The Secret to Getting Stakeholders to Listen: Creating Trust and Value
At UpMetrics, when it comes to our marketing efforts, we are focused on one thing: building trust. That may seem counterintuitive since we are a revenue generating SaaS company selling an impact analytics platform to impact-focused organizations. Why not stress the features that make up the platform? Lead with stories of your peers who have seen success with the technology, or speak to how we are different from other data analytics tools out there?
The truth is that the business world is at an unprecedented level of distrust when it comes to advertisers. A 2019 study found that 96% of consumers don’t trust what ads have to say leading to just 4% of consumers believing that marketers operate with integrity (Inc). Philanthropy is seeing a similar and concerning trend – according to a recent national survey 26% of Americans have little trust in philanthropy, a 5% increase from 2020 to 2021 (Chronicle of Philanthropy). What makes this even more alarming is Gez Z is the group where trust is falling the most yet this is the same group who philanthropy will be relying on to support them in the future. Unfortunately it would seem that there is more overlap in how the public views for-profit and not-for-profit organizations than you would have imagined.
As Chronicle of Philanthropy points out, trust doesn’t necessarily correlate with the public doubting philanthropy’s worth. But it certainly means that philanthropy may need to shake up the way they market end-of-year appeals or message potential donors, just like for-profit businesses have responded to the market with a shift in marketing strategy. There are lessons that philanthropy can take from for-profit marketing efforts.
How have I shifted my messaging and perspective across my career, including at UpMetrics? Data has become an integral part of every marketing decision and strategic plan created. The fastest way to build trust is to show you understand the challenge or problem facing a particular audience and provide a way to help. Content marketing has risen to a heightened level of importance, and mass marketing across a huge audience is a thing of the past.
To ensure that our marketing campaigns are going to add value to the market, I have a baseline of pain points that I must map to. This isn’t a list of our platform’s strengths. Listen to what your potential customers or stakeholders need – for technology that will be a hard need. In philanthropy it may mean focusing on an emotional need to be a part of a movement or community, or a desire to support a very specific initiative. The takeaway for all organizations is the same for a successful campaign: identify those unique motivations, segment those audiences, and message accordingly.
Below, I lay out key questions I ask while setting up marketing campaigns that can also be applied to a philanthropic marketing push. Once I have a foundation for messaging based on the below, I can look to execution, including ads, content and email outreach. Your strategy for execution will be determined based on your answers and available resources.
What am I trying to achieve?
What is a topic that our audience is thinking about right now? What pain points are top of mind?
What is a pain point that we solve for well?
How common is that pain point? Who do I know that experiences this pain?
Where does this audience consume information?
How can we add value?
An Example in Practice
When planning the UpMetrics Q3 marketing campaign this year, I knew my primary goal was to increase awareness of the UpMetrics brand. I came to this conclusion after analyzing our current progress towards established goals, including revenue, new customers and shorter timelines to conversion. To hit our long-term goals, I needed more people coming into our marketing funnel. To get more people into our funnel, I needed to get more people to my website. To convert them on my website, I needed to provide value-driven content that positioned UpMetrics as a trusted thought leader in the space.
UpMetrics is in a unique place where we work across impact organization types, obtaining insight into many sides of the funder-grantee relationship. This relationship is a complex one that has traditionally seen funders hold all the power, despite nonprofits holding valuable insights from first-hand experience in the community. If these insights don’t fall within reporting requirements, they can be missed. For this reason, this topic has been successful to address in the past with high engagement. At UpMetrics, we know several pain points that would be solved by a shift in that power dynamic, with more effective collaboration and information sharing. Pain points include an inability to track progress to goals, access data that will help define success, obtain clarity around key performance indicators or assess what’s working (and what’s not).
These are pain points shared across funders and grantees. Technical solutions exist today to empower stakeholders to collect, analyze and share the data that solves for these pain points, yet these challenges persist. How else can UpMetrics add value to solve these obstacles?
With this information, I decided we could add value by surveying our vast network of foundations and nonprofits. We could see how each stakeholder is approaching collaboration – how expectations differ, priorities misaligned or shortcomings identified – and call attention to these areas. With this data, UpMetrics can provide steps to form a baseline at the beginning of a collaborative effort, with a shared definition of success that will ensure those pain points are addressed.
Now, we also could have executed a campaign showing how the UpMetrics platform solves for many of these pain points with the technology itself. It does. But that wouldn’t solve for the true driver of disconnect, which is a lack of communication between stakeholders. The resulting report from the survey is a valuable asset to start to form a plan around more effective collaboration. UpMetrics also hits our goals of creating a tool to drive traffic as desired and position ourselves as a trusted thought leader.
Would you like to learn more about how you can use data to inform your marketing? Check out our resources page!