Marketing and targeting are 2 terms that go hand in hand.
In fact, here’s a common phrase in marketing that you should know: “If you’re talking to everyone, you’re really talking to no one.”
What this means is that if you try to attract literally everyone with your marketing materials and strategy, you probably won’t be very successful. You can’t please everyone and whatever your organization is offering will not appeal to everyone no matter how much you want it to.
[bctt tweet=”Not everyone is your ideal patron or donor. But if you know exactly who would love what your nonprofit offers and target your marketing to that type of person, you have a much better chance at getting their attention.” username=”CainNPSolutions”] This is the essence of targeting, and successful marketers use it for a reason.
Let me give you a quick example to drive my point home:
Let’s say you work for a community arts center which offers art classes and music lessons for kids K-12 as well as community theater performances on the weekends. Now, which of the below marketing samples do you think would best attract the patrons who will most likely love these offerings:
Marketing Example A: A flyer hung up at local businesses, schools, and churches that gives a list of all class, lesson, and performance dates with times and prices and gives a number for people to call.
Marketing Example B: A short video posted on social media showing a child having a blast learning to play the drums with his new teacher. The kid says how much he looks forward to his drums lessons each week. His mom talks about how the lessons have helped him gain confidence and become a leader in his school band program and the lessons were sooo much more affordable than she thought they would be. She says this while working on her laptop, using free wifi at the arts center, and drinking a complimentary cup of coffee they leave out for parents while they wait. In the video you know there’s free wifi and coffee because of a clearly visible sign in the background of the video. This short video is boosted on Facebook and Instagram and shared in local neighborhood groups, mom groups, and groups devoted to kids who love music.
Now, both Example A and B are typical marketing pieces, but which do you think works better? I really hope you said B because it’s totally B everrrry time. And you probably figured that out by just reading the examples, but do you understand why B is better?
Example B is superior because instead of trying to advertise everything the arts center offers to everyone imaginable, it chose just one of its offerings and showed exactly why it was great.
It showcased that offering in a visual format (which tends to be more compelling) and appealed directly to the audiences who would appreciate it the most: kids taking the lessons and moms taking their kids to those lessons.
It showed the kid having fun and talking about why he liked it, which would get buy-in from other kids. It showed the mom able to relax in a nice facility and take some moments to herself to get some things done while sipping on some free coffee, which would appeal to most moms I know.
This video met potential patrons where they already “live”: on social media where a large percentage of moms and kids spend their time already. Then the video was boosted and shared on groups where the target audience was more likely to see it.
Example B didn’t try to cater to people who love theater, people who want to see an orchestra perform, people who love gallery openings, or people who just want to go see a movie. Because those people aren’t looking for music lessons for their kids.
In other words – know your target audience, what they care about, and where they spend their time. That’s what good targeting does in marketing.
And without further ado, here are 10 strategies you can start using today to start speaking your audience’s language:
1. Segment your marketing
If you have 6 offerings you want to promote, don’t promote all 6 in the same marketing piece. Segment them into 6, highly targeted marketing pieces aimed directly at the patrons who would love each of them the most.
2. Pair up the marketing medium with the audience
By medium I mean text, photos, graphics, videos, speech, etc. Maybe even some combination of those. You need a medium that can adequately tell the story about your offering. For instance, why would you use text to describe a painting when you could take a photo of it?
3. Pair up the placement of your marketing with the audience
Placement is hugely important. You need to meet your patrons where they are – don’t make them come to you. This means knowing whether an ad in the newspaper, a flyer handout, a billboard, a social media post, a radio interview, or mailing is more likely to reach your audience and compel them to participate.
For example, setting up a series of Instagram story videos to advertise a dance class for elderly adults is probably not a great idea because statistically they don’t spend a lot of time on Insta.
4. Don’t be afraid of digital marketing
A lot of arts nonprofits like to stick with the old-school techniques with which they’re familiar. But things are changing. Even if you have a large older audience that loves receiving mail pieces, you will not attract a younger audience with those materials. And I hate to sound morbid, but you must attract a younger audience if you still want your organization to exist 2 decades from now.
Digital marketing is something you must learn and luckily, no one needs to be afraid of it anymore. There are tons of programs, websites, and companies out there who have made digital marketing easy and accessible nowadays.
