Messaging Tip: Getting your features & benefits to inform & inspire

Ah the elusive balance between informing and inspiring. How do you compellingly speak to the features of your work and the benefits while keeping it short n’ sweet?

If you’re wrestling with this, the approach we used for this Microsoft cause campaign might be really handy.

Quick background: To celebrate their first 20 years of certification, Microsoft Learning decided they’d rather create a year-long campaign to create better careers and better lives for aspiring IT pros around the world than blow out 20 candles on a big ol’ cake. For the campaign, there are 20 different ways for established IT pros to pay it forward. The ways will be revealed throughout the year. Three are currently active.

Now for the handy tip: Here are the first three Calls to Action (CTAs). Note that each one follows the same pattern: Feature. Benefit.

The advantage of this approach is that you can inform and inspire. You can inform them of the action you want them to take while inspiring them by showing the difference their action will make.

No single approach works in every instance, but if your audience responds well to the inform/inspire approach, give this one a whirl.

Bonus: Saw this ad while out and about earlier this week. (I was stopped when I took the picture, for the record. ) Washington State Lottery used it on their current bus campaign: “When you play, students win.” Same approach: Feature, benefit. (The picture is lousy but you get the point!)

When you play, students win.

How do you balance features and benefits?

Failure & Fabulousness at Tech for Good Summit

Akhtar Badshah is Microsoft’s Senior Director of Global Community Affairs. He’s also an all-around super duper smart dude. I have come to expect that my brain will cramp when I hear him present.  He makes you think about things differently. Harder. More intentionally and intently than you might otherwise.

On Friday, February 4, 2011, he did not disappoint. He delivered his brain-cramping awesomeness at the Tech for Good Summit, hosted by Microsoft and NPower Seattle.

And Akthar was just the opening act!

Beth Kanter, co-author of The Networked Nonprofit and all-around nonprofit technology and social media rock star, then delivered 75 minutes of pure genius.

I won’t be able to do her training justice, but will share a few things that struck me as particularly useful and delightful:

  1. Failure is success: Organizations succeed because they have first failed. This seems counter-intuitive but it makes a ton of sense, especially when it comes to social media. Everyone is learning as they go. Create organizational cultures that encourage failure and you will, in the end, succeed. (Dan Pallotta would have vigorously nodded throughout much of her presentation.)
  2. Joyful funerals: If you create a culture that encourages failure a la #1, you are exponentially more likely to take time to figure out what worked and what didn’t. If you celebrate the failures by having joyful funerals for them, you won’t do it again. Ever. Because it’ll be dead, buried and gone. The old “Because this is how we do things” has no place in this brave, new world of joyful funerals and fabulous failings. Downright liberating!
  3. Measure what Matters: This isn’t exactly revolutionary…or is it? How many of us really, truly look at indicators that say something of substance about whether social media is advancing our mission? By getting rigorous, we’ll get returns. (I was psyched to read in Clay Holtzman’s PSBJ post that social media measurement will be the focus on Kanter’s next book. Hooray!)

Lots of the resources shared in-person are available on-line (thank goodness!). Here are a few:

IMHO, Tech for Good was beyond good–it was fabulous! 

Any other thoughts or take-aways from folks who participated in-person or on-line via the virtual sessions?