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What is the first image that comes to mind when you hear the word marketing? Maybe it’s the Nike swoosh, or a commercial showcasing a new iPhone. Is this really what marketing is all about? Far too often, the scope of what marketing is limited to just these flashy pieces. To put it another way, marketing is not about the icing on the cake. Marketing is more about whether we should even serve cake, or instead cupcakes or maybe fruit?

Far too often what is left out of the conversation is a strategic perspective, plan and approach to marketing. Good marketing is having an idea, bringing it back to the team and figuring out with the rest of the organization how to take this idea out to the world. Marketing needs to be a strategic exercise in your organization that asks more than just what the logo looks like or what the website layout is. The conversation should speak to vision, direction, and engagement and then about what to actually do or in other words, decorating the cake.

This series of postings will take a closer look at topics to consider when building more effective and engaging marketing, communications and fund development plans.

“We need everyone to know who we are. If we do this, everything will be great for our organization!” How often have you heard this statement before? How do you even begin to figure this out?

Whether its in the home or in the board room, communicating effectively is one of life’s biggest challenges. Add to the mix the different audiences and the myriad of mediums available, and it can be harder than ever to deliver a clear and succinct message that resonates with people. But what if we look at how we deliver communications from the inside out?

Rings On A Tree
Take a moment to think of all the different people in your organization. Start with the staff on your team and work your way out; board members, volunteers, patrons or program recipients, donors and prospective donors. Add the community and the general public and you have probably built a large list of individuals – each creating a circle growing outward, like the rings on a tree.

When it comes to communications efforts, far too many resources are spent on getting the message out to the general public or in this case, the outer ring. Creating general market awareness is not only the most challenging but it is also the most expensive ring to reach. These efforts also usually mean that the rest of the rings of individuals you have accounted for suffer because so little time is spent working and communicating with them. The result could be a communication plan that backfires.

Start Close to Home
Using the philosophy of communicating from the inside out ensures all your communications are not only more effective but that they also resonate stronger with those groups closer to the core of your organization. Why is this important? Because these individuals are your organizations champions. They are those advocating in the community for who you are, what you do, and why you are important. They are much more powerful amplifiers of your message so spend your time and money and energy in communicating with the inner rings and you will take care of at least 80% of what you need to do to communicate with the outer ring.

Working with Your Team
How do we convince our team or our board to start with the inner rings when building and executing a communications plan? This exchange sums up why: Community member, “I saw you have a new website?” Board Member, “I didn’t even realize we had a new website.”

This is a perfect example of why you need to bring all these rings of individuals along as you move your communications outwards across each ring. Use this analogy as a starting point and speak to the fact that everyone inside your organization including your staff, directors, program deliverers, and donors need to have the organizations story and messaging understood and aligned so that when they talk to their network, be it friends, family, colleagues or others, they speak on point.

In creating this alignment all the way through communications, if someone from the outer ring talks to someone from the inner, the same message will be the same, no matter what group is reached. This will not happen unless you invest time and resources to how do we tell our story to staff, board, current donors. If the messages don’t line up, all efforts to get to the outer ring will be wasted.

Are you ready to create alignment in your organization’s communication strategy? Connect with our team of strategists to learn more about how Incite can support you.

About the Author

In his role of Principal, Jesse Meyer works with clients to solve challenging problems and generate revenues, drawing from over 10 years of marketing, branding, strategic planning and stakeholder relations experience in the public, corporate and not-for-profit sectors. He has spearheaded effective organizational change, operational excellence and innovation by working collaboratively with stakeholders to build the foundation, structures and processes for long-term success.

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