Download this FREE guide and take it with you. Get started on your marketing framework today!
Before modern navigation technology, ships would find their way through the open sea using the North Star. The North Star is the only fixed point in the night sky. Sailors could use the North Star to gain their bearings no matter where they sailed on the globe.
Does your organization have a fixed reference point to help you gain your bearings?
Are the paths clear internally for your team and externally for your clients? Can you say with confidence that you are moving steadily towards your desired destination?
Our team couldn't answer yes to all of those questions.
As a result, some team members struggled with their roles and how to accomplish our overall mission. They didn't have clarity on our mission and how it related to the products and services we offered. Our team had to undergo creative destruction and find our North Star to get to where we are now.
Part of this process was defining the essence of "who we are" in one comprehensive document. At the time we didn't know what that document would look like, or the work it would require. All we did know was that our future was not sustainable without a solid infrastructure in place.
Below, we share our journey to developing an internal design for our marketing framework.
Please feel free to re-purpose our Marketing Framework example and template to fit your needs. We are happy to share. Read on to discover our organizational architecture along with some internal and external resources to help you navigate your team towards the North Star of your mission.
Are you and your team happy with your current vision and mission statement?
It's no surprise everything begins with these two statements. It's the key to who you are, and why you do what you do. It gives energy and purpose to all of your organization's efforts.
Once you identify the primary function of your organization, everything should flow naturally from it. If you are happy with your mission and vision statement as they currently stand, then move on to the next section. If you want to learn more about The Power of a Mission Statement, read our blog!
Revising a vision and mission statement requires significant work on the front end. However, it's the key to long-term success and will help you achieve your desired outcomes. As Abraham Lincoln said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax."
Our original vision and mission statements were more focused on including buzzwords than providing clarity.
My team didn't embrace the sheer magic and intellectual depth of what I wrote so clearly and concisely on a bar napkin so many moons ago.
I drank the juice because I made the juice. Nobody else was drinking or agreeing so I took a step back to formally look at the structure vision and mission statements.
There is no shortage of ideas about how to create vision and mission statements. We recommend you start with this Whole Whale podcast. It talks about the relationship between your mission and vision as "a journey leading to a destination".
Your vision is the destination, which defines what the world will look like if you are successful. Your mission is the journey, which defines what you are doing to get to your destination. Let's break this down with the Village Creed vision and mission. First, our vision statement.
Our vision is for local communities to thrive through the power of healthy human relationships.
For Village Creed to ultimately succeed, all communities using our platform will be thriving because they are full of healthy human relationships.
Next is our mission statement.
Whole Whale's COO believes a mission statement should address three main questions:
What are you trying to achieve?
Who are you trying to achieve it for?
How are you trying to achieve it?
Following these guidelines, we created the following mission statement:
Village Creed equips local communities to solve problems by increasing community engagement through mission-driven organizations.
What is Village Creed trying to achieve? We are trying to equip local communities to solve problems.
Who are we trying to achieve it for? Local communities.
How are we trying to achieve it? By increasing community engagement through mission-driven organizations.
A well-designed organization does not get bogged down with rehashing their mission and vision. Instead, it can harness its mission and vision to develop clear relationships between outcomes, goals, and feedback.
Please note, vision and mission statements do not need to be measurable. Instead, they help you to develop your key performance indicators and to form goals, both of which help measure your success.
Everything you do is guided by your mission and vision statements.
Consider how your organization sets goals.
Every goal, both internal and external, should tie back to your mission statement. It should help quantify what you are trying to achieve and how you are trying to achieve it.
Based on your mission and vision, certain core organizational values will begin to emerge. Take the time to define these.
Our organizational culture, marketing approach, and client experiences are all defined by these values. We want our key stakeholders to know what we stand for. This is especially important to organizations seeking donations and volunteers.
None. Those who work at Village Creed believed in our values from the beginning. This has been our anchor when we needed to steady our ship.
At Village Creed, we define our core values as our creed:
We will combat today's challenges by listening to and understanding the complex needs of the individual first. This is the key to creating a vibrant tomorrow.
We will strengthen ourselves as we support our friends and neighbors.
