Apr 27, 2017

Using Vision as a Foundation for Messaging

I am sure many of our readers have seen the famous “Start with Why” TED Talks video featuring thought leader Simon Sinek.  In the video, he outlines his “Golden Circle” concept which features the simple notion that most organizations focus on “what they do” rather than “why they do it”.  It is a simple but powerful concept.  If you have not seen the video, check it out

In our work, we often use similar terms but define things this way;
Mission is what you do
Vision is why you do it (often measured as an outcome benefitting society)
Core Values are how you do what you do

What we have learned over time in our work with clients is that too many organizations use mission as the foundation for their key messages.  Yet, we know – just like Simon – that it is vision that inspires people.  And, turning vision into an inspiring message is one key to good marketing.

Cause campaign marketing for non-profits have learned a simple trick that also applies this sort of inside out thinking.  They focus on the problem they are trying to solve and back themselves in as the unique solution to it.  The cause marketing recipe looks something this:
-Here’s the problem (ex: no clean water in developing countries or AIDS)
-Here are some solutions (that typically don’t work)
-Here’s our unique solution (outline benefits)
-Here is how you get involved (the call to action)

In all three approaches, we have consistently found that it is the “why” that inspires people and, therefore, should serve as the foundation for messaging.  Yet, many organizations focus on the “what”, which does not inspire people to act.  Try it for size and see if it works.  And, if you learn that your organization lacks vision, or that it requires a refinement of that vision, it will point you to other places you can strategically improve.

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