“We’re the best kept secret around.” “No one knows what we do.” “If folks understood the depth and breadth of our work they’d want to support us.”
Does this lament sound familiar? It’s probably the most common complaint I hear from nonprofits. And all too often folks think the answer is hiring someone to write a newsletter or annual report. Or getting someone to “do” social media. All with the end goal of explaining what you do to people so they understand and want to make a charitable gift.
Folks, you can’t explain people into caring about you.
No matter how much information you spit out it isn’t going to sink in. Why? Two reasons: (1) because it isn’t what your constituents care about, and (2) human beings aren’t wired to easily process facts; we’re wired for storytelling and drama; something that inspires us to become actors in the story.
What this means is that you should be developing messages that help your would-be supporters easily see themselves as actors on your stage. And not just actors, but Oscar-winning ones! (Yes, most donors do want at least a psychic reward).
So how do you give people what they want when what you’re really interested in at this point is “raising awareness?” Check out my full article, Messages Nonprofits Can Use to Raise Awareness, on the Maximize Social Business blog. For now, let’s just cut to the chase.
The wrong type of messaging is the type it’s easy to ignore.
- Ego-centric stuff like “We just won an award.” “We’re the biggest…”
- Numbing numbers stuff like “We serve 11 counties and help 80,000 people.” “We’ve increased outreach by 38% over the past four years.”
- Complex jargon stuff like “We provide preventive, interceptive, therapeutic, psycho-social, physiological help.”
The right type of messaging includes these elements:
- Simple, clear and compelling.
- Tells a story (even if just by implication from a shared image).
- Encourages (and makes it easy for) folks to jump into the story with you.
- Makes your reader the story’s hero.
- Incorporates emotional triggers.
- Includes an implicit or explicit call to action.
I encourage you to read the full article for an analysis of the 6 types of messagesyou can use to effectively raise awareness that leads to action using social media. You will notice that this messaging is a two-way street, always including something your reader can do while their awareness is being raised.
In a nutshell:
- Offer a Treat
- Challenge Folks to Make a Specific Pledge
- Share How to Help Others
- Ask People to Be Advocates
- Ask People What They Think
- Ask People to Share Your Content
Bottom line: you want folks to connect with and remember you. Traditional outbound marketing techniques – blah, blah, blah, it’s all about us – do a very poor job of making folks feel anything but bored or chastised or condescended to. Instead, try some inbound techniques that engage folks in a dialogue. Begin by offering something of value. Then get folks to act on their values by getting them to feel and do something.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Persuade people that responding to your call to action is an excellent expression of who they are. That’s how you raise awareness and capture attention.
27 full pages with more than 100 tips, resources and tools to help you with your resolve to fully embrace social media for your nonprofit. Check it out here!
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net