139 ways to build your reputation

Every way a person encounters your club is called a touch point.  Each touch point creates an impression of some sort, whether positive or negative.  And it's those impressions that define your brand.

This draws the difference between a logo and a brand into sharp focus, and it's worth repeating - "Your logo is the symbol you use.  Your brand is how others will describe you and your club to their friends."

What does this mean in practice?  Your club will have just one logo, but many different brands, each being the individual perception gained by every person touched by your club or your members.

By way of illustration, here are some opposing examples.  It's a warm day outside Bunnings, and your club's sausage sizzle is in full swing.  Your oldest member, a keen volunteer and resplendent in full Rotary regalia, is collapsed in a chair, dozing noisily with his mouth wide open.  "You know," says one customer, turning to another in the queue,"Rotary's just a bunch of old codgers, locked in the past with nothing better to do.  I've seen some of them outside Woolworth's flogging Christmas Puddings as well."

Meanwhile, down the road there's a Farmers' Market, and the local Rotary club are raising money by helping out with parking.  One of the volunteers (also in full club regalia) helps a shopper load their purchases into their car.  "You know," she says to her husband as she gets into the car, "these Rotarians are such nice people, so helpful. I will always help them out when I can."

Here are some ways that influence how your club in particular, and Rotary in general, might be thought of whenever a stranger encounters the particular touch point.

