According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations registered in the U.S. alone. With so many nonprofits fighting for volunteers and donations, standing out in such a hyper-competitive market can seem impossible. Especially if your cause isn’t as far-reaching as curing cancer or ending world hunger, it can be difficult to make your organization’s messaging resonate with your audience. Fortunately, if you are strategic with your messaging statements, you can have a better chance of outshining your competition.

So, how do you create strategic messaging statements? If you want your messaging to be more impactful than your competitors, you first need to research what your competitors are saying. By carefully evaluating your competition, you can learn how to make your messaging more unique and impactful. Consider these questions as you complete your research:

Who is Your Main Competition?

There may be 1.5 million nonprofit organizations out there, but not all of them are your main competitors! Your main competitors are the nonprofits that are working to solve the same problems as your organization is. So if you’re trying to prevent polar bears from going extinct, tune out the organizations that are working to educate children, support single moms, etc. Focus solely on other nonprofits that are trying to achieve a mission similar to yours. If you have a popular cause that thousands of organizations are dedicated to, narrow your scope to similar organizations in your area. Also, try to find the most well-established and successful competitors because it’s better to learn from the ones that are doing something right.

How Does Their Messaging Make You Feel?

Once you’ve selected your main competitors, visit their websites to read the main messages they are sending to visitors. You might find that nonprofits typically use online messaging that will stir up emotions in readers such as sympathy, empathy, passion, and hope in order to persuade visitors into action. As you visit each site, try to identify exactly which emotion the messages are evoking. Also consider the website’s tone of voice because this can definitely affect visitors too! Is it serious, funny, casual, informative, etc.? Considering how different types of messaging statements make you feel and how they’re presented can help you discover ways to make your own messaging more impactful.

Which Statements Strike It Home?

What are the most prominent messaging statements on the site, and how do they differ from the other competitors? Which sentences do you find to be the most compelling, and which ones are complete turn-offs? Take notes while you do this so you can easily compare your competitors to each other. If you decide that some messages are more powerful than others, dig deeper to figure out why. Is it the use of certain words, the length of the statement, the emotional appeal? Whatever it is, remember this when you are crafting your own messages. Also, knowing what your competitors are saying will help ensure that you aren’t saying the same things as everyone else. It can also reveal what your competition isn’t saying that your audience may still want to hear. Considering this can reveal ways to differentiate yourself.

Which Keywords Keep Appearing?

Are there common words or phrases that you find in every competitors’ messaging? For example, maybe you’ve read “save the polar bears” over and over again on each website. Sure, this could be a giant coincidence, but there is another more likely explanation. In today’s digital world, companies and organizations optimize their websites and messaging statements for keywords that are frequently searched for in search engines. This allows their websites to appear higher up in search results, making it easier to find them online. So it can be a good idea to incorporate popular keywords into your messaging statements for the same reason too. However, an even better idea is to incorporate popular search terms into your messaging that none (or few) of your competitors are taking advantage of! If you pay for a Google Adwords account, the “keyword finder” tool can help you identify these phrases easily.This way, you can be on a new playing field where you are more likely to win.

After researching your competitors and considering these questions, you should be able to craft more effective and powerful messaging statements. This will help you stand out in the crowd of competitors so that you can tug on the heartstrings of your audience. If you need help with your organization’s messaging, we can help! At StringCan Interactive, we offer competitor audits to discover what you should be saying to differentiate yourself. Connect with us today for more information.

Image by John Jones via Flickr CC