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For Impact | The Suddes Group

Daily Nuggets: A For Impact Blog

‘FRAMING’ … It’s a BIG DEAL!


FRAMING a message … FRAMING a story … FRAMING an issue.

FRAMING is about CHOOSING THE LANGUAGE to define the subject.

FRAMING is about FITTING priorities/issues INTO broader story lines.

This is huge. You need to THINK ABOUT the way you:

  • FRAME … Your MESSAGE (With a great story, Grand Metaphors, Visuals, etc.)
  • FRAME … Your priorities, projects and programs
  • FRAME … both your CAUSE and your CASE

WHY do I think this is IMPORTANT???

Because the bottom line is you’re FRAMING your IMPACT … the IMPACT which drives your INCOME!

SHARE THE STORY PRESENT THE OPPORTUNITY

Make Your Vision a Reality


It all begins with VISION. Having a great VISION, a great idea that can impact the world, help people, save lives.

To make that vision a reality, you must be able to clearly articulate it. You need a CLEAR, SIMPLE MESSAGE.

Then you’ll build on that message … with the storylines, the math, and last of all, the presentation tools that put it all together to COMMUNICATE your VISION to prospective investors … volunteer leadership … your team … anyone who will help make your vision a reality.

You need to:

  • Have a clear, compelling VISION/PICTURE of the future … and your impact.
  • Be able to articulate that vision as a powerful MESSAGE … with 3 great STORYLINES.
  • Have the accompanying MATH and PLAN on how to get there.

Nick’s Note: Strategic Planning v. Strategic Clarity


 
I’m tired of reading lengthy strategic plans that don’t derive-from or result-in real strategic clarity.

  • In past year I have been with several foundations that have asked organizations for ‘strategic plans.’ Speaking to the foundations directly, I can say that what they’re really asking for is STRATEGIC CLARITY — not 40 pages of ‘stuff.’ It’s a vocab issue.
  • IMPACT drives INCOME. In order to get funding results we [The Suddes Group] always have to back our way into helping an organization get REAL strategic clarity so that we have a clean strategy, message and case for support for funders. Funding, at the point, then simply becomes about execution. We can coach and train people to execute.

Strategic Plan vs. Strategic Clarity

Think about the difference in these two terms.

Every organization needs strategic clarity and a 1000-day action plan. They need to have everyone on the same page about:

  • The purpose (the WHY) and the vision (the ultimate goal) (at 30,000’).

    This should fit on a napkin.

  • No more than THREE* simple strategic priorities (at 14,000’) that advance the organization toward the goal, aligning with purpose.

    These should fit on the back of that napkin.

    *Drucker was even simpler. He said every organization should have at most TWO priorities … WOW!

  • A 100-day (near term) plan of action tied to each priority and a 1000-day plan of action with benchmarks that run more fluid for quarterly review.

    This should fit on one sheet of paper (maybe two) if you stay at the strategic level.

Every day I talk with someone who needs or wants a ‘strategic plan.’ I can’t identify with that term anymore because it means so many different things. In each case though, they need clarity and simplicity. Only about half the time do they need to do a lot of consensus building (think: visits, dialogue and time) to bring everyone on the same page.

Over simplified? No.

No More Mission Statements


 

 
No one, and I mean literally no one, can recite their organization’s Mission Statement. This is not just true in the “Not-for-Profit” world but in the “For Profit/Business” world as well.

Mission Statements are WORDY, ALL INCLUSIVE, POLITICALLY CORRECT STATEMENTS WRITTEN WITH A THESAURUS BY A COMMITTEE.

If you don’t believe me, TEST IT! Ask three or more staff and volunteers to recite, in unison, your Mission Statement (without looking)!

 

 

*Compare this to Mother Theresa’s Mission Statement: “We must radiate God’s love.”

Your real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR … COMPELLING … and CONCISE … and can be delivered in a CONSISTENT fashion! 

“The true Mission Statement expresses your raison d’etre, the purpose or reason for your existence. It should be the invisible life force that drives and unifies.”
Soar With Your Strengths,
Donald Clifton, Paula Nelson

It’s not just your organization that has trouble with Mission Statements. It’s a universal problem in the ‘real world’ of ‘for-profit’ business as well. (I’m wondering what ‘Mission Statements’ motivated Enron, WorldCom, Lehman Brothers???)

