About that story…

Do you think of yourself as a storyteller? If you have a message to deliver about solid waste management programs, then you have a story to tell! Getting that story delivered to your community is important and there are many avenues for delivery, including social marketing.

Eco Partners president Elizabeth Roe spoke about communicating at the North American Hazardous Materials Management Association (NAHMMA) Conference in Denver earlier this month. She led a hands-on workshop entitled, “Putting Community-Based Social Marketing to Work.”

What is social marketing? It is not the same as social media. Social marketing is a method. Social media is an outlet, much as radio, TV, and newspapers are outlets. When we use social marketing to “tell the story,” it takes careful crafting of the message. In today’s marketing landscape, our story will be competing with cute cat videos and conflicting information.

The way a waste material is handled in one community may not be how it is handled in your community, so residents can be confused. Dennis Guy, Community Outreach for Department of Public Works, City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada said, “Our success depends on our customers understanding the products and/or services we are providing and what we are asking them to do with each or any or all of them. The more understanding people have about what we’re asking them to do, the more likely we’ll succeed.” 

While we can’t share Elizabeth’s entire presentation in one blog post, we do want to share some key takeaways for telling your story via social marketing:

  1. Who is your audience? What are their day-to-day concerns? How are they already participating? What are the barriers to participation?
  2. Who’s speaking for you? Does each staff member know your basic message?
  3. Are you listening? Listen first, THEN design your program or service, THEN communicate your message.
  4. What messages are you sending and receiving? Ask yourself: What does it feel like to receive our communications?
  5. Avoid common mistakes such as assuming “everyone knows,” using technical language or industry jargon, or delivering an overly complicated message.
  6. Craft messages for ACTION. The action you want your community to take should be “Single. Simple. Doable.”

Now back to those cat videos. It turns out that people are a lot like cats. (Maybe that’s why we like cat videos and memes so much!) How so, you ask? As motivational speaker Michael Angelo Caruso says:

“People don’t like to take orders; they like to take part.”

Make sure you give them that opportunity!

Pictured: Elizabeth and session facilitator Darla Arians at the NAHMMA conference workshop.

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Eco Partners helps you deliver local environmental educational information – cost-effectively and efficiently. We do all the heavy lifting and you get all the credit.

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