Most nonprofits are facing an overwhelming marketing crisis: 76% of 1,566 nonprofit communicators we surveyed said their key messages were hard to remember.
Only 29% rated their messages as working well. And less than 50% report consistent use of their core messages.
I don’t think I need to tell you what a real crisis these survey results paint.
I’ve been working with nonprofits and foundations for more than 15 years on these very issues. Nearly every one of my clients faced these kinds of messaging problems.
But until this survey, I had no idea how widespread this malaise of mediocre messaging is and, worse, the obvious detrimental impact it is having every day.
You and your organization are in this business to bring about change in your field. Good messaging equals social change. And poor messaging equals no change.
But if you can’t engage the people you need to start the conversations that build your base of loyal supporters, then you’re getting nowhere.
Think about it…
When weak messages fail time and time again to spark conversation with target audiences, there’s no way you’ll be able to build the kind of mutually-satisfying relationship with a passionate base needed to conquer your organization’s overall goals.
Effective messages are the only way your organization will connect strongly with the very folks you need to engage to move your mission forward.
My name is Nancy Schwartz and I’m the president of nonprofit marketing firm Nancy Schwartz & Company, and publisher of the Getting Attention blog and e-newsletter. Most importantly, I’ve had the privilege of guiding nonprofit organizations and grantmakers to success via effective marketing.
I’ve worked with hundreds of nonprofits and dozens of foundations to put communications to work to achieve their organizational goals. That’s usually focused on helping them engage prospective donors, volunteers, grantees, partners, citizen advocates and other target audiences.
There’s so much potential for nonprofit organizations that do it right. (And a huge missed opportunity to those that dismiss its validity, have fear of marketing and/or are unwilling to invest the time and money it takes.) That’s why I find the work so gratifying.
From time to time, I do periodic surveys of nonprofit communicators (those who focus on communications full-time, and those for whom it’s just one part of a broader set of responsibilities). I quiz them about what’s working and what’s not.
In late 2012, I surveyed you and your colleagues on your organization’s messaging. How are your messages working overall? And the effectiveness of each element, from your tagline to talking points? What are your greatest barriers to developing effective messaging? How consistently do you use each type of message?
That’s how I arrived at the realization of how serious this nonprofit messaging crisis is.
I’ve been struggling with how best to respond to the new insights revealed in the survey.
I could see that you and your colleagues need assistance crafting messages that do connect, and getting the insights, buy-in and support from your leadership and colleagues to ensure your messages motivate the actions you need.
But I didn’t know what I could do about it.
You see, I consult with no more than five to eight client organizations annually. That’s all I have time for because of the in-depth approach I take, and the ongoing relationships I maintain with some of these clients. So I knew there was no way for me to consult with all the organizations striving to solve this messaging problem.
After a lot of thinking, reviewing models and brainstorming with my prized set of advisers, I’ve come up with a good solution. I can work together with a small group of nonprofit communicators to lead them through the core messaging needs highlighted by the survey results.
And the obvious place to start – the pinnacle of every organization’s message platform –is its tagline. It’s the hands-down, briefest and most important message you have, but 72% of nonprofit organizations say they don’t have one that works, or don’t have one at all!
Now you can, with our new program–the Tagline Focus Project.
I’m going to tell you more about the Tagline Focus Project later on. But first I want to explain why every nonprofit organization needs a powerful message platform.
Does your organization succeed in starting conversations you need to build a base of loyal supporters?
Probably not UNLESS you reach out with compelling, relevant and consistent messages.
Relevance (i.e., connection) is a must-have to start a conversation or keep one going.
If your messages are off and/or used inconsistently, your organization will fail to engage your base. You’ll motivate a giant “who cares.” And if you can’t even start or maintain that conversation, there’s no way you’ll motivate them to act – give, volunteer, register or advocate.
But that’s where most organizations are today. This dismal success rate is even worse than it looks since it’s not due to lack of effort. Survey respondents report working extremely hard to achieve their marketing goals: huge effort with minimal results.
