If your email in-box looks like mine … it is littered with announcements, invitations, press releases, newsletters, daily updates, etc. about cohousing and cohousing events.
By far the biggest snafu I find is figuring out WHERE in this galaxy the cohousing community is located and the cohousing event I want to attend is being held.
For the past 25+ years, I've been involved in marketing and outreach for cohousing communities. I've learned a few things. To wit: here are my candidates for the Top 5 All-Time Mistakes in Outreach Promotion cohousers routinely make in communications of all sorts. I was going to include the term “NOVICE” in the title but you know what? Really BIG publications makes these same errors!
1. "Come to our BBQ on Sunday!" Sending a print, digital, audio, or visual communication missing one or all three of these:
2. "Meet at Dale and Susan’s!"
Indicating a place known only to the “in-crowd” or locals ...makes everyone else “out.”
3. "Reach us on Facebook!" Providing only one avenue of contact may be convenient for you but it seriously reduces your pool of prospective neighbors.
Unless you are targeting just one market segment remember that not everyone uses every social platform. Need it to be digital? Go for the most common one: email. Too narrow? Provide ALL forms of contact you can handle.
In addition, always include a phone number because not everyone is on email and for emergencies.
Don't want to use your personal phone number? Use Google Voice to get an internet phone number that rings through to a number of your choice or just takes messages. Google Voice sends you an email indicating you have a message. Remember to MONITOR email for these messages and answer ASAP.
4. "We'll get back to you within 48 hours." Failing to respond to inquiries IMMEDIATELY I believe is THE most serious mistake.
A “We’ll get back to you within 48 hours” message on an outgoing voice mail is 47 hours too late. When people contact you for information they are predisposed to listen to you. Act while they are in a listening posture.
5. "Use GPS for directions." Finding you is not a board game.
The exhortation to “use GPS” is useless if you don’t include the address. Remember, also, that some people still don’t use GPS so having written directions in your announcement or someone one to contact for directions is absolutely imperative.
A website or Meet Up group are still two of the easiest, most common digital ways to communicate that can house your permanent data about you in one place. Make sure it’s simple and easy to navigate. (A very easy to use digital medium, Meet Up reduces options but keeps information very structured and easy to find.)
Do you have a "pet peeve" about marketing and outreach communications? A favorite story? Leave us a comment! Keep it gentle ...
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Ann Zabaldo is a passionate promoter of cohousing. She was on the develoment team for Eastern Village in Silver Spring, MD and Takoma Village in Washington, DC where she lives. She serves on the Board for MAC.
See cool blog for Emerson Commons.