If you’re just getting started with it, try out email marketing, photos or short videos on social media, and some short (but engaging) blog posts on your website.
5. Pay attention to copy
“Copy” is your writing. It’s whatever text you include on a brochure, graphic, website, letter, or any other marketing piece. And trust me – the words and phrases you use matter.
If you want to attract patrons who want what you’re offering, use language that reflects who they are. For example, if you’re marketing something that will first be seen by children don’t use copy that’s written at a college reading level. Good rules of thumb are to keep your writing around a 7-8th grade reading level, use simple imagery and metaphors, keep it short, and reflect the language that your audience uses.
6. Pay attention to imagery
Like copy, imagery is important to think through, too. Use photos and graphics that are simple, clean, and easy to understand in reference to your offer. Use your brand’s signature colors and fonts. Remember that images of people smiling work well in persuasive marketing.
Steer away from controversial images (unless that’s what you’re going for) and make sure you’re using images that either belong to you or for which you have a bought a license.
7. Make everything EASY
All good marketing pieces are ultimately asking you to do something. That “something” could be to purchase tickets, register for a class, attend an event, send in a survey, or make a donation. Regardless of what action you want your potential patron to perform, you better make it dead simple for them to do it and tell them how easy it is.
If your patron has to jump through hoops to do something, expect even the most spectacular marketing to fail.
8. When in doubt: test, test, test
I’m going to say something a lot of people won’t like: If your marketing pieces aren’t smashing the goals you’ve set and you haven’t done any testing on them, then you have no idea what works and what doesn’t.
You need to test difference mediums, placements, copy and imagery against different demographics and track the results. Then you will know what works best and what is a waste of your time. Here’s an example of how I would do that:
- Step 1: Set a goal (sell 200 tickets to a community theater performance to local school-aged patrons and their families)
- Step 2: Decide what marketing materials might work best to reach them and create 2 options (a social media post and a flyer to be passed out at schools and family-oriented events)
- Step 3: Keep the copy and imagery relatively similar on both pieces. The only differences will be what the piece actually is and where you distribute it.
- Step 4: Track which piece you get better results from
- Step 5: Get rid of the piece that didn’t perform. If needed, create another piece to test against the one you kept so you can continue refining your approach
Do this and you’ll know exactly what your audiences respond to, which saves you time and money in future marketing campaigns.
9. Let go of trying to reach everyone
I know I already said this, but I’m going to say it one more time because it’s that important:
“If you’re talking to everyone, you’re talking to no one.”
Not everyone wants what you’re offering. And that’s fine. They aren’t your ideal patron whom you should be targeting. Forget about them. Work on talking directly to your ideal patron so you can create a raving fan who understands why your organization is meant for them.
10. Know exactly who you are trying to reach and everything about them
Last, but not least is this: you absolutely must get crystal clear on exactly who your ideal patron is. Then you need to find out everything you can about who they are, what they like, what they don’t like, how they speak, what they read, and what they do for fun.
You may have more than one ideal patron. In fact, you’ll probably have several, depending on the nature of your organization and even nonprofits with a limited scope can have more than one. For example, a symphony orchestra will likely have one-three ideal patrons for its traditional concerts, another set of ideal patrons for pops concerts, and still another set of ideal patrons for its youth orchestra.
Create an actual profile for each ideal patron and let that profile guide you when you are creating marketing materials that need to reach a certain audience.
To help you do this, I have created a little worksheet for you to fill out. It will help walk you through the process of thinking about details related to your patrons and how they interact with the world (and ultimately, marketing).
I suggest that you fill out a worksheet for each program, project, and offering you have. You can even go the extra mile by adding additional details or a picture of your fictional patron to the worksheet. Make it yours and do whatever is most conducive to getting into the minds of these potential patrons. I promise, it will pay off!
Click the button below to get your copy. Enjoy and happy marketing!
Full Disclosure: the ‘Ideal Patron Worksheet’ is not totally original. It’s based off the Ideal Customer Avatar exercises that many online marketing gurus use, such as Marie Forleo. Having said that, I’ve adapted mine just for the nonprofit world and the reason so many great marketers create avatars like these is because it WORKS. It can work for you, too.