- Fri, November 10 2006
- Filed under: Marketing essentials
I recently confessed on this blog that I had to throw out the first half of my book because it wasn’t very good and start over mid-way through my writing process. Here’s an analogy from the cutting room floor that I did like: a map of Sherwood Forest as the map for reaching our audiences. In the middle of it is the marketing territory we sometimes want to avoid but all must pass through.
If we are working for a good cause, Sherwood Forest is located on our mental map between somewhere between our mission statements or strategic plans and our outreach efforts. Most organizations or activists have mission statements and even strategic plans. These are the ideas and documents that tell us why we are in business and what we want to accomplish. Picture this as the west side of a map that shows how to reach our audiences.
At the other end of our mental map, to the east, is an outreach or communications plan. Most organizations have at least an informal version of this plan. It tells us how to get our message out – for example, press conferences, canvassing, printed matter and public service announcements.
Now visualize the empty space on our line between our strategic plan and our communications plan. This is the uncharted, dense, dark wood we’re calling Sherwood Forest. It is tempting to circumnavigate it, because it seems so much easier to bypass the wood and take our mission directly to the people.
We all like to figure out what we’re trying to accomplish and then go straight to promoting it. This is skipping the crucial path through the forest. It’s assuming that being right is the same thing as being convincing, and therefore giving people information will get them to take action. We start by saying “we need a brochure” rather than asking, “who are we trying to reach and what do they want?” Many marketing efforts stumble because information alone does not change hearts or minds.
We need to backtrack and determine how to translate, position and compellingly package our agenda for our audience before we start promoting. Taking time to do this ensures that when people hear our public service announcement or read our brochure, they will take action. Sherwood Forest is where we go from mission orientation to market orientation. It’s where our advocacy efforts either come together and gain power or fall apart, lost somewhere in the undergrowth.
OK, so it’s a little overblown. That’s why it did not end up in the book. But I revive it here to say, before we go east and decide how to communicate, we should make the journey into our audience’s world and figure out what they think, what they do and where they are. Then and only then can we figure out how to express our Western orientation - our mission - in terms that will travel well.
Wow I’m stuck on the travel analogy this week too. Maybe I need a vacation?