Thoughts from Ciana

  • 08:30:08 pm on February 17, 2009 | 0


    Oftentimes people don’t fully realize just how important it is that their company (or product) messages or “stories” are simple, distinctive and appealing.  Sounds  intuitively obvious, but it’s not always put into practice (e.g., on websites, in collateral, etc).

    Suppose you had $1,000 to spend on a charity. We posed this question to participants in a recent workshop and asked them to look at the messages from two charitable organizations’ websites and vote their dollars based on how the information is presented – not on the merits of each charity. We asked them to use this criteria:

    • Is the information easy to understand?
    • Is it compelling?
    • Is it clear how your dollars will be spent?

    Charity A

    URF/USA is a registered 501(c)(3) non-charity (Tax ID: 20-41181xx) founded in 2005. We are an international and grassroots Community Based Organization that exists on non-political, non-denominational, and non-sectarian principles.

    Our vision is based upon bringing together all interested individuals and groups to join our efforts in ensuring that AIDS orphans, needy children and marginalized communities are empowered and reintegrated into society as we develop and maintain thriving, productive and sustainable communities.

    What do you think?  This is useful information, but it reads more like a 10K (not exactly riveting stuff). Several people found Charity A’s use of formal language impersonal.

    And while having a vision is good, it wasn’t obvious to everyone how their contributions would be spent  — what exactly does “…empowered and reintegrated into society as we develop and maintain thriving, productive and sustainable communities” mean?

    Sometimes our natural tendency is to inflate our language to sound important. But this simply muddles the meaning and clarity of what we’re trying to express.

    Let’s take a look at the other choice —

    Charity B

    Each night in northern Uganda, tens of thousands of terrified children leave their villages at dusk and walk to town to avoid being kidnapped by the Lord’s Resistance Army – a brutal rebel force that has abducted more than 30,000 children to serve as soldiers and slaves in its 20-year war against the Ugandan government.

    Once in captivity, boys are forced to loot and burn villages and torture and kill neighbors. Abducted girls are routinely raped and become sex slaves or “wives” of rebel commanders. Many do not survive.

    We provide counseling, emotional support, food and medical care for the children who are able to flee, while working to locate their parents and arrange family reunions.

    This begins like a good novel — Charity B uses the power of stories to tap into our emotions and inspire us to act.  And the third paragraph outlines how this group helps children – by providing “counseling, food and medical care,” among other things.

    So, what’s the moral of this story?

    Ineffective messages can impact your bottom line.

    If you can’t express your value to your customer persuasively, customers will put their money elsewhere.

    While these are both worthy organizations, in our most recent workshop, the $1,000 we “gave” to each participant was split this way: Charity B received $9,800, while Charity A received $3,200, based on the messages we showed them.

    It’s worth repeating:

    Your value proposition and messages aren’t simply marketing exercises — they can dramatically impact revenues.

    So make sure you get it right (i.e., targeted, relevant, unique, & evidenced value propositions and messages) before you invest in marketing activities.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: