marketing plan

Building Better Content: How to Improve on Social Media

We’re continuing our theme of content marketing for the month, and this week we’re focusing on one teensy, tiny thing (joking, it’s huge): social media! Love it or hate, it it’s here to stay! So, we might as well learn our way around it and benefit from it.

Social media marketing is a huge part of content marketing. Why? Because you can quickly and easily use social media platforms to advertise and share content to your target audiences.

Over 70% of Americans are using social media! Not to mention pretty much everywhere else in the world. These platforms are massive and they literally help you reach millions of people. This is where you need to be spreading your message and promoting your business or organization, and you need to do it right.

The content you share on social media has the ability to attract your target audience and turn them into loyal customers or supporters. That’s why this is so important. It’s also the perfect opportunity to interact with your audience, whether it’s answering questions, addressing concerns, or just showing your appreciation!

Listening to your audience and understanding what they like and need will help you create more engaging and effective social media content. In turn, you'll improve your content marketing strategies and grow your nonprofit or social enterprise. But how? Let’s break down social media content marketing and the components you need to maximize your business exposure, easily.

Building Better Content: How to Improve on Social Media, content, marketing, SEO, blog

Your first step: conduct a content audit on all of your current social media platforms.

This is your starting point to building a better social media presence. You need to evaluate what you have already done, assess your strengths and your weaknesses, and determine how you can improve. A simple content audit will allow you to see what posts have performed best and what topics your audience likes most, eliminate posts that are outdated or no longer relevant, locate gaps in your content, and generate new ideas. The goal is to create better content and increase traffic.

This doesn’t have to take long, only an hour or so! It depends largely on how long your social history is, and how in-depth you’d like to go. Just sort through your social media profiles and evaluate what you’ve posted. Most social media platforms, like Facebook and Instagram, also have really helpful post and profile analytics, and data on business pages that you can take advantage of. These usually show you how posts are doing in terms of likes, reach, engagement, etc.

It’s also important to look at how often you are posting. If you have a social media profile linked on your website that you rarely if ever touch, it’s probably a good idea to remove it! You don’t necessarily have to delete it, but you don’t want to promote something if your last post was four months ago….or let’s be honest, four years ago. So, let it go!

Developing a simple content plan for your social media profiles will also save you time and stress.

After you conduct your audit, we also recommend starting some sort of spreadsheet for current and future social media posts, if you haven’t already. Or a calendar! Here’s a good example from Curata. This is a more broad, long-term plan setup for content ideas, but it’s still good starting point.

Content Plan for Social Media, Blog, SEO, organization

This will help keep you organized and serve as a great reference tool should you ever need to go back and quickly and easily find a post. To go more in depth, I recommend creating a spreadsheet for each platform and then listing the date of the post, the content, and any links or outside sources you included. It doesn’t have to be super complicated, however, you can also add analytics later such as how many people were reached, the number of likes, etc. Knowing any of this information will make future audits easier, too!

Laying all your content out in a spreadsheet will help you see what items, events, holidays, etc., your organization needs to promote at a glance. Then you can fill in any gaps with more day-to-day, behind the scenes, or fun posts that also fit with your brand. Here’s another simple example of an Instagram plan for a service-based business.

To help develop your plan, ask yourself a few questions. What are your goals? Is it to get the viewer to visit your website? Do you want to gain more email subscribers? Do you need more donations, or more sales? What do you want the overall tone of your profile to be? Funny and lighthearted? Serious and issue-oriented? What kind of content does your audience want? Is it mainly photos, text, or videos (I’d definitely recommend using them all.)?

These questions will also help you generate content ideas. Figure out the answers and let that drive your content creation. Brainstorm ideas and get them in writing, then develop them further.

If you’re still stuck on what kind of content to post, here are some ideas:

  • Guest takeovers: Have someone on your staff or that you know talk about a relevant topic to your business/organization, something they are an expert in, or if they are an influencer, they can draw new fans to you with their perspective on your work.

  • How-to posts: Share helpful tips and advice with your audience.

  • Behind-the-scenes: Give your audience a look into the background of your business or nonprofit. This makes you more personable and approachable, too!

  • Do a Q&A session live on Facebook, Twitter, or on an Instagram Story. Be sure to engage with audience!

