Is Your Donor Segmentation Unemotional?
You all know how I feel about buzzwords. It seems that our industry latches on to them, and gosh, I'm guilty of it too sometimes. But I may have found a new one that I'm really fond of: mind-set segmentation.
As usual, I read an article about it, "Humanize Your Brand Message With Mindset Segmentation," but I also believe that for nonprofits, this is something that we have been talking about for a long time. I'm not saying that we are doing it, but we talk about.
The points made by author Kellie Cummings are critical. She states, "The segmentation methods of yesteryear (demographic, geographic, and psychographic) created a language about customers that was rooted in brand value-not personal value. Those rational and logical customer descriptions created a view of customers that was merely a reflection of a company's brand. To reach customers today, marketers must embrace a more human-centric and more customer-centric approach."
Nonprofits have always known that there is a true emotional and attitudinal element to engagement with a cause. This concept takes it one step further, and I agree. There's not a nonprofit around that would say donor retention is not a top priority. And there is a general belief that being donor-centric is a key focus for increasing retention rates (and actually driving greater value from donors). So, the question is how close can you get to being donor-centric without understanding the mind-set of your donors?
Creating segmentation that includes the emotional (mind-set) side of our donors should be considered a top priority if we want to actually create a true relationship and engagement (versus just a "response"). This article defines the necessary elements of mind-set as: beliefs, hopes and fears, emotional needs, expectations, and brand perceptions.
While I bet this article was written with the commercial segment in mind, I couldn't agree more with what is above. Now, if you are scratching your head about how to actually know what this type of information is relative to your donors, there are options:
- I'm a huge advocate of getting feedback from your donors and doing it often. Every one of these ideas above can be garnered from a good market research/feedback program within your organization. The days of only the "branding department" doing market research left us years ago. As marketers and fundraisers you should absolutely gain more information about your donors than just the things you can overlay (demographics, geographics, etc.) or the transactions you track in your database. You need to find out who your donors really are and then apply the best messaging (and channels) to them based on what you learn.
- Remember a long time ago when everyone made fun of "personality clusters"? Heck, I was one of those people in the mid-'90s. My organization actually had it one file for all of our donors, yet the timing was just not right. We were hot and heavy into transactional marketing and making money hand over fist so who needed to complicate things with some "fuzzy personality clusters"? (Yes, those might have been my words at that time.) Well, times have changed and my opinion has greatly shifted. Why have things changed? To start with, no one is making money hand over fist anymore without having to really expand how they do marketing and focus on being better and better every year. Furthermore, today's donors have changed. I've said it before-the introduction of digital created a whole new set of personalization and customization that is now expected by the marketplace when people engage with a brand. Guess what else has changed? The clustering tools have gotten better and better. For example, if you had donors who fell into these two buckets, would you treat them the same with messaging? These are two of eight real personality clusters that are used by nonprofits to inform marketing segmentation today.
- Your traditional donors are orderly, content, spiritual. They can be described as low-tech or no-tech. They avoid new or untried products. Family is key and they love the nest. They are marketing-averse, typically not good candidates for direct mail, although can be persuaded by good ideas. They are not typically multichannel people. They are very careful with decisions but want you to pitch them in terms they are familiar with. Perhaps of highest importance is that they take time deciding, but if the presentation is not edgy, you have a chance with them as long as trust and dependability are in place.
- Your ambitious donors are entrepreneurial; competitive; and driven to excel in personal, social and professional life. They are Internet-savvy and above all don't like to waste time. They are not into fashion for its own sake but stay current. They want to be admired for their success, and recognition is important. However, they consider themselves very informed and perceive they know what's best for them, so "save the marketing hype." They are absolutely multichannel-savvy, and in fact, that is how they become informed decision-makers.
So, the next time you talk about being donor-centric or "knowing" your donors, stop and think about how you are really doing that. Do you have the attitudes and mind-sets covered in your segmentation? If not, you might not really know them as well as you could (and should).
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.