Performance Creative in the Era of People-Based Marketing
Your constituents are overwhelmed. The omni-channel world has driven information overload to levels never seen before. The barrage of activity from commercial brands, nonprofits, news media, friends and colleagues has shrunk attention spans across all facets of everyday life. In the face of this onslaught, constituents have taken back control. They now decide which organizations they follow, the people who influence them, and the content that is served to them. To prepare for the era of people-based marketing, thoughtful organizations have focused on the data, technology and analytics required to identify, assess and engage the right donors.
IWhile those areas are critical and must be mastered to be successful, many nonprofits overlook a critical step. After all the effort and expense to locate, target, and serve these constituents, what do you actually say to them?
Changing the Way You Work
Fundraisers have recognized that these self-directed constituents do not follow linear journeys. However, most organizations still follow a rigid, linear process to build content. They first develop a calendar and/or cadence for a specific media (i.e. direct mail) or a group of media. They then determine the ask and call-to-action. With timing, format and offer in place, they target the segments with the highest historical ROI.
Tomorrow’s successful fundraisers will change how they produce content and experiences to better engage the modern constituent. They will shift focus away from campaigns and start every process with the person. Once the right constituents are identified, they will engage those targets in the media the donor prefers, offer opportunities that donors are most interested in supporting and personalize their experience across all channels.
Creating Hyper-Relevance with Performance Creative
Once you have put the individual at the center of your planning process, your focus must exclusively turn to creating and demonstrating relevance. You cannot achieve relevance simply by discussing the features of your organization and its mission. You cannot achieve relevance only by showing the donor how their funds will be used. To create hyper-relevance, you must focus on three levels.
Level 1: Audience Relevance
Understand passions and motivations to drive effective positioning and messaging.
You have access to a mountain of data and you too can become overwhelmed. To avoid this, start by asking the right questions. The most straightforward way to create these questions is by asking yourself, “If I were meeting a person one-on-one to discuss my offering, what would I want to know about that person?” Would you want to know more about their financials and demographics or more about their interests and passions?
Armed with the answers to these questions, you can then consider how to best position your organization to the audience. That positioning should focus on: “Why would they support us?”; “Why not?”; and “Against whom are we competing for their dollars and attention?”
This positioning exercise leads to a message blueprint for each audience. A strong message blueprint focuses on both the emotional and rational drivers. These drivers are then supported by critical messages to drive home the point and enhancers to add depth to the discussion.
Level 2: Decision Path Relevance
Understand donor readiness to leverage the appropriate emotional and rational drivers.
Viewed in the traditional marketing funnel, donors at different stages have different needs and, thus, experiences must fundamentally change based on their position in the funnel. At the top of the funnel, the approach should be more emotional and focused on introducing them to the organization or mission. At the bottom of the funnel, the equation has shifted to the rationale and ease of completing the intended transaction. There are many methods for understanding buyer readiness.
- Awareness: Emotional focus with successful message types being educational, provocative or aspirational
- Consideration: A blend of the emotional and rational with successful message types being informative, exciting and interactive.
- Conversion: Rational focus with successful message types being urgent, direct and simple.
Level 3: Individual Relevance
Understand the moment to drive personalization and motivate behavior.
Individual relevance can take many forms. Localization can generate relevance by focusing on issues that matter to donors and can impact their community. Environmental relevance includes adjusting messaging in real time, based on which giving opportunities are best for the specific geo-conditions of the user (i.e. It’s cold in Chicago … “Your donation can ensure families have a place to stay warm tonight”). Behavioral triggers generate creative variants based on constituent activity on the organization’s website or at your events.
In response to an overwhelming volume of messages from a multitude of different sources, modern constituents are taking charge of their lives. They are deciding who to follow and which organization to engage with. To build a lasting relationship with these powerful donors and potential donors, successful fundraisers must become people-based marketers. And that goes beyond investing in data, analytics and individually targeted media. To practice people-based marketing, you must change the way you are building your engagements.
Performance creative leverages your brand with a relentless focus on creating hyper-relevance in every engagement. If you are not using performance creative to deliver relevant, personalized and inspired experiences, can you truly call yourself a people-based marketer?
At Merkle, Chris is a senior leader in the Quantitative Marketing Group and leads a team of talented analysts leveraging advanced predictive techniques to drive net revenue and build donor pipelines for some of the leading nonprofits in the country. He strives to drive insight into donor data across all fundraising programs, use this knowledge to build constituent engagement that maximizes long-term donor value and ensure his partners thrive today while building a foundation to advance their mission over the long term.
Chris brings to Merkle over 10 years of experience in nonprofit marketing, analytics, and thought leadership, having previously served on the executive committee at the leader in higher education marketing. Chris has had the opportunity to partner with some of the largest and most recognizable institutions in the country to leverage personalized marketing to achieve their enrollment and advancement goals. Prior to his time in higher education, Chris held various analytic positions in financial services. Chris holds a BS in Systems Engineering from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Darden School of Business.