Connecting Customers in an Ever-Changing Lego World
The question, “Who is your customer?” seems awfully simple. Mission statements and quarterly reports suggest that most nonprofit organizations know their customer as intimately as their favorite neighbor.
But don’t be deceived.
In this complex, ever-changing Lego World, identifying your customer or your audience is not the straightforward task many assume it to be. Thus, the “outside-in” perspective is an organization’s point of reference and it should depict what is happening in the marketplace, not what’s happening in the organization’s boardroom. Addressing the question of what makes your customers connect to your mission is the most important in determining your target audience.
Your audience explores multiple platforms. From Instagram to streaming audio, there are several outlets vying for the attention of your people group. Amidst the marketing noise, it’s your job to pull apart the pieces of the fragmented audience and discover your best mix of mediums to reach your ideal customer. This Lego World, although complex, offers the ability to reach specific segments of your audience based on their lifestyle, purchasing habits, hobbies, and more. By finding, defining, and testing your audience, you customize the message and reconnect a better-built Lego World.
Find Your Audience
When we talk about researching your market, it’s more than finding the who. For deeper market research, it’s important to delve into the why behind your audience. This means researching behavior patterns and considering what it is about your mission or organization that creates a connected feeling.
This can sometimes be a daunting task, but we’ve found when asking some open-ended and probing questions, you begin to understand your audience on a more intimate level. Use multiple choice questions such as:
- What platforms do you use on a regular basis?
- What is your perception of our mission/organization?
- What makes you feel connected to our mission?
Researching this type of information helps you develop a persona for your ideal audience, not just a demographic.
Tools to Define your Audience
You may find while researching these questions that you have more than one target market. By creating separate personas, you can develop different marketing messages to reach each audience. To find information about your ideal audience, start with these strategies:
- Consider your current customer/donor base. What commonalities does your current audience share? Honing in on those who share an affinity for your organization will reveal their perception of your brand.
- Evaluate from where the majority of your leads come. Study which media outlet brings in the most high-converting leads and what elements of those outlets most register with your audience.
- Map your current customer/donor base. Do the majority of your customers live in the same geographical location? Are there additional characteristics you can develop about your ideal audience based on their location?
- Find current research. Data may already exist specific to your industry or target audience. Look for research that reveals how to best engage with your market.
Once you define your prime audience(s), utilize research data that helps you segment who they are. Tools like Claritas PRIZM Premier Segments define 68 variables for the highest indexing. For example:
Segment 11—Fast Track Families
These families lead busy, active lives often centered around schedules and interests of their children. Always on the go, they are frequent restaurant diners, drive larger SUV’s, visit Pinterest, and tend to shop in bulk at wholesale clubs.
Their lifestyle and media traits consist of:
- Owning a GMC
- Eating at Qdoba
- Shopping at Books-A-Million
- Going skiing/snowboarding
- Flying Frontier
- Visiting Pinterest
- Listening to New Country
Segment 08—Gray Power
Upscale, older couples typically living just beyond the nation’s beltways largely define this audience. This segment is a haven for white-collar professionals drawn to comfortable homes and apartments within a manageable commute to downtown jobs, restaurants, and entertainment. They enjoy traveling and watching golf on television.
Their lifestyle and media traits consist of:
- Owning a Lexus
- Eating at Bonefish Grill
- Following PGA/LPGA
- Watching Golf Channel
- Listening to the news
- Visiting Alaska
Defining very specific cluster groups provides a clear pathway to understanding more details about your audience, as well as the messaging they prefer and the key media platforms where you’re most likely to reach them.
After locating and defining your target audiences, you can test which types of marketing best resonate with each group.
Test your Audience
Once you’ve identified the clusters of people who are most likely to give to your organization, it’s time to study their media habits. Understanding what media platforms your audience uses allows you to get in front of your donor on a regular basis.
Most people already are aware of this, but it’s interesting to see how many organizations do not create and launch a split-test. By creating nearly identical campaigns and changing a single element—color, imagery, length—you can determine which campaign has the highest conversion rate.
Van Mylar, vice president of client strategy and growth shares, “As your marketing develops, continue to reevaluate how you’re targeting your people groups.”
Avoid getting stuck on any one platform and most importantly, be sure to have practices in place that continuously monitor your audience’s behaviors. You never know when they might shift to new or different media platforms.