Mobile Content – Trends and Lessons from Nonprofits

The following post is an adaptation of a presentation, How Mobile is Changing Content and What it Means for Businesses and Nonprofits, given by Luminate Marketing at the 2011 Search Engine Strategies conference in Chicago.

Mobile Marketing Today

Smart Phone Growth

comScore's data shows US 53% YoY smartphone growth in the US

Marketing bloggers and observers have been predicting and proclaiming “the year of mobile” for years. Let’s step back from predictions and look at what’s happening now in mobile marketing and how we can make the most of it.

The reality is, we’ve seen mobile marketing help our clients immensely and really get them on the map. No small part of this has been the accelerated adoption of smartphone technology. Currently, 37% of US mobile phone users own a smart phone — nearly 90 million users. Regardless of if we’ve seen the year of mobile or if it’s still in the future, these numbers present a real opportunity, now.

Browser and Application Use

Among smartphone users, comScore finds 90% of users use browsers or apps

5 Impacts of Mobile Technology

Mobile technology has certainly made its impact on the marketing industry. For businesses and nonprofits alike, we are seeing

  1. Localization
    Search on mobile is increasingly local; mobile devices allow for a more relevant content experience including check-ins for businesses and location-based searches for nearby services for nonprofits.
  2. Immediacy
    We now have the ability to provide timely content, that otherwise would be less valuable if you had to wait for user to get back to desktop. For business – offerings like Groupon Now, deals you can use in the next two hours; for nonprofits informing donors of immediate needs for resources, volunteers, etc.
  3. Sharability
    Content served in the mobile environment have an incredible opportunity to be shared with users’ networks. Mobile devices have become a hub for social sharing, and that’s not industry or sector specific.
  4. Media Mobility
    We now have the ability to create and view nearly all media from just about anywhere.  See below for a more detailed look at this impact
  5. Divergent Platforms
    With the previous 4 positive impacts comes this challenge. Marketers have to account for variability in users’ devices and feature compatibility. We have to decide which platform and which feautres are most important to our users and constituents and prioritize development. We can’t provide everyone with everything.

Media Mobility, the Center of it All

The mobility of media is at the center of all of these. Without content to distribute immediately that’s worthy of sharing, location-aware, and optimized for our chosen platform(s), the entire process would be sunk. Specially let’s look at the overlap between the two sectors Luminate Marketing works in, the nonprofit and for-profit, and what businesses can learn from nonprofits taking advantage of mobile marketing today.

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Writing a Marketing Plan that Takes the Cake


Don’t just write a marketing plan for the sake of checking off the box; develop one that takes the cake.


What stands between you and this delicious competitive advantage? Only a baking dish, some flour, a few eggs, frosting, and of course sprinkles. Perhaps we’re taking this metaphor a little far, but bear with us.


1.   Baking Dish Basics: Your Target Market
A cake needs a framework to fit into, and so does your marketing plan.  If you don’t know who your target market is, find out.  There’s nothing harder or more frustrating than crafting a message to a group you know nothing about.  Consider the basics: demographics, characteristics, habits, interests, and passions of your market.  Make sure you know why you’re focusing on them, and be sure these reasons make sense.

2.   Add the Main Ingredient: Flour (a.k.a. Strategy)
Flour is the main ingredient to a cake, just like strategic innovation is the main ingredient for your marketing plan.  It is the underpinning for the entire plan, and should be given careful consideration.  Marketing strategy provides a framework for the tactical initiatives you implement moving forward to take place.  Consider creative strategies and grassroot campaigns that can help you stand above the rest and have a voice.  Avoid heavily saturated and commonly used channels and instead consider ideas that are more ‘off the beaten path.’  It may feel a little risky at first, but most noteworthy things do.


