Acronym Mystery Love Affair – is your organization guilty of this?

in Associations - Membership,Copywriting - Nonprofit,Marketing for Nonprofits,Website - Nonprofit

A friend of mine received a flyer in the mail last week from an organization called, RTCA.

This mailer was promoting their RTCA 2011 Annual Symposium and inviting him to attend.  Trouble is, he has no idea who the organization is.  He’s not a member.  He’s never heard of them.

The mystery plot thickens.

No where on the 10×18-inch tri-fold, two-sided, full color mailer is the organization identified.   Next we went to the website clearly displayed on the mailer . . .

Again, no where on that website can you find what RTCA stands for.  Well, at least neither of us could find it (my friend and I).  I even looked on the FAQ page for a question that read, “What the heck does RTCA stand for?”  And no, it wasn’t to be found.

What do you think RTCA stands for?

I did a Google search on “RTCA” and here are the results:

  • Radon Testing Corporation of America
  • Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics
  • Race Track Chaplaincy of America
  • Robert Toombs Christian Academy
  • Regional Counterdrug Training Academy
  • Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance program
  • Rat Terrier Club of America

Quite a diverse set of possibilities.

Now I’ll tell you that there were clues on the mailer and the website that RTCA has something to do with aviation.  And that the focus of the Symposium was on “NextGen” – whatever that is – but beyond that . . . who they are and what they do was still a mystery.

While still searching for clues to solve the mystery on the Symposium website I clicked on a link at the very, very bottom of a page: RTCA Homepage. I found myself on a new website.

Sorry to say that once again there’s nothing in the header or in the body copy on the home page that tells a visitor what RTCA is. Nothing in plain English that says who they are and what they do in a few sentences, tag line, slogan . . . NOTHING.

Finally on the “About Us” page they state they are the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics.

Why am I sharing all this and

How might it help you?

Don’t assume everyone knows who you are.  Don’t make your identity such a mystery!

Associations seem to suffer most from Acronym Mystery Love Affair.  I call it a love affair because I believe it’s narcissistic to assume everyone knows what your acronym stands for.  Or that just because we end up on your site or receive your mail we know who you are.

Some folks might even consider it thoughtless when you don’t spell out your association / organization name on your header so it appears on every single page of your website without visitors spending their valuable time searching.

Also, in your mailings (event promos, letters, emails, etc.), give up a fraction of an inch to write out the name of your association.  Take the mailer my friend received for the RTCA 2011 Annual Symposium as an example:  Have a spot somewhere to help prospects and newbies get to know you.  Share a couple sentences about what you do.

If you don’t you’ll frustrate the be-jeebers out of them and that lowers response.

Break off the love affair.  Don’t be mysterious and frustrate us with acronyms.  Instead, be kind to the people you want supporting or joining your association or organization.

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