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4 things you can do with low to medium tech experience to market your organization that are almost free, allow you to meet more people and save you time. WHAT!?! Yeah I know it almost sounds too good to be true…but really if you asked me how to market on a dime this is what I’d say.

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Hosted By
Monica Maye Pitts
Monica Maye Pitts Chief Creative Officer

Marketing On a Dime – Zero to Marketing Super Hero – Part 2

If there is one thing that nonprofit organizations always seem to be short on, it’s money, right? 

If you feel like marketing your organization is completely tied to how much money you have, I want you to take a step back, and pop back over to Zero to Marketing Superhero Part 1 where I go over the basics, and completely debunk the myth that your marketing is just about how much money you have. Because it doesn’t have to be. You can start where you are, and still do a great job with your marketing. 

So hop back over and check that out, if that’s one of your beliefs that we need to set aside to do awesome marketing for your nonprofit. Because let’s face it, there are all kinds of ways that you can market your organization for next to nothing these days. 

So here are 4 things you can do with low to medium tech experience to market your nonprofit organization that are almost free, allow you to meet more people, and save you time. 

  1. Fix Your Google Business Listing (set it and forget it)
  2. Add Content to Your Website (as little as 4x / month)
  3. Leverage Email Automation (automatically send your blog posts as emails)
  4. Jump into Social Media (but choose your social networks carefully)
4 ways to market on a dime: Fix your Google Business listing, Add content to your website, Leverage automation, and Jump into social media

WHAT!?! Yeah I know it almost sounds too good to be true that these 4 things can do so much…but really if you asked me how to market on a dime this is what I’d say. I say market on a dime because there are some instances where it really does make sense to spend a little bit of money. I’ll get into those later. 

So let’s start at the very top. 

  • Fix your Google Business Listing

The first thing that I want you to do is fix your Google Business listing. Yeah I know, you’re just blown away by that. 

But here’s the deal though…

17.5% of your website’s local SEO is determined by the accuracy of your listings. A big chunk of that is actually determined by your Google Business listing.

17.5% of your local website SEO is determined by the accuracy of your listings

I have seen the most atrocious Google Business listings. They make no sense, they have wrong names, they have awful pictures in them. This is one of the first things that people are going to see when they look for your organization. 

The magical thing about your Google My Business listing is that once you set it up, you don’t have to change it until you move, or something big about your organization changes and it needs to be corrected. So it’s kind of a one-and-done thing. Which is exciting, because not a lot of things in marketing are like that.

The reason that we need to focus on this is because, when was the last time that you picked up the phone book because you needed to call somebody? My kids don’t even know what a phonebook is. I do keep them around because they make great paper mache, and they’re really nice for lighting fires. But when I need to have someone’s phone number, or I want to learn more about their organization, I Google them. 

And I’m not the only one: 3.5 billion searches are done each day on Google.

So people are Googling for you. They’re certainly looking for you or for your services. But when was the last time that you Googled yourself? Do you even know what shows up? We generally don’t sit around and Google ourselves. I sit around and I Google my clients whenever I do their reviews, because I want to know what happens. And there are some shifts that are happening out there. And it’s important that we have it right. 

So back in the day, we paid money every month to put our information in the Yellow Pages. We don’t pay anything for our Google Business listing. But we also don’t have that salesperson that’s just knocking on the door asking us every single year to review our information, pay them more money and renew our contract. 

So that’s kind of a downside, because it’s easy to forget to review your Google Business listing. 

Oh, and if anyone is calling you right now and telling you that they’re from Google, they are a big, fat liar. They do not work from Google. They do not. They are not going to take your listing. Those people are lying to you, and you need to just hang up on them. You don’t need to talk to them, okay? You can fix this on your own. 

I’m totally going to tell you a story (because I love telling stories) about one more reason why your Google My Business listing is so important. 

See, one of my goals last year was to put a fence in my yard. And this year, my goal is to help 1,000 nonprofits have more successful and less stressful marketing. What a difference one year makes. 😂 

But anyway, my goal last year was to get a fence. And just so you know, it wasn’t a small fence. We have a decent sized yard, so it was like a $10,000 fence. 

So I started asking my friends and clients if they know a good fence installer. I got the name of a business and I Googled their name. They didn’t have a website, but they had multiple online directory listings. 

And here’s the deal. None of those directory listings had a correct phone number. Not a single one. I called them all and none of them worked. 

I do know for a fact that that company is still in business. But tell me, if this was happening with my $10,000 fence, how many hundreds of thousands of dollars is that company missing out on every single month because they didn’t have their correct phone number in Google? This could be happening to any one of us right now. 

So, how do I know if my listing is correct?

Well, the first thing you’re going to do is Google yourself, Google your organization name, Google any variant of your organization name (because sometimes you change names or people call you by different things). 

Then look at the Google results: Does information about your nonprofit even exist? Is it correct?

Google My Business listing screenshot

Look at that big area on the right side of the screen. It’ll have in big bold letters, the name of your organization, your contact information, and pictures up at the top. All that should be there when you Google your organization’s name or a close variation of it. 

Next, if you have not done so already, you need to:

  • Claim and verify your listing
  • Add a description
  • Make sure that your contact information and your business category are correct
  • Make sure your photos are accurate

Your photos are important! I was looking up members of the Missouri Asphalt Pavement Association and one of their members has a pineapple. A sliced pineapple is their picture in Google. So you Google their name and you get a picture of a pineapple. 

Do not let that be you, okay? 

If you’re not sure if you own your listing, underneath your contact information it’ll say Suggest an Edit or Own this Business. Click on Own this Business, go through the steps and you’re good to go.

  • Add content to your website

Update your website regularly – At least four times a month.

Four times a month is actually a good attainable place to start for most people. If you can’t do four times then just do two. If you can’t do two, then just do one. But we need to continually update our website with information. 

Here’s why: 30%. 

Website traffic increases up to 30% after publishing 21-54 blog posts

Website traffic increases up to 30% after you publish 21 to 54 blog posts. 

Publishing content to your website has a total multiplier effect on your website traffic. You can’t just post one thing a year and expect to have great results. You have to publish content to it regularly. 

Once you have a website set up, it genuinely costs nothing to keep publishing more content and get more traffic. 

If you listen to the first installment of this Zero to Marketing Superhero series, you know that you are going to start your marketing where you are. I know that this statistic says that traffic exponentially increases with 21 to 54 blog posts. But you need to start with one blog post before you can get to 21 – You have to do the work of building it up there. If you want to have people find your website and the services that you offer, then you have to start somewhere. So you can publish as little as one time a month, or as much as four times a month or more. 

Four times a month is a great goal though. But don’t worry, I’m going to explain to you some easy things you can put on your website in a second so you don’t feel overwhelmed. 

Should I really be blogging, though?

So I got really excited about blogging in Episode Number 48: Should your nonprofit be blogging, and I make a very strong case for it (if I do say so myself). But I do want to share briefly the case study that I offered on that episode. 

I compared website traffic for two clients. And these are two clients that have a very similar purpose in their organization: They both serve youth. 

Client A has blogged for years. And a lot of years of blogging means that they have lots of content out on their website. So over the past six months, this client had 9,265 visits to their website. 

Very nice.

So Client B, they do not blog. Over the past six months, they had 6,163 visits to their website. 

Then I dug in and tried to make sense of where that traffic was coming from, because I couldn’t just assume that it was coming from the blog. I mean, it could be coming from anywhere, right? 

What’s nuts is almost all their other data on their website is super similar: The number of pages that people go to each time they visit the website, the amount of time that people spend on the website…data for both clients were very, very similar. 

Here’s the difference, though. About 25% of the 9,625 visits that Client A has on their website, come in through their blog. 7.6% of that traffic comes in through people searching on Google, 15% of them come in directly from the link that they had, and 42% come into the website through the homepage. 

But again, 25% of the visits on their website came in from the blog. That means that without their blog, 25% of that traffic over six months (more than 1,500 visitors) would never have gotten to that website. 😮

That’s exciting, right? This organization has been blogging for years. Because of that, they have far more visitors on their website, that engage just as well as Client B’s visitors. That’s why I’m suggesting to you that if you don’t have a lot of money, you can add content to your blog, which will produce more website traffic and you will start meeting more potential donors. 

What nonprofits can blog about

So what are the things that you could blog about as a nonprofit?:

  • Frequently asked questions (FAQ’s, or things that you hear your target donor audience ask a lot) – It’s also a great idea to dedicate an entire page to this, not just a single blog post
  • Celebration posts (people love it when you celebrate cool stuff that’s happening)
  • Updates or news (because people also love updates and news)
  • Talk to the people in your organization that talk to your donors the most
What nonprofits can blog about: FAQ’s, completed work, news & updates, tips, and ask your frontline

How do I know this? I know this because I just reviewed a bunch of my clients social media, and I put their posts into groups. I found that people love celebratory posts, they love updates, and frequently asked questions are always a great way to give donors information that solves their problems. 

When in doubt, go to the front lines

If you’re really not sure what you’re going to blog about, just go over to your front line. Go to the people who talk to your donors the most and ask them, “What do you hear a lot of questions about”, “how could we best serve our donors, the people that we serve, and also our board, and give them more information?” 

