You CAN Change The People That Matter (Nonprofit Style)

Change, Change, ChangeThe always wonderful Seth Godin published the original of this post today, and I was so struck by his (always) right on the money take that I had to share it with you, adapted nonprofit style. My changes and additions in italics.

Marketing is about change—changing people’s actions, perceptions or the conversation.

Successful change is usually specific. It’s hard to get someone to support your cause, help a devastated region or volunteer for good. But when you ask her to give $5 to provide a reader for Eldana in Addis Ababa or sign up now to staff the domestic violence hotline for a 60-minute shift next Sunday afternoon, that usually work, if you’re talking in the right way to the right person at the right time.

You don’t have a chance to make mass change, but you can make focused change, when you do it right.

The challenge of broadcast media was how to run ads that would be seen by everyone and acted on. That problem is gone, because you can no longer run an ad that reaches everyone. …Now, instead of yelling at the masses, the marketer has no choice but to choose her audience.  And yet, our temptation is to put on a show for everyone, to dream of bestseller lists and the big PR win—best in show.

But…you can’t change everyone. You can change the people that matter.

So the second, most-important question (AFTER you define the marketing goals that will help your org meet its overall goals and the specific actions needed to meet your marketing goals) is, “who do we want to change?

Nope, that’s not “the general public,” which I hear from so many of you. You don’t want everyone—everyone won’t help your org meet its marketing goals and if you try to make that happen, you’ll squander all your time and budget in a flash. In fact, in trying to reach everybody, you’re likely to alienate the people mostly likely to help—your target audiences—because you’re using such generic messages that have nothing specific to do with them.

So focus on the people who have the greatest influence and/or are most likely to help and/or motivate their networks to take those actions. I recommend you focus on no more than three groups, and then dive in (once you know more about them) to break each group into three or fewer segments each of which shares values, wants and habits.

If you can’t answer this specifically, do not proceed to the rest. By who, I mean, “give me a name.” Or, if you can’t give me a name, then a persona, a tribe, a spot in the hierarchy, a set of people who share particular worldviews.

Then, be really clear about:

  • What does she already believe?
  • What is she afraid of?
  • What does she think she wants?
  • What does she really want?
  • What stories have resonated with her in the past?
  • Who does she follow and emulate and look up to?
  • What channel has her permission? Where do messages that resonate with her come from? Who does she trust and who does she pay attention to?
  • What is the source of her urgency—why will she change now rather than later?
  • After she has changed, what will she tell her friends and family?

Now that you know these things, go make a campaign, program or service, and craft a story that works.

BTW, no fair changing the answers to the questions to match the thing you’ve already made (you can change the desired audience, but you can’t change the truth of what they want and believe).

You CAN change the people that matter.

Here are some low-cost, high-return ways to get to know your people, so you can get them to change, act and move your issue or cause forward!
Create Personas 
Listen to Online Conversation
Launch a Marketing Advisory Group

Plus a James Bond-ish case study…
How a Russian Spy Strategy Can Strengthen Your Nonprofit Marketing

How do you get to know your audiences, so you can change them? Please share your techniques, and questions, here.

P.S. Get the benefit of your peer’s experiences with their nonprofit marketing. Download our no-charge Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom Guide,

Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 0 comments
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