3.   Time to Beat the Eggs: Your Competition
When baking, you crack the egg and use what’s inside it; the shell has little value.  The same is true in the business of marketing.  Start by completing a competitive audit, which means taking a sample of who is in your competitive arena and what they are offering.   Are they targeting your same demographic?  Do they offer a similar set of services as you?   Is there a competitive advantage they have at their disposal which you do not?   Ensure you know what differentiates you from your competition and the other hats in the ring when it comes to your potential customers/clients/donors.


4.   With Frosting Set it Actually Starts Looking like a Cake.  Set Goals.
Once the frosting is spread and set, it really begins looking like something worth putting candles in and singing over.  Get a vision, set your goals, communicate them to your team, and you’ll feel like singing, too.  What are you trying to achieve, both short-term and long-term?   Is it an increased donor base, more committed investors, increased exposure and hit rates for your online promotions, awareness for your cause?  The more specific your goals, the better.  Once you know where you want to go, getting there will suddenly become a lot easier.   Tip: Document.  Stats show you’re over 85% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down.


5.   Finally, the Sprinkles…and Budget (both may seem tiny)
Have a shoestring budget?  You’re not alone.  This takes us back to the creative strategy mentioned above; especially in today’s social media saturated marketing environment, you don’t have to be a millionaire to have your message heard.  When it comes to budgeting, make sure you break it down.  Have goals and projections for each quarter, and make sure you are completely accountable for being in the ballpark of those projections.   If it takes sharing the numbers with others to accomplish this, by all means do so.


Can writing a marketing plan be “as easy as cake”?  Of course.  Corporate, nonprofit, or ministry-related, all marketing plans build on the same basic fundamentals of marketing best practices and an eye for the trends.   If you keep to the basics and make sure they’re solid, developing a marketing plan that takes the cake will come more naturally than you’d think.


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An End to the ‘Nonprofit Disadvantage’?

There has been a considerable gap in the marketing excellence of corporations and nonprofit organizations since the dawn of time.  Why?  Sure, money and technology are the obvious answers.  But there’s something else: advantage.  It’s not just money or technology that provides corporations this advantage; it’s the innate advantage that comes with being a well-resourced, well-networked, well-funded corporation.

For example, let’s say you work for a large corporation – the kind on the 45th floor downtown with an all-glass conference room and beer in the fridge.  Seems pretty impressive, right?  Investors think so too.  That’s why you have corporations which sell clothing, beauty products, athletic equipment, and high-profile liquors getting all the TV advertising, Radio spots, and Ad space.  It’s also why you have ministries and nonprofits (which are doing incredible things in the World) getting stuck with the “leftovers”: a crummy website, sub-par written pieces, and Powerpoint presentations put together by anyone who has a spare moment the day it’s due.

But this is no longer the case.  This could be the end to the Nonprofit Disadvantage.  Why?  Because the playing fields have been leveled.  TV advertising and Radio spots – once the advantage of highly-funded corporations – are no longer how you sell.  With the introduction of the Internet, social media, and the chance to ‘go viral,’ the goal for corporations and nonprofits alike is not media spend: it’s influence.  How you engage the attention, pull on the heart strings, appeal to the funny bone, and capture the audience of today is less about money and more about intrigue.  If you post something interesting online, interesting enough that people think it’s worth repeating or forwarding on to others, they do your marketing for you.  Corporations are no longer at an advantage because everyone is going after the same thing – being relevant and being interesting.  This is truly the first time in years that ministries and nonprofits have the same chance at mindshare as the big guys.

Who cares if you spend a lot of money.  If you aren’t interesting, you won’t get very far.  Let’s say a friend sends you a link to an electronics company who is giving away yet another ‘free’ TV if you spend a gazillion dollars with them, and another friend sends you a link to an organization inviting you to become part of their journey to build clean water wells for children in Africa; which are you more likely to pass on?  Which would you be more likely to watch a video about, and forward on to family and friends?  Call us crazy, but we think a Global ministry serving 50,000 people per quarter is more interesting than a large Corporation trying to get $50,000 in material sales per quarter.  Therefore, the social marketing golden opportunities are endless for nonprofits right now…Let’s go!

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