We will allow someone to help us when that day comes. It will come.
We will teach self-sufficiency at home and abroad.
We agree this is a place to work, not a social outlet to be heard. This is an apolitical forum to share programs, not divisive opinions and hot button topics. Civil discourse is expected and encouraged.
We believe everyone can contribute to the success of our community.
The more clearly you communicate these values internally, the more unified your team will be.
Create consistency in your public persona. Clarify what your legal name is, and what name and abbreviation you will use to refer to your company. Additionally, specify any names or abbreviations that you will not use to refer to your company. In the case of Village Creed, we choose to abbreviate our name as TVC instead of VC so as not to be mistaken for Venture Capital. Ask all your staff and partners to abide by these guidelines. This will help eliminate confusion.
Does your organization have a tagline? A tagline is a helpful marketing tool and can help increase the desirability of your product or services. A tagline should be a simplified version of your mission statement. Aim to communicate your primary function in less than ten words with a memorable phrase. Read this Forbes article for tips on how to craft a powerful tagline.
The founder's lack of consistency in our company tagline and details created frustration within the team. A team can only work effectively when everyone is aligned.
Consistency? I'm just trying to keep our heads above water to keep the doors open. How can I provide consistency to our company while we are still figuring this thing out?
When a founder has a clear internal understanding of their brand, consistency might seem less important. However, you need to communicate with even more brand consistency in the early days. That's when you are most fragile. That's when you hire your first key people who set the tone for all future employees.
Consistency in company details is not just important for new organizations. Organizations that have been around for decades can also suffer from mission drift as they experience a turnover in staff.
A clear marketing framework centered around mission and vision statements can help every organization stay on course.
For the love of all things good, create copy guidelines to communicate in consistent ways to your clients! We've had problems with inconsistent messaging, branding, tense, I could go on... I had trouble defining these issues before creating our North Star Document. I'd just look at the content our team created and say "No. That's not us at all. Not even close." This problem wasn't our team's fault. It was mine. I didn't provide the guardrails for their creativity.
Everybody loved having the freedom of doing their own thing but we didn't mesh together as a unit. Our culture never became toxic but we saw signs of discontent.
I still have vivid memories of asking myself "how did we get here?". I oversimplified what was needed in cheerleader pitches rather than providing concrete tools and expectations for the team.
Now, our marketing framework document is a guide we share when on-boarding new employees, partners, and volunteers. The very essence of this document came from our organization working through our copy guideline pain points. We are sharing this to hopefully save you the same pain and frustration of muddled messaging and mission drifts that caused us significant time, money, and energy to re-do.
The very essence of this document came from our organization working through our copy guideline pain points.
This should directly correlate with your core values. Ask yourself this simple question: If your company was a person, how would you like people to describe it?
Here are three personality traits that we want to define our Village Creed brand:
Empathetic (talking about it less, demonstrating it more)
If you need help thinking of more traits, look at your client feedback. What are some of the positive things your clients and community partners say about you? Next, look at your vision statement. What branding personality traits will support your vision?
Define your branding personality for more coherent content creation and marketing.
Each of your staff members has a unique voice; however, ask them to adopt a formalized branding personality when creating content. This will create a more seamless experience for your clients when interacting with your organization.
Establish a consistent voice for your company. Decide what tense and tone you would like people to associate your company with.
A consistent voice gives you credibility and builds trust with your clients.
Maintain consistent grammar. This includes oxford commas, spacing, and stylistic preferences. This should be compatible with the voice that you have chosen.
Chances are you already use key phrases to communicate the problems your organization is trying to solve, and the solutions it can offer.
These should be memorable phrases consistent with your mission and tagline.
Take a moment with your staff to identify which phrases you most commonly use to communicate with clients and stakeholders. Then create an "official list" so that these phrases can be used consistently throughout your organization's marketing efforts.
Define the keywords every piece of your organization's copy should include. Address any possible communication issues with clients.
Pictures are powerful. They can communicate on a deep emotional level with others. Be sure to define which kinds of images your organization wants to be associated with and which kinds of images should be avoided. These images should help communicate your brand personality and core values.
