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Episode 45 – Content Marketing

Content Marketing

My guest on the show today is Scott Everhart. Scott Everhart is Senior Director of Marketing for Wycliffe Bible Translators USA in Orlando, Florida.  He is entering his third year both at Wycliffe and in the ministry vertical. The previous 18 years were spent marketing a variety of products and services ranging from software to soft drinks for both corporations and agencies. A North Carolina native, Scott spends his free time exploring Disney World with his 6-year-old daughter and trying to teach her why Star Wars is for girls too.  He’s been moderately successful with the latter. When not with his daughter, he enjoys Atlanta Braves baseball, going to the movies and hopes to be SCUBA certified in the next 18 months.

Highlights from this Conversation

  1. What has worked well for you?
    1. Never let a good anniversary go to waste
    2. Content Marketing
      1. Come up with a content plan annually and focus on quarters
      2. It has to be a long term plan, it will take more than a quarter to see any results
      3. Figure out what the audience wants and speak to that. Then make what they care about relevant to what we do.
    3. Direct Mail
    4. Cloud based technology
      1. Inexpensive but very powerful
  2. What hasn’t worked well that we can learn from?
    1. Don’t fall into the “perfect tool” trap
  3. What are you excited about?
    1. #whybible
      1. Similar to giving Tuesday
      2. Partnering with other organizations to reach a similar audience
    2. Facebook Algorithm

Interview Transcript

Adam: [00:00:09] Hi and welcome to the Good People Good Marketing podcast, a podcast about nonprofit digital marketing and how to make it better so that good people at good organizations can have good marketing as well. I’m your host Adam Walker co-founder of Sideways Eight, a digital marketing agency that specializes in nonprofit work and 48in48, a nonprofit dedicated to hosting events that build forty-eight websites for forty-eight nonprofits in forty-eight hours.

 

[00:00:31] Today my guest is Scott Everhart. He is the senior director of marketing for Wycliffe Bible Translators in USA Orlando, Florida. I almost said Colorado there. He is entering in his third year, both at Wycliffe, keep wanting to say Wyclef, but it’s Wycliffe for all of our listeners that don’t know, and in the ministry vertical. For the previous eighteen years, he’s spent marketing a variety of products and services, ranging from software to soft drinks to both corporations and agencies.

 

[00:01:00] A North Carolina native, Scott spends his free time exploring Disney World with a six-year-old daughter and trying to teach her why Star Wars is for girls too. He’s been moderately successful with the latter. When not with his daughter, he enjoys Atlanta Braves baseball, go Braves, going to the movies and hopes to be scuba certified in the next eighteen months. Wow, that sounds amazing. Scott, welcome to the podcast.

 

Scott: [00:01:21] Great. Thanks for having me.

 

Adam: [00:01:21] That’s a really excellent bio, especially the efforts with your daughter. Do you have anything to add to that?

 

Scott: [00:01:30] No, I think that’s pretty much my world right there, so your listeners have a great insight into what life is like for me right now.

 

Adam: [00:01:40] That sounds pretty good. Being in Orlando, going to Disney World, I could get behind something like that. That’s all I’m trying to say. I could do that. Well, as you know, as we discussed previously, this podcast really centers around three questions and we’ll go ahead and roll into those questions and then just sort of see where the conversation takes us from there. Question number one related to marketing for nonprofits. Tell us something that’s worked well for you.

 

Scott: [00:02:04] Actually, if you don’t mind, I have four things.

 

Adam: [00:02:09] That’s great. Let’s get through it. I want to hear it.

 

Scott: [00:02:11] We actually just celebrated our seventy-fifth year. We started in 1942. One of the things that we found really successful and we sort of took a page from Disney in this, you never let a good anniversary go to waste. If you can take a twelve-month celebration and turn it into eighteen months, that’s also a good thing.

 

[00:02:32] When you especially have a big year, like a seventy-fifth year, it gives you a real opportunity to take content that may not have been digitized or in your digital archive and available online to a lot of audiences for ever. It allows you to bring up those historical pieces that really give your current audience a sense of where your history is and what you’ve done in your past, but also, allows you to reach new audiences with this sort of historical pieces that allow you to show that you’re stable, that you’re doing good work, and you’ve been doing good work for a long time, that you’ve stayed dedicated to your mission. We found that that was really helpful in growing our audience.

