This blog post originally appeared on TechSoup, and was written by Graeme Caldwell, who works as a marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess and check out its tech/hosting blog.
Content marketing is a powerful strategy for increasing the reach and exposure of your nonprofit organization.
Nonprofit communications teams tend to be resource-deprived, to say the least. They have to be careful about where they invest limited budgets. They have a moral obligation to generate the best return on investment possible, and, consequently, are often conservative when choosing their strategies.
Content Marketing as a Focus for Smaller Nonprofits
Smaller nonprofits in particular have yet to fully exploit the benefits of content marketing. Good quality content is expensive to produce, and content production isn't the core competence of nonprofit staff who work on marketing and communications — their previous experience typically involves more traditional means of soliciting donations.
Nevertheless, I think that content marketing should be a focus for smaller nonprofits — it's so popular among commercial organizations because it has been shown to be effective. Content marketing can provide nonprofits with an owned resource that can help generate donations and volunteers over the long-term, as compared to the short-term benefit of events and other more traditional donation solicitation efforts.
What Is Content Marketing?
What do I mean by content marketing? In a nutshell, content marketing is simply the strategy of creating high-value content that attracts an audience, in the hope that some portion of that audience will convert — carry out the action we want them to, in this case donate or volunteer.
Let's be clear what I mean by content in this context. I don't mean sales copy, or copy created to elicit donations. I don't mean self-regarding reports or company news of interest to no one but the organization's management team. I am referring to content that, while related to the area in which the nonprofit operates, is designed to be valuable to donors and volunteers.
It's true that professionally produced content is expensive, and if you're going to get serious about content marketing, you can't skimp on the quality. However, there are techniques that smaller organizations can use to expand their content footprint without spending a lot of money on photographers and writers.
A Balance Between Content Creation and Curation
Without content creation, there can be no content marketing, but that doesn't mean a nonprofit has to produce a blog article several times a day. If you choose to go the blog route, it's just as important to share the work of other creators.
In fact, the ratio of sharing to creating can be skewed in favor of the former. Sharing great content is a good way to get the attention of others in your niche, and they'll often be more than happy to share your content in return, expanding your potential audience.
Smart Content Reuse
A blog can be a hub of content marketing efforts. With content management systems like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, or many others, it's easy to create and manage a blog, and also have a publication platform for a wide range of other content as well.
But publishing content on a blog doesn't have to be the end of the journey for that content. Many commercial organizations will take their blog posts, bundle them up, add some extra material, and publish the result as an eBook.
Although a blog is often the core of a content marketing strategy, there are many other forms of content that nonprofits can try — some of the most effective include podcasting, video, and online educational courses.
While nonprofits may hesitate at the idea of investing money in marketing strategies beyond the tried and true donation solicitation techniques, content marketing has a proven track record of providing a substantial return on investment over the long term.
Image: Ingrid Archer / CC BY-SA / text edited