Scarcity versus abundance

July 12, 2017

abundanceWhen I started in the agency business 25+ years ago, there was this odd paranoia that ran through agencies big and small.  There was a belief that agency personnel couldn’t be friends with people who worked at other agencies because secrets might leak out. And if you dared to be friends or even associate through a professional network – you’d better not bring the other agency’s employees into your office for fear that they’d walk by something and glean secret details about your accounts. All of this is what I call a total lack of abundance thinking.

I know it sounds crazy – but it was very pervasive through the industry back then. Today, I’m happy to report that with few noted and paranoid exceptions, agencies seem to recognize that it’s actually healthy for agency professionals to mingle together for both the shared learning and camaraderie.

That paranoia was a symptom of scarcity thinking.  I don’t think the ad industry is the only one who did/does suffer from having that point of view. I think it’s easy for any of us to get stuck in that rut.

We’ve all seen scarcity marketing and sales in action.  It’s the overly attentive sales clerk following you around the store, the car dealer who won’t let you take a test drive without being in the car with you, or the salesperson that knocks the competition at every opportunity.

There’s a scent of desperation in scarcity marketing and sales that puts the buyer firmly in the driver’s seat. It converts the transaction from a potential partnership to an uneasy game of tug o’ war that ultimately puts you at a disadvantage because you want the deal more than your potential buyer does.

It creates the sense that there’s some sales quota that’s not going to be met or some other looming deadline that has everyone scrambling to cut a deal.  That rarely works out to the seller’s advantage.

I’m not talking about the idea of creating scarcity around your product or service. Letting someone know there are only four plane tickets left at this price or that you won’t be offering the workshop again until spring can be very effective because it actually is a position of abundance.  You’re basically saying, “Hey, just to let you know, I only have five of these left. Let me know if you want one before I sell out.”

That’s the secret of an abundance mentality. It’s very laid back and it gives the impression that while you’re happy to sell your wares, you’re equally okay if the prospect isn’t interested because someone else will be. That confidence in your product or service is contagious.

What does abundance marketing and sales look like?

You share your knowledge freely:  You teach and give away your expertise through white papers, ebooks, blog posts, free webinars and other tools.

You are quick to tell someone when what you sell isn’t right for them: You know that an unhappy customer costs you more than what you could possibly make off of them, so you encourage them to find a better fit.

You don’t haggle on your pricing:  You know that what you offer is an incredible value at the price you’ve quoted, so there’s no reason to play the game. You set an honest, reasonable price for what you offer and then you stick to it. If the prospect doesn’t want to pay that – it’s okay because someone else will.

You don’t chase potential buyers: You know that you can’t make someone buy before they’re ready so there’s no up side to being a pest. You keep offering value and your expertise and they’ll come around when it’s time.

Review your marketing tools and procedures. Do they suggest you’re desperate to make a sale or do they convey a sense of abundance?

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May I ask you a question?

July 5, 2017

questionOne of the biggest issues marketing and sales folks face is just getting on the radar screen of their prospects. Even when you have something of incredible value and you genuinely know the prospect needs what you have to sell – it’s tough to get their attention long enough to ask a question or even be noticed.

That’s even more of a challenge for organizations that don’t have a six-figure marketing budget or exist in a crowded, competitive landscape.

That’s where some psychology can be incredibly helpful.

One thing that is almost universally true about us humans is that we are incredibly flattered when someone thinks we have something of value to offer in the way of experience, knowledge, expertise or hard-earned wisdom.

And that, I believe, is the door we need to open if we want a prospect’s time.  For this technique to work, I think the following needs to be true about your business:

  • You/your organization have a niche/specialty in which you have a great depth of expertise
  • You have some outlet (website, blog, podcast, newsletter) in which you share that expertise without a sales pitch or being self-serving
  • You have a genuine interest in the people you serve and a passion for helping them in your unique way with whatever you do/sell
  • You sell something that is more of a considered purchase and less of a commodity

If that’s you, read on.

