Pulse: Communication Is King
FS: What are the most common mistakes, and how can nonprofits overcome them?
NS: The three most common mistakes and solutions are:
1. Organizational goals aren't crystal clear, so marketing goals and work plan aren't either. I can't tell you how many times I've been hired to develop a message platform (tagline, positioning statement, talking points) for an organization but can't get to ground zero because there's no agreement on organizational direction and goals.
Without clear organizational goals, marketing goals — how marketing will be used to help reach organization goals — can't be defined. But without clear marketing goals, it's impossible to identify and get to know the right audiences to engage (the people an organization strives to motivate to act to achieve those goals).
2. Lack of understanding and support on the part of leadership and colleagues — but communicators need their insights, investment and reach. The three most-cited barriers to effective messaging (lack of leadership support, too busy and concern about expense) underscore the degree of messaging crisis. Communications succeed only when it's built on effective messaging. Refusing to invest the time and money it takes to craft those messages will undermine your entire communications agenda. It's an investment every organization's leadership can't afford not to make.
One survey participant said, "It's so hard to shape a viable message development process here, as board members have widely divergent perspectives and are very involved in communications."
But here's what you're up against: Nonprofit staff members most focused on making the most of their messages are communicators (58 percent), fundraisers (40 percent) and program staff members (21 percent), in order of survey participation level.
That's important because it highlights how much work communicators have to do to develop support for and input in the message development process among colleagues and leaders.