 

[00:03:18] Another piece is content marketing. We, just within the last fifteen months, shifted from throwing out whatever we felt like was really relevant to really coming up with a content plan annually and we do it in quarters. We start in January and we run for three months on a particular theme that surrounds either what the audience is looking for like, our first quarter of 2017 was searching for significance. It was really an opportunity for us to talk about what we’d seen in both the millennial demographic but also that applied to every stage of life. There’s always these inflection points in lives where you go, “Am I doing what I’m supposed to be doing? Is this what God called me to do? Is this what I feel like my purpose is?

 

[00:04:06] We really tried to focus around creating a devotional, creating other supporting content that talked about not necessarily Bible translation, but just saying, “Hey, what do you think you should be doing right now? Maybe we can help you find that,” Maybe that’s in Bible translation, maybe that’s just in supporting Bible translation, either through partnering with us financially or through prayer or actually coming on board as part of our staff. It’s worked really well for us. We’ve done something every quarter and we try to mix it up so that we don’t sort of get bored and appear to be a one-trick pony.

 

Adam: [00:04:47] Right, of course.

 

Scott: [00:04:47] But the key to that is, and I tell your listeners, especially if they haven’t dabbled in it yet, it has to be a long-term plan. We didn’t see the needle move from bottom to top with that first quarter. We saw it start to rise, start to move a little bit. We know that right now, we’re really starting to see that benefit because that significance campaign is still up. We intend to keep it up and it’s starting to build momentum organically through SEO and just word of mouth.

 

[00:05:20] In addition to what we did the first quarter of 2017, it’s continuing to grow on its own. We’ve tried to build plans and content themes that will do that long term for us so that it becomes sort of this flywheel effect, that you put a lot of effort in at the beginning and it becomes easier as you go along. What I would recommend to your audiences is if you start a content marketing program that you just have to have patience. The ROI will come. It’s just a long-term plan not a short-term plan.

 

[00:05:53] In addition to digital marketing, and I’m sure a lot of your listeners do this too, but we still see direct mail as a big fundraiser and awareness builder for us. Direct mail is still king. What we’re seeing in the research is even Millennials love it. My team is majority Millennials and they still strongly advocate for us participating in direct mail programs because they are inundated every day with digital messages and so to get something tangible in their mailbox, that’s well-designed, that is coherent, cohesive to a particular message, it does still stand out, so we still do quite a bit of that as well.

 

[00:06:35] The fourth thing I would say is cloud-based technology is a great thing, whether it’s your CRM in Salesforce. We’ve just converted over to Workday for a lot of our HR and what have you. We’re seeing a lot of benefits in getting those technologies that are cloud based, that are inexpensive but still extremely powerful to help us both manage analytics, to understand who our audience is, to understand their patterns and their behaviors and that really helps us make decisions, again, when it comes to the content marketing, when it comes to what we’re saying in the direct mail. Yeah, that’s probably the four big things for us.

 

Adam: [00:07:18] That’s a fantastic. I love that. I love that. I’ve got a couple of questions in there. On the content marketing side, this is something that I’m actually particularly passionate about and trying to ramp up in both of the organizations that I lead. What’s interesting to me is what you said, first of all, that it’s a long-term play.

 

Scott: [00:07:37] Absolutely.

 

Adam: [00:07:37] You’ve got to be in it, I’d say for a minimum of six months if you’re going to see a big payoff. In my mind, I think the hurdle to overcome for content marketing is really more mental than it is physical. I think it takes really solid planning and then you just carve out a few hours here and there to execute it. Has that been your experience or what are your thoughts on that?