  • Create visuals like infographics to demonstrate how your business or nonprofit is making a change. Quotes are always popular, too.

  • Video is enormously popular right now, whether it’s live or recorded. Talk about your mission, show off your work, introduce your team, promote your events...the possibilities are endless!

  • Reuse and recycle: Are there previous pieces of content like blogs, videos, interviews, podcasts, etc., that you haven’t promoted in a long time? Or maybe they only lived on your website and never made it to social? See what you already have available that should still the light of day again.

  • Conduct a poll: This is another great way to interact with your audience and get their feedback. Facebook and Instagram Stories offer built-in polls you can use, making it super easy.

  • Show your viewers what a day in the life looks like for you or for another key member of your nonprofit or social enterprise. You can do this via photos, video, or story!

  • Share your favorites: This could include books, podcasts, movies, products, another business...anything you think your audience will like or benefit from! Give some recommendations!

It’s a good idea to mix evergreen and timely content. Evergreen content is content that stays fresh and relevant for a long period of time. Like an evergreen tree, it never dies. Timely content is content revolved around more short-term situations that won’t be relevant in a few months. For example, a holiday, event, fundraiser, promotion, etc., would all be considered timely content.

Both types of content are important. Timely content shows what you are actively doing and evergreen content will always be useful. You can continue to repost and repurpose it. A good rule of thumb here is the 80/20 rule. Eighty of your content is evergreen, 20% is timely.

Speaking of time...

Consistency is key in social media content.

You have to make sure you can stay consistent in developing and putting out content on social media. If you don’t, people will forget you or won’t even bother following you. You have to stay on their minds and in their feeds.

I know this may seem daunting and overwhelming—there are so many platforms to keep up with! However, I think it’s better to consistently keep up with just a few, strong platforms than to try to keep up with all of them, spreading yourself too thin, and then end up neglecting some. So, pick a few that work for you and your audience and make them your babies.

The most used social media sites right now are Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. These are the four I would recommend keeping up with and building a presence on. Familiarize yourself with these platforms and what they can do for you and your business. Here’s a quick guide.

You also need to determine where your specific target audience hangs out the most, though. That may differ from business to business. Try to see where your audience congregates and then make those platforms your top priority.

In terms of how many times a day or week you should post and when, this also varies by platform.

 

According to the Content Marketing Institute, posting on Facebook once or twice a day, monitoring Twitter all day, and spending time each day on LinkedIn is the best.

Studies also show that at a minimum you should post three times a week to Facebook. Once a day is optimal, but you can build. Three times a day on Twitter is the minimum, 15 is optimal, and 30 is maximum. You want to post about three pins a day to Pinterest, twice to once a week on LinkedIn, and post once to three times a day on Instagram. Again, you can always start at the minimum and build up from there once you get the hang of it. Find what works for you!

As far as times of day goes, here is a good article on the best days and times to post to each social media site. I would also highly recommend setting up a social media calendar or using a scheduling tool like Buffer, Smarterqueue, or Hootsuite.

These tools will make your life so much easier. You just write your social media post, add an image or video, schedule a day and time, assign it to a profile, and you’re done! No more worries, it’ll just automatically post to your profile when you scheduled it to. Here’s more on that.

See, social media isn’t so scary anymore, is it? You just have to determine your audience, find what works best for the both of you, and then get organized. Once you start brainstorming and getting the hang of things, you’ll be surprised how quickly ideas flow!

But, again, the point here isn’t to overwhelm you. It’s to help you evaluate what you’ve done so far, make a plan for the future, and start posting great content consistently. Your consistency may be slow right now, and that’s fine. But creating a schedule and plan to follow will help you and your followers.

Social media content marketing: check. Come back next week to learn more about maximizing your blog!

 

Read the other posts in this series:



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Building Better Content: How to Improve on Social Media

Megan Westbrook

Megan Westbrook holds a B.A. in journalism with a focus in public relations and a minor in Spanish from Georgia State University. An aspiring writer, her interests reside in blogging, social media, content creation, design, and photography. She is also a passionate social justice advocate and interested in nonprofit or cause-focused work. Megan is currently a receptionist at Servcorp in Atlanta, Georgia. 


8 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Launches (And How to Fix Them!)

