Build Your Message Team
Part Two—Groundwork

Start here with Part One: Why & What

Training your staff and leadership is a high-impact, low-investment marketing strategy for every nonprofit, but one that’s frequently overlooked. It’s the ultimate low-hanging fruit for nonprofits like yours.

The following groundwork sets the stage for sure success:

1. Ensure your message platform is clear and relevant. You may have been using these messages for a few years, or they may be new.

If you’ve done it right, you’ve sourced the insights of your colleagues and leadership in developing these messages and nurtured their understanding of, and buy-in to, the process along the way.

2. Secure leadership buy in by sharing the value of your all-org message team

Position the message team as a program, not a one-off; a way of doing business, not a band-aid. If you (or your bosses) see training as one-time or finite, results will be equally limited (but that may be the way you have to start).

Be aware that this strategy is likely to be a significant cultural shift (tearing down formal or unspoken silos with your organization), and that the transition in full may take some time.

Open the conversation by sharing your vision, then emphasize these immediate benefits and longer-term gains:

  • Benefit:Greater accuracy and consistency of messages conveyed in conversations and communications across audiences and programs
    • Gain: Clearer, quicker connections with more of your target audiences
    • Gain: Increased likelihood of motivating the actions you need
  • Benefit: Improved understanding of organization goals and priorities across the organization
  • Benefit:Enhanced ability to harvest and share relevant information and feedback with the right colleagues across the organization—on programs, audiences preferences and values, and more
    • Gain: Stronger programs and processes via acquisition of broader and deeper audience insights and cross-department collaboration.
  • Benefit:A more highly-skilled, group of staff and board members
    • Gain: Greater employee and board satisfaction.

3. Introduce the concept to your colleagues: It’s always best to start dripping an idea like this out in casual hallway or drop-by conversations (or the virtual equivalent). You’ll learn what resonates with your colleagues and what doesn’t, so you can fine tune before rolling the program out more broadly.

4. Recruit your message team—Email or, even better, talk with your colleagues to:

  • Request their help (attention, time and effort) in strengthening conversations and communications
  • Outline their potential impact as organizational messengers
  • Calm their qualms by sharing your realistic expectations about how much extra time and effort this will take. Note: In most cases, your colleagues already having the conversations, and becoming a skilled messenger will help them do so more confidently, quickly and effectively.
  • Build confidence and interest with a brief overview of how you’ll help them prepare via training, practice and feedback.

Include the message platform and some context on why and when the messages were developed, how they connect with each target audience, and how they differentiate your nonprofit from organizations competing for attention and action.

Also share an accessible one-page summary of your overall marketing strategy that shows at a glance how messaging fits in.  It’s hard to be an effective messenger without an understanding of the larger framework.

Post these docs in your organization’s online workspace for ongoing reference.

You’re off and running. Part Three will guide you through the specific skills and tools your team will need to be powerhouse messengers.

Build Your Message Team

Nancy Schwartz on July 19, 2012 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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