Messaging: a very hot topic in nonprofit development: are you getting it right?
- What is messaging?
- How does it work, abd
- How does it work best?
Let’s start with a definition: What is a message?
Dictionary.com: Noun: a communication containing some information, news, advice, request,or the like, sent by messenger, telephone, email, or other means.
A message is a way to convey something, some information, to others.
Effective messaging in nonprofit communications is crucial: this means getting that information in front of the right eyeballs at the right time. The goal is to achieve engagement and response to your information with the audience you want to reach.
Are they members, donors, supporters, advocates or simply curious? Speak to them in the words and pictures that will connect and resonate with them about your issue. Be something, mean something more than a bunch of words.
3 Elements of a Strong Message:
- Message -what’s it about, be clear- what is the one thing you want people to know?
- Mission– what is the work being done-educating, supporting, advocating by your organization?
- Method– how is the work being done, the mission being delivered?
Noise and Clutter:
Messages need to be clear and not cluttered: you can’t communicate all things at all times. Distill your message into the single most important component. Stick to your core message without adding in extra and distracting information.
Clutter in messaging prevents communication of what is most important-what is the ONE thing you want people to remember after they walk away, leave your page or receive your contact?
Clutter makes determining the important issues unclear. It has been suggested that as a reaction to so much consumerism, the trend is now towards de-cluttering, getting rid of lots of the unnecessary stuff we have acquired.
We all know there is more than plenty of noise out there and noise about your issue.
Make your message clean and direct, authentic. Cut out the extraneous words, make it super easy for anyone reading your stuff to understand who you are and what you do. That’s it.
Save all the other details for once you have engaged your audience and they want to know more.
“Narrow your focus & broaden your reach”.
A share, so much more than a like, is the Holy Grail of messaging. Your audience must be so captivated by your message that they are willing to attach it to themselves and share it among their friends. This makes the person sharing your ambassador, your connection to a whole bunch of folks you don’t know,yet.
Make it easy for new people to understand right off the bat, who you are, what you do and why it is important.
What makes a message shareable?
- Good messages are about life changes, life as a dynamic, versus a static situation.
- Every good story is about a life that has been changed
- Shared messages talk about changed lives as a result of your effort.
Your messages are not TO the community, but through the community; the community then become the ambassadors of your message outward. They repeat your messages, which is the definition of shareable.
This is the ‘awareness’ that so many seek, new people, groups or communities who might really need to know about you.
How to Make A Message Shareable
What steps can you take to make your message sharable?
What do you need to make your message get to the people you need it to and for it to mean something?
1.Understand your community–
Who are your communities, which groups of people do you want to reach?
Who are some of your ‘typical’ donors: young tech people, animal lovers, parents, kids with a certain condition? How old are they, where do they live, what do they do? What about your cause or issue means something to them?
Consider who you want to speak to…what language do they use, are there phrases or images that will connect with them?
2. Your message must lead with the language of the community you want to interest.
That language includes the vocabulary, images and context of your target community. What will catch their eye, attract their attention? Use the words and pictures that twill best resonate with them.
For example, you wouldn’t want to include lots of numerical data when contacting art supporters while you would include pictures of puppies in messages to dog rescue supporters.
- Good messaging is about the receiver, not the sender or the method-
It is about what your audience needs to know, see and hear much more than what you need to say.
- Make it concrete: no abstractions or theories, this should be about human actions and experiences.
Embody the experience of your community. Create a sensory experience around your communication- don’t left brain things with abstractions, make it bodily, visceral. Describe what you see, hear, feel. Describe how a situation looks, what it sounds like, how it feels to be there.
Sometimes it can help to work backwards:
What is it your want visitors, guests, interested people to think about you when they leave?
- Who are you?
- What do you do?
- Why is it important?
- Why should it mean anything to them?
Construct your message with these parts to make them more effective and to stick. What will they remember about you? What do you want them to remember about you?
The Bottom Line
Messaging is simply smart communication, it is thoughtful choices of content: tone, content, vocabulary and images.
It will be most effective if it is designed to speak directly to the very human you want to connect with; your supporters, your members, your donors.
It will speak to them in the words and pictures that will mean something to them and what they care about.
Remember your donors, your board members, your partners are all people too (well, most of them anyway) – address them that way. Don’t use stiff or formal writing, don’t use jargon or obscure, meaningless words. Treat them as you would want to be treated by someone reaching out to you.
- Talk to people as you would talk to a friend.
- Write to people as you would write to a friend.
- Be prepared with more details about your mission and work for when you are asked.
- Don’t begin with what you want.
- Be nice.
- Say thank you for their time and attention.
Need a little assistance honing your message? Call today for a free review and let’s see what we can do.
310 828 6979
thank you !
image credit: https://www.aol.com/2014/02/10/communication-skills-soft-skills-at