Quick Reminder: Early Bird pricing for the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program ends tomorrow, Friday, September 18. You’ll save $300 by registering now.
When we asked about your biggest challenges last month, one common complaint was that you didn’t have time for marketing because you were busy with client work.
Of course, this is a good problem to have. But just feeling grateful for the work doesn’t solve your marketing problem.
Here’s a solution that I have used successfully over the years. It requires blogging or other forms of content marketing as part of your strategy, and some discipline immediately after doing client work, whether in person, on the phone, or on your own.
After each session of client work that takes more than an hour or so, get out your notebook. Jot down a few reflections that can be generalized to other nonprofits in similar situations as your client, or mind map what you just spent that hour doing.
This stuff is content GOLD. Gold, I tell you! You are taking all that consulting brain power that you just applied to one client and stepping back so you can learn how to apply it to others.
And . . . you are sketching out a first draft of a blog post. Or maybe notes from a few of these sessions come together into one post. Or if it’s really good, it becomes an e-book or a presentation.
Of course, you still need to set aside some time to finish it up. But the majority of the hard thinking is already done!
Give it a try for a week or two. You just might be shocked how much marketing content you can create in those note taking breaks.
Have you successfully turned time working with clients into marketing time too? Share how you did it in the comments!
Listen long enough to consultants who advise other consultants, and you will hear some really crazy stuff about marketing.
Just yesterday, I was on a call and the expert we’d all paid money to hear said, “For consultants, LinkedIn is really much more important than a website. You don’t need a website.”
I was glad I was muted, because the PPPFFFT and WTF that involuntarily came out of my mouth were not exactly shareable on that particular call.
I am coaching a fellow nonprofit consultant now who was basically told email was dead and she needed to build all of her marketing in social media. In that case, I let the sounds and cuss words rip openly. I’m coaching her on building her email list, because I have never seen anyone successfully do what she is trying to do without one.
Here’s the thing (from a consultant who helps other consultants as a part-time side gig):
Nothing is dead, except for faxing. Faxing is dead.
Websites, email, print, phone calls, in-person networking, and yes, social media — all very much alive.
Are any of these absolute must-dos or your business will fail? Can you safely eliminate any of these entirely from your marketing?
It all depends on YOU, and WHAT you are marketing, and to WHOM.
One of my friends is a nonprofit consultant who is brilliant and busy with clients all the time and she has never had a website, blog or email list of her own. She doesn’t need those things, because she is a people-collecting, friend-making, natural-networking machine.
I, on the other hand, am not. I am an introvert who hates networking, and all the public speaking I do is learned behavior that still demands two ibuprofen and a glass of wine when I come off stage. But I am just as busy, because I have a robust content marketing strategy. That kind of strategy demands a website, blog, and email.
So what about you?
The best marketing strategy for you is the one that naturally comes to you, like content marketing comes to me and like networking comes to my friend. The very worst marketing strategy is the one you build around generic marketing advice, like you have to do this or that, or shouldn’t do this or that.
I’d love to hear about some of the “absolutes” you’ve heard about marketing your consulting practice. Share in the comments!
During the Get Nonprofit Clients Coaching Program, we help you figure out which marketing tactics really are best for you. The program starts October 5; early bird registration rates end September 19.
The standard advice, and the Facebook terms of service, go like this: You use Facebook Pages for your business and Profiles for your personal life. And that’s pretty much what I have done historically, rarely cross-posting between the two.
But does that really work for sole proprietors or “personality driven” shops?
For many of us, part of our marketing appeal is the personal touch. Our marketing needs to allow prospects and clients to connect with us as real individuals who can help them in direct, one-to-one ways. I find this to be especially true in the nonprofit world.
Profiles feel like a much better way than Pages to do that kind of relationship building on Facebook. Not to mention the drop in organic reach for many Pages.
I’ve been lurking around in other consulting circles outside the nonprofit world, especially for freelancers and coaches, and I see many people using their Profiles more successfully than their Pages (if they have a Page at all). This also seems to work well for creatives.
Let’s cue the buts . . .
But you can only have 5,000 friends. Only? I don’t know about you, but that leaves me plenty of room for potential clients.
But you have to approve all those people. Not exactly. People can “follow” you without “friending” you. The difference is that followers only see posts that you tag as “public.”
I just turned this feature on myself today. Go to Settings, then click on Followers in the left sidebar. Change the settings to Everybody.
You can also “view as public” to see what non-friends see. My public profile needs serious work if I am going to use my profile for business, as it’s mostly gardening and family content right now. You cannot tell what I do for a living.
I also had a bunch of “About Me” info inadvertently set to “Friends” — including my company name and website (doh!), so I changed several of those items to “Public.”
Something else I just learned: Anyone you don’t accept as a friend automatically becomes a follower.
But you will share too much personal info with strangers. What about your kids’ privacy?? Not if you manage it carefully. At the most basic level, you need to remember with every post you make to select either Friends or Public for “who can see this.” It does default to your last selection, so you have to get into the habit of looking at it every single time.
