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Before You Say A Thing – What to communicate about your business or non-profit

By July 29, 2010No Comments

Many website projects I encounter put the cart before the proverbial horse by starting with a list of features and functionality but very little content. Content creation can be the hardest thing for business owners or leaders of non-profits because they are bogged down in the daily operations of their organization. Before you start a website, brochure or marketing project, it is wise to be clear on what your organization is all about. The goal of this article is to give you a checklist of items to have nailed down (on paper!) before creating content for your project.

In all of these items, clarity and consistency are key.

#1 Organization name – As obvious as this sounds, some organizations haven’t nailed down how they want to be referred to when it comes to a name. Does your name state what you do? Does it beg an explanation? Is it too long and convoluted? Are you better served by using an acronym? Does your usage of acronyms create more confusion? Make sure everyone on your team uses the same name in conversation and writing whenever possible and practical.

#2 Vision statement – What do you hope to accomplish through this business, church, sports team, etc.? This can be a lofty goal which serves to provide direction to your members internally and inspire or attract others externally.

#3 Mission statement – What is your organization going to do? Some confuse the mission and vision of an organization due to an overemphasis either vision or operations. The key difference is that the mission should contain a statement regarding how you will go about accomplishing the goals in the vision statement.

#4 Core values – The above items generally come about after reflection upon the core values, competencies or offerings of an organization. What you identify here may relate to a service you offer, a product you sell or an intrinsic value you hope to pass on through your organization’s operations. It is helpful to distill three or four values out of the breadth of your operations. Once you establish these values, they serve to inform both the vision and mission statements (so you might start here!).

#5 Motto – Last and definitely not least on this list is the organization’s motto or slogan. Whereas the above materials (items 2-4) may only be used internally, the motto will likely appear right after your organization name in all public communications and marketing materials. Some rules for the motto: Keep it short, it should clarify your name, it should describe your services, it should provoke a response, and it should be consistent with the items above.

Consistency and clarity are most important in forming all of these pieces that serve to identify your organization. I emphasize this because before you engage in marketing, you should have a solid identity. Otherwise things get turned around and it is tempting to let a good name, motto, logo, or gimmick lead your operations. When that happens, your brand and your organizational identity are likely to be compromised or damaged.

After successfully documenting the above items, it should be easier to engage in any web design projects, logo design, advertising or building of the organization through public communication.

If you need help with any of the above items, feel free to get in touch!

Scott Bothel

I'm a digital marketing consultant living and working in the Greater Seattle area. My passion is to help small businesses leverage web marketing to accomplish great things!