Every launch is a big deal. It takes your valuable time and resources, not to mention oodles of effort. So, whether it's the launch of a new website, a book, a campaign, an event, or a product, it needs to get the job done. After all, you don't have time to waste. I know this because I know many others like you, and you've got too much on your plate for missed opportunities.

But what happens when a launch is just okay? Or maybe it's good, but it wasn't as good as you'd hoped. Or, sadly, what if it flops? (Even successful launches have room for improvement.)

No matter which of these situations you find yourself in, I've observed a number reasons throughout my career in marketing, PR, and events (among other things) that may be causing you to unconsciously sabotage your launches. I'll touch on eight of them here. But don't worry, there is hope! I'll also show you how to fix them so that your next launch is your best yet.

(PSST—This is part of a series on launches. View Part 2 and Part 3.)

8 Ways You're Sabotaging Your Launches (And How to Fix Them!)

1. Not Having a Launch Strategy

This is probably the biggest issue I see. From annual events to one-time launches, many organizations don't have a launch strategy in place. The launch is done because it's that time of year, or someone told you it needs to be done, or your visionary leader had another great idea.

None of those are inherently bad reasons, but if you don't know how to integrate them into what you're doing, you'll never ensure success. 

I like to think of launches like a bridge because they should have connection points on either side. This means, you figure out how what you're already doing leads into them, and how to connect people to what you regularly do after they're over. They should never "stand alone" because you'll either confuse your audience by this new thing, or not give them any reason to stay connected to you.

Additionally, you need a plan. It's a bad idea to just do whatever task comes to mind each day, or tackle what seems urgent at the time. This means nothing you do is building on each other, and you'll only ever feel scattered as you work on the launch. Yuck, no one wants that.

The fix: While I don't have time to go into great detail here (and could talk about it for hours), the biggest and best action step I can give you is to ask yourself what you want attendees or participants to do after the launch. Then make sure you communicate that to them and provide easy solutions to make it happen. Launches are short-term, and there's a lot of relationship that can happen after they're over. Having a strategy in place offers you the best chance at turning interest into engagement.

You can also check out my launch strategy guide, Promote With Purpose.

2. Not Changing Your Regular Promotion Schedule

It doesn't matter if your organization consists of you sitting at your kitchen table or an army of staffers, interns, and volunteers—launches require a lot of extra effort. This means that whatever you normally do for your promotion schedule has to likely be dramatically stepped up for a short time.

So, let's say you send a monthly newsletter, post on social media a few times per week, and write a blog twice per month. And that's already a challenge because of your other responsibilities. Here's the bad news: for a launch, you'll probably have to double that. Here's the good news: it doesn't have to be for long.

If you've been paying attention to social media, you know that those lovely, little things called algorithms are always changing. And this isn't always in your favor, sadly, especially without paying for it. So, you're going to have to fight harder for people's attention. And that means posting even more frequently.

And, unfortunately no, this doesn't mean you just post about your launch a bunch more and call it a day. You need to increase your content marketing strategy so that you can "sell" more without annoying your audience. If you don't increase your promotion schedule, or you only post a bunch more about what you want people to do for you, like buy or donate, you run the risk of no one seeing your message, or even losing fans.

The fix: Gear up, baby—it's go time! Make room in your calendar for the extra time you'll need to increase your promotional schedule. Or, even better, get help. And create a plan for what you're going to say and when, so that you're spreading out helpful, intriguing, or delightful content in between asking your audience to do something that benefits you.

 

3. Not Considering Your Audience

This may seem like an odd one to include, but it can easily happen when you've been doing the same event for a long time. In cases like these, we tend to do what we've always done, without giving it a lot of thought.

The problem here is that things can change over time. Maybe you hosted an event for people who knew your organization well, but now people attend who don't know you as well, or at all. Maybe you launched an awareness campaign years ago, but the issue is widely known now. Or maybe your previous fundraising goals just won't cut it with the new programs you want to include in your new budget, and you need to attract more people, or people with more money.

Without considering this aspect, you may be communicating incorrectly to your audience. Or you may even be drawing the wrong people.

The fix: Spend some time looking at the history of your launch, including examining the original purpose and those who have previously participated. Decide if it's still doing it's job, or if changes need to be made. When we don't continue innovating or evolving, something that was once successful may become mediocre.

