Mea culpa. For years, I’ve referred to ‘target audiences’ and ‘target markets’. I did this because knowing who you are trying to engage in your mission is important.
But audiences and markets sound like nebulous blobs. Faceless, feature-less, and certainly not able to help you advance your mission.
What we’re really after is passionate participants. Individuals, organizations, and institutions who want to help power your mission.
Inspired by Nancy Schwartz and Kivi Leroux Miller, I would like to suggest that we start using the term ‘target participant’.
How then do nonprofits go about identifying, connecting and engaging target participants?
- Identify your goal. What do you want people to do? What will be different for your organization and the community if people participate in making the change happen? Make it S.M.A.R.T.
- Identify target participants who would want to help you achieve your goal. Who are they? Why would they care?
- Write a hypothetical persona for each target participant. [Don’t worry about this step yet. We’ll tackle it later in the month.]
- Craft messages that will resonate with those personas.
- Test the messages with real-life people who match your persona.
- Push the messages out via channels that your target participants use. (You’ll figure this out when you do the personas. Again, don’t stress about it yet.)
I’m not going to lie: participant-powered engagement takes some work. But you’re working hard anyway, so why not make that hard work pay off for you, your mission, and your community?!