Ep 150 | Importance of Your Donor Persona with Stormie Andrews
I'm sure the term ‘buyer persona' isn't new to you. Have you done the work to actually figure it out? It might take some work on the front end, but once you do it makes the rest of your communication so much easier.
What You'll Learn:
→ tips for building your buyer persona.
→ how to use this information to create content.
→ ways to communicate your persona to your staff and voluteers for more effecting messaging.
Want to skip ahead? Here are key takeaways:
[5:00] Buyer Persona A buyer persona is a fictionalized representation of who your ideal donors are. Understanding who your donors are at the very beginning, or even before they become donors, can help you attract more donors in the future.
[9:18] Building your Buyer Persona Create a focus group of your most passionate donors to gather crucial information. The key is in the quality of the information, not the quantity.
[14:07] Creating Content Use the information you have gathered to create a story for your audience. Potential donors will respond better to stories rather than facts, numbers, and data.
[22:32] Delivering your message Make sure that your staff and volunteers have a clear understanding of what your message and story is about. Connect with your audience by using relatable experiences to better identify potential donors.
Co-Founder, Yokel Local
Stormie Andrews co-founded Yokel Local, an award-winning digital marketing agency located in fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Since then, Yokel Local has become the first HubSpot Platinum Agency Partner in the state. As a licensed practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, Stormie is continuously recognized as bringing a unique perspective and influence to the world of marketing, especially for creating the methodology and related book, The World's Best Buyer Persona System. He is a member of the Forbes Agency Council, a frequent contributor to Forbes, recipient of the Member of the Year Award from the American Marketing Association, HubSpot certified trainer, and is listed as one of the Top 50 Tech Visionaries by InterCon. Stormie has influenced countless marketers around the globe as he is often invited to speak at industry-leading conferences. Learn more at https://www.stormieandrews.com
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[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey there, Sami here with another episode of the digital marketing therapy podcast. Thank you so much for joining me today, we are talking about donor personas, and why they're important for your business and how they can really help you with your donor acquisition, with your conversations, with your board recruitment, with all the things that you need people to engage with you on in your organization. And I'm joined today by Stormie Andrews. Stormie Andrews co-founded Yokel Local, an award winning digital marketing agency located in Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada. Since then, Yokel Local has become the first HubSpot platinum agency partner in the state as a licensed practitioner of neuro linguistic programming. Stormie is continually recognized as bringing a unique perspective and influence to the world of marketing, especially for creating the methodology and related book the world's best buyer personas system. He is a member of the Forbes agency Council, a frequent contributor to Forbes, recipient of the member of the Year Award from the American Marketing Association, HubSpot certified trainer, and is listed as one of the top 50 tech visionaries by Intercon. Stormie has influenced countless marketers around the globe as he is often invited to speak at industry leading conferences. We're going to go through quite a few things in this episode talking through what a persona is, why it's something that should be part of your strategy, and how to talk to your team about prioritizing it and using it organizationly wide to increase conversions and get your donors on board. I hope that you enjoy this episode. It was super fun, and I learned quite a few things as well. But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our new quiz, should you DIY your website. So if you've been thinking about building your new website, and you're just not quite sure, if now is the right time or how to go about it, or if you even have the time and energy to do it, or the budget, head on over to thefirstclick.net/quiz to take this quick quiz and get some free resources from us on where you're at and how your website should be built. But for now, let's get into the episode.
[INTRO] You're listening to the digital marketing therapy podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Hey, everybody, please join me in welcoming Stormie Andrews to the podcast. Stormie, thank you for being here.
[Stormie Andrews] I'm so excited to be here with you and your audience. Thanks for having me.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, so we're talking buyer personas or donor personas today. So why don't you just give us a little rundown of why you think that's such an important thing for us to pay attention to at the beginning of our business, and maybe even why it's a good thing to revisit a few years down the road.
[Stormie Andrews] Absolutely. You know, it's so important, especially when we think about it in terms of the nonprofit industry, you know, we're looking to get someone to participate with our cause, a cause that you're passionate about. And unfortunately, the more passionate you become about your cause, sometimes we forget about the perspective from the outside individuals that we want to bring in. So when you have a solid buyer persona, what it allows you to do is revisit the emotions, the pain points, the triggering events, and help you create messaging that's designed to get more individuals to join your cause the ones who aren't there yet, this helps you bring it help them cross the bridge to become closer to your cause. And it's difficult to do without that process being documented.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. But the biggest hurdle that I hear people say as well as I'm going to talk to a person then I'm missing out on all the other people that might be interested in our cause. So I just need to talk to everybody.