Answers to those questions make for great additions to your website. 

You don’t have to add 12-page blog posts to your website – That’s not what I’m suggesting. I’m suggesting that you need to update your website four times a month with content. And it could be things that you’re already talking about anyway: Events, celebrating successes, updates, stuff that’s going on around the office, or answers to questions that people ask you. 

For example, I have a lot of clients who build their newsletters in PDFs. They have these really long newsletters, they’re all in PDFs, and they email them to people. There is no reason why that PDF can’t go up on your website. 

And let’s say your PDF newsletter usually has 4 sections. There’s also no reason why that PDF can’t be broken up into 4 sections and published to your website in 4 different pieces. 

There you go – You just updated your website 4 times, and you didn’t even have to do really any more work than you’re already doing. 🤯

You don’t have to have different content on your website and on your newsletter. It can totally be the same. 

Here’s another tip for you: The stuff that you put on your social media that can come right out of your newsletter or website – It does not have to be completely different.

  • Leverage Email Automation (automatically send your blog posts as emails)

The third way for nonprofits to market on a dime is to leverage automated emails. Now, the way that I just said that made it sound very confusing, but it’s really not very confusing at all. 

Stay with me.

First, I want to let you know that I keep talking about emails like a crazy person, because they really do work. And it’s super, super inexpensive to do. You can create an account in MailChimp for free. Yeah, completely free. And you can send emails for free. It’s crazy, right? 

For example, email marketing offers the highest return on investment for marketers. They say that every $1 that you invest creates $44. Since it’s nearly free to send the email, then every dollar that you make off of it makes that email extremely profitable. 

Email is way better for deepening relationships

I know in my own marketing that I can meet you on Facebook, but that’s not where we’re going to continue the conversation. We’re going to continue the conversation by you attending an event or by you showing up for my office hours, or by you coming in and doing a free consulting session, or by me sending you an email and offering you something. 

So, my relationship with you may start on social media, but it’s difficult to deepen that relationship just on social media. That’s because the odds of you seeing things that I post on social media is pretty low, actually – Maybe only 30% of my audience would ever see the things that I post on social media. 

That’s why I need to invest in email marketing, to make sure that I had the opportunity to contact you when I have something important to say to you. It’s the same for your organization. That’s why we keep talking about email – Not because I love it, but because it works. 

Why automate your emails?

Notice I didn’t just say, do email marketing and make every single email. I said, leverage automated emails. 

You can certainly send one-off emails, but they do take time. They absolutely do – I should know. I just spent like a whole week (if not more) creating the emails for this first quarter to be able to contact people and remind them about things that they’ve signed up for. It’s a lot of stuff. 

But that time is money, right? So that’s why we automate things. 

When you automate things, you can set them up once and then you can just walk away from it. 

How to automagically send your blog posts as emails

How to automagically send your blog posts as emails

The cheapest way to automate things is by using the RSS feature in MailChimp. What that means is that if your website is set up properly, all that content you post on your website produces an RSS feed (like those celebratory posts we talked about, the frequently asked questions, the updates and the news, etc). Then, you can take that RSS feed link and plunk it into MailChimp. 

Then, MailChimp will look at your website and see if there’s new content on there at regular intervals. You can define those intervals to be daily or weekly or monthly – You get to pick. If Mailchimp sees that there is new content on your website, then it’s going to create an email and will format it the way that you tell it to. 

Then it will send an email to your recipients, like magic. So you get these professional-looking, beautifully-formatted emails without ever having to touch them or tell them to send because you just updated your website (which you’re supposed to be doing anyway). Then it sends those emails out to your list. 

I mean, this is magical, right? Oh my goodness, when I figured this out I was so pumped, I ran around the office, flew my imaginary cape, and gave everybody high fives. Then I had to find a new job for my intern because she had been making emails on repeat every single day. She had to start writing, which is really what she was going to school for anyway. So it was a win-win all across the board. 

So leverage those automated emails!

To clarify, the RSS automation that I’m talking about happens for free with your free MailChimp account. It’s not the type of automation where you send someone an email because they clicked on something, or because they opened a campaign. That you have to pay for. But the RSS automation is free. 

Automated emails for different content categories on your website

Because we’re on the topic of emails, and because emails are a super effective marketing tool, and they’re very inexpensive, I want to let you know that you can actually set up different emails to send for different categories in your website’s RSS feed. 

Let’s say that you have an email for events, and you have an email for volunteers, and you have an email for your blog. That’s okay – You can have those all set up on your website. And when you publish content in those categories…voila! Mailchimp will send out different emails to different people. It’s very fancy, but it’s really not hard. 

