Tag Archives: next generation

The Power of Storytelling to Communicate Your Message

Nothing stirs the imagination like a great story, making them the ideal tool to make your organization’s mission, message, and product benefits truly come to life. Whether you are a nonprofit making your cause resonate with donors and volunteers or a small business capturing the attention of potential customers and clients, stories paint the picture of your message in the most compelling way possible.

Many accountants, lawyers, and other service professionals use stories to show how their insights and advice make a difference in their clients’ lives. Rather than touting a product’s benefits in the usual traditional ways, creative businesses illustrate them with vivacious, humorous tales or powerful, touching stories. Hospitals share heartfelt, moving testimonials from patients of how their doctors saved their loved ones. Stories are spread in as many modes as possible including social media, ads, videos, podcasts, articles, seeking media coverage, and encouraging people to share them. Vivid, active images reinforce the message.

At my previous association we shared stories of how four young professionals in that industry made a difference in their communities and how membership in the organization helped them get it done. This unique next generation membership campaign met our dual goals of membership recruitment and retention while showcasing the incredible contributions these professionals were making in their field and to their communities.

Mark Howarth, founder of Invisible People TV, talks about the creative, high impact story telling strategies he uses to convey the real life challenges of homeless people  in the February Chronicle of Philanthropy Social Good podcast hosted by Michael Margolis, founder of the consultancy Get Storied, and nonprofit expert Allison Fine. Mark says in the podcast “we have to have a personal connection… When you look at a social crisis like homelessness you think, it’s too big, I can’t do anything about it…but if you…get to know that person, you [feel]… I’ve got to do something.”

How have you used stories to convey your message or convince  your customers or members  they should use your products or services?

 

Engaging the Next Generation while Remaining Relevant to Your Other Constituents

Are you making attracting and retaining the next generation a priority to sustain your organization and benefit from their fresh insights and ideas? Quite simply, they are the future. Which is why empowering and cultivating the next generation of leaders in your organization, association, industry is so vital.

Balance bar with steel ball on either side of itWhile appealing to and engaging younger people is the lifeblood of the future of the organization, balancing that with staying relevant and nurturing the rest of your customer/member base is also critical.  It is a delicate dance in a time of limited resources.

For example, many membership associations and nonprofits face the dilemma that the average age of their members and donors are now over 50 years old, making involving younger people more critical than ever. Yet budgets and staff time are also at their tightest and they worry that focusing on engaging young people will mean not paying sufficient attention to their core membership and donors.

Here are some quick tips and ideas that are working for a number of organizations:

Avoid making generalizations about the “next generation.” Take the time to find out the priorities, motivations, interests, and habits of the younger customers, members, or donors  in your audience. Which social media sites and online communities do they use for what purposes?

Conduct market research and have anecdotal conversations with younger and older people in the segments you want to reach. You may find they have common core needs and interests that will help define your messaging and services you might want to develop for them despite being in different ages ranges.

Look at your marketing materials and online presence – do the photos and graphics represent diversity including in range of ages? Are your main messages consistent with the needs and values of your most important younger and older customers/members?

Consider creating a mentoring program and/or online discussion group that give seasoned customers and members the opportunity to share their expertise and life experience with younger people. This can provide a meaningful experience and resource to both parties while involving them in your organization. Invite some key older and younger people to moderate the discussion group on your web site or a social media site like LinkedIn.

Seek other meaningful ways that customers, members, or donors in different age ranges and with different needs and interests can engage with your organization. Invite some articulate, insightful  young people to serve on your Board and key committees to ensure you get their input while making them feel valued.

Younger people expect respect and a seat at the table. They are not going to tolerate waiting 20 years to “earn” their place. Encourage their ideas, give them the opportunity to create a new program or service, or to host an in-person or online discussion panel. Ask them to serve on a task force to take a fresh look at a business line or program area.

Share success stories about accomplished young professionals or customers and how your organization or products/services helped them achieve their goals. Ask a few articulate, successful members or customers to serve as ambassadors for your organization, featuring them in articles, print and online ads, your web site, blog, and social media vehicles. Encourage them to share their stories as well and to ask their friends or colleagues to participate in your organization.

What have you found effective to engage the next generation while nurturing and sustaining your other key members, donors, or customers? What impact have you seen?