I’m always interested to meet nonprofit communicators who are putting marketing to work to help their organizations reach their goals. These are strategic thinkers – folks who, as busy as they are, know it’s a must to understand the landscape in which they’re working in.
Because it’s crystal clear that through some focused work, they can find ways to connect with the wants and interests of the base they have and need to grow. And it’s no mystery how to do it – it just takes intention and grit.
And I have a way to help you get there, beginning with your organization’s tagline.
A nonprofit organization’s tagline is, next to its name, the marketing message most frequently heard, and the easiest and most effective way to convey its brand. That’s why your tagline sits right at the top of the Breakthrough Messaging Platform, right after your organization’s name.
A strong tagline complements your organization’s name to convey its unique value or impact with personality, passion and commitment—ideally in eight words or less.
But when you fail to make the most of your tagline, you’re basically throwing that opportunity away.
Believe it or not, according to our survey, that’s most of you. 71% of organizations have a tagline that works poorly or doesn’t work at all. Here’s the good news: That’s a failing you have the power to change by enrolling in the Message Focus Project now.
You’re hearing me right. Now there’s an opportunity for you to walk away with a relevant, memorable, and tested tagline for your organization, in only six weeks: Just participate in the Tagline Focus Project (TFP).
Here’s what’s unique about this turnkey program:
You Participate in an Intensive Mix of Small Group Meetings, One-to-One Coaching, and Individualized Assignments and Critiques: Education researchers conclude time and time again that a learning agenda comprised of various formats works best.
You Craft a High-Impact Tagline, Rather than Just Learning How to Do It: This isn’t just another one-off webinar or tele-seminar series or one-day workshop where you learn about a new marketing strategy. The problem with that approach is that most participants don’t ever implement. There are just too many day-to-day must-dos to get to it.
TFP participation is all about delivering a tagline that’s ready to go, not just about learning how to do it. You’ll walk away with a tested tagline for your organization and the knowledge to develop others for specific programs or audience groups (a highly-valued strong and absolutely transferable skill).
Crafting an effective tagline isn’t the mystery most folks think it is, or a black hole time suck. When you’re guided through the TFP tagline development process, you’ll get the direction, motivation, guidance, templates and support you need to get and keep going. And it won’t take you more than 20 minutes a day.
Here’s the TFP fuel that’ll propel you to messaging mastery—you’ll learn how to:
11. Train colleagues and supporters as tagline messengers.
1. Because Your Nonprofit’s Name Alone Isn’t Enough
You’ve been there.
You’ve got to explain what your organization does and the difference it makes in just a few seconds, but that’s just not enough time to deliver your 60-second elevator pitch. Many organizations expect their names to broadcast what it is they do. Trouble is, they frequently don’t. That’s where a strong tagline comes in.
2. Because It’s Essential to Continue to Invest in Your Organization’s Brand
Regardless of how well your organization is doing even in these tough times, it’s an essential truism that every nonprofit needs to continue to invest. You can never take for granted your positioning in relation to other organizations competing for the same dollars, volunteer time, program participation and attention. You need to continue to stand out.
You’ve got to stay relevant, keep adding value and continue satisfying your supporters. The right tagline helps you achieve just that.
3. Because a Compelling Tagline Ensures Your Organization Connects Strongly with Supporters and Prospects.
It’s hands-down the briefest, easiest and most powerful way to make a memorable (and repeatable) initial connection or re-connection; all in eight words or less.
4. Because Your Strong Tagline Puts You Ahead of Your Competitors—In the Top 19%!
In a recent survey, 71% of organizations said their taglines are ineffective or they don’t have one. With a strong tagline in hand, you’re already way ahead.
5. Because There’s a Clear ROI You Can Measure
A potent tagline works on two levels. First, you’re connecting strongly with prospective or current supporters in a memorable (and repeatable) instant. That alone is worth the investment. Secondly, of course, is the value of the resultant growth in donations, program participants, volunteers and others.
There’s soft ROI (return on investment) and hard ROI. Your soft ROI is the “aha” your new tagline generates in conversation or when it’s read by a first-time visitor to your website.
Your hard ROI comes from testing the new tagline (in a web page, direct mail package and/or e-alert) vs. the existing one or lack of one. So it’s not difficult to look back at the end of the year and review the cost of your participation in the TFP and the increase in the level of connection and action, and then calculate what should be a positive ROI. In addition, when you start benchmarking your messages, and tracking what works over time, you’ll be able to pinpoint the messages that work best to increase marketing results across campaigns and programs.
6. Because Shaping a Potent Tagline Builds a Foundation for Future Message Development—Your Entire Message Platform
Messages in all their forms are pretty much the essence of communications. If your messages connect, your organization is much more likely to motivate your network to act.
Learning how to craft a tagline equips you with the skills to write high-power taglines for your organization’s programs, services and campaigns, so those marketing agendas are equally successful; and gives you a great base to work from in writing the other key components of your organization’s (and programs/services/campaigns) message platform—the positioning statement and talking points.
7. Because It’s a Must-Have Skill for Every Highly-Valued Nonprofit Communicator
There’s simply no doubt that nonprofit communicators (and I mean you, whether you focus on communications 100%, 50% or 10% of your time) who know how to shape messages that connect are more skilled than those who don’t. More skills lead to greater professional success and increased value for your organization.
Nancy Schwartz, 15-year nonprofit marketing veteran (as a consultant, board member, volunteer and on staff) has crafted the ultimate learning program for every nonprofit organization seeking to improve its connection with key audiences.
There’s never been a message development resource that is so thorough, so effective and such a good investment. That’s because Nancy Schwartz is known as the “tagline queen,” a title gained through her creation of the Getting Attention.org Nonprofit Tagline Awards program, and her subsequent launch of the Nonprofit Tagline Report and Database.
Here’s what recent Tagline Focus Project participants have to say:
“I couldn’t imagine how an organization as broad as ours—with so many distinct audiences, services and programs—could develop a tagline that worked across the board. But, the Tagline Focus Project showed us how.
We diligently followed your clear, consistent, step-by-step process to build our skills as an in-house messaging team. As a result, our staff was able to research, analyze and brainstorm to craft an effective tagline ourselves, based on what really matters—our goals and audiences. Now we finally have a tagline that connects with all of our diverse audiences. Thank you!”
—Carol Whatley, Director of Communications and Marketing
Alabama Cooperative Extension System
“We needed to do a better job positioning our unique value and differentiating the Partnership from mentoring programs, but just couldn’t get there on our own.
Our Tagline Focus Project work forced us to sharpen our focus by evaluating our work to pinpoint its unique value, and prioritizing the target audiences who can do the most to help us advance our cause. The Focus Project’s clear, consistent process—supported by all the tools and templates—guided us across the finish line. The process was extremely valuable for us.”
—Rich Greif, Director of Marketing & Partnerships
Mass Mentoring Partnership
“Even though we have little formal marketing training, our four-person team is tasked with doing the job. But we’d been circling around developing key messages for a full year, with no results, when we heard about the Tagline Focus Project.
Now that we’re launching our tagline, I feel even more strongly that we would not have gotten to this point without the Project. It is just too easy to get “tagline drift.” Your blend of webinars to teach key concepts and share models, a tested step-by-step process to keep us focused and on schedule, and one-to-one coaching and critiques to keep us on track was ideal. We are so happy with the outcome—a strong tagline that works for all target audiences
Joining the program was a cost-effective way to get the professional guidance and a great tagline we needed in a timely manner. Now we have the skills and process in place to craft more messages at the organizational level, and taglines for each program. I definitely recommend this program to other organizations wanting to improve their messaging.“
—Kay Stevens, Executive Director
Wisconsin Youth Company
“We had wanted to develop a tagline for a while, and knew that we needed a highly-focused, time-limited approach to make it happen. So we jumped on the Tagline Focus Project as soon as we heard about it.
Inviting the entire team—staff, board and volunteers—to participate in the tagline development process enabled us to capture vital input from all audience segments. And our team’s participation crystallized everyone’s understanding of marketing and messaging from our audiences’ point of view! Our team is so committed to our work that they thought others just “got” the organization and its accomplishments without needing to hear our stories.
We ended up with a tagline that works for us and will definitely connect with our audiences, because you required us to do the work. And we got a bonus—a full team of effective messengers.
So many marketing projects become drifting, time-consuming efforts that are ultimately unproductive. But participants in the Tagline Focus Project can count on leaving with the tagline, and messaging skills, they need.“
—Susan Conwell, Executive Director
Kids Matter, Inc.
“We were planning to develop a new logo and knew we should finalize a relevant tagline first. But the deadline was approaching quickly.
It was a big relief to join the Tagline Focus Project. Once we did, we followed the disciplined, step-by-step process TFP process—supplemented by worksheets, templates and tools—to finish with a strong tagline, on deadline!”
—Sheri Booms Holm, Communications Director
West Central Initiative
Note: No worries if you have to miss one of the live webinars. You’ll receive video and audio recordings of each webinar within a day. And, if you are away for one of the assignments, we’ll make it easy for you to catch up.
Tuesday, May 7 | 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT
You’ll learn how to scale the first two steps to messaging success—building organizational support and understanding your target audience’s wants and habits—in this first session.
First we’ll discuss Assignment One, to ensure I answer all of your questions and guide you through any barriers you ran into. It’s vital that you’re confident in your responses, which are the building blocks of your message platform.
From there, we’ll review the elements common to messages to connect, and a step-by-step message development process, featuring two case studies from the field.
We’ll move on to dive into the key factors to which you’ll shape your messages—your audiences’ wants and habits, elements in your working environment, and how colleague and competitive organizations talk about their work and impact. Then, I’ll guide you to find relevant models and show you what to avoid by searching for messaging of similar organizations in the Nonprofit Tagline Database.
Next, the Tagline Focus Project focuses on how to get to know your audiences, as it is their wants and values that will shape your messages. We’ll review core techniques for audience research and I’ll introduce you a quick but effective technique you’ll use to gather audience insights needed to shape the right tagline.
I’ll also guide you to find relevant models and show you what to avoid by searching for messaging of similar organizations in the Nonprofit Tagline Database. We’ll close the session with a review of Assignment Two and Q&As.
Wednesday, May 22 | 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT
You’ll learn how to manage a productive message development team meeting and drive the tagline to completion in this second session.
We’ll begin with a review of Assignment Two, discussing progress, breakthroughs and concerns. Next we’ll cover brainstorming meeting essentials in detail—from setting clear goals and roles for meeting participants, to handling objections and mobilizing diverse creative forces into an effective meeting of the minds.
The session will close with a review of Assignment Two and Q&As.
May 28, 29 or 31
I’ll schedule a private 30-minute call with each of you to ensure you’re well prepared to facilitate a productive meeting. We’ll strategize around your concerns and possible sticking points so you’ll feel confident in success.
You’ll also receive a worksheet and spreadsheet for your tagline self-critique.
Tuesday, June 11 | 2:30 p.m. – 4 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m. PT
In this final TFP group meeting, we’ll review those taglines submitted for public discussion, with a brief overview of what works and what doesn’t. Then you’ll learn how to fine-tune your almost-final tagline through testing over the next month.
I’ll also guide you through each step of launching your tagline and training your colleagues to use it in conversation and in written communication.
You’ll receive an agenda template for your tagline launch meeting.
Weekly Office Hours–Speed Coaching
You’ll be able to call me for speed coaching sessions (10 minutes) to address questions and challenges that emerge during your message development process. I’ll provide you with personal guidance as you get ready to launch. Weekly office hours will continue for two weeks after the last session.
Ongoing Access to the Great Nonprofit Tagline Toolkit
You’ll have access to the online Toolkit following the TFP program so you can download and use the worksheets, handouts and templates as you need them in your message development work
I’ll personally walk you through developing your tagline and help you navigate any obstacles that get in the way. The intimacy of this program (not more than 12 participants) enables me to focus on what you need.
I’ve created dozens of taglines that work—for nonprofits, grantmakers and associations—so I know how the process works. You benefit from my experience. This isn’t just another one-off, teleseminar series or one-day workshop where you learn about a new marketing strategy. (The problem with that approach is that most participants don’t ever implement. There are just too many day-to-day must-dos to get to it.)
TFP participation is all about delivering a tagline that’s ready to go, not just about learning how to do it. You’ll walk away with a tested tagline for your organization and the knowledge to develop others for specific programs or audience groups.
And nonprofit organizations that use well-researched, relevant messages enjoy greater success in making and keeping relationships with donors, volunteers and other supporters, than those that don’t. That’s why I can make this guarantee:
Participate fully in the Tagline Focus Project and take up to six months to implement the tagline you finish up with. If after six months you don’t feel that your organization’s tagline (and overall messaging) is measurably better than it is now, we’ll completely refund your money—100%. No questions asked. Guaranteed.
Now’s the time to strengthen your relationships with your base, and expand your network, with a smart messaging strategy.
Given the ongoing effects of the global financial crisis, there’s no doubt that the period we are living in now is a particularly challenging one for nonprofit organizations like yours.
It’s imperative you take advantage of this opportunity now, so your organization emerges healthier than ever, and stays that way for the long run!
This action-oriented program is designed specifically to help you and your colleagues get the job done and do it well. All you need to do is participate actively in the Tagline Focus Project, complete the assignments, and you’ll develop a tagline that will engage our base and motivate them to act.
Plus, get access to all of the templates, checklists, worksheets, models and resources included in the Great Nonprofit Tagline Toolkit that you’ll get with Tagline Focus Project participation.
You’ll soon discover that the principles you’ve learned in the Tagline Focus Project can be used to develop other messages, at the organizational, campaign and program level. You’ll build your own professional skills and satisfaction, and boost the impact of your organization’s marketing outreach. Win-win!
Remember, with the Tagline Focus Project you not only get step-by-step training on all aspects of developing a tagline. You also get one-to-one time with me, Nancy Schwartz —I’ll provide feedback on your progress and your tagline drafts, and be available for office hours.
And you’ll get the Great Nonprofit Tagline Toolkit, a fabulous resource filled with the checklists, worksheets, models and resources you’ll be able to use time and time again.
All told, we’ve created a high-value, moderately-priced tagline development program for you and your organization. It’s all covered here—everything you need to develop a powerful tagline for your organization, program or campaign.
Every marketing task your organization tackles should incorporate a frequent analysis of ROI (return on investment). It’s the only valid, vital framework for running an effective marketing program especially when resources are limited, as they are for most nonprofit organizations.
With a well-researched and tested tagline in hand, you’re ready to go with the essence of your messaging, and can build from that proven foundation each and every time.
I urge you to take control of your marketing success right now and commit to creating a powerful tagline that’s easy to remember and repeat.
Doing so just has so many benefits built in for your organization and really, no serious down sides. It helps you connect with your first sentence. It differentiates your organization and makes it easy for your supporters to serve as messengers for your organization. And it will boost your confidence and satisfaction in your own work.
Participation in the Tagline Focus Project will make you a better communicator.
You’ll finish the program with a tagline that connects and, in addition, you’ll gain the skills you need to craft more effective messaging for your other communications. You deserve all the benefits enjoyed by top nonprofit marketers who’ve mastered the art of shaping exceptional messages that connect quickly and deeply.
There’s never been a more important time to connect with your target audiences.
Don’t procrastinate on this risk-free invitation. Seats are limited to 12
. Go ahead and register today.
All the best,
Publisher, Getting Attention Blog & E-news
President, Nancy Schwartz & Co.
P.S. I’m eager to answer your questions. Please contact me (Nancy) at 973-762-0079 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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