Ready or not, the time has come to set your marketing and communication goals for 2021. But rather than give you a huge list of more things to do, let’s take a step back and consider how your communication strategy should evolve, not expand, after a wild year.
Sure, it’s exciting to think about new marketing tactics, social media channels, or even a new website. And maybe you’ll still move ahead with them! Just be sure to look at the big picture of what you want to accomplish and how before getting into the nitty-gritty.
What to Read Before You Make Plans
Before you start searching around for the marketing trends of 2021, take a step back and use these articles to inform and inspire your overall approach to a communications strategy.
On Digital Transformation
In addition to everything else, 2020 will be known as the year that a lot of nonprofits got their feet wet with digital transformation. That’s why Michael Reardon’s article, “Digital Transformation Is a Movement, Not a Moment” is increasingly important as you leave this year behind. As you read the article, take stock of the communications technology you’ve embraced this year, evaluate if it’s meeting your goals, and consider how you can better leverage your changing digital toolbox.
On Diversity & Representation
In “Diversity and Inclusion: An Industry of Disparity” over on the NTEN site, author Jarrett Way offers actionable insights on how nonprofit communications staff should be moving toward more inclusive marketing. From the racial and cultural composition of our teams and hiring, to better understanding and representing diverse audiences, there is still much work to be done. What are your next steps as an organization?
On Capacity Building
“Capacity” is one of those annoying insider words, and I bet it came up in some of your marketing conversations this year as you tried to do more with less. (We even talked about capacity building with websites back in February.) On the MissionBox blog, Madeleine Monson-Rosen gives a solid introduction to the importance and benefits of making additional room to focus on your mission. In “Capacity Building: What It Is and Why It Matters,” nonprofits are encouraged to take a step back and consider the big picture practices that take their focus and attention, both in marketing and across the organization. Give it a read and see if your team is ready to assess your room to grow.
On Creating Awareness
Many of the articles on Big Duck’s site can help you with brand building, but “Mindshare: How your organization stays front and center” is the one that will stick with you next year. All too often, we hear marketers and executive directors talk about creating awareness without a long-term plan to keep it going. Once you commit to building mindshare, your strategy transforms into a living, ongoing series of communications that are all about consistency rather than virality.
On Measurement & Optimization
TechSoup offers great content on nonprofit tech, and I especially appreciated Michael Stein’s educational post on “How Nonprofits Can Improve Their Digital Engagement with Testing.” Think back to the new things you tried through your communications this year. How many of those projects, campaigns or tweaks gave you measurable results that make your marketing better? Before you sign off on a strategy for 2021, take a look at some tests you might run to optimize your messages and the digital experience of your supporters.
Extra Communication Strategy Resources
If you’re looking for more advice and nonprofit marketing ideas as you head into a new year, here are some additional tips from our team that you may have missed:
- 11 Marketing Mistakes to Avoid as a New Nonprofit
- How to Power a Crisis Communication Plan With Your Nonprofit’s Website
- What a Mobile First Marketing Strategy Means for Nonprofits
- How Does Google Ad Grants Fit into Your Nonprofit’s Marketing Strategy?
- Creating & Using Nonprofit Marketing Funnels
- Nonprofit Marketing Plan: The Complete Guide to a Strategy That Works
As we say farewell to 2020, here’s my wish for all of you nonprofit marketers out there. Let the year ahead be one where you don’t take on new channels or new projects just to fill your plate or make your communications strategy seem fresh. Instead, take a step back and think about the big picture—the who and why of your marketing efforts—before the what and how.
Are you approaching your communication plan differently next year? What other marketing-related articles or ideas have you read recently that got you thinking? I hope you’ll share in the comments!