But using a Profile this way, not everyone is a real friend. You’ll end up friending a lot of strangers. So I am also going to use lists more religiously.
Honestly, I needed to do this as my kids reach tween/teen stage anyway, as they are much more sensitive about who sees what about them, even within our personal circles, let alone my professional ones.
When I first set up some lists years ago, I created too many different ones and promptly abandoned them. I think I will go with three lists (four if you count public). This is really based on level of personal comfort and trust with each person. (Tips on this here and here.)
- Close Friends. A tight list of very close family and friends who I enjoy with all my heart, from both my personal and professional lives. These are the people I could call at all times of day or night if I needed to. These people know my kids’ names, and the kids would know many of the people in this group at least by name.
- Inner Circle. People who I really like or trust or admire, even if we aren’t BFFs. Always happy to hear from them, or run into them, and I’m fairly certain the feeling is mutual.
- Acquaintances. Everyone else who is on the Friends list.
- Public. Wide open to the world.
But what about the Page? Yeah, we’ll still do that too. But the Page is responsible for most of the hate in my love-hate relationship with Facebook. In any case, it needs some attention too. We’ll use it primarily for the training part of the business.
But isn’t this more work? Yes, but hello, good marketing is work. I use Facebook more than any other social network (despite my love-hate relationship with it.) I have hundreds of friends (probably the majority actually) who fall into the category of people who only know me through my work. It makes sense to take the time to customize the content I create for these different groups of people.
So what do you think? How do you use your Personal Profile for business? Please share your perspective in the comments. I especially would love to hear from those of you creating content with different lists, or the Friends v. Public Followers, in mind.
P.S. Here’s the best article I found on this topic: 10 Ways to Use Your Personal Facebook Profile for Business
Last week I blogged about the real end result of our communications director mentoring program: A sense of calm.
But guess what? If I tried to sell “calm” as an outcome for a nonprofit coaching program, I don’t think anyone would register. What nonprofit is going to pay for that??
What nonprofits can get approval to spend money on is training on specifics tactics, coaching on making good marketing decisions, and the like. They want to leave with expert advice and real skills.
They need to connect the dots very clearly between what you say in your marketing and what they need in order to get their important mission work done.
It’s wonderful if you know some of those bigger picture, often more ethereal, outcomes of your work. But don’t get too lost in them. Save them for the one-on-one conversations, not your website.
How about you? Do you have common outcomes that you don’t actively use in your marketing materials? Please share in the comments.
I will admit it right upfront: I think blogging is FABULOUS. It drives tons of traffic to us, it’s how many clients are introduced to us for the firs time, and it gives the sector great stuff to pass around (word of mouth marketing).
So what kind of blog should you write? Here are four options I think work well for consultants and freelancers.
The Toolbox Blog. This is the most common approach (and the one I mostly use), where you offer how-tos, tips, resources, etc. to help your potential clients do it themselves. When they realize they can’t, they come to you.
The News Blog. Search out and report on what others are doing. For example, if you are targeting environmental groups, report on new communications and marketing campaigns by other environmental groups.
The Advocacy/Opinion/Challenge Blog. Do you feel strongly that your target audience should be approaching communications in particular way? Use your blog to advocate that. Maybe your target audience is not embracing social media in ways you think they should, for example. You could write a blog that challenged people on the issues and advocated how they could make it work.
The Storytelling Blog. Share your experiences working with your clients. This requires a lot of cooperation from your clients of course, but if you can get them on board, it’s a wonderful way to show how you work. Use your clients not only for case studies, but get them to talk about the creative process, how it is to work with you and other creative professionals, etc.
What kind of blog do you write? Or what kind of blog might you write if you haven’t started yet?
Here’s a common question I get: What conferences should I attend if I want to meet potential nonprofit clients?
I personally prefer to attend conferences that are about the kinds of work clients would hire me to do, so I’m more likely to attend conferences that have a strong nonprofit marketing and/or fundraising track, my favorite being the Nonprofit Technology Conference.
I’m also frequently at conferences sponsored by the various individual state associations of nonprofits and chapters of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, usually as a speaker.
Philanthropy.com published this conference list for 2014 at the end of last year.
Socialmedia.biz assembles a SuperGuide of the best social media, technology, marketing and media conferences for the upcoming year, which they publish the first Monday of the year. Not all of these draw big nonprofit crowds, but many do.
If you prefer to work with a certain type of nonprofit working in an particular field, there’s very likely an association or alliance that nonprofits like that belong to.
For example, I’ve been a speaker at events like the Land Trust Alliance Rally, a national conference for thousands of local land trusts, the annual conference of the Association for Jewish Family and Children’s Agencies, and the General Assembly of YMCAs.
Should I Try to Speak, Exhibit, or Just Attend?
Speaking at conferences is great, because it helps establish you as an expert. Unless you work at a very big firm, exhibiting is probably not worth the time and money. If you go just as an attendee, build your time at the event around networking.
What advice do you have? What conferences do you attend to meet nonprofit clients? What’s your approach to using that time well?