In part 1, we outlined the tendency for organizations to head right to a new website before understanding how they’re unique in the marketplace. We also uncovered what happens with conflicting voices in the organization related to marketing communications, and how those voices can impact clarity, whether they’re spoken or silent.
Now let’s get into the purpose and process of getting aligned…
The Desired Outcome: Getting Internally Aligned
When it comes to multiple stakeholders, coming to agreement around communications in the marketplace can be tricky. In our process, we don’t encourage alignment by way of everyone being an equal decision-maker, but we do recommend that representatives of all groups inside the organization are given a chance to be heard, in some form or another.
The purpose of this method is to capture all the perspectives and give voice to the differences so that in the end, people have had a chance to express and there’s no internal fracturing of the group’s shared brand intentions. As a result of a more interactive approach to brand strategy, organizations can develop a culture of clear and aligned expression. In such a culture, the people inside the organization are the main stakeholders for their marketing message and efforts—able to sense when things are on the right track and when the essence of the brand is not being honored—rather than always needing to farm that awareness out to a contractor.
As we like to say…
First resonate inside your organization, then you can resonate with your best-fitting customer more easily in the marketplace.
Create a core working team of 3–5 individuals from different levels and roles in the organization. Their task is to ask themselves and others the hard questions about their current situation, gather input on the brand uniqueness, and then (later) propose marketing communication improvements that adhere to what is discovered about the brand—always getting feedback or input from others at various check points.
It will be the core team’s role to honor and speak to the differences in pursuit of clarity and readiness on behalf of the larger organization. If the members of that core team are driven by a desire for truth and clarity, the larger group benefits.
Probing for Truth to Get to Alignment
Ask yourself and others inside your organization questions like:
- How did we get to the “website” as the main project or goal?
- What do we believe upgrading the website will solve for in the long-run? What are our assumptions based on?
- What else is going on inside our organization that has led to our current marketing communication challenge? What decisions did we make consciously? Which might we have made unconsciously (or which decisions are we avoiding)?
- How do our current marketing communication challenges reflect our internal reality (the less tangible stuff)?
- What needs to be addressed inside our organization for us to feel more clear and intentional in the marketplace?
- If we wish to communicate who we are and what we stand for in the marketplace so that more of the right people become aware of our presence, what else must we be honest about with ourselves?
Once you’ve gotten clear about your situation, then you can move into “who you are” in the marketplace by asking questions about:
- WHY does our work really matter?
- WHO do we typically serve?
- HOW do we go about serving them?
- WHAT do they typically gain from our product or service?
- In essence, what does it all come down to, at the end of the day?
And then, given who you are, uncover how your marketing communications might feel as you prepare yourself for materials that may be created or revised, such as your website:
- What message would we like to lead with?
- What do we stand for and believe in?
- As a purpose-driven organization, what role can we play in marketplace conversations to ease the suffering of others?
- What core invitation are we always making to those we engage with?
When an organization is seeking a kind of marketing communication clarity and confidence they can feel in their bones, most projects focused primarily on a website upgrade will fall short because they don’t include a deeper path of self-reflection, inclusion of multiple voices, and opportunities for transformative internal shifts along the way. In that way, improving marketing communications that the people in your organization can truly get behind is a change management effort.
What doesn’t work so well is a few people deciding on the brand and then letting the rest know later (and ignoring pushback when it doesn’t resonate).
A website is an outer manifestation of an inner situation, such as a willingness to be seen as we truly are and understood clearly by others in the marketplace. There may be differing or even opposing ideas within an organization or an individual about what’s appropriate to share publicly when presenting their work. There may be a history of doing business through personal referrals or one-on-one conversations that has not necessitated being more relatable, consistent, and succinct in pre-determined communications, such as those in print or online. If these or other misalignments exist inside, addressing the situation with a new website and social media skills training will not address the root of the issue.
To reach the deeper need when you’re seeking to improve your marketing communications, begin by simply acknowledging your current challenges to one another in a more honest way. In other words, being with ‘what is’ without making it go away immediately. In such a way that by acknowledging, you can know better for yourself how to navigate the unchartered territory you face, regardless of what others are doing or saying you should do (including the author of this article).
Do you feel a desire to uncover what you want to say in the marketplace? If you’re at a crossroads, give yourself some time to ask the questions suggested above as well as others that you feel need to be asked.
Allow yourself a journey of group self-exploration and a chance to give voice to your organization so that you can all embody the essence of what you stand for in the context of marketing. If you need some guidance for such a process, contact us for a conversation.
And then, when the time is right, you can be more clear when developing a new website based on who you know your organization and your core message to be.
See how internal team alignment with a Soulful Brand client led to a more efficient website development, ongoing marketing efforts, and an increase in customer enrollment: