For some reason, try to market "content" to most small businesses and nonprofits, and the first words out their mouths are often " We don't use or need content".
OK, fair enough. If you don't sell anything or have a mission to support, then you are probably right…you don't need content.
On the other hand, if you have a website, a blog, a newsletter, run appeal campaigns, apply for grants or financing, sell goods or services or use brochures, then you are already using content
Content isn't something sleazy or esoteric. Content is simply words that inform, sell or connect you to your supporters or customers. It can be as simple as a three-line product description or as complicated as an annual report, case study or statement of need.
While hard-sell marketing tends to be the area that most people think of when they think about content, that isn't the only focus.
Good content can be educational, informative or simply a product update. In the business world that may translate into more sales, but it can also just be a way to keep them connected and aware of you.
Content is an integral part of donor management and retention for nonprofits as well. Content is the way you stay relevant and top-of-mind with the people that matter to your mission. Instead of just announcing an event and essentially saying "bring money", spend a little time explaining how it will benefit the attendees. Will they hear an awesome speaker, learn something new, enjoy great food or listen to great music?
Good content not only engages the people who already know you, it should encourage new people to interact with you.
Notice I said "good content". Rambling on about things that aren't connected to your business focus is not a productive use of your communication dollars. That's fine for your personal life, but it isn't going to produce results for your business or nonprofit.
Whether you are a nonprofit or a for-profit, you need people to succeed. There might be trillions of dollars squirreled away in bank accounts, but you don't get at it without connecting with the people that own it. Well, at least not legally!
Content today has to be more than just SEO or mass mailings. It has to be relevant to the audience as well as to you. It should be time-conscious. The reason stores have back to school sales in July is to encourage people to think ahead and be prepared when school does start. Oh yes, and also to fill the revenue gap that typically occurs between the 4th of July and Labor Day.
Planning a good communications strategy is not something you should be doing three days before you need it published. Like almost any other business task, it requires planning and strategy.
If you are about as excited about sitting down and producing content as you would be to have splinters driven under your fingernails, you won't produce effective content. Outsourcing the job or assigning one person whose job is to actually craft good content may the best use of your communication dollars.
There should be a goal, a master plan if you will, for your content. At Cloudlancer Writing Services, I work with both businesses and nonprofits to learn their needs and work with clients to produce content that supports their goals throughout the year. While I certainly have clients who have rush jobs, one of the first things I like to see is a calendar or timeline for their goals, whether that is writing proposals, updating a web page, or keeping their blog fresh and relevant. If you don't have goals for your communication needs now, that would be a great place to start.