Message Development — Know Your Audiences

October 28, 2010

Outreach strategies abound, especially given all the social media. To be successful in this economy, or any economy, your messages need to be focused on the audiences you are trying to reach and need to illustrate the critical reason for your existence.

Who are your members? Who are your customers? What do they want? What do they need? What will entice them to look your way initially? What will entice them to keep coming back?

Your members are the people who believe in your mission. If you run the Humane Society, your members are pet owners and pet lovers. If you work on civil rights, your members are those people who: a) have been affected by civil rights issues; b) know someone affected by civil rights issues; or c) have a passion for civil rights. These people are your primary audience.

Secondary audiences include funders, the media, partner groups with like-minded organizations, neighbors, officials and vendors. Internal audiences include your board and your staff.

If you’ve developed a relevant mission about which you are passionate, that is the foundation of all your messaging.

I’m a big believer in cutlines, aka slogans. Develop a short one-sentence slogan and include it in all your correspondence and message materials. For example: “Curing polio, one child at a time.” This is a part of branding your organization. When this slogan is on all your materials, your audiences know at one glance what you’re all about. They can also decide quickly if they are interested in reading more or being a part of your organization.

Put yourself in the mindset of your members. Why are they members of your organization? Why do they give you money or attend your functions? What do they care about?

Once you determine those answers, address those needs. Provide information on the things in which your members and potential members are interested. If you’re an environmental group, provide legislative updates and information about sites across the country, tell stories about how you are helping to save the environment, stress how your members are helping in this quest. Give them further resources, whether that’s blogs or links or books or other organizations.

Always include a call to action. Potential members as well as members want to know how they can help. Some people will just give money, and that’s fine. Other people will be interested in actually going out to a site to help with the cleanup, or maybe they can help with an event or passing out flyers or simply spreading the word. The more people feel engaged and a part of the cause, the more they will do.

Set up interactions, if possible. Invite people to your offices or to your events. Encourage participation in your blogs. Provide feedback forms. Try and set up a dialogue. Again, you want people to feel engaged.

Become the main information hub on anything and everything to do with your mission.

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Nonprofits: Revisit Your Mission to Revitalize Your Organization

October 4, 2010

Mission Focus at Nonprofits Important for Morale, Success

As I peruse and participate in Linked In groups and surf the blogosphere, I’m noticing the singular aspect of communications queries and tips. What should I put on my website? How can I drive traffic to my website? Should I have a two-fold or three-fold brochure? My response is a question. How do these message distribution channels fit into your overall communications strategy? Do you have a strategy? And if you do, how does your strategy communicate your mission?

                                                What is Your Strategy?

The days of counting newsclips as success are gone (I hope). The days of fuzzy ROI regarding public relations are also going by the wayside. There are countless ways to publish your news and promote your organization. But you need a plan.

Start with your mission or your goals. Why are you in business? What do you do? To what end? You and each and every employee should be able to state the answer to these questions in one short sentence. If that’s not the case, then you have some work to do.        

Most organizations start with well defined goals and a business plan. When your business was new, I’m confident the boss and employees knew exactly what the goals were. There was probably a lot of excitement – and possibly exhaustion from working so hard to get the word out. But as time passes, it’s easy to become complacent and lose sight of your goals.

When is the last time you really looked at your mission – and really read it? It’s important to review your mission at least every couple years to see if: 1) it’s still relevant; and 2) you are following your mission.                          

 Focus on Relevance

Hold a brainstorming session for all staff. Or if you have a large organization, hold a few brainstorming sessions. Encourage everyone to participate. Focus on questions like: Is our mission relevant and current? Does it describe our goals? Does it need to be changed or completely rewritten?

Depending upon the results of these brainstorming sessions, hold follow up meetings. Rewrite your mission, if necessary, and include the staff in the process. Or maybe you don’t need to rewrite your mission. Kudos. Then ask the employees to articulate what the mission means to them.                                                                                                                    

Either way, a focus on your mission will generate a renewed commitment to your organizational goals. It will motivate people by reminding them of why they do what they do, and why your organization is important.

Morale will improve and productivity will improve. This is a vital first step towards developing your messaging and messaging strategies.        

Next post: Know Your Audience


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