 

Scott: [00:07:58] For us it’s been a very iterative process. We started out, like I said, last year in the first quarter and said, “Okay, we’re going to do content marketing.” We read up on it and we came up with some ideas and we started a plan. We thought we did pretty well. We said we’re not going to put any expectations on this quarter. We’re not going to say, “Oh, well, we’re going to do at least X in donations or downloads or anything like that.” We just said, “We’re going to put this out there, do the best we can with it.” That creates our baseline so that we can then say, “Okay what did we do in that quarter that worked really well? Let’s do more of that. What didn’t even move the needle? What didn’t seem to resonate? Let’s do less of that.

 

[00:08:41] It’s just been sort of, like I said, iterative piece that we’ve gone through. Now if you look at what we’re doing for this first quarter of 2018 around a call to community, we’ve done a lot more around audience-focused articles. Traditionally, we’re a fairly traditional type of organization. We like to give you a blog post with a story and talk about impact and those are all great things, but what we found was is that there are people out there that don’t necessarily want to read a long blog post, but they’re interested, so we’ve started adding listicles, and shorter articles, and different, more consumable pieces of quick content that are seeming now to resonate more with a different audience. We’re able to bring in multiple types of audiences into the same page and talk to them in different ways.

 

Adam: [00:09:35] Right. Wow. I love that you’re that forward thinking about it. Very, very, very few for-profit or nonprofit companies are really forward thinking about content marketing. But really at the end of the day, what you said was great, it’s not necessarily even about what you do, it’s really about what your listeners need from you, what they need to hear, what they’re interested in, and then you begin to cater to that and then it all comes together.

 

Scott: [00:10:03] Where the magic happens, at least for us, is we figure out what the audience wants and we speak to them about that. Then, for us, the trick is how do we evolve the conversation into making what they care about relevant to what we do. It’s less about “Hey, hi, we’re Wycliffe. Want to give us some money or want to be a (10:27 inaudible)?” It’s more about, “Hey, we’re Wycliffe and we think about the things that you think about and these are important to us too. This is why they’re important to us because they relate to our mission in this way.” That’s really been sort of the aha moment for us in content marketing. It’s less about the sale and more about – sale in nonprofits is a dirty word, but it’s less about the conversion or the transaction. It’s more about the conversation and the relationship because if you can build that relationship, you’ll keep that audience for a long term.

 

Adam: [00:11:04] I totally agree. That’s unbelievable. Great. That’s so, so, so great. Okay. That’s been working well for you. Four things that work well for you. I love all of those. I could talk all day about all those, but I have to get to the next question which is what has not worked well for you that we can learn from.

 

Scott: [00:11:21] I said, we’ve started moving towards cloud technology and I kind of ended on that one for a reason because what I would say is what hasn’t worked well for us is we stepped into the trap of adopting proprietary technology in many cases, from a CMS for our website to a couple other technology pieces on the back end that were designed to help us do better in our marketing and our communications, but at the end of the day, didn’t evolve with the market.

 

[00:11:53] My recommendation to folks is what we’ve learned and have the scars to prove it is don’t get swayed by folks who say, “Oh, we’ve got this great tool. We developed it from the ground up and it’s designed perfectly for nonprofits and exactly what you do,” because in some cases that may be true but in most cases you’re painting yourself into a corner that will be highly expensive to get out of. It may sound inexpensive now but it will be more expensive once you’re stuck in it.

 

[00:12:28] Honestly, the way we look at it, Salesforce does things a certain way. While we have some techniques and what have you that we have to do differently than what Salesforce normally does, a lot of this cloud-based technology forces us to go, “Is this process really necessary the way we’re doing it? Is this the time to change?” and allows us to really closely and objectively examine how we do things and hopefully evolve them for the better.

 

Adam: [00:13:00] I love that. It’s also fascinating to me because there’s all these products out there that are supposed to do everything. What I find, especially in the nonprofit spaces, is those products, while they do everything, they do everything sort of in a mediocre to poor manner, versus just looking at these cloud tools that there’s a best in class for time tracking and time management. There’s a best in class for project management. There’s a best in class for communication and for billing. There’s all these best in class tools that you can just sort of use as one-off things for each thing.

