There comes a moment in every James Bond film when “M” hands 007 an important file: the dossier. A packet containing everything our hero needs to know in order to accomplish his mission.
If only changemakers had it so easy! If only someone could tell us everything we need to know about our audiences, so we can find them, engage them, persuade them and move them to action toward our goals….
Alas, we’ve got to do it the old fashioned way: we’ve got to get to know our audiences ourselves. We have to consider exactly who we want to engage, then learn what they think about issues, how they feel about the issues, what motivates them to care, and what’s standing in their way when it comes time to take action.
What’s the best way to get to know what people think? Ask them, of course! The tools you need to learn how to best engage the audiences most important to your mission are right at your finger tips:
- Surveys are an effective, inexpensive tool to help you hear directly from your audiences. Online survey tool SurveyMonkey offers tips and tons of sample surveys designed for nonprofits.
- Social listening allows you to use the social media platforms you’re already on to hear what your audiences are already saying about your issues and ideas. Greenlining Institute created the Art of Listening toolkit for nonprofits, and Beth Kanter offers tips on how to glean actionable insights through social listening.
- Roundtable discussions offer an informal, interactive way to engage your audience in conversation to learn what they think. Try these tips to design and host your own roundtable.
- Focus groups are slightly more formal versions of the roundtable discussion, in which the facilitator plays a more directive role. Try these tips to plan and host your own focus group.
- A media audit is a deep analysis of the news coverage of your issue, which likely shapes how your target audience views and understands the topic at hand. A media audit like this one from Berkeley Media Studies Group can your organization understand the deeper frames driving your audiences’ perception of the issues.
- Public polling might seem prohibitively expensive for your organization to commission, but tons of audience research is made available every day by organizations like Pew Research Center, PollingReport.com, Gallup, as well as issue-specific think tanks and even your local newspaper.
To further assist you on your quest to better understand your target audiences, our team took a page from the Activation Point and created this do-it-yourself Audience Dossier Worksheet. This handy worksheet will help you think through everything you need to know about your audiences, so you can craft effective messages to spur them to action for your mission.
Just in case you don’t have a personal “M” to tell you help you on your mission, Agent 00Changemaker.
Post image courtesy of the blog A Day In the Life….
If Holly Minch hadn’t started LightBox Collaborative, she might’ve become a secret agent instead.