Messaging Fluency & MSG

Bootcamp Week #8: Supporting Messages by Audience

(this week’s vid)

What’s the difference between ‘advanced’ and ‘fluent’ when it comes to speaking a language? Your ability to calibrate to different audiences and settings.

For instance, it’s one thing to tell your colleagues that you tried the latest spot from the MSG150 food blog. It’s quite another to relay that same information to a chef from Le Cordon Bleu.

It’s about your audience and what matters most to them. That’s why it’s important to come up with your top three target audiences (the groups of people who are most important to the success of your organization) and know what they care about. Really, truly care about.

If you’re the Seattle Aquarium, visitors, volunteers and donors are all extremely important to you. But what they need to hear in order to engage differs dramatically.

This Week’s To-Do’s

  1. Download the Nonprofit Messaging Framework template.
  2. Brainstorm a list of target audiences.
  3. Narrow that list to your top three.
  4. Write a short paragraph describing what matters most to each target audience.
  5. Create two to four messages for each audience.
  6. Put proof points and stories for each supporting message that will motivate them to take action to take action!

Next Week

Sharing and using your Messaging Framework.

About Claxon’s Nonprofit Messaging Bootcamp

This is week #6 of our Nonprofit Messaging Bootcamp. If you’re just joining the Bootcamp, here’s what you need to do to get started.

Down with jargon & the general public

Here are key take-aways from the bevy of convos I’ve had this month about messaging and the Nonprofit Messaging Roadmap, including at yesterday’s Tune-Up Tuesday:

  • There’s still a lot of jumping to the how and what of your work. Say it with me: “Why first. Then what and how.” If you’re on a mission to eradicate adult illiteracy (for instance), you’ve got to share that first. Then you can move on to the fact that you’re doing this by mobilizing a cadre of passionate literacy advocates, etc. etc. etc. Frame it up before you serve it up.
  • Jargon. Egads, do we ever love jargon. Even if you think your audience knows what ‘wrap-around services’ or ‘field-tested diagnostics’ are, there’s still probably a more straight-forward way of saying it. Say it that way.
  • Everyone and the general public still aren’t target audiences. Sorry. Your nonprofit doesn’t have the resources to market to ‘people’. You have the resources to market to your best supporters, your believers. Who are they? If you don’t know, figure it out.
  • Messaging should reflect your organizational goals and strategy. Check out this great post on the Getting Attention blog for some food for thought on this.

Since identifying and engaging target audiences is still such a significant roadblock for many nonprofits, March’s theme will be (you guessed it!): Identify Target Audiences. Here are some of the things you can look forward to:

  1. Writing Target Audience Personas (no more than 3).
  2. Building an Editorial Calendar based on the experience of one of your ‘Personas’.
  3. Organizing a Communications Advisory Committee made up of your best supporters who fit your ‘Personas’.

We’ll have templates and how-to’s so as long as you read the March newsletter and blog posts, you’ll be all set.

If you’d like some in-person support, we’d love to have you join us on March 15th for our next Tune-Up Tuesday at the Hearing, Speech and Deafness Center in Seattle.

Any other lessons learned or thoughts to share on all this?

Marketing-Fundraising: A Happy Continuum

We chose to focus on the Marketing-Fundraising Tango this month because so many of our nonprofit friends and colleagues voiced confusion, frustration or consternation at how this works (or more accurately doesn’t work) at their organizations. The amount of brow-furrowing over this is interesting to me since marketing and fundraising are simply different means to the very important end of engaging people with your cause.

Here’s perhaps a different (and hopefully helpful) way of thinking about this. Rather than thinking of these two functions separately, think of them as points along a relationship continuum. On one end, you have marketing and the other fundraising. On the marketing end of the continuum, you focus on attracting new supporters to the organization by reaching out to groups of individuals (otherwise known as target audiences). These are largely one-to-many activities such as advertising, community events, and PR.

As you slide further toward the fundraising end of the continuum, the activities become more tailored to an individual, rather than a collection of individuals. They are personalized activities meant to deepen a supporter’s relationship with your organization.

When you think of marketing and fundraising as a continuum, then you simply adjust your position to support your current goals and objectives. If you have had above-average attrition and need to attract new donors, you might settle on a spot closer to the marketing end of the continuum. If you have a solid donor base and want to increase the number of major donors you have, you’d likely slide over to the fundraising end.