- 5th October 2018
- Posted by: Gordon Kane
- Category: Uncategorised
I wish it were different, but the reality is:
Speed and quality rarely have anything to do with each other.
Whether it’s Direct Mail, Blogs, Email or a proposal for a Major Donor, Trust or Business, fundraising content that really hits the mark takes time to come together.
Alas, as marketers and fundraisers, a lot depends on being able to write remarkable content in record time.
The faster you can create content, the quicker you can generate the positive buzz around your charity which is the driving force behind
- Converting more casual supporters into actual donors
- Generating higher loyalty and commitment levels, which translates into improved donor retention
- A robust fundraising programme – which can withstand the odd financial bump or two in the road. This is because your core income is derived from donors who are sufficiently convinced by what you are offering them to ‘upgrade’ to stable and sustainable income streams, like Regular Giving and Major Gifts.
That’s why efficiency in your writing process is something you should work towards.
And it’s not impossible to achieve.
I’ve used some unique techniques to improve my speed and content quality over the years.
In this article, I will show you how to do the same.
Here’s what you can expect.
- Write faster without compromising quality.
- Publish more content, more frequently.
- Produce copy which overcomes more of your supporters’ objections
If you put these techniques to work, you should be able to shave off hours of writing time AND generate greater response from your fundraising content.
I’ll get started
Step #1: Ring-fence the writing process to avoid ‘context switching’
Want to know your number one productivity killer?
Multi-taskers experience a 40% drop in productivity, take 50% longer to accomplish a task, and commit up to 50% more errors.
The same holds true for the writing process.
You can fall into the multi-tasking trap in three ways.
- Doing two things at once. For example, responding to alerts on your smartphone while you write.
- Transitioning into a new activity immediately after you’ve just completed a task with different demands
- Switching from one task to another without completing the first. For example, editing while you write.
Every time you make that switch, your brain has to work overtime and it takes time for it to readjust.
The result of this context switching?
It stresses you out, wears you down and prolongs a task that would otherwise take less time to complete.
Chunking is a great solution to brain-straining, time-wasting, multi-tasking work.
Chunking is so powerful that it’s the basis of a famous productivity approach: the Pomodoro Technique(R). The Pomodoro approach is pretty simple – you work diligently and with focus, but only for a 25-minute chunk of time, then take a 5-minute break. Every two hours, you take a longer break.
How does this apply to creating speedy and effective fundraising content?
You chunk your tasks under each phase of the copywriting formula …
- Idea generation
… and take regular breaks.
So instead of researching and writing and looking for images over the course of two hours, get your research done first, before you move on to the writing. Switching back and forth between tabs with different purposes will only slow you down.
Focus on one phase at a time, and the time it’ll take you to complete each phase will decrease.
I said it was simple.
Okay, so how we set up for content writing is one thing. But what about the actual writing process itself? How do we make content better and save time?
Step #2: Create an editorial planner (or calendar)
This is the key management tool that everyone involved in creating and publishing content must refer to. The planner dictates the pace at which fundraising content reaches its audiences. The planner works because every single task in the content creation process is assigned to someone with a clear time-line (essential if you work in a team). Hold ups are avoided because potential issues can be spotted and resolved before they become critical. Fewer hold ups means that content gets to intended audiences quicker.
If, like me, you resent spending hours grappling with the boring, yet essential, mechanisms that sit behind the shiny finished product – then don’t worry. There is a wide range of user-friendly ‘template’ editorial content planners freely available on the Internet.
Here’s an example
You can download content editorial planners for free here. http://www.curata.com/blog/content-marketing-editorial-calendar-templates-the-ultimate-list/
Step #3: Address Supporters’ Needs and Overcome their Objections
People read content because they want answers to their questions, not because they’re keen to experience writing that’s on a level with Shakespeare. That’s really worth remembering, because although writing style matters to some extent, it doesn’t matter anywhere near as much as copy which clearly and boldly answers readers’ questions and objections.
The questions and objections people have fall into two categories.
1. Questions about your organisation (it’s mainly prospects who have these)
2. Questions about the project, programme or campaign that you’re running (both prospects and existing donors will have questions about these)
The best way to answer objections and questions is to telegraph them in headlines (and to some extent, images). Eight out of ten people read headlines. Only two out of ten will read the rest of your copy.
By giving answers which are easy to spot and read, your supporters are more likely to donate to your charity.
There are a couple of ways to quickly and easily discover what type of unspoken questions your supporters might ask themselves using free online resources.
It’s critical to bear in mind that understanding your prospects’ and donors’ needs and objections is THE number one factor in fundraising effectiveness. And tools like Quora help you gain that understanding.
The best way to use Quora?
Think of a question that someone sitting on the fence about donating to your charity might ask themselves before they donate, then search for it (ideally one with several up-votes, showing it’s popular).
