GroundFloor Media & CenterTable Blog

Effective communications is both an art and a science, and to be successful, any marketing communications program must be relevant to your target audiences. At the very heart of the communications program are key messages. For this reason, developing key organizational messages is a critical first step to any communications campaign.

Key messages should speak directly to target audiences’ interests, while effectively impacting the desired behavioral changes. Too often, organizations craft overly complex messages by including “everything and the kitchen sink” that they want to say about the organization. The result is key messages that tend to be too long and difficult to remember. Instead, messages should be clear, concise and direct. “Easier said than done” – true, but not impossible. Following are some quick tips for developing memorable messages for your organization and for training your organization’s ambassadors (spokespeople, other employees, volunteers, etc.) to deliver those messages.

Identify Target Audiences
Some important first questions to ask when beginning the message development process: Who are you trying to reach and why? What is it that you want your audience to learn or do as a result of your message?

Key messages are what you want your target audiences to “take away” from your campaign or program. Your organization will have multiple target audiences, but instead of trying to come up with 12 messages for the 12 target audiences you’ve identified, there’s probably an opportunity to combine these audiences into like-minded groups. For example, let’s pretend your organization is a food pantry providing food to individuals and families. While the food pantry may identify numerous target audiences, there is a natural way to “group” audiences because of what you want them to do.

Potential targets for a food pantry include:
• Donors – People and businesses that donate money and food to the organization
• Influencers or key stakeholders – Policymakers and community leaders interested in finding ways to reduce the number of families living in poverty
• Clients or customers – Individuals and families who use the services of the food pantry.
In this example, you can begin seeing how your messages are targeted to each of these distinct groups.

Following is an example of a key message directed to donors:
“ABC Food Pantry is a model of efficiency and stability, from its low administrative costs and vast volunteer base, to how it collects and delivers food to people in need.” From there, you can insert a proof point to back up the message. “In fact, 93 cents of every dollar raised goes directly to providing services to people who are hungry.”

Check back for part two of this blog where I’ll cover more on how to develop key messages and proof points.

~ Barb Jones

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