“Let’s break bean,” I said to my close friend and colleague as I set two frothy coffee drinks on our table.

He said, “That’s really good. Did you just make that up?”

I said, “Yeah – I think I did. Maybe it could become a thing…”

He said, “The only issue is that some master roaster may still have a problem with it. She’s going to go deep into coffee details and say  something like ‘Actually when you break the bean, you destroy it’s flavor…”

I laughed and said, “Isn’t that always the tension between marketing and program teams?”

My friend, who also works with non profits, grinned from ear to ear.

Marketers are looking for the hook. Program teams are looking for accuracy.

Sometimes the two don’t go hand and hand.

There will always be friction between marketers and program teams of scientists, lawyers and advocates. Here are some thoughts for finding the “right blend” between being accurate and being memorable.

(1) Recognize the friction as natural. Everyone is playing the role they are supposed to play.
(2) Agree to the goals of each tactic or message. Do we want to maximize revenue? Do we want to take a neutral stance in a policy debate to keep close allies happy? Clarifying the goals can help the team mitigate friction and help the team navigate towards a shared end-game.
(3) Clearly define responsibilities. What is the role of the program team in developing content? Owner of advisor? What is the role of the marketing team in identifying program priorities? Leaders or “translators?”
(4) Who makes the final call on language? A clear chain of command is invaluable when teams can’t find common ground (or grounds!).

Now go make some coffee magic.