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.

At one time or another, most of us have invested time and money attending trade shows and conferences for either an employer, or for our own organizations. Yet, a lot of potential business and momentum is often lost following these events. Here’s how to maximize your return from this important business development activity:

Plan Before You Go.

(At the beginning of the year)

  • Register for the conference early to ensure you have an optimal location (i.e., near beverage/snack/food areas, at the end of an aisle, at the corners of the trade show, or near competitors that are attracting those in your target market).
  • Determine your level of sponsorship/visibility at the conference (i.e., table/booth, hospitality suite, speaker at a workshop, etc.)
  • Determine who should represent the organization at the conference. (This may change, but it’s good to have a game plan about resource/staff allocation ahead of time).
  • Review table/booth and collateral materials, etc., needed for the conference and be sure that there are enough ordered in advance and in stock.
  • Plan any ‘give aways’ that will attract people to the table/booth or workshop. Popular items that participants tend to keep and use are: More expensive: USB drives, portable battery chargers, Bluetooth speakers, phone cases, screen cleaners, headphones, activity trackers. We would choose something that is relevant to RMC’s brand. Less expensive: Reusable bags, T-shirts, baseball caps, sunglasses, mugs, cups, water bottles, stress balls. (with a discreet logo)

(One to two months before)

  • Find out who is attending the conference/event. This registrant list is often available ahead of time.
  • Review the list of attenders and note whom you want to engage, and how (i.e., invitation to hospitality suite hosted by your organization, one-on-one breakfast, lunch, dinner, introduction to a partner, etc. Be as specific as possible in your strategy re: what you hope to get out of the meeting.). Prioritize the list to be sure your organization makes contact with top priority clients, prospects, referral sources, etc.
  • Review the list of competitors who will be attending, and note those booths that you want to visit. (This will be useful for your organization’s marketing/PR team.)
  • Promote your organization’s participation/attendance at the conference/event on LinkedIn, the company’s website, regular e-blasts, etc.
  • Choose a raffle item(s) at your organization’s table/booth and use this to collect email addresses that can be added to the database after the event.
  • Follow any hash tags for the event on social media to do some pre-show networking.

(One-two weeks before)

  • Discuss at your staff meeting who will be assigned to each client, prospect, and referral source attending the conference/event, and come up with a general strategy for what your organization plans to accomplish through each staff member at the conference/event.

Use Your Time Well While There.

  • Set up a charging station at your organization’s table/booth where visitors can charge their phones and other devices while talking to your team.
  • Collect business cards and note key topics discussed, and any anecdotal personal information shared on the back of the business card. Have a system to note highest priority contacts, i.e., ***=Top priority, **=Mid-Level Priority, *=Low Priority. Cards work well, because you can discreetly jot down notes as you’re talking or immediately following the conversation.
  • Host prospects, referral sources at breakfast, lunch or dinner meetings, and/or hospitality suite(s), and make detailed notes immediately following the get together about next steps with each contact. Be as specific as possible in your notes at the time as this will help enormously during follow up. It’s all in the details.
  • Collect any competitor literature, or other industry intel that you think will be helpful in understanding market trends, and how top competitors are positioning themselves.
  • Collect and comment on any ideas about give aways, booth displays, materials or approaches that you think are noteworthy. Share these with your marketing/PR team.
  • Attend competitors’ hospitality suites, workshops and other events if possible to ‘respectfully’ gather intel, and mingle with their clients and prospective clients.

Maintain Event Momentum Back at the Office.

  • Begin outreach by email to highest priority targets, first, then work your way down the list in order of priority. Do this within a few days of the conference/event.
  • Follow up any emails sent with a phone call to those who haven’t responded within a week of the email to move the contact along to a next step. In some cases, you might want to send a hardcopy mailing to someone who is difficult to reach as another touch point following the conference/event, or who wants more detailed information or a proposal.
  • Have an upcoming event your organization will be hosting or attending in mind so you can mention this to contacts/prospects and invite them to the event.
  • Add prospect emails in order of priority (noting the Tier level, and priority, i.e., high, medium, low) to the sales database, and enter in any information about each gathered at the conference/event. Note any next steps to be taken with a due date.
  • Enter in any intel about competitors of the marketplace gathered at the conference/event. Have a separate place in the sales database for this.
  • Discuss how effective you thought the conference/event was at your next  staff meeting and determine if it’s worthwhile going in the future. Share any ideas, intel learned at the conference/event that would be helpful to your organization’s conference strategy in the future. Share this info with the marketing/PR team to keep track of.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At this time of Thanksgiving and giving, many Cape nonprofits are reaching out to donors to encourage them to support the good work of their organizations.

One nonprofit that serves the Cape’s young professionals, Cape Cod Young Professionals, (CCYP) recently launched a Giving Circle so that CCYP members and sponsors could pool their donations and fund selected programs throughout the Cape that aid young professionals as they build lives on Cape Cod. These initiatives directly support CCYP’s mission.

CCYP’s take on Giving Circles is unique, however, as their giving circle actually benefits other nonprofits through direct grants, and creates awareness of the community work of these organizations. In 2016, CCYP’s Giving Circle gave back $10,000 during its first year to area nonprofits to fund specific initiatives that directly support CCYP’s mission. These included Cape Cod YMCA, We Can, Housing Assistance Corporation, Community Development Partnership and Cape Cod Community College. “People that become part of CCYP’s Giving Circle learn about many other nonprofits and their programs that may not have heard about these through each organization’s annual fundraising process,” commented Matt Cronin, CCYP Board Chair, and President of Boardwalk Business Group. “Over the past year, the creation of the CCYP Giving Circle has allowed us to collectively have a greater impact in our community. Through the donations of giving circle members, we’ve been able to invest in wonderful nonprofit programs within our community – from assisting women starting their own businesses, to supporting at risk youth to become the first in their families to attend to college, and from free fiscal health programs to online first-time homebuyer programs and the creation of a new community engagement speaker series.”

The impact of giving back to the community and Cape nonprofits has recently caught the attention of an anonymous donor to CCYP’s Giving Circle. CCYP received a $10,000 matching grant–facilitated by The Cape Cod Foundation–from an individual that was impressed by the impact the CCYP Giving Circle has already had in its first year. With this matching grant, CCYP is now actively soliciting donations from other individuals interested in funding causes that support young adults on Cape Cod. Giving Circle members typically commit to donating $10, $20 or $50 per month toward the fund. CCYP’s partnership with The Cape Cod Foundation has provided the necessary administrative infrastructure for CCYP’s Giving Circle, per Cronin. He emphasizes that utilizing a partner such as The Cape Cod Foundation that has the infrastructure in place is essential for CCYP to administer the giving circle.

Dara Gannon, Program Officer for The Cape Cod Foundation, commented about the Foundation’s role in helping CCYP’s giving circle efforts. “The Cape Cod Foundation is thrilled to partner with CCYP on the Giving Circle. This initiative supports CCYP’s mission by engaging members in the community. Through the giving circle process, we are creating informed citizens who are making funding decisions, collectively, on issues that affect them. By building permanent charitable resources and leveraging our community knowledge and grant making expertise, the CCYP Giving Circle is also supporting the Foundation’s mission. Together we are sustaining CCYP now and in the future, as well as growing the next generation of philanthropists and civic leaders on Cape Cod.”