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Hard-to-engage no more!

Updated: May 16

Why are we still talking about hard-to-engage clients? Why are we still finding some people and some groups tricky to connect with? Are there people out there who genuinely avoid our efforts to link up with them? Or are we just not very good at making those links?

Client engagement can be tricky, but it's not impossible, it's not a dark art and it's almost certainly not just down to marketing skills.

Engaging hard-to-engage clients requires a thoughtful approach that takes into account their specific needs, challenges, and motivations.

Here are some strategies social enterprises should apply:

  1. Understanding the Target Audience: Conduct thorough research to understand the needs, preferences, and challenges of the hard-to-engage clients. This might involve surveys, interviews, or focus groups to gain insights into their perspectives.

  2. Tailored Messaging: Craft messaging that resonates with the target audience's values, interests, and aspirations. Use language and imagery that they can relate to and understand.

  3. Building Trust: Establishing trust is crucial when working with hard-to-engage clients. This may involve demonstrating reliability, transparency, and empathy in all interactions. Maybe a trusted local faith leader, a local volunteer, a GP/district nurse, family liaison officer or some other notable local 'gatekeeper' would be happy to spread the word for you.

  4. Creating Accessible Services: Ensure that your services are easily accessible to the target audience. This might involve offering flexible scheduling, providing transportation assistance, or locating services in convenient locations. Make registering easy too - don't hit then with intrusive questions the first time they make contact; leave that until they feel comfortable and secure.

  5. Providing Tangible Benefits: Clearly communicate the tangible benefits of engaging with your social enterprise. This could include financial incentives, access to resources, or opportunities for skill-building and personal development. Understand from existing clients why they have engaged with you and then ensure you use this information in your promotional materials.

  6. Peer Support and Mentorship: Utilize peer support and mentorship programs to connect hard-to-engage clients with individuals who have similar backgrounds or experiences. Peer support can foster a sense of belonging and provide encouragement and guidance.

  7. Collaborating with Community Partners: Collaborate with community organizations, local leaders, and other stakeholders who have existing relationships with the target audience. These partnerships can help facilitate outreach and increase credibility.

  8. Customized Services: Offer customized services that address the unique needs and challenges of hard-to-engage clients. This might involve adapting your programs or interventions based on individual circumstances.

  9. Empowerment and Participation: Empower clients by involving them in decision-making processes and allowing them to have a voice in shaping the services they receive. Encourage participation in program design, implementation, and evaluation.

  10. Persistence and Patience: Recognize that engaging hard-to-engage clients may take time and persistence. Be patient and persistent in your efforts, and be prepared to adapt your strategies based on feedback and outcomes.


By implementing these strategies with sensitivity and flexibility, social enterprises can effectively engage hard-to-engage clients and make a positive impact in their lives and communities.

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