One of the most challenging parts of starting new communication and outreach endeavors is figuring out precisely what you're trying to accomplish. Amber Liebner, Director of Client Success and Training for NEP Services, has guided hundreds of labor organizations and other groups to figure out exactly what it is they are trying to do.
Liebner says that she asks clients a lot of questions. She approaches these questions from the point of view that most clients are still figuring out what they want simply because they need to know what's in the realm of possibilities. "I like to discuss with clients what we can do to help them, and while sharing this, have an open dialog about whether this product or service would support you. How can we implement this in a way that would support you?"
According to Liebner, most clients start with primary goals, such as "a way to raise money or to communicate to their members." But some clients come in wanting to do a lot more. "The more organized the client is, the more needs they may have," says Liebner.
Liebner says she offers solutions to help make these goals more manageable. "An example might be sharing a tool we have that helps them easily update the public side of their website. That tool also automatically puts that content on Facebook, and sends branded email to all the community members who have joined their emailing list. This helps get their message out to multiple audiences in one step. It's easy to use, mobile-friendly, and can be done from anywhere. And not sure you can do it? Send us the info and a photo to use and we will post this information for you!"
One of the best ways to grow traffic to your website and promote your brand, according to Leibner, is to "show your community members all the great things you do." And to maximize the reach of this content, "it should be educational, informative, and interactive."
One challenge Liebner often sees is a "learning curve with adapting to the products - fully adapting to the power of the tools they are spending their member's money on. This requires work to learn how to get the most out of it. A lot of times, we start with a lot of excitement, but find a lack of follow-through to make the outcomes work well."
In Liebner's experience, "there are two types of clients who end up having success with our services and/or products. The first being clients who are highly motivated. I think all of our clients want to help their union and their members, but the distinction is that they are not all motivated to really do the work and put in the time or more time depending on the situation. The clients who are motivated, ask questions, send text messages or make phone calls… tend to have more success."
Liebner explains that the "second example of a motivated client is a client who is open to learning. Clients who acknowledge they can learn something and are open to learning how they do something different and/or better tend to be the clients who lean on us. They ask questions, they tend to reach out to see if we have a solution and/or a way to help them out. They might just ask a question like 'what do other clients do in this situation.' They want to learn."
Jim Aleski is a 25-year fire service veteran and career engine company Lieutenant in the Philadelphia metro area. Jim serves as a Branding and Content Specialist at NEP Services and formerly served as the Communications/Social Media Director for the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey (PFANJ), the state affiliate of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Prior to becoming a career firefighter, Jim responded as a volunteer while working for more than a decade as a media producer. Jim was involved in the production of hundreds of national TV commercials, network branding campaigns, music videos, and corporate communication projects. Jim holds a BS in Mass Communications from Emerson College and earned a MS in Fire and Emergency Management Administration from Oklahoma State University.