Sunday, August 28, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Techniques vs. Connecting - Part 1

If I am an automobile manufacturer and I want to sell my auto; how do I go about that? Remember, an automobile is a technological marvel designed by teams of engineers and assembled by line workers that today are more akin to craftsmen than Henry Ford’s original assembly line workers who basically tightened bolts.

If I am the marketing department of this automobile manufacturer, am I spend advertising dollars going into engineering detail about all the technological marvels of the engineering? No. The customer wants the “whole” automobile and doesn’t care about the engineering details. The customer is buying the car in its completeness. And in its completeness, the automobile has it’s own look, feel and touch which makes up the car's personality. A complex tool for transportation with many complex parts becomes – in the mind of the buyer/owner – a singular idea.

So, what does the marketer talk to his audience about? Right – the singular idea. Uncomplicated from the technology, the marketer presents the simple “whole” idea to the prospective buyer group for whom the automobile is targeted. What’s this about targeting, you ask? Well, for example, a pickup is not a van and a van is not a convertible and a convertible is not a SUV. The marketer communicates the essence of the “idea” of the pickup, or the van, or the convertible, or the SUV to the targeted group for that automobile. The goal is to “connect” the idea of each automobile to the right target audience.

But, what about your nonprofit? How and who do you target?

Obviously, not everyone is going to support your organization anymore than everyone is going to buy a van.

Start with the “idea” of who you are and what your mission is? Write it down. Then talk to a sample of prospective donors and ask them: A) Are they interested in supporting your organization, and if so: B) Why and what specifically is the reason they are drawn to supporting your organization? This is your basic research. This is the first step in the process of learning how to connect with the people that might support your organization.

When you do this research exercise, here is what you will learn. While the first question selects all of those that say they would support your organization; the second question goes to the specifics of “why” they would support your organization. Guess what you’re going to find? There are many reasons, but, they will all coalesce into five or eight or 20 specific reasons. 

So, how do you connect with new potential supporters today? Most of your organizations generate new supporters through direct mail campaigns. This means you buy lists that have either worked successfully for other similar organizations or you test lists that should have a probability of working to see if the metrics work for you. This is the standard direct mail marketing technique and it has worked for years.

Then with your list acquired, you mail your “control acquisition package” using the chosen lists so that all receive the same singular message. Is this really connecting with potential supporters or is this merely a direct marketing technique? If it is really meant to connect, then why do 70%+ of newly acquired donors never give a second gift?

But hey, these direct mail techniques have proven successful for 50+ years! And they will continue to work – until they don’t.

Why will they stop working and how do we really learn to connect?

We will cover that Wednesday.


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