Audience Research

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.

Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 0 comments
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Nothing is more important than communicating the right message to your network at the right place and time!  And  leveraging a news item or special day by connecting your organization’s issues to it (when relevant!) is a tried-and-true nonprofit marketing strategy with a strong ROI (return on investment).


Nancy Schwartz in Relevance Rules | 5 comments
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The stresses of the times are dramatically affecting your organization’s relationships, and that’s likely to continue for a very, very long time. But there’s some very good news.

Despite today’s challenges, there is a way for your organization to build and strengthen vital relationships with the people whose help you need as donors, advocates, volunteers and more. Here are my guidelines for implementing the doable, proven strategy—getting personal to get relevant—that is your single most important key to marketing success right now:

Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 1 comment
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I’d like to invite you to joining me in my new intensive, small group training program on message development, the Tagline Focus Project (TFP).

Just 5 seats left — program starts November 15

You’ll immerse yourself in getting to know your audiences and learning how to craft messages that engage them via small group trainings and one-to-one coaching and critiques—working from the comfort and convenience of your own desk.

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages | 0 comments
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Our daughter Charlotte is a dedicated Brownie and I was wowed by the Girl Scouts’ high-impact fundraising as I tackled her Brownie re-registration forms this weekend.

The Girls Scouts did a great job in ensuring I couldn’t complete the form until I read their moving request for a donation to help other girls join, which was stapled on top of the registration form:

We need YOU — our inner circle of Girl Scout Families — to help us give girls access to life changing experiences that inspire them to do something BIG!


Nancy Schwartz in Fundraising: Innovations & Research | 0 comments
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I’ve advised you to piggyback your nonprofit content on headlines and notable days to catch your target audiences in their open-minded moments. It’s an easy and reliable way to connect with your base and increase engagement.

Not surprisingly, the converse is also true. Here’s a dramatic example of how a messaging disconnect alienates the very folks you need to engage to move your mission forward:

Nancy Schwartz in Branding and Messages | 3 comments
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A huge part of what I love about guiding nonprofit communicators to greater impact is seeing the “aha moment.” I witnessed a great one last week while presenting the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop in Seattle last week, with Kivi Leroux Miller.

DD Coutts, Vice President of Development at Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation was among the terrific group of energized workshop participants. During the segment on getting to know your target audiences, DD had an “aha moment” that will make all the difference in her ability to connect effectively with the very folks who can help move the Foundation’s mission forward.

She had been identifying the Park’s visitor base — the ideal source for volunteers now and donors later — as families but realized, with our guidance, that this broad category didn’t give her the insight she needed to connect with them. There are just to many kinds of families, varying in size, interests, available time, motivation for using the park and other dimensions.

Here’s how DD moved forward to group (a.k.a. segment) her target audiences into three distinct groups that use the park:

  1. Families with young children
  2. Families with older children
  3. Immigrant families

This segmentation led to DD’s next insight — that each group uses the park in different ways. She named and described the segments as follows:

  1. Nibblers: Families with young children. Tend to stay on the periphery of the park and visit for brief periods.
  2. Explorers: Families with older children. Explore the complete park, spend more time there.
  3. Celebrators — Extended families, usually immigrants. Use the park as a gathering spot.

You see how much more useful these segments are, enabling DD to take the next step to profile a persona within each segment — an individual or two who epitomize the segment. Your personas show you what your primary audiences’ wants and habits are, so you know how to pinpoint where your organization’s wants overlap with them. That’s the sweet spot for marketing success!

Kudos to DD for going beyond the obvious!

P.S. Learn more on how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the Getting Attention Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 0 comments
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Planned Parenthood faced a communications crisis last week when a clinic manager was videotaped covertly by actors working for an anti-abortion group, while she giving advice on getting medical care for under-age prostitutes. The stunt was designed to power the group’s campaign to cut off public financing for Planned Parenthood.

But Planned Parenthood responded to this crisis swiftly and comprehensively, emphasizing its commitment to “stay focused on giving women the health care they need and deserve.” Most importantly, Planned Parenthood didn’t leave it at traditional crisis communications. It acted swiftly to articulate the strategy behind the video stunt and to terminate the manager in question, as the organization does not provide health services to minors. And it leveraged the strong relationship it has with its community online…

I was pleased to hear from Planned Parenthood almost immediately after the news hit, via Facebook. I’m one of the organization’s 97,000 likes which means I saw this update before I heard the story elsewhere:

That was followed by several updates over the next few days, dripping out the organization’s response as the sequence of events became clear. Planned Parenthood’s use of Facebook for immediate and ongoing outreach — positioning the action as part of a de-funding attach, reinforcing its own values and focus, asking for support, pledging to do the right thing — motivated strong and vocal support for the organization.

