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Red Text bears a link to reference Rotatorials.

Retention Central is monitored occasionally by its creator, Jim Henry, who may be contacted by email at

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Part II - The Importance of Being Earnest (and Brief)

Thank you for the flood of hits on Part I.  As a result of some comments, here are my thoughts on effective responses to the question, “What is Rotary?”

If the question is referring to Rotary International, the simple answer is, “Rotary International is a worldwide association of almost 35,000 Rotary clubs.”   However, most likely the person asking “What is Rotary?” is someone who is going to, coming from, or in the vicinity of where they live.  A proper, simple response would be something like, “Rotary clubs are local networks of active or retired business, professional, or community leaders” or, if you prefer to respond singularly,  “Rotary is a local network of active or retired business, professional, and community leaders.”
    These responses answer the question in brief, simple terms.  If the person asking, the Listener, is interested in networks of business, professional, and community leaders, which most of a local Rotary club’s target audience would be, they most likely will give Responder permission to proceed, usually by asking another question. 
      Here’s why these responses work.
1. They are brief, earnest, and answer the question,
3. They mention something that would interest most people in a local target audience (networking with influential people,)
4. They differentiate Rotarians and Rotary clubs from most local non-profit and charitable organizations, and,
5. Oh, yes.  Did I mention that they are brief, earnest, and answer the question?
         If Listener is a part of the target audience, the response singles them out as being a leader or being interested in meeting leaders, which makes Listener feel a bit special.  If Listener is not a member of the target audience, they may not give permission for Responder to proceed.  Even then, Responder did answer the question in terms so brief and simple that Listener may remember Rotary's differentiation

Think about all of the above as you study the “YOU ARE THE MISSING PIECE” sign. Does it attract the attention of any of a local club’s target audience?  Does it trigger a common emotion the target audience might have?  Does it differentiate Rotary in the minds of local target audiences? 

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Importance of Being Earnest (and brief) when asked, "What is Rotary?"

The purpose of any Responder’s reply to this question is to get their Listener's approval to proceed to the next step.

A concise response, no longer than thirty seconds, should communicate without doubt that Responders know what Rotary is and are pleased to discuss the topic.  In less than twenty seconds, most Listeners make the decision on whether or not they are interested in gathering more information even on topics that relate to them. If Listeners are part of Responders' target audiences, and if the response piques their interest, Listeners will most likely give Responder permission to proceed to the next level.  Without permission, Responder will be invading Listeners’ privacy! They will most likely mentally shut down interest, often staring as Responder blahs on. If Responders do not have an effective response, they are communicating lack of knowledge about Rotary.  Again, Listeners will most likely shut down interest because they are not confident that Responders' information is authentic.

But the prime Importance of Being Earnest (and brief) lies in taking the time to create an effective response.

Except for Rotary International staff, Rotary leadership changes every one or two years.  Everyone, particularly those in leadership positions, should have an effective fifteen-to-thirty second "What is Rotary?" response.  Creating such a response and embedding it into personal response chambers can be tedious and time consuming because one must know:

  • The target audiences and their common characteristics.
  • What desires the target audiences have that Rotary could, and should, satisfy.
  • How Rotary differentiates from competitive forces and may be beneficial to the target audience.

Taking the time and effort needed to prepare such a response will embed important Rotary fundamentals in personal mindsets. This will help everyone, especially leaders, become more comfortable, confident, and competent in their positions. 

Two previous Rotatorials address the importance of identifying target audiences and differentiation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Who is the You Rotary Clubs Want To Attract?

            Rotary International’s future relies in how effective its 34,000+ member clubs are in their local social environments.  Effective local clubs differentiate themselves by creating emotional connections with their target audiences.  They accomplish differentiation by -1- linking membership with their audiences’ business and personal lives and -2- engaging them in shared causes (think:  The Object of Rotary.)  To link and engage target audiences it is critical that clubs identify who their target audience is and their wants and needs!  Unfortunately, target audience concepts, therefore identities, escape many Rotary leaders.  Without knowing who the you is, linking, engaging, or attracting them is next to impossible.
            Everything any Rotary club does, EVERYTHING, should differentiate by creating and solidifying emotional connections with its target audiences – present and future members.  Should not EVERYTHING that Rotary International does be designed to help its target audiences – present and future clubs – differentiate? 
            What about the ‘YOU ARE THE MISSING PIECE’ sign?  Are all the YOUs who read it a local Rotary club’s target audience?  Does it differentiate local Rotary clubs?  Does it link or engage target audiences with local clubs?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

What Do Successful Rotary Clubs and Popular Social Media Sites Have in Common?

Answer:  Both differentiate themselves from competition and create trusting relationships with their target audiences.

Does your club know its target audience?  Does your club differentiate?  Does your club build trusting relationships with its target audience?  Can social media and Rotary at all levels work together?

To effectively engage target audiences through social media, clubs (and Rotary International) must identify their target audiences, know its wants and needs, differentiate themselves from competitive forces, and know how often their target audiences engage which social media sites.  Effective social media and web site use can assist in building trust and creating emotional connections, but such engagement will only be on the target audiences’ terms.  Therefore it is vital that clubs differentiate and know what engages their target audiences.  Successful Rotary clubs do.  Successful social media sites do.  Does your club?  Do the clubs in your district, zone, or region?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rotary is Not What Senior Rotary Leaders Say it is!

Rotary is what its 34,000+ member clubs represent it to be in each of their local social fabrics.  This is important simply because the sum of local Rotary is global Rotary. 
At the local level, Rotary is not what club leaders think or say it is; Rotary is what each club’s local target audience says it is when Rotary leaders are not present.

Strategic Planning and Visioning are a waste of time
unless the organization identifies its target audience and understands what their wants and needs are.  Why?  Simply because it is the local club’s target audience that ultimately defines what Rotary is and whether or not the club will succeed or fail.  Without question, the fuzziest element in virtually all strategic planning, visioning, and membership sessions I have facilitated is the organization’s identification of its target audience and what the organization can or has to do to satisfy their wants and needs.  Until clubs clearly understand these issues, the club (and/or Rotary International) will be wandering in a fog without a compass. So let’s get elemental:  any organizations’ target audience must be those that fund the organization’s purpose for existing.  A Rotary club’s target audience is present and future members.  Rotary International’s target audience is present and future member clubs.