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The Seven-Second Solution…

Those of you familiar with the results of the Alliance’s recent consumer research project* were probably not surprised to learn that when people understand who we are and what we do, they embrace the concept we know as “fraternalism.”

The only problems are:  a) it takes waaaaaaay too long (3-5 minutes on average, according to our focus group results) to explain the fraternal model to non-members and, b) the words we use to describe ourselves (fraternal, lodge, member) are often perceived negatively by many consumers.  Funny hats, old men drinking too much, and secret handshakes were some of the most common reactions from focus group participants.

Our research demonstrates that we need a better way to quickly and clearly communicate what we’re all about to the vast majority of folks who would, could, and should be members, if they only knew we existed.

That need was driven home by Frank Luntz, best-selling author of Words that Work and keynote speaker at the Alliance’s 2011 Annual Meeting, who said that organizations have seven seconds to make a positive impression on consumers.

So how do you get what took 3-5 minutes to explain to focus group participants down to a seven-second “elevator speech?”  Here’s what Catholic Order of Foresters (COF) developed in conjunction with the work on the organization’s new strategic plan:

“We are a Catholic Life Insurance Company supporting our Catholic community through spiritual, social, and community outreach programs.”

Pretty darn good, if you ask me.  The Alliance will be initiating Phase II of its consumer research project in early 2012, with the express purpose of developing the words that most effectively define a fraternal life insurer to our most important audience – the next generation of society members.  You can be sure COF’s language will be included in that research.  And we’d also like to consider testing some of the words, phrases, and taglines you are using to define who you are and what you do to prospective members.  You can post them on the blog or email them to me at jannotti@fraternalalliance.org or Rose Andrikos at randrikos@fraternalalliance.org.

The Phase II research – an undertaking that most Alliance members simply couldn’t afford to do on their own – will produce a tangible product that every Alliance member society can use in its marketing and member communications programs.  It’s being designed by a task force of dedicated and talented member marketing and communications professionals to fit the precise needs of fraternals.  I think the project is going to deliver a one-of-a-kind infusion of energy into societies’ marketing messages.  Stay tuned for the results.

What’s the risk of not re-defining fraternalism for the next generation of members?  Quite simply, it’s this: if you don’t define yourself, someone else will.  Take a look at the following “helpful definition” of fraternals that appears in www.yellowpagesgoesgreen.org and was sent to us by Lee Berg of Catholic Financial Life (and a member of the Task Force working on the research project). As Lee points out with tongue firmly in cheek, “No need for our survey work… save the money… Yellow Pages has defined us!  Mercy!!?

Helpful Definition for:  Fraternal Organizations

Fraternal organizations in Wisconsin Rapids denote a distinct society, an association of brotherhood, which, depending on their structure & purpose, may or may not have differing degrees of secrecy, some form of initiation or ceremony marking admission, formal codes of behavior, disciplinary procedures, very differing amounts of real property and assets.

Fraternal organizations in Wisconsin Rapids have various purposes, such as- university education, work skills, ethics, ethnicity, religion, politics, charity, chivalry, other standards of personal conduct, asceticism, service, performing arts, family command of territory, and even crime.

Let the Alliance’s research continue!

*Don’t worry, we’ll be sending you the full report at no charge in the next couple of weeks.

2 Responses

  1. while “wording” is helpful, seems such language is ultimately a public statement of a journey within each society – where do we come from, whom do we srve now, whom do we plan to serve, how do we communicate with them … and how are we organized to deliver that value – – and then to mission statement and the right language….? the Alliance can faciliate, but societies need to dig deep and confront their own journey to make this happen ….?

  2. Our marketing people have been working on developing a 7 second description of who we are, and this is still a work in progress, but what we have so far is:

    UCT is a non-profit financial services organization that funds member-led community service efforts across the US and Canada.

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