Where Touch Point How a potential member might talk about you
Club meeting Venue Clean, modern and worth visiting again
Noisy, unkempt, worn out and unattractive - feels of desperation
Meal Well presented, tasty and satisfying
Done on the cheap, poorly prepared and tasteless
Speaker Interesting, informative and really worth hearing.
Boring, trying to sell me something, hard to understand
All they did was preach Rotary
Front Desk Friendly, pleased to see me, welcoming
 Asked for my name, introduced me straight away to another member
All they wanted was my money.  Took it then ignored me
Club Members Friendly, welcoming, made me feel at home
Happy, got on well with each other, warm and interesting
Real friendly lot.  I think I'd like to join.
I felt like an intruder, nobody noticed me
It felt as if their hearts weren't in it
All they seem to do is drink!
I couldn't hear the speaker through all the chatter at my table
Too busy talking to each other - I could have left and nobody would have noticed
Meeting itself Well run, organised but not too formal
Started late, poorly run, everybody talking at once
The President turned up late then ran around trying to organise everybody
Quaint, pompous and archaic - lots of toasts and mutual backslapping
Obviously for members only - they don't seem to like visitors
 Using the club to do business
Fundraiser (such as at a stall, sausage sizzle, parking attendance) Location Near the entrance, lots of passers-by
Tucked away in a corner somewhere, practically invisible
Products Those rissoles were delicious.  I'm going back for more!
I usually like sausages, but they were half-cooked and the onions were cold
Service Prompt, friendly and efficient
Surly, off-hand and slow
Club Members Friendly, happy to explain why they're there
Enthusiastic, made me feel like their friend
Aloof, don't want to chat even when they're not working
Signage Nicely printed, professional look - I can see it's a Rotary thing
 Several signs or banners around the stall
I had to ask three different people before I was told why they were raising funds.
A well-worn handwritten chalk board - hard to see and barely legible
Event (such as an sporting event, memorial lunch, art show, car show, requiring tickets) Pre-event promotional material Professionally designed and presented brochures and posters
Draw-card speaker, entertainer or personality
Event has its own website or, at least, a dedicated page on your club website
Event is promoted in newsletters that go to non-members
Your event is actively promoted by your sponsors
Photocopied brochures that have been produced using Word, Publisher or PowerPoint
No reference to the club's website and online booking
The sponsor is so dominant that your club is invisible
The brochures or signs are cluttered, poorly designed or use dated designs
You rely on emailing PDF files that people are unable or can't be bothered to open
You use personal phone numbers and email addresses to take bookings
Correspondence and brochures with spelling and grammatical errors
Booking process You offer online booking through your own website
Bookings are confirmed immediately they're made
Reminders are sent to attendees
Thank-you's are sent to attendees after the event.
Booking can only be done via printed forms that must be posted, faxed or scanned and sent to an individual member
Bookings are not confirmed
There is no online booking facility
Bookings are made by phoning a member's mobile phone, or via email to a free gmail address
Event You have a list of attendees and welcome them by name
Reception is manned
People at reception are friendly and welcoming
The event runs smoothly, obviously well organised
The event starts or finishes late
Attendees who come to enjoy themselves are instead "mugged" by Rotary evangelists
Club Members Friendly and engaging - I met some great people I look forward to seeing again
 Told me about a speaker I'd like to hear, and invited me to their next meeting
They all sat together and talked Rotary amongst themselves
Members are noisy or obviously drunk
Signage Club banners are present, clearly associating your club with the event and with guests having a great time
No mention of it being a Rotary or club event
Project (such as neighbourhood cleanup, school refurbishment, clinic fit-out.  Frequently involving non-member volunteers) Project Meaningful and relevant to your local community
A cause that motivates non-members to rally behind it
Personal indulgence of one member to do something nobody cares about
Club Members Excited, enthusiastic, obviously having fun
Standing around chatting to each other, disinterested
Marketing  Publicised on your club website and social media
 Publicised in your local newspaper
 Promoted by other community groups
Signage Club banners are present, clearly associating your club with the project that the community can get behind
No mention of it being a Rotary or club-facilitated project
Passer-by (such as a work colleague, shop assistant, fellow spectator, who gets to know you're a Rotarian) Club Members Wearing your Rotary pin
 Being able to explain Rotary in a few words - and make it sound rewarding and exciting
Inviting friends and colleagues to club meetings
 Inviting friends and colleagues to participate in community projects
Being proud of your club and of being a Rotarian
 Inviting friends and colleagues to club events
Bad-mouthing fellow Rotarians
 Behaving contrary to the four-way test
 Preaching "Rotary" as if it were some alternative religion
On line (website, social media where content is identified as being Rotarian or representing a Rotary initiative) Design Modern, mobile-friendly
Dated, obviously home-made
Content  Interesting stories that are relevant to non-Rotarians
Frequently changing content
 Images and content that illustrate what your club does, rather than talk about it
 Happy, cheerful and inviting images and content
 Images that clearly identify you as part of your community
 Content that's never out of date
 Uses current year's Rotary theme
Self-congratulatory images of Rotarians doing Rotary things
 Content that hard-sells Rotary
 Cliches, Rotary jargon and Rotary acronyms
 Promoting past events, meetings, projects and activities
 Broken links and missing images
Performance Fast response, short download times
Easy to find on Google for searches other than Rotary or your specific club's name
Large images that are slow to download
 Behind-the-scenes links to third party plug-ins
Using a (often free) platform that uses poor technology
Correspondence Letters Professionally designed, full colour
 Shows club contact details, refers to website
 Includes current Rotary logo and theme in designated colours and fonts
Photocopies of old letterheads
 References to officers who are no longer in the role
 Typographical and grammatical errors
eMail Has standardised signature footer, referring to your club
 Uses role-based club email address, such as secretary@myclub.org.au
Email footer has links to your club website
Reply address is to a member's private mailbox
 Reply address is to a generic non-club mailbox such as gmail
Newsletters & Bulletins Newsletters (written for non-Rotarians) Fresh interesting stories, particularly those that recipients want to pass on to their friends or social media contacts
Stories that are relevant and interesting to non-Rotarian readers.
Stories written from a journalistic perspective rather than a Rotary perspective
Able to be read on all devices, including mobile phones
 Recipients are time poor - content can easily be scanned in a few seconds
 Lots of links back to your website
Contains Rotary messages written by Rotarians for other Rotarians
Preaches Rotary or uses "rotary-speak"
Excessive selling or soliciting donations.
Distributing attachments
Poor spelling, poor grammar and poor journalistic style
No links to your club website
Newsletter only readable on one or two specific mail systems
Harassing readers - not respecting recipients' privacy or their wish to be removed from your mailing list
Excessive content that takes a long time to read
Club bulletins (written for members) Catchy items relating to your club
Information on club successes and achievements
Recognition of members' contributions
 Notification of coming events and projects
Useful information such as rosters for forthcoming meetings and events
Rotary preaching, member admonishments

What's interesting about all the different ways you can create a great impression and therefore reputation for your club is that they're mostly free or very low cost. It takes almost the same effort to create a positive image as it does to create a poor one.

It's up to your club as to whether you invest in building a good reputation that engages people and potential members, or whether it puts them off, convinced that Rotary is to be avoided.

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