This is just a brief aside to cover an area better covered elsewhere. Many institutions have hundreds of thousands of alumni.

In an era where direct marketing approaches dominated, and the institution’s approach was to target a relatively small subset of alumni with similar messaging, missing the “social proof”, it was reasonable to assume an audience with a largely homogenous set of needs.

In an era where we begin to target the majority of those who do not engage, we need to understand who they are and what motivates and interests them substantially better.

Most institutions already perform a degree of segmentation of their audiences. However, most of this segmentation is demographic – and the demography is assumed to correlate strongly with the personalities and needs of audiences. This is a big assumption. Furthermore, many do not however take the next stage and create a set of human personas which can act as living representatives of that group. By creating these personas, it allows professionals to empathize with the recipients of communications, rather than being biased by their own experiences and views.

This is a substantial topic – and one which I do not intend to cover in any more depth as it is very well researched and developed elsewhere. An article I am particularly aware of that covers this is linked to here.

Read on for The Death of CRM?