Build Your Message Team:
Part 4—Grow Energy, Insights & Skills

Asking every staff member and leader to become an effective messenger, and training them to do so, 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 organizations like yours.

Today I’ll guide you to deliver the follow up that will keep your messengers focused and energized, and provide ongoing feedback that will strengthen your marketing and more.

This is the last in a series of posts outlining the steps to building a team of effective messengers, following  Part 1: Why & What,  Part 2: Groundwork  and Part 3: Skill Building.

Imagine this—You’ve asked your colleagues and volunteers to develop their skills in engaging supporters, and trained them as a message team.

Three types of messengers left the training that day:

  • Dutiful messengers emerged from the training feeling pleased; relieved to know what to say when, confident in their new skills and assured that you’ll provide appropriate support as needed as they put their skills into play.
  • Reluctant messengers entered the training already overwhelmed by their to-do lists, and just couldn’t absorb what you were saying (though knowing what to say when eases their burden, in time).
  • Superstar messengers finished the session thrilled to develop their professional skills, engaged by what they’ve learned highly-energized and looking hard for the first opportunity to try out their new skills.

But your follow-up needs to be consistent colleagues in each group. It’s the key to ensuring the longevity of effective messengers, the inclusion of those slower to jump on board, and the relevance of your messages, work and impact.

Here’s the follow up process that will get you there:

1) Nourish your messengers by thanking them for their focus, effort (this can be perceived as “extra” work) and achievements, and showing how their work has made a difference for the organization.  You should:

  • Trumpet successes with specifics, in one-to-one and all-team communications. Make sure your leadership is aware of the team effort.
  • Recognize star messengers.
  • Honor the entire message team in an annual celebration.

This tri-fold recognition approach works to:

  • Energize your your dutiful messengers—by showing their impact and demonstrating additional opportunities to share messages.
  • Activate your reluctant messengers—by showing how doable it is to deliver messages effectively.
  • Move your superstar messengers to the next level, as peer trainers or organizational spokespeople (in the formal sense).

2) Get valid, cheap and immediate audience insights by launching an easy-to-use feedback system for messengers to report in on what’s working and what’s not in techniques and messages.

You’re training your messengers to engage in conversations, not monologues.

As a result, their on-the-ground insights reveal what’s relevant to your target audiences and what’s not—in terms of both your work and impact, and the way your talk about those characteristics (your messages).

3) Keep the message team going and growing with ongoing training on at least an annual basis.

There’s turnover to consider, plus the fact that a regular refresher course powers focus and skills. Peer trainers can work with new employees in the interim.

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I urge you to get your all-org message team off the ground now to gain the immediate benefits and longer-term gains outlined above. They far exceed the time and effort you’ll invest—great ROI guaranteed.

Start by reviewing each step of the message team launch process, and please, let me know how it goes!

How do you guide your colleagues to be more effective messengers? Please share your strategies here. 

Nancy Schwartz on October 10, 2012 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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