Does your organization have a marketing strategy? Can you speak to it concisely? If you gave each of your board members or employees a blank index card and said, “Write down our marketing strategy” would everyone write down the same thing?
They were extremely frustrated with my unclear leadership.
"Why do we have to do redo every marketing piece three times before we get it right?!?!"
I relied too much on my rambling soliloquies and rah rah speeches, and not enough on written documentation to support our marketing strategy.
Developing a marketing strategy may be overwhelming, especially if you are starting from scratch. However, it is essential as it guides the content, form, and media you use to communicate with your stakeholders.
As with everything, your marketing strategy should flow out of your mission and vision.
It should also be guided by relevant data. Conduct research on your internal and external stakeholders in order to develop Client Personas (or Buyer Personas). Understanding your audiences will allow you to create effective, targeted content whether you are disseminating information or calling people to action.
After you’ve made Client Personas, you’ll have a wealth of information to guide your content strategy. Developing a plan for content creation – deciding the type of content you will create and when you will share it – will be more effective than creating one-offs. Consider your current needs, which audience you are targeting, your programming timeline, and your call to action when developing this content plan.
In order to increase your visibility online (your Search Engine Optimization), link everything back to your website using popular keywords and phrases, back links to other articles, and meta descriptions.
Use the Copy Guidelines you have already established to guide your content creation, as well. Your content can take many different forms – blogs, website pages, newsletters, videos, and more – and it can be shared through various media including email, social media, your website, or print. Consider the messaging and tone of your content before picking the appropriate form and medium.
Finally, it is essential that you evaluate the effectiveness of your marketing strategy. Develop Key Performance Indicators that will show whether your content is accomplishing your goals. Some KPI’s include website traffic, social media engagement, email clicks, or donations made through your website. Use analytics tools to evaluate your strategy, as well.
Developing a marketing strategy for your organization can be both exciting and terrifying.
The GOOD NEWS is that even a little strategy and planning can go a long way.
So, be encouraged! Consider the strengths and resources your organization already has in this area.
Check out our Guide to Developing a Nonprofit Marketing Strategy for steps you can take to further develop your organization’s strategy.
Establishing a Design Guide helps you create a visual brand that is consistent across all content and media. Again, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, even your design guide should tie back to your mission. Your logo is a great place to start. Consider which colors and graphics best illustrate your mission and work. While your brand encompasses so much more than your logo, it's an important visual identity for you. Do you have any employees, board members, or volunteers with graphic design experience? Invite them into the discussion and allow them to bring your ideas to life.
Other than your logo, it's important to set guidelines for your company's colors and fonts. These guidelines should be applied across every communication platform you use. Take a look at this article to help you refine your organization's Design Guide.
None. It was created before their time.
None. I created our first logo with my own hand (well... in PowerPoint) and it was awesome. Click here to view our first logo.
I received the following blunt assessment from an individual who is now the head of our board: "Hey man, that's a painfully bad logo. It does not represent your product at all. Will you let me overhaul your brand?"
You need sounding boards to refine and reiterate your persona. You can't do it alone. Understand that passion can cloud clarity. Be humble enough to know that other people are smarter than you - especially in niche areas. Surround yourself with third party assistance to measure your progress and feedback.
Creating a visual identity will help people quickly identify you and create familiarity and trust in your brand.
Is your "ship" headed to your intended destination at this time? Is everyone in your office fighting for the same agenda or something else? The more unclear your mission is today, the more internal conflict there will be to define who you are and what you do. Mission drift occurs when a company's people, process, and product are not aligned.
Our marketing framework has saved us from missional drift. It has helped to internally communicate clear expectations and guidelines so that we can excel in what we do. We needed a North Star to direct our efforts. I can't even begin to describe what this has done for our company culture. We are truly happy with the outcome.
I'm not suggesting you can whip up an internal design for your marketing framework over a bottle of wine. It will take lots of collective consideration and communication to develop. However, once you create your framework, it will serve both as an orientation guide for new employees and board members, as well as an invaluable reference for all staff and partners. We hope that your team finds value in our story and resources.
Download our FREE Marketing Framework Example and Template to get started today.