My favorite example is from a great company … that is 100 years old … and has a following that we all would die for:

 

 

This is my favorite company because it’s my ‘vehicle of choice’. But, this could be the ugliest, least inspiring, can’t believe they wrote it … Mission Statement ever.

However, look at the message, tagline, battle cry that is engraved, inspired or tattooed(!) somewhere on their ‘iron horses’, ‘hogs’, or bodies:

LIVE TO RIDE. RIDE TO LIVE.

You get the point.

Special Note: The Harley-Davidson mantra can be paraphrased for all your investors:

LIVE TO GIVE. GIVE TO LIVE.

It’s not about your MISSION STATEMENT … it’s about your MESSAGE.

The real goal is to have a MESSAGE that is CLEAR… CONCISE… COMPELLING… and can be delivered CONSISTENTLY.

Your MESSAGE should be able to be captured on a NAPKIN… and communicated in as few words as possible, ideally with a picture (visual).

Take a tip from the political world and STAY ON MESSAGE!

P.S. Don’t worry about trying to ‘change’ your Mission Statement. Leave it alone. It’s too painful a process. Just work on your MESSAGE!

“A customer can say ‘NO’ because the offer doesn’t apply to them; but NEVER because they didn’t UNDERSTAND IT!!!”
Jumpstart Your Brain,
Doug Hall

In our world, that means someone can say, “not now” or “not a priority” for legitimate reasons, but never because they didn’t UNDERSTAND the VISION/MISSION/ MESSAGE!!!

3 Big Keys:

SIMPLICITY BREVITY CLARITY

“WE CAN’T POSSIBLY DO WHAT YOU’RE SUGGESTING, TOM. WE ARE JUST ‘TOO BIG’, ‘TOO IMPORTANT, TOO COMPLEX’.”

It takes 3 pages just to ‘introduce’ your organization as a preface to a 30-page proposal or grant request!!! (for $10,000!!)

Think about these ‘taglines’ as a Message:

“We’ll put a man on the moon before THE end of decade.”
“I have a dream.”
“Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
“He’s not heavy, he’s my brother.”
“1,000 Points of Light.”
“Just Do It.”
“Like a Rock.”
“Live to Ride. Ride to Live.”

Bottom line: WHAT’S your MESSAGE???

What’s in a Message?


 
90% of the funding challenges organizations have are a function of

  • Not asking
  • Not being with the right prospects
  • Not having the right message (which usually makes number 1 much easier and makes number 2 much more apparent).

Message should be simple, fit on a napkin – clear, concise, compelling. That being said,not sure we have our own crystal clear napkin definition of MESSAGE. In fact, when someone says they need help with their message, we first ask them to define what they mean.

We’ve been referring to ‘message’ as:

That, and only that, which a prospect needs to UNDERSTAND in order to say, “I totally get it!”

*And, if a qualified prospect, to also say, “I’m IN!”

Think about it. UNDERSTAND. It’s not:

  • What you SAY
  • What you PRINT
  • What you put in a 10 page case statement.

If you can work with that definition, then 99.9999% of those reading this can resolve their message (ultimately) to one of the following:

  • CHANGE LIVES
  • SAVE LIVES
  • IMPACT LIVES

If I, as your potential investor, could understand that I can SAVE LIVES, then it’s game over. No longer about ‘fundraising,’ no longer about ‘cultivation,’ no longer about ‘asking for money.’

Common response from those too close to the issue: “It can’t be that simple.”

Yes it can.

Sometimes the ‘message derivative’ could be:

  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
  • TRANSFORMING EDUCATION
  • ENDING CANCER

Again … all SIMPLE. These are all applications of SAVE LIVES. CHANGE LIVES. IMPACTING LIVES.

I don’t want to lose a very important word in the definition – UNDERSTAND.

So how do you make me UNDERSTAND?

  • Be simple and don’t make me work to UNDERSTAND why your program is awesome.

    Don’t use big, complex words. Don’t be an academician. Concept everything up to its highest purpose. “Ultimately the reason we’re doing this is because it SAVES LIVES.”

    How many times do we read someone’s case statement only to SEARCH for the WHY.

