After this year’s long and cold winter throughout much of the US, spring is finally here and our Mission: CONNECT garden is in the planning process. For those following the progress of a group of Arizona Realtor® Associations, you’ll recall Step 1 in this project was a Strategic Communications Audit.
The Mission: CONNECT project began by defining the problem: State & local associations do not effectively identify what is valuable to members and then send communication that is valuable. We don’t prioritize & coordinate our own communications. Step 2 is diagnosing the problem.
To diagnose the problem, we held a live workshop in February to identify root causes of the problem and then conducted member focus groups to validate the findings.
We identified four aspects of the problem that require attention:
- Sending relevant content
- Distributing communications in a coordinated way and to reduce redundancy
- Overcoming barriers inside of the association
- Delivering communications in a way that members want to receive them
Identifying elements that needed attention was important, but it was critical to get to the root of the problem. Otherwise we might get off track and solve the wrong problem.
Our group engaged in a very intentional process to analyze the problem. While there may be more, we found three+ root causes to the communication problem we’d defined:
- Lack of focus on quality, relevant, clear and coordinated communications (inside the association). Why? (This is the “+”) Because of time limitations, varying levels of resources (some don’t have dedicated communications staff), varying skill levels, and competing priorities inside the association.
- There is a gap between association communication priorities (what the association wants to communicate) and what the member wants to receive.
- There is no coordinated process to follow. There is lack of collaboration because there’s no system to support it.
Focus Group Results:
Using focus groups, we validated the problem with members from each association. Are they aware of the communications? How do they prefer to receive them? What topics interest them?
The feedback was consistent across all four groups and reinforced some of the best practices we know (but don’t necessarily follow). Here are some key messages from the member’s voice:
- Find a more effective way to get my attention.
- Organize your information for quick visual filtering of the subject matter.
- Be aware that I go shallow and wide for relevant information but I don’t want to work very hard to get it.
- Be relevant to my world.
- Give me options to receive the communications.
- Make it important to my broker—then he/she will share it and I will read it.
- Don’t send blasts of information; if you do I will not read any of it.
Now that we’ve identified the problem and its root causes and validated through member research, we move to Step 3: Generating potential solutions to the problem.
Our first focus is how to organize, coordinate and deliver communications that better meet the members’ preferences. Content will come later. The process is a bit like planning for and preparing a garden to make sure the soil is rich for the seeds to grow. Stay tuned for an update on Step 3.