[Stormie Andrews] Yeah, and I would say good luck with that. Because it doesn't work. You know, if you think about any cause, any message out there when you say my beginning, and that's a problem with becoming, you know, so passionate, you lose the perspective of others. And unfortunately, regardless what your cause is, everyone's not on board. But when you can hone in your message to those that would be most passionate. That would be the biggest raving fans and advocates, the ones that will stand on street corners to bring others to your cause. Well, you got to get messaging that's going to connect with them on an emotional level. A broad message just doesn't do it. It just doesn't happen. So it's about specificity, which gives you clarity and clarity helps you get into their emotions. And once you get into their emotions, you have an army of raving fans joining you on the cause.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that. Well let's back up a little bit in case you've listened to these first couple of questions and you're like I have no idea what a buyer persona is. So this could be also an avatar. I mean, there's a lot of different words that come around this. But what is kind of a donor or a buyer persona?
[Stormie Andrews] Yeah, so a buyer persona is a fictional representation of your ideal donor, or your ideal volunteer, or your ideal customer, but it's a fictional representation of that individual. Well, my system, the world's best buyer persona system goes in deeper than what traditional avatars or traditional buyer personas have done. Because typically, if I were to ask you, who is your ideal owner? Maybe you give me an answer of, you know, what our ideal owner is, or donor, is a female making x amount of dollars per year, 2.3 kids, drives a minivan, well, there's a lot of demographic data there, right? And that having that information is absolutely key. Don't get me wrong. But what happens if you tie that information into the emotions of that particular individual? What are they thinking about? What are some things that are happening in their lives? What are some potential triggering events, that maybe you want them to join your cause now, but maybe the right time is for them, from their perspective, is to join your calls six months from now? Or why didn't they join your cause a year ago? Understanding those dynamics, being able to help someone who's not ready to donate, or not ready to volunteer, or not ready to participate, understanding the dynamics of your best donors, where they were a year prior to signing up to your cause will help you create messaging for others that are a year out or six months out. And it helps you help them along the journey. And understanding that there is a process, there's a strong possibility there, it's a very remote possibility that someone's waking up this morning and saying, You know what, I want to get involved with this cause without having previous thoughts about it. And it's when you can tie into them when they had those previous thoughts, or those previous introductions, put you in a far superior position to have a wonderful relationship long term.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] So would you say that then understanding your ideal donor, and then having that messaging kind of be consistent over a period of time then helps you hit that ideal donor at their various stages of their journey with you so that you, that's how you hit them when they're ready, and how you stay present with them for if they're not ready, just yet, but will come to you in the future?
[Stormie Andrews] Absolutely. It gives you a roadmap of giving them the messages, the messaging that's most likely to resonate with them when they're ready, most likely to resonate with them when they're in the considering stage, when they're considering what organizations they want to get involved with. And it helps you have the right messaging, when they're just in the awareness, they are in the awareness stage, they don't even know what they don't know, they don't even know that your organization even exists. So it's understanding that their frame of mind, their belief systems, their view of the world may be totally different in all three of those stages. And if you're there to be their partner and hold their hand, from the beginning, all the way through to them joining your calls, you're just in a much better situation, and you just can't do it by luck. And oftentimes, with nonprofit organizations, it's like, you know what, Stormie, we've got this, I've got a great volunteer, or I've got an agency, they're doing our social media marketing, and we put out this great messaging and so on and so on. But in reality, what process did you do, as the director or the person in charge of fundraising for your organization, how much energy and effort have you put into transferring your knowledge to that particular person, you know, that's actually doing the posting and, you know, providing the messaging. There needs to be a transfer of knowledge, there needs to be a transfer of empathy. There needs to be you know, all of these things need to happen if you want your messaging to be as effective and as powerful as it can possibly be and all too often, unfortunately, it doesn't happen. Shame on you.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I agree. I've been on the agency side of not getting all the information, but then expecting amazing results, and it's definitely a partnership. So I appreciate that you said that. But um, I guess the other thing, too, that I like about having a persona is a lot of times like you said earlier, we're so passionate and so involved in our organization that we think we know who our ideal donor is, and we think that we're going to put all this stuff out there that's going to resonate with folks, but because we haven't actually taken the time to talk to our donors or those that are wanting to be involved with us, we might be missing the mark on some of that. So how might somebody start developing who this person is and kind of get out of our own heads to really be strategic about this.
[Stormie Andrews] So here's an advantage that you have in the nonprofit world that traditional businesses don't have. Your most passionate donors, which are your most passionate volunteers, which are the people in the individuals you're looking to attract. What if one day in the near future, you decide to have a focus group with them, you invite them in, you have food and coffee, and whatever needs to be there, and you go through a series of questionnaires. The world's best buyer persona helps guide you through that system. But if you decide not to use the world's best buyer persona to guide you through, what if you were just to ask them prior to getting involved with your organization, or asking them, Why did they get involved with your organization? What were they, what other organizations were they considering? What led them on this path? Was there any life changing event? Having a focus group with your ideal clients is gold standards, and this isn't something to where you put out a, a broad email to everyone and say, We want to have this focus group, we want you to all come in, it's not about quantity here, it's about quality. You invite your most passionate, your most, you know, the volunteers or the donors of your organization that you dream about that you wish you had more of those, it may be a small group. But if that's who you're looking to attract, that's who needs to be in your focus group. The reason you have an unfair advantage, as opposed to traditional businesses, is because the fact that they're already volunteering their time, energy, effort and money to your organization, they're more likely to participate, because they want to help the cause. A business, when they ask to go through this process to their customers, the customers are like, Hey, I'm too busy, I've already moved on my life. Their fans are generally not as passionate about the mission and the cause as what you have. Take advantage of that. It's incredible.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] That was such a good point. And do you think then, as we kind of get that group, that focus group together, would you want to have a separate persona for like, okay, these are our donors that are giving a good amount. So we want to know how to work people up. These are our volunteers that are critical volunteers, these are our best board members for recruiting board members, like should you have multiple personas and different focus groups for all of those, or like how many is too many?
[Stormie Andrews] I am so glad that you brought that up, because I was about to blow it. And I forgot about that very, very important step. So the answer is, there is, the answer is yes, you want to have different focus groups based on the desired outcome. And let's look at so you could have a focus group of your best volunteers, a focus group of your best board members. And then when it comes to donors, you could have a few different groups. Because generally in your organization, you have the high dollar donors. And then you have the donors that are giving smaller dollar amounts, that's going to be two different motivations, two different types of messaging. One may be about legacy and self actualization, versus the other messaging is just about giving back to the community, regardless how small it may be. So thank you, thank you, thank you for bringing that up. Because, yes, you need to have a different persona for each of the different roles that you're looking to feel. And in regards to an answer of how many is too many. In many cases, there really isn't an answer there. You can have an incredible amount of personas, but focus is what's key. So if you're going to run a campaign, you don't attempt to run a campaign for all of them, because you'll miss out. Choose the campaign for this quarter, and then that's the campaign that everyone's singularly focused on. And you get an email marketing campaign, you get that campaign up and running and let it run. Because then it can get to a point where it's on autopilot, then you run the next campaign that you're launching for the secondary persona, don't attempt to launch all campaigns at the same time, whatever they happen to be.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that you said that. And I think before you listen to this, and you're like, Okay, now I have to go plan like eight focus groups and try to get like all these personas done. I think you know what you just said there's great, it's all based off of what are the goals that we're trying to achieve right now? And how can we laser focus on what that is? Because I think that's what I tend to see with nonprofit organizations is they get too fractionalized on all the different things. And what I love about having a donor persona also is it does make, like you said, that email campaign makes it so much easier to refine and test and write that copy because you're writing directly to that person as opposed to like a figment or a random group of people. So like, what are some tricks or tips that you have for using that persona to then go back to your social media manager that's not necessarily writing the copy that aligns or writing those campaigns like, How do we use that to generate the content?
[Stormie Andrews] So almost instantaneously, what I, the feedback that I get, the overwhelming feedback, what my world's best buyer persona system is designed to do is once you answer the questions, there's a process where it takes, helps you take the answers to these questions, and then put them in a story narrative. You see people learn, they retain stories, they don't retain facts and figures and all that data. So if you're able to share the story of who that person is, it's not a system where you're telling your social media manager, do this, at that time, and this time do this, you don't want someone that you're just training to follow orders, you want someone who has the ability of thinking, and the fact that you have a social media manager, they have the ability of thinking, but they just don't have the story or their narrative that helps them think sometimes, with the proper alignment or the proper messaging, when you have that story. And you say, here's the narrative, here's the story, that allows them or your social media managers to do and be their best. That's something that I can guarantee you they're desiring, they just don't know how to ask for it.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah, and I think it also helps your whole team talk the same language.
[Stormie Andrews] Absolutely. And here's something that happens within organizations. So we did a, we assisted a large hospital network in regards to putting a buyer persona together that we call compassionate Christina. And it's for Alzheimer's research, and it's for their fundraising arm, and within the organization, that particular buyer persona, and we helped him with the first one, our goal was to help them with the first one. So this way, they learned the process of doing it, and then they learned how to do it. So they can build subsequent buyer personas internally without having the expense of bringing in a consultant like me to do it. Let me teach you how to do it, or you know, that was the methodology, but now within the organization, they would refer to compassionate Christina across departments, they understood the pain points and the issues and the concerns. And then when they had one on one communications, they were quickly able to identify, I'm speaking to a compassionate Christina right now. And it changed the narrative, it allowed the individuals within the organization to get into rapport quicker, it helped build the trust, where the compassionate Christina's of the world were more likely to know, like, and trust. everyone within the organization that understood Christina better?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Well, I think what you're touching on too, is the motivation behind why people give is not always the same, like some people do just want to write a check and be done with it. Some people do want to have the more emotional connection, some people are going to be the diehards that are doing every single event and every single thing that you do. So I love that you brought that up, because you're right, when your fundraisers are out speaking with individuals, they can quickly determine the motivation and have the understanding, but with the story, they're not just like racking their brains on data. They're like, Okay, I got this. And I know what I'm doing and how I'm approaching this conversation.
[Stormie Andrews] Then what happens is they can come back into CRM, if you had a few personas marked in your CRM there, and Oh, I just met with the compassionate Christina market, and lets everyone know what they need to do without writing 10 pages of notes that others are unlikely to read?
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Genius. I mean, if that is like the takeaway that you get from this, do your buyer personas so your one on one conversations can be easier and follow up can be quicker. I think that's so good. What do you think is the main reason? I mean, we talked about this before people worry about niching down, but what do you think is the reason that people kind of brush this work off or like, kind of don't think that it's valuable?
[Stormie Andrews] It’s often, one, there's pressure from the top. We need results tomorrow. So there's a rush to have a lot of busy work done. It looks like something's happening. You know, the, your superiors can see lots of people running around, like minions to look like something's happening. But in reality, you know it, nothing's really happening. And then it's time to pay the piper, whether it's six months later, or five or six years later, that the conversations happen because the campaigns just haven't performed the way that they were supposed to. If upper management's following the KPIs the way they're supposed to. And it's incredible to me because the work only takes a few hours. And it's one of those things to where, one, like I said, the pressure to get busy is an incredible force to deal with. The other side is just lack of knowledge. I've had people say to me, Wow, you know what, Stormie, I never even heard of the term buyer persona. So they just didn't know what they didn't know. And I had others that dealt with buyer personas in the past and like, you know what, Stormie, I've dealt with buyer personas, they've never done anything for me. Well, it's because they were dealing with the the traditional buyer personas, you know, if I know that my ideal prospect, or if you know your ideal prospect is like I said a 43 year old female with the minivan, 2.3 kids, making $130,000 a year, and so on and so on and so on. How does that really help you? With the exception of knowing some demographic data, it doesn't help you communicate with that person any better. It doesn't help you create messaging any better. So those original and not just original, but most virtually, you know, most of the buyer personas that people are using today are just purely ineffective. They build it, it looks great, but when the rubber hits the road, it doesn't help them achieve their objective.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Yeah. So how would you take it to that next step and bring your whole team on board, because I think that's another piece too. Like it needs to be part of just your day to day vernacular and how you approach hitting your fundraising goals. So like, do you have some ways that if somebody listens to this, they want to bring this to their team, like how they might kind of encourage the whole team just to continue to use this as part of their daily language.
[Stormie Andrews] So here's the secret to the formula, which is why I built a story narrative. What I have found when I started building this system 10 years ago, and you know, I have an agency that we would build these for our customers, and it's been instrumental for their success. And we were able to, internally a small marketing team, we get it, we were working with it, we were able to see through, you know, see deep inside the crevices in the cracks, we understood what was there. And the first generation of these, where I went to help customers, we attempted to deliver it in the same format that we were accustomed to as marketers. It wasn't effective, it just didn't work, because the person on the other side didn't get or even understand what they were looking at. That's where the, you know, and I hate to say the genius, but the genius of bringing in the story narrative. The story narrative is the tool that allows you to share it across departments, because you get to share the story, with sales with, with our, you know, with fundraising with, you know, with service, and volunteer outreach, and you get to share these narratives that makes a short story, all they need to remember is the story and the name of the person, the character that we're referring to within the story. It's like character development, you know, there's a great marketing system out there called Story Brand written by Donald Miller. And a lot of people use Story Brand. But the problem that they run into with Story Brand is they haven't spent the proper time on the character development. So what the world's best buyer persona has done, for those that are using Story Brand, it allows them to take their Story Brand messaging to the next level, because now this gives them the tool to do their character development, so they can create a better hero's journey.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I love that kind of last thing that I want to touch on is, um, you know, yes, we can use this in our marketing. But if we have these stories, and we're communicating them across our teams, then like, what does that do then when you're out in public, or you have your program team that's meeting parents that are coming in and dropping off their kids, or you're just getting coffee in line? And you're having conversations with people like, once you've got that ingrained in your brain? Like how does that help with kind of conversions and just saying, like, oh, I can identify now that this person is not necessarily the right fit, or this person is saying all the right things, I need to push this conversation a little bit further
[Stormie Andrews] Two words, relatable experiences. We learn by relatable experiences, you see each and every one of us. So I have a background in NLP, neuro linguistic programming, which is a part of this. And one of the teachings of NLP is that each and every person on this planet has their own model of the world, their own map in regards to what this world is, right. And it's based on our past experiences, our education and our belief systems. And we combine those three, it's unique for every planet, even when you have identical twins, right? Their experiences, their belief systems, and their education. So when you have these stories, and you're having a conversation, it gives you the ability of having a relatable experience where you're able to relate the person that you're speaking with to the narrative that your organization has put together, it allows you to get into rapport faster, which is awesome, because all too often in today's world, there just isn't that much time. So if you're able to get into rapport sooner, rather than later, you have fewer missed opportunities, and it gives you and the person that you're speaking to the opportunity for you to mutually get to know, like, and trust one another faster than you've ever done before.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] I think that's great, because building relationships is what we're all about, right? Those are the donors that come back, those the donors that increase, those are the volunteers that show up in the best way possible. We're not here to try to build those quick, you know, quick donations that go nowhere. That's you know, that's not good for the sustainability of your organization. So I love that you're teaching, building relationships, and using real authentic connection. I think that's so much needed right now. Um, okay, so, so many good things I love, I hope that everybody really gets started with buyer personas and donor personas if you don't have them already. If people need tools and resources on how to do that, how can they find out more, more about you?
[Stormie Andrews] I'll make it super easy. You can go to outsmarttools.com. And then you go to outsmart tools, let me tell you what you're gonna find there. First of all, you'll find some social links, where you can connect with me. There's also links at the very top where you can find a copy of the book on Amazon, there's a link to the book on Audible. And if you're debating, Should I get the book, or should I get the audible, or should I get both, that would be my recommendation, but the audible, the audible, I was able to go in and record the audible about a year after the book was published. And there's a lot of added flavor and color between the chapters on the audible, I'm the one that's reading it. So if during this podcast, you determine, hey, I kind of feel like I know, I like, I trust this guy, get the audible because then you get to know, like, and trust me a little bit more. But here's the other thing that's on that outsmarttools.com, I've got a cool tool called the success marketing wheel. And if you click there, it's going to walk you through a process where I'm going to walk you through on video to look at your marketing a little bit differently than you ever look at it before. It's designed to give you clarity and help give you focus in regards to what you should be focusing on and what you shouldn't be. It's about a 15 minute exercise, it's totally free. There's nothing, and I think you'll find it pretty, extremely beneficial. Also there, there's a link where there's a course where I walk you through if you want to do a course version of the world's best buyer persona system via video, that will be on the link also. Outsmarttools.com
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] We'll make sure all of that is linked up in the show notes at thefirstclick.net/podcast. So all of that will be there as well. Um, Stormie, this was awesome. I hope that people are really feeling like this is something that can add value and ease to the business, a little bit of upfront work to make a lot of long term ease, which I think is great. Are there any kind of last words that you'd like to leave the listeners with?
[Stormie Andrews] Get Started, whether even if you said you know what? I'm not going to use the world's best five persona system. Okay, do use something, get started building your personas, the, it's, we're an experiential Academy, whatever you can do to help improve the experience with donors and volunteers, the better off you're going to be for long term and sustainability. And it's the right thing to do. So do it.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Do it. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I really appreciate it.
[Stormie Andrews] Welcome. Thanks a lot. Bye bye.
[Sami Bedell-Mulhern] Thanks, again to Stormie for joining me today. I thought this was a really fun conversation. And it has me thinking about a few ways that I might need to reassess my buyer personas. So let me know if you do the work and you get it done. I would love to see your personas and take a look at them. But I really hope that this is something that you don't just do as an activity and then shove to the side. The magic is in continuing to have conversation about it, continuing to drill it in with your team, continuing to develop those stories in those characters as Stormie mentioned, and really using it to grow your organization. For now, I hope you'll subscribe wherever you listen, head on over to thefirstclick.net/YouTube to check out the video versions of this, this episode and other episodes that we've put together. And I hope you'll subscribe there as well for now. I'll see you in the next one.