Make a list of your ideal prospects and their influencers. Who would you most like to serve and are the people/companies that you know you could delight? Or, who has information/insights that could be incredibly valuable to your target audience?

Once you have compiled the list, call/email them and ask them if you can interview them for your blog, website, newsletter, podcast, etc.  I think you’ll be surprised at how many of them say yes and are flattered by the invitation.

Now the hard work begins.  Do your homework.  The prep for the interview is key to the success of this marketing tactic.  You want to ask questions that really get them to go deep and give you some insights into the way they think, work and what they believe about the work they do.

Be smart about the interview itself. I know I don’t have to tell you this but show up on time, look and act professionally, be gracious if things go awry, and don’t sell. If your interviewee asks about your business, give them a quick overview but do not go into selling mode. You’re there to learn and connect. Focus on that.

Send a handwritten thank-you note after the interview, sharing something valuable you learned during your time together. Not an email or a computer generated thank you.  Invest the time to actually write the note.

Next, create the content piece and reach back to your interviewee so they can review it.  Share with them your publication plans and tell them you’ll send them a link/copy once it’s out there so they can share it with their network as well.

When you hit publish (or print the newsletter if you’re old school), re-connect with your interviewee and invite (not demand, require or nag) them to share it.

Let’s recap your prospect touches.  Between the initial invitation and the publishing of the content, you’ve connected five times.  That difficult to reach prospect has probably welcomed your communications five times.  If you’ve been engaging and sincere, I believe they would be willing to at least learn a little more about the work you do.

Not only that but you are creating content that truly helps your entire customer and prospect base.

That’s marketing that will lead to sales time and time again.

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Are your customers in transition?

April 12, 2017

TransitionWhen I think of Spring, I can’t help but think of it as a season of transition. Seeds evolve into plants, kids graduate from high school and college, and many single people choose this time of year to get married.

No matter what the transition is or how desirable the next phase may be – transitions are, by their very nature, very stressful periods of time. In that stress, comes the need for a deepened understanding and more support.

You may not think of it this way, but my guess is that at the very moment your customer is ready to buy, they’re in a state of transition as well. They might be evolving their business, they might be experiencing a life transition or they might just be transitioning to you from whoever was servicing them before.

At MMG, we’re big believers in not only understanding who your sweet spot customers are but even more important – understanding exactly where that sweet spot customer is at any moment in the buying cycle.

If your prospects or clients are in a state of transition, it would be helpful for you to remember some of the realities that transitions bring so that you can serve them better, be more empathetic and anticipate their needs.

When a person is in any sort of transition, everything is heightened. Typically a transition is a significant event that brings with it a host of emotions. At the base of any transition is the combination of uncertainty and anxiety. Because it’s important to whoever is going through it – they’re worried that it won’t go the way they’ve envisioned that it should. Add to that anxiety the reality that in most transitions some elements are out of their control. The bride can’t control the weather. The graduate can’t control his family dynamics.  The business owner can’t control if the old vendor will block the transition or make it simple and clean.

On top of that blend of anxiety and uncertainty is loss. As the old saying goes, “you can’t steal second base and keep your foot on first.” No matter how exciting or amazing the new transition will be, there is the pain of saying goodbye to something comfortable and familiar. Even if your new client is furious with their old vendor – they know exactly what to expect and how to react to it. There’s comfort in that.

Another element of transition that you need to keep in your sights is the fact that when someone is making a change, they often have unrealistic expectations for what that change will bring to them. You’ve probably made quite a few promises and commitments to entice that new customer to do business with you. At the moment of the transition – they not only expect you to keep those promises, they expect you to exceed them. When we’re courting a new client – we’re putting on the full court press. They feel very desired and like they’re your first and only priority. If you deliver on that – you can quickly earn their trust. But if you stumble, it’s tough to recover.

Finally – remember that when someone is going through a significant change, they’re very conscious of the risks involved. They may know intellectually that this is something they either need or want to do, but they’re putting themselves in a very vulnerable position.

