Practical ways to improve nonprofit marketing [book review]
My interest in reading this book came through the Nonprofit MarCommunity. I was looking for a way to participate in the discussion, and thought reading a well-regarded classic was not only a good way to brush up on my knowledge of marketing in the current nonprofit context, but also act as a teaser for Kivi Leroux Miller’s new book, Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money, due in August 2013.
In the best sense, what you see is what you get. The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause offers guidance on everything you need to know to get out there and build awareness and enthusiasm for your nonprofit. It’s a must-have for small to mid-sized nonprofit organizations and other leaders including board members. It is extremely practical, and offers great suggestions for improving nonprofit marketing, no matter where you are now. Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned marketer, with a shoestring budget or some cushion, you will come away with ideas on how to maximize your efforts and make your messaging and delivery more effective. And because it is laid out in manageable chunks, you’ll be inspired to start today.
From start to finish: do the research, create a plan and execute well
Kivi truly gets the reality of the nonprofit world where time and money are limited resources. You can certainly tell she’s been staff, volunteer, board member and consultant to a wide variety of nonprofits. Reading this book is like having someone who has been in the nonprofit trenches offering helpful suggestions on how to overcome your hurdles. Whether you want to approach the book by dipping into certain sections, or read it from cover to cover, the book is organized into four sections, and further divided by supporting chapter topics:
- Getting Ready to do it Right
- Writing a Quick-and-Dirty Marketing Plan for a Specific Program
- Building a Community of Supporters Around You
- Doing it Yourself Without Doing it Yourself
The table of contents is also very descriptive, so it’s handy to be able to find what you’re looking for quickly. Maybe because it is directly relevant to a current project of mine, I found Section 2 the most helpful. It reminded me to get back to the basics of defining your audience, what you want to say, and the when and where of how you’re going to say it. Also, Section 3 had lots of ideas for navigating the new landscape of social media including how to increase your e-newsletter open rate, use of images, and adopting a social, conversational tone.
The inseparable link between marketing and fundraising
Because fundraising is always top of mind for nonprofit marketers, Kivi’s solutions always have an eye in the fund- and supporter-raising camp. While supported by relevant research, this content really comes alive through Kivi’s voice and her extensive experience. It’s a telling read as she describes her exercise of donating a small amount to sixteen nonprofits and their follow up (or mostly, their lack thereof). Again, her back-to-basics approach stresses the importance of expressing gratitude to donors, and includes concrete tips for improving thank you notes.
Coaching and the use of examples
Kivi’s coaching background shines through as she is able to draw great parallels with your daily life, so you immediately get her point:
- By comparing holiday gift giving stereotypes such as the Curmudgeonly Uncle, Grandma-Knows-Best and Well-Meaning Mom and Dad, Kivi reminds us that what we really want usually comes from the Cool Aunt, and suggests that only ten percent of organizations get their gifting model of communications right with the Cool Aunt approach.
- By comparing the development of an editorial calendar with weekly meal planning for time-starved families, you quickly understand how important planning can be. If you plan/grocery shop well, you can remix/reheat later in the week to repurpose and maximize your content/feed your hungry teenagers.
Many more examples and resources are available on Kivi’s website, www.nonprofitmarketingguide.com. Additional materials mentioned in the book are also accessible in a password-protected area.
My only criticism of the book is with her examples that are mostly US-based. It would be great to have a few more international examples to show how these principles can be adapted for different contexts. For the non-US reader, the examples of political fundraising are not particularly informing.
If this book and the resources on Kivi’s site are any indication, I’m very much looking forward to her new book and companion website, Content Marketing for Nonprofits coming in August 2013. I expect it will be just as readable and practical as The Nonprofit Marketing Guide.