Messaging is something that all companies and organizations have to do, but something that only a small percentage do well. Many organizations disseminate complicated messages - or conflicting messages. This is particularly common for organizations that have multiple divisions (national and state divisions, for example).
But messaging is how you recruit people (and engage and retain them), so your messaging platform (the basis of your organization’s communications) needs to be straightforward and meaningful.
At ASAE’s Great Ideas Conference last week, Willis Turner, CEO of Sales and Marketing Executives International, Inc. (SMEI), spoke about how to simplify your association’s messaging, and more specifically, what components are needed for an effective messaging platform.
According to Turner, there are seven key components of an effective messaging platform. See below for what those components are, and more importantly, how to prepare them at your association:
- Value proposition and key benefits - In just a few sentences, this should explain your organization’s tangible value for members. If your association could make one guaranteed promise, what would it be? Note: This needs to be relevant and compelling enough to pass the “so what” test. Along with your value proposition, be sure to include the top 4 - 6 benefits your association offers.
- Organization history - Here, you’ll want to focus on who founded the organization, when it was founded, and why. You’ll also want to include funding information and data like the number of members. This information is important because it reflects the type of organization you’re representing.
- Elevator speech - This is going to be your 30-second response to a stranger or potential member asking “What do you do?” It should express the value proposition and benefits outlined in point #1.
- Boilerplate - A boilerplate is used at the bottom of a press release, an event directory, or any place your association needs a quick description. It should be about 2 - 3 sentences and taken from your organization’s value proposition.
- Q&A and Talking Points - This is the part of your messaging document that will likely be used the most by other staff members/departments/teams. The goal here is to find out the most common customer questions and buying objections and prepare compelling and persuasive answers. (Note: Don’t assume you already know these. Talk to your staff/other divisions.)
- Lexicon - Here, you’ll want to create a list of the top 8 - 12 words and phrases that should describe your desired brand personality and your ethics, values, and member base. These words and phrases should be used consistently in all of your content assets and conversations.
- Competitive positioning - Last but not least, there’s competitive messaging. Analyze your organization’s top competitors and the current difference in messaging. How is your organization different? How can you highlight those differences in an advantageous light?
Now the real benefit of having a simple, straightforward marketing platform is this: If you can simplify your messages enough, everyone in your organization can be the marketer - and everyone in your organization should be the marketer. Simple messages lead to brand evangelists - and that’s exactly what you want when it comes to association marketing.
Want more tips for marketing your association, particularly through your association’s website? Check out our free guide, Membership Websites: The Mothership of Online Member Engagement, below!