If you want to make your new customer’s transition to your company smooth and worry free, you’ll need to have a carefully orchestrated plan in place. Over communicate that plan. Build in time for them to ask the same question they’ve asked ten times before. Be absolutely accessible and transparent and earn their confidence and trust, step by step.

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Do you rush things?

January 18, 2017

RushThere’s a ride at Walt Disney World called Rock n’ Roller Coaster. At the very beginning of the ride, the car you ride in goes from a dead stop to over 60 mph in less than three seconds. What a rush! While that’s enough to get anyone’s heart racing, the folks at Disney don’t leave anything to chance. The riders’ hearts are racing long before they hear the sound effect of tires screeching or the car starts moving.

Disney is a master at the art of building anticipation. You load into the car and they bring you right to the brink of the ride’s start. The music starts to get louder and louder. The signage is warning you to keep your head firmly against the headrest. Right about the time you begin to wonder what’s taking so long, the neon sign above you and the speakers in your headrest start the countdown. The car starts to vibrate as the engines rev and then, with a loud screech of the tires, you are accelerating to 60 mph and an upside down loop as the ride begins.

My point is – they could have just loaded their guests in the car and after a second or two started the ride. The roller coaster would still be pretty thrilling but it wouldn’t be the same experience.

Whether you’re a roller coaster junkie or you’re scared senseless and peer pressure got you on the ride – the build up is incredibly effective. By the time the ride begins, you’re about to crawl out of your skin you’re so ready to just get started.

It’s not just that ride either. Disney uses this technique over and over to create an increased hunger for their rides, movies, and special events. They use it because it works. It creates demand. It’s increases perceived value. And ultimately, it increases sales.

I think we can all learn a little from Disney’s example. Many businesses rush to the sale and in that effort; spook their potential buyer because they’re either not interested or just not ready to buy.

But make someone wait or tell them you have a limited number of whatever they want – and suddenly they’re the ones asking for the sale. So how can we slow down to help the sales heat up?

Create some buzz: One of the best ways to build anticipation is to get other people to start talking about you. A concerted PR effort is a great way to get some media coverage or viral attention. When you can trigger positive word of mouth, you can count on increased interest.

Give your best prospects a sneak peek: Everyone likes to feel like an insider that has access or information that everyone else doesn’t have. Creating an opportunity for a select few to do a test drive but not have full access to the offer will generate anticipation for the actual release. Apple employs this technique better than just about anyone.

Don’t blurt out everything all at once: This is a mistake most marketers make. They’re in such a rush to pack every possible bit of information into every communication that they not only kill any possibility of anticipation but they also bury the audience with too much too soon.

Keep it a secret: The world loves a good mystery. One great way to create a mystique around your product/service is to tease the market and hold some information back. The more mysterious you are, the hungrier they’ll be to know.

At the end of the day, you don’t sell anything until someone wants it. Companies like Disney and Apple are great examples of how well using anticipation to stimulate that want is a great marketing technique that drives sales. It might be worth a try!

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Context is King

December 28, 2016

ContextContext is king.  When you think about companies who take risks and are edgy when it comes to their marketing – the insurance industry would hardly be the first to pop into your mind. But that’s what happened during the 2015 Superbowl TV spotathon.

Nationwide unveiled a TV spot during the Superbowl where a small boy was talking about all the things in life that he had missed. All because he died in a preventable accident.

The spot urged viewers to visit www.MakeSafeHappen.com, a site that Nationwide was sponsoring to increase awareness about preventing the kinds of accidents that hurt or kill children each year.

The spot was well done and the message was clear and well intentioned. But the outrage and disapproval were over the top. The tweets, Facebook posts on the Nationwide page and general commentary were swift and disapproving.

What went wrong? We can all agree that trying to prevent accidents that kill children is a noble effort. Nationwide wasn’t really trying to tie any product to their message so it wasn’t overly commercial or self-serving.

