Disconnect Is Damaging (Messaging Case Study)

Flickr: Bradley JohnsonHere’s how I partnered with a wonderful client organization to develop relevant, memorable messages (and guided graphics to match) that are bringing employees, supporters, partners and participants closer and motivating them to get more involved. YOU can do it too

The Challenge: Outdated Messages Were Deterring Key Actions: Registering, Donating, Partnering 

I recently completed an all-new message platform (tagline, positioning statement, talking points or key messages at organization and program level and elevator conversation) for the largest human services organization in Massachusetts.

This agency is renowned for its high-quality service delivery but many of the folks who knew it best (referring health care providers, and current clients and their families) thought it provided a far narrower range of services in fewer locations with far less impact than it does at this point. 

This kind of disconnect is an organizational nightmare—especially when the agency in question has done so much to shape its network of services, approaches and locations in response to community wants. 

In this case, the disconnect did more than stand in the way of the agency reaching its full potential of program participation, funding and hiring. It reinforced the incorrect assumption that this agency wasn’t working hard (with great impact) to keep up with changing wants, needs, interests and communities, so was a deterrent to the very actions and support the agency so needed. So when my research confirmed how common this disconnect was, and how it lessened the probability of registering, giving or partnering, the org’s leadership was ready to do something about it. 

And I was thrilled when the communications director asked me how to work with her and her colleagues to create a brand (centered on relevant messages) that 1) more accurately reflects the agency’s work and impact today, and is 2) built on the foundation of what’s important to its key supporters, partners and clients. Nothing’s more satisfying than guiding folks who know they have to change and are actually willing to do it.

But that Wasn’t All: Well-Meaning but Incorrect Messengers Made it Worse

Imagine this—You’re the solo marketer or fundraiser in your organization, or that’s just part of your job, or you’re one of a team of five or even ten. No matter your situation, the reach of your marketing team is limited to the conversations you have and the multiple communication channels you put to work.

Unfortunately, because you’ve never asked your colleagues, partners, clients or other supporters to spread the word on your organization’s work and impact, or trained on how to do so, they are most likely producing a an unintended, yet damaging, consequence in the course of their daily work or conversations…exponentially increasing the damage caused by the outdated, irrelevant messages detailed above. 

In fact, their conversations with your target audiences (i.e. the people whose help you need to move your mission forward) are likely to feature conflicting descriptions of your organization’s focus and impact, inconsistent use of the messages you’re relying on to stir interest, inquiries and action, plus the dead silences and pure misinformation shared simply because they aren’t aware they could do better for your organization, or don’t know how to.

That’s exactly what my client’s gut instinct was, and precisely what was clarified by my research.  Is this happening in your organization?

Take a hard look, and get back to me! 

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Nancy Schwartz on May 20, 2015 in Branding and Messages | 0 comments

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