“Getting to know your supporters, volunteers, clients and other participants in your mission is easy, if you build that listening and learning into your everyday work.” Kivi Leroux Miller
There’s no question that knowing your audience is the 1st rule of nonprofit marketing. The idea of building a beautiful marketing campaign that isn’t specific to your nonprofit’s audience just doesn’t cut it!
Just last week I joined a dynamic conversation on LinkedIn’s Nonprofit Marketing Group. It would have to be considering that two of the voices in the conversation were Dennis Fischman, chief communicator at Communicate! Consulting and Brian Brown, principal of Narrator, a social fundraising consultancy that helps nonprofits raise money with their online presence..
Brian started the conversation by posting “There are lots of tips about email technicalities, but I don’t see much literature that challenges nonprofits to think about the different psychological strategies involved in email vs. direct mail. Have you tried any of these strategies? Any best practices?”
And, that lead to his blog post 6 ways to improve your email numbers. I was intrigued, especially when I realized that although he was speaking about email vs. direct mail, he was really speaking about truly knowing your audiences (or at least I thought so!).
Brian identifies four stages to nonprofit and campaign communications:
- Stage 1 is about infrastructure (we have a Facebook page).
- Stage 2 is about developing content to send out via that infrastructure (posting regularly, sending emails).
- The third and fourth stages are about refining your content, refining your audience, getting more interactive, and building a two-way relationship that reinforces and empowers your audiences’ identity relative to you.
Unfortunately there appears to be consensus that most nonprofits do not get past the first two stages. As both Brian and Dennis noted, it takes commitment and work to really know your audience.
So here are my suggestions to gain that knowledge. If any of this sounds familiar to my readers, it’s because these are the foundation questions that I use when applying the POST Method. As with all communications initiatives, people, your audiences come first.
- Who must you reach to meet your communication objective?
- Why this target group? Are they clients, volunteers, donors, sponsors and/or prospects?
- What attracted people to your organization in the first place?
- Is this a target group identified in your organization’s communications plan?
- What do they know or believe about your organization or issue?
- What type of content is important to them?
- What will resonate with them?
- What key points do you want to make with your audience to develop conversations & actions?
- What new & traditional media tools are they currently using?
- What are they talking about in relation to your brand/goals/issues/competitors?
- What additional research do you need to do to learn about your target audience’s behavior or understanding/perceptions about your organization or issues?
I like to think of gaining this knowledge as a journey. It won’t be completed in a day. You’ll discover new insights by looking, listening, and being sensitive to clues along your path.
I know it sounds overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to. It does, however, take commitment and work.
If you’re interested in getting a copy of my POST Template, just let me hear from you – email@example.com.
Good stuff Deborah. In depth, insightful and logical!!
Deborah, good thoughts, and thanks for the positive feedback on our conversation. The questions you listed are certainly a good starting point. -Brian “Ron”
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