Meet them where they are

“Meet them where there are” is not a new concept, but it has crossed my virtual desk recently more than usual. For example, organizations like Wholesome Wave. They are committed to meeting people where they are in their effort to address not just food insecurity, but more importantly, nutrition insecurity.

But even if you’re not directly helping people, the concept is a powerful one for advancing your work—whether that’s rallying others around a new initiative or introducing a new product or service to the market.

We’re working with one of our clients right now to create their brand messaging. They have the visual elements of the brand but not the verbal. In other words, they have no concise, compelling way to talk about what they do as a whole. They can only talk about their offerings individually.

Ideally, they would have started with the verbal and let that influence the visual. However, life happens which sometimes means that you have to work with what you have.

Creating a brand and its message is easy. However, creating one that will work is far more difficult. That’s because, for one, in order for it to work, senior leaders in an organization have to see it as the strategic imperative that it is. In organizations whose leaders have not made branding a priority, before you can start writing, you have to meet them where they are.

Here are five questions to guide you:

  1. Under what circumstances would your leadership see having a brand message as a strategic imperative? What’s most important to them that having a brand strategy can address? That might include creating stronger partnerships or supporting growth.
  2. Who are the key stakeholders whose opinion and buy-in matter? The answers to this one may seem obvious, but often some people are overlooked. For example, CFOs may not have a clear connection to the brand, but once they understand the impact it can have on reducing costly turnover, they may add their voice to the chorus of support.
  3. What’s important to each of these stakeholders and why might they object to the investment of time and money that creating a brand strategy requires? When thinking specifically about what’s important to them, including their individual, emotional needs—such as being seen a strategic thinkers—as well as their professional ones—making preparing for media interviews much easier.
  4. In order to address those wants and needs, you have to ask who are the competing or similar organizations that do have a strong brand story? What is their story and how is it driving success?
  5. Finally, who are the organizational influencers, even if they’re not high up on the org chart? For example, I once knew a receptionist at a large corporation who had been there for years. She knew everyone and everyone knew here. More importantly, everyone liked and respected her. Despite the fact that she never sat in on one strategy meeting, her opinion nonetheless had a great impact. Get those folks on your side too.

In order to garner the kind of support from others that any major initiative requires—such as developing your brand’s story—you have to meet them where there are. That includes understanding what and who is important to them personally and professionally.

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