Now that you have an end-to-end view of the program experience, you will be able to identify how you want to interact with your different target groups.
It is important to define a program engagement strategy from the beginning. This is your opportunity to design how and when you want to interact with your target group and the tone your messages will need to have.
This is not something you want to leave to chance. Otherwise, you risk program participants being misinformed, confused or, even worse – not knowing it exists at all. Remember, someone who is well informed will feel confident and trust that it is worth investing their time and effort in the program.
In the long run, you’ll ensure that the program maintains momentum and the participants’ engagement or interest doesn’t fade. An informed participant is also more forgiving if anything should go wrong or there are any ‘hiccups’ in the process.
Interactions can take numerous shapes, such as face-to-face conversations, information provided on a website, a flyer provided in the mail or feedback on an application form. Basically, it is whenever someone is receiving or consuming information about your program.
For example, in Melbourne many almost missed the opportunity to nominate their laneway. Everyone we spoke to commented that they stumbled upon the campaign by accident. In a few instances, one person would come across the program and share the information with others. However, in most cases many only found out about the initiative close to the submission deadline, limiting the level of involvement that could be attained from others in the laneway.
“I missed the memo, which was unusual.”
Similar to the journey mapping exercise, you will need to tailor how to best engage with each target group. Avoid the temptation to create a universal engagement strategy for a diverse audience, as you will loose interest and involvement along the way. Invest the time and effort in setting up a solid engagement strategy before you get started.
How to get started
1. Use your value propositions to craft meaningful messages
Remember that the value proposition is what is important to your target group and how they can relate to your program. It, therefore, becomes a very useful tool to inform the tone, intent and content of your messages.
This is particularly important as you are developing campaigns for the program and you want to catch the attention of your audience. Tailor the promotion of the program to speak to what is important to the target group and what will spark their interest.
For example, the promotional messages for a business in a Melbourne laneway will focus on making the laneway more attractive for their (current and future) customers. Someone who currently resides in a laneway will respond to messages around improving the safety and wellbeing of living in the inner city.
2. Identify the best moments to share your messages
As you are crafting your messages, you will also need to keep in the mind when and how they will be delivered to an individual or group of people.
Think about what people will need to know when. For example, generally in the early days of the program the focus is to create excitement and spark interest. As you progress through the journey, you will need to instill confidence and maintain momentum. Identify the points where an individual is directly interacting with your program using your program experience map.
Consider which communication channels would work best to effectively deliver messages and communicate with your audience. Examples of common communication channels are:
- (Snail) mail
- Online / website
- Text message
It is important to keep in mind who your target group is and the types of channels they already naturally engage with on a regular basis. For example, you may find it will be too tricky to engage with a commercial real estate agent face-to-face (as they often have a very busy schedule) and that email is the best way to make initial contact.
Make use of what naturally works best rather than investing time and effort into channels that your audience will struggle to adopt or will simply not be interested in using. How information is delivered is just as important as the content of the message.
These communication points also mark the key moments where your audience is interacting with the program. They, therefore, play an important role in shaping the overall experience of the initiative. A positive experience instills trust and confidence, whilst a less positive experience often creates doubt and confusion.
We uncovered a number of key communication points where a laneway member can first become aware of the program:
- Direct contact from City of Melbourne – e.g. email, letter drop or a direct call to the owner of a laneway
- Pop-up information session – invite people to a session to learn more about the program (e.g. pop up information stand/event in a specific laneway)
- In-context promotion – integrating advertisements of the program in the laneway (e.g. using posters, pop-up events and floor-level features or ads).
3. Identify the important moments at which someone will require information
There will be key moments in the journey where your target audience will need or want access to information about the program.
These are often referred to as critical communication moments. Without information at the right time, you risk someone losing interest, disengaging or being confused. Your aim is to foresee when these moments occur and proactively offer the information at the right time. Don’t wait for someone to reach out for help or clarification.
Most commonly, these critical communication points occur when someone needs to make a decision or is in a transition phase (e.g. submitted an application and is waiting to hear about the result). You will find that these moments closely overlap with when someone will most likely reach out for support. But more on this later in ‘5. Offer support channels’.
In MelbourneBased on our conversations, we found that there are three critical communication moments:
- When an individual is considering getting involved
- When someone wants to get others in the laneway on board (to join the program)
- When an individual is completing the nomination
At each moment, the individual will require specific information. We’ve outlined the top three pieces of information required are outlined below.
We found that when someone is considering getting involved in the program, the top three most important things to communicate are:
- Purpose of program (what is the intention of the program)
- Benefits of program (what are the specific benefits for this laneway and the members of the laneway)
- Funding options (how will the program be financially supported)
Consider that these types of information will also be helpful:
- Ownership (who owns the process)
- Level of involvement (who’s involved in the program and are there options of level of involvement)
- Long-term involvement and ownership (what is the plan for the future)
- Liability and safety (what needs to be kept in mind)
The top three types of information required when someone is bringing other members in the laneway on board are typically:
- Benefits of program (what are the specific benefits for this laneway and for the audience you are speaking to) and success stories (statistics)
- Incentive to get involved in the program (rate discount, carbon credits, tax concessions, fast-track permit approvals)
- Funding (how will the program be financially supported) and expected average cost of overall program
Also consider providing information on:
- Clear overview of roles and ownership of the program (Council, community, businesses, suppliers)
- Long-term management, involvement and maintenance
- Ownership of greenery
- Success stories and statistics
- Expected timelines of program
- Impact on everyday living and business (delivery access for businesses, lost parking for residents)
- Risk assessment and insurance requirements (for businesses)
At the point when an individual is completing the laneway nomination, they will most likely need the following information:
- Nomination approval process (steps and timelines)
- Ideas, past examples and sources of inspiration of what makes a great application
- Checklist on the steps required to prepare, complete and submit an application
At this point it can also be helpful to provide information on:
- Cost of application (the expectation that there is no fee)
- Application approval process (steps and timelines)
- Who will be reviewing the application (who has access to the information)
- Support contact information (program owner at Council)