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.


You Have to Take the Long View

Monday Marketing Morsels


Quick Reminder: This is the last week of the Early Bird pricing for the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program that starts October 5. Register by this Friday, September 18 to save $300.

Working for nonprofit clients — and marketing to them — requires a long-term strategy and commitment. There’s just no way around that.

This is not a “get rich quick” situation. Many times it’s not even a “pay off your bills in a timely manner” situation.

You may be tempted to look at those of us who have been at this for awhile and think, “Wow, it all looks so easy. So simple. So effortless.”


It’s usually anything but that. My own backstory is filled with family turmoil, major debt, and dropping a $75,000 client.

Yeah, things are working out pretty well now, but it took many years and a fair amount of anxiety to get here.

And it’s still hard. I don’t get some jobs I want. We launch online products that flop. That part isn’t fun, and it’s sometimes very upsetting.

But I never, ever, think about doing something else. Because this sweet life is one of my choosing and making.

I am in it for the long haul. And that mindset alone is an essential part of my success.

It allows me to make marketing decisions that may not generate income for six months, a year, or even two years from now.  But it’s all part of the long-term process of developing a nonprofit clientele.

Building trust takes time. Getting nonprofits to agree to spend money takes time. Is that time you are willing to invest?

It’s a very personal decision, but it’s probably the most important marketing decision you can make in this sector.


How My Consulting Practice Has Evolved

Evolution - stages of development


I was talking to a consultant friend the other day who felt like she was failing, because she was changing her business model to provide a different kind of service than she originally intended. She seemed disappointed in herself that she couldn’t make the first thing work.

I tried to reassure her that her experience was perfectly natural, and actually very savvy, because it meant she was being more responsive to what her customers really wanted. She was simply pivoting to something more meaningful and relevant to her customers, even if it was their idea and not hers! (more…)

How Do You Deal with Boring Work or Clients?



Last week I blogged about the perils of getting too far ahead of your clients.

But let’s face it, getting to mix things up a bit when you are bored is one of the benefits of self-employment.

However it might not always be the best business decision, because there might still be very well paying clients associated with that now-boring-to-you work.

How have you handled this situation? I’d love to hear your responses in the comments.

Here are a few things I’ve tried (some more successfully than others) . . .

  • Take what I’ve learned from the now-boring work and turn into some kind of freebie (like a download with a registration form).
  • Take that same information and turn it into a worksheet to get future clients through the boring part of the work more quickly, or with less direct help from me.
  • Set a timer to make myself focus on the boring work for a set amount of time, and then reward myself with something much more fun if I was able to stay focused.
  • Delegate it. I’ve brought on others to do the work that no longer interests me, but that our clients still need.
  • Tough it out, especially if I see some kind of shake-up on that topic on the horizon.
  • Stop doing that kind of work, and be OK with losing the market positioning or the revenue associated with it, because the boredom simply isn’t worth it.

How about you?  Please share in the comments how you handle it when you get bored with your work.     



Note Where You Find Inspiration and Make More Time for It



Don’t you love those moments when you get these wonderful big ideas or a surge of pure clarity about your work? It’s definitely a huge high for me.

I love those moments so much, and they have led to so many good business decisions, that I started to be more conscious of what I was doing right before they happened.

While sometimes it’s on a walk, or in the shower, I’d say more than 80% of the time, it’s when I am reading non-fiction.

There’s something about reading about other people’s ideas and experiences — even when (or perhaps especially when) they have nothing to do with nonprofits or marketing — that puts my own mind into creative high gear and I start connecting dots in whole new ways.

So, while I use to think of reading time as a luxury, I know now that it is actually extremely important to my business development.

I wrote last week about three books I’m reading now.

Your assignment: Pay attention to what you are doing right before you get your big insights. Make note of it. Find your own pattern, and make more time for it in your work life.   

 Already know what triggers those big ideas or clarity for you? Share in the comments!


Three Book I’m Reading Now. What About You?

Summer is a great time for me to catch up on reading. Here are three books I’m reading now that you might find interesting too as a nonprofit consultant.

A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life

The movie producer stories got a little old, but overall I really enjoyed this book. He talks about how simply being interested in others, and then actively pursuing conversations with people who are not like you, can lead to some amazing things.

Mastermind Dinners: Build Lifelong Relationships by Connecting Experts, Influencers, and Linchpins


I just started this one, but along similar lines, when you get a group of people together, very interesting things can happen that can help you personally and professionally. I am an introvert – I never throw parties, and don’t even have people over often (my extrovert friends all know to just invite themselves over). So gives me something to think about that is probably super obvious to really outgoing social people!


Non-Obvious: How to Think Different, Curate Ideas & Predict The Future


Just about done with this one. I think of myself as good at connecting dots and produce an annual trends report, so an analysis of how you actually find trends was very interesting to me.


How about you? What are reading now that your colleagues might find interesting? Share in the comments.

All links go to Amazon.