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Organizational Growth STIMULATING ORGANIZATIONAL SUCCESS (S.O.S.) ::
Organizational Magnetism:
Ten Strategies for Creating a Respected Organization, Part Two

What makes some organizations thrive in the public eye, popular with funders, become media darlings, and even build a reputation that brings people to them in droves? Here is part two of a three-part series highlighting ten strategies that might help.

  • Be Passionate About Your Mission
  • Let Your Imagination Run Wild
  • Build the Best Team Possible
  • Show Your Appreciation
  • Market Smart
  • Connect with Your Community
  • Budget with Business Savvy
  • Live Within Your Means
  • Have a Dream; Make a Plan
  • Stay Flexible

Market Smart
Marketing is all about getting the right information about the right product to the right people. In other words, it's always smarter to focus your efforts on targeting those who will most appreciate what you have to offer and on being very clear about why. You might have a great show, but if you bring in the wrong audience for it, they may never come back to any other show. And the people who might have loved your show never even knew it happened.

Know your product. What makes it unique? What are its strengths? Weaknesses? What are your goals for doing this project?

Target your audience. What kinds of people would love to attend your event or appreciate your art? Who would identify with and get something out of it? For example, if you're producing an art exhibit featuring photos and poetry written by high school adoptees about their experience, your target audience might include adoption agencies, support groups for parents of adoptees, adoptee social/cultural groups, and/or high school groups.

Find ways to get the word out to your target audience. Make connections with new groups. Where do they hang out? How do they get information about the things that they do - through friends? School? Newspapers? Surfing the Internet? Local coffee shops? Radio? The library? Social clubs? Get your information directly to the people you're trying to reach.

Additionally, getting the right message across to your audience is vital. Build a trusting relationship with them. Always let them know what to expect. Be honest in your PR. If you tell your regular patrons they're going to love all of your events, and it turns out they hate half of them, they may never return, even for your programs that they do enjoy, because they don't know when to trust you.

For instance, your organization's mission is to present family-friendly programming, but you choose to do a multimedia dance piece that contains very violent images. You feel that, artistically, the piece is important because it deals with teen violence in a socially relevant way and will be a perfect springboard for parents and teens to talk about important issues. But you're afraid that if you tell people how violent the piece is, you'll scare away half your audience, so you decide to focus your PR on the strength of the dancers and how it's a powerful piece not to be missed. By not being clear about what your audience should expect, you risk offending a significant portion of them. Yes, while you may have gotten them in the door for this production, they may never come back in the future because what they saw was not what they thought they were paying to see. On the other hand, if you are honest about the fact that there are graphic images in the show and that it may not be suitable for all ages, some of your regular patrons may choose not to attend this production. However, you will have gained their trust, which is even more important when it comes to marketing. They will know that your PR is not about getting their money no matter what. Instead, they will understand that your organization cares about its audience, enough to let them know that some of your productions may not be to their liking. Meanwhile, you may gain a lot of new patrons who like the fact that you're actually doing something riskier for a change.

Don't forget that the people who already support you are a valuable resource in your marketing efforts. Find ways to build on their passion. Offer incentive programs that encourage them to bring in someone new or to let them know that word-of-mouth really does help.

Connect with Your Community
It's easy to get so focused on your work that you forget who you're doing you're work for. Be accessible to your audience - is your contact information easy to find? Is your staff responsive when they call, e-mail, write or visit?

Find opportunities to stay in touch with your patrons and create a dialogue. Offer them ways to provide feedback on how you're doing. Then take the time to listen. You'll learn a lot and their ideas might inspire innovation within your organization. This does not mean you need to cater to every whim of the customer, especially if it goes against your mission. But it is a chance for you to gauge trends, make discoveries, and gain greater understanding as to whether your work is actually achieving the goals your organization has set out to accomplish.

Sometimes organizations get so out of sync with the community they are trying to reach or serve, that soon the only way the community can get its message across is to stop donating, stop attending and stop working for the organization. By then, the divide might be too great to bridge. It's much easier to stay attuned to your patrons all along the way, than to lose them and wonder where they all went.

TIPS FOR GREAT GRANTWRITING
YOUR ORGANIZATION AND THE IRS
GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR ARTS EVENTS
AMERICANS FOR THE ARTS BOOKSTORE
ARTISTS: EMPLOYEE OR CONTRACTOR?
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 1
MUST READS FOR ARTS MANAGERS - PART 2
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART ONE
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART TWO
ORGANIZATIONAL MAGNETISM: PART THREE
OVERCOMING BARRIERS TO BOARD DIVERSITY
TIPS FROM THE FIELD
MORE TIPS FROM THE FIELD
PLANNING EFFECTIVE MEETINGS
BUILDING EFFECTIVE BOARDS
THE PRESS KIT
MOTIVATING VOLUNTEERS
DELIVERING OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE
Shown: Seattle Youth Symphony. Photo: Colleen Boyce.
Seattle Youth Symphony.
Photo: Colleen Boyce.
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