 

[00:13:34] Sure, you’re signing up for maybe five services, whereas before you had one, but they all work significantly better and I think they end up being significantly cheaper in the long run too. I’ll even often talk to people that are trying to build a tool and I’ll just say, “Look, don’t try to build everything, just make one feature better than everybody else. Then if you want to add to that, fine, but make one thing better than everybody else because there’s just so many tools out there that are unbelievable at one thing.

 

[00:14:03] The one that comes to my mind is time tracking in Harvest. It just tracks your time. You click a button, it tracks your time towards a project and it’s unbelievably good. I don’t know that a lot of nonprofits have a need for time tracking like that per se, but we’ve used it with my agency a lot for years. It’s been unbelievable helpful for us.

 

Scott: [00:14:19] The great thing is, especially with the cloud technology, if you pick the right tools, probably seven to eight times out of ten, they have integrations with other cloud tools that you’re probably using, which, at the end of the day, creates that sort of single source of truth for all of your data that this proprietary tool promised, but they evolved together, and they improved together, and they work together. You aren’t beholden to a particular vendor and their development plans, and their ideas of what the next big feature should be.

 

Adam: [00:14:53] Exactly. You’re exactly on point with that. This is exciting. This is a great conversation. I love this. Speaking of exciting, question number three, my favorite question I think of the three, tell us something you’re excited about in the marketing space.

 

Scott: [00:15:07] I can tell you at least from our perspective, we are heading into our third year of a program called #WhyBible. It’s really an interagency coalition type of program. I’m sure your audience is familiar with Giving Tuesday. It’s modeled very similar to that in the sense of we got together at one point, my team and I, and said, “Okay, how do we reach Millennials?” The quintessential question, how do we reach Millennials.

 

[00:15:38] A member of my team said, “I look around in church every Sunday and I don’t see a lot of people like me,” and by that he meant people his age. We said, “Okay, let’s explore that.” He said, “Well, if people aren’t coming to church,” and we know that that’s true, that church attendance is down and that focus on religion and specifically Christianity is waning a little bit compared to previous decades. If the audience doesn’t care about the Bible in their own lives, they’re not going to care about translating it into a language for someone they’re never going to meet, in a language they’ve never heard before.

 

[00:16:17] What we said was that this is an important conversation to have, but it’s bigger than us. This is not a Wycliffe campaign. This is a global campaign. This is a human, this is a Christianity campaign.

 

[00:16:33] What we’ve done is we took sort of the Giving Tuesday model and created an opportunity, where we create assets and creative and ideas for how to run your own campaign. We’ve invited different organizations to come in and participate in their own way. We give you some assets, so if you’re a small organization and you want to join us but you don’t have a graphic designer on hand, it’s available or you can say, “You know what? I’m a large organization. I want to do it my own way.” Do it your own way. We just ask that you include #WhyBible in all of your social posts and create that critical mass of conversation.

 

[00:17:13] That happens every September. The first year we had about nine partners, solely US based. Then year two, last September, we had twenty-seven partners, seven of those were international. We reached just over eight million people with all of the different partners and what have you that were using that hash tag. We’re really excited about this year. We hope some of your listeners might be interested in joining us on that. They can get more information at Why.Bible. That’s the entire URL, Why.Bible. We’re using the new .bible domain extension.

 

Adam: [00:17:48] I didn’t even realize there was a new .bible domain extension. That’s pretty amazing. I knew there were a lot of interesting ones out there. I was unaware of that one. I knew of for example, .Ninja and .Guru are two of the ones that my team has really bantered about quite a bit. They’re (18:06 inaudible) just get adam.guru. I’m like, yeah, it’s never going to happen. Thanks

 

Scott: [00:18:12] Check it out. Certainly your Bible-based organizations, I highly recommend that you go out and grab your .bible domain in that respect as well. That whole program is administered by American Bible Society, so it’s very stable and very trustworthy. Highly recommend that as well. That’s probably two things we’re excited about.

 

[00:18:33] More from a general case, it’s sort of a nervous excited, is this new Facebook algorithm that’s coming out that everybody is talking about and how that’s going to work. I’m sure as with your listeners and your clients and probably even, we’re all kind of sitting on pins and needles seeing how that’s going to impact us and what that’s going to mean for us moving forward.

