website.

Struggling with writing marketing copy for your landing page or home page? Cut and paste your logline! It's a perfect hook that tells your audience exactly what you do and what problem you can help them solve.

2. A logline gives you a checklist for social media.

When you’re creating weekly content like a blog or social media posts, your logline acts as a guide. Before scheduling out your posts, you can ask yourself “does this support my logline or take away from it?” A logline helps keep all of your content focused and your messaging clear.

3. A logline gives you an elevator pitch for investors.

You’re probably already familiar with the term elevator pitch—reducing the mission of your company to a short enough time-span that it can be explained in a brief, elevator ride. A logline gives you a script for your elevator pitch. Memorize it. Have it ready to go next time you happen upon an investor or potential client/customer/donor and need to get your story across before the instrumental version of The Girl from Ipanema finishes.

Now, take a moment to write your own logline. I’d love to see examples in the comments below!

 

Read the other posts in this series:


Hudson Phillips of ScriptBlast

Hudson Phillips is a designer, screenwriter, and producer living in Atlanta, Ga. His first produced feature film, This World Alone, will be released in 2018. As founder of the organization ScriptBlast, he cultivates community and creates resources to help screenwriters navigate their careers. He also produces and co-hosts the podcast Four Friends Fight About Film.

ScriptBlast.com

Facebook.com/groups/ScriptBlast

@hudsonphillips



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When we get cut off in traffic and storm into work ready to complain about it, we become expert storytellers. So when it comes to telling the story of our brand, why does it get so complicated?

Kristi Porter, founder of Signify

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.


ASK THE EXPERTS: CONTENT MARKETING 101

One of the issues I hear a lot from clients and others is that they don't know WHAT to post on social media, write in their blogs, or send to their email list. They know they should be engaged in content marketing, but when they sit down to think about it, they get stuck. 

Maybe #allthethings come to mind. Maybe nothing comes to mind. And inevitably, if you sit down for more than five minutes, there will be another fire to put out, and so posting on social media and emailing your tribe moves to the back burner...again.

But content marketing is a terrific bang for your buck over the long term. It's an investment. (Don't believe me? Check out this terrific Inc. Magazine article.) However, you have to actually start for there to be a long term, right? So, building on last month's writing advice, this month is dedicated to helping you figure out your content strategy. We'll help you navigate what to say, so that your fans have something to cheer about.

Up first is my friend Jennifer Garrett of See.Spark.Go. To kick things off, she's going to break down content marketing in general so that we're all on the same page for the rest of the series. There is some fantastic information in here, so listen up!

Ask the Experts: Content Marketing 101

For years, marketers have thrown around the cliche that content is king. And in a world of fake news, a new social media channel every day, selfie videos, and the over-saturation of every news feed, good content is crucial.

But the overnight success of homemade videos or that Instagram page with unbelievable photos and no followers proves that the best content in the world does not lead to success—alone.

Content marketing is serving the right content to the right audience at the right time. It’s understanding who you are, who your audience is, and where you intersect. No longer is your competition the person down the street serving the same clientele; you compete against every other message your audience receives on any given day.

Understanding how to create and use your content—and generate content from your audience— to tell your story allows you to intersect your audience when and where they are looking for you.

What are the latest trends in content marketing?

Whether you’re swiping through the news feed of your favorite social media platform, reading a blog, or flipping through a magazine, story-driven content attracts attention and engagement. Stories provide connection, relatability, and drive action. Real people whom your organization serves or stories of those advocating for you or serving with you authenticate your message better than any infographic ever will.

Currently, the mediums that are best telling those stories are video—live in particular—and influencers. The algorithms of the major social media platforms prioritize live content (i.e., Facebook/Instagram Stories), any video, and then everything else.

Even as algorithms change and adjust, social media consistently prioritizes content from a person over a business. Which takes us to the rise of the influencer. A mom of twins with 3.9 million followers or the college student foodie getting 300,000 likes per ice cream cone is leveraging the combination of grassroots endorsements with the type of content their audience wants. An influencer doesn’t have to have thousands of followers, though. They only need to have a voice for your cause. Is there an advocate who reaches a segment of your audience (big or small; existing or potential) who would be willing to post about your organization or someone whose message and platform could be shared through your channels to bolster your message?

 

What is the biggest mistake you see people making in content marketing? 

The hardest decision for the owner of any story to make is what’s most important. So often, we see organizations and leaders who are too close to their story and think their audience needs to know everything about them. Blasting every message, every month with slightly different language becomes white noise in a world that’s already in a shouting match.

A lack of definition of your key messages, spread out in a cohesive, strategic timeline prevents even your most engaged followers from understanding what you want them to do.

What is your best piece of advice?

Know what you want your audience to do before you determine what you want them to know. Everything feels important to you when you developed or own a story—every event, person, donation, result, and new initiative is something you want your audience to know because you care so deeply. Take the request “Tweet about this today” or “make this email really quick” out of your vocabulary.

If you understand your end goal, you can work backwards to take your audience on the right journey and filter out the confusing, extra calls to action that would take your audience away from responding to what you actually want them to do.

 

What is one thing readers can do this week to improve?

Create an editorial calendar. It not only allows you to streamline your messaging and tell a cohesive story across multiple channels, it allows you to do more with less. Create big rocks of quality content that can be used in long-form to move followers down a path to action, and then piecemeal the content into chunks to use across other channels (blog > email > social > text).

 

Anything else we should keep in mind?

Mediums constantly change, but the fundamentals of content marketing have not. Understanding who you are, who your audience is, and what you want them to do determines your content. All of the changes in social media, online platforms, print, and video simply change the presentation format.

 

Do you have any resources that would be helpful so people can learn more?

Listening and monitoring tools that tell you the demographics and behavior of your audience is critical. Sprout Social and other social media monitoring tools allow you to see the make-up of your audience and who is engaging with your content. This allows you to strategically write long form captions for the women who dominate your Instagram feed, for example, or add more requests for donations to your Twitter posts if that’s what’s driving results.

Quality content is still king, but it can only reign if you are delivering it to your audience where they are and in a way they want to consume it. Only data and reporting can keep you from throwing spaghetti up against the Facebook wall each month.

If that doesn't seem doable right now, the best resource I can recommend is your curiosity and engagement with content outside of your industry. Consuming podcasts, blogs, social media, and video by successful brands and organizations inspires new ideas and allows you to see different formats (long captions, subject lines, or calls to action) that could work for you. Are quote graphics, short sizzle videos, or profiles of team members what catch your eye when you're scanning social media? Or why do you open emails from certain brands?

Donald Miller's Story Brand and the How I Built This podcasts are two of my favorites, and Fast Company is not only my go-to for what businesses are up to, but I use the way they present content on social, through newsletters, and long-form in their magazine online as an example all the time.

 

Like this post? Stick around for the rest of our content marketing series this month! We'll be covering storytelling as a tactic, along with blog, social media, and email content marketing.

 

Read the other posts in this series:

 


Jennifer Garrett of See.Spark.Go

Jennifer Garrett is Vice President of Content and Creative at See.Spark.Go, a PR agency that provides full-service marketing communications. Her deep understanding of editorial content and process brings structure and vision to SSG’s clients and team. When she isn’t maximizing SSG’s expertise, content creation and ideation, she enjoys playing soccer or tennis with friends, serving on the Refuge Coffee Company board, and gathering friends in and around her Atlanta home.

IG: @jenngarrett

Twitter: @JennG_



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Content marketing is serving the  right content  to the  right audience  at the  right time . It’s understanding who you are, who  your audience  is, and where you intersect.

Kristi Porter of Signify

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.