Friday, June 14, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Relationship First ???

Marketing makes sense if you are selling a product, but does it work if you are building a relationship? 

Track with me here.

The rise of "search," as in a Google search, has shifted the power of information. In a transaction, the seller in a particular geography now has to compete with sellers from everywhere because of the Internet. Consumers can now price or compare any product or service from anywhere, which means the power of information has shifted to the buyer.

So marketing the features, benefits, ease of availability, or price might make sense. This applies to services as well as products.

But does marketing make sense in relationships? 

Does a boy "market" himself to a girl? Does a girl market herself to a boy? I'm not sure certain "features, benefits, or ease of availability" fit the criteria in what is essentially developing a relationship. A girl might think she needs to "market" her best characteristics to a boy, or a boy might think he needs to "market" his best attributes to a girl . . . but in human relationships, all those attributes and characteristics are subjective. 

Information, though, is important in developing a relationship. In fact, whether in a product, service, or relationship...information is always good. It helps us decide. 

But marketing has a sales aspect to it. There is certainly nothing wrong with selling the features and benefits of your product or service over the competition . . . but does competition really apply to relationships (TV shows like the Bachelor not withstanding)?

Still with me?

So, now let's talk about charitable organizations and fundraising. Are you selling your organization?  Developing relationships? Or are you doing both? 

Today, most charitable organizations would say they are doing both. And they would point to the fact that, although they are asking for financial support, along the way they are developing relationships. And that is true.

But instead of the focus being on "asking for support" with the goal being a transaction, what if the primary focus was relationship development? At some point you still ask for support, and financial support is only one form of support . . . but relationship development remains the number one focus.

Many others as well as myself would contend this was really NOT POSSIBLE before the Internet . . . but it is now.

So then, are you more comfortable continuing with your transaction-focused fundraising business model that was developed 80+ years ago, or are you willing to shift to a Relationship First model? You still ask for support, but only after you have developed a relationship. It is a fundamentally different approach to Development and, frankly, one that most charitable organizations are more comfortable with...not to mention the Baby Boomer, Gen-X and Millennial generational cohorts that you are trying to reach. 
Join us.
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