    We’re not a fan of case statements – largely for this reason. However, if you HAVE to do one, don’t fall for pretty prose. Bold your message, then put a lot of white space around it to make it stand out from all the other stuff.

    Note: Google ‘Steve Jobs keynote’. The dude puts up slides with one word and or one visual – very good at making SIMPLE message points. While most of our thoughts address the 1:1 or small group setting, this shows how they can apply to a large group presentation.
  • Repetition.

    Just because the idea that you’re CHANGING THE WORLD didn’t sink in the first time you said it does not mean you should change your message.

    • Listen to any GOOD politician. She will repeat her message over and over.
    • Listen to any Zig Ziglar audio (random reference). Zig often says, “I’m going to repeat this three times to emphasize that it’s really important.”

    Key is that you don’t move OFF message just because you hit on it once.

  • Conviction

    I think repetition must be coupled with conviction.

  • Show – don’t tell.

    Sometimes it’s not about finding the WORDS to help me understand. Sometimes you just need to SHOW – either because there are no words or because you/I/we can’t find words to do any justice.

    This could be visual. Better than 50% of us are VISUAL. Use PRESENTATION TOOLS or VISUAL concepts to communicate concepts.

    For some, pictures and visuals may be just a start but an EXPERIENCE could be even better.

    We worked with a start-up school taking a very novel approach to learning. We probably visit 15 schools each year, and have never seen anything like this – kids in 7th and 8th grade would’ve outperformed most college kids. Everyone who walked the halls of the school felt/saw/understood the magic … We made it our strategy to get people to the school. We used words AFTER the visit to have a dialogue about the impact.

  • Start with ME – not you.

    This is about ME (the prospective investor) understanding. Not you. You know everything about the project and the organization and I know nothing. Of the 632 things you could say TO me, I probably only need the right THREE to help ME understand. This is why LISTENING is so important.

    At our trainings, we do an exercise where we pair up two people who have never met. They have five minutes in which person A is to communicate everything she needs to communicate to get the other person to say, “I get it. I understand what you do. I could share that with others.”

    In some groups, person A will talk – fast, nonstop for five minutes. In those cases person B looks worn out and lost after five minutes.

    In other groups person A will introduce a talking point then ask a question – allowing person B to give feedback … Person A listens and uses that feedback to share even more targeted and relevant message points … and on and on. After three minutes, person B usually says, “Got it! Really cool!”

    The point? Helping someone understand is not about talking at them.

After the SIMPLE definition there is room for deeper conversation/definition. A great message (APPLIED to FUNDING) must answer the three questions of EVERY investor:

  • WHY?
  • WHERE is the MONEY GOING?
  • HOW WILL YOU GET THERE?
    • What is the plan? AND/OR
    • What do you need from me? AND/OR
    • Why are you asking me for XYZ? (Rationale)

Simplify Your Message


Please, please, please. Don’t blow off this ‘LESSON’!

The SIMPLER the MESSAGE … the STRONGER the CASE/RATIONALE FOR SUPPORT. You’ve heard this from me (ad nauseam):

“If you can’t SAY IT … ON A NAPKIN … you can’t SELL IT!”
(Suddes)

‘Elevator Pitches.’ ‘One-Minute Selling.’ A ‘Napkin.’ The ‘Blue Box.’ ‘3 Buckets.’ I don’t care what you call it. Just SIMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE.

FUNDING THE VISION is very different than ‘BUILDING CAMPAIGNS,’ ‘CAPITAL CAMPAIGNS’ and ‘CAMPAIGN CAMPAIGNS.’ It’s ALL about the VISION of the ORGANIZATION … and tied directly to the MISSION/MEANING/MESSAGE.

A quick ‘story’ from the field: Colorado College President Dick Celeste took less than a year to bring the entire campus together for their MAPPING PROCESS (AGENDA). Out of that came these THREE THEMES:

  • RIGOROUS INTELLECTUAL EXPERIENCE
  • DIVERSE & RESPECTFUL COMMUNITY
  • NEXT GENERATION CAMPUS

Those 3 THEMES became these 3 BUCKETS:

  • BEST FACULTY
  • BEST STUDENTS
  • BEST CAMPUS

…which required a $300 Million Investment...to FUND THIS VISION.