Reaching the Right People: The Power of Ideal Advocates
Great marketing is meaningless if you don’t get your message in front of the right people. Reaching the people you want to reach with content that will be meaningful to them is the cornerstone of any successful strategy. You’ve probably heard a variety of names for this group of people—target audience, target consumer, target market. We call them Ideal Advocates.
Why “Ideal Advocates”?
So, why did we feel the need to make up our own name for something that already has one? Fair question. We could just go with the typical industry terminology. But, here’s the thing: we’re not trying to just do the typical industry marketing or make the typical industry impact on your organization and your mission. We’re doing something different—to reach people who won’t just want to make a one-time connection with your organization, but who will engage with you and care about your success and growth just as much as you do.
We chose the term “Ideal Advocates” with intention. So, let’s break it down.
“Ideal” means that when we’re finding the people who most need to hear your message, we’re looking for the very best. We want to identify the people who are currently making the biggest impact on your organization, the people who are true stakeholders, so we can go find more of them.
Identifying those who are ideal comes with an important side benefit: it allows us to identify those who are not ideal. And that doesn’t mean they’re not worthwhile, or good, or maybe even great. But when we say “ideal,” we’re looking for the very best. There will still be a halo effect—when we tailor our communication to your Ideal Advocates, we’ll connect with lots of people who may not fit into your ideal group but can still be valuable connections for your organizations. But understanding who is ideal and who isn’t helps us be intentional with the communications strategy we create.
“Advocates” means that we’re focusing on people who feel so strongly aligned with the work your organization is doing that they’ll want to turn around and draw in others to support it, too. They don’t just listen to your message—they engage deeply in a way that requires some sort of personal investment. They care about your mission as much as you do.
Again, there’s an important distinction to be made here. It’s one thing for you to appreciate the work an organization is doing, donate to their cause, maybe even mention them to a friend. It’s another thing completely to feel a sense of ownership and personal investment in the work that an organization is doing, so much so that their successes and failures feel like your successes and failures. If you care at that level, you’ll spread the word to other like-minded people without even being asked to. You won’t just be a fan or a supporter—you’ll be an advocate.
What makes an Ideal Advocate
When we’re identifying Ideal Advocates, we don’t focus on typical market segmentation or demographics. So, they can take a lot of different forms and come from a lot of different places: employees, clients, donors, partners—anyone who represents a unique group of stakeholders. But they always have three key things in common.
- Personal Connection—An Ideal Advocate has a personal connection to the mission that drives your organization’s work. They care about your work in a way that extends beyond just wanting to help you out because you’re doing good in the world—it makes them want to engage because for them, it’s personal. Maybe they’ve experienced something in their life that makes them passionate about their cause, or maybe it’s something they’ve witnessed in the life of a friend or a family member. But one way or another, you don’t have to explain to them why the work you’re doing is important, because it’s already important to them. They have an innate passion for what you’re doing, and a true eagerness to make your mission their own.
- Shared Experience—A personal connection to your mission is critical for your Ideal Advocates, but it’s not enough on its own. An Ideal Advocate believes that you are exactly the right organization to be doing the work that you’re doing, and they have to trust that you’re going to do that work well. And that belief is cultivated through shared experience. This is more than you popping up in a Google search—it’s real life, a story they can share when telling people about why they support you and your work. That shared history gives your connection staying power. And it gives them real authority to talk about what you do, because they haven’t just read about the work you do—they’ve seen it in action.
- Prepared to Share—As important as these first two points are, truly Ideal Advocates go one step further. They haven’t just experienced what your organization is capable of doing—they’re prepared to share, willing and able to get the word out to others. They aren’t just passive audiences—they’re the passionate ambassadors of your brand, not just willing to share with others about your organization, but so bought into what you do that they barely need to be told. They’re champions and influencers, and while they might sometimes exert their influence behind the scenes, there’s no question that they’re helping your organization grow toward its mission. They’ll tell their friends, share social posts, talk about your work to others, and amplify your brand’s reach through their willingness to share their own experiences and passion for what you do.
If we find a segment of your audience that fits those three characteristics—Personal Connection, Shared Experience, and Prepared to Share—we’ve found an Ideal Advocate. And that’s when the fun begins.
How We Learn About Ideal Advocates
We typically aim for five Ideal Advocate groups or fewer—more than that can dilute the focus in your brand’s communication. Once we’ve identified the groups we want to focus on, we dig in and start learning about them, talking to them, and strategizing on how to best reach them.
As we learn more about your Ideal Advocates, we focus on certain questions to better understand them and how your organization can best reach them:
- Who are they? What commonalities people within an Ideal Advocate group share in their life stage and lifestyle? How old are they? What’s their typical education level? What matters to them? How can we understand them better as not just potential supporters, but as people?
- What’s their entry point? What brings them into contact with your organization? Why do they stay engaged?
- What are their needs? What are they lacking in their current life situation that your organization might be able to help? What are their felt needs that might grow their loyalty to an organization who could meet them?
- What are their frustrations? What wrongs in their life can your organization make right? Or, even if you can’t make them right, what hard things are they dealing with that are important for you to know about?
- How do they like to communicate? Do they prefer face-to-face? Email? Zoom? Text? What social media do they use? How do their communication preferences vary in different situations?
- What media do they consume? Where do they get their news? What are their go-to entertainment sources? What are they reading or listening to? What voices are influencing their lives and decisions?
After we understand who our Ideal Advocates are, we create profiles bringing together all the important information we’ve gathered on them through interviews, research, and conversations with you about who your organization has engaged with in the past. We use these profiles to guide our communication plan—to make sure that in everything we do, we’re reaching the people we want to reach.
When we know where your Ideal Advocates are, we know where to reach them. And when we understand what matters to them and why they want to engage with you, we know what kind of content will provide them with consistent value. All of this leads us to our end goal, simple yet profound: understanding the people your organization most needs to reach. And from there, we can create a communication plan that works.
The Power of Ideal Advocates
No mission is ever accomplished without a team willing to work for it. And that’s the power of Ideal Advocates. Every time you bring another Ideal Advocate to your cause, your team gets bigger, your potential gets bigger, your impact gets bigger. They will help you succeed, because your success is their success.
If you connect with the right people, you won’t just gain someone who will be engaged in your business—you’ll gain an ally who will bring others in as well. When you understand your Ideal Advocates, you can start reaching not people, but the right people. You can start working smarter with your communication. And you can start amplifying your impact on a world that needs the work that you’re doing.
Want to talk about how we can help you identify your Ideal Advocates and do The Most Good Possible? Set up a meeting with us now.