Other Thoughts

by Lindsay LaShell

Lindsay LaShell owns Diamond + Branch, where she provides digital marketing instruction, strategic consulting, and entrepreneurship support for purpose-driven organizations. A trusted partner and valued collaborator, Lindsay was kind enough to share her expert opinion on why content strategy particularly matters to purpose-driven organizations.

Why purpose-driven organizations have a lot to gain from a thoughtful content marketing strategy

Content marketing strategy is the website of twenty years ago.
It’s the search engine optimization of fifteen years ago.
It’s the Facebook of ten years ago.
It’s the SnapChat of five years ago.
It’s the TikTok of today.

It’s the thing that gets people to ask: Does my organization really need this thing for our marketing to work?

For twenty years, my answer has been: It depends on your audience.

But now, in the case of content marketing strategy and purpose-driven organizations, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Social enterprises and nonprofits are uniquely positioned to benefit from consistent execution of a smart marketing strategy.

Creating a content marketing strategy is the work of understanding your audiences, defining your brand messages, and then consistently pairing those two in your content. Most organizations I know have a clear understanding of their people and themselves, but the consistent execution part is much harder to get right.

In my experience, that’s because the strategy piece is missing, specifically:
1.  Prioritization of opportunities: Where will we get the most impact from the least
amount of effort?
2.  Clarity of outcomes: What are the observable results our marketing is meant to generate?
3.  Structure for execution: How do we ensure we are consistently executing empathetic and motivating content?

“Those sound like solid strategic considerations for any organization,” you’re probably saying to yourself, “Why would they provide greater benefit to purpose-driven organizations?” Oh reader, I’m so glad you asked!

Organizations that are focused on impact need more efficiency, effectiveness, and alignment out of their marketing than those that are purely focused on profit.

A good strategy is built to respect available resources, including time, money, skills, and attention. For the work to get done, it first needs to be possible, and without a thoughtful approach to strategy it’s very easy to make plans that you actually can’t execute well. Even more than that, planning for resource constraints can expose exciting opportunities to increase efficiency. Especially when resources are limited, it’s easy to choose the urgent over the important. Let’s take the example of a monthly email newsletter sent by a nonprofit. In a busy week, the choice is usually between skipping the newsletter or working an extended week in order to squeeze everything in. Without a solid strategy, that email newsletter feels like a burden and the benefits of carrying it are unclear. But, when you have a solid strategy in place, you know exactly who that newsletter serves, why it’s important, and what impact it should have. Clear outcomes make it easier to prioritize activities based on effectiveness, instead of on urgency.

In the end, these things mostly apply to traditional organizations as well (at least they should), but there’s one more reason I’m such an advocate for marketing strategy specifically in nonprofits: A clear content marketing strategy empowers consensus while also reducing the amount of time it takes to achieve it.

Let me paint you a picture: A new blog post for our nonprofit. We’ll talk about one of our exciting new programs, we’ll interview some stakeholders, we’ll write about the impact. Sounds great, right? But how many hours will be lost in revisions as legal, programs, and leadership teams all weigh in on everything from the title to the message framing?

The genius of a content marketing strategy is that there is consensus on the essential purpose, audience, and message before the content is written. Because these questions have been answered for the audience and the organization as a whole, each individual execution of that strategy doesn’t need to be debated and worried over. Consensus on the marketing strategy can free up resources throughout the organization to focus on their own areas of expertise.

A closing note from Mangrove: If you’d like to learn more about how a marketing strategy can align your team and increase efficiency, feel free to visit the Diamond + Branch website and reach out to Lindsay directly there. We invite you to read more about Mangrove’s content strategy process, or contact Mangrove to ask if your project would benefit from a Mangrove/Diamond + Branch collaboration. Until then, keep up the good work!

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash