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4 Steps to Heal your Brand Breaks to Drive Membership and Non-Dues Revenues

Why you need a consistent brand story

Why you need a consistent brand story

Several years ago, in a brief fit of madness, I asked my barber to give me a different haircut and change my hair color while he was at it. I wanted to try something daring and edgy. The result was laughable. I looked like an Elvis Presley impersonator. It was unnatural. People I knew didn’t recognize me. My wife thought I was having a midlife crisis.

Your brand is a little bit like a tried-and-true haircut. Sure, you need an updated look every once in a while, but a major departure from your established style confuses people, turns them off, and makes them question your judgement.


How to Find and Fix Brand Breaks

Ideally, every aspect of your brand—your messaging and visuals as well as your mission and culture—fit seamlessly into the bigger picture of your organization. In reality, however, a brand often has breaks. Brand breaks are areas where misalignment happens. Some are minor inconsistencies in font or color choice. Others are more significant, for example if your sales team makes a promise that your organization can’t deliver on.

Eliminating brand breaks and maintaining a consist brand story helps people recognize you, trust you, pay your dues, attend your events, purchase your products, and rally behind your causes. Follow these four steps to solidify and articulate your brand, fix any brand breaks, and maintain a unified presence that engages your base.


1. Investigate your brand.

Establish a baseline so you can recognize any deviations from the norm. Examine your marketing collateral, event branding, product offerings, sales tactics, and any other unique aspects of your organization. Consider your internal culture, procedures, and communication practices. Look at your marketing channels and platforms—your event, social media, ads, direct mail, website, and more.

Also consider these questions:
  • Why do you do what you do?
  • Who do you serve?
  • What value do you offer your base?
  • How do you solve their challenges?
  • What is your mission, vision, position, and brand promise?

2. Articulate your brand.

The easiest way to ensure consistency over time and across channels is to create a brand guide. This is a way to document every aspect of your brand, from your mission and vision to your fonts and colors. A typical brand guide might include the following:

  • Mission statement
  • Vision statement
  • Brand positioning statement
  • Brand promise
  • Fonts and colors
  • Voice and sample messaging
  • Sample graphics and images
  • Proper use of your logo
  • Product descriptions

3. Close gaps.

As you create your brand guide, look for anything that doesn’t quite fit with the big picture or any item that’s missing altogether. Check for outdated images, messaging, or offers. Is your logo clear and simple? Are your fonts and colors consistent? Has your mission or positioning changed since you were established? Can you fulfill your brand promise?

At this stage you can eliminate anomalies, revamp your look and feel, tweak or overhaul your messaging, add or subtract product offerings, or launch initiatives to bolster your internal culture.


4. Get your team on board.

Brand consistency includes rallying your team behind your purpose and aligning your internal culture with your outward-facing materials. Once your brand guide is complete, distribute it to your entire team and make sure everyone understands how to use it and why it’s important.

Make a plan to revisit your brand guide periodically and make updates as necessary. Being consistent doesn’t mean being stagnant. It’s a good idea to entice people with fresh messaging, visuals, offers and products as long as you stay true to your core brand.

Why all this matters
Establishing a strong, consistent brand is worth your time and effort because it’s worth money. A study from McKinsey & Company suggests that companies with a strong brand are 20 percent more profitable than companies with a weak or inconsistent brand.

If you can’t clearly and consistently articulate your mission, for example, chances are your sales team won’t be able to convey your value to members and prospects. When people don’t see your value, they don’t pay your dues, attend your events, purchase products, or tell others about your organization. If people don’t recognize your organization, they won’t engage. If your brand is different every place people encounter you, they can’t trust you. Without trust, it’s nearly impossible to turn prospects into attendees, members, and long-term brand ambassadors.

The good news is a bad haircut or dye job isn’t permanent. With a little time, effort, and your trusty style guide, you’ll be looking fabulous in no time.

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6 Ways to Reach Your Marketing Goals in Uncertain Times

6 Ways to Reach Your Marketing Goals in Uncertain Times

When I was a kid, Valentine’s Day was one of my favorite days of the year. I would spend hours decorating my little brown paper bag before taping it to my desk at school on the big day. There was always nervous excitement and uncertainty. Would I get lots of cards from my friends? Would I get the good candy? Or would I get a bunch of rocks?

Marketing to your members and prospects in today’s uncertain times is a lot like my Valentine’s Day bag. You make plans, put in effort, and anticipate good results. But sometimes you get more rocks than chocolates.


The Effects of Uncertainty

Even if your organization isn’t directly involved in political or economic discussions, your members and prospects are affected by uncertainty. As a result, they might hesitate to attend your events, join your organization, engage with your offerings, or purchase your products.

What’s more, heightened privacy concerns mean people are less likely to give you their email addresses. They’re also generally fed up with all the marketing noise that bombards them daily. You simply can’t continue the same old tactics if you want to reach your goals. It’s time to reshape your marketing to best serve your base.

A better strategy is holistic digital marketing that combines high-value content with drip and nurture campaigns. This approach builds trust with your audience over time and moves them along a customer journey from awareness to consideration to decision.

Follow these six steps to mitigate uncertainty and drive conversions with holistic digital marketing.

1. Craft your brand stories

People relate to other people better than to organizations. They value third-party endorsements over marketing messages any day. A great way to get attention and engage your base is to showcase other humans who benefit from your work.

Interview your most enthusiastic members. Ask them pointed questions:
  • Why join now?
  • What is the ROI of joining?
  • What is the biggest takeaway of being a member?

Craft these stories with simple, conversational language. Broadcast them through paid and organic social media, landing pages, and email campaigns to build trust and reinforce the value of your organization.


2. Consider the customer journey

Even the best message can be unsuccessful if people aren’t ready to hear it. Consider where your prospects are in the customer journey BEFORE you sketch out your marketing plan. Ask yourself:

  • Have they ever heard of your organization?
  • Are they familiar with your products and services?
  • What are their pain points?
  • How urgent are their needs?

Prospects who are not very familiar with your organization will likely need some high-level introductory communications at first. Others who are ready to purchase might need more in-depth content to help them make a decision.


3. Identify brand breaks

A brand break is when some part of your culture or marketing doesn’t align with your core brand. Do your emails have a similar look and feel as your website? Is your social media voice the same as your direct mail voice? Is your internal culture aligned with your external communications? Aim for continuity across channels. If you have too many brand breaks, you’ll lose people along the customer journey.


4. Prove the ROI of your offerings

People often need hard numbers to justify paying your dues and attending your events. Look for any opportunity to quantify the value of your products and services to prove they are a worthy investment.

  • Do your products save members money? How much?
  • Does your organization offer discounts on other products and services? How much?
  • Do you facilitate connections that lead to new business or new revenue streams? What is the potential revenue? Do you have a case story to cite as a concrete example?

5. Test and monitor

Digital marketing makes it especially easy to test and track the success of your efforts. You can measure web visitors, engagement with your content, form submissions, likes, shares, and lots more. Determine which metrics are most important to your campaign goals before you launch a promotion. For example, website visitors might be more important in raising brand awareness. Form submissions might matter more if you’re building a prospect list.


6. Fix areas with low conversions

Digital marketing also makes it easy to adjust campaigns on the fly, for example, by changing the offer, messaging, image, or platform. If your landing page receives a lot of traffic but few people fill out the form, this could be an indication of a brand break or poor alignment with the customer journey. For the most scientific testing, fix only one variable at a time.

Holistic marketing means you look at all the parts together, including your organization, story, products and offerings as well as your members and prospects, where they are, and what they need. The more you can align your communications with the customer journey, the more successful your holistic marketing will be even in times of uncertainty. Keep doing the same old thing, and you’ll miss out on members, prospects, and engagement—and the good chocolate on February 14th.

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