Saturday, November 27, 2010

Carrying the Message

Your people in action!
There’s an asset that you have plenty of. I know many of you find that hard to believe, but it is true. There’s a real marketing asset that each of you has. It’s cheap, and might even cost you nothing at all. It’s relatively easy to use. And it’s a source you can trust…well, most of the time. What is it? Your people and their connections.

Every non-profit has people. Staff, volunteers, supporters and donors. And each one of them has their own network of friends, family and people they know. So, why not get all of these people working for your non-profit marketing?

The bottom line is that these people are already communicating about your organization. Your staff go home and tell their spouse what happened at work. The volunteer talks about what’s happening in your organization over tea with their friends. Your donors tell others what they gave to and why. If you’re like most non-profits, you ignore this communications channel. And that means that each staff member, volunteer or donor gets to say whatever they want about you, and they usually do. Just imagine what a hodge podge of messages that creates.

Here’s what you do to turn this into an effective communications channel. First, recognize these people for what they are – community ambassadors. Then treat them that way. Give them info and messages they can use. Tell them you want them to talk about you and spread the word. Teach them how. And make sure they know that you don’t want to turn them into marketing robots who just regurgitate what you tell them to. You just want to make sure that they know what to say when someone asks them.

Second, keep them up to date. When something happens, let them know first. I used to work for a hospital. When bad stuff happened, no one said much of anything to our staff members. But when those staff members got home I’m sure their friends and family asked them all about it. If instead we had informed them first and equipped them with key messages we could have turned some very bad news into something positive.

Finally, reward them for spreading the message. Ask them to speak to others and register who does what speech to which group. Then hand out a reward for the one who does the best or the most.

You’ll find that arming your people with the sword of truth will give your non-profit the ability to slay many dragons.

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