The problem was that Nationwide and their agency totally disregarded context.

People are at a Superbowl PARTY. The day is practically considered a national holiday. It’s loud and celebratory and everyone is having a good time.

Which means they don’t want to think about dead children.

The audience could not and would not hear the Nationwide message at their Superbowl party.

Superbowl ads typically fall into two categories. They’re either funny or sentimental. But they are not sad. They are not heavy or laden with information. Just like the snacks at a typical Superbowl party – they’re puffy little hors d’oeuvres, meant to tantalize, not satisfy a deep hunger.

Nationwide released a statement the day after the Superbowl because of the uproar. They said that they accomplished their goal, which was to get people talking and cited the number of hits on the website after the spot aired.

Sorry Nationwide, but I have to call BS on that. Yes, people were talking, but they weren’t talking about preventable accidents, they were talking about how much they hated the spot. And they weren’t visiting the website to learn how to protect their children, they were visiting the website to see what in the world you were trying to communicate.

As you might imagine, there are lessons for all of us in the Nationwide Superbowl mistake in terms of context.

Get into their heads and hearts: You need to really understand how and when your messages are going to be in front of your audience and what they are thinking and feeling in that moment. Every word you use or visual you include is filtered through their state of mind at that moment. As Nationwide learned, even the most sincere message can fall flat if the mood doesn’t match.

Assess their ability to take action: Be mindful of how and where your audience is going to see your communication. Putting a phone number on a billboard, when people are whizzing by at 70 MPH is probably a waste of space unless the number is so easy to remember (800-CLOGGED) that the few seconds they have to see it will be enough.

Consider their setting/who they’re with: One of the reasons the Nationwide spot got so widely criticized is that Superbowl viewing is an all ages activity. Many people felt it was inappropriate to run the spot when so many children were in the viewing audience.

Even if there weren’t children around, everyone was hanging out with their friends. They love the Superbowl spots that made them all laugh together and enhanced the party feel. A spot about a dead boy hardly has that effect.

Don’t ever ignore the context of how, where and when your communication will fall into the audience’s day. Those filters may enhance their reaction or, as it did for Nationwide, might completely destroy your effort.

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Are you ready to go native?

October 19, 2016

Native AdvertisingOne of the things I both love and hate about the marketing industry is the constant quest for creating the hot new thing. Sometimes, there really is something that is so new and innovative, like the topic for last week’s column – retargeting – that it can legitimately make the claim “hot new thing.”

But there are other times when the hot new thing is really more of an updated or revised thing. That’s my take on this whole “native advertising” hype that is surging through marketing circles right now.

Native advertising is paid advertising that is camouflaged in some way to look like it’s just helpful content or natively belongs in the setting that it’s placed in. It’s usually clearly marked in some way, but the whole goal is for it to be less “ad like” so the audience will not ignore it.

I know the definition itself is as clear as mud, so let me give you a couple examples. The advertorial is a form of native advertising. An advertorial looks like editorial content but is actually an ad that a company bought. Many “special sections” of a newspaper or magazine are in truth, advertorials. But because they are written and designed to look like a story rather than an ad – they are hiding in plain view.

Another example of native advertising is product placement. Watch a couple hours of HGTV on Saturday morning and you will begin to spot all the different products being used. When you see a label or the host mentions a product by name, odds are very good that someone paid good money (or donated product) for that.

I’m not suggesting that native advertising isn’t a good idea. It can be a great way to expose an audience to your offerings. What I am saying is that you shouldn’t believe all the hype about it being something new.

What is “newish” bout native advertising are the digital options. For example, you can now marry online ads to relevant online content. Have you noticed that at the bottom of many online news stories you can find a “what’s trending now” area with links to other, related stories? If you click on one of those stories, what you’ll often discover is that you’ve been taken to a landing page that is selling a product that is tangentially connected to the topic of the first story.

