From launching a compelling website and email marketing campaign, to posting engaging social media that drives sales, effective messaging is key to the success of an organization’s marketing initiatives.

What is messaging? Messaging is the content an organization uses to explain what they offer to various demographic groups or target markets, and that differentiates their offering from competitors. Without effective messaging that’s clear, concise, engaging and inspires action, an organization’s marketing efforts are not hitting the mark. Follow these simple steps for developing messaging that works.

#1: Make a bulleted list of your organization’s core offering. 

This is what your organization offers to your target market(s). As a service oriented nonprofit, for example, you might offer social services to lower income families, including direct financial assistance through loans and grants, mentoring and job coaching, and access to other social services resources. Be as specific as possible, listing the services in order of those you provide most to your constituents to those you provide least.

#2: Make a bulleted list of your target market(s). 

This is who your organization primarily markets your services to.  It might be other businesses, individual consumers, the elderly, families with children, or Millenials. List target audiences in order of priority with those your organization serves most to least frequently.

#3: Make a bulleted list of all of those qualities about your organization that are unique, differentiating and uncommon. 

This is one of the most important elements of developing effective messaging. Here, zero in on what makes your organization’s offering stand out from the competition. It might be your desirable location, or your dedicated membership committee that actively helps members connect in with other members. One area nonprofit differentiates itself as an ‘historic’ nonprofit through its affiliation with a local state park. This provides the organization with a large ‘campus’ of venues for their theatre productions that’s not visible from the street–a definite differentiator they should highlight in their messaging.

#4: Review the lists above, and highlight those items that best describe what your organization offers, and that’s unique and differentiating from competitors. 

The next step is to highlight those items in each of the lists you feel best describe your organization’s core offering and differentiate it from the competition. You’ll begin to see themes emerge as you build your core messaging.

#5: Draft clear, concise copy from the highlighted items, and use this as your core messaging. 

Finally, draft copy that weaves together items from the highlighted list as clearly, concisely and engagingly as possible. Less is more when it comes to copy. Review and make edits to ensure the content is as brief as possible, and reads well. This is your core messaging. Use this content consistently on your organization’s website, in social media and email marketing, and in all other marketing materials to reinforce your offering and inspire your target audiences to take some kind of action.