Actually, your nonprofit is probably NOT delivering content marketing

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Two years ago, I wrote this article for CharityVillage: Ten ways your nonprofit can start - or might already be - delivering content marketing. Two years later, I’ve changed my mind.

In my original post, I listed and described some forms of content that you could be offering to deliver value to your nonprofit’s audiences. And I suggested that because you are probably already creating and publishing content – such as blog posts, videos, or research reports – you might already be a content marketer.

But I’ve changed my mind. And here’s why...

Back in 2014, the Content Marketing Institute defined content marketing as:

“The creation and distribution of educational and/or compelling content in multiple media formats to attract and/or retain clients/constituents.”
Source: Nonprofit Content Marketing: 2014 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends

According to this definition, 92% of nonprofits reported using content marketing.

Just producing and distributing content is not enough

But since I wrote that original post, Content Marketing Institute has updated and improved their definition of content marketing:

"A strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience – and, ultimately, to drive action."
Source: Nonprofit Content Marketing: 2016 Benchmarks, Budgets and Trends

Based on the updated definition, the percentage of nonprofits who reported using content marketing plummeted to 61%. Some important changes to note:

  • You must go beyond “clients and constituents” to clearly define your audiences. (Have you completed a marketing persona?)
  • Educational and compelling aren’t enough: your content must be relevant to your audience and provide value.
  • You should be publishing on a consistent basis (for example, on a predictable schedule).
  • Attracting and retaining clients or constituents still matters, but your content marketing must be designed to drive action. Have you defined a clear, measurable goal for what you ultimately want your content to achieve?

Note: I’m eagerly awaiting the latest nonprofit research report from the Content Marketing Institute, which will be released in the New Year. However, they’ve released their B2B report, and it looks like their definition of content marketing has stayed the same.

Are you a content marketer or just a content producer?

To assess whether your nonprofit is going beyond content production to delivering strategic content marketing, you need to evaluate the content you create against the points I’ve mentioned above. To help, I’ve created a simple worksheet that you can download and complete: Evaluating your current content production worksheet.

Once you’ve completed your evaluation, review how many ‘yes’ answers you’re able to provide when it comes to the content your nonprofit already produces.

And then, consider:

  • How can you improve, tweak or refine your content production?
  • What should you scale back or possibly drop because it doesn’t support your goals?
  • If you’ve clearly and carefully defined your audience, what tactics should you introduce to offer even more value?

Make notes about the changes you can make to move to more ‘yes’ answers – and to creating the right mix of content so you can become a true content marketer!

Marlene Oliveira is a copywriter and communications consultant at moflow and founder of the Nonprofit MarCommunity blog. Marlene specializes in helping nonprofits to produce better content, with a focus on website copy and blog planning. Sign up for her Is your nonprofit ready for a blog? assessment worksheet. You can also find Marlene on Twitter or Facebook.

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