3 Ways to Define your Target Audience

When nonprofit marketing and fundraising programs fail, organizations too frequently blame the tactics. “We tried an email newsletter, but no one read it” or “We sent out a direct mail fundraising letter, but it didn’t raise much money”.

Closer examination of those tactics reveals that the audience was poorly defined and the message was too generic. If the hammer doesn’t hit the nail on the head, take a look at the skills of the carpenter, not the hammer. Marketing and fundraising that tries to reach the general public, or everyone, actually reaches very few people (It’s sometimes called spray-and-pray marketing). The general public includes newborns and elders, rich and poor, jet-setters and the homeless. You don’t want to reach all of those people, and your couldn’t even if you wanted to So stop trying, and start focusing on the people who really do matter most to your success.

3 Ways to Define your Target Audience:

1. Basic Demographics: Are most of your target audience men or women? How old are they? Do they live or work in certain places? Are most a particular ethnic group? Is income or education level relevant? Also consider factors that define how they spend their time. Where are they, and what are they doing there, from 9am to 5pm or on weekends? What is their family status? Do they rent or own? Does this group op people tend to have strong likes or dislikes?

2. By Their Behaviors: What is this group of people doing or not doing related to your cause? Think about your calls to action, Are they doing the right thing, but inconsistently or not in the “right” way? Let’s say you want businesses to donate products to your fundraising auction. Your committee brainstormed a list of 50 local businesses to ask. To more effectively target this list by behavior, you could separate out the businesses that have donated auction items in previous years for those who have not. Or could separate out those who you know have donated auction items to other non-profits, but not to yours, and customize your messaging accordingly.

3. By the Stages of Change: If you are trying to convince people to modify their behaviors in significant ways (e.g. to become a reliable annual donor), the Stages of Change may be a helpful way to break down your target audience into smaller groups. The Stages of Change, know more formally as the Transtheoretical Model in healthy psychology, is often used in social marketing.

The first stage is Pre-contemplation, where the person doesn’t yet acknowledge that a problem or issue exists. Next is Contemplative, where the person acknowledges the problem or is aware of the issue, but has plenty of reasons why he can’t address it. Preparation comes next, where they say “Okay, I’ll give it a try.” This is also known as the testing phase. Next is the Action phase, where they are ready to do it and make that change. The final stage is Maintenance and Relapse Prevention, where they work to make the behavior a habit.

*Borrowed from Kivi Leroux Miller* For more information, click here.


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