Empty the Silos

Here is a common problem I see with organizations: they have no big picture tying together their marketing, messaging and brand. The website says one thing, the brochure says it another way. People within your organization describe you and what you do differently. It’s like 10 first-time chefs in one restaurant kitchen trying to cook dinner. Stuff is everywhere. There’s no overarching plan guiding the meal. Even if a dish or two turns out well, it doesn’t salvage the evening. Guests leave with a doggy-bag of confusion and a bad taste in their mouth, unlikely to return.

The first step to growing your impact is to empty the silos.

Organizations of all sizes fall prey to the silo approach for messaging, marketing and branding. In smaller organizations, it starts when they piecemeal marketing projects and providers. You hire a guy to do a logo. You get another web company to design a website. You pay a different group to handle your social media for six months. You convince a friend to help you design a brochure or flier. Silo. Silo. Silo.

In larger organizations, the messaging, marketing and branding wind up in the hands of different people and different departments. Even if they all report to some ‘VP’, they seldom know the ‘whole’ and their part in it. Instead of outsourcing the silos, they ‘import’ them.

Before you feel like a loser…don’t! Few organizations take the intentional steps to masterplan their messaging, marketing and brand. But those who have give themselves the best chance at attaining maximum impact.

The First Step to Creating a Cohesive Plan

Ready to take a step towards a clear plan? Here it is:

Write down the main problem your organization solves for your audience.

The most important tip for this step is keep it simple. I know you do a lot of amazing things. But to get others excited, you MUST keep things focused and simple. You should be able to write this on a napkin. This should be ‘kid-shareable’—something you could teach lil’ Jack or Jill. And did I mention, keep it simple!?

This first step is the key. I can’t overstate its importance. Start here. Don’t obliterate your current website. Don’t print 10,000 new fliers. Don’t hire a freelancer to design a new logo.

Here’s a final warning: this is tough. Your business has several services. Your non-profit has numerous steps. Your church has a vision statement, mission statement, and core values. I know. Take a deep breath. You can do this. (And don’t get up from your desk until you’ve got an answer written on that napkin.)

The Payoff

It’s worth pushing through. The silo approach will not breed success, it solicits failure. It will not grow your impact, it stunts your growth. I once had a professor say, “A mist in the pulpit is a fog in the pew.” Think about it like this. If you can’t pinpoint how you help your audience, how in the world is your audience supposed to know.

So get crackin’. And always, always, remember to keep it simple.

PS Here’s a PDF with some examples from my clients.

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