New year, same old marketing? Rather than jumping on the latest marketing trends, resolve to keep your marketing program in good shape by setting some achievable marketing resolutions for your new or small nonprofit. No diets or gym memberships required!

(Unless you’re into that sort of thing, in which case I recommend some version of marketing prancercise.)

Ideas for Marketing Resolutions

Just because your organization doesn’t have a full blown marketing team doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot for big goals like increasing online donations, boosting community awareness or growing the number of advocates.

But building the foundation of all these things requires some housekeeping that’s challenging when you’re the only staff person running the marketing show.

Since there’s a lot of marketing nonsense that we’ve asked nonprofits to stop doing, here are some practical areas where you could focus as you create goals and plan tactics for the next year.

› Write Down Your Plans

Few nonprofits take the time to write down their general marketing plan for the year, which makes it pretty hard to set and stick to priorities. I would guess even fewer put together a concrete plan for social media or a special upcoming campaign.

Challenge yourself to make a strategic marketing plan this year. It could be as simple as a one page summary of the results you want to see, the projects or tactics that will help you achieve them, and some different ways you can measure success.

Be realistic about your communications goals (and budget), but don’t be afraid to stretch a little beyond what you think is achievable right now.

Already rocking a marketing plan? Consider these related marketing resolutions:

  • Conduct a six-month check-in on your goals, whether you’re a staff of one or have a small team working on your marketing. Adjust your course as needed to stay on track.
  • Create/update your target audience personas to make sure you’re sending the right messages in the best ways to the people you want to reach. Use our personas template.
  • Build and maintain an editorial calendar for your whole organization – or just one of your communication channels (like a blog) to start.

› Standardize Your Look and Feel

When you’re just starting out, or maybe don’t have a designated marketing person, it’s not uncommon to feel like your brand is half baked. Maybe your logo is used in a lot of different ways or you haven’t had time to create a few basic rules about fonts and colors.

While these things might seem minor, fully baking your brand now only makes things easier as you grow and want to build a sense of trust with the public, partners and donors.

Get started by making a simple style guide for your nonprofit and refer to it throughout the year. As you make materials that are good examples of your style, add it to the guide for future reference. Similarly, identify pieces that don’t meet your standards and work to update them over time.

If your organization’s style already gets an A+ for consistency, think about these next steps:

  • Build a library of standard templates in your nonprofit’s style. This could include more internal documents like letterhead, board reports and invoices or common marketing pieces like fact sheets, presentation slides and email newsletters.
  • Audit your materials and online presence to identify and update things that don’t seem like a good fit in terms of design as well as the writing voice. This could include newsletters, your website, social media profiles, brochures and more.

› Streamline Internal Processes

While other nonprofits are chasing crazy crowdfunding dreams or the latest social media platform, you’ll be glad that you’re investing a little energy in your processes. Creating efficient and effective ways of doing marketing work is the key to scaling up as your organization grows and your goals get bigger and bigger.

Honestly, there’s always room for improvement. Here at Wired Impact, we spent a good chunk of time this year reworking our editorial planning and blog writing process to better reach our content goals.

For you, it might be that you finally transition from a spreadsheet of data to a real donor or member database. Or maybe you’ve been wanting to send out newsletters in a new way that means less steps.

As you think about your internal processes, would any of these marketing resolutions help you get to where you want to go?

  • Sync online donation processing with your database to automatically collect data about your donors, making sure no one falls through the cracks.
  • Organize your email list so that there are different segments you can easily reach out to, such as donors, volunteers, partners and media contacts.
  • Try a social media scheduling tool to reduce the time you spend writing and publishing. Or simply use built-in tools like scheduling Facebook posts in advance.

› Put Your Content to Work

This year, resolve to work smarter, not harder, when it comes to the content you create. Each new thing you make, whether it’s a blog post, newsletter or page on your website, can probably be repurposed and shared in at least one other way.

As an added bonus, repurposing your content helps ensure that different target audiences get a chance to see it. You can never count on someone reading a specific email or seeing that one social media post. Just be careful not to cut and paste the same message over and over  – customize it for each channel, audience and time you share.

Another way to make your content work harder is to set a mini goal for each new piece of content you create. Will it inspire people to engage? Better explain a complicated policy? Give it a purpose BEFORE you start writing or designing and you’re more likely to make something that has clear value.

Feeling pretty good about this already? Try these related resolutions on for size:

  • Do a full website content review, making updates to outdated information, formatting content to be more readable and adding links to other pages on your site to make it easy for people to find what they’re looking for. We have a whole guide you can use!
  • Keep your blog fresh with regular posts, including stories you’ve collected from your constituents. Develop a standard distribution plan for your different types of posts, like posting story excerpts on social media or including posts with helpful tips or resources in a monthly email newsletter.
  • Test your online donation experience from start to finish. Revise or add content at every step as needed to inspire giving and show gratitude. This could mean adding a testimonial to your Donate page, adding a Thanks for Donating page or customizing an automated confirmation email to be more personal and offer next steps.

› Keep Track of How You’re Doing

Listen, I get that measurement and data analysis get a big eye roll from most people. As soon as you start to dig in to numbers and reports, there are A LOT of deep, dark rabbit holes to fall into that bring up more questions than answers.

But… there’s no getting around the fact that figuring out how to measure the effects of your marketing efforts is actually really helpful.

Let’s start out with the easy wins. Remember that written strategic plan you’re going to make? It should include clear marketing objectives based on your goals.

Some of those measurements could be quantifiable (increase email subscribers by X number of people) or more like targets based on a timeline (complete this project by June). For first time goal setters, making a wild guess is perfectly acceptable. The more you pay attention to data, the better you’ll get at setting goals and adjusting practices based on the results.

Got your goals and measures of success ready? Consider these measurement resolutions:

  • Add Google Analytics tracking to your website and learn how to filter out traffic from your own organization/staff to get more accurate information. There are also other free trainings available to start learning the lingo and where to look for different information.
  • Benchmark last year’s marketing performance based on the metrics you’re planning to track this year so that you have helpful comparisons. If it helps, use a spreadsheet to compare this year’s activity to the same time frame last year. For inspiration about what to track, check out M+R’s 2017 Benchmarks Study for nonprofits.
  • Conduct at least two analytics reviews before the end of the year so that you still have time to adjust course and meet your goals. If you’re feeling extra fancy, expand your reviews beyond website data to look at social media and email marketing, too.

› Hone Your Professional Skills

Your marketing resolutions don’t have to be all about the job at hand. Are there any professional or technical skills that you’d like to explore this year?

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the traditional marketing box. Building skills related to budgeting, cultural competency or program evaluation can offer long-term benefits to you and your organization.

Resolve to be your best self! Find free webinars, training, resources and more with our mega professional development opportunities list for nonprofit staff.

Improve Your Marketing This Year

Developing an effective marketing program takes time, regardless of the size or budget of your organization. It also takes courage to try new things or reach for a goal that seems far away.

As you consider your resolutions for the coming year, I hope you’ll carry this message with you:

Marketing Resolutions Thoreau Quote

Have you already decided on some marketing resolutions? Or are you struggling with where to go with your marketing this year? Let’s chat in the comments.