What we currently understand about audience segmentation today forces us to think too linearly about our audience. We need to dive deeper into understanding who we are speaking to, so that way the positive impact our organization has on the community, is not lost in communication. I’d like to share three strategies that will help your organization connect on a deeper level with the intended audience, and ultimately provide them with more value.
Pay Attention to the Problems
Much of digital marketing focus is to create customer personas that are a vivid painting of ideal clients, donors, or volunteers. While it’s important to understand your demographic and their interests, it’s also important to not lose sight of their frustrations. In fact, any successful organization is not operating because they give away things or services that only make people happy, but because they alleviate pains and problems in people’s lives. In other words, how can you as a marketer reach your audience with greater impact? It’s all about understanding and putting the problem within your message. In crafting the tone of your message, it doesn’t only have to focus on the pitfalls and problems, but can be worded in a way that inspires action and puts to the forefront the obstacles your organization is trying to solve. For example, the Bend Redmond Habitat for Humanity provides incredible services for the community by building homes for families in need and providing other community resources. On their website they write that their mission is, “We build strength, stability, and self-reliance through affordable homeownership.” Right inside their message, they address the problems of affordable housing, and the impact of that problem because it creates hardships, instability, and a dependency for families in the community. Think about ways you can inspire action in crafting your message by honing in on the problems and finding solutions for your audience.
Highlight a Touching Story
As someone who donates to nonprofits, and speaking to other donors, we feel a lot of satisfaction in seeing our dollars make a real change in people’s lives. Even though I love hearing stories about millions of trees being planted, a moving story of one individual leaves a greater impression within me. It’s also easier for us to grasp at large issues through the lens of a single individual and helps us better understand the framework of that organization. Every year the Boys & Girls Clubs of America partners with the Giving Tuesday movement and puts on a large giving campaign. Marketing Manager Wendy Plasencia from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Silicon Valley found the story of one boy particularly compelling and sent his story to their email list and on social media channels. This is an effective way of bringing the problem down to scale, and having a story that emotionally compels people to give back.
When my business Oak Media House, was hired by Leading Change, a nonprofit organization in Wisconsin that provides life changing scholarships to students in Burkina Faso, I knew right away to produce a video that would highlight one of the scholars. Videos should be informative, inspiring, and touching. Using Adama’s story, one of the scholars, I filmed him taking English lessons, in his host families home, and around campus, to show the impact of the scholarship and an intimate look into his life. I also gave him a platform to speak for himself so he could personally connect with Leading Change’s audience. This turned into a successful campaign for the holidays for Leading Change because people didn’t feel they were supporting an organization thousands of miles away, but could see the impact right in their backyard. If we’re tasked with creating intricate customer personas, then the same attention to individuality should be implemented in crafting your message.
Sub-Groups Make a Difference
Using a data based approach to better segment and understand your audience is the first step in creating a unified outreach approach. Statistics about age, demographic, gender, and interests only scratches at the surface of a person. Paulo Simas, Chief Creative Officer of W20 Group, a healthcare focused marketing and communications firm states, “Why people are congregating is fundamentally changing...when you start to look at their interest alone, they all start to look the same.” Essentially, what he is saying is that there is a need to look deeper at who you’re speaking to, don’t just stop at the basic information. Find unique ways to provide greater value to your audience. To really understand a person, you need to flip the script. Don’t ask and then listen, but rather listen, then ask. For example, he mentions that you may find out what they enjoy consuming for news, who the comedians they enjoy are, which places they eat at, and who their role models are. He continues on to say, “I can become relevant to you not only in the transaction but loyalty over time.” Take time, face to face if you can, to learn more than just about their interests, but what they do day to day and how it compares in contrast to the nation. This is incredibly important to understand since the average volunteer in an organization is 2x as likely to donate than someone who doesn’t volunteer, and loyalty is everything when it comes to brand connection. By better understanding sub-groups, you can really speak to your audience when crafting the message, and ultimately further your mission. You become a better listener which in turn, helps ask the right questions to guide your outreach.
By paying particular attention to the problems, highlighting an individual’s story, and diving deeper into people’s lives nonprofits can be more effective at reaching their intended audience and inspiring action. What outreach has really stuck with you?