Strategic communications requires something more of content creators than handy language skills. It calls for a mindful practice of prioritizing audience perspective. For nonprofits and socially conscious businesses, mindful content not only verifies your cause with facts and statistics, it answers your audience’s why question: “Why does this message matter to me, your good donors and/or conscious consumers?”
Answering the why question means knowing your audience and what gets them up in the morning. After all, you want to be talking to the folks who believe in your cause enough to support you. Who cares? Apparently the leading-edge portion of the population that is attracted by their belief systems and values – the LOHAS community.
Nonprofits, socially conscious businesses, and companies emphasizing corporate social responsibility (CSR) are enjoying a rise in loyalty by the LOHAS (lifestyles of health and sustainability) community. According to Natural Marketing Institute’s 2010 report, “(LOHAS) consumers are increasingly more engaged than in the past. . . across all segments of the population, participation is rising.” LOHAS consumers will loyally engage with your organization if you continue to inform them how their support makes a difference. If you’re creating content for these organizations, a focus on values is your go-to muse.
Research = ROI
Every communications program, campaign, and project must start with audience analysis, and no, you, your friends, parents, and cousins-once-removed do not count as research subjects. I advise all my clients to consider working with a professional research firm to learn about audience from the inside out – that is, not only the numbers, ages, and spending/giving habits, but also passions, motivations, and values. A research firm is an investment that executive and management teams should value for longevity and competitive advantage as much as the communications team values it for known opportunities and certain results.
What if the budget just isn’t there for a professional firm? If strategic communications is your goal, make the research part of your job description. Invest the time and energy into the bounty of online sources available to you. Here are a few starter sources:
- LOHAS Online – Understanding the LOHAS Consumer
- JustMeans – ideas, companies, and people shaping the world of CSR
- CSRWire – the corporate social responsibility newswire
- Natural Marketing Institute News and Publications (NMI’s 2012 report is due this quarter.)
- Social Venture Network (this link to research on social media use by LOHAS community
To find information on markets in niches in addition to LOHAS, consider the following types of resources:
- News stories – articles on market forecasts and trends
- LinkedIn – your contacts and groups
- Conferences and tradeshows
- Trade associations
What are some valuable research sources you recommend for conscious communications programs?