Wednesday, March 13, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Trend No. 6: That Which Can Be Commoditized Will

Max Kalehoff is one of those people who is followed by many in the marketing/tech world. He is currently VP of Product Marketing at Syncapse… one of those fairly unheard-of tech companies that is really changing things.

Max recently published a paper for the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School’s Future of Advertising 2020 Program. His paper entitled 11 Big Trends That Will Reshape Advertising In 2020 And Beyond has garnered a lot of attention.Over the next few blog posts, I will attempt to take each one of his eleven points and give it my interpretation from the nonprofit Development perspective. Let’s take a peek into the future together.

6. That Which Can Be Commoditized Will. I’ve been on the early teams of several innovative startups in media measurement, marketing intelligence and advertising technology. One of the key lessons I’ve learned is that anything that could possibly become commoditized, will be commoditized. When a new technology or a new platform arrives, it’s easy to get carried away with its unique value and promise. Increasingly, fast followers will match you at alarming speed and one-up you. Success is determined not by who is first, but by those who arrive on time to execute and out-commoditize the rest. Those become the advertising technologies and platforms that win.

I’m going to go a slightly different direction here.

I’m going to use the author’s concept of That Which Can Be Commoditized Will, but instead of using the author’s term “commoditized,” the way he uses it, I’m going to shift the idea slightly to “me-too-ism;” as in copying other organizations’ fundraising ideas.

Borrowing another organization’s approach in a fundraising letter or copycat event is a time-honored tradition in nonprofit fundraising. Right? Today we have so many copycat walk-a-thons … some on the same weekends … that you can’t keep them straight. I guess what Mr. Kalehoff ascribes to technology as becoming a commodity can also become commodity-like tactics in nonprofit fundraising. Except that… with each copy, they become less and less valuable.

But, what is valuable? One word… trust.

The time is coming … and quickly … when your traditional marketing won’t work anymore. Your direct mail is already headed south. It isn’t just direct mail in fundraising that is failing; traditional marketing in the commercial world just doesn’t work anymore.

Trust, however, works.  Especially for charities.

How do you build trust? How about engaging your Supporters and focusing on building the relationship.

You cannot commoditize trust.


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