The answers you unearth become the basis for the headlines you use in your Blogs, Direct Mail and Email appeals, Major Gift, Corporate and Trust proposals and Legacy marketing.
Don’t forget to look at ‘Related Questions’ too, as these provide more of the type of questions your target audiences may want answers to before they will give their support – or continue to support – your charity.
By a process of ‘reverse- engineering’ it’s possible to survey existing donors retrospectively, quickly establishing what questions and objections they had about you before they donated.
To enhance response, the survey can be easily followed up in hard copy form with new donor welcome packs too.
Step #4: Identify what content people like already, then re-use it
Why spend precious time and brain-power dreaming up brand new content when what you have already can work even harder for you?
There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel when it’s already available and it can be ‘re-purposed’ to attract other audiences through a variety of different fundraising channels.
Re-purposing content (aka finding new ways to recycle your existing content) has a number of benefits, such as:
- Reaching a New Audience. When it comes to how content is consumed, people have preferences. Reformatting your content for different marketing media and channels – audio / video / mobiles – means appealing to more audiences and extending your reach.
- Reactivating Existing Audiences. Repurposing old favourites in your content library not only gives supporters who missed it first time round a chance to experience the ‘wow’ factor your popular charity themes generate, but they will bring a fresh wave of donor actions from your donorbase too.
- Making the Most of Your Efforts. Repurposing content improves efficiency levels in your fundraising operations. You aren’t wasting time and energy re-inventing the wheel.
Here are some examples
1. Webinars –> Video Tutorials
Not everyone will make it to your webinar, and months later you’ll have new site visitors and leads who don’t even know what they missed out on.
You can re-purpose that webinar as a YouTube video. Not only will that asset be great on your website, but you may drive new visitors to your site via YouTube.
2. Old Blog Posts –> Guides
Once you’ve blogged a lot about a specific topic, consider repackaging those blog posts into a fresh new guide. For example, take those blog posts and turn them into “The Complete Guide to Coping with Early-Stages Dementia” which you can then use in your email marketing efforts.
When you work hard on crafting quality blog posts, you don’t want them to become lost and forgotten.
3. PowerPoint Presentation –> Slidedeck
Nobody wants to see their pored-over and polished PowerPoint presentations wasted. Take the beautiful charts and the glorious graphs and repurpose them into slide decks with the help of SlideShare.
Just edit your slides for a charity audience, upload your PowerPoint presentation to SlideShare, and embed the presentation in one of your web pages. Possibly the easiest day’s content work you’ll do.
4. Visual Content –> Pinterest Board
Do you have some blog posts that are especially image heavy? Make the most of your picture posts by re-purposing those images on Pinterest.
Upload pins, or even create whole new board dedicated to your fundraising message. Those pins can drive referral traffic to your blog post, adding a new segment of traffic to your site.
5. Quora Q&A –> Blog Post
Quickly research what the public want to know about the work you’re doing – then publish a blog about it.
6. Slideshow –> Infographic
Remember those stunning graphs and charts we mentioned earlier from your PowerPoint presentation? They really are stunning! In fact, we have another way you can repurpose those class act elements – turn them into infographics!
Infographics are the darlings of the content world. They’re informative, they’re easy to read, and they get shared. Infographics can grab attention and interest instantly, so they are great way to generate new inbound traffic (prospective donors) for your website. Check out some free infographic templates here.
7. Statistics –> Twitter Posts
Use your most compelling data as tweets
Repurposing your stats into tweetable highlights makes them much more sharable and is sure to give your content better reach.
8. Blog Post –> Podcast
Listening to podcasts in cars, trains and planes – is one of the easiest ways for people to make the most of all that limbo time in-between destinations.
You can contract a variety of voice-types (even regional accents) to suit the tone of your message and brand, for around the £100 mark or less.
Step #5: Harness Events and Anniversaries to promote your content
It has been reported that almost 18 million Britons tuned into watch Meghan Markle and Prince Harry exchange vows this summer.
Furthermore, it is believed that more than two billion people worldwide watched the event, making it the fourth most watched royal wedding ever.
England’s opening 2-1 victory over Tunisia at the 2018 World Cup attracted a peak TV audience of 18.3m – more than the royal wedding.
The figures do not account for fans who were watching in pubs or big screens, meaning it is likely that the figure is substantially higher.
Rather than compete with the highly publicised events of the day, saddle up with them instead and ride the wave of public sentiment which surrounds them and people will pay your cause more attention.
When you tie your fundraising content to the World Cup or a royal wedding, much of the heavy marketing lifting is done for you. Your job then is simply to link-in your message to the event in question.
‘Piggy-backing’ your content onto the tails of a major event or anniversary – as in this political advert – makes your message resonate more with your target audience.
If you found this article helpful, you may want to check out my website where you’ll find out why it’s a good idea to keep in mind ‘supporter journeys’ when writing content.