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How to reach people already looking for you

David: Welcome to the 15th episode of Nonprofit Video Comms, the show about nonprofit video marketing to help your organization be seen, get funded and be more helpful. My name is David.


If you are a comms person for a nonprofit or you're a comms consultant or you're doing it all yourself... Like, maybe you're an executive director or an operations director who is tasked with comms and marketing, then you probably know about the basics about content creation. So things like a content calendar, storytelling basics, posting to different social media platforms and the management tools for those, blogging, and SEO and website maintenance and some tracking tools. Now that you have the basics, there is an approach that I want you to think about. This approach is meant to take all of the basics and get away from general awareness to hyper precise awareness; a switch from raising awareness among total strangers to raising awareness among people who are already searching for you — a large pool of already existing inquiries and showing up for those inquiries. Here are three things to clarify what I mean.

A common approach to raising awareness at a small nonprofit is to come up with as many topics for posting as possible. Topics that might include organization announcements, re-sharing news in the sector, volunteer or participant stories, topics related to upcoming holidays, campaigns for fundraising, and then you kind of lose steam. But the point is to catch someone's attention to start them off with some interesting content and then keep them and hopefully engage them further in the long term. In this other approach, this sharper approach that I'm suggesting, we spend our limited time focusing instead on the people who are already out there. These people are — and this is a made up number, but it's got to be at least — in the thousands in whatever city you are in.

Thousands of people are at their keyboard searching stuff like “local jobs help”, “food bank nearby,” “How much is counseling?”, “am I eligible for such and such subsidy?” Or they're typing in concerns such as “I'm scared to go to a food bank,” “My kids’ friends will laugh at them,” “Are shelters safe?” What I'm saying is the searches are already happening concerning your program or service. You have a very wide open opportunity to simply show up by writing about that. Write about it in your social media. Write about it in your blog on your website, wherever it is that you write or post photos or make videos. Address those commonly asked questions. That takes out half the work of trying to come up with catchy stuff. Instead, you just show up for already existing questions.

An analogy of this would be: you could walk up and down a highway of speeding cars where everyone is on their way to go do other stuff, and you could flash signs saying “New restaurant over here” or you could stand at the exit of the highway where cars are looking for a break. They're looking for food. They're already doing that. So you put up your sign there, announcing your restaurant. You go where people are already looking for what you offer. And because it's happening by the thousands every minute, every day, it's just a matter of showing up there at that position.

So how do you know where that is? How do you know what people are even asking? There are many ways to find this information. I'm going to give you two very simple ones that you can do yourself for free because those other options cost money. But here are the free ones.

Check Google search results

The first one is to go to Google and search anything from the perspective of somebody looking for your service. Let's say you work for a food bank. You might type in something super basic, like “Winnipeg nearest food bank.” Type that in that's sure to give you some kind of result. Look somewhere on that page. I think there's a little bit near the top and then more on the bottom that goes “People also search for…” . It's something like that. And you'll see different versions of [your] question. That is a great place to start for topic titles. Those have the highest chance of showing up in people's search results because Google is telling you this is something that real existing people have recently typed a lot of. That's your first indication that this is a good one to go with.

Check your emails and messages

The second place to look is in your own data and observations. If you have emails from inquiries, if you have social media and comments from people, if you have conversations with people who come in and out of your lobby, you probably have some kind of collection of comments or at least a memory of people's feedback where they've asked you kind of the same old questions over and over — those questions that you kind of get tired of answering. There's a reason you hear them from one person to the next, to the next, to the next. It's because this is information that they want. This is information that for some reason they cannot find. So they've had to ask you. And when they get that information, they can move forward with using your service. This makes it a very important question. If it's repetitive, don't think of it as boring. Think of it as something to pay attention to. This is a great question to use as a topic for your social media, for your blog, for your videos, for any content that you do.

So two simple and free sources of finding topics and content: Google searches under “people also ask for”, and your own inquiries and observations from people that are common, that are frequent, that are repetitive.


So to wrap that up. If you are a consultant, a comms person, a marketing person doing work for a small nonprofit and you know the basics, you know your content calendars, your storytelling, your social media, et cetera, I encourage you to raise awareness through meeting people where they are already at, where they're already asking about your service and looking for your service. Don't stand on the side of a speeding highway. Stand at the exit of the highway where they're already looking for your restaurant.

Thanks for listening. That was Episode 15. My name is David Phu. P-H-U. Would love to connect with you on LinkedIn and I invite you to check out my website to check out free resources and other ways that I can help you.

Until next time. Bye.

Learn about our services at Nonprofit Video Comms or follow David on LinkedIn.

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