Doing Your Big Picture Communications Timeline

Big Picture Timeline

Kristina and I spent most of the Saturday before last working on our Big Picture Communications Timeline for 2016.

This is the exercise that I highly recommend nonprofits do before attempting an editorial calendar, and the same goes for consultants too! The steps are just a bit different.

For nonprofits, it starts with events and milestones both within and outside of their control, then calls to action, core topics, and story arcs. I devoted the entirety of Chapter 7 in Content Marketing for Nonprofits (Amazon) to the Big Picture Communications Timeline.

But doing it for our own company was a bit different. We let our thought leadership goals and training/mentoring programs drive the schedule. We were also explicit about both the content marketing schedule and the advertising schedules, which we had never really sketched out in this much detail before (which is why we felt like we were often working on too many different things at once this year!).

Here’s how we tackled it . .

Core Topics. I had already decided to do a series of four programs we are calling Marketing Accelerators, one per quarter, and to use those topics as guiding themes for each quarter. So we marked those out on the calendar, including when registration opened (and thus marketing began) as well as when we would be delivering the program.

Email List Building and Free Content. Next we mapped out some email list building campaigns and delivery of free content, like free webinars, leading into those Accelerators.

Pass Holder Only Benefits. Next we looked at what else we wanted to deliver in the form of training and resources to our All-Access Pass Holder Community and fit all of that into the schedule.

Other Big Milestone Dates. We added in the important dates for time-consuming projects like our Mentoring Program for Communications Directors, our Nonprofit Communications Trends Report, and when we put our Annual Pass on sale.

Identifying Gaps for Additional Speakers to Fill. With all of these key items in place on the calendar, we could now see where the gaps or slower times were, and we are working with several colleagues to fit their trainings into our schedule.

Kristina and I feel great about our 2016 plan!

How do you do long-term communications planning for your own business? If you’ve never tried it, give the Big Picture Communications Timeline a try.


Registration Closes Friday for Group Coaching Program

Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching ProgramIf you are really interested in how to market your business to nonprofits, and developing your own customized marketing strategy that will work for you, joining the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program is the way to go.

I will offer this program only once a year, so it will be late 2016 before I re-open the program.

Want to create a marketing strategy that gets you the sweet life in 2016? We get started on Monday!

Want to join us? Registration closes at midnight ET on Friday, October 2, 2015.


What Would You Ask 2,500 Nonprofits?

2016 Nonprofit Communications Trends

Every year at Nonprofit Marketing Guide, we do a Nonprofit Communications Trends Report. We develop the questions around this time of year, open the survey throughout November, do some “sneak peek” releases of the data in December and issue the full report in January.

It’s a great resource for the community, and a great list builder for us.

I usually add 3-5 new questions a  year, and am brainstorming now.

We usually get somewhere around 2,500 nonprofits participating, most of whom are communications directors, with some development directors and executive directors too.

What question(s) would you like to see in the survey, that perhaps could help you with your own marketing decisions? Multiple choice is easiest, so let me know what answers you would offer as choices too. 

Share your ideas in the comments — and thanks for your help with brainstorming!

P.S. The Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program starts October 5 and registration ends this Friday. I’ve decided to make the early bird rates permanent, so no worries if you didn’t get around to registering yet!

With Nonprofit Clients, Patience is Mandatory

Dog PatienceIf you think you can just quit your job and instantly start making a living working for nonprofit clients, good luck.

From the outside, it looks like that’s what I did. But the behind-the-scenes truth is that I already had one major client lined up before I quit my job, great leads for several others, a cash cushion in the bank, and a significant other who offered to pay more than his share of expenses when needed.

All of that meant I could afford to be patient. I was, and the work came. But it was probably six months before I felt like I was in a solid, comfortable place.

Nonprofits are generally not fast decision makers or “impulse” buyers. You are talking about people who are usually quite frugal, and who have been “doing it themselves” for quite a long time.

It takes even more time for them to recognize that they need help, or that someone could do it better. It takes even more time on top of that to decide to spend the money (because they often have to go find the money or budget for the expense months — even a year — in advance).

Come up with your own lead development system, and work it hard, day in and day out. Then be patient. The clients will come.

We’ll discuss more strategies like this that are essential when working in the nonprofit sector during the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program. Registration ends this Friday, October 2, 2015.