On Wednesday, May 19, 2010, Nancy Schwartz of GettingAttention.org, who I turn to for all things nonprofit branding, messaging and taglines, will be our guest expert for a special Q & A Coaching Call for Nonprofit Marketing Guide All-Access Pass Holders. Nancy will offer some tips on making your messages more memorable and will then answer your questions directly. Want in? It’s as easy as getting an All-Access Pass. (Already have a Pass? Watch for Kivi’s email Monday afternoon with your RSVP link.)

Here’s what Nancy has to say about getting your messages to connect . . .

A recent GettingAttention.org survey of more than 900 nonprofit leaders reveals a major crisis among charitable organizations: Many are doing an inadequate job of connecting with their key audiences and characterize their primary messages – crafted to motivate donors, volunteers and citizen advocates – as poorly targeted, difficult to remember and uninspiring.

Here’s more:

Most nonprofit messages don’t connect strongly with key audiences.

Behind the disconnect—86% of nonprofits characterize their messages as difficult to remember.

Inconsistency reigns, leaving confusion and annoyance in its path.

I bet none of this is news to you. But speaking effectively and consistently about your nonprofit to those you need to engage to meet your goals is critical to success.

The bad news is that most organizations admittedly are doing a very poor job, despite a great deal of effort. The good news is that fixing the problem is highly do-able and promises vastly greater success in engaging your networks than you are experiencing now.

Here are three steps to solve your messaging crisis:

1. Ensure that your organization’s strategy and goals are crystal clear.

Without clear organizational goals, marketing goals can’t be defined. If you can’t articulate your goals clearly, your problems are bigger than weak messaging.

2. Build understanding and support of leadership and colleagues.

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 your leadership can’t afford not to make.

3. Start with your tagline — Less is more.

It’s always harder to write something shorter than longer, and your tagline is as short as it gets. It is the absolute essence of your messaging.

Moreover, your steps in the tagline development process build the insight you’ll need to craft a potent positioning statement and key messages or talking points (the other two elements in your message platform).

Messaging is the first step in effective marketing communications; there’s no point in designing strategic campaigns if the messaging doesn’t connect. When you do turn to well-researched message development, with focus and intent, it will make a huge difference in communications impact!

P.S. I was delighted to see GLAAD seeking to fill its Director of Messaging role, a position they’ve had for 11 years!

Nancy E. Schwartz helps nonprofits succeed through effective marketing and communications.  Nancy and her team provide marketing planning and implementation services to nonprofit organizations and foundations nationwide.

Coming Up Next in the Nonprofit Marketing Guide Webinar Series . . .

May 20: Writing Moving Profiles about Donors, Clients, and Other Supporters

May 25: Powerful Programs and Amazing Auctions for Your Fundraising Party

June 3: Quickie Annual Reports: Simple Ways to Share Results with Supporters

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