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Our audiences: who should we be talking to?

1st Apr 2022

A group of eight Blood Cancer UK staff members were joined by a volunteer with blood cancer to collaborate on the next aspect of our new organisational strategy: our audiences.

Group of Great North Run supporters posing by Blood Cancer UK banners

In marketing, the term audience means the people you want to target with your products and services – the people most likely to buy what you’re selling.

It’s a bit different for a charity. At Blood Cancer UK we do of course have an online shop, but the main thing we’re selling is our vision of beating cancer: of saving lives and bringing forward the day when no one dies of blood cancer or blood cancer treatment. And the potential audience for this message is larger than you might think.

Research suggests there are at least 3.4 million people affected by blood cancer – either because they have it themselves, or because a family member or friend has been diagnosed with it. That’s a lot of people we could engage with. A lot of people we could be supporting. A lot of people who could help us fund life-saving research.

Identifying our audiences

The group’s first task was to identify the audiences we already interact with (our engaged audiences), and those we might interact with in the future (our prospects).

Our aim was to answer these questions:

  • Where are we most likely to find committed supporters like the amazing people who already raise funds, make donations and give up their time to help others with blood cancer?
  • Where can we have the most impact on people’s lives with the support we provide?

We made a list of engaged and prospect audience groups. Then we mapped onto it the different interactions we have, or could have, with those groups. This included things we might offer (such as our services and information), and things we might ask for (for example, regular donations or support with our policy work).

This turned into a chart on a virtual whiteboard featuring concentric circles, colour-coded text and arrows going in all directions. It might have looked like a spider had stepped in several pots of paint, but it was a great way of displaying our thinking in visual form. It also clearly showed people with blood cancer right at the centre of the map, with other audience groups arranged around them.

Using our insights

We identified 23 audience groups, for example, recently diagnosed people, people in remission, close friends and family, healthcare professionals and corporate donors. We then pulled together all the insights we had about their behaviour and attitudes and noted whether these insights were based on evidence or assumptions.

This exercise showed us there are gaps in our knowledge, but now that we know where these are, we can work on filling them in. It also made it clear that we need a central place to store the knowledge we’ve gathered, so that it’s shared across the organisation. So we’ve developed an “insight bank” – a virtual library where staff can find all the information we’ve accumulated about our different audiences. This will grow as we address our knowledge gaps.

Maximising our impact

Throughout this two-week project, we focused on the difference we can make to the blood cancer community. There was a lot of discussion about “value” – both the value we give to people through the services and information we provide, and the value we receive from people in time or funds.

An important part of this project was to find a way of assessing where we already give and receive value and using that to decide who we should reach out to next. Reaching out to the right people will help us maximise the impact of our work, whether we’re talking about funding research into a cure, or providing support to help people live with their diagnosis.

We’ve now come up with a system which will help us decide who to target with different “asks” and services in the future. It’s a work in progress, but we expect this new system to evolve and improve as we go along. We hope it will help us to work smarter, while making the biggest possible difference for people affected by blood cancer.

What’s next?

There’s more to be done on this vast and important area of our strategy, but after two weeks of intensive work, we have an implementation plan to take our ideas forward.

We also need to feed our findings into the other strategy sessions that are taking place over the next few weeks.

The feedback

The last word should perhaps go to Sue, who’s living with blood cancer, with many thanks for giving her time and energy to this project:

“As a group we did an awful lot of work. By the middle of the second week it felt like if we said the word ‘audience’ one more time our heads would explode! Everyone in the team was genuinely focused on people with blood cancer – it was really refreshing to hear how everything came back to helping people who are affected. I’m super proud of the team I’ve been involved with.”

If you’d like to be part of the Involvement Group that regularly checks our work to develop our strategy, please email our Strategy Team.

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