Part 3 in a Series of 5 Posts on Building a Content Marketing Strategy for Your Nonprofit...
When it comes to creating mission statements, nonprofits have one monumental advantage over businesses. Whereas a business is driven by profit, an NPO is driven by mission.
Not that earning profits is bad (yay, capitalism!), but nonprofits always start with a mission as their reason for existing. Having purpose why you do what you do builds the foundation for a strong content marketing program.
So, get your engines fired up! Let’s do some exploring together. In 5 steps, you will be able to document your content marketing mission statement!
I will base the framework for creating a content marketing mission statement on the teachings of two well-known champions of content marketing: Content Marketing Institute (CMI) and Convince and Convert. While much of what they do is geared towards the for-profit space, I’m presenting it here through the lens of a nonprofit.
To give you a bit of a refresher on content marketing, a survey focusing on the nonprofit sector (conducted by CMI and Blackbaud) provided this definition:
Content marketing is a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive action.
While the practice of content marketing has been around a very long time (watch this video), content marketing is a fairly new practice to the nonprofit space.
A true content marketing approach is about delivering valuable content to an audience that changes a behavior that you seek to change. Content has the power to create trust between your organization and your audience of supporters. Trust is the lifeblood of your organization.
To get you ready to write a content marketing mission statement, let’s explore 4 areas: goals, audience, experience, and “that 1 thing.”
Step 1: Goals
What are your organization’s goals for creating content?
You need to know why you are creating content. The “why” will provide the purpose that drives your content marketing strategy.
A few thoughts on your “why” of creating content…
The creation of content cannot merely exist to support your fundraising campaigns, projects, and programs. How often does your nonprofit decide to host a fundraising event, then the marketing group is expected to support the decision makers with a collection of online and off-line campaign materials?
Instead of acting as an on-demand group, the folks in marketing need to sit at the table and be strategic partners. They need to share in the nonprofit’s efforts to guide their organization to success through developing an audience as the priority, not as a “fingers-crossed” hopeful outcome of a fundraising or program initiative.
If you are not sure where to start, Robert Rose from CMI suggests identifying where your organization hurts the most. Do you need to create awareness? Do you need to keep donors? Do you have a hard time distinguishing yourself from similar nonprofits? Focus intently on that one pain point first. You can always ramp up your content areas later.
Your Turn: Write down your content marketing goal(s). Think about what the main result is that you want to achieve through your content.
Step 2: Audience
Next, you need to define and document your core target audience.
First, let’s be clear about one thing: everyone is not your audience. Sure, you’d love if every single person everywhere felt as passionately as you do about your cause and nonprofit.
The reality is, though, that you will have better results with a clearly defined core audience. You will want to aim your content so it directly hits the bullseye every time. As the saying goes, if you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one.
"I cannot give you the formula for success, but I can give you the formula for failure, which is: try to please everybody." ~Herbert Bayard Swope, American Editor
Your core audience is the one you think about every time you develop any content.
So figure out who you are creating content for and how they (not you!) will benefit from the value you deliver. Your core audience wants to be the solution to a problem. They want to know that you understand them and their concerns for the cause.
For example, if you are a humane society, your audience is not everyone who lives within a certain geographic area. That is too broad. A more defined audience would be families within 10 miles of the humane society and who have adopted pets within the last 10 years.
(Perhaps an even more detailed audience would be a woman between the ages of 35 and 50 who lives within 10 miles of the humane society and who has adopted a cat, dog, rabbit or guinea pig within the last 5 years.)
Your Turn: Define your audience and document it. What type of individual will help you satisfy your goals as a result of benefiting from your content?
Step 3: Experience
What is the content experience that you will deliver to your audience and what is the outcome for the audience?
This may seem strange to you at first. After all, delivering an experience certainly isn’t in the traditional marketing handbook. It wasn’t that long ago that the brands with the big budgets would have control of the distribution channels. Brands would blast out their advertising to the masses. It was a one-way messaging street. With such few advertising channels (print, TV, radio), this approach worked pretty well.
Then the internet happened.
Today, the consumer is in full control of the content consumed. Content is on demand. As a consumer, you decide what time you will watch your favorite TV shows. You decide what music you listen to. You decide which websites and social platforms you visit. You decide which emails to read. You are in control of your experiences. (When was the last time you clicked over to Google and typed this into the search box: “I’m not sure what I’m looking for. Just give me whatever you want.” Exactly never.)
So, how do you get attention?
Give people a great experience! Organizations must ask themselves, “How can we deliver content to people that will add value to their lives and help us change a behavior that we seek to change?” Keep in mind that you want to create an audience that is thrilled to receive your content because, void of all the calls to action, the content itself is valuable.
Content marketing provides the right content to a targeted core audience with the kind of experience they are looking for. No more simply pushing out promotional content. Give your audience a valuable experience and they will reciprocate with changing a behavior.
Your Turn: Think about and document the value your content sets out to provide. Does it teach something?Does it tell a story? Does it give insight into an issue? Be specific. What is the ultimate outcome benefiting your audience?
Step 4: That 1 Thing
What is the one thing that sets you apart from others in your space?
This is my favorite part, mostly because it can be a brain bender. This is that 1 thing that differentiates you from the other nonprofits in your market area. Jay Baer from Convince and Convert calls it “The One Thing.” Joe Pulizzi from Content Marketing Institute calls it the “Content Tilt.” No matter what name you give it, the essence of ‘that 1 thing’ is your unique value that only your organization can provide.
If you don’t capitalize on that 1 thing you do that is different from everybody else in your market area, you run the risk of fading into the background. Your organization can’t afford to go unnoticed.
Your Turn: Think about and document the answer to this question: What is the unique content experience that only your nonprofit organization can provide?
Step 5: Putting it All Together into a Content Marketing Mission Statement
Now that you have the answers to the important questions about your goals, audience, experience and “that 1 thing” that sets you apart from the others, it’s time to construct your content marketing mission statement.
The soul of your content marketing mission statement should be the reason your organization is in existence. This is the “why” you do what you do. What you stand for guides your content marketing strategy.
There is no one right formula for crafting a content marketing mission statement.
Here’s an example I created to show you one way. This statement would be placed on the website for all to see:
Whether it’s animal care and training tips or insights into the plight of shelter pets, the Friends of the Animal Shelter strives to help you, our pet-loving neighbor, enjoy your pet and understand the needs of homeless pets in our community. Everything we do here is designed to empower you to have a wonderful and long-lasting relationship with your pet and to inspire you to join us to ensure that all pets in our community have homes.
Your Turn: Now, create and document your content marketing mission statement.
***More Content Marketing Mission Statement Examples & Templates! If you’d like more examples of content marketing mission statements and some templates, I found this helpful article from Andy Crestodina at Orbit Media.
You did it!
This was Part 2 in a series on Developing a Content Marketing Program.
Part 1 explains what content marketing is and why you should develop a content marketing program.
Part 2 drives home the need for a content marketing program by showing you 5 big mistakes you might be making with your content.
Part 3 gives you the tools you need to write your content marketing mission statement.
Part 4 describes how an argument transforms a pile of facts into an engaging story and how to find YOUR story.
Part 5 helps you develop audience personas to better enable you to resonate and engage with those people who need to hear your message.