Create a Greater Impact by Putting People First

Credit: Flickr user Francisco Osorio

Founded in Oregon in 1953, Umpqua Bank’s mission is to be the “greatest bank in the world,” putting customer service and community ahead of all other priorities. So it wasn’t a surprise to learn that there is a direct phone line to the office of the Umpqua CEO in every bank location. This is a GREAT example of an organization committed to building relationships with its target audience.

Your ability to build, maintain and leverage a relationship with your customers, funders, or community is the key to having successful communications efforts. People want to feel connected to the organizations they engage with. Whether you’re fighting climate change or raising funds to give homes to the homeless, your relationships with key stakeholders will always be the number one reason you succeed.

How do you build a relationship with your target audiences?

Know Your Brand

The first step is to build a brand – a consistent and succinct package of your mission, vision and culture. In doing so your audiences will learn what to expect from you as an organization and to trust you.

Use brand style guides to direct you and others at your organization about how to use the logo, colors and fonts in presentations, printed materials, and digital assets. Know your brand identity—from your organization’s personality to its vision— in order to create a consistent brand presence in all communications.

Build Community

Building community around your brand is another great way to strengthen the relationship between you and your consumers, funders, volunteers and other target audiences. By connecting with audiences beyond asking them to fund your project or buy your service, you add value to your community.

Some ways to build community:

  • Post content on your blog and social media channels that is 70 percent about the sector and cause you serve and 30 percent about your organization.
  • Host an event for your community.
  • Give away products or services for free to demonstrate value.
  • Connect your audiences to organizations and causes that might interest them.

Build Trust  

Ultimately, we want to do business with those that we like and trust. The same goes for funders who are looking to donate money, investors who are looking to fund projects, or people who are just waiting to be inspired towards changing behavior.

I advise that you always prioritize relationships with key audiences first. Above all, be honest, be kind, and be mindful of the things you say to those that you serve. Follow through on what you say you’ll do to continue to build trust over time.

For an example of how to make relationships a core value of your organization, read about Zappos and how their unique culture has positioned them as a leader in building relationships with consumers.

How are you building relationships that last with your target audiences to make a greater impact?

Jessica Williams

Jessica is a former account director for Mac’s List and Prichard. In her spare time, Jessica can be caught hiking with her dog Zoey, traveling to foreign lands or practicing yoga.

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