Tuesday, May 15, 2012

BIG’s Blog: One Size Does Not Fit All

I saw a presentation the other day that illustrated three distinct groups of workers in today’s marketplace. But they also represent three distinct groups that you need to be marketing to.

The first was a man in suit and tie about age 60. In the picture with him were the business tools that he was used to using, which were a computer and cell phone, as well as Microsoft Office software.

The second person was about 45 years old and was wearing an oxford button down shirt without a tie. In his picture was a laptop and smartphone. Around him were logos for software like Power Point and database tools.

The third person was about 35 years old and was wearing a polo shirt and khakis. Around her was a tablet like an iPad and an iPhone and a myriad of logos for both online platforms like Facebook and Twitter, but also other online programs and apps of all kinds.

These three people represent three distinct age groups within our working population today. But they also bring to their jobs different attitudes, expectations, and levels of competence and comfort with online tools and software applications, which are a part of who they are as distinct generations. But to nonprofit fundraisers they also represent the challenge of communicating their message across different technologies and in different styles.  

Most nonprofit fundraising groups are comfortable targeting and communicating with the 60 year old person in the suit and tie. He represents the audience that most closely looks like the leadership in fundraising today and also is behaviorally attuned to the way most fundraisers communicate today. Fundraisers have moved online with a website and the use of email to communicate with their supporters, along with direct mail. Most of this age group is still institutionally oriented so they give because they are familiar with the organization. This is especially true for faith-based groups.

The 45 year old person represents a challenge to today’s fundraisers. This person represents a group that may still receive mail but is not prone to respond to it; especially acquisition mailings. And since direct mail tends to be the major new-donor-solicitation vehicle, it shouldn’t be a surprise that fundraisers have so few of this age cohort as donors.

The 35 year old is representative of the generations that do virtually all their financial activities online – including donations – as well as many of their other life activities including significant communications. Even what I would consider some of the best faith-based and secular fundraising organizations are not coming close to connecting with this cohort the way some commercial organizations are. This group is not institutionally oriented in the least but will still give to causes. And more important… they are connected online and in social networks.

25 years ago, fundraisers could communicate to all generational cohorts in pretty much the same medias with pretty much the same message. Not anymore.

Okay, so that is the bad news. The good news is that the cost of communication has gone way down. But you have to be intentional in communicating with different generational cohorts today in their media and in their style if you want to connect with them.

One size does not fit all.

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