4. Having Too Many, or Unclear, Calls to Action

This one is super hard! When we actually have the attention of potential customers or donors, we want to tell them all the things. We want them to buy or donate, join the email list, come to our next event, volunteer, and on, and on, and on. This is because there's so much to do—and it's all great! But the more you give people to do, the less they're probably going to do it. (Here's some sciencey stuff to back me up.)

Even when you have someone's attention, you likely only have it for a short time. So, it's important to not overwhelm them. Additionally, you don't want to make participation hard. Always lower the "barrier to entry" for taking your next step. 

  • Click a link to donate or buy.

  • Download a freebie.

  • Lend your name to the petition.

  • Refer a friend.

  • Share on social media.

  • Register at this link.

These are all quick and easy examples. Unless it's your mom or a super fan, giving them too many options just means you'll lose their attention even faster—and you may not get it back.

On the other hand, maybe your calls to action are unclear. You avoid being super promotional and salesy, which I totally understand, but that could mean your audience doesn't actually know what you want them to do. You can space out the hard "asks" between some softer ones, or work up to it, but you need to leave no interpretation for what action you want them to take.

The fix: Reexamine your process and communication. Ideally, make sure you're only asking them to do one, maybe two things if they're really easy, and double-check that the language is crystal clear. 

 

5. Not Having All Hands on Deck

Launches often fall on the shoulders of a couple of people, and that's okay. Sometimes there aren't any alternatives. But if this is a major initiative at your organization, everyone needs to have a hand in promotion. 

Even at small businesses, people tend to leave the communication efforts to the people working on the launch, as well as the official channels like the company's email and social media. After all, everyone has more than enough to do already, right? But if you think this way, just consider all the other promotional avenues you're missing out on. Everyone has different personal and professional networks they can talk to.

The fix: This post goes into more detail, but make it easy for people to talk about you. This includes internal and external relationships. Especially when we're referring to employees, stakeholders and boards, volunteers, interns, etc, everyone should be up-to-date about how they can help meet the launch goals. And even if you're a solopreneur, you should make sure that you're talking about the launch on both your personal and professional channels anyway. These cross-promotional efforts can give you twice the reach.

6. Not Promoting During and After the Launch

It's easy to think that the end of the launch is the end of the project, but that shouldn't be the case. Instead, you should use that momentum for even greater results, both now and later.

I've worked on an untold number of events over the years, so this is where I see it happen most often. Too many people promote events before-hand, and then the day/night of, don't promote much at all, and even less after, unless it's just to slap a Facebook album up on their page. This is a shame, because it's another opportunity to set up your next event while you have people's attention.

Can you live Tweet or hop on Facebook Live, give people who couldn't attend the chance to see what they missed and make plans to be there in the future? Did you send out an email directly after the event to showcase the highlights, whether written or in video clips, and give links or a save the date for the next event? Have you considered send a press release to local or national media that detailed what took place, and what will happen in the future, to get greater exposure?

And outside of events, this strategy works for other launches as well. Those examples aren't exclusive to in-person events. Let's go back to that first item in this post and think about "what's next" for those who attended/participated, as well as those who are sad to miss out. Using the bridge analogy again, you can lead people where you want them to go with your organization.

It could even simply include thank you notes, following up with large donors and sponsors, or even a survey. All of these are additional "touch points" that allow you to build a deeper relationship with fans and potential fans. This long-term approaches leads to greater sustainability. 

The fix: You've probably heard that it's easier to go deeper with your current audience than it is to fine new ones, and that's absolutely true. You're already spending your time and energy on this launch, so don't miss every opportunity to nurture the relationship. Think of ways you can continue building on the launch, both during and after, to capitalize on the effort you're already putting out. It will likely also make the next launch better.

 

7. Not Taking Time to Evaluate

There are undoubtedly tasks, projects, meetings, and obligations piling up while you're working on your launch. So, it's kind of a big relief when it's over. And you might take some time to celebrate, but it's short-lived because there's something else that requires your attention.

You go-getters may even schedule a follow-up meeting to assess what went right and what went wrong. That's excellent, but set aside enough time to give this evaluation the attention it deserves. An hour before lunch probably won't get the job done when everyone is more concerned with what type of sandwich they're ordering over how next year could be better.