 

Adam: [00:18:55] That’s right. Yeah, I’m excited on two levels right. I’m excited personally because my news feed was becoming tedious a bit. On a marketer level, I’m a little less excited because there could be some problems there. We’ll see what happens.

 

Scott: [00:19:08] They key, and I’ve seen this in several blog posts, I’d be interested to get your perspective too, but the key is just keep creating good content, back to the whole content marketing thing and it’ll all work out.

 

Adam: [00:19:23] Yeah, well, I think it’s true for SEO, for social, for all of it. It all centers on good content. If you don’t have good content, you’re wasting your time. It’s not just good content either; it’s content that like you said is focused on what your audience wants to talk about, not your services, not your core, not your needs, but what your audience cares about.

 

[00:19:42] I was listening to a book on this recently, which made the point, “Listen, your audience does not care about you. They care about themselves and once you accept that, you can then begin to create content around that and understand that.” I’d like to think in a nonprofit space that audiences legitimately care about – but at the end of the day, what motivates them is not the nonprofit’s mission, is not the nonprofit’s focus, it’s an intrinsic personal motivation that either aligns or doesn’t align with that nonprofit. That’s the motivation you need to in order to get them involved.

 

Scott: [00:20:16] Absolutely.

 

Adam: [00:20:16] That’s great. Scott, let me see if I can recap some of our notes here. I like to give our listeners a good bullet point takeaway. We’ll go ahead and do that right now. What’s worked well for you? Never let a good anniversary go to waste, so promote, promote, promote on those good anniversaries. I love that.

 

[00:20:32] Content marketing, we talked a lot about that. Man, that was amazing. Make sure to re-listen to that part of this podcast. If you’re not doing content marketing, you should absolutely think about it. It’s one of the cheapest and most effective ways to get your brand and your name out there. Come up with a content plan annually and focus on quarters. Make sure you have the long term in mind because it’s going to take you a minimum of six months to see any kind of results. Speak to what your audience needs and care about what your audience needs more than you care about what you need and then you can tie in your stuff later down the road as you connect with that audience.

 

[00:21:05] Next thing you mentioned was direct mail and how that’s still effective. Love that. Love going all kinds of different routes and making it all work together.

 

[00:21:12] Then cloud-based technology, making sure that we’re using tools that are cloud-based and inexpensive but very powerful so that we’re not locked into these big antiquated technologies that lock us down and drain our coffers. Does that sound about right for what’s worked well for you so far? Man, that was good. That was a very, very robust section of what’s worthwhile for you. I love that. I love that.

 

[00:21:37] Number two what hasn’t worked well. You said don’t fall into that perfect tool trap, related to the cloud-based technologies, so if you’re locked into some legacy tool that costs a lot of money and sucks up resources get out of it. It’s probably not the best for you anymore and they’re probably not innovating as fast as someone in the cloud. Look at some cloud options. You’d be surprised at what’s out there. Migration is not always fun, but it will be worth your time.

 

[00:22:02] Lastly, what are you excited about? The WhyBible campaign. My takeaway from that for kind of generic nonprofits is create a campaign and partner with other like-minded organizations to reach a larger audience for your campaign. I think that was my takeaway from what you said, Scott. It was really amazing. I love how it’s begun to scale both internationally and in numbers is really amazing. Then we both agreed the Facebook algorithm is both a blessing and possibly a curse and we have yet to see where that goes.

 

Scott: [00:22:31] Exactly.

 

Adam: [00:22:31] Scott, did I miss anything in my recap?

 

Scott: [00:22:32] No, I think you got it all. Fantastic.

 

Adam: [00:22:38] Fantastic. Well, Scott, this has been amazing. Thanks so much for being on the podcast and thank you listeners for listening to Good People Good Marketing. To get more resources about nonprofit digital marketing make sure to go to goodpeoplegoodmarketing.com where you can find more podcasts, blogs, and other fun resources. Also, if you want to find me, Adam, your host, you can find me on Twitter @AJWalker or on my blog at adamjwalker.com where I blog about leadership and having five kids and other crazy stuff. Thanks for listening and tune in next time.

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