Yesterday, I joined 13 of Washington state’s Main Street Managers in Mt. Vernon. Our task was to figure out how each could engage their communities in the unique awesomeness their downtowns offer.
At most trainings I do, each organization has a different Belief Proposition. In this case, they shared a common one–a belief that downtown revitalization leads to lasting, positive economic impact.
That’s what made it so interesting when we started working on messaging. It was tempting to think that since they believed the same thing, they could talk about that belief in the same way and have it be compelling in all communities. Not so!
Since each downtown was so unique, their messaging had to be as well. Here’s a smattering of the Lean-In Lines (otherwise known as Elevator Pitches or a response to the question “What does your organization do?”) the participants created (or at least a close proximity based on my recollection):
We’re leading the charge to make downtown THE place to be!
We’re helping our community rediscover downtown.
We energize small business and celebrate our small town charm.
We bring Meeker Days and so much more right to the downtown core. (Note that this also rhymes which makes it fun to say and easy to remember.)
All are about downtown yet not about any ol’ downtown–THEIR downtown. The lesson: frame your messaging in a way that highlights what’s unique about your organization and what’s most compelling to those you need to engage in your mission.
This group of dedicated, fearless Main Street mavericks made me pine for a Main Street in my (not-so-small) town that was as amazing as theirs. To find a Main Street community near you, check out the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s handy listing of Main Streets around the state.