Tips to increase email open rates and signups

  • Set up your emails to send from people that your list would know
  • Add an email signup form to your website
  • Add an email signup checkbox to your contact pages
  • Integrate Mailchimp with your CRM

Here is a trick for you: When you’re setting up your automated emails in Mailchimp, make sure that you set the emails up to send from people that your list would know. So it could be from [email protected] Or, if the person that’s always emailing stuff is admin, or your outreach person, or your marketing person, or your executive director, then you might just send it from them. I send most of our emails from [email protected], because I want you to reply to me – I want to see your replies, I want to see what you have to say. 

Then, make sure that you add an email signup form to your site. Here’s a funny story for you…

We were reviewing our marketing data after we launched our new website last year. And I realized that our email list was shrinking, which is not normal. It’s usually growing. And I thought, “Oh, my goodness, what am I doing wrong?” Like I’m failing in my marketing. We’re getting more website visitors than ever before, but no one is signing up for our email list. Am I just publishing crap? 

Well, it turns out that we actually forgot to put the email signup form on the new site. And so people were not signing up, because there was no signup form. But we reviewed our marketing data, found the problem, and put that email signup form on the site. And now people sign up every day. 

Also, if you have a contact form on your website – whether it’s for a job application, or a volunteer application, or even just a contact you to learn more – make sure that you put a checkbox on it to sign up for your email list. This is the fastest way to build your email list, because people will check that box and they’ll join the email list. It’s the darndest thing. 

You can also integrate your email marketing software with your CRM. Some of you use Salesforce. MailChimp and Salesforce, those suckers hold hands for sure. Done that a time or two. That allows one system to update the other whenever the two of them are integrated. So if you updated an email address in Salesforce, then it would update it in MailChimp. That makes it a lot easier to maintain your email list and always keep it up to date, instead of having to manually reconcile your list (which is a giant pain). 

Jump into social media

For number 4, I’m kind of doing an eye roll because it’s even on the list but…*begins to whisper*…use social media. Yeah, I know. I just said it. 

88% of Americans aged 18 to 29 use social media. That is 68% of internet-using adult Americans that are on Facebook alone. 

So there are just so many people that you can reach through social media. 

But you can’t be a marketing superhero by putting all your eggs in one basket. Being a marketing superhero is really about doing a great job with your messaging, and then recycling that message across multiple channels to reach more people. 

We talked about how you would update your website, and then how that would make the email for you automatically with Mailchimp. Well, the same content that you updated your website with, that’s the content that you’re going to put out on social media. 

You’re going to make those posts, you’re going to celebrate, you’re going to update, you’re going to show people that you solve problems. And you’re going to give them some personality as well, so that way they can get to know your organization. And if you want to know more about what to post about, hop back over to What’s Working for Nonprofits Right Now. Totally dorked out. It was great. 

Which social network should I be on?

People always ask, “which social networks should I be on, Monica? Should I be doing Tik Tok?” Oh my goodness. Should I be doing? Shouldn’t I be? Oh, heavens. 

Okay, let me just say that every single organization is different, so your decision should really be based on your assets (the content that you have right now that you can use to build off of), and your target audience. 

For most of the nonprofits that I work with, their best place to be is on Facebook. It may not be your best place to be. It’s just we live in the Midwest, and this is where most of our donors are right now. 

Now, we recognize that once we get under the age of 30 or so, there aren’t nearly as many people on Facebook anymore because those people are hanging out over on Instagram. That’s why we have a contingency plan to start building audiences for our clients over on Instagram. But like I just told somebody the other day – Instagram and Facebook are tied together. If one goes down, they both go down. 

That’s why we need to make sure that we safeguard our email list. That way if both Facebook and Instagram implode, we can still contact people and talk to them because we still have their email addresses.

The nice thing about Facebook and LinkedIn is that you can post as little as one time a week and get good results. You don’t have to post over and over and over again. 

When it comes to social media, the goal is quality over quantity. 

I also have people that get really wrapped up about whether they post too much. They’re like, “well Monica, but if we’re going to post about our events, and we’re going to also post things that people like, isn’t that posting too much?” 

And the answer is no, it isn’t posting too much. Because if what you’re posting is cool, then you’re not posting too much. You can post as much as you want, within reason.

Only maybe 30% of your audience is going to see anything that you post. So if you post three times a day, you might post to everybody in your audience, or you might only catch 30%. So it’s not about quantity, it’s about quality. And if what you’re publishing is quality, then you’re good to go. 

But again with Facebook and LinkedIn, you don’t have to post nearly as often as you do in Pinterest or Twitter. I don’t manage a lot of Twitter or Pinterest accounts for that reason. Because quite frankly, my clients just can’t afford to pay us to create that much content for them, because it’s a time-consuming beast. 

Which social media networks are best for nonprofits?

Look at your target audience – Where are they? Where do you need to go to make relationships with those people? 

If you want to know more about who’s on what network, Pew Research Center does a great case study every year, and it’ll tell you the population that uses each major network: Their gender, their age, their ethnicity, their education level. And with that, you can probably make a good educated assumption. 

You could also just go look and analyze other organizations like your own. Check out other organizations that are near you that serve the same audience as you, and see which networks are they doing well on. Are they doing best on Facebook or on Pinterest or on Instagram? Or somewhere else? If you notice, “hey, they’re doing a good job over there on Instagram”. And with that you can make a decision of “Well, clearly that’s where my market is”, or you can be like, “Well, I know that my markets over here too. And so I’m going to focus on that instead of the other”. 

Tell your unique story

Through all of your marketing, be it on your website. social media, or emails, you’re going to tell the story of how you solve problems for people. And that is free. That story is free because people love stories. As a nonprofit, that’s what the cornerstone of your marketing is built on. Your donors and volunteers want to live vicariously through you, they want to see the good that you do. You make them feel good through your stories. They don’t want you to just advertise to them. That’s why whenever you post about your events, nobody really cares that much, they don’t really interact with it. But when you celebrate something, they love it. 

One of the things that I feel like that we miss – because we see it every day – is the specialness of what we do. Even though you may see your work every single day, other people…they don’t. So try to look at those experiences that you do on a day-to-day basis through the lens of someone who’s never experienced them. 

For one of our clients, Global First Responder, we have all kinds of fun photos that we post for them on social media and stories that we share. These stories are just small glimpses and moments of what’s going on in their travels as they go and serve countries in need. It’s fun, and these posts do great. It’s those little stories, like Adam (their founder) pushing a gigantic trolley through the airport, piled up with all kinds of supplies that they’re going to need to go into this third-world country and provide medical aid. 

It’s those little things. It’s not necessarily just when they’re taking care of babies. It’s all the moments that are before and after and in-between, because those are the things that people don’t see. That’s what makes you awesome. It’s not just that you’re serving somebody, it’s that you care about serving them to the point that you want to do a really good job of it. 

So think about all the things that you do every single day that cultivate peace of mind for the people that you serve, because a huge part of all of our jobs is making sure that problems don’t happen – That’s what makes you so good at what you do. You operate your organization by putting the people that you serve in the forefront and putting their needs before your own to make sure that they get what they need to run a successful life. 

Show your audience how you do that. It could be from the smallest thing to the biggest thing. It could be that you got another computer monitor, and now you can do your work more efficiently! And these are the little moments and the glimpses that you can give them, the stories that you can share, to really humanize your organization and make sure that people know you for who you are.

Bonus: Boosting Posts on Facebook

I said marketing on a dime, right? So there is one thing that you can do that I would like you to try out maybe once or twice, that will take money though (if you don’t have an active social media following). Even when you do have an active following, like I said, those events, posts and stuff, they’re not going to get out there like you want them to half the time. 

So you might consider boosting a post or running an ad on social media. I know, I know. 

Boosting posts on Facebook

But here’s the deal, if you’re gonna put all this effort into making this content, we need to make sure that people see it. In the first part of this series I said, just because you build it, it doesn’t mean that they’ll come. You have to actually tell them that you’re doing stuff. And if you need to boost a post that’s really important to your followers of your Facebook page, that’s okay. 

It’s not very expensive. For $10 or $20, you can reach a couple thousand people that you haven’t seen before. Or even just show it to your own followers, so that way you can make sure that they see it. 

When you would normally just be serving your content to a couple hundred people, it is absolutely worth it. Because if more people interact with your content, whether they like it or comment or give it a thumbs up, then you have the opportunity to go back into Facebook and invite them to like your page.

There’s actually a Chrome extension that you can use that will automate all of those invites for you. It’s pretty darn cool. 

So there you go, that’s just another bonus trick to market on a dime: Use Chrome extensions, because they’re awesome. And they’re free. I have so many of them, I can’t even keep them all straight. I should do a podcast about them. 

Conclusion

So that my friends, is my four ways to market your organization on a dime. To go deeper, check out Part 3 of my Zero to Marketing Superhero series. It is going to be all about saving time in your marketing, because I know you’re short on time. And one of the things that we have to do to be marketing superheroes is figure out a way to get the work done. So, time saving tips it is.

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