Another way you can digitally go native is to pay someone to publish your content or write content for you and build calls to action within that content. You can drive traffic to your website, a product page, an event or whatever you’d like. Many times this sort of purchased content is appearing in online magazines and authoritative websites on specific topics. These native ad articles are usually marked with the word sponsored to indicate that they were paid for. But they look just like the rest of the “pure” content on the site. Another advantage to you, the advertiser, is the SEO value of the backlinks.

Native ads within videos is a very popular option right now as well. You can run your ads on YouTube videos that contain relevant content. You can also produce a video and like the sponsored story on a website, you can actually embed your ads right into the video itself. You can just create brand awareness or you can actually have calls to action within your message.

Native advertising begins with content. Whether the content is created by the brand, by the publisher for compensation or the ads is just aligning itself with topically relevant content – the goal is look and feel more editorial to avoid the audience’s aversion to traditionally intrusive ads.

There’s nothing new about that idea.

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Five Ways to Get it Done

October 12, 2016

Get it doneHow do you get it done?  If I ask any marketing pro, business leader or entrepreneur what they need more of (and I take money out of the list of possible answers) 99% of them will give me the same response.

Time.

Whether it’s the pace of life, the vast variety of channels, information overload or that most companies are getting by with fewer people – everyone is time starved. I believe that the popularity of many of our modern conveniences is simply a result of our never-ending hunger for just a little bit more time.

The alternate title of this column could have been “live every day like you’re going on vacation tomorrow.” I marvel at how much I get done in the 48 hours before I leave for vacation. It’s practically magical how the To Do list relinquishes itself to me. I’ve learned to harness some of that pre-vacation magic to get it done and here’s how you can too.

One list, one focus: I’m not so sure Post-it Notes are our friend. It’s so easy to jot something down as a reminder to get it done and next thing you know, you’ve got a Post-It Note panorama on your desk, monitor or taped into a few notebooks.

To truly get more done – capture everything you need to accomplish in one place. Whether it’s a smartphone app or old-fashioned pen and paper – have a master list that you can trust is complete.

Once you have your master list, chunk like chores together. It’s much more efficient to make five phone calls in a row than piecemeal them out throughout the day. You get in a groove and shifting in and out of the groove takes time and energy you don’t want to waste.

Declare a deadline: The reason the pre-vacation thing works is because you have a hard and fast deadline. You can use that psychology to your advantage on a regular basis. You need to create your own deadlines and build in accountability by telling co-workers, friends or whoever is going to hold you to it. If you have to – create a consequence for missing the deadline. The more public the deadline/consequence, the more effective it will be.

Know your rhythm: Odds are the things on your To Do list aren’t new experiences. You’ve done most of them before, and you know what they require of you. If you write better in the morning, make sure you get all the writing tasks done before noon. If you get a little sleepy/lazy mid-afternoon, do something that revs you up in that time slot. Everyone has their own rhythm, so cater to yours to maximize each minute.

Protect your time: When you’re going on vacation, it’s so much easier to say to that chatty co-worker “Sorry but I have to get this report done before vacation.” You need to learn how to do that every day. Depending on how and where you work, – that might mean closing the door, coming in early, or working from home for a couple hours. But do it every week, and you will be amazed at how much more you get done.

Block the shiny objects: Email, Facebook, the conversation in the hallway, or that junk drawer that is begging to be cleaned. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s easy to give in to whatever shiny object is in front of you. You need to outsmart the shiny objects by blocking their access. Turn off that email ping, that Facebook stream and anything else that tempts your attention.

Imagine it – if you treated every week like it was your pre-vacation week, you’d tear through your tasks. You might even get enough done that you could actually not work on your real vacation … once you take it!

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Your 80/20 marketing plan

November 5, 2015

Your 80/20 marketing planOne of the age-old rules in business is that 80% of your revenue is generated through 20% of your customer base. While the numbers may not align perfectly – the axiom is accurate. Your best customers generate the lion’s share of your earnings.

