Marketing: How to Outreach to Diverse Communities

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There are five simple steps to developing and expanding your outreach activities. These steps are similar to those involved in most
marketing plans.

  1. Establishing goals.
  2. Identifying and understanding target audiences.
  3. Developing specific strategies for achieving goals.
  4. Defining objectives.
  5. Evaluating success and soliciting feedback.

1. Establishing Goals

It is important that you decide what you want to accomplish through your outreach to diverse communities. If you have not had much
interaction to date with the communities you wish to target, it will take time to figure out the right balance of activities with which to foster trust and build relationships. It may take several years of consistent, frequent, and visible outreach to achieve the results you seek.

Thus, it is important to set both long-term and short-term goals for your marketing and community relations activities.
For example, a long-term goal might be “creating a strong donor base in the Asian community.” While this is a valid goal and may be achievable, your organization may become discouraged as it invests time and effort into activities that can only achieve results over a period of years. A related short-term goal might be, “establish relationships with key leaders in the Asian community who will support the
organization and help with outreach.” These relationships, which you may be able to develop in a shorter period of time, can then help you build toward a more comprehensive connection with the broader community in years to come.

Once you have identified your organization’s goals, you will target specific audiences to help you achieve those goals.

2. Understanding your Audiences
The most important step in developing diverse marketing and community relations strategies is to understand your audiences. Audiences
are those groups and/or individuals that you hope to reach and communicate with through your marketing and community relations
efforts. Match your outreach activities as closely as possible with your audiences’ interests and ability to hear your message.

Avoid taking shortcuts in the process of understanding your audiences. You may believe at the outset that a behavior is common to all members of a particular group, only to find that many members of the community don’t embrace that behavior at all. While your research during the information gathering phase of this workbook gave you some good information to start with, each racial/ethnic community has a complex character, as diverse as the individuals within it.

For example, the Latino community may share some broad traits and behaviors, but the difference between the culture of a person from Mexico and a person from the Dominican Republic can be significant. Likewise, each individual will have a different extent to which his/her culture influences their behavior.

Another dramatic set of differences within communities of color relates to how long an individual and his or her family has been in the United States. Even when two people are from the same country of origin, a new immigrant will likely have behaviors and traits very different from a third-generation resident of the United States.

Because of the diversity within communities, define your audience as specifically as possible.

For example, “the African-American community in Denver” is tremendously diverse in terms of interests, class, and background. You may want to define your target audience as “members of the Denver African-American community who attend cultural events.”

Spending the time to choose and define these targeted communities carefully can save you considerable effort in your outreach activities.
You also will decide how much time and effort you can invest in learning more about these specific audiences. Using your existing research,
identify any key sub-groups that you may want to investigate and build this into your plan. You may also consider putting together a marketing and community relations committee, comprised in part of members of your target audiences, to help you gather information.

Important information to know for each audience when developing marketing strategies includes the following:

  • What motivates this audience to take action?
  • Whom do they trust as suppliers of information?
  • Where do they get information? (church, media, community, etc.)
  • How do they get information? (word of mouth, printed materials, etc.)
  • What languages do audience members speak?
  • What types of media do they use and trust? (newspaper, radio, etc.)
  • Are there images, icons, or messages that either connect with or offend this audience?
  • How does this audience currently connect with your mission?
  • Are there key opinion leaders within this audience who would be willing to speak on your behalf?

Once you have answered these questions and developed a profile of your target audiences, you are ready to develop strategies to reach them.

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