Brendan Hurley Goodwill of Greater Washington personas fashionista audience research nonprofit marketing

Segment Your Audience for Marketing Relevance Goodwill Splits Its Base 25 WaysWow, 25 segments (specific audience groups) is the most I’ve ever heard of, but that’s how Goodwill of Greater Washington (GGW) is slicing its fundraising. According to a recent article in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, the organization "now tailors its appeals to different audiences, and has increased the number of repeat donors by 60 percent over the past five years [by doing so]."

Well, it’s hard to argue with stats. I also have great faith in the marketers and fundraisers of Goodwill of Greater Washington. You may remember them as the innovative marketers who produce a fashion blog that has nurtured a whole new group of buyers for certain Goodwill goods. These folks are great at what they do!

Tailoring messages (and the visuals that go with them) is more important that ever when prospects are stressed like they are now. According to Brendan Hurley, GGW’s senior vice president for marketing and communications, the org is customizing its campaigns (specifically, the benefits to each group) to "25 distinct groups, including donors of used goods, buyers of goods, affluent people who could make big donations or planned gifts, and leaders of corporate foundations."

Here’s one great example of the benefits conveyed to specific segments: "Donors who give to Goodwill’s training programs help low-income learn the skills they need to earn more money. They, in turn, are able to spend more money, improving the local economy and the quality of life for residents."

Segmenting is powerful, and an approach you should always take when shaping your marketing campaigns too. But I urge you to take one step further to flesh out the demographics traditionally used to shape such segmentation with personas.

I’m a big fan of developing fully-fleshed-out fictitious characters (aka personas) to understand your base and other groups your org wants to engage. Shaping personas is a practice that enables you to "know" your target audiences far beyond segmentation, which is limited to demographic definition in most cases. Most importantly, personas are a great lead-in to audience research, and a useful ingredient in product/program/service development and testing. Use them to hone your approach as precisely as possible before you dive in with pricey and hard-to-find focus group participants or testers. 

This guide to shaping personas will help your org reach your base more effectively.

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Nancy Schwartz in Audience Research, Branding and Messages, Case Studies, Fundraising: Innovations & Research, Nonprofit Communications | 2 comments

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