By Jeff Kline


Content Marketing for Nonprofits

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Content marketing is one of the most important marketing strategies today. It affects SEO, reputation, quality of leads, and customer/member retention. It weaves into every component of your internet marketing strategy and plays an integral role in your online success.

What Is Content Marketing?

In his book Epic Content Marketing, Joe Pulizzi defines content marketing as “a marketing technique of creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience—with the objective of driving profitable customer action.” 

The “content” of content marketing can take the form of a blog post, news article, e-book, whitepaper, video, webinar, or any other medium that focuses on engaging, educating and entertaining, rather than selling.

Of course, as with any marketing initiative, the ultimate goal is to make a “sale” (or, for nonprofits, to acquire a new member, donor, or other type of supporter). Content marketing accomplishes these goals by:

1) Attracting potential members/donors by publishing content that is useful to them. 

For example, a chamber might publish a blog post titled 10 Habits of The World’s Most Successful CEOs. This post would be interesting to the chamber’s target audience, business owners.

2) Nurturing potential members/donors by offering them content that teaches them more about your organization. 

The chamber from the previous example might host a webinar, in which a panel of current members are interviewed on their experiences with the chamber.

3) Converting “prospects” (potential members/donors) into members/donors by including an offer within your content.

At the end of the webinar, the chamber might offer a free one-month trial membership.

Now that you have a better understanding of what content marketing is and how it works, I hope you’re ready to jump on board and start learning how to leverage this strategy. But if you’re still feeling skeptical, below is my case for why you should embrace this incredibly valuable marketing strategy.

6 Reasons Why You Should Be Leveraging Content Marketing

1) Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Google’s goal is to answer people’s search queries by delivering accurate, high quality results. By predicting the types of questions your target audience is asking, and by writing useful content that answers those questions, you can increase your chances of showing up in search results.

2) Better Quality Of Leads

This is one area where inbound techniques often beat outbound techniques. By attracting an audience that is already interested in your services, there’s a better chance that some of those visitors will eventually become a member or donor.

3) Low Cost

Sure, you have to hire a writer and put in the hours, but the cost of acquiring members and donors through content marketing is much lower than the cost of advertising.

4) Member/Donor Retention

Content marketing is also a valuable tool for maintaining relationships with your members and donors. You can use e-newsletters to keep them informed on relevant industry news and your organization’s news. Blogs and videos are great ways to provide useful tips and tutorials. By listening to their feedback and responding with helpful content, you will build a loyal community of members and donors.

5) Industry Thought Leadership

In 1895, the John Deere company launched a publication called The Furrow. It wasn’t a catalog trying to sell farming equipment—it was a magazine full of articles teaching farmers about new technology and better farming practices. Today, The Furrow is the world’s most popular magazine for farmers.

The John Deere company became the farming industry’s thought leader by providing genuine, no-strings-attached advice. And now it is one of the most trusted farming equipment companies in the world.

With the right strategy, you could become your own industry’s thought leader.

6) History doesn’t lie.

In addition to demonstrating the value of thought leadership, the John Deere story proves something else—that content marketing has been around for decades. It’s not a new strategy. Jell-O created a recipe book in 1904 to popularize the gelatin treat, Michelin created The Michelin Guide in 1900 to teach drivers how to maintain their cars, and Proctor & Gamble invented soap operas in the 1930s by creating and sponsoring radio dramas.

It worked then, and it still works today.

Nonprofit Example: The Creative Coast

The Creative Coast is an economic development organization with a great content marketing strategy in place. On the blog, they regularly share upcoming community events, podcast interviews with local business owners, and entrepreneurial advice written by guest bloggers. Their content is geared toward educating business owners and entrepreneurs, rather than selling memberships.

The Creative Coast Blog



Up Next: Content Marketing & SEO

As I mentioned in today's post, content marketing has a huge impact on your website's search engine optimization (SEO). Come back next week to get a better understanding of how these two strategies work together to bring more visitors to your website. Get the latest scoop on the Google search algorithm, discover how to use keywords, learn how to write for searcher intent, and more!


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