A Good Outreach Strategy Starts with Knowing Who You Serve

With all the different populations that are being served by America’s Promise grantees, effective outreach can be difficult.  How do you know whether your strategies are resonating, and what can you do if they are not?  For the City of Springfield Ozark Region Workforce Development Board, an America’s Promise grantee, the answer to these questions was targeted messaging based on data collection and analysis.

The City of Springfield utilized a multi-faceted approach that focused on their targeted populations during the first quarter of the grant, with great success. Their community outreach, social media marketing, informed staff, and visibility at special events led to 200 applications for the program, surpassing initial projections.

The applications have provided a wealth of information about the demographic, geographic, and psychographic characteristics (motivating factors, preferences, decision-making factors, and behaviors) of the individuals interested in their program. The City of Springfield analyzed this information to identify trends. They developed an understanding of current applicants, including their average age, gender, employment status, location, education level, and income.  By analyzing the data gathered, the organization is able to know who their marketing strategies are currently resonating with, and more importantly, who they’re not. This allows them to better craft their messaging moving forward.

How can you replicate this success?  Follow these steps:

Gather data about who is interested in your program. Your program’s website, email blasts, social media accounts, events, direct mail campaigns, and other outreach efforts all provide information that can be used to gain a deeper understanding of your target populations. This includes:

  • Where they are located
  • How often they want to hear from you
  • Their preferred method of contact
  • What they do on your website
  • The types of social media posts they like or comment on
  • The days and times they are most likely to access your online content
  • The type of events people attend, and more.

Collect all the data in a central hub, such as a Microsoft Excel document or a customer management system, to make it easier to find patterns and trends in the data.  Divide your target population into smaller groups of individuals with similar pains and values to gain new insights about their needs, interests, and objectives.

Tailor your marketing efforts to specific groups with consistent, clear, and concise messaging.  Develop unique and relevant content that is targeted to a particular group and includes a unique messages and call to action (ex. register for a class, see a counselor).  Ensure that all messages address some of the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of the group you are targeting.

Select the best medium for distributing your message.  Be aware of the different capabilities and limits of various mediums and ensure that the channel selected is appropriate for the message and audience. Leverage your partnerships strategically to spread your message. For example, although only eight percent of area residents identify as minorities, 21 percent of program applicants identify with a minority group. The City of Springfield was successful in recruiting minority groups by identifying non-traditional partners and attending relevant events they sponsored. To reach potential participants, share your message with trusted organizations that serve your target populations.  Over time, a continued presence in the community can build trust and a connection, and encourage your targeted population to become an advocate of your program.

Continually analyze performance and adjust accordingly. Monitor the results of your outreach efforts and seek feedback from stakeholders. Refine your profiles and revise strategies based on changing recruitment goals, budgets, and audience needs.

By following these steps, you can run an effective outreach campaign that reaches your target populations, increases interest in your program, and leads to enrollments, retention, completions, and job placements.

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