• Zeb Carlson

5 tips for mission driven marketing


Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge in the right direction to get things feeling so much more doable.


Let's face it: Developing successful marketing plans can sometimes feel like either a) a lot of fluff or b) complex and confusing. And then, even when you get the final plan nailed down, there are soooo many obstacles that stand in the way of bringing it to life.


Even on the days when it feel like the odds are stacked against us, there are a few keys that prove over and over to be incredibly helpful. Here are 5 tips I frequently share with my clients and teams.

Define your primary objectives.

Let's make sure you have answered this question: What's your marketing ambition?


This is the heart of everything you do. These days, with meeting culture and overflowing inboxes, distraction is always looming around the corner. However, crafting a plan that utilizes your overall marketing ambition at its core proves to be the nemesis of distraction. Score!


There are seemingly countless planning approaches and templates, so use your Google to find something that works for you (well, or hire me to help you). I like to consolidate the big plan into a 1-pager that can be shared with teams, your board members, and so on. You'll fall-back onto this doc over and over as the year progresses, and it's OK if you struggle to keep up with achieving the objectives: progress is progress, so don't get frustrated that it's taking more time than you anticipated.

Tack that 1-pager on the wall by your desk and the copy machine, and share broadly throughout the organization. Use the objectives to ask yourself, "how does the thing I'm working on now help achieve our objectives?".


And if the answer is a bit fuzzy? Maybe the thing you're working on — be it big or small — isn't a priority. #realtalk


Balance your mission with your donor’s desire.

Your donors and fans create the foundation for all the things. You have to know your audience.


And if you don't know your audience, can we talk?


Donors want orgs to be efficient, show the impact of their investment, and prefer to be spoken to in real-talk. When you are able to shorten the distance from the hand that clicks "donate now" to the impact of the communities in need, you are totally winning.


Assuming you have your audiences ironed out, take their motivations into account in bringing them close to your mission. Find ways to understand how the content you create feels that it is part of their own personal mission.


Too many organizations take their donors out of the equation, and that just doesn't work. Donors want to help! When you integrate your mission with theirs, it's easier for them to lend a hand, donate a few bucks, or advocate on behalf of your mission.

Find ways to get momentum.

From start-up to big-org, it can be frustrating to find your groove. Especially when your passion is ignited! Identify quick-wins to build momentum that keeps you on-course.

Often, I'll draft a progress map that helps define the coming months/years. This is an extension of the first tip about objectives and gives you bite-size goals that help you feel accomplished while you are gettin' sh*t done.


***This feels like the perfect time to hop up on my soapbox: Editorial Calendar, baby! When you have a central doc that captures all the things you are workin' on throughout the year, broken into themes and monthly plans, you are so much more powerful in finding your content marketing vibe.

Don’t overbuild.

For real. Find the right balance of strategy & boots on the ground. Don't be afraid to look yourself in the mirror and call it: If it's feeling clunky or complicated, you might be constructing a skyscraper when you just need that cute tiny home instead. Follow your instinct; it's pretty often darn close to what is needed.


Things move too darn quick for us to overthink. And strategy for the sake of strategy is, like, so 2001. Find what perfection looks like, and conversely, what happens when you stumble. Somewhere in the middle is the right size for the right time.

Processes are incredibly important, too. But a big part of this is finding processes that enable action, not bog down folks with paperwork. There isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to this and having a few candid conversations helps nail down what's right for you and your Org.

Have fun!

Helping people live to their full potential is invigorating. And that passion should be felt by our donors and communities we serve. When working in lack-of-resources-stretched-too-thin world is pretty dang stressful, and we can get bogged down quickly.


But remember: You are a change maker. Yeah, you! Take a look in the mirror and tell yourself that. Maybe every day? Take the time to find the positive energy and bring it to your workday.


And weave that mojo into your meetings and encounters by the microwave in the break room. Crack a silly dad joke. Do an awkward high-five. Cut yourself some slack, even. Find your balance and find your own brand of fun.


OK, your turn: What have you found helpful and would add to this list? I'd love to hear from you.

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