Is Kindness The Best Way to Build Your Brand?

Fires burned in Asheville while people in Raleigh donated to help out.

Fires burned in Asheville while people in Raleigh donated to help out.

What is your brand? Is it your logo, your color palette or your trendy new office? At Targeted Persuasion, we know your brand is ultimately how the public perceives your organization. Logos, colors and spaces certainly play a part in that perceptions, but there’s one element of personal and organizational branding that’s often overlooked – kindness.

For example, brands in the hospitality industry are expected to provide quality service to their paying customers, but their many acts of kindness toward the broader community usually go unnoticed. However, by actively scanning social media, Targeted Persuasion staff discovered an opportunity to show kindness during chaos.With wildfires burning across Western North Carolina, a local mayor posted to Facebook a list of items firefighters needed. We knew a Raleigh-area restaurateur known for supporting first responders, so we alerted him immediately.

We initially asked if the restaurateur was interested in acting as a collection point for supplies that we could ship out to Asheville. Not only was he willing to collect supplies, but he filled his large SUV with supplies and headed to the mountains that very Friday.

To help ensure our client’s kindness was shared with the community, we alerted media the supplies would be coming. Since this client needs to continually engage elected officials, we contacted the area’s state representative to help receive the supplies. As a result, media were on hand to interview the local representative and the Raleigh restaurateur.

We know your organization or business wants to do good because it’s the right thing to do, but are you actively seeking these opportunities to offer kindness? Are you sharing your contributions with media to help build your brand? Be sure to intentionally seek opportunities and expand your reach through media. You can build your brand through acts of kindness if you make it a part of your communications plan.

Why not start today?

Doing Good: Building your brand as you build relationships

500 people gather as elected leaders serve Thanksgiving dinner.

500 people gather as elected leaders serve Thanksgiving dinner.

One exciting shift for organizations and businesses is a drive to actively seek ways to give back to their community and make a meaningful impact. Groups are finding causes that line up with their goals and objectives, connecting with them to seek opportunities, and building their brand in the process.

Targeted Persuasion helped a national client expand and promote a local Thanksgiving dinner in Asheville, NC. This dinner brought together restaurateurs, elected officials, and a segment of the community that needed to feel fed and valued for a heart-warming evening. In fact, the Mayor, several city council members and county commissioners volunteered to help serve over 500 meals to those in attendance with another 200 meals being packed up and delivered directly to the community. Part of our responsibility was to include the local media. WLOS, Fox Carolina, and the Asheville Citizens-Times all reported on the event, expanding the brand awareness of our client.

Why does this matter?

For many younger employees, giving back is built into their DNA. It’s who they are. It matters to them. Companies have learned that attracting them is not just about allowing these employees to donate time; it’s about actively creating opportunities for employees to give back to their community. A secondary benefit is team building. The team building that’s innate to these opportunities has the ability to positively impact productivity and corporate culture.

Organizations are quickly learning that giving back is one of the best ways to positively affect their brand and increase brand awareness within the community. And if the group needs to maintain solid relationships with elected officials, it’s a win/win for the group and the elected officials. The combination of face-to-face encounters and media coverage, can give your organization the type of exposure that opens new opportunities.

It’s about doing good. And this good can make your employees feel rewarded and valued while earning your organization positive media attention.

So, what good are you doing this holiday season? It’s not too late!

2017 Advocacy: Establish your ground game now. Or get left behind.

How did you do predicting the 2016 election results? You probably sucked. Most pundits did. But now it’s time to stop talking about the results and get to work. So, what’s your strategy to move the legislative needle in 2017? Do you have a clear plan to succeed?

Let me help you.

Oftentimes lobbyists and groups attempt to persuade elected officials with just a handful of participants. While that’s fine for some policy decisions, you could be missing opportunities for others. So, how can you muscle up and win? Build an army of active, engaged, passionate stakeholders (or followers) by adding a grassroots campaign to your existing strategy.

Here’s how.

I believe that all highly successful grassroots campaigns have five main components: a substantial number of participants, motivated followers (or stakeholders?), persuasive messaging, communications that integrate various platforms, and opportunities for face-to-face encounters.

1. Enlist Large Numbers of Participants

A small campaign likely won’t make an impact. You need to think big. You need to show that you have a lot of people behind your movement. While I always think it’s important to have influential people enlisted, I also think a successful campaign should have a large group of participants and it should be constantly growing (make sure you see #4 on communications to help you grow your list).

How do you amass a substantial group?

Compile existing lists. Pull together your email database, relevant LinkedIn/Facebook connections, contacts in your phone, members of relevant committees, etc.

Recruit grasstop leaders. This can be tricky because rarely do agendas line up exactly with other groups. But can you agree on your singular issue? If so, building a list of these leaders can catapult your campaign. After generating your list, meet with them and emphasize their win in working together. Remember, recruiting leaders is always about finding ways for them to succeed. So, don’t focus on why you need to win. Enlisting these leaders is critical step to helping you build a large group of participants. If you win these leaders, you can gain access to their networks.

2. Motivate Your Participants

Often our natural tendency is to focus on our own need to win. But this approach is rarely successful when you need to motivate others. Participants are motivated by their own self-interest. Not yours. Your campaign needs motivated participants. And I encourage you to think through things from their perspective.

Also, keep in mind people will be willing to participate at various levels of commitment. Some people would only be comfortable sharing a social media post or forwarding an email. Some people would be very comfortable with patch through calls. Some might be willing to sign a petition or an op-ed. And some might be willing to speak for a committee meeting or in a legislative office. The point here is meet participants where they are, but always offer increasing ways to engage at new levels. Often finding personal fulfillment with their participation will keep them motivated and increasingly motivated.

3. Craft effective, persuasive messaging

The best message is a simple message. But policy issues are rarely simple; they are extremely complex. So, distill your message to something that is simple and easily understood.

You want participants to view your cause as trustworthy. But to do so it must be believable. Trustworthiness and believability go hand in hand. Avoid lofty language. Keep it simple.

Look for ways to evoke emotion. People will often forget 90% of what you say, but they will never forget how you make them feel. Finding a way to humanize your message is a great way to evoke emotion.

Can you frame up the messaging in terms of loss aversion rather than prospect theory? It is always easier to motivate based on ‘taking’ something than promising ‘reward.’ Best to persuade based on their needs success

4. Integrate communications platforms

If you want to experience jet propulsion in your campaign, look for ways to integrate your communications platforms. Develop your strategy for deploying a variety of tools to build grassroots support: email, social media, petitions, media relations, op-eds, face-to-face meetings, petitions, video, etc. Then decide hot to integrate and assimilate these tools.

5. Schedule face-to face gatherings

Face-to-face gatherings, like town halls, play a vital role in bonding participants, showing strength through numbers, and providing media an opportunity to report. Based on the type of campaign you are running, consider inviting association members/allies, legislators, community/religious leaders, and the media to participate in a conversation. If you’re inviting elected officials make sure you target the right group. In most instances you’ll want to develop a plan for media relations and definitely amplify the gathering through social media.

Grassroots campaigns can be a powerful force to help you accomplish your goals. But they can also fizzle and die without the right strategy and management. Think strategically and make sure you have sufficient bandwidth to launch and manage the campaign. Now, let’s make it happen!

Watch the video here.