Broken New Year’s Resolutions — A Lesson in Knowing Your Audience

Rebecca LeetI’m pleased to introduce you to Rebecca Leet, author of Message Matters, who helps nonprofits and foundations sharpen their goals and connect with the people who can achieve them.  She’s my second guest blogger in a periodic series of guest posts and it’s great to add her perspective to the mix. Welcome, Rebecca…

“I discovered years ago that the best time to shop for a near-new stationary bike or treadmill is February. Why? Because those who made a New Year’s resolution to exercise realized pretty quickly that although they need to work out, they don’t want to.

Those gleaming treadmills ready for re-sale remind me of a truth we communicators often overlook: people’s actions are driven more by what they want than by what they need. It’s a lesson that message developers can’t afford to forget.

Focusing on desire affects every aspect of creating a message that connects.  It affects the focus.  It affects the words. And focusing on desire may totally change how you  target audiences for your message. Here are two examples of how it has:

  • I once worked with a social service agency that was making a giant shift in the way its 6,000 professionals would work going forward.  The agency needed a message to motivate them to change.  By focusing on the desires that drove the staff, we realized there were two distinct segments among the target audience (the workers): one saw the change as an opportunity and the other saw it as a threat.
  • Another client was introducing a radically-different approach to preventing child abuse.  Three years after launching it, some stakeholders wanted to know how to implement the new practices, and nothing more.  Others wanted to be involved in improving the approach.  When we began developing a message, we thought our audience would break down by profession – social workers, early childhood professionals, etc.  They didn’t. They were the Implementers and the Innovators.

Next time you craft a message for your organization or program, consider what desires lay behind the actions your audience takes.  You’ll be surprised how groups that looked different suddenly look similar.  And groups that looked the same may look different.”

Thanks much, Rebecca, for a crucial reminder!

P.P.S. Messages that connect are a priority
for all organizations and the prerequisite for motivating your base to act.
Learn how to craft the most essential
message — your tagline.
Download the Nonprofit Tagline Report, filled with must-dos,
don’t dos, case studies and 2,500+ nonprofit tagline examples!

Nancy Schwartz on March 25, 2010 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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