Thoughts by our CEO, Anthony Rawlins
There are some amazing, passionate and enthusiastic causes out there. I know because, at Navigate, we work with some of them – the RSPB, Ocean Conservation Trust, Hawk Conservancy Trust, National Park Rescue - these organisations are doing really important work.
But for each organisation with a clear and coherent raison d'être, there are many more without. Which is a missed opportunity considering the incredible work so many of them do. It seems to me that what many of them lack is a robust, commercially-minded marketing strategy that explains what they do, why they do it, and why people should support them. And given many experts are pointing to a looming recession and the associated challenges for fundraising that come with it, it’s vital organisations can connect with audiences on an emotional level – having a strong purpose will really help.
So how do you go about communicating “purpose” effectively? Well, every organisation is different, but over the years we’ve developed a bit of a playbook to help our purpose-led clients navigate their way through good times and bad...
8 ways to become more fit for purpose...
1. Focus your message
Purpose or cause-led organisations typically have three or four key areas they work in. But this often leads to comms that are too broad and woolly to resonate with anyone new. It’s the same with ads that try to cram too much in and end up reducing the overall impact (see page 13). Instead, develop a single, focused unifying message that brings the threads of everything you do into one - why your organisation exists, and what it’s single-minded aim is.
2. Go for clarity, brevity and specificity
Of course, that means knuckling down to figure out exactly what’s so special or unique about your cause, so it instantly resonates with an audience unfamiliar with the good work you do. With the right research, analysis and creative, you can express your purpose in a simple yet powerful sentence or two. And use everyday language, or risk alienating your audience. Your purpose message also needs to be rooted in something both general and moderately specific to what you do, otherwise it will be soon forgotten.
3. Digital first and foremost
While the messaging is vitally important, there are equally important technical considerations regarding how people receive information about your organisation. Nine times out of 10, it’s going to be digital, because that’s the world we live in. And that means ensuring you have an effective digital customer journey to communicate your cause and convert people to it.
4. Go deep into the detail
Imagine somebody completely new to your cause lands on your site for the first time. They need to see your overall purpose front and centre. Then, it’s about guiding them through a one-way journey that encourages them to dig, discover, and digest as much information as they want to. And in our experience if they’re engaged, the deeper they’ll go, the more knowledgeable they’ll become, and the greater advocates they’ll turn into.
5. Act as a guide
Picture your website as a stately home. When visitors come through the front door (the home page), you tell them all about your purpose and cause. Then you guide them through the building on a sequential journey to specific rooms that they can explore at their leisure. It’s important each of these rooms follows a logical order, they build on the previous rooms, and also contain plenty of interesting information visitors will find engaging.
6. Repeat your blueprint
Apply this same narrative structure across all existing comms. So your sequential advertising and email marketing campaigns reflect your website journey and, taken as a whole, feel cohesive, coherent, and connected. For example, the first email recipients receive introduces your key message around your purpose, then the second email goes into the second door, the third email into the third door and so on.
7. Hammer home the message
Reinforce your purpose – even if it feels counter-intuitive – on all your web pages, whether it's your home-page, your products and services page, your employee page, your news pages etc. In my experience, this comment applies more to commercial organisations, which often insert a “purpose page” that feels completely separate from the rest of their site. The trick here is to sprinkle your purpose at every opportunity to really make stick.
8. Test your purpose internally
Are you communicating it effectively to your own people? Is it simple for them to understand? Do they believe in it? Does the whole business understand your purpose or is it only sales or marketing? Your employees are a fantastic litmus test for how to communicate with your audience, so make the most of your employer-employee comms strategy. A case in point is Navigate. I know our new brand and purpose really resonates with our people, which tells me it will (and is) with our clients too.
Anthony Rawlins, Navigate CEO
I’ve spent the last 18 years honing my marketing and strategic skills in the travel, tourism and experience sectors. As an entrepreneur, I’ve also created several other companies to make the most of opportunities I see in our industry and the wider world of business.