Our Strategic Plan outlines eleven program areas we are using to pursue our mission. These can be reduced to three core strategies: (1) Create powerful content, (2) Share our message widely and (3) Nudge people to take action. We're working to build on successes in each core area with a special emphasis in 2017 on the third: nudging people to take action.

We're continually amazed with all the things people do after they engage with our message, but we know we can make the path easier to walk and that would get more people out there building strong towns. This is also the area where we get the most requests -- We've heard the message; now what do we do? -- and so we're aware of the demand. The fine line we walk is that we're not community organizers, we don't have the resources to work at that level and every bit of time we take helping people individually is less time we have for sharing our message broadly, which is where we've seen the most impact. It's a balancing act, but we think there are ways we can help nudge people to take action more effectively than we have been without compromising what we do best.

Here's our implementation plan for 2017 as developed by our staff and Board of Directors.

Create Powerful Content

1.       Expand the Content Stream: Provide powerful and influential content in an expanding web of distribution channels.

  • Continue to publish regular content -- written, podcast and video -- with an expanding pool of contributors. Continue to use issue campaigns throughout the year to reach a broader audience and give our content a longer shelf life.
  •  Add a weekly video/podcast segment called Strong Talk to our content stream to provide a deep dive into the issues and highlight the expertise of our membership.
  • Start a rotating editorial review team in Slack that works to continually expand and improve our content.
Engagement in Shreveport, LA, one of our most memorable in 2016.

Engagement in Shreveport, LA, one of our most memorable in 2016.

2.      Curbside Chat Program: Share our message in person with people around the country.

  • Deliver 50+ presentations in events across North America.
  • Finalize the Gross Negligence presentation (pedestrian safety) and a presentation on the Infrastructure Crisis so we can offer those in addition to our existing topic areas.
  • Continue to target non-traditional audiences (those lacking the resources to pay for an event) for Curbside Chats.

3.      Issue Campaigns: Operate targeted messaging campaigns around high velocity issues.

  • We have fourteen issue campaigns planned for 2017. We have found these to be most effective when they (a) have a story arc that builds during the week and/or (b) have a way for people to engage on the subject within their community. We are prioritizing campaigns that allow us to hit one or both of these strategies.

4.       Aggregate Content: Package and repackage content in ways that accelerate the distribution of our message.

  • Continue to develop landing pages around our campaigns and issues where we have developed a deep amount of quality content.
  • Convert our best content into written publications -- ebooks, booklets and full books -- to spread our content and expand our pipeline. Publish Volume 3 of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns.
  • Focus on the social media platforms where we experience the highest level of engagement and audience growth, namely Facebook and -- to a lesser degree -- Twitter. Continue to be active sharing our message in other places but rely on audience members to carry our message there.
  • Expand the frequency of our email blasts for those who are most active on email. Use advanced analytics to ensure emails are targeted and highly relevant to the recipient.

Share Our Message Widely

5.      Public Relations: Use traditional and non-traditional public relations strategies to broadly distribute our message.

  • Continue to target traditional and non-traditional media as part of our event promotion strategy.
  • Identified as an area of improvement: Seek to add staff (or establish a relationship with someone) with increased knowledge and ability in this area. Our message is ready for prime time but we need a sustained and focused PR effort to get it there. As our member base grows, this will likely be our next hire.

6.      Advertising: Pay for the strategic distribution of our message.

  • Further refine our Facebook advertising strategy to de-emphasize page likes and place greater emphasis on pipeline conversion. Track the ROI of this investment.
  • Further refine our free Adwords offered by Google to focus less on aggregate traffic and more on traffic for high-conversion topics.

7.      Targeting Key Influencers: Identify and engage influential individuals and organizations that will benefit from distributing our message.

  • This is another area of improvement. We've done some of this, but we lack the capacity to really devote the time and energy it takes to do it well. This has overlap with our public relations program and so we will seek to deploy the same individual on this item.

8.       Issue Summits: Gather individuals together to draw attention to specific messages.

  • We are going to hold our first issue summit at the end of March in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The topic is America's Next Transportation System.
  • If Tulsa is successful -- and we have every indication that it will be -- we'll start planning another summit, likely for 2018.

Nudge People to Action

9.      Member Support: Support our members as they share our message with others.

  • Develop a Strong Towns 101 program for motivated people to get up to speed on the message.
  • Create a content series on how to do basic Strong Towns fiscal analysis.
  • Establish a Q&A submission/voting page so audience and members can prioritize which questions we answer and what value-added content we work on.
A heat map of our membership.

A heat map of our membership.

10.  Curbside Chat Follow Up Campaign: Start local conversations following our in-person events.

  • Create geographic-specific conversations/communities in places where our concentration of members makes them viable. Support these conversations with content and engagement.

11.    Meetup Groups: Assist strong citizens in initiating local conversations. 

  • Create a member meetup guide to facilitate more member meetups.
  • Develop a member meetup strategy to increase the number of meetups happening.
  • Develop a strategy for a member directory so that members can opt in to finding each other along lines of mutual interest.