Evaluating Success and Soliciting Feedback
It is important that you build methods for evaluating the success of your strategies into any marketing and community relations plan, but it is especially important when you are reaching out to new audiences. There are a number of ways that you can accomplish such evaluation, but the important element is that you create feedback loops that give you honest information about how your audiences are responding to your activities.
Some examples of how to identify whether or not your strategies are achieving their goals include the following:
- Build a dedicated web page with its own URL for a specific outreach strategy and track visits to that web page.
- Use web-based surveys conducted via e-mail.
- Provide a postcard response device asking for feedback in printed materials.
- Conduct random phone surveys of audience members, tailored to their needs and to the concerns of your organization.
- Have board members make "thank you" calls to the members of a specific audience, using a script of questions that ask for feedback.
- Find two or three key contacts in the target audience whom you can trust to give you clear and accurate feedback.
- Conduct a focus group, either formal or informal, with representatives of your target audience. (See A Discussion of Focus Groups.) If you are concerned about receiving accurate information, ask a neutral outside facilitator to conduct the focus group.
- Develop a leadership council with members of one or more target audiences and ask them to serve as your "eyes and ears" in the community.
- Ask program staff who are working in these communities to solicit feedback as appropriate.
It is essential that you create a rich feedback process to evaluate your marketing and community relations activities, and that you do not rely on feedback from only one individual, or from people who are not members of the target audience. Such limited evaluation of your activities can lead you to make decisions that don't reflect the reality of your target audience's perceptions.