In fact, over the lifetime of your relationship, your most loyal customers will spend 10x what the average customer will spend. They’re also responsible for over 70% of the total visits to your business.

Even if you didn’t know the numbers – you know how important your best customers are. Yet – 63% of marketers believe that new customer acquisition is the most important advertising goal.

A recent study of over one retail million customers looking at both their behavior and their attitudes revealed some very compelling data.

  • VIP and loyalty program members are 70% more likely to spread the word about your business
  • 65% actually want their favorite stores to frequently email them coupons and promotions
  • The probability of making an additional sale or up selling a loyal customer is 60-70%

I’m not suggesting you stop chasing new customers but based on what we know in our gut and the data in this study, we sure need to focus a little more attention on those best customers too. Keep in mind that the average conversion rate (a new sale) from efforts aimed at new customers is less than 1%. The new ones are more price conscious, less likely to come back and pay full price and are going to require a lot of wooing to earn their return.

On the flip side, you have this group of people who has already made it clear that they choose you. They’re already in the habit of spending money with you and like how you conduct business. These are people worth investing in.

Whether you call it a loyalty program or just put together a marketing plan aimed at making your best customers feel your appreciation and love – it will pay off. This shouldn’t be a generic effort. You need to do a little homework so you actually create something of value.

First, identify who your best customers are: This sounds silly. Of course you know, right? Actually, I’ll bet there will be some surprises. Crunch the numbers to identify your best customers.

Spend some time thinking about them: Don’t just assume you know what perks or added value would mean the most to your loyal clients. Or better yet – ask them. Come up with a list of options and find out which would really put their buying into overdrive and make you their only choice of vendors.

Keep it simple: Don’t make them carry a card, memorize a customer number or jump through hoops to take advantage of your program. The average American belongs to 18 rewards programs, so your goal is to make yours the best in terms of value and the easiest in terms of use.

Do some testing and tracking: Don’t assume you’ll get it exactly right the first go around. You absolutely need to track which aspects of your effort are gaining traction and which are falling flat. Adjust accordingly.

Spread the word: Once you have it working well, you want to invite others to join. A loyalty program has two core benefits. First, it rewards your best customers and encourages them to spend more. The other benefit is that it can entice your average customer to increase their activity level.

One of the biggest marketing mistakes most businesses make is they don’t pay enough attention to their best customers because they’re too busy chasing new ones. Don’t make that mistake – it could cost you more than you want to spend.

 

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No one wants to be sold

August 31, 2015

Smiling man with hand out to shake handsHere’s a truth we seem to want to ignore — no one wants to be sold. Ever.

Think about some of your favorite stores.  Beyond the merchandise they have – what do you love about going there?  Odds are your favorite stores became your favorites because of the experience you had.  So you go back time and time again.

Now – forget about your favorite stores for a minute.  If I asked you to describe the ideal encounter with a salesperson, what would you envision?  Is it the salesperson that follows you around on the floor, repeatedly asking you if you need help or interjecting their opinion on every item you look at?

Or would it be walking in the store and having someone introduce themselves and ask how they can help you?  If you say “I’m just looking” which is universal code for leave me alone – do they?  Are they around to answer any questions you might have but otherwise, let you explore?

Let’s translate that to when you call a business looking for information.  Does the operator read from a script, barely letting you get a word in edgewise because he has two specials you need to know about?  Or are you immediately connected to someone who can either answer your questions or get you to the right source for the answers you need?

The truth is – no one wants to be sold.  When you hear the word salesman, what images pop into your mind?  The stereotypical used car salesman with the “you can drive it off the lot today” sort of sales pressure?  I don’t care who you are or what you’re in the market for, no one welcomes that sort of salesperson.  Why do we react so badly?

A bad sales person is someone who:

  • Wants you to buy today
  • Relentless
  • Talks to much about themselves and their product/service
  • Doesn’t listen
  • Makes us feel as they though they only care about the sale

When you look at that list, no wonder we run for cover.  If your favorite store had that sort of sales force, I suspect it would no longer be your favorite store.

