Storytelling as Marketing

Marketing is not a dirty word.  I know, it often conjures up images of a pushy salesman in an ill-fitting suit who just won’t leave you alone, but in the nonprofit world, marketing is simply about telling your story.  The story of your organization, the stories of your clients, the stories of your community.

To be a better nonprofit marketer, then, you need to be a better writer and a better storyteller.  Here are a few tips to get you started.

  1. Polish your writing skills right now! Quality writing is essential to everything you do, and at all levels of your organization.  Whether it’s grant writing, writing for a newsletter, composing a blog post, or sending an email, writing well makes you and your organization look good.  Practice, edit, rewrite.  Repeat.
  2. Speaking of blogsstart a blog!  Write with some regularity, which is more difficult than it sounds (see yesterday’s post).  Posting on a schedule may makes you seem dependable to your readers (even if it’s only in their subconsciousness).  Keep an informal tone in your blog; it helps reinforce your existence as a real person working for a real organization, and it makes you seem more trust worthy.  You don’t want to be that guy in the ill-fitting suit, do you?
  3. Publish an interesting newsletter (it’s the “interesting” that’s the hard part).  Share more than event dates and registration deadlines; share stories from clients, celebrate your volunteers, acknowledge your donors in a unique way.  Write to a defined audience (your donors?  your clients?  your peers?).
  4. Provide electronic distribution of your newsletters. If you write quality, useful, and / or interesting and moving content, your newsletter may become “viral,” and providing electronic distribution will aid in its dissemination.  It’s all about spreading the word, your word.

Do you enjoy telling your organization’s stories?  Does it feel like marketing to you?  Let me know in the comments.


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