When you don't take the time to properly evaluate your launch, you're doomed to repeat the same mistakes. Heck, you may not even fully realize your mistakes. Ouch. This can lead to all kinds of problems, including spending money unnecessarily, which is probably all of our biggest fear.

The fix: Have people take notes before, during, and after the launch with their suggestions. Also, have them jot down, and voice, what went right. You need to be sure to celebrate the big and little things too. And, as mentioned above, schedule plenty of time for a recap meeting. As time passes, memories get cloudy, so this should happen soon after the launch. Finally, get clear on your action steps, and document them well for the next time.

 

8. Not Getting Extra Help

Um, have we talked about how much hard work it takes to pull off a launch? #understatement

Whether you're flying solo or have a support team, you may need additional help with your launch. It can get overwhelming really fast, especially if you wear multiple hats. I've heard too many stories that include words like, "I meant to do that, but I didn't have time," or, "Oh, I completely forgot," or even, "I have no idea how to do that." 

Yikes, that's not what you want from your launch experience! If you know you won't be able to do it all, don't have the necessary experience, or even if you find out during the process that you can't do it all, don't be afraid to ask for help. I realize it may cost more time or money, but let's face it, your BIG launch is at stake here. This is a short-term investment that could pay off big in the long run.

The fix: Not hard to figure this one out. You may have to be creative in your approach, but there is usually a solution not far away. Think interns, volunteers, co-workers, bartering, and of course, hire if you need to. People like me are available to work on projects, meaning we won't stick around for office pizza parties if you don't want us to.

Your launch is really important, so do everything you can to make it a success.

 

(PSST—This is part of a series on launches. View Part 2 and Part 3. Ready to go to the next level? Check out my launch strategy guide, Promote With Purpose.)



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Every launch is a big deal. It takes your valuable time, resources, and oodles of effort. So, whether it's the launch of a new website, a book, a campaign, an event, or a product, it needs to get the job done. However, there are at least eight reasons that you may be unconsciously sabotage your launches. But I'll show you how to fix them so that your next launch is your best yet.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

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.


#Eclipse2017 Marketing Lessons

I don't know about where you live, but Atlanta had #Eclipse2017 fever for weeks—and we weren't even in the path of totality, where the sun would be completely blocked by the moon. But there were apps, websites, news coverage, and huge shortages on ISO-certified glasses everywhere you looked. It was a fun frenzy to be a part of, honestly. I was totally into it. However, even after anticipating it for a couple of months, I still found myself unprepared. In the end, I had a great time, but it was also a tad chaotic.

And it was easy to make a few parallels between this unique experience and the world of marketing. So, be a business nerd with me for a minute, and just go with it . . . 

Here are four marketing lessons we can draw from #Eclipse2017.

1. Plan Ahead

Did you get your circa Back to the Future ISO-certified eclipse glasses? I almost didn't. I literally got my hands on a pair less than 40 minutes before the big event. I had been thinking about this moment for weeks and weeks leading up to it, but kept forgetting to pick up free glasses or buy them, and then when I put some real effort into it just a few days prior, they were, of course all gone. Like, long gone. My friend and I managed to buy a pair from a guy who's friend didn't show up to watch with him. Whew!

Marketing lesson: Good marketing doesn't just happen. If you don't live in the world of business communications as I do, there are plenty of other things to occupy your mind and your time. Believe it or not, sometimes it's even hard for me to make the time. And if you don't consider it to be one of your skills, it's easy to let marketing slide or get pushed to the back burner. But you can't expect people to buy, donate, or show up without some real effort on your part. I know there is already a lot on your plate, but stop and think about your marketing. Put together a plan, even a loose one to work from. Read a book, listen to a podcast, or get on an email list that will teach you more about marketing. The better you get, the more your organization will thrive.

2. Have a Backup Plan

I ended up enacting Plan D for my eclipse experience. Plan A was to win one of the cool trips I'd registered for, which would've meant watching it in either Portland or Nashville. Long shot? Absolutely, but how fun would it have been! Plan B was to buy glasses and go watch with my friend at her house because her daughter was napping and she couldn't get out. But I couldn't find any to buy because I waited too long. Plan C was to go to a local event that had glasses for sale. This is what I thought was happening up until it didn't. Another friend came with me to this event, but when we arrived, they'd already sold out of specs. That's when Plan D evolved. 

We were standing in line for this event, but we didn't know if the line was for drinks, or to buy the glasses. So, I tapped the guy in front of me on the shoulder and asked. He said it was for drinks, and that they'd already run out of glasses. Gahhh! But he said that his friend didn't show up and that he'd sell us his extra pair! So, we grabbed those because it was almost 2:00 p.m., and the eclipse was happening at 2:36 p.m. here. We'd just have to share.

Marketing lesson: Maybe not every time, but at some point, something in your marketing plan will go wrong. (My experience is that it's usually technology-related.) Maybe it's a bad wifi connection, a glitch with your email provider, an event speaker gets sick or misses their connecting flight, the product doesn't get shipped on time, or your computer crashes and you know you were supposed to, but you haven't backed it up in six months even though you got a notification to do so the day before. It could literally be anything. The point is to have a backup plan, or three. Expect that something will go wrong, because it easily could. And do a happy dance when it doesn't!

3. Share the Experience

As you've already seen, I didn't plan very well for this historic moment. It wasn't until last Thursday when I actually started hunting for glasses. And I was sick last week and over the weekend, so even though I'd been excited for the eclipse, my enthusiasm was quickly waning. It wasn't until Sunday that I reached out to my friend to attend the viewing party with me. She showed some interest, but we didn't even make firm plans until around 11:00 a.m. on Monday!

I woke up that day still feeling pretty drained from being sick, so I'd almost resigned myself to just watching the eclipse on TV from my couch. I was about to text her that I wasn't feeling up to it, when she reached out to see if we were still on. So, I took a moment, remembered that previous excitement, and put together a plan. We ended up having a great time, and a fun, shared experience.

Marketing lesson: If you are a solopreneur or run a small business of just a few folks, it's very easy to get used to doing things on your own. This may be because it's just easier, you don't have the resources to pay others, or have a hard time delegating. But whether you're in the middle of a launch, promoting an event, fulfilling a product order, administering a service, or just dreaming of what's next, it's always more fun with a buddy. Conversations with others may give you new ideas, good feedback, inspiration, or one of another dozen awesome things. Even as a solopreneur, doing everything alone is a choice. Make plans to involve others, even informally. Your organization will be better for it. After all, you got in this business to help others. So, let someone help you.

4. Make It Last

If you're anything like me, your post-eclipse routine included updating social media with the photos you took. After that, I scoured Instagram and Facebook to see the photos and videos my friends and family captured. It was an experience worth sharing and celebrating. I also had friends that were in prime viewing spots all over the country, so I couldn't wait to see a glimpse of what they saw. It was truly an event that brought the country together, and gave us something fun to focus on after all the bad news we hear every day. I'll certainly be watching for those photos and videos in the days to come.

Marketing lesson: One of the common mistakes I see by organizations is that they host an awesome event, but they only talk about it before-hand. They don't promote it much during, and rarely after. Those are two prime opportunities to get your audience excited about your next event. Likewise, if you put a lot of time and effort into a launch, but never update your peeps about how it went, you're missing the opportunity to keep them in the loop and tell them how important they were to it. Or, do you put a lot of work into writing blog posts, but never actually promote them? It's unlikely people will just sit around waiting with baited breath until your next post. You need to market it! I've heard that 20% of the effort you put into your blog post should be writing it, and the other 80% should be marketing it. Your words may be incredible, but if no one knows to read them, they won't be very effective. Go the extra mile. Make it count, and then make it last.

So, did you watch the eclipse? Where from? What did you think?



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER: 

Here are four marketing lessons revealed by #eclipse2017.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

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: Understanding Your Audience

Each month, I invite guest contributors to speak about timely, relevant, and sought-after topics that are important for cause-focused organizations like yours to be aware of as you grow. For August, I've invited my friend, Jen Gordon, to share about uncovering the hidden desires of your donors and customers. Understanding your audience will be a key to your success.

Uncover the hidden desires of your donors and customers.

Q. What are the latest trends in your industry?

A. What I’m seeing lately is a trend toward companies identifying their marketing strategy first, and then outlining the tactics they will take to align with that strategy. By “strategy," I mean really digging into the hidden and unspoken desires of your prospect, and developing your approach to that audience around those wants.

In the past I’ve seen marketers using tactics like, “Hey, let’s send out a direct mail piece like the one I saw from XYZ organization.” Or, “Oh, let’s send an email campaign about our next fundraiser,” before truly identifying why their prospects would want to engage the content.

There has always been interest in the marketing world around the psychology of marketing, but today there is a lot more content readily available about the psychological drivers that cause prospects to take a certain action, to leave, buy, or donate. Nir Eyal writes a blog that focuses on consumer behavioral triggers and habits. Though most of his work focuses on software development, the concepts he teaches are applicable to any industry.

Q. What is the biggest mistake you see people making in regards to what you do?

A. One of the mistakes I have seen many times over the years of creating landing pages and sales funnels is that business owners may have a short-term plan or campaign they want to launch, but don’t have a clear roadmap for the year in terms of where they want to be in 30/60/90 days or six months, etc. They generally know what they want to achieve, but the path getting there is often unclear.

Right now, I’m working on a marketing calendar (with some inspiration from this SEJ post) for my own product, the Hope Deck, using Google Sheets, Google Calendar and Trello—all free tools!

Q. What is your best piece of advice?

A. If you aren’t trained on how to uncover your prospect, donor, or customer’s hidden, unspoken wants/desires, then find someone who is. :) Learning how to do this while working on the Hope Deck has completely changed how I connect to, and communicate with, my audience.

It has allowed me to understand how I can bring the maximum amount of value to my customers. I no longer assume that I am a part of my target audience, which I have done in the past. My mind is open to a wider range of problems people want to solve, and emotions they want to feel or not feel.

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

A. Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. I created a spreadsheet for the Hope Deck where I am in the process of identifying my customer’s unspoken desires. Don't get overwhelmed. Keep it simple to begin, and then edit or expand it over time.

Q. Anything else we should keep in mind?

A. The best way to uncover these hidden wants and desires is to actually talk to your customers or donors. I’d recommend recording the conversations, if possible, so you can review them later and pick up on details you may miss in the moment. Another option is to get them in writing through emails or surveys. You'll then use their language when speaking to them in your emails, social media, and any other communication pieces, so that it's familiar and relatable.

And be sure to ask them open-ended questions about why they choose to partner with, donate to, purchase from, or do business with you. Most of the time they won’t express their hidden desires outright, but you can infer from their answers what is important to them, and from there brainstorm motivation, emotional triggers, and things like that.


Jen Gordon is a momma, artist, and entrepreneur based in Atlanta, Georgia. For the past eight years of her career, she’s specialized in conversion centered design, working closely with marketers and business owners to increase sales by testing and optimizing their sales funnels. Her geeky passions include finishing stuff, brain rewiring, crafts of any sort, and anything Dolly Parton has ever said or sung. :) You can find her latest creative project, a collection of inspirational postcards, at www.HopeDeck.com.



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

Start figuring out what your audience really wants—not what they need, but what they want. Uncovering the hidden wants and desires of your audience will be a key to your success.

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

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.


Stop Wondering What To Do Every Day

Do you wake up each morning and have to reprioritize or reevaluate that day's To Do list? Are you continually getting lost in your list, or do you waste time on tasks that don't matter? Is asking you to fit marketing into your routine just crazy talk?

If you answered yes to any of those questions, hopefully today's post will help. 

Stop wondering what to do every day.

It's "Marketing May" here on the blog, and so far we've covered marketing basics, like what the heck is it and why you need it, as well as the latest trends.

And last week, we also talked about marketing plans, defined them, and stressed their importance. They are a valuable document many people tend to overlook, but they can be enormously helpful in defining priorities, even at a weekly and daily level. And once the work of creating your marketing plan is done, you're way ahead of the game!

The next obstacle, now that you have a plan in place (if you don't, more below), is figuring out how to execute it on a daily basis. Small business owners and employees like you have a wide variety of items on their plate. And marketing in all its forms can often take a backseat to more "pressing" matters. I totally get it. But effective marketing is how you can get ahead. It's a key to not only sustaining your organization, but growing it. And who doesn't want that?

Even better, you can create your daily To Do list from your marketing plan! The easiest way I've found to do this is to essentially put your marketing plan document into an Excel sheet. You can even download a copy of mine here

How to Create Your Marketing To Do List

This Excel sheet is, of course, customizable, so I encourage you to make it your own, and add any fields that you think will help you and your organization. 

Mine contains:

  • Item - Easy enough to pull right off your marketing plan. This could include print ads, email blasts, social media scheduling, and similar.
  • Date - I like to include the public date. For example, when an ad will show up in a magazine, or when the social media post goes live on Facebook. It's usually a good idea to sort the sheet by this date so the more urgent items show closer to the top.
  • Circulation - Because I was in public relations, I still like to look at these numbers. They're also helpful to see how they increase or decrease year to year. So, for a magazine ad, the circulation is how many issues are printed. But when talking about a Facebook post, you can include how many followers you have for your page or how many people saw it. Whatever you decide, I suggest including numbers that give you some perspective on how many people are seeing or interacting with your efforts. This can help indicate if your strategy and budget are working.
  • Status - I like to know where I'm at on a task. Is it complete, submitted, drafted, with the designer, etc?
  • Notes - Always a good idea!

Another option is to add a column for items that need to be updated later, like web graphics. If you're working on a launch, as an example, then post-launch, you'll need to go back and update your website, social profiles, and things like that. So, it can be helpful to have a column that triggers you to take that action.

Additionally, you might consider creating categories for big deadlines if you have a long-term project, initiative, or event. For example, the annual conference that I worked on had four major deadlines throughout the year. Opening day took place in the fall, we had another deadline before the end of the year, one late winter, and one early spring. So, I created categories on the Excel sheet to make everything easier to look at in a glance for each "bucket" in the timeline. To make this happen, you can simply skip a few lines between tasks for each major deadlines and use a colored line to separate them. Now, the entire event is still on the same Excel sheet, but I can see tasks associated with each deadline separately as well.

As you see, its not overly complicated. It's actually a pretty simple layout. But it is extremely productive, and will help you stay on task. Using this format was a lifesaver for me when I managed five events that each had their own deadlines and associated tasks.

Dig Deep

Be sure to add every item you can think of, even smaller details like changing staff signatures, or emailing staff and key stakeholders with updated information. Anything you can put on this list moves it out of your head, where it may have a chance to get lost.

I realize this format is unlikely to take the place of your current To Do list in its entirety. There are always other odds and ends that need to happen as well, especially if you wear multiple hats. However, it should go a long way in helping you organize your marketing and communications efforts so that they can become a larger priority in your week, rather than continually put on the back burner, never to be reheated again.

What if you don't have a marketing plan?

Many of you probably find yourselves in this category. But don't worry, all is not lost! 

Remember when you were in school and you had to create an outline for your research paper? Which did you do first? For me, it was easier to write the paper and then the outline, for some reason. The same principle applies here. Try creating your in-depth To Do list first, if you feel that needs your attention now. Then you'll be able to write your marketing plan from there. 

But I do encourage you to eventually go back and write your marketing plan. For all the reasons why, check out last week's post.

What now?

Whether you're creating your task list from a marketing plan, or starting with the list and moving backwards, this should make your day-to-day much easier.  It can be oh so helpful to see everything laid out in front of you at a glance rather than juggling a bunch of papers, separate lists, or keeping it locked up in your head.

Now you know what you need to do that day by referencing this task list because you have every item and deadline in black and white on one sheet. So, if you see that an email blast needs to go out in two weeks, you can work backward depending on how long it takes you to prepare it. Both short-term and long-term items are visible, helping you to manage your time better.

This will, of course, take some trial and error. If you are a person who loves systems, like me, you may adapt more easily. If you are used to playing your days more fast and loose, you may have more trouble initially, but implementing this idea will save you time and frustration because you'll automatically understand what each day has in store from a marketing and communications perspective.

As a result, you'll begin working further out, which removes a lot of the added stress of being in reaction mode or the frustration of working on projects in the wrong order. Your days can be tackled with greater intention, making better use of precious time.

Let me know how it goes!

And don't forget to download my task list template.

"This spreadsheet idea has saved my life, and made me so much more productive in the past year." - Erin J., Orange

Finally, you may also be wasting time on a few things that are sucking up your time, and not getting you anywhere. Wouldn't you love to free up some time and energy, so you can begin to focus more on what matters most? 



PIN THIS POST FOR LATER:

How to Fit Your Marketing Into Your Week

Kristi Porter, founder at www.signify.solutions

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.