Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?

Do You Know Who You’re Talking To?

Guest Bloggers | 19 October 2015

In this line of work we’re constantly looking at things from a donor perspective. Writing and re-writing lines to make our point heard, worrying if we’re using the correct image, looking for that hook to ensure our donor reads on. But do we always remember to check who we are actually talking to?

Having only just gone through the creative process for a Christmas appeal, I realise that all too often we are swayed by the many opinions available during an appeal creation.  It’s extremely easy to lose your way and focus on the motivating images, the clever one liners, the message... but without truly knowing your audience and taking them along with you on the journey to the next big appeal, it’s all for nothing.

We’ve all experienced the well-meaning colleagues.  You know; the ones who say “well if this came through my door, I wouldn’t open it.  But if it looked a bit like this and read a bit more like that I would totally be on board with the cause”.  And it’s all too familiar when the doubt starts to creep in.  Should I make these changes?  Should I try to incorporate everyone’s opinion?

STOP.  Just stop. Ask yourself who you set out to speak to with this appeal. If the well- meaning colleague fits the demographic then by all means, take their views into account and adjust. But if they don’t, it’s up to you to explain that the target audience is different.

The very first stage of any appeal should be around the data.  Those who know me will know that by and large, this is my favourite area. And it’s because - depending on quality -  it’s so insightful.

Go right back to the basics of the who, what, where, when, and why.  Answer the questions of: Who are all of your appeals speaking to right now?  Is that the group you want to speak to? Drill down into why you think that is.  If you can back up every assumption with the correct data then you’re on your way.  You may at this stage realise that maybe you would like to be speaking to a different group.  That’s insightful too – you now have a starting point. 

Building a clear picture in your mind of who you are talking to is the only thing that will allow you to write a clear, targeted appeal.  Knowing your target audience will give you the confidence and evidence to take on those well-meaning opinion sharers and stand your ground on why you’ve chosen that message along with those images.  

None of us are perfect and at times we can all be off target.  I often worry that after months of looking at the same appeal I can no longer really see it.  And at those times we do need colleagues to pull us back into the creative fold.  But what we will always need is that base to work from.  The core, the epicentre, the heart of it all lies in the data.  The knowledge that we are speaking to the correct people and that they care about what we are speaking about; that we are not speaking to them too often, or not often enough; and that what we need can be found in the data we hold.

It’s our job to pass on the right message to the people who want to support it.  It’s our job to be accurate in that selection and it’s our job to ensure we can evidence those decisions. 

Katy Martin, Donor Development Manager, Quarriers

Katy has been Donor Development Manager for Quarriers since 2014.  With a focus on direct mail and face to face fundraising, she understands the need to balance creativity with data analysis. Having previously worked as a community fundraiser for the British Red Cross, she is also a member of the Red Cross Logistics Emergency Response Unit.  


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