Inbound marketing is a bit like archery. You can’t just shoot up in the air and expect to hit your target. To be successful you have to aim strategically. Nonprofit organizations in particular tend to want to reach as many people as they can. They often do this by making their inbound marketing campaigns as generic as possible. Ultimately, in an effort to please everyone, those generic inbound marketing campaigns will reach no one. When compiling your marketing campaign, you want to aim at your buyer persona.
While nonprofits might not have "buyers" so to say, they do have people or constituents who use their products and services and people who make those products and services possible. Finding people who want to use their services usually isn’t a problem, since a nonprofit's services will almost always be in high demand. The people nonprofits have trouble finding are people who will help make their services possible a.k.a donors, volunteers, event organizers, advocates, etc. For short, we’ll call them nonprofit supporters.
The best way to craft an inbound marketing campaign to reach the right people is to first know who your supporters are. In the past, marketers focused specifically on target markets.by researching and compiling data about their given donor base. Patterns often arise from this compilation of data. For example, by compiling all the data on current donors, an organization may find its average donor may be age 18-23, female, with some college education who lives in the city. In the past,marketers focused exclusively on these types of demographics in hopes of finding their perfect supporter.These demographics were called target markets because that's where the nonprofits aimed.
Unfortunately using only target markets can present some problems. For example, take Facebook ads. We’ve probably all experienced scrolling across an ad and wondering why in the heck am I seeing this? Well, if you click on the icon in the top right corner of the ad, Facebook will tell you why you are seeing it. Most of the time when I see ads in my timeline that simply aren't for me, it’s often because they’re focusing on very broad demographics like female age 24-35 who lives in the US.
While I do fit that demographic and am technically in their target market, I’m not the person they really want to reach with their message. This is the downfall of target markets. They’re mechanical and impersonal. They reduce people down to their age, sex, race, and location without giving thought to the individual who will actually be donating or volunteering.
Buyer personas take target markets to a new level. Buyer personas represent the ideal donor, volunteer, etc. to whom all the nonprofit’s content should be aimed. When a marketer creates a buyer persona, they start with the same demographics and patterns then take one more step and give that demographic a personality and a backstory.
We’ll use an animal shelter close to a college town in need of volunteers as an example. The target market might be Female, age 18-23, with some college education. This target market allows the shelter a general area to aim, but no real information on what motivates someone in this market to take action. A buyer persona offers more detailed information and looks more like this:
Volunteer Vicky is 21 years old and is working on her bachelor's degree at a nearby college. She doesn’t have a lot of disposable income because she's currently a full time student, but she loves animals. She had to leave her dog with her parents when she moved into the dorms. She misses her dog and is trying to find an apartment that will allow her to have pets. Vicky spends a most of her time in class or studying--all indoor activities. She really misses being outside playing with her dog. She also volunteered a lot during high school and enjoyed feeling like she was making a difference in her community. She takes selfies of almost everything she does and shares them with her friends on Instagram and Snapchat. She usually reads through her Facebook newsfeed a couple of times a day but doesn’t post very often.
See how much more relatable Vicky is than Female, age 18-23, with some college education? She has a name! She has hopes and aspirations. Using a stock photo to represent a buyer persona allows a marketer to give this supporter a face--making her even more personal. Buyer personas feel more organic and personal than target markets because they force marketers to imagine their supporters motivations, ambitions, and goals. By keeping Vicky in mind when writing nonprofit's blogs and social media posts, marketers are more likely to use language and images that will appeal to people with similar goals and motivations.
If you’re having trouble creating your own buyer personas set up a FREE consultation with us. We’d be happy to set aside an hour of our time to talk about your business goals and how your website is helping your achieve those goals.