Who Cares? 4 Tips to Better Understanding Your Audience

30 May Who Cares? 4 Tips to Better Understanding Your Audience

We’ve been talking a lot about storytelling recently. In the last month, we’ve covered how to use the media to tell your story, provided tips on what makes a compelling story and outlined how your nonprofit can make donors the hero of your brand story. The discussion of storytelling wouldn’t be complete without addressing the issue of audience.

You can tell all the great stories you want, but if they’re not hitting their target you might as well be shouting into the wilderness. Here are four things to keep in mind to ensure your nonprofit’s story is heard by those who matter most.

1. Everybody is Nobody

I can’t count the number of times I’ve asked a client to describe their primary audience and they’ve answered, “Everybody.” When I hear this I just shake my head. In the world of effective storytelling, everybody might as well be nobody. In order to effectively communicate your mission or a clear call to action, you must speak directly to a specific audience. Are your primary supporters in your neighborhood or do they live elsewhere? Are they high-capacity givers, or are they middle-class households? Are they of a specific religious denomination or are they a more secular group?

2. Focus

Once you’ve identified your various audiences, it’s important to focus on your top two or three. As we all know, almost all nonprofits have limited resources, including around your communications budget. To make the most of your communications investment, prioritize your audiences and focus on those that are most likely to move the needle in your biggest areas of need. This may be fundraising, volunteer recruitment, board development or event promotion. But whatever the need, your best shot at success is pinpointing the best audiences for your message.

3. Relevant Content

Now that you’ve identified and prioritized your audiences, it’s time to create content that speaks clearly and directly to them. At Angel Oak, we serve nonprofits. So we create content that specifically speaks to executive directors, development directors, and board members. We’ve established our Nonprofit Nuggets and blog content to address the issues and needs important to our primary audiences. You can do the same with your organization. Build out a content marketing strategy (yes, that entails actually creating a marketing plan!) that includes content relevant to your key audiences.

4. Reassess

Over time, as your priorities change, it’s likely your primary audiences will evolve. Today, you may be flush with volunteers, so your most pressing need is fundraising. As you develop your yearly marketing plan, take the time to reassess your key audiences and make changes as needed. You’ll also want to do some digging, using surveys and/or focus groups to better understand how your audience prefers to receive communication. Ask questions about their preferences around email, social media, newsletters, phone calls, etc. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to identify and effectively communicate with your key audiences.

Remember, if you try to be everything to everybody, you’ll likely end up being nothing to anybody. So, take the time to identify and prioritize your audiences, create content that resonates with them and reevaluate those audiences on a regular basis. Every organization has a story to tell. Ensure yours is heard by those who matter most.

Keep up with our Nonprofits Nuggets of wisdom here.

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