Ironically, Planned Parenthood’s outreach to its Facebook community on its Facebook presence (a.k.a. audience research) had caught my eye earlier last week:

What better way to hone your social media presence than asking your community? Planned Parenthood has received 194 comments to date in just one week. The staff has taken an active role in the discussion, asking for clarification and thanking commenters. And the feedback they’ve received is really useful. Here’s a sampling:

  • It would be great to have info about volunteering/interning opportunities for young people with plenty of free time to give to good causes.
  • Seems like a lot; I see several posts per day, and I glaze over at least half of them.
  • Great idea to poll your supporters! Have you developed a formal strategy for utilizing social media? You can include more posts, links, and information without clogging the newsfeed by using customized tabs. If you want tips/strategies, I’d be happy to share! Keep up the good work.
  • I don’t know if I’d separate the info– I like the posts; hard to separate health info from the political since a lot of yourr health services are constrained by politics.

P.S. Learn how to strengthen your nonprofit’s marketing impact with the new 2011 Guide to Nonprofit Marketing Wisdom.

Nancy Schwartz in Social Media | 0 comments
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The past few weeks have been busy speaking- and webinar/seminar-wise, with a focus on the secret to messaging that connects — understanding the folks you hope to engage and motivate to act.

That’s my rap of late: because it’s so important but so often overlooked. Knowing what matters to your network (a.k.a. target audiences), and how they live their lives, is your key to engaging and motivating them.

But knowing your network is vital for reasons far beyond effective marketing. Understanding network members is the only path to relevant programs, services, products and fundraising. It’s at the core of organizational health.

But there’s more…When I ask nonprofit marketers like you to tell me who they’re talking with, the typical response is a demographic profile or a segment defined as “donors who have given between $500 and $1,000 in the last year.” That’s not knowing your network, it’s classifying them. That kind of reductive description of your network doesn’t get you anywhere.

This Thanksgiving, I urge you to go deeper and really forge these relationships. Here’s how:

  • Choose just one of your target audiences and drill down within that group to identify a persona–a fictional individual who represents one type of person you hope to engage.
  • Flesh out her story and write it down, based on whatever audience research or anecdotal insight you have. Include the personal side–from upbringing and neighborhood to marital situation and hobbies–as well as the professional, and patterns such as news content read regularly.
  • Create a name for her and insert a real head shot in her profile.
  • Now invite her to your Thanksgiving feast, imagining how she responds throughout the day: to your Uncle Buddy’s discussion of the flopped U.S. manufacturing sector, to the overflow of food on the table, to your family tradition of going around the
  • By Friday, you’ll have a much better understanding of who you’re speaking with. Jot that down and remember to bring your persona in to work on Monday.

This may sound hokey but it does work to build understanding, and so connection. I urge you to try it out and let me know how it goes.

Here’s more guidance on understanding your network:

P.S. Get more in-depth articles, case studies and guides to nonprofit marketing  success — all featured in the twice-monthly Getting Attention e-update. Subscribe today.

Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research | 2 comments
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Join us at the Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop
D.C. Early Bird Rate Runs through Oct. 22 – Saves You $100

I’m partnering with my friend, Kivi Leroux Miller, to offer you a special opportunity to find the solutions to your 2011 marketing challenges: The Total Focus Marketing Plan Workshop. Plan in a day—blueprint forever!

We premiered the workshop in New York last week and received great ratings. Here’s what two of our participants had to say:

Would Have Taken Me Forever on My Own
I learned so much about marketing planning today. It would have taken weeks or months to do so on my own.

Now I Know How to Shape Our Marketing Plan and
Transform It into Action

As a result of participating in your outstanding workshop, I am re-focused on exactly what I need to do to create an effective marketing plan for our organization. Now I know the steps I need to take to transform that plan into actions that are understood and adopted throughout the organization.

We hope you’ll join us for this intensive, limited-enrollment planning seminar for nonprofit communicators and development staff members, board members and executive directors who do it all.

You see this day is going to be different from other workshops you’ve participated in.

You’ll immerse yourself in marketing planning for a day, as we help you shed the muddled messages and impossible to-do lists that pull you in too many directions and diminish your marketing impact.

And, most importantly, you’ll leave with a clear, focused, practical marketing plan that will work for your organization—one you are fully capable of implementing.

Don’t Miss this Opportunity —
Join Us in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28

Learn more now! The D.C. early-bird rate runs through Friday, Oct. 22 but seats are filling fast.

Hope to see you there!

Nancy Schwartz in Professional Development | 0 comments
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