Know Your Audience


Not long ago, I was sitting in a meeting for a nonprofit's benefit dinner. We were brainstorming various ways to communicate the message for the evening, and make the big "ask" for donations. This was THE annual benefit dinner, so obviously, a lot of pressure was riding on how well this evening went.

There were a lot of smart people in the room. A lot of great ideas. And a whole lot of perspectives. 

So, how were we going to decide which idea to act on? 

I decided to ask a couple of questions that changed the conversation:

1. Who will be in the room?

2. How do they need to hear the information?

Turns out that this audience was actually a little different than the three previous years. This was the first benefit dinner in which a lot of new people would be in attendance. Previous years had included a lot of friends, family and personal connections. This year, there were new partners, more sponsors, friends of friends, and a few others who were newly interested in this organization and their cause. So, they weren't as close to the issue as those who had come in the past. 

This meant they needed to be spoken to not as insiders, but as those who were just learning about the organization and its cause—because that's exactly who they were. 

And given the answer to the first question, how did they need to hear the information?

We actually decided to do this in a few different ways based on learning styles, attention spans and wanting to spread information out over several hours to be less overwhelming. First, we had an interactive exhibit which brought the issues to life as people entered the doors. Second, we decided to include not only video testimonies, but also have the people in the videos there to meet attendees. Third, the founder and his son gave a compelling "ask," which included some background on how they started the organization and how it's grown. And finally, as they exited, those in attendance were given a keepsake and a handout with next steps.

All of these things wouldn't have been necessary if the audience had been filled with people who were already familiar with the organization and their mission. 


But, of course, before you get to your "how," you have to know your "who."

One of the most popular ways to know your audience is to develop a persona. That is, give your "who" a name. There are some marketers who get super detailed about their persona. They delve into every facet of this "person's" life—their spouse's name, the type of pet they own, what they wear on a Tuesday, their birthplace, etc. It sounds a little like coming up with an alias, which I kinda dig. Often, this are fictional personas that represent large groups of people. However, mine isn't that complicated. Maybe that's because I have two personas . . . which can likely lead a number of jokes about having multiple personalities.

But way back in blog post numero uno, I gave some background on why I started SIGNIFY, and who I started it for, my friends. So, because I speak to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, I have two actual, real life friends that represent each of those areas. Much of what I've been talking about on the blog has come from conversations with them, or people like them that I've met or helped along the way. That makes my audience persona(s) easy. I write and create content that I think they'd find helpful and useful.


You have a great message. I know that, and you know that. But do you understand who your audience is, and how they need to hear it?

The chief complaint I've heard about this process sounds something like this, "But our organization (or product, etc) appeals to everyone. Why should we narrow that down?"

In theory, it's a great question. You don't want to feel like you're eliminating anyone that could support or advance your cause. 

But it's actually quite short-sighted. There really isn't one thing that appeals to everyone. Not everyone shops at the same stores, eats at the same restaurants, buys the same phones, wears the same closes, donates to the same causes . . . you get the point. That's why we have variety. Otherwise, we'd only have a couple of options for each of those things, and we'd never be overwhelmed on Amazon again.

You can't speak to everyone. You need a message that's tailored to someone. When they read your website, or open your emails, or see you on social media, they need to feel a kinship with you. They need to relate to what you have to say. Giving them that kind of connection is what turns them into fans, or buyers, or donors.


This is a process that grows and gets shaped over time. And the good news is that if something isn't effective, you can always try again!

I've created a resource for you to continue working through your "who" and "how." (Just click this red text.)

Let me know how it goes!




Alexander Hamilton: Marketing and Communications Icon

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As I write this post, I'm sitting in a fantastic restaurant in Washington, D.C., called Farmers & Distillers. It's definitely a menu that induces creativity! Check out the Founding Farmers restaurant group next time you're in D.C.! It's yummy! 

Anywho, welcome to week four of the "Foundations" series. I'd like to discuss communications, and D.C. seems like a fitting place to chat about both foundations and communication.

Specially, I'd like you to communicate better.

Like thousands of other people, I'm currently obsessed with the musical, Hamilton. It's pure genius. I've been listening to the soundtrack over and over, and it seems to still play on repeat in my head long after I get out of my car. 

One of the things I've realized through diligent "study" of the musical, watching the PBS Special, reading a book about the Founding Fathers, absorbing A. Ham's Wikipedia page, visiting relevant D.C. museums, and my current stay at The Hamilton Crown Plaza (which is actually just a coincidence because I had points here), is that Alexander Hamilton was a true marketing and communications pro. He was BRILLIANT at it. 

Communication, whether it's to your internal team or your external audience is vitally important. That's not a revolutionary statement (pun intended). In fact, I'm sure you'd agree. But how well do you actually feel like you communicate to those groups?


Examples of internal support might be getting your project off the ground, receiving a promotion, department harmony and team synergy. External support can include sales, donations, sponsors, partners or volunteers. 

And you may think that to communicate better means that you need to write well or be articulate. But I believe it has more to do with two things: Frequency and content. Sure, writing well and being well-spoken are bonuses, but I think I can argue a strong case for frequency and content.

For example, I tend to over communicate, but I think that's a good thing. And, from what I'm told, so did my previous co-workers. Like any job, there's always a lot going on at the company, and it's super easy to lose track of what's happening. But in over-communicating, I tried to make sure that everyone was in the know with my marketing endeavors. I'm a words girl, so this mostly meant email for me. But this may also be the reason you hold regular team, department, or staff meetings. (Find what works for you.) I was the Event Marketing Director, and there was always an event going on—or about to go on! So, I regularly emailed staff about promotions, ways they could share the event on social media, questions they might get asked, and things like that. I tried to be proactive, and prioritized teams that would be directly effected. Without a doubt, I sent more staff emails than anyone else. But no one ever said stop. They only told me that they appreciated having the info and being up-to-date.

I gave them the information they needed (and wanted) in order to do their job better, and stay current with the event. I treated them like valuable insiders.

And, on the flip side, I made a huge effort to do that with the audience, specifically event attendees. Our annual conference had what felt like a million moving parts that guests needed to understand to enjoy their experience. So, I had an FAQ page on the website, a Facebook group for attendees, a network of bloggers to help spread the word, and a series of regular email blasts, to name a few efforts.

I gave them the information they needed (and wanted) in order to have a better experience, and stay current with the event. I treated them like valuable insiders.

And guess what? Staff members and attendees felt better equipped and more satisfied. (And event attendance steadily increased.)

Back to our friend, Alex. Yes, he possessed excellent writing skills and was a skilled orator, but he also understood that an important message had to be repeated. It had to sink in over time to gain traction. If you're familiar with The Federalist Papers, he and two others wrote a series of essays defending The Constitution, because this new legal doc had created a whole lot of controversy. Hard to imagine, isn't it? But one essay just wouldn't do. No, sir! They were originally supposed to write 25, but ended up writing 85! And Hamilton wrote by-and-large the majority of them. He kept coming up with new things to say, or repeating what he felt needed to be clarified or underscored. He did this to gain support from the public and other government officials for the document that would literally be the law of the land. These were published in print, of course, but I like to equate them to email marketing. ;) 

I realize that communicating seemingly small (or large) details on a regular basis might seem like a lot to remember. Without a doubt, you have a lot on your plate already. But believe me, it cuts work on the back end down, and might even improve internal and external relationships. So, put a sticky on your computer, a reoccurring entry in your day planner or a reminder on your phone. You want to get better at this, trust me.


Think about it, if yours is the most consistent voice on any subject, people will come back to you when they need more info on that subject. And that is exactly what you want!

Even after working in communications for years, I still need to be better too. Siri reminds me of this constantly! I'm not sure if she thinks I have a lisp, or just slur my words, but we do not communicate well. (Apologies to anyone I've misdialed.)

And like you, I get busy too. I forget things. Or even worse, I think I've done a terrific job communicating, and I still find my audience confused. This happened a lot with the IT department. It's a different language you have to speak, after all. (Love to my IT guys and gals, but whew, I do not speak the language!)


You're reading this blog because you want to improve your marketing and communications. You're also reading this blog because you have an important message to share. These two facts only highlight the need to communicate better.

So, what are you waiting for?

This week's homework is to assess your communications efforts, both internally and externally. Take a hard look, and give them a grade. If you have a team, go through it together. But you have to be able to spot the holes in order to fill them. This is where my spreadsheet friends will really excel! (Again, pun intended.) You may also consider sending out an anonymous survey.

And if you need an outside perspective, I'm here too

By the way, this is just one example of A. Hamilton, marketing and communications extraordinaire, but there are so many more lessons to draw from! In fact, I'm headed to NYC to see the musical next month, so I'm sure I'll have another one or two for you.

Do you have any wins or tips to share from your own experiences? I'd love to hear them!

PS: You can listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack here, or watch the cast perform at the Tony's here. (Warning: You may become addicted too! Oh, and not suitable for the kiddies.)

PPS: A fun fact. A few years ago, they were considering replacing Hamilton with a woman on the $10 bill. But then the musical blew up, and he saved face, literally. ;) Told you I was obsessed! #10dollarfoundingfather

“Men give me credit for some genius. All the genius I have lies in this; when I have a subject in hand, I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. My mind becomes pervaded with it. Then the effort that I have made is what people are pleased to call the fruit of genius. It is the fruit of labor and thought.”  - Alexander Hamilton



Get Organized


It's week three of the "Foundations" series, and I just kicked someone in the gut with the title, "Get Organized."

Whether you formally resolved to do this in the New Year, or just made a mental note, I know this topic makes a lot of lists. But if you want to improve and increase your marketing and communications efforts, there's just no way around it.


The first reason is for yourself. In order to do what you do well, you need a system that keeps you organized and on track. If you don't know where your files are, which marketing tasks you're supposed to be focused on this week, or have asked someone to email you a graphic three times, you won't make much of a dent in your to-do list. It will only get longer, and you'll find yourself more frustrated.

The second reason is for those you work with. They're begging you. You may not realize it, but you may be the bottleneck in your office, where good work goes to die . . . or at least takes an extended vacation. Even if you're a solopreneur like me, you still work with people (accountant, designers, contractors, etc). And even though us introverted types might sometimes want to work in a vacuum, that's largely a myth, unless you are some kind of unicorn who can do it all. (For the record, I am not.)

I'm not going to dictate any type of organizational system that works across the board. I just don't think that's out there. But I do think you need to find one that works for you. That could be paper and pen, stickies (digital or physical), a white board, online storage applications, or a variety of other options. You may even want to invest in one of those fancy day planners, because like the gym, it may mean more when you pay for it. Just find something that's easy for you to use and can become part of your routine. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Dropbox*
  • Google Drive*
  • Desktop folders
  • Email folders

Did I just blow your mind? Nope, probably not. None of these should be shocking to you. They're all simple and readily available. But they work for me. If you try to hand me something on actual paper, I'll likely ask you to email it to me. I don't like keeping up with paper, but I can easily file it away on my computer. However, I know people who are the exact opposite, and that works for them.

It's 2017, and the options for organization are limitless. Yes, it may take some time to find a system that works, or even dig yourself out from underneath the pile on your desk. But you need this. The people you work with need this. And you'll be a happier, more productive person when you get organized.

What's your favorite organizational tool?


* Please, for the love of all things, stop emailing files to people and wondering who has the current version. If you collaborate with people, these are a MUST for file sharing and storage.



Expand Your Curiosity to Improve Your Marketing

It's week two of the "Foundations" series, where I'm covering the basics for developing a great marketing and communications strategy for your business. Today I want to talk about curiosity. Whether we're talking about life or business, the ability to ask good questions, the desire to learn, and the drive to understand what you don't know will take you far, which in turn, can be a huge benefit for your company and your cause. Curious people tend to excel because they are always seeking to improve themselves.

Do you want to learn a new skill you can use in your job? (Ex: design)

Do you want to learn more about your role and the latest trends? (Ex: public relations)

Do you want to learn about your cause? (Ex: human trafficking)

I am a curious person by nature and love to learn. But it took me a long time to figure out exactly how to make this work for me. I was a good student, but my mother always reminded me that I had potential for better grades. (Thanks for believing in me, Mom!) I soaked up new information with eagerness, but I didn't enjoy reading. I wanted to talk to people who knew things that I didn't, but I didn't know how to find them. I have a lot of passions and interests, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by them.

And then three things opened the doors for me.

The first was when I attended my first major conference, Catalyst, which will always hold a special place in my heart for this reason. Oh my, I was in heaven. Where had these gatherings been all my life! (Evidently, they'd been having them without me.) My friend had a ticket, and he couldn't go, so I filled in. I mean, I had NO IDEA what I was in for! I'd found my people. It was two glorious days of note-taking and hearing from people who were so smart and generous enough to share what they knew. I. WAS. HOOKED. That was about 12 years ago, and now conferences are a regular part of my life. In fact, when I worked full-time with a regular vacation policy, most of that time was spent at conferences. I can't get enough, and am always looking for new conferences to attend. This love was also a big reason I accepted my last full-time job as an Event Marketing Director. I got to help create a great conference experience for others, which was exciting.

The second thing was Audible. If we've had an hour-long conversation at any point, I've probably brought up something I listened to on Audible. This was an absolute game-changer for me. Another friend dragged me down this rabbit hole, and I'm so glad he did. Honestly, I didn't think I'd enjoy it. As I said, I wanted to learn, but I didn't enjoy reading. And I am not really an auditory learner, so I didn't think I'd pay attention. In the beginning, I definitely had to rewind and replay the sections I'd spaced out on—a lot. But once I got the hang of it, I was absolutely smitten. It's pretty much the only way I read books now. In fact, I rarely listen to music in the car. And up until this self-employment gig, I had a long commute, so I'd easily get through 30+ books in a year. (TIP: I always recommend that people start with fiction since there is a narrative you can follow, and you won't get lost as easy if your mind drifts.) It's been an invaluable tool for me, and in fact, one of the best books I read last year was called A Curious Mind by Brian Grazer.

The third was finding a mentor. I actually didn't know I needed a mentor until I had one. It was kind of like walking through the aisles at The Container Store, and realizing how unorganized you were and that they had exactly what you've been looking for all your life. Just me? My first mentor was a group experience with some ladies at my church. There were two mentors, and six of us single girls. It's such a special memory to me, and I learned so much from all of them. After that ended, it took me several years to find my next mentor. But a mutual friend introduced us, and now I've been meeting with Holly almost monthly for about six years. She is amazing. Such a smart business woman, a kind individual, and someone I definitely want to be more like. It's been a terrific experience. I always have so many questions to ask her, and she is always patient with me. Additionally, one of the things Holly has taught me is that you can have multiple mentors that fill different roles in your life. So, this year, I'm seeking a new mentor that has similar experience to mine, and can show me the ropes in this new role as entrepreneur. Should be exciting!

So, let's circle this back around.


It has led me to learn all kinds of things I might not have known otherwise. It keeps me asking questions, and it helps me strive to be better. I'm certainly better at my job because of conferences, books (or podcasts, etc.) and mentors. They have all played crucial roles in my life, and now, I can help you be better at your job too!

Undoubtedly, you know of books that you can read to develop a new skill, or learn more about your role, or gain more understanding about your cause. That one is easy, you just have to go for it. Similarly, podcasts of all kinds are out there to do the same. 

Conferences of all shapes and sizes are are just waiting to be discovered by you as well. I have another friend who is a math teacher, and has attended math conferences. To me, this sounds like a nightmare I can't wake up from, but she loves what she does and wants to improve. Now she's looking at a conference for educators. Google will be your best friend here if you don't already have a few events in mind. And just maybe, your work will foot the bill, or at least part of it, which is the absolute best!

Mentors are definitely the trickiest. Start by asking around. That's what I'm currently doing. And if you sit and think about it, you may already know of someone that would be a great fit. Never assume they're too busy, just ask. If they are, move on. If not, problem solved! But your friends or networks are the best place to begin. And if it takes you a while, hang in there! It took me about three years to find Holly. Until it happens, find wisdom through books and events and use those smart people as virtual mentors. 

I hope you have an insatiable curiosity as well, but if not, I hope you'll take the time to develop it. I cannot stress how important it is, and how much it can do for you, both professionally and personally. You will improve. Your work will improve. Your cause will benefit.

If you're curious about my favorite resources, including books, podcasts, conferences and more, you can grab that RIGHT HERE. You can also share your suggestions or experiences in the comments below.

And if you'd like to try Audible free for 30 days, click here. It might just change your life.


Amazon links are affiliate links.



My #1 marketing tip

Welcome to the second blog post! You’re now considered an early adopter and a trend-setter!

Last week I wanted to share a bit about me and Signify, so you’d have a little context for our budding relationship. So, I hope you had a chance to read that post, but if not, you can do that first by clicking here.

Now, we’re going to get right to work! I’d like to spend the next six weeks on a series I’ll call “Foundations.” These are my go-to pieces of advice. They are the things I continually talk organizations through, both for- and non-profit, and I believe they are, well, the foundations of any successful business. (Clever name, huh?) Some of them will probably be easier for you than others, but all will be well worth your time. Whether your organization has been around for many years, or you’re still in the concept stage, consider this your “Start Here” series because you likely need improvement in at least one of these areas.

Okay, so straight out of the gate, I’ve decided to give you my number one tip for just about everything. That’s right: Business, personal, relationships. Pretty much anything except sugar and carbs can benefit from this advice, which is really unfortunate for me, and sugar, and carbs. But it’s so important that it tops my list. And that is . . . drumroll, please . . . CONSISTENCY.

That’s right, repeat after me, consistency. It’s one of the top mistakes, if not the top mistake, that I see people making. And that could show up in a number of ways, but for this purpose, we’ll discuss it in relation to your marketing and communication efforts.

I don’t have to tell you that good intentions really don’t get you anywhere, and they’re certainly the enemy of consistency. I’ve spoken with scores of well-meaning individuals who had good intentions for a weekly blog post, daily social media content, an updated website, new head shots, monthly white papers, or ______. (Feel free to fill in the blank.) But every day, our to-do list spirals out of control, co-workers drop by with the latest news, customers or donors call to complain, coffee breaks or lunches linger—and on and on and on. So, before you know it, all you’re left with is a pile of ideas and no time left to execute them.


Your supporters want updates. Did you hear that? They WANT updates. They don’t need them, they want them!

Now, if you consider yourself a business that doesn’t need any more fans, followers, supporters, donors, customers or friends, you have my full permission to stop reading now. You’re nailing it, and we’re all looking forward to your upcoming class. But if you find yourself lacking in any of those categories, you probably need to work on your consistency.

Think about it: Do you want to know when your favorite brands are having sales or launching initiatives or holding events or celebrating milestones or building wells or rescuing survivors? Yes, you do. And that’s because you’ve signed up for their updates. So, why wouldn’t you return the favor for your fans?

Maybe you’re great at Facebook, but not so much with Twitter. Maybe your email list hears regularly from you, but your social media is quiet. Maybe your website is new and beautiful, but you haven’t actually directed anyone there. Maybe you have an event coming up in a few months, but have done nothing to promote it.

Take a moment to assess your strengths and weaknesses. Write it down somewhere, physically or digitally. And then make a plan to start making small, regular improvements.

If you’re just starting out, don’t get caught up in what you’ve heard about how frequently you should be doing any of these things. That will lead to overwhelm and frustration if you start falling behind. To begin, just figure out what is realistic for you and build from there. Then, make adjustments as you go.


Work toward consistency. Your fans will take notice and grow. And you’ll be able to deepen your relationships with them as well. Because let’s face it, if you’re only talking to them when you need something, you’ll become a bad taste in their mouths.

One of the push-backs I often hear in regards to this strategy is, “What if I don’t know what to say, or run out of things to say?” Good question!

I used to work at a public relations firm. And I spent a lot of time both announcing news, and making it up. The latter is because we didn’t want to be out of sight, out of mind with the fans of our clients. I know you don’t want that either, and I realize it’s a valid concern. But the truth is, you can always make something up. I don’t mean to be deceptive, of course, but there is likely information you’re sitting on that you didn’t think about releasing. For example, you can give a shout out to your employee of the month, show a photo of the company office, relay a famous quote that fits your mission, or remind people of other places they can follow your brand online. There really is always something.

No one knows your brand like your employees, but often we treat fans as if they are employees, disregarding that they need further education, or at least a reminder.

So, there you go: Consistency is key. It’s my number one tip. And if we had a conversation, I can almost guarantee that it would come up at some point.

Do yourself a favor and take a look at your current marketing and communications efforts to spot the areas lacking in consistency. This one concept can be a game-changer! Yes, it’s hard to do, whether you run solely on volunteers or have 5,000 employees. But it’s something you owe your organization and your fans.

And if you are consistent at something, by all means, brag about it! Share it with us in the comments below.

By the way, I also touch on this idea in my guide to the "5 THINGS TO STOP DOING THIS WEEK to jumpstart your marketing and communications" if you’d like to dig a little deeper.



And So It Begins...


Well, hi there! Thanks for reading my very first post! To kick things off, I just wanted to share a little about me and why I decided to create Signify. Let’s consider this a get to know you kind of thing—like a first date, but way less awkward.

I’m Kristi Porter, the founder of Signify. I’ve been a professional writer for 13 years, which includes both full-time and freelance work. I’ve written for the hospitality industry (primarily restaurants), lifestyle profiles, churches and ministries, an environmental foundation, a Christian events and curriculum company, a footware retailer, a skincare company and spa, a Christian event planner magazine, a frozen yogurt company, and a few others—and that was all before Signify! I think good writing translates across just about any industry, so I took advantage of most every opportunity that came to me.

Through those varied experiences, I realized that my most fulfilling work came from collaborating with cause-focused organizations. That is, for- and non-profit companies that began with, or centered, on a social mission. (If you need some examples, take a look at my stellar clients.) Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of working with a number of them, and often, it began with friends.

I am lucky to have a number of friends who started nonprofits, social justice organizations and social enterprises. And in learning from them and others like them, I kept coming back to the same conclusions. First, most all of them got into their profession because they had a heart for the work, and were fantastic at their mission, but few had any real marketing and communications training. Second, because many of them were small, they couldn’t afford to hire someone like me permanently, but they could often find the funds for project work. Third, there were a lot more businesses out there like them.

So, when I began thinking about leaving my full-time position as an Event Marketing Director, all of these thoughts kept running through my mind.

I loved what my friends were doing.

I wanted to help.

I had the skills to do so.

And Signify was born. (Ok, more or less born. This took months to flesh out!) But my friends were my inspiration, as has been true so many times in my life, and these were the types of companies that I wanted to succeed so others would support them too.

I chose the name Signify after months of agonizing. I love single words with multiple meanings, so I did a lot of brainstorming, stream-of-conscious writing and looked up about a thousand words on I liked Signify right away, but still sat with it for a couple of weeks before telling anyone. This is so much easier when it’s not your own company, am I right?


I didn’t want to just name the company after myself, which is totally fine, but I wanted it to represent more of the synergy between myself and my clients, and the community of do-good organizations everywhere who are championing a purpose and mission to make things better. So, I felt Signify did that . . . all in one little word.

One final note is that I especially love small businesses. I’ve worked in a number of them. They’re scrappy, interested in learning, and teach employees a variety of skills instead of just focusing on one. They’re budding with potential, and often just need some knowledge and a nudge in the right direction. Now, don’t get me wrong, if you’re huge and have piles of money to throw at someone, I’m your girl! But I try to remain reasonably priced and accessible so I don’t leave the little guys behind. They got me to where I am!

Ok, so that’s a bit about me and Signify! Questions? Ask me in the comments, and I’ll do my best to answer. You can also read a few fun facts over on my About page.

If you’re a cause-focused organization, and you’d like to work together, hop on over to my Contact page and shoot me a message! And you’re also more than welcome to join our Facebook Group where you can connect and learn from like-minded do-gooders. I want to help you FOCUS your message AND SHINE in the world!

PS: A big shout-out to my inspiration: Katrell, Latasha, Eryn, Anne, Jeff, Patti, Holly, Nelli, Mark, Meier...and the others I’ve undoubtedly forgotten (So sorry)! You are amazing, and the world is a better place because of your work—and so am I!

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And So It Begins / Signify