All those successfully blogging to promote either a business or a non-profit know this secret: You absolutely must know your Audience, your Aim, and your Ask. If you’ve read my previous post you’ve learned my tips for identifying and understanding your Audience.
Now that you’ve located your target, let’s perfect your Aim.
KNOW YOUR AIM
Four Critical Questions to Answer Before You Write Your Post
For every post you write—yes, every post—you need to answer these four questions:
- Where is my audience on their journey of engagement?
- What do I want them to think, or feel after reading this?
- Which approach will compel my audience forward?
- What images will amplify my message?
Business bloggers Source: Lee Odden of Top Rank Blog, speaking on “Blogs to Riches” at the 2014 Social Media Rockstar Event know the people in their audience are on a journey.
At your non-profit, you have two audiences, both on journeys of their own:
(Note: If your donors and clients are two very distinct audiences, you’ll find a few tips on blogging to straddle that divide here.)
Keeping those journeys in mind, get ready to ask yourself the first question.
WHERE IS MY AUDIENCE ON THEIR JOURNEY?
Imagine you’re gliding in the sky overhead, watching the various segments of your audience pursue their engagement journey down below.
- One group is just noticing you for the first time—they’re in the Awareness stage.
- Others have heard of you and are gaining Interest.
- Then there’s the segment ready to actively engage with you: to use your services or to make a donation.
- Ahead of them are the fully engaged ones you want to stay connected to, and the ones you want to turn into loyal fans.
From this altitude, you can see how writing to the barely aware segment will sound much different than writing to turn supporters into repeat donors.
Zoom in now and choose which segment of your audience you will speak to in your post.
(Don’t worry about missing other audience segments. With a regular posting schedule and a helpful editorial calendar, you can make sure you connect with people everywhere along the journey.)
Key Takeaway: Aim to address one segment of your audience at their unique point in their journey.
WHICH APPROACH WILL COMPEL MY READER TO ACTION?
You know which audience segment you’re writing to, and where they are in their journey. What would it take to move them to the next stage?
Take a moment to stand in their shoes. What kind of nudge would propel them forward?
The ancient art of rhetoric gives you three persuasive approaches to consider:
- ethos: “This article proves I’m a reliable expert, so you’ll feel wise acting upon my information.”
- pathos: “This story stirs your heart, so you’ll want to respond to it.”
- logos: “I have built such a strong case for my point that you will decide to act.”
Does your audience segment need a behind-the-scenes look at your operation? A touching client story? The point-by-point rationale behind your plans for expansion? (Or, if you’re really adept, a combination of two or three?
Choose the approach that will reach your readers where they’re at and move them forward in their journey.
Key takeaway: Aim along the most persuasive line for your audience segment.
WHAT IMAGES COULD AMPLIFY YOUR MESSAGE?
You have only a few seconds to catch your reader’s attention. Text alone won’t do it. You need to know:
- Researchers found that colored visuals increase people’s willingness to read a piece of content by 80%.
- Content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. (See this Kissmetrics article for great info on using visuals online.)
So incorporate images appropriate to your aim and your audience. Consider:
- Photos: Find high quality and emotion-packed images to convey your message. Check out some of these free photo sources or paid sources like Adobe Stock or Shutterstock. And don’t forget to snap your own photos. Catching your non-profit in action can forge powerful reader connections.
- Infographics, videos, and more: Statistics and dry facts come to life when set to pictures. In addition to free, easy-to-learn design tools such as Canva.com, here’s a list of 6 visual tools to get you started.
Key takeaway: Aim to get and keep attention with vibrant visuals.
WHAT DO I WANT THEM TO THINK OR FEEL?
Start your draft with this temporary introduction: “Dear Reader, when you read this article, I want you to think or feel _______.” Fill in the blank and start writing. (Remember to take out this line later!)
Let’s try an example: Say you run the non-profit animal shelter Tomorrow’s Pets. You’re about to write a client-focused post. You target an audience segment at a particular point of their journey. What might you want them to think or feel?
- Awareness: I want my reader to feel warmly about the kind staff at Tomorrow’s Pets.
- Interest: I want my reader to think “I think my kids might like to adopt a pet from this place.”
- Commitment: I want my reader to feel excited about bringing her kids to see our available animals.
- Provision: I want my reader to feel, “This was helpful; I was wondering how to help my new puppy stop whining all night!”
- Advocacy: I want my reader to think, “I’m so glad I adopted my pet through Tomorrow’s Pets; I’m going to share this post about Christmas adoptions with my friends on Facebook!”
See how narrowing your audience segment and having one aim helps you focus? Now you know precisely what you want your blog post to achieve.
Key takeaway: Aim for one clear objective in each post you write.
GOT YOUR AUDIENCE, GOT YOUR AIM. NOW WHAT?
You know where your audience is at this moment, and you’ve chosen a way to influence their thoughts and feelings.
Do you know what you want them to do?
Learn how to craft a great call to action in the third post in this series on blogging for non-profits.
If you feel carrying the burden of blogging for your organization is keeping you from doing what matters most to you, contact me to see how I can lighten your load.
Start working with Karen today
Today could be the day your load gets lighter.
Ask Karen Ingle to make that happen.