Now – go grab your brochure, pull up your website and eavesdrop on some of your sales calls.  See any similarities?  All too often marketing materials and messages bear an uncomfortable resemblance to that pushy sales guy.  We’re so anxious to make sure the prospect knows how amazing our stuff is – we over sell and the reality is, no one wants to be sold.  Ever.

What you love about your favorite stores and your favorite brands is that they’re helpful.  Depending on your needs and the type of purchase, helpful come in the form of convenience or providing you a lot of information.

Helpful might be that you can try as many styles and sizes as you’d like and return the ones you don’t want for free (like Zappos) or it might be a robust website that really allows the consumer to educate themselves long before they speak to a salesperson like River Pools and Spas that has over 800 pages of content and offers it all for free.

You will sell more if you sell less.

Be helpful, be someone I can trust, be approachable without putting your hand in my pocket looking for my wallet and I will come to rely on you.  When I am actually ready to buy – who do you think I’m going to by from?

You.

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Fundraising is marketing

August 4, 2015

fundraising-is-marketingLet’s face it — fundraising is marketing. I love the stories of the good old days in my community.  You’ve probably already heard the same sorts of stories in your community too.  How the “founding fathers” would gather over coffee and when the community had a need, they’d each pull out their checkbook and invest in the solution.

Many of those men and women have streets or foundations (or both) named after them and their mark will forever be a part of most of the cities in our country.

There are quite a few charities that owe their start or a portion of their success to those visionary leaders.  As great as they were – those days are long gone.  I’ve received a few solicitations lately that make me wonder if there are still some area non-profits that are living back in the old glory days and haven’t fast forwarded to today.

Whether the target is a business or an individual, the game has changed and if nonprofits want to keep serving their mission, they’re going to need to make some shifts in their efforts.  They need to recognize that fundraising is marketing.  There’s no separation today and the organizations who embrace this idea will win the day and the dollars.

Here’s what non profits need to remember:

Why you? It’s a rare charity that doesn’t have a competitor who also serves the same people/cause or at least a portion of them.   If you want a donor’s dollars or even their attention, you’ll need to be able to demonstrate how you do it differently or better and you need to do that on a consistent, steady stream of communication basis.

I don’t know you so get your hand out of my pocket: The “send everyone we can think of” a solicitation letter (especially at the end of the year) is just a waste of money.   If we don’t have a relationship and your work isn’t meaningful to me, I’m not going to send you a dollar.  Don’t waste your stamps.

Slow going: The days of walking out of your first meeting with a check are gone.  Sure, it might happen once in a blue moon but in general, you’re going to have to work hard for your money.  Think marathon, not sprint.

Fewer but deeper: One of the amazing truths about Des Moines is that we’re blessed with a huge number of committed charities.  But the flip side of that truth is that no business can possibly support them all. Which means, choices have to be made.  Businesses don’t want to be one of ten logos on the back of yet another t-shirt.

Donors are opting to spend their money on fewer nonprofits but to give more to those few.  And once they’re locked in with a specific charity, it’s going to be much tougher to pry them loose.

Going, going, so gone! Our community is golf tournament and auctioned to death.  If you don’t already hold one of these, don’t start one.  And if you already have one – be ready for declining attendance or revenue unless you can make it unique.  Bravo to Des Moines based charities like YESS (Duck Derby), Childserve (Bubble Ball) and others who have taken the risk and created something one of a kind.

The Obama election fund reality:  One of the ways Obama defeated McCain back in ’08 was to race more money from more people.  The dollar amounts were smaller but the impact was bigger.  The same 20 companies (every charity has the same list) in Des Moines cannot be the title sponsor for everything.  Find ways to make it valuable for smaller companies who don’t get into the limelight every day to be your benefactors.

No one is arguing with the amazing work you do.  In fact, we want to make sure you keep doing it.  But, like the for-profit businesses